Sister To Sister

I like the feeling of being able to earn my own money, although it’s not a lot, being able to invest in my likings, to chase my desire, that’s powerful. Graduating from college, I’d thought I’d return to mom’s house, spend the rest of my life there until my late twenties as I establish a career and opportunity. She always talked about how that’s the best plan because California rent wasn’t getting better anytime soon. Rent prices make mortgage look more affordable, but even then, how do you even save for the down payment without juggling more than one job? How do you even cope with having more than one job without burning yourself to the ground? Is there room to have those down moments, to slow down and look at your own reality? 

I turn the silver plated knob of the apartment door, my apartment door, allowing myself to see the living room. The living room wasn’t much, no furniture yet, no decorations dangling from the walls, merely the spacing allowed by the measurements of the white walls. The pictures made it look larger than it is, but I don’t need a lot, I’m one person. My friends could come over, still make do with what we have. We’ve spent some nights sleeping on the ground of our dorm rooms, crowding and squishing together after accidentally exhausting ourselves from late night movie nights. The ground was hard, but the adrenaline from laughing, the comfortability of the conversation, and the plot of it all would make me forget about it. 

The sound of my suitcase rolling behind me echoed as I entered. I closed the door, locking it, and walking further into the place. I abandoned my suitcase in the middle of the floor, walking over to the black fridge. I open the doors, the light illuminating the empty shelves and drawers at the bottom. It’s up to my imagination to figure out what I want in here, but I have to consider what I can also.

I really have to provide these things for myself. Growing up, you’re used to them existing before your eyes, never really having a concern for them until your stomach growls and you can just walk to the fridge, pick whatever you like, make the meal, then sit at the table to enjoy it. Mom’s fridge was the grocery store and I didn’t have to pay her to access these things everyday. Not for the chair or the table, it was just there. 

But I’m twenty-two now. I have to face reality.  

I mean, it’s not everyday that this happens for someone my age, the only relatable examples are in the form of famous social media characters’ ability to gain fast money because of how they painted themselves as these characters. I grew up imagining I’d give up my privacy and self in order to ensure that future. That I’d have to be open to the public to be able to receive financial stability. I’ve fantasized about having this a part of my life, but I don’t think I can handle the judgment, the opinions, and emotional damage. I’d have to conquer some woman warrior to get through the bullying I’ve seen online. 

Knock, knock! “Open the door!” Raven shouts. My lips  fold up to a smile, ready to laugh at my sister. I headed over to the door and unlocked it, revealing my sister shifting her shoulders up and down with a box in her hand. “Why you pull up right as I did? You knew I was coming at this time,” I say. 

“Didn’t want you to be alone,” Raven says. She enters the apartment, looking the place up and down. She places the box on the island, letting the weight off her hands. 

“That’s the whole point of having your own apartment, having your own space and everything.” 

“And you be lying saying you want space and stuff, ditch me and momma, then go have all too many friends with you. How can you be by yourself with five other people?” She raised her eyebrows and twisted up her lips, then continued to pass me by. How do you like the place so far? It looks cute.” 

“I haven’t checked out the bathroom or the bedroom yet, but it looks like the picture, that’s all I really wanted,” I say. I follow her as she walks down the hall, opening the first door to her right. I saw the reflection of myself approaching the room along with the tiling of the back wall. I lean on the door frame as I watch her give into her curiosity. 

“Oh, this bathroom a little too small for me, but it’s good. It’s enough drawers to put your collection of hair products in. Cleaning products at the bottom of the cabinet, then you can put the extra stuff in this little drawer at the top, it’s flat and wide enough.” 

“I was gonna keep all the combs, blow dryer, and products in here. Lotions & stuff can go in my room,” I say. 

“Then you would have to bring it to the bathroom everytime I shower.” 

“Or a walk buck naked to my room, mama isn’t here to yell at me.” 

“That is true,” Raven says. She walks past me, heading deeper into the hall for the door on the left. “This is the bedroom.” 

“Mhmm.” She opens the door, I notice the window on the wall bringing lighting to the space, making the tan carpet look a little paler than it actually is. This time I enter the room to see Raven opening the closet. 

“Oo, I love this closet. Kinda luxurious for a simple apartment.” 

“If you want, you can bring some of your clothes, put them on the other side so you can stay the night whenever you want.”
“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind,” she says. “Did you order a mattress yet?” 

