Being the only person of color in the workplace is a sensation that’s hard to describe.
Everyone is nice, but no one really talks. We all move like silent worker ghosts, quietly muttering “excuse me” when we bump into each other in the kitchen.
Normally, we don’t talk about work. Our conversations are limited mostly to mutual complaints and pointed inquiries as to whether or not any of my other sisters are in the room to talk on the phone as well. This visit, things were different.
When I was invited to a dear friend from college’s bachelor party in New Orleans—a six day affair over Memorial Day weekend—I said yes without thinking, scouring Southwest.com for a $300 ticket and quickly Venmo’ing $200 for an Airbnb.
Here are some scenes from my rich inner fantasy life. The paint is buckling on the walls of my living room. It is because there is certainly mold, or water damage, or ancient knob and tube wiring, causing it to distort. The floorboards in my apartment are possibly original, but could be stripped and sanded. I should dust the chandelier that hangs precariously in my living room, but I should check to make sure it’s right for the time and era of my home before I put in the work. The wall that separates my kitchen and bedroom is surely unnecessary and most likely not load bearing; I will take it down to the studs. I will punch through the sheetrock and the plaster with a sledgehammer, and create a flowing sanctum of peace. There will be clean linens and the trim will shine. I will do this all and stay under my budget. I have been watching a lot of HGTV.
I find few things as frustrating as dealing with customer service representatives. Generally, I consider myself a patient person. Slow waitstaff and inefficient baristas are only a mild irritant, like seasonal allergies or when my cat knocks over a full glass of water off my bedside table. I’m effusively polite with those in the service industry, because I remember what it was like to serve demanding customers who want both soy milk and half and half in their iced coffees. I tip well, I smile. But, when it comes to customer service representatives, generally, I’m a giant asshole.
The first week of 2015, I decided to KonMarie my life. The concept of spring cleaning never made much sense to me. Spring brings flowers, allergies, sunny weather and a sun that doesn’t really set until at least 7 p.m. Spring is made for being enjoyed outdoors with the sun on your shoulders, not in your musty apartment, marveling at moths and finding new and inventive ways to store the scarves you stress-knit or the sweaters you bought when you were sick of everything else. It was decidedly winter out—cold, blustery, with traces of snow still on the ground. I decided that the new year was the best time.
My sisters and I decided to go to Miami one night, sitting in my living room while watching “Property Brothers” and arguing over whose turn it was to get up and get the chips from the kitchen. We had never been on a trip together, alone, and it was the only time that we had the funds to do so. The excuse was Shaina’s birthday, but really, after the ceaseless cold, the thought of sitting on a beach with the sun on our faces was too much to resist.