Well…maybe by now you started all the way back in 1980 with me for the kid years and then bounced over to 1990 with me for the teen years. Maybe you’re here because you didn’t want to stop there or maybe this is your first stop. Either way welcome to the new millennium! The decade in my life chock full of milestones, freedom, and fun!
I think I’ll tackle the 20’s by landing on some of those milestones…
When I left you at the end of my teen years, we talked about my decision to stay local and go to UALR for college. Because I stayed home and didn’t go away and live in a dorm, it felt like my college experience was very non-traditional. One thing that I can say I didn’t miss out on was pledging a sorority though. My organization of choice…Alpha Kappa Alpha, of course! Don’t get me wrong; the other organizations I had to choose from where great as well, but there was just something about AKA. Because my mother and grandmothers had never pledged a sorority, the decision was unequivocally of my own choosing without any influence other than what I wanted when I saw it. I can’t say all decisions I’ve made in life have happened that way.
I joined the sorority in the spring of 2000. I’ll tell the funny-now but not so funny then story of the way that timing came to be. I remember in the winter of 1999 seeing a sign posted in the Student Union on the cork board announcing Spring Rush for AKA. I’m just gonna go ahead and say it y’all…I should have asked someone what that meant. I thought it was just an information meeting. So when I went and they ended the meeting by having everyone turn in their paperwork, I was so embarrassed. When I went to Rush the next year fully understanding what I was walking into, I can remember one of my now sorority sisters asking me what had happened the previous year because they wondered why I’d “decided” not to join… 😂. Here are a few little snippets from our show.
Although I haven’t been financially active in years because I’ve been shifting my time and finances towards the kids, I can say that with some of my sorority sisters I can truly feel the bond we speak of. In pharmacy school, I had retired sisters that would cook for me and check on me. They knew my exam schedule and they looked out for me. They poured into my baby shower for Brooklyn in droves with the cutest pink and green and future AKA gifts for her. Even though I’ve been a little disconnected, I’ll still get the occasional phone call or even card in the mail just to let me know I’m being thought of. I choose to cherish those types of experiences I’ve had with sorority life.
The Big 21
I couldn’t wait to be thirteen. I couldn’t wait to be sixteen. I really couldn’t wait to be eighteen, but twenty one….well that was on a whole other level of excitement for me. Although I wasn’t much of a drinker, I wanted to at least have the option to order it. Plus with most of my friends throughout life being older than me, I always felt like I was missing out when they would go to what was one of the hottest spots in Little Rock back then, Elevations. I know some of you Arkansans will laugh to hear me even utter that club name. In retrospect, I so wish I had taken a few pics back then that I could have shared along with this story, but I didn’t. So, I’ll just have to be descriptive with my words for you.
My 21st birthday was on a Sunday. My friends were going to the club on Saturday night. So you know what that meant…I had to wait until midnight to go in. I still remember giving my ID to the bouncer and him looking at it and then looking at me pursing his lips. I exclaimed, “It’s after midnight….I’m 21 now!”. He waved me in with my drivers license and gave me a sarcastic “Happy Birthday”. My drink of choice…an amaretto sour. They made the best! I think they might have either added a little club soda or sprite to it and then they’d shake it up. It was frothy and absolutely delicious. My little skinny body could handle a low alcohol yet high sugar drink like that back then. Totally not worth my time or calories these days… 😂. I wore a white halter top and a dark denim skirt that was asymmetrically cut at the hem. I wore tan wedges and gold jewelry. Can’t remember how I wore my hair. Ahhh…memories.
When I woke up the next morning, I only felt the accomplishment of a bucket list check-off. Can’t say the excitement carried on much past that….lol.
As I said in the teen years post, I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist since my junior year in high school after working at Kroger Pharmacy. Once I had that fixed in my mind, that was pretty much where I sat my sights. After 3 years at UALR doing pre-pharmacy course work and then taking the PCAT, I applied. Sad to say, I didn’t get in. Entrance to pharmacy school at UAMS was very competitive back then. Shoot, entrance to pharmacy school most anywhere here in the U.S. was. I had to beef my GPA up a little and I had a little yet to be desired where raising my PCAT score was concerned. I think what made a huge difference back then was a group of black pharmacists and college faculty called NPAA or National Pharmacists Association of Arkansas. These people fought so hard for black students like me to get into pharmacy school as there weren’t many of us there AT ALL. To put things into perspective, I was the only in my graduating class of about 70 students. These pharmacists paid for me to take a PCAT prep course. They supported me financially while I was in pharmacy school. They connected me with other black students to share old notes and tests while I was in pharmacy school. They believed in me and it paid off!
I can remember when I went in for feedback after my initial application rejection, the Dean of Academic Affairs (or whatever his title was) at that time told me that I should just look into another profession. There were no pointers on what to improve upon or encouragement….just a “maybe this isn’t for you”. Welp, that was such unintended motivation. I applied again the next year after applying to a few other allied healthcare professional programs at UAMS. I’d been accepted to both of those programs, but ended up with an alternate list placement. For all I knew, I was going to be a cytotechnologist and had prepared my mind for that when out of the blue over the summer this letter came…and well, the rest is history.
I longed for graduation day from pharmacy school. I can remember spending so much time in solitude studying and studying those first few years. I would study in Cheryl’s place while she worked. I would study in empty classrooms on the campus of UAMS. I would go to UALR’s library and study even though I didn’t attend there anymore. I spent so many nights and hours writing and memorizing things on index cards. I still have some of those in a box somewhere in my mother’s attic. They probably have stains on them from tears because there were sometimes I literally cried over them. As you can imagine, it all felt sooooo worth it on graduation day. The hooding ceremony the night before, the brunch the morning of, the graduation ceremony, and the after party (that I’d planned and threw for myself) all a part of a dream I had since I had been working in Kroger Pharmacy 10 years before that. Thinking about that time even today, still brings tears to my eyes a little.
“Living” Out of State
I feel like I’m forever “stuck” in Arkansas for various reasons. I always comment to people that my job is the only thing that lets me explore outside of the cage. There was a brief moment in time though that I did get a taste of life outside of Arkansas. After my second year of pharmacy school, I took a nuclear pharmacy summer internship in Atlanta, GA. Honey…I think this might have been the best summer ever of the 20’s for me! It was also the brokest summer ever. I think everyone needs to go through a broke time in life like that to learn how to live off of a little. The frivolous way of life I enjoy now is a FAR cry from that summer in Atlanