Alpha 

1987

My mother is weeping in her car. Covered in an oversized flannel and work pants, the warehouse uniform she’s become accustomed to wearing, she’s got her head to her chest to talk to me as I lay in her belly.

She’s working at a packing plant and afraid to lose her job, so she’s hiding her pregnancy. She’s just returned from going AWOL in the previous year to live on the beach in Florida with my dad.   

And today, she’s spotting. She thinks she’s losing me and is balling her eyes out and praying in the car in the parking lot at work. 

“Stay with me. I promise I will give you a great life. Just don’t leave me”

She’s pleading with me. The baby that will renew her faith in humanity. 

My father, her first love, abandoned her upon their return to Philadelphia. She’s 19, alone and terrified. A possible dream deferred, laying wait in her womb. 

She’s thinking of the names they tossed around together. The memories sting.

“Rashida”

-No, sounds like a girl with big earrings

{This may be why I like big earrings…}

“Tunisia”

-No, why not Taneesha? Sounds just like it. 

“Maryaam”

“Hasana”

“Kamila”

-Like Camilla Parker Bold? No.

No, like K-a-m-i-l-a

-Is it an English name?

No, it’s Lebanese for Perfection

Aunt Maryaam, my grandmother’s aunt, was an avid Kahlil Gibran reader. She was an international pianist and had come across his writings in Lebanon while our family was living and performing  there in the 1940s.

Aunt Maryaam had been one of my mother’s most adored humans, so anything she was into, my mother gravitated to or was intrigued by. Kamila Rahmeh Gibran, a mother of four who raised her children alone in the states after leaving Lebanon, had been the object of her illustrious son’s devotion and affection, even after her death. 

1996

Kamila Hasana Ahmad!

-Yes?

How long are you going to let this letter sit here? I keep telling you to write your dad a letter. This is the second one he’s sent since I told you to write him. 

-Tomorrow

It’s been two years since I met my dad for the first time. My mother tracked him down and located him in a Florida prison serving a three year sentence. He’d been bouncing between finding and losing himself in Southern Florida. My mother drove us from Atco, New Jersey to somewhere outside of Orlando Florida to meet my father.

He’s ugly.

-Shhhhh. What? You look just like him.

No. I look just like you. His arms look like boobies.

{His muscles have never gone neglected}.

My dad was waiting in the line of inmates that were scheduled for visitation. I couldn’t figure out why his aura threw me off so much, but I’ve held onto that day and that feeling ever since. 

Dear Dad,

I don’t have any stories this time. I’m too sad to write and I can’t tell you why.

Kamila Hasana Ahmad

My mother respects my privacy. She sends the letter.

1998

“In tonight’s forecast, severe thunderstorms and showers”.

Panting 

Kamila!
-Yes?

Where are you? 

……..

What’s wrong?

{Thunder rumbles outside}

 Allah is going to strike me!

{I’d started having panic attacks the summer I turned 11. Thunderstorms and public places were triggers. I truly believed I was going to die before I turned 12. I was convinced Allah had really given up on me and wanted me dead because I couldn’t fix myself. I was in the midst of four years of abuse that would end right before the panic attacks started presenting themselves. My dad’s letters came less frequently and I started to feel like life was a hoax and I wasn’t a kid. I was 10.}

You’re a child 

-Really?

Glee

Perception 

That you see me in my innocence 

‘Cause I don’t know what it looks like 

I just feel it mostly 

And they want to feel it too 

Confusion, anger and shame laced in a cocktail of adolescence 

You have three holes

No, I have four 

This one, this one, and that one 

And the one in my heart

Late, great 1998 

God Bless you, you sick year 

…Much is Tested

The scales you polish so much

Have failed you

Consumed by the beauty of the balance

Shifting your weight to keep up

With the glimmer

Dare to scuff

The scale

Wasn’t made to carry you

Shape your soles to bear your heart.

Feet stumble in passion.

She who carries Heart walks with Grace.

Praise

What would the world be without glory? The same thing it would be without pain.

Everything is relative.

However you want to slice it, we were all created to be here in the same place at the same time.

We must never allow ourselves to be guided or stopped by what anyone else is doing. We must never allow ourselves to be guided or stopped by what anyone else is doing. We must never allow ourselves to think we can only go so far because others are already there.

I didn’t choose to be here now

I never knew there was a choice

My majesty was borne out of the need for Love to thrive unconditionally.

So was yours

Rejoice in that.

