Soul Sista Chicago. Share your love...
Spoiled rotten. Both of us.
And proud of it.
Two girls from the Southside. Children of Great Migration parents--mine, from Mississippi and Alabama. Turn of the century people, our parents. Who were damned near born in cotton fields.
My mother remembered, remembered, wearing "gunny sack" dresses and cutting her baby fingers on sharp boles. The soles of her feet were so thick from having no shoes, years and years later, even, that she could step on a tack on the floor and not know it. Not feel it.
My parents worked for a hospital (mom) and the post office (dad). Worked his way up to management, my dad, before retiring earlier than I'd ever seen anybody else retire before. To play. Hard. Fishing. Flying off to warm islands. Mardi Gras.
With a woman who was not my mother, but I loved her. And wished them well. Mother's soul was also calloused over. She found it hard to love anyone, even me, with real abandon.
And my father was a wild thang--hoboed his way up from the South, to escape death in the coal mines. And the spirit of that adventure never died in him. He was daring and dashing and dressed in handmade suits from a Michigan Ave. shop that most people thought only white people could buy from.
Could've been a pro golfer if things had been different back then--Black golfers couldn't even play at some of the places they held tourneys. So he kept doing things Black men "couldn't" do, whenever possible, to make up for that.
And passed that particular trait on to me, too. I was always "the only Black person" doing something. In something. More by accident than design, in my case. I just tended to want to know what was up outside the 'hood. What all the possibilities were.
At a time when the possibilities were still pretty limited--pre-Civil Rights Era kid, I was. Fifties, 60s kid, on the cusp of great change.
My sista girl's mother worked in steel mills. Her father was a cook for Santa Fe.
And they brought her up on a pedestal, too. Princesses, both of us.
Piano lessons, charm school--ballet for me, too. Anything to keep us from "runnin' the streets with those hoodlums."
We lived at each other's houses. Sleeping over like real sisters. Discovered Bach and the Beatles--controversial choices for Black girls, at the time.
But we dealt with it.
When I left Chicago for the Southwest, everything changed. She had married and divorced already--young. I wouldn't marry for years, but that marriage would take me to the Hopi rez and so far beyond even our wildest dreams that we could have become total strangers.
That is not what happened.
What happened was that we did what our parents and their friends had always done. It was baked into the blood, I guess. This devotion to those with whom we've traveled--our parents did it to survive, period. Running from Jim Crow.
You didn't have to like someone to love them. Women my mother truly did not like or respect received remarkable gifts of love and care from her when they needed it. Confused me, listening to her fuss while she was making that "plate" for me to take to "that hincty witch."
America wanted us dead. But we weren't going to let it happen. To "nar' one more of us" as the elders used to say it. Even the ones that seemed like they were trying to kill themselves.
We'd reach out a hand to them, too. Pull 'em up as far as they were able to go. As many times as they needed us to.
I remembered that when I called her this weekend, after missing our yearly, hours long holiday phone "check in" that used to be an absolute must.
Suddenly, for the first time in months and months, I just knew I had to do it. I'd ticked off all the Sunday stuff I needed to do, and looked over at the phone...and just smiled. Dialed.
The rest of the afternoon was like an afternoon on one of our porches back when. Old news. New news. Soul food.
We slipped back into sistahood like it was an old, lived in sweater. Started with what was going on now and worked our way back through our whole lives. Things we'd said before. Experienced ages ago, but needed to "touch" again, to center this conversation. Put us into "place" in our shared universe.
"Do you still love me?" is what we were saying, when we did that.
"Oh, yes," is what we were saying, when we did that.
And there we sat, for hours, just loving each other. Talkin' around and around and around. It didn't really matter what we said. Just mattered that we were talkin'.
Phone conversations now...they're usually utilitarian at best for me. Planning. Planning to plan.
Or they're with my distant daughter and deep and serious--that's different.
Mostly, though, they're rushed and little is revealed. I want to get on with my day--so does the party on the other end. We give each other time to finish a sentence while thinking of our answers more than thinking about the answer we're being given.
This...was not like that. I leaned into every word. Asked real questions. Made real suggestions that I hoped would help. Heal.
I haven't been more attentive, more at peace and at one with someone long distance or otherwise for ages. It fixed some things in me--calmed something deep down. Reminded me of profound truths we don't ponder enough these days.
You don't actually have to ponder these ones. They're baked into the blood, too.
And they get all warm and wondrous when you're with those ones you love. Even if you don't say anything.
Souls touching. Sista souls.
Who's your soul sista? It can be a brotha, too--somebody from 'way back who reminds you of all these things. Someone you haven't spoke to lately, or someone you speak to all the time--tell us about it! Comment or post in the forum, if you like.
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