the brassy ( since birth), blonde ( by choice) Latina has been my rock ever since I took this job in a corporate world and me the least corporate type, needing a blue print on how to navigate the suits and overblown egos of men and women who never grew up. She helped me my first week when the jock in the corner office wanted to drag me over the coals for answering his phone the wrong way and sat with me for over an hour in a conference room trying to figure out where the fuck I went wrong as I had no training on said phone with multifeatureswithnoinstructions.
She became a welcome reprieve, before I discovered the treasure trove the sourly gatekeepers were hoarding and listens with a co-conspirator grin when I ask depending on my mood (joking or serious) whether any of her Italian "construction" friends would like to come to visit family with me for the sole purpose of scaring the shit out of them and make them shut up about me living alone. Which mind you I don't live alone, I have very pretty, self containing plants to keep me company.
She grew up in Harlem when most of the surrounding structures were burnt out shells of their former selves and you would never wanna face her in a fight. She has the tough as nails persona I wish I had sometimes, though I've been told it's obvious I don't know my own strength. Put me in a corner and I push back with all my might. So this time she came to me, the year starting off shaky, seeing her tough as nails father break at the death of a grandmother she wasn't close to, to the passing of the tough as nails grandfather who raised her being buried in Florida with her money and bringing her grieving, self raging mother back to her ancestral home in New York.
" Listen darling, I became you. I raged and I finally broke." She smiles up at me, perched in the corner...snippets of said conversation spilled to me, rage held in for over twenty somethin years:
"Who the fuck are you to judge me? I'm tellin ya, I love my mother, she's my mother, but I've been seeing the truth for thirty fuckin years and it was time to come out."
"Your other daughter may have a Ph.D in business, but I got a doctorate in life, I know how to fuckin take care of my shit. The father of my son may not be perfect, but he loves me for who I am. Your other daughter? That motherfucka don't even respect her. And you want to put me under the microscope?"
"I buried my grandfather, cause that was the least I could do for that man, I will never get over my debts to him, cause he hand fed me many times. I came back to New York broke, wonderin what I was gonna do. And guess what? I get a call today and the money is going into my account. Now, who's the stupid one?"
"Lana, I had to go outside in the car after that and rage and cry, cause I think I never got a chance to mourn that man, and I had to let it out on her. I knew you would understand with your mother. You know what I mean mamma?"
Me: "Yes...yes I do, all too well."
With that she outstretched her arms in the air in a victory sign. " But listen darling, don't you go completely over the edge yet. I'm what? Less than ten years older than you? You gotta little while longer to let go like that." maybe not on blood yet, but I can on my adopted mother, the ever shifting world outside my door.
With all the punches from my adopted mother hitting my sides as I silently screamed up Sixth Avenue at 11pm at night, I threw my victory sign in the air. This misfit toy is pushing back with all her might and using the strength of the other one to know that after the raging comes the calm. Whether you see it on the horizon or not.
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