Be grateful you are one of Love’s children,

one in a million,

among the many,

ones in millions,

living for Love.

And she goes hard for her kids.

Praise the hard times

Praise the easy ones

Plan for the worst

Strive for the best

Praise the hard times

Praise the easy ones

Love goes hard

For all her kids

When it’s hard

When it’s easy

It’s This One Thing: You deserve you, not your problems.

It takes a lot of courage to analyze your life.

In this world, you’re supposed to have it together, right now, all at once. If you don’t, you’re screwed. 

Success is not yours to claim.

And that success isn’t transmutable. It doesn’t come in every color under the sun. In fact, it’s governed by a white picket fence. There is no gradient.

That success doesn’t interest me at all. The shit I’ve seen in life, I’m happy to have a hot meal, a glass, some herb and good- if I’m lucky, live-music at the end of my day. 

At some point, it’s time to look at why it’s so important to get everything done right now

Why right now? 

My life is all screwed up. 

Really?

Tell me how. As a matter of fact, write down how much of your life is screwed up. 

Collect all of your thoughts and analyze your current situation. Concentrate on what areas of your life you need to rebuild. 

Learn to separate the different parts of your life that make you whole. 

Do not allow the temporary weakening of a specific part of your life affect the rest of who you are. 

  You are WAY MORE than your problems.

Let’s look at the definition of a problem: 

A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with or overcome.

Even if you have more than one problem at a time, your life is not over.

A problem is not greater than you. It is a tool used to rebuild and shape your path. 

…If you are working on it.

What? Some of us fall in love with our problems?

Yeah

There’s this one thing called romanticizing your problems. 

I used to romanticize my problems because I had no faith in myself. I believed that my problems were more resilient than I was and that it’d be useless trying to get rid of them. 

I began to identify with them, even make excuses for having them and fear letting go of the beasts I’d come to know. 

As the Stockholm syndrome commenced, I lost myself in my problems. I was bent and they were holding me up, I’d convinced myself. 

Expectations? What are those? 

I’d had standards and I hated myself for it. In my mind, my problems were bigger than me and I was being foolish in still wanting the things that I felt I deserved. 

You can’t get past your insecurities. Men only want confident women. No man will want you. Ever. 

Rational or irrational, my thoughts gave way to my problems. I was mentally unhealthy and it cost me a few relationships to realize I was in deep. 

I ain’t shit…

The cycle continued and the self-loathing became unbearable. Then one day I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror leading to the front door. I smiled and stood, regarding my face and shoulders. 

My late grandmother’s voice rang in my head, 

I watched you walk from 16th street all the way to the corner because I wanted to compliment  you on your walk. I said, “That young lady has great posture”. Then I said, “Oh that’s Kamila!”

That day in the mirror, replaying my grandma’s words in my head over and over again, I’d decided to break out of the hold my problems had over me. A graceful maiden with a full life and a big heart and a badddd walk could not be denied what she deserved most, her highest esteem.

One thing: You deserve more of your attention and esteem than your problems do. No matter how big they are.

“Life is like a puzzle. 

Sometimes the pieces fall apart, but they can be put back together. 

There are pieces from your parents and friends, pieces from people you like and from people you don’t like that make your life what it is. 

There are pieces from books, pieces of songs, and pieces of things that have happened to you. 

All the pieces of your life affect you, but THEY ARE NOT YOU.”

Remember that today and everyday. Problems are tools that, when worked on, sharpen the person you are and are becoming. 

Mine bow down to me. I’m always on the grind working on myself.

Essentially

 

 

lalaland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing isn’t this fairytale, La-La Land, hobby it’s made out to be, sometime. Not if it’s what you do to survive and stay in-tune with your inner voice. There are levels to this! There are those times, no matter how good of a writer you are, that you’ll doubt yourself. Replace doubt with determination.

I’m just letting you in my head for a minute. Cool?

I say none of this to you without saying it to myself, first.

You’ll probably think I’m bat-shit-crazy for sharing that I’m paranoid you’ll think I’m bat-shit-crazy.

Which makes me not-so-crazy after all, essentially.

I just want to get on with the writing, but I’m in my head, and look, you are too!

See?

Always Almost There…

It won’t be long

Til I get there

My heart’s desire

Been a long road,

But I ain’t tired

I fell in love with the journey

Headed home,

Feeling leery

Don’t know what waits for me

Fire burning in my chest

Just can’t rest

Til I take the first steps

Of my next Trek