When summer arrives in New York City it usually starts with a window that's open to full capacity in every room of your apartment. The ac or a fan is going. The air is sweet, hot and a little sweaty all at the same damn time.
The morning sounds of new rustling green leaves on trees. So full, you can no longer see the train in the distance. There are garbage trucks before 6 am and cars driving by on city streets that are a lot less congested. You hear the birds and the soft swirl of sky. People walking their dogs reverberate more leisurely. The new warmth makes you want to spend your days doing fun things instead of getting ready for the office. Somehow, even the office seems slower.
My mind was busy planning all the things I'd do when the school year was over for my son. This one thing changed my whole little world very quickly. You see, I've fallen back into my twenties (I'm 45) while he was away at college. I spent so much wonderful time alone. I went to bed early, slept late, and ate what I call bullshit meals. I sat in my SUV after finding a good parking spot, only to play Royal Match for an hour. I did laundry every two weeks and it still fit in a small bag. My apartment was always clean. I took slow walks at night after work. I had absolutely nowhere to be. I started doing things like joining writing contests and crocheting til my wrists hurt. I did everything at home while in my underwear.
It was the L I F E.
Just before he came back I had grand ideas of going to the beach every weekend. I thought that I'd spend May into June that way.
Now, don't get me wrong... I love when my son is at home. However, being a mom is filled with lots of precaution and contrary to popular belief, kids do not take care of themselves that much. Even at 19 and it's okay. That is just the way I grew mine. So, there was a little meal planning some days. There was way more laundry, because why wear one outfit when you can stunt and wear three? There was worrying about lots of things all day like smoking weed and having friends over way too late or too often. However, he was going through a breakup and he needed the comfort of his friends. So, I let it be, until the frustration was on level ten. Then we had calm discussions on how we could do things a little better for the sake and sanity of each other. I didn't mind that there wasn't much interning as long as he was getting adequate rest, food and relaxation. He had two vacations without me, which allowed the break that I needed. However, there is something about the combination of work and parenting that really makes you feel like you're pushing it to the limit. It's kinda like going from a five day work week, to a four days and then back again. Does that make sense? Thank goodness he is a thoughtful, respectful and responsible kid. Those qualities made it all the more easier to tolerate the tail-end of the teenage years.
After I got over feeling like summer had ended before it even started, I remembered that I
planned lots of things ahead of time. All I had to do was follow my bullet journal. I incorporated a few dates with my 19 year old boo. We went to the spa, to The Top of the Rock and a couple dining experiences. Otherwise, I left him to his own devices and I minded my own business.
Summer has meant something entirely different in every decade so far.
A different borough or state, could mean a divergence that was hard to grasp; like adjusting to my first summer in California. Another example is, the one year I had to attend summer school or the summer that I ran very far away from home. Those seasons in my life were slightly scary and the sun felt slightly oppressive. However, there was something extra special about this year. I was single, a lot less brokenhearted, with a bit more money, and confidence. In addition, I had a new discernment of my free time, intention and follow through. I did my best not to squander any of it. This summer I was grateful for so many things. First and foremost, I paid more attention to some of the fun things that other people were doing and I was able to make good decisions on what I wanted to take part in and the things I wanted to sit out.
Harlem is my place of choice year round. Still, I managed to venture out of my comfort zone.
I started summer with my friend, Asha in the month of May. I managed to see her three times over the course of the season, which is huge for me. Connecticut is close, yet so far. I would usually stay in the city, burrow in my own space and enjoy one of my many hobbies. Ash, made it fun to get out and came in clutch literally on all the rainy days. First with furniture shopping, then an overnight with my sisters and finally a pop up for lunch.
I didn't spend as much time as I would like with my cousins, but whenever I do see Janell & Amirh it's a time. My cousin, Amirh has become a part of my everyday and I love that. Whether it's a text, call or a funny video... We stay in conversation.
June started out with a wildfire that burned so strongly in Canada, that it heavily affected the air quality in New York for days. Then the smoke cleared and sunny days prevailed. So much happened in a small space of time. I joined another short story contest and spent time with my sisters, Chelsea & Tory and my cousin, Dionne. We went to the Bronx Soul Series and had the best time. This community event is run by Leondria and Chelsea. It aims to uplift Bronx natives, POC creatives, and business owners. There's always, good music, drinks and plenty of vendors.