“Nope, haven’t had the chance,” I say. Moving out from mama’s was kind of impulsive. I didn’t expect this to happen, not Raven, not mama, so I had no plans for when everything was coming or when I should order anything. “I was gonna head to Walmart or Target to get an air mattress so I can have that for a little bit until I find something.” 

“You know how you’re gonna decorate the place?” 

“I was thinking of putting plants around the living room to give some fresh air. Maybe some art portraits in there or like an organized or random collection of photo albums laid out on the wall that’s gonna be above the couch, like I’ve seen on Instagram. For my room I liked that vogue challenge that was going around and how Black people were doing it, it was ghetto fabulous, but I don’t know how to put that on a wall or what I even mean really. I just like that state of being. Or just do some animal portraits around my room since I love big cats and dogs.” 

“Girl, animals?” Raven asks. “Throw that idea right where it came from because that’s a no for me.” 

I laugh at her reaction. “It was just a thought, but I might have to hold off on that for a minute. I’m not sure how long I can actually last here with all my savings and the flow of income. I signed a six month lease, I think I’ll be okay with that. I just kind of signed the lease, wanting to escape, but I don’t have no future expectations, you know?” 

“Really? Mama didn’t say that when we talked about you moving out.”

“I haven’t really talked to her since last week.”
“You mean when you told her you were moving out?” I nod. “Y’all need to get over whatever y’all beefing about Aniyah. It’s not that serious.” 

“I mean, how do you raise someone yet at the same time view them as this person to keep a side eye at? She was setting me up with all this nonsense, it was getting too much for me,” I say. 

“I think you guys are both too stubborn to understand one another or even look at each other sometimes.” 

“I don’t get her and it’s frustrating when I bring it up, she just wants to be right. Sometimes I’m like damn, does she even like me the way she wants to always be in contrast with me. I just needed less control in my life, I think moving out on my own was the right move for that. Then I could feel respected a little.” 

“Aniyah, you don’t need to prove yourself to her by renting a whole ‘nother place. That’s too drastic and if that’s the reason you signed the lease, you really need to evaluate yourself and reflect. You were really that scared of mama to talk to her woman to woman?” 

“I’m not scared of her, talking to her just never goes right.”
“Alright, then write it to her in a letter or in a text message, draw it out on something that she can’t sit there and refute in the moment. She’s gotta digest something and have the time to think about it!” 

“She couldn’t do that before?”

“You know how she is. She’s not perfect, but you gotta give her that chance like she’s been doing her whole life with you. I know how it feels. I’ve been in this headspace before, but remember, she didn’t have to keep us around. She’s got love for us, trust me!” 

“She’s never gonna let me be an adult.”

“Yes she will! Trust me, if you patch things up with her, work on it, in a few months the lease is up, I’m sure she’ll let you move back in. You get that taste of independence then can be a little more realistic about your financial situation and save while at home with the rest of us.” 

“I was considering places in the East coast, it’s cheaper out there like in Philly.” Raven smacks her lips.

“What about your job, you just got it like what, two three months ago.”
“Look, I know the feeling of wanting to be an adult, to have everything together and right, but it’s okay not to have everything perfect. I’m twenty-five, still figuring it all out and you don’t see me stressin’ over it. In time, my time will come, until then I need the village to lean on until I can really support myself. It isn’t bad to admit that?” 

“That’s not what I mean.”

“I know that’s not your intention, but that’s the impression you give. Mama really thinks that’s where your head is at, that you just want to forget everything she’s done for you, but you just want some peace of mind right?” I nod. “I know this isn’t gonna happen overnight, but it doesn’t hurt to try a way to address her.”

“I think about it.”

“And that’s good enough for now. Try to call her later in the week to let her know you’re alright or something.” I give her a small smile as she heads out of the bedroom, down the hall and back towards the island. “Wanna know what I got you?” 

“What?” I ask. She starts to unfold the box, pushing the tabs out her way before reaching out the box. She pulls out a box of mixed plastic forks, spoons, and knives along with a one hundred twenty count of heavy duty paper plates. I smack my lips. “Girl.” 

“You know very well you don’t like doing no dishes in the first place! Watch, you’re never gonna buy any reusable kitchen essentials.”

“They don’t make plastic pots and pans.”

“You rarely cook either. That’s what you need, a recipe book and start learning how to cook and stuff while you’re here for the next little bit.” 

“I’ll think about it, it’s a considerate skill.” 

“Duh” 

“But, thank you Raven,” I say.

“Of course, I always got you,” She responds. She reaches over to hug me and I embrace her back. “You know I’m proud of you no matter what though.” 

“I know.” 

“Mama too.” 

“I know.”