I came across this image some time ago and committed to writing a story based on what I saw. On Mother’s Day 2019, I thought it would be cool to share my attempt. Here’s her story, from the depths of my imagination:
What I love most about my new home is the sea color palette of creamy white and blue. The sheer, flowy window treatments. The marble desk that was starting to collect a stack of mail. The collection of shells and an ambience full of nostalgia for Harlem during the 1920’s. The black arts movement literature and the other books that go-hard on the topics of spirituality, self-love, and hope after divorce.
I’ve been living on the coast for two years now. No one bothers me. I mind my business and I’m as happy as a seal.
Today, I woke up to the sun beaming on my mole-filled face. I felt the perfection of the bed linen and the quiet of the house. I reminded myself that it was just me. I prayed. I planked. I took my medicines– counting both my pills and my blessings. I made coffee and checked my notifications. Too many. I checked my newsfeed. Too much.
I avoided society altogether by spending the entire eight o’clock hour in the kitchen, experimenting with something new while Teena Marie played in the background. Grits, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits– these were the familiar items people counted on me to prepare back then. My solo menus were more diverse and consisted of foods like frittatas, crepes, red velvet pancakes, and anything that called for vanilla extract.
After nine, I put on my gray tights, a black top, and my favorite Nikes. Yesterday it was yoga on the beach. Today: a short, casual jog on a nearby trail while the new thing baked.
I spent many years inside, trapped in my roles of wife and mom. Since my divorce, I’ve bonded greatly with the outdoors and the beach. Hence, my run on a pink and yellow southern trail. My muscles tightened as I dodged cobblestone so my feet could enjoy the soft awkwardness of gravel. I typically gathered up beach stones, but today, for some reason, I picked up a black-eyed susan.
My new friend, also on a morning run, also a divorcee, caught up with me. We hugged and then marched in place as she briefed me on “last night’s date”. I listened to her wheeze through about eighty percent of the details. As adorable as she was trying to turn her failed marriage lemons into lemonade, I had zero care-capacity. I was good at being alone and I hated that she didn’t want to be alone like me. Nonetheless, I bought in to her account. We managed to laugh at how insecurity works; how impossible dating is; our age and how we’ll never lose the weight or look like Bey. We parted ways and I thought about her inhibitions. How they were also, in a way, my inhibitions. How complicated and contagious it all was. How emotional and narcissistic we could all be at times.
A mile later, I returned to an incredible spicy smell coming from my sunlit kitchen. I took the thing out to cool and I looked at the new food. I paused to think about my grown children. Too big for my lap, I kept them in my heart. Why were they on my mind so heavily this morning?
I drew a hot bath in the tub of every woman’s dreams. I, in seal-like manner, got into the water and soaked. I closed my eyes. I exhaled and I soaked. Carrying on like hot cocoa topped with marshmallows. I purred as my skin absorbed the steam, the moisture, and the chicory smell from the kitchen. I bobbed in the water– down and up– rattling my own inhibitions and allowing them to dissolve. Maybe, today, they would finally dissolve.
Noon was near when I withdrew from my creamy bath. My hair, matted. My head, simmering from the heat. Having released all of my feel-good hormones, I stood, dizzy, feeling radiant and ravishing– swaddled like a baby in a raspberry towel. Perched on the bamboo hamper my ex bought me years ago from tjmaxx, I thanked God (the only constant thing in my life) for the me-time.
I released my hair from a lofty bun, allowing it to fall damply around my chocolate shoulders. I could feel the gray coming back. I dressed, grabbed my devices, made another cup of coffee, and prepared to check back in with society.
But first, I had to call my children.
Clinnesha is a writer, wife, mom, meta-artist, and social entrepreneur who feels most accountable to southern, black citizen-artists, elders, children, and families. Her work is at the intersection of arts, culture, innovation, and community.