I was supposed to head to New Jersey on Sunday, but by Sunday morning I’d made no attempts to pack or prepare myself to leave Cleveland. Instead I woke up, went to the den, and watched television under a blanket. “Are you leaving today?”- my mom asked. I just shrugged, I didn’t want to do another thing.
Technically I was supposed to leave. I’d told Mrs. B that I would arrive in Princeton on Sunday evening, and I had my meeting with Dr. Clear on the following Tuesday. But rather than prepare myself to hit the road, I chose to function (or not function) in a state of complete denial.
My mom didn’t push me. Instead we decided to have fried chicken for dinner. “Let’s invite Courtney and Cory over,” she said. That sounded good to me. Neither of us, my mom or myself, was ready for me to leave.
Courtney and Cory came for dinner that night. “When are you leaving, Kim?” Courtney asked. “I’ll leave tomorrow,” I told her, “as long as I get there by Tuesday for my meeting with Dr. Clear…” Before Courtney left that night, she told me to call her if I needed any help getting out of the door the following day. I think she sensed that I’d made no strides to prepare myself for the journey ahead.
The following morning – Monday – I woke up overwhelmed. I absolutely had to leave, I had no choice. I couldn’t wait another day or I would miss my Tuesday meeting. But I hadn’t packed a single thing. I sent a text to Courtney: “I’m cracking, I need you.” She was there within the hour.
The first thing I needed to do was pack. Mom and Courtney sat with me as I went through my clothes. I had so many clothes. I didn’t want to take all of that stuff with me into the next chapter. I left the room for a moment and came back with garbage bags.
“What are you doing?” My mom asked. “I’m giving away everything, I don’t want any of it anymore.” In a frenzy, I began stuffing my clothes in garbage bags. My plan was to drop everything off at the GoodWill store.
“All of your beautiful things?” – my mom asked; she looked pained.
“All of them”
I only kept the bare necessities. My clothes represented the old me, I was different now. Plus God had taken so much from me already, why not have everything? I couldn’t even take my cat with me, she would have to stay with my brother. So since God had taken so much already, I figured I would give it all up. I would walk into the next situation completely naked; completely dependent on God to provide.
So I stuffed all of my clothes in garbage bags and I dropped them off at the GoodWill store.
I also had to deal with the 50lb box of leftover orange protest tee-shirts. I’d been driving around for a month with my “Prevention is Cheaper Than Incarceration” tee-shirts in the back seat of my car. Rather than drop them at the GoodWill store, I decided to put them in a dumpster in my mom’s building.
Tyrone, one of the maintenance men in the building, scolded me for throwing brand new tee shirts away. “Can I keep them?”- he asked. “I’ll give them out to my friends,” he told me. “Sure. Do whatever you like with them.”. I didn’t care. I just wanted them gone. He took the box.
My next order of business was to deal with my hair. I had to make a decision. I had two options: either go to the hair store and buy new wigs, or shave it off. I decided it was time to shave it off. It was time to stop hiding.“Courtney can you take me to a barbershop?…”
She took me to a shop in her neighborhood. I sat in the barber’s chair: “What do you want me to do?” – he asked. I didn’t know and I didn’t care, I just needed a style. “I think you should shave down the sides and leave a little on the top, since you have high cheek bones,” Courtney said. That sounded fine to me, I didn’t care.
I ended up with a style that looked like a mini mo-hawk. Fine. Whatever. “That will be fifteen dollars,” the barber said. Fifteen dollars??? Considering what I had spent to get my hair done over the years, fifteen dollars seemed like the best deal in town!
I was traveling light. I’d finally shaved my head and I’d given away all of my clothes. The last thing that I had to do was get an oil change. The plan was for Courtney to lead me to a jiffy lube right by the interstate; I would get on the road from there. By this time it was 4PM.
My mother walked us down to the garage to say goodbye, it was emotional. We were both afraid. I was afraid to leave and go back out into the world, and she was afraid to let me go. If it had been left up to the two of us, I would have stayed there with her forever. We needed Courtney to get me out of the door.
I said a tearful goodbye to my mom and she waved to me as I pulled out of the driveway. Also waving were Tyrone and several other building staff members who were, by this time, clad in my orange protest tee-shirts.
Courtney lead me to the Jiffy Lube as planned, and then I had to say goodbye to her also. It was time for me to go, for real this time.
I drove in the night. The entire time I listened to the same song on repeat; Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys, “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)”
I thought about Kesner; I was ready… but it was too late.
I cried for him while I drove. Longing. I felt a desperate intensity for a man that I couldn’t have..
Occasionally I’d allow the cd to advance to the next track, “Soldier of Love,” by Sade. That song seemed appropriate…
But then I’d just go right back to my Alicia Keys cut, I played it over and over and over, for seven hours straight as I drove and cried. There was only one star in the sky that night. It was Kesner’s star; he was with me.
I arrived in Princeton at 11PM. I called Mrs B to let her know that I was close and she gave me directions to the house. And as I pulled into the private community and up the driveway of the sprawling estate, all I could think was: wow.
Mrs B greeted me warmly and helped me unpack the car. She showed me to my space, it was beautiful. A large bedroom with high ceilings and a private bath. A warm reddish color adorned the walls and there were large windows that surrounded the room with Laura Ashley floral drapery. The bedding matched the drapes and the bed was covered with an assortment of decorative pillows, and in the center of the bed was a white linen Cuddly Bear. “You don’t have to keep this stuff, you can move your furniture in if you like…”
I didn’t want to change a thing. The Lord had prepared a place for me, far be it for me to move my old stuff in..
There was a welcome note on the bed and a gift from Mrs B: cachets, drawer liners and fragrant soap. Mrs B had also prepared dinner for me, and she’d bought me a few groceries: bread and jam, fruit, cereal.
The Lord had prepared a place…
I even had my own private kitchen, and sitting areas – plural. it was surreal.
That evening I began to settle in. I unpacked my few things, there wasn’t much to do as I’d given most of my stuff away. Then I laid back and looked around my new beautiful, comfortable, space. Days had been hard and there would be hard days ahead. But the Lord had prepared a place for me; I would live comfortably…
Tomorrow would be the day that I would meet Dr. Clear face-to-face. The conversation could go one way or the other. If Rutgers was not able to fully fund my education, I was completely ready to turn around and go back to Cleveland. It was going to be all or nothing. And that was that.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012