Here’s how I make tea: I go online and see what teas fix whatever drove me to want tea. I usually find at least three that sound like a good idea. I add all three+ bags to a teacup and fill it with boiling water. Then I trap the bags under a spoon and let it sit until it’s cold. Finally, I drink it fairly quickly (because I don’t want to move away from the sink with a known stain-causer.) I get the ones that come in a non-bleached, organic pod-shaped bag in variety packs for such occasions.
I know I do it wrong. My only interest is getting the herbs in my belly as efficiently as possible. I was a regular tea drinker for a while. Then I noticed it stained my teeth, and now I only drink it when something hurts, but not severely enough to warrant medical intervention. Then brush immediately after. (I love my baby gap, but I don’t think I can pull it off with yellow teeth.) A little vain, I know. 🤫 I remember when I was younger and spent lots of time and money keeping my hair cute. (Until the day I added up how much I spent since my first weave. 😳) It was a priority after being raised by my mom, who thought scotch-taping a bow or clip to my afro was beautiful. Don’t get me wrong; Heather and I were adorable with our clips, and handmade, matching, ruffled, purple-gingham dresses.
Junior High happened. My older sister buzzcut my hair with clippers the day before school started, and I went with a different look. I rolled with it and wore lots of preppy outfits with knit ties, sweater vests, and penny loafers. Heh. I remember a teacher saying I liked a tailored look. I decided it was her way of telling me I had a style going on, and not gently acknowledging I may be queer. (I watched a lot of afterschool specials.)
She was a good teacher. I was the token black kid in a new, much larger school. I lacked the energy to get upset over every little thing. I had far more abstract concerns to keep me occupied, like whether or not my jeans were by Calvin Klein. My mom did some research, found a black person, and acquired the necessary knowledge to care for our hair when we were little.
We had to go to a particular drug store to get our products because no other store sold them in South Dakota back then. (Osco Drug. I’m pretty sure my mom talked to a manager and asked them to stock black hair care products. She was fabulous like that.) Full disclosure: My mom also had a freakin’ cow when Heather and I came home with cornrows in our hair, courtesy of the university students she hired to socialize with us. It was the first time I heard the word, ethnic. Heather, of course, refused to take them out until they began unraveling. I remember thinking she was so cool for doing that. 🤭
I took them out immediately because I understood it’s what my mom wanted me to do without her saying it, and I was high on her approval. My mom programmed me to be her spy when I was a kid. That game sucked, and I quit around the time I started caring about Izod Lacoste (they since broke up.) That drug lost its efficacy after my older siblings retaliated enough times for tattling. My buzz-cutting sister likely wishes I got there before she started dating. Oh shit, that’s why she offered to cut my hair. Better let that go. Heh.
Junior High was bliss compared to Elementary School. My brother sat next to me in homeroom, and his locker was beside mine. It was my first time using combination locks, and you wouldn’t believe how much time I wasted the summer before imagining horrific scenarios involving me naked, locked inside, and unable to recall the combination. I cringed every time I saw a firetruck, imagining my humiliating rescue-to-be. It was like the universe said, I know this is scary, but Steve’s here. You’re fine. (He was there for me when I started High School, too.)
He failed 2nd grade for two years in a row. The official story states he needed extra help to keep up with his class. The reality; his 2nd-grade teacher was the first who figured out how to teach him, and he didn’t want to move on to the 3rd grade with a new teacher. Thus, I caught up, which rocked. He was my best friend, favorite comedian, and toughest badass who would beat up anyone who made me cry (over the n-word.) I need to write about him as he’s been on my mind a lot lately. It’s difficult because I loved him so much. Some of his mistakes also haunt me.
It will take time to decide if and what to share. I think it’s related to a better understanding of forgiveness. It didn’t seem as significant when I was younger. Now, it looks like a difference between like and love.