Lynne d Johnson



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03.27.02 08:10 PM

spending time with my niece

My niece and I are like two peas in a pod. I swear everyone in my family feels she is my second coming. It's just that I ain't dead yet, so that can't actually be the case.

This relationship goes back to her early days. She's only 12. My sister had to go back to work after having her, and in many ways, other than the sitter, I became a primary caretaker. Later, as I moved out of the family home, she spent many of her weekends with me in Brooklyn. There were times, as a toddler, she would simply stare at me. Even now, I seem to be an amazement to her. Not too long ago, while I was napping, I woke up to her in my face, rubbing my cheek and sideburn. Put it this way, we are tight.

We bikeride together, go to movies together, learn new dances together, and we really talk. Although she is a child, she challenges and analyzes the status quo. She offers a fresh perspective on the nature of adults, the world, politcs, science, religion. She's been an amazement to me.

Lately, I ride up to the Bronx on Tuesdays and pick her up from school to take her to her dance classes in Mt. Vernon. This is our time together, since my weekends have become more and more limited. Last week, we spent considerable time together after her dance class, looking for her birthday gift and talking about her life at school over dinner. Yesterday, was a little different though. She had an Easter performance at school and my mother was with us. Granted, I have a lot of stress in my life right now. Trying to complete the semester with as many A's as possible, going through a break up (for which I am at fault), beginning a job search for the gig I really want after I complete my MBA, financial strain, and so much more.

So there I was yesterday stressed out with my mom being there. Such a different dynamic. And, well, Mom, gotta' love her, but buttons she tends to push. And yesterday just wasn't the day. I am not a crier per se, but lately, maybe because I am getting older (in female years this means a number of things), or simply b/c there are so many stressful things going on in my life, I've shed a few too many tears. It's really strange for me. Since my pops went on to join the ancestors when I was 16, I kind of stopped crying. But lately...

Anyway, the mix of mom and my stress kind of pushed me over the edge. And all of a sudden, I felt this face near mine, breathing from the backseat of the car, with a hand rubbing my shoulder. I didn't think about it then, but my niece has never seen me cry. Never. This had to be a shock to her system. I felt her wishing she could help me to stop. She offered kind words, and even tried to quell the situation between mom and I. As I was driving home, I wondered if that might have been difficult for her. Seeing me cry. I even called the house today to apologize to her and talk with her about it, but she wasn't home. Later today, I received a definitive answer. My sister called to say that my niece told her that grandma made auntie cry and that she has never seen auntie cry. I told my sister I wondered if it affected her, and she said it did. I'm sure her image of me will now be changed forever. Makes me realize I have to get a hold of myself. Have to stop letting the circumstances of my life weigh me down.

For instance, I've had strains of gray hair for a little bit now. It's hereditary. My pop's side grays quite early. No big deal. But I've noticed a lot more lately.

Back in the fall, I dyed my hair brown and started trying to grow this afro. You see, for the majority of the '90s, I had locs. They had been bronze, red, and even blonde. So I didn't even know I was graying then. Then I went short and shorter, and shorter. And noticed they were there. So in the fall, although I wasn't ready to loc again, I began growing this 'fro. I soon tired of it, and went back to this brush cut, but when I did, I noticed that in the few months I had my hair dyed more grays started sprouting up. This has got to be the stress. I mean, I don't even have the body I once had. I'm talking a few cuts here and there. I don't eat or sleep the way I used to. And now, that I have affected my niece in such a way that she sees me in a different light it makes me realize that I've got to pull the pieces together. I've got to get myself back into meditation mode.

Can't believe I'm writing all this personal stuff in here. Can't believe it at all. I'm really a private person and somewhat of an introvert. But I think in writing this here, I am partaking in a form of catharsis and giving myself a true wake up call. My life ain't that bad. At least folks who see the external accomplishments will probably believe that. But you know, we are all our own worst enemies. And I guess I've been my best enemy for a few months now.

Well, I just spoke with my niece on the phone. She says she is alright about what happened yesterday and that she loves me. Time now to continue loving myself and dealing with this break up.

posted by lynne | |


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