They sleep in separate bedrooms. Even here where the living space is smaller than the maid’s quarters in Haiti, they don’t share a room. Father picks up extra cash driving Uncle Albert’s cab from ten at night till four in the morning. Father works the 12:00 to 8:00 PM shift as a doorman at the pink building on Lake Shore Drive. It takes him an hour to get home from work. He eats dinner in his room. He stays there until Uncle Albert honks for him to come down to take over his cab.
We were a little over an hour into our trip from Les Plaines to Jacmel when our driver suddenly shifted gears reducing our frantic speed to a lawful limit. As the youngest member of our traveling group “shotgun” was called for me. Consequently, the majority of my Easter Sunday was spent pinned to the passenger seat of a truck, my right hand gripping the edge of the window for balance. I thanked God for whatever obstruction He positioned ahead that cause our NASCAR inspired driver to slow down. I released my grasp on the window, leaned back and inhaled the scent of burning rubber. “There’s no place like home,” I smiled.
Click this link to read my the Haiti Stories: Mother: Why did you leave?
“if the price for their beauty was subordination, my mother’s would accept nothing less than a man’s life. She was a novel beauty. Her country roots clashed with city slick– a skyscraper stacked in a field of flowers. “
I expected to have a daughter. Even at the age of 40 I’m still hopeful. This is NOT a solicitation. I live out my mother-daughter fantasies through my relationship with my 13 year old niece Ana. Last night I found myself fantasizing about how I would spend Mother’s Day 2013 if I had a 13 year old daughter.
7:00 AM- My daughter and I go for a five mile run. She slows down to my pace. She knows I like to run side by side. I smile at her patience and say, “run at your pace. I’m right behind you.” I am happy that I found a way to teach her to be healthy without making her obsess over calories. I hope she loves her body and does not feel the anxiety that I felt at her age. This is my fantasy.
8:30 AM – We drive to Bittersweet, it’s on the other side of town (we live in SoLo) but it’s our favorite place. We have hot chocolate and scones. I remember the first time I brought her here. She was three. We had hot chocolate and scones. I said to her, “ Angel, I bet you heaven smells like this.” I call her Angel. I tell her this story. This is my fantasy.
10:15 AM- We get to Metropolitan Community Church a little early. Dad meets us here. We look for Johnnie. She did not have any children…either. Johnnie claims me as her daughter. I share mine with her. My daughter and I sit on each side of Johnnie. We compliment her on her jazzy hat, her vintage dress and bag. Oh and those shoes! We tell her we love her. She feels like a Mom…today. She shares in my fantasy.
12:30 PM- Dad’s planning something special for later. He drops us off at the Water Tower. My daughter is a teenager now. She just had a birthday. She’s born in May, like me. I want to teach her about the quiet ways we, as women take care of ourselves. I take her to Pink by Victoria’s Secret for her first age appropriate (yes, I’m a fun but conservative Mom) “fancy” bras and panties. I tell her that this is for you. NO ONE will see these, but always wear beautiful things that make you feel pretty. I shop for myself at La Perla, this is my fantasy.
3:00 PM- We stop at The Drake Hotel for tea. She has tea, I have champagne. This is my fantasy. We talk for a long time and then we sit quietly. I’m happy. I have a daughter.
6:00 PM – Dad takes us to Roy’s. It’s our favorite. We decide on three entrees and eat those tapas style. This is what we do. Before we leave Dad hands us each an envelope and says, “Happy Mother’s Day.” Tickets to Paris! We leave next week. Paris with my daughter! This is my fantasy.
Ninth Letter is pleased to present the work of Regine Rousseau. A poet born in Chicago who grew up in Haiti, Rousseau was a semi-finalist for the 2011 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic competition, and is the author of the poetry collection Searching for Cloves and Lilies…At the recent AWP conference in Chicago I participated on a panel organized by the writer Andy Johnson, “The Book and the Flame: Expatriate Writers in Africa,” and when fellow panelist Regine Rousseau read and sang her poem “After the Quake,” she put panelists and audience in a trance as well. –Philip Graham. Ninth Letter