I’ve spent the past few New Year’s Eves trying to look cute while bundling up to ring in the new year. Last year, a pink faux fur jacket was part of my ensemble. I wore it underneath a faux fur trimmed and lined (real) leather coat, yet I still froze (and sweat) my ass off while making my way to and from the subway stations. This year I thought I’d be slick and escape to Florida to usher in the new year in comfort and style.
I just knew I’d be basking in the Sunshine State’s warmth. I packed a silver metallic pleated midi skirt, black sleeveless top, and gunmetal gray, open-toe, high heeled Steve Madden sandals. I’m gonna have some cute New Year’s Eve photos! My back-up outfit was to swap the skirt for black slacks, still to be worn with the open-toe sandals.
From my window seat aboard the plane, I posted a picture of its wing and other Jet Blue jets in the background on social media with the caption, “Escaping this arctic freeze for a day…or five.” I landed in Orlando to 51-degree weather. Much better than the 21-degree weather I had left behind up north, but not quite what I had in mind. I was dressed in a thin, orange, off-the-shoulder sweater with black cursive “love” emblazoned across the chest. I wore a lace-trimmed tank top underneath with the full intention of being able to remove the sweater upon arrival. Instead of shedding layers, I actually put my coat on while waiting for my friend to scoop me. I should note, dear reader, that I am the office co-worker who keeps a sweater or a fleece at the office year round, but I’m not the one who asks for the thermostat to be turned up. This was not the Florida weather I was expecting.
If you don’t pay attention to the different glasses or different jeans I’m wearing, you’d think I wore the same clothes every day, or that the photos are all from the same day, including the epic day I posed with a Rottweiler at my friend’s parents’ house, or the day we rode the Orlando Eye. The views of Orlando at night were gorgeous, but thank goodness I’m not scared of heights. The rotation was suspended for about 4 minutes–while we were near the top. I never got to wear the sleeveless tops I packed, but I was comfortable enough in my blue or camo jeans and “emergency” sweater I packed. The gray Mossimo sweater with pearls on the neck, chest and shoulders was an impulse buy from Target. The sign said 30% off. If there’s a sale, then it’s for me. Likewise if the heat isn’t set to dry out your skin and wilt your plants, it ain’t right for me.
Also not for me are crowds, so instead of counting down 2018 at Disney World, we stayed in and ordered in. Hours later, as in 6:46 am on New Year’s Day, I flew back home. I was greeted by 10-degree outside. The pilot warned us to bundle up to deboard the plane, never mind when leaving the airport. My apartment welcomed me with a gush of heat when I opened the door. If I didn’t know that my landlord loves me and knows how I am, I would’ve sworn that wants to bake me alive in my third floor apartment. He kept the heat on full blast during the bomb cyclone known as Grayson that attacked the northeast. One newscaster described it as a hurricane, but with snow. Therein lies the problem for me: I can handle snow; it’s the wind that makes me want to cry.
Windchills dipped into the double negatives. With the exception of embodying the cliché of running to the supermarket to shop for food as if it’s the apocalypse, I did not leave my apartment, not even to check the mail. Thank you, job that I no longer love, for allowing, and providing, us the ability to work remotely.
Millions of people can attest to the perks of working from home. Not showering til noon if at all, sitting pantless at the computer, logging on late even though the computer is RIGHT THERE, flipping through TV channels. I enjoy these perks; however, I do go stir crazy. I get tired of looking at the same ol’ cracks in the ceiling, visible paintbrush strokes on the wall, and stains in the orange 5×7 wool rug. The non-stop coverage of the storm and cold bored me. Like a prisoner, I stare longingly out the window. “What does the air feel like?” “I want to walk outside freely.” Then I remembered that nobody sentenced me to solitary confinement. I’m free to walk around the cabin, as pilots say.
January 6 was the first Saturday of the month and of 2018. Scrolling through Twitter I saw that Well-Read Black Girl was hosting a feminist book club chat at Brooklyn Museum. WRBG keeps my Goodreads To Read list fat and current and I always have a great time at Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays events sponsored by Target. I showered, bundled up, called a Lyft, and headed out. Unfortunately the person I invited couldn’t make it; fortunately for her she’s in California.
Cold weather usually makes people grumpy, but I encountered nice people, starting with my Lyft driver. I received several compliments on my oversized yellow “Love” earrings, one of which lost its back and kept falling out all night. After the feminism discussion in the Luce Center for American Art on the fifth floor, I mustered the courage to speak with the two panelists, one of whom was Glory Edim, founder of Well-Read Black Girl. This was a big deal. I sometimes suffer anxiety attacks in social settings. I follow Glory and her Well-Read Black Girl organization on all social media. I attended September’s first annual festival where I said hi to her for all of two seconds. She was swamped by other congratulators and well-wishers.
This was a do-over. I (re)introduced myself, mentioning my attendance at the festival and lamented how I’ve been trying to attend the always booked WRBG book club meetings. She told me I could attend this month’s book club even though Eventbrite says it’s sold out. I felt like I was hogging her, so I thanked her and moved on to speak with Lauren LeBlanc, an editor at Guernica. We talked about our experiences of dealing with blatant sexism in the workplace.
Later in the night I spotted Glory again in the gift shop. It only took me two walk-bys to decide to speak to her again. We had an extended and more relaxed (me) conversation this time. We spent about 10 to 15 minutes, maybe longer, talking about books, the exhibits, work (as in what we have to do, not what we want to do, to pay the bills), and writing. I was already impressed with her on paper and from the success of the festival. It felt like I was talking to an old friend. She’s intelligent, a book nerd, and has great glasses! Our conversation was a highlight of the night.
Before that second encounter I was hoping to catch the 8:30 comedy show, but minutes after becoming available at 7:30, the tickets were gone. I headed to the third floor for the Brooklyn Dance Festival. Because of short people problems, I gave up on trying to see. As I was leaving, I spotted a small opening in the crowd and was able to watch the remaining performances of people ranging from young adult to full grown. After the choreographed show, the dance floor was opened up to everyone in attendance. Kristin Sudeikis, who was introduced as having been to the White House to meet FLOTUS Michelle Obama, led the crowd in some dance moves. She broke the ice by telling people to high five someone you’ve never met. The lady to my left came at me with a huge smile. I returned it and the high five. DJ Mr. Kid was incredible. He played Bel Biv Devoe, Jennifer Lopez, Cypress Hill, Michael Jackson, Cardi B. I sang and danced along to every one of them…on the outskirts of course.
After the party ended, I was tired, but I didn’t want to head home. It was only 9 pm. I walked around viewing exhibits, like Infinite Blue, Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt and Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, all of which are a part of the museum’s showcase A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum. Had I had my FitBit, I’m sure I would’ve clocked over 10,000 steps.
I can’t recite the names of artists, or give a lecture about great art. I just know when and what I like and vice versa. Walking through a museum always amazes me. I marvel at what my fellow human beings have created! Mother Nature, the Universe, God and whatever invisible forces that I’m not sure of but respect all the same humble me with their strength, beauty and wonder, as do artists and other creatives.
When I ran into Glory at the gift shop, she said that when I attended the book club at The Langston Hughes House in late January, she would introduce me as a writer. The thought of such a heavy introduction sent a chill through me, but during the Lyft ride home, it made me smile.