Follow them on Instagram @BronxSoulSeries
July was the most busy month of the summer by far. One of the things I managed to do was go to Costa Rica with my girlfriends, Tashanna, Rachelle, Tianna and Divine. Otherwise known as The Panel. I am very intentional about my travel, because of work, my son, my budget and who all gonna be there? This trip was the farthest I'd ever felt from home and it worried me a little at first, but I was travelling with a solid group of women and it ended up being just what I needed. We had lovely meals, endless drinks, enjoyed the wildlife, soaked in the hot springs, and of course I treated myself to the spa, all at the foot of a volcano. My friends constantly teach me to push myself further. Also, within the past year they have all gotten promotions and leveled up. It's so incredible to be surrounded by greatness. Congratulations to them all. I'm so proud of you.
I also attended The Unlocked Foundation's: Summer Rooftop Soiree and I have to say, there is something about being in a room full of strong, confident women and being accepted as one of them. I have the best time whenever I'm able to attend. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've missed one yet. Shout out to Rachelle who sits on the board of this non profit organization that teaches women how to have the conversation about the pay gap and how to go about being properly compensated and overall, feel more empowered. If you can, listen to The Key: An UNLOCKED Podcast.
Follow them on Instagram @TheUnlockedExperience
My nephew, Jayden graduated from high school and now attends Morgan State with his cousin, McKyle (my baby). We got to hang with our John Tribe twice before the boys headed off to school (I love being around my brothers). This is us at Jay's graduation party. Congrats Jay! Auntie loves you.
Hold a moment please...
"These Motherfuckers ain't Stoppin' me".
Beyonce (don't come for me. I'm typing this shit on a Chromebook and there aren't any accents for the e) shut it down with this concert in so many ways. The visuals, the costumes, the dancers, B L U E I V Y!!! Niece was the absolute best intern this summer and she's still going well into the school year.
Now, I seen the way yall dragged the outfits of the concert goers in Houston, but we all enjoyed ourselves and that's the main takeaway. That and the merch. I still want a Heated fan. Thank you to my wonderful sister, Tory for my Renaissance tee.
Lemme say that I was one of the many people who weren't "on mute" during the singing of Energy. I was so hyped up and honestly so happy to be in the building that I kept singing and didn't even know what was happening until seconds into silence. I don't even care, cause I waited all year for Beyonce's Renaissance Tour. Saying I had a good time goes without saying. I miss this concert experience and wish I could go at least one more time. Can't wait for the next one.
Next up was seeing Aja Monet in Brooklyn at Public Records with Tory. She was performing her new album, "When the Poems Do What They Do". It was a wonderful night and my sister introduced me to my first chopped cheese sandwich after the show. It was so damn good.
In the middle of August, we took McKyle back to college. Summer got a little wacky, because I got into a fender bender and was without a vehicle, but riding the bus and taking Ubers aren't so bad. Then, I had a hard fall, but I was surprised at how strong my body was and I bounced back from that rather quickly with very few bruises. I was able to experience AfroPunk and Shakespeare in the Park, courtesy of Chels. Two more wonderful events with my best girls.
Shakespeare In the Park: The Tempest
Summer was slowly winding down, and New York Fashion Week settled on the city. I was invited to a fashion show by my new friend, Selina who is the designer for the swimwear brand, Mieux Swim. I even bumped into my friend, Rachelle who was a former model for the brand. Thank you for the invitation Selina. I appreciate it very much.
Follow Selina on Instagram @MieuxSwim
As you can clearly see, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. My summer was jam packed.
Here's what I'm currently into:
Barbie (In theaters and now streaming)
What a phenomena Barbie turned out to be this summer?! Everyone wanted to see stars like Margot Robbie and Issa Rae play Barbie dolls in this blockbuster. It did not disappoint. It was pretty cool to see everyone dressed up as all the different versions of Barbie and take pictures at the Barbie props everywhere.
Survival Of the Thickest (Netflix): Such a funny and adorable series. Mavis, played by Michelle Buteau totally steals the show after a shocking discovery forces her to focus more heavily on her career as a stylist.
Women Talking (Amazon Prime)
A beautiful story of women deciding whether to quietly remain in a community that abuses them, stay and fight or suppress it and move on to a more safe future alone.
Donyale Luna (MAX)
Luna is the first black supermodel, but no one really knows of her. This moving documentary shows how a talented model wasn't accepted because of the color of her skin during a racially discriminatory era. That didn't stop her from creating her own persona and living life on her own terms.
Please keep in mind that I'm still exhausting Summer Walker's, Clear 2: Soft Life EP, but here's what else is in my ears...
Blue Water Road, by Kehlani
From the sound of the first song, "Little Story" I was prepared to absolutely love this album in it's entirety. My favorite song, hands down is "Everything". It's so tender and perfect.
U Street Anthology, by rum.gold
I bumped into this new artist on IG. His sound was so gorgeous to my ears that I immediately checked to see if he had a full album and I found this. It's storytelling from track one. The music behind the lyric is so fresh to me. I can't wait to get my vehicle back so I can hear it on the highest level on the cool wind.
Blood Bunny, by Chloe Moriondo
I saw Chloe Moriondo on The Late Late Show with James Corden. She's a twenty year old artist from Detroit. The show woke me up out of my couch slumber and I was happy that I didn't miss it. She reminded me of the raw feelings I had in high school. The song that got me was, "I Wanna Be With You". I absolutely love it.
Wait A Little Longer, by Snoh Aalegra
Snoh is back again, but this time with just a few songs such as, "Be My Summer", "Sweet Tea" and my favorite, "Wait A Little Longer". This song is the theme music to the end of my summer. It's like a soft intro to the whisper of Fall.
The Love Album: Off The Grid, by Diddy
This album came out just in time for cuffing season and not a moment too soon. I wasn't expecting anything, but got an album that's been on heavy rotation for the past week. You know the songs are good when you have to play them on the wake up. This morning, I pressed play on "Memories" by Justin Beiber and Diddy. My other personal faves are "What's Love", "Pick Up", "Tough Love", "It Belongs To You", "Need Somebody", "Boohoo", and "Space" (feat. H.E.R.). It's a certified R&B record. It can be played front to back, no stops. It's jam packed with some of our favorite artists.
The Covenant Of Water, by Abraham Verghese
Woo Baby, this book! First of all, it's 736 pages long and worth every flip. I'm listening to it on Audibles. However, I also had to purchase the book, because I wanted to place my eyes on the words. This novel follows a family for three generations as it suffers an affliction: in every generation, at least one individual dies by drowning. It's beautiful and heartbreaking. Oprah has a 6 part podcast that you can follow along with Dr. Verghese as he breaks down each chapter.
Owning Our Struggles: A Path To Healing and Finding Community in a Broken World, by Minaa B., LMSW
I had the pleasure of meeting Minaa at the first Unlocked Experience event at the beginning of the year. She was so kind and then I found out that she wrote this book and it would be available in August. I purchased it immediately. It has so many relatable pieces of information on how to heal yourself from past trauma. If you do not have it, go get it now anywhere that books are sold. Thank you for this treasure Minaa.
Communion: The Female Search for Love, by Bell Hooks
I think I ran into a Bell Hooks poem online somewhere and then I needed every book she's ever written. I settled on three of them for now. This one will be the first that I read. Somewhere along my life's journey, I thought that I was so interested in how men thought. I still am, but I'm more concerned with myself and the women around me. How I feel about, receive and give love to myself first is more imperative now. That way I can share it more freely with others.
Pretty City New York: Discovering New York's Beautiful Places, by Siobahn Ferguson
One of my coworkers gave me this book as a gift. I love a good coffee table book. Especially if includes delightful hidden gems about our city, which also happens to be the greatest city in the world. I didn't make that up.
When Fall has arrived in New York City, it usually starts with a crisp breeze through a window that's slightly ajar. You usually have to pull your lightweight blanket all the way up to your chin to get comfortably warm. It's a little darker, especially on the gloomy mornings. A nice hot shower often remedies a sniffle and you have to grab a sweater on the way out the door. There's more traffic than usual, because the kids are back to school. The routine is similar to the rest of the year. The pace just quickens a bit. Lattes or hot cups of tea are in order and the days seems just a little longer.
This past summer was F U L L.
The greatest thing about it all is that in three seasons, it will be back again.
Will you be ready?
I know I will.
Like Diddy says, "Get in ya bag. Stay in ya bag."
We have three whole months until the end of 2023. There's so much time to pick up a new hobby, give yourself proper self-care, or simply improve your routine so it will be even more fine tuned for the seasons to come.
Focus on you and yours. Don't forget to grow up and grow out.
Love J A S