More thoughts on life at 32. Here's part one.
17. The older I get, the more appreciative of my mother’s no-nonsense approach to chores and housework when I was growing up. Our responsibilities included vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping regularly, and cleaning stoves, refrigerators, baseboards, cabinets, ceiling fans, cars, sheds, you name it. Living in the Hardy household meant you contributed to keeping the castle in order. I loathed every bit of it as a kid. Especially mowing the lawn. But as an adult, I’m thankful every time I visit someone’s home and see things in their kitchens that would earn a karate chop from my mama. Or when I have shitbag roommates raised by rabid slug suckers and people who raise humans who think putting open packs of chicken breasts on the refrigerator’s top shelf allowing blood and chicken juice to drip down all over everything is a thing that’s okay that doesn’t warrant a call to Homeland Security.
18. Mowing the lawn, my least favorite of all chores, is still the devil.
19. The older I get, the more I appreciate going home to 1998 (Hampton). Since I moved away in 2006, visits have historically been capped at about 4 days. Arrive, do the gluttony thing, love on my family, see whomever I need to see, and leave. But now, going home is calming. Boarding the Magic School Chinatown Bus to Virginia is a welcomed escape from the land of slow tourists and jumbo-sized rats. Whereas the slower pace once caused boredom and eagerness to leave, that nothingness now does wonders for my soul. Most of my friends have moved away or dissolved and vanished from my Things of Importance list. Spending time with my parents and sister, being stunned by my nieces and their growth, cooking, helping around the house, and being overwhelmed by nothingness and silence is all a part of my self-care. Still hope to never there again, though.
20. Getting your mojo back is no easy feat. I am light years ahead of where I was this time last year, but I still feel a bit spiritually ashy. I’m socializing more. I’m in therapy consistently. I’m more mindful of my self-care. I know that time alone does not cure the sads and shitty feels, so, as I told my Nice White Lady recently, I must be more intentional about escaping this mental shitshow and banishing this spiritual ashiness. Posting up with a homie and his creative team at WeWork has been great for my productivity and motivation. Scheduling regular writing dates and co-working moments with friends has been great for accountability and inspiration. But I need to get back to shit that brings me joy…aside from food. I love writing, but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as fun. I need to get my ass back into somebody’s dance class, preferably ballet, as it’s one of the few times when I feel at peace and unburdened by emotional fuckshit. Maybe I'll volunteer somewhere with somebody's kids. Kids are better than all of y'all, by the way.
21. The prospect of getting back into dance classes beyond ballet makes me feel very 32. Muy. In general, I feel more comfortable in my body than I did when training in my early twenties. Thankfully, I’m no longer obsessed with being thin. The last few times I hit up Broadway Dance Center and peeked into the hippity hop dance classes, everybody looked nine. And my lower back moaned in fear. As I haven’t been in a class in ages, I anticipate a nice, character-building struggle moment as I attempt to reawaken the part of my brain that retains choreography. It’s super humbling. And my knees ain’t what they used to be. But it needs to happen. My dwindling glutes demand it.
22. Relearning to love and genuinely like Alex after rolling in the mud for a few years has been quite the humbling adventure. This rough patch has been longer and rougher and ashier than imagined, and allowing myself time and space to be human, go through the motions, and pull it the fuck together is ze ultimate struggle. Plus, I am the Janet Jackson of self-deprecation. Being unreasonably hard on myself often prevents me from celebrating victories, large or small. Accepting (as opposed to being content with) where I am and not berating myself daily for missteps and shortcomings has been a much-needed exercise in self love. Being deliberate about all this shit has been revelatory and calming.
23. And I keep reminding myself, “Bitch, you’d never treat anyone like this. Calm it the fuck down.”
24. Coleslaw is also the devil.
25. Dealing with my parents’ mortality has been difficult for me. In my eyes, they’re both superheroes. But time doesn’t care about what I feel. I have watched my mother fight lupus for 32 years, and when I was born, she had already been dealing with that shit for a decade. It has been over forty damn years. Witnessing her life with lupus surely prepared me for my fight. It has also been infuriating and scary to watch her suffer all these years. Luckily, she’s the strongest person I know. And she married a supremely wonderful human with superhuman patience and levelheadedness. I would absolutely trade places with mom if I could. For now, I'll just continue to be the supportive, loving, and wonderful son I've always been. And continue getting my shit together so I can make life easier for them. Woosah.
26. As I plot my path to pappyhood, my cup of appreciation for my parentals and their boundless awesomeness runneth over. I’m trying to be somebody’s dad within the decade. Within five years, even. Maybe sooner if I meet a dope somebody who’s down to go half on a Black-ass baby. And I need my kid(s) to experience some of the magic I grew up with. I’m hyped at the idea of watching my
seed chilluns love on and absorb brilliance from the Mompiece and the Dadpiece. I look forward to teaching Young Melanin about clean baseboard, empanadas, and luxurious macaroni and cheese. And being the dad that goes off on tangents about the good old days when we gathered around the table and debriefed the day’s victories and watched Moesha together while feeding our souls with their grandma’s glorious lasagna/chicken/rice/anything and how these damn kids don’t know nothing bout eating dinner with their mamas and their daddies and don’t like to play kickball and climb trees and shit like we did back in my day. I look forward to watching Young Melanin do chores and lecturing him or her with the things my Dad used to tell us, and cultivating a marvelous person with good taste, aggressive curiosity, and an unshakeable devotion to rice. Just like the ancestors intended.
27. Vanessa is my least favorite Huxtable.
28. Anyhow, I recently concluded that Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit was the most important movie of my childhood. The innumerable happy memories associated with this movie—trying to synchronize my VHS tape with Tiffany’s as we watched it together over the phone, for example—make this an easy way to lift my spirits when I feel craptastic. I may or may not even perform the choreo from “Joyful, Joyful” in the bathroom before or after showering every now and then and can definitely recite 72.3% of the movie if, by chance, it’s asked of me on a game show or during a pageant. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with Sister Mary Clarence and that zany-ass Kathy Najimy, a faux nun’s nun and the person you want to call when there’s something strange in the neighborhood. And that damn Rita Louise Watson, Queen of Surlyland, sure showed her mean ol’ mammy in the end, and all was right with the world. Because Deloris Van Cartier is “not now nor [has she] ever been a Las Vegas showgirl. [She is] a headliner.” It was the best of times.
29. Most important television show: Ghostwriter.
30. Speaking of Ghostwriter, I once had a conversation that went like this:
Me: “I love Ghostwriter. But I prefer the first Gaby. The second one was kinda wack.”
Them: “Well...the second Gaby is my sister. In real life.”
Me: “Oh, damn.”
31. Getting my mojo back has also been a challenge as I’ve spent way too damn long convincing myself I was unworthy of love or companionship and treating myself like a low-down, dirty, despicable, downtrodden slopbucket of a man. I’ve been working on opening up and such. And...re-engaging. Or something. Go-Go Gadget: Getting My Damn Groove Back.
32. Where is Judy Winslow?
New York City-based food lover Alexander Hardy is an essayist, copywriter, cultural critic, lupus survivor, mental health advocate, educator, and co-host of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. He is an essayist, keynote speaker, copywriter, cultural critic, lupus survivor, mental health advocate, and educator who has written for EBONY.com, Eater, Courvoisier, Esquire, The Root, CNN, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Saint Heron, Abernathy Magazine, and Very Smart Brothas, among other outlets. When not writing on TheColoredBoy.com, he enjoys cheese grits, power naps, and sweet tea. Alexander does not believe in snow or Delaware.