Things seemed to be working in my favor. It was the first week of school and I continued to simply show up each day while I waited for my PhD funding situation to be resolved. I was not registered for any class, but I showed up anyway.
I had an hour commute from my new home in Princeton to my campus in Newark. Initially I thought I might take the train each day, but I found driving to be very therapeutic. I drove and cried all the way to school and all the way home each day. I was still listening to that Alicia Key’s and Swizz Beatz song also, thinking about how ready I was to love Kesner fully. Ready too late.
From time to time I’d think about what would happen if I died. That might be nice, I thought. Then I could end my worldly suffering and be with Kesner eternally. I’d actually had this joke with my sorority sisters while we were in New Orleans earlier in the summer: “If I get hit by a car, don’t help me! Just leave me there to die,” I told them. We’d all had a good laugh about the visual of me laying in the street trying to shew away paramedics.
I mentioned that my humor took an interesting turn after Kerner died…
But in the car on the way to school, I thought about death more rationally. Death wouldn’t be so bad. The only problem with the whole dying scenario was that everyone that I love would be sad, damn. The thought of that made me sad. So with no resolve on the matter, I just kept driving and crying.
On one particular day, as I was having these rational thoughts about death, I decided that it was probably time for me to connect with the counseling center on campus. It had been a priority on my “to do” list anyway. After showing up to class for the day, I went to the counseling center to fill out an intake form. It was explained to me that I would have to fill out the form and then I would later be contacted to set up an appointment.
So I sat in the waiting room and answered the questions on the form. “Have you ever considered suicide? If so, when?” - one question asked. hmmm… well, I hadn’t considered suicide, per se, but since I’d been thinking about my death that day, I wrote: “yes, earlier today.”
It all felt very casual to me and I handed my form in and was preparing to leave when the receptionist said “Wait! We have someone who can see you NOW!”
It occurred to me then that answering yes to the suicide question had propelled me to the top of the appointment list. I should have been more clear: I’d only been thinking about death…. But, as it was, I would get to see someone that day and that was probably a good idea. I sat back down in the waiting area.
Minutes later I was called into an office of a counselor who I will not name because he was awful – for me, at least. I didn’t realize it right away. He spoke softly and asked me to talk about my suicidal thoughts. “Well really I was just thinking about death in general..” I began to explain.
He seemed confused by me.
I told him my story and he asked me if I had a supportive network of friends, “yes I have terrific friends..” And then he went on to tell me some things I already know about the necessity for positive relationships with others.
When should I tell him that I am a minister? – I wondered..
I left his office that day with an appointment to return the following week. I did feel a little cheated, however. Since I’d answered “yes” to the suicide question, they’d put me with the person who was available immediately; rather than being matched with the right counselor for me. He didnt seem to know much about grief and all of it’s various waves..
Oh well, I thought, I’m sure this soft speaking man has some purpose in my life. I will return.
My first week of school was complete and it was a good week. I’d had an encouraging talk with Dr. Clear, I’d showed up for class each day and I’d connected with the counseling center.
I did have one more thing I needed to deal with, however.
I had a mo-hawk and it really wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t a good fit. I’d spoken to Talithea about this and told her my thoughts about shaving it all the way off. “The haircut that you’re talking about is called a Caeser,” she told me. That made sense to me, what I was describing to her is the way that Julius Caeser wore his hair. “I think I’m going to call White,” I told her.
White (short for D’Wight) is a barber friend of Talithea’s, who I’d also gotten to know. He had just opened a shop called “Game Time Cuts” in Trenton. It was time for me to go pay him a visit.
Assuming that I would not know what to ask for, Talithea had already called him before I arrived and told him I wanted a Caesar. I’m sure he was shocked by this, as I’d had a head full of hair the last time I saw him. I walked into the shop and he said: “Sunshine! What happened to your hair??”. It was just him and me in the shop that day and I explained everything about Kesner. “Yea I remember him,” White said , “he came to me to get his hair cut once..”.
It occurred to me then that White had given Kesner one of his last haircuts. This news made me feel so comfortable. Kesner sent me to Game Time Cuts! He’d sent me to a barber who I could trust, and more importantly, he sent me to support a business owner in his beloved East Ward – this is where he ran for city council. White would become my barber.
As White began to shave off the remainder of my hair, all I could think was:
Natural is Nice.
“Natural is nice,” Kesner said one Sunday in the park. We were at the annual picnic for the Mercer County Big Brother’s Big Sister’s Program. Kesner was there with me and his little brother in the program, Yanni. Someone at the picnic was wearing a tee shirt that said “natural is nice.” To which Kesner offered his endorsement.
This all made me feel pretty convicted since I was wearing Hawaiian Wavy weave that day…
But Natural IS Nice.
And now I was finally 100% natural. As White turned me around in the chair and I looked at my new do, I agreed with Kesner and whispered in my soul: Natural IS nice.
I didn’t love it yet, but I would grow to. It was much better than the jagged 2inch afro, and the mo-hawk, and the weave…
This was my new look: the Caeser; and it was nice.
And it was new.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012