A Girl in the World & the World in a Girl…











{May 11, 2011}   I Couldn’t Help But Smile.

Go up on the hill to pick up my meats for me. It’s already ready.
Give ‘em my name and he gon’give you my order,”
she said to me.

I went.

On my way out of the parking lot, I saw her.


She was pushing a stroller with a little baby in it, staring aimlessly
into the thin air looking as if she had nothing to do and no place to go,
but was on her way to it anyway.

I didn’t know who she was at first, but when she aggressively yelled:
“Hey, girl!”, I knew that I knew her voice from a fond place in my heart and my past.

“Oh, hi!!!!” I said, too embarrassed to admit that I hardly recognized her.

We shot the breeze about nothing much-actually we didn’t have too much
to say to each other-just like the last time I saw her, but we tried.

She didn’t care anyways.
She was up on the hill staking out the strip, looking for her baby’s daddy,
but claimed that she needed to get out and get some fresh air
[from the polluted neighborhood where we stood outside of the meat market].

I’m looking at her, knowing that she had walked a literal ten miles from the
substandard housing project where she told me she lived the last time I saw her.
She must have been on a mission.

On the corner across from where we stood were boys, men, hustlers, some bustas,
wannabes, hard times and broken promises.

I turned my attention back to her and continued our “kinda conversation.”
She wasn’t even looking at me, through me, over me, or around me.
She was only focused on looking around the neighborhood with her eyes
bucking back and forth-talking to me with only her body language.

We only said “words” to one another; a little less than small-talk all wrapped
up in the gift of familiarity of one another but with love and a kind of kinship
nonetheless.

Winded from looking around at the depressing scene, I turned my attention to the
baby and the stroller she was pushing-that had onion for wheels. Many miles had been put on that stroller.
The tread was missing and gone away with the countless babies who sat in that very same
stroller before her pretty baby did. The stitching looked like it was about to give way
from many-a baby that kicked their little fat legs while jerking their bodies back and
forth-while their mothers, too, were on that same stroll, stakeout and mission that
Kintahmee was on as well.

The child was smiling, no care in the world-enjoying the ride.

If Baskin Robbins really had thirty-three flavors of ice cream; between Kintahmee
and the baby, they had on the last ten.

The neighborhood had her attention.
I only had her body standing next to me-ready to leave to finish her mission.

Between words we spoke, hers-I could not really hear, because I was mostly talking
to the side of her neck as if her mind was telling her that I was talking out of the
side of mine.

She wouldn’t let me in.

As I talked to the back-side of her head, I noticed her pigtail was pulled so tight
that every strand of her hair and scalp fold had to have been beneath that tan rubber
band that secured it. Her eyes were tightly pulled back toward the direction of that
tight pigtail-pulled such that you could tell she brushed with it a vengeance from
thinking about so many things that made her temperature rise while planning her mission.

She would glance over at me, while looking down to the ground as if that was where I
lay-looking up at her for conversation. Each time I could get a glimpse of her
eyes-I wanted to keep staring. Because still-like I always remembered-they had a kind of
innocence like that of a kid.

Still, her eyelashes were long, still silky and new. They stood straight out and erect,
and shined like the hair that sat on the mannequin in the window of the wig store across
the street from where we stood. I could tell that in her lifetime since I had last seen
and been acquainted with her, her lashes had gotten so much moisture that they had no
choice but to lay flat and shine.

Her lips reminded me of a place where countless boys through men placed theirs and told
her all the things she wanted to hear while picking from the unripe fruit of her emotional
numbness-telling her things that she no longer believes-from anyone, for that matter.

She continued to moisten her lips with a small jar of something that looked like petroleum
jelly as she puckered out and rolled them from side-to-side with a permanent twist of
“mm hmm” [mixed with mistrust, numbness and apathy] as a result of the hand in life she was
dealing with: the antithesis from how she was raised.

She was so numb, but the child was smiling though.
The creases of the right side of black satin jacket that Kintahmee wore had a fast-food
restaurant chain’s name: some joint so small that you can barely cuss a cat in, much less
eat a meal in-but she worked there. She was also the anti-thesis of lazy. Always kept a job on deck.

I smiled.

A phone rang.
I reached for my duffle sac while she reached into the pocket of her satin jacket.

“HELLO?” she yelled with anticipation and completely turned her back to me as she
spoke into the phone while checking the clock on it for the minutes would be using.

Finally she turned her body and face to me, which looked a little different this time:
He must be in’na neighba’hood tal’mout:‘Whatchoo ova’dere doin?’ ”

Mission accomplished.

“Here come Mista,” I said in my head, while the guy with the trendy clothes approached.

No introduction.

No hellos.

No-nothing.

Just a slight smile came across her face while she chewed on her barely there nails whose
tips nearly met the cuticles.

Child: still smiling-not a care in the world.

Mista moved closer to Kintahmee and the baby; playing with them both, giving them the
kind of affection that put a smile on her face which made me happy to see as well-the
kind of affection that he could care less about the boys on the corner seeing that he
had him in to give.

Soon thereafter, he was done with the affection as if he had a curator timing him and
with a wooded stick-forced him to turn it off.

The child: still smiling.

Kintahmee: slightly smiling-no longer feeling numb.

My turn.

I squatted down to Baby and turned the stroller towards me so
Kintahmee and Mista could talk, but they barely said a word to one another.

Baby’s deep dimples held my attention as she cooed-still smiling and happy
that I finally made my way down to her from her constant stare and smile up at me.

I would occasionally peek up at Kintahmee-she had that same slight smile and
finger in her mouth; reminiscent of a blushing pre-teen with a school-girl crush.
I could tell…this woman-she still loved this man. In her eyes-in her world: “this no-good man.”

Mista eventually walked away and disappeared into the crowd on the corner
where he originally stood the whole time that we stood there: watching over
Kintahmee and his child.

Remembering what she told me the last time I saw her about not having a phone,
I was caught this time between trying to figure out how to ask for her number
or even if I should. I wondered if I should give her mine-just like I did the
last time I saw her.

I took the plunge.
“Well here, take my number,” I said.
Again this time to grab a pen and paper, I reached for my duffle sac while she
reached back into the satin jacket.

“Give it here,” she said, with the monotone expression in her voice as if she
was about to fake like she was entering it with the elite list of people in her
world-already programmed.

“I use ‘dis here,” she said, pointing the cell phone, not giving a damn about
what the hell I thought of her. Carelessly, shamelessly, frank, and honest,
she defensively concluded: “I aint got no phone at home.”

Glancing over at the corner where Mista stood, I imagined the sky-high home
phone bill that she probably had stashed away in her dresser drawer somewhere from
accepting one too many of Mista’s jailhouse phone calls, now learning to live
without a home phone.

So what, what da hell do I want ‘choe numba fo’ anyway. If I was gone call
I woulda called the last time I saw you and you gave it to me,
” I read her mind,
brows and body language telling me while she looked me up and down…then at me
(finally)-wondering now, in our two separate worlds-what the hell we even had in
common that we could even talk about.

Little did she know, our experiences were the same difference.
We just never got around to sharing them together…

But I let her off the hook, yet again.
So as to give her an easy exit; I turned my attention towards the meat market’s
door and she prepared herself to finish her stroll on the strip.

Her mission was complete.

Yes, knowing that it would invade her space, I still hugged her tightly while in
a flash in my mind; I played out fantasies of being able to set her up straight-give
she and the baby enough to put away for many-a rainy days. She needed it oh so badly.

She relaxed and accepted my sincere embrace-her body did. And although it was in my
head that she smiled, her face did not.

I could deal with that, because smiling like the way I once remembered her-just wasn’t
her thing these days.
I was merely glad that she let me in with my hug.
I was merely glad she now knew that I still loved her-and that I still saw her as the
same happy little girl that she used to be, even after all these years.

Standing at the meat market’s door, I looked her in the eyes and said:
“Hey Kintahmee-keep in touch with me okay?”

“Okay,” she lied.

“Hey. I love you,” I said, sincerely, knowing that she would be numb to that-I
didn’t care though. I only cared that she heard me say it to her.

“Talk to you later,” she replied, as she turned to walk to the right.
Her satin jacket was shining brightly from the cool spring sun beaming onto it.

Mista still stood across the street to the left-watching everything.

By the time I picked up the meat order, loaded it into the car, and pulled out
of the parking lot, I could see the shiny black jacket a couple of blocks down the strip.

From my rear view, Mista was still posted on that same corner-he and Kintahmee
still hadn’t said a word it seemed. Their body language told me so, even from the rear
view short distance. It didn’t even look like what I knew was a fact: that they lived
together and slept in the same bed.

Driving slowly, I watched her as a smile of familiarity came across her face while
she yelled down the street.

Some girl stepped out with the same satin jacket Kintahmee had on-and even the cap to match it.

I think I got a little bit jealous as I drove off the busy strip. I could feel my own
expression on my face-looking as such, so I admitted it to myself.

Kintahmee. A woman now. But once was the sweet girl that I used to think was my little
doll who for years and filled with so much energy and laughter that nothing in the world
could have told me that she would not have grown up to be bubbly, playful and wild like
I remembered her-then.

Way back then she had an amazingly natural sense of humor and was filled with so much
energy and laughter, that sometimes she would wear me down. She was such a doll. I would
pinch her cheeks and burst out and sing to her: “Little Lou Lou, I love you just the same!”
She would laugh so hard, then smack me and run-thinking that I was insulting her.
But it was my “doll song,” because she was a doll to me.

That was all way back when-before “life” stepped in.

Still feeling a little jealous of that familiar smile that came across her face for
BlackSatinJacketWithTheCapToMatch, I played out a corny thought in my mind-wondering if
I had busted out and sang the “Little Lou Lou” song would I, too, have gotten that same
smile of familiarity that she gave to BlackSatinJacketWithTheCapToMatch. I reminisced about
how she used to hang onto my legs and wrestle and fight with me. She was so rambunctious
and cute-loved to be up under and around me any chance she could (really wanting me to sing
my “doll song” to her so she could laugh and act like she hated it).

Life.

It has funny way of grabbing hold of people.
People melt and mold themselves into certain ways that life beckons them. I realized that
to be true-at that moment.

Kintahmee had gone through so much in her life that she could only not be numb
around what was like, or familiar to her.

I understood that.

I had to accept that.

I didn’t judge her, and I wanted her to know that. And although I knew it would invade
her space; I hugged her anyways.
I needed to tell her that I loved her-to let her know that I still saw her “as-was.”
And as we are now, I insisted on treating her “as-if.” As if her life (at that very moment)
had gone the direction I thought it would. Her mother was a debutante and she was raised well,
and with all good things and good people who loved her. Somehow, she settled for a life
that was different than expected but I never judged her.

I could tell that she was so used to being judged, that she could turn her
automatic brick mode on and off with the switch of familiarity. BlackSatinJacketWithTheCapToMatch
showed me she could.
Jealous, but I understood.

So many years had gone by and had taken a lot of her with it.
I knew of (personally), so many changes that she had gone through.
Tears came to my eyes as I wondered what it was really like on the inside
of her-nowadays.

In an instant, I got mad at every situation in her life that I knew about-that chipped
away at her bubbly spirit.

I got mad at the environment and slumlords that permitted a human being with a baby to live
in all the places she had lived in over the years.

I was pulling out everyone I could that most probably contributed to bursting her “bubbly.”

I thought and I thought and I thought, but then a smile came across my face.

I had forgotten about the permanent smile on the Baby’s face-and how so very happy
she was-it was just like Kintahmee’s when she was a little girl, toddler and
pre-teen-before life stepped in and got real mean.

Baby was clean, she smelled good, her clothes were clean and she wasn’t hungry-so
I smiled (with the same kind of smile that Kintahmee had on her face when she saw BlackSatingJacketWithTheCapToMatch).

I couldn’t help but smile-because in that moment, I realized that as long “as-is” is treated
“as-if,” everything will fall into its place-no matter who it is.

I couldn’t help but smile.
Because although they barely said two words to one another, I forgot about the way I would
catch Mista looking at Kintahmee with complete adoration in his eyes, but physically showed
it to Baby while Kintahmee stood there with her finger in her mouth like that girl with the
high-school crush.

It was cute to observe.
How soon I forgot.

I couldn’t help but smile.
And in my mind-as I thought about Kintahmee while on the road, she really was
happy-her mission was complete, she got a sincere hug and was told “I love you” from someone
that she loved and adored once upon a time. And little did she know-she was also being adored
by a man that she too, obviously adored-but didn’t even notice the adoration in his face for her.
I did though. I saw it.
And I couldn’t help but smile.

I smiled for her because she, at that very moment in time, was in the company of
BlackSatinJacketWithTheCapToMatch who too, was making her smile and laugh-which therefore,
put a smile in my heart. And
I couldn’t help but smile.”

©2009AngelaSherice

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