Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sundays--Day 6--#Sol16

Sundays- #Sol16
"Be Still" by Courtney Loveless (I love this work of art! I used to make the same face when my mother combed my hair. There was always relief when the other hand was dipping into the grease not tugging at my hair.)

Before I turned 10, Sundays were the best. Sundays were about family, church, and my great aunt's uniquely delicious rice and beans and chicken in Haitian sauce. My mother, stepfather, siblings, cousins would join my two amazing great aunts for service and above all the food.

Sundays were about feasting!  

Sundays were about filling belly and soul to face the week to come. I could only imagine the stress my elders faced when they entered into the "white" world of work. My mother and stepdad, respectively anesthesiologist nurse and doctor, did their work with pride despite the cringing looks of colleagues whose ears shut from even the possibility of listening once an accent was detected.

It was also "my world": time away from a small private school where there very few black girls and boys - where recess time involved me playing the maid, where at the end of the day my hair disheveled would stick up from braids coming undone and someone always had to point, laugh, and remark, "Her hair is sticking up." Yes, my thick kinky hair could defy  gravity. At the time I did not even reflect on my classmates' cruel mocking words, I simply felt hurt. Maybe I even laughed along wishing the stares away. I do not remember.

I think I remember how I reacted to  "olive oil girl." Yes, above all on Sundays in my world, I did not have to cross paths with the girl who would yell in the hallway, "She puts olive oil in her hair." If she said, "You", she would have dignified me by actually talking to me,  so “She" it was. At the time, I actually did not yet know about the benefits of olive oil (I guess I should thank my "teaser" for the hair tip). This classmate's words felt like an accusation. She wanted to remind me: "You are not us. What are you doing here?"  And yes for the record every morning my mom greeted my scalp with grease as my hair also had to attempt to thrive in a foreign environment. On Sundays, however, I could look around church and see my cousin's hair parted into thick braids scalp shining with pride. There was no shame.

Oh, yes, what did I do to stop olive oil girl’s teasing? I am stalling. I am trying to escape the shame of sharing my revenge on olive oil girl, but if I am speaking of church I guess I need to confess. I think this is my revenge or did I make it up and come to believe along the years that like my rebellious hair I stood up and did not just take it. Okay, okay, I am stalling. I took her box of expensive Caran D'Ache pencils (the kind that can swirl into paint if you dip them in water) and threw it in the garbage. Yes, I did or did I?  Olive oil girl must have gotten used to my hair because eventually, the teasing stopped. Our relationship eventually improved...Back to Sundays...Days of feast not dread!
How did Sunday turn from family day to a day of stress and Monday preparation? Will I ever find the solace of rest and family again on Sundays? Can my dining room table be graced with flowers and yummy meals instead of papers to grade either on paper or Google Docs?
Death, Distance, and dollars (as in a need to work) have kept my family members from reuniting on Sundays to eat and feast...My great aunt is nearing 90! We all have made a vain attempt to emulate her rice. Even with not so perfect rice and beans, it would be great to meet again on a Sunday.

I wish one Sunday to relive that one day of the week when I, young, fell asleep during the rides home and magically landed snuggled in my bed.


  1. Natasha, I am laughing so hard about your sweet revenge on olive oil girl... you threw her fancy coloring pencils that turn into paint into the GARBAGE! Oh no you didn't! Oh yes she did! I can't.
    I love your descriptions carefree Sundays of your childhood surrounded by family and food, oh the food!
    I'm with Dr. Parker on this one in her entry yesterday on the scarce and precious measuring stick of 1 year left. TAke out that 1 year measuring stick and push the school work to Monday. It will still be there for us tomorrow.

  2. Oh and I love the image of "Be Still" you included! That hair story though.

    1. Thank you, Ms. Li! I always look forward to your feedback. Your "hair" piece (no pun intended) inspired me.

  3. I want you to have these Sundays again. You deserve them. That story about Olive Girl was awesome, and when I had hair, I hated getting it done, but prayed for the grease. All the grease!

  4. SO MANY great lines in this piece:
    - Sundays were about filling belly and soul to face the week to come.
    - ...despite the cringing looks of colleagues whose ears shut from even the possibility of listening once an accent was detected.
    - ...when I, young, fell asleep during the rides home and magically landed snuggled in my bed.

  5. I've been reading Wendell Berry's This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems because the idea of Sabbath is so compelling, so un-optional for a Jewish person like me, and so elusive for me and for so many others. Berry walks in the woods near his Kentucky home on many Sabbaths; sometimes poems result, sometimes not. In his intro to the collection, Berry says of Sabbath, "It is as rich and demanding an idea of any that I know." How ironic--that it's more demanding to cease working than to keep working. I'm going to share this blog post on my FB page! Thanks, NL!