Illadelph Bass-Life: Mama Said They’d Be Days Like This

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

At the time of this sentence, it’s not even 11 yet and this day has been trying.  It actually started last night, after a lovely sushi dinner with the homie, Tarana, it started pouring raining. We jumped in a cab and I let her out at the train station but dreaded the 3 block walk from the train station back to Charles’ apartment. My hair takes way too long to dry and in its current up-do, it would take even longer. I decided to take the cab all the way home. Philly cabs take debit/credit cards and I needed the cash I had on me to finally purchase a week long fare card. When the cab pulled up to the building, for some reason, I changed my mind and decided to pay him in cash. I think it was because it was raining and thought maybe he could use some cash. I don’t know. This is just how I think.

When I got in the apartment, I remembered my past due phone bill and decided I needed to pay it quickly. I don’t know what it is about me and bills. I just can’t seem to ever pay them on time. Even if I have the money. I keep pushing it and pushing it until I get the phone call or worse, the phone is disconnected. I’ve been meaning to pay all weekend but kept letting things distract  me. I had to pay. I rooted in my yellow balenciaga knock off, that though many seasons out of style, I still love like the day I bought it. I searched for my debit card. I opened up my little Coach wallet/key chain. Nothing. I lifted my iPod and unzipped every zipper in the bag. I pulled out business cards and pens and make up. No card. Thanks to the three red pill bottles in the bathroom medicine cabinet, there was no panic. Just a, “Oh… I must have left it at the restaurant.” SIDE BAR: Seriously, if you’ve ever wondered whether or not you should be on medication, I highly recommend you see a doctor. It might work for you. I’ve been highly stressful situations these last few weeks teaching, maneuvering around this complicated city, letting my mind wander into emotional hoarding territory and I take everything in stride. If something happens, I figure out whether I can fix it. If I can’t, I sigh and let it go. Just that simple. A few months ago, losing my debit card would have sent me into a whirlwind of panic and anxiety. But last night, just “Oh… I must have left it at the restaurant.”

I called the restaurant and they did have my card. They made me read the last four digits of the card plus the expiration date. I actually had to get online to find them because I had no idea off the top of my head. Are these things that grown ups are supposed to know? It took me way longer than I care to admit to memorize my social and my new cell number, I really don’t need more numbers in there taking up space I need to learn Justin Bieber songs… I mean read books. Anyway, after all that, they verified that I was the owner and I told them that a friend of mine was going to pick it up for me tomorrow because she works down the street. Once I knew the card was safe, it was all good. I checked my bag and my other wallet and found about $12 and change. Enough for lunch the next day. I was good. I was also tired and the internet was acting weird so I decided instead of taking my hair down, to just go to bed. (You care about all of this.)

Around 2AM, my phone rings. It’s my sister. I panic immediately. Why is she calling at this time? What’s wrong? I pick up and say hello but there’s no sound on the other end. That’s when the panic kicks in. I say her name a few times and then get up and pull on some sweat pants. I don’t know. Maybe I was going to run to Newark. I didnt’ really have a plan. I call her back at the same time and she groggily explains that her pillow must have called me. I try to relax and go back to bed but that was over with. It took me another hour to get back to sleep and even then, I was jumpy and a little anxious. That’s what gets me. Family. If there’s something wrong or possibly wrong with my family, that’s when I panic.

When I woke a few hours later, I was much more calm but for some reason, dreading the day. I only have a week left here but it’s really starting to weigh on me. I’m not built for this kind of atmosphere. I’ve seen more fights and aggression in the weeks I’ve been here than in my entire life. I’m not even kidding. Each day, is a slower drag to get up and out. I start leaving the house later and later (Yet still always make it on time. I don’t get it either.). Today, I’d planned on wearing a dress I’d never worn before and instead of the flats and flip flops that had become my uniform, I was going to wear a pair of wedges. Dress up a bit in order to get my mind right. Put the dress on and… The dress no longer fit. I’d gained weight from the Philly food trucks and the coming straight home and going to bed. The material hugged my ass a little more seductively than I’m comfortable with. The seam across my belly was less like Sheri Shepard’s view of the earth and more like the actual curve and dip. The belly, I was used to. Ever since my son was born and the tumor was removed, I had to settle into the fact that my mid section would never be “cute” or presentable ever again. I was fine with that… or rather, I’d learned to live with it. But I was shocked at how wide and bulbous my ass was. The dress was ill fitting and suddenly too short. It was uncomfortable and I actually got a little sad at how bad it looked on me.

I took it off and surveyed the suitcases on the floor. There were clothes everywhere but I suddenly had no idea what I was going to put on. I was determined to wear the wedges so I had to find something that worked with the colors. I finally settled on a denim 70s style skirt and tank top with summer sweater over it. I felt completely wrong but couldn’t manage anything else at the time. I put on the wedges but after weeks of flats and flip flops, I suddenly felt too tall and too unsteady in the shoes. I started thinking about the walk too and from the train station. The walk from the station to the school. I thought of the fights and whether or not I could move swiftly in them and I quietly slipped them off my feet and eased my way into the brown flip flops that have been my uniform. This saddened me.

While transferring trains, I saw a woman, tall and thin. Her shoulders browned and fit. She had on a a gorgeous, cotton mini tube dress in cream, with a brown leather belt hugging her slim waist. Her hair was gathered into a casual knot on her head and she was walking swiftly and confidently in a pair of sky high wooden sandals. I watched her as she sailed through the corridor and hurried onto the train platform. I envied her. She reminded me of my brooklyn self. Same ease, same reed thin, same comfort with towering high heels. There was a safety there that I welcomed. Philly is still strange. I still walk in the wrong direction too often. Never sure enough of my footing to feel comfortable in anything other than as close to the ground as I could get. I suddenly felt too wide, too bloated, too unhip, too unable to manage this place that I handled with such ease just yesterday. As the train approached, I watched this gazelle of a woman breeze her way into the train. I made sure to enter another car. I couldn’t explain if she caught me staring at her as intently as I was. I sat down and pulled out my book, turned up my ipod and watched as the stations sailed by me. A few stops later, we were at my stop. As I emerged from the subway, I saw her again, tiptoeing around the trash and homeless on the street. I didn’t know where she was going in this neighborhood but decided to cross the street and talk another way to the school. I didn’t stop for my usual smoothie and cup of ice. I needed to make sure I had enough cash for lunch and without my debit card, enough dollars for tokens to take me to pick up my card. I saw her disappear into the doors of Temple University Hospital just ahead. I sighed into my flip flops. Steadied myself for the day, for the fights, for the “fuck yous” and “Bitch, I know you not talking to me”s. I gathered as much of myself as I could. Anything that wasn’t left on the sidewalk or carried away with the clicking of heels on the pavement.

I flipped and flopped my way towards the school. Stood in front of the mural depicting famous Philly natives and sighed. A man held the door expectedly and I had to enter. I prayed there would be one less fight. One less act of defiance. One less curse word hurdled in my direction. Today was not the day for it.

But mama did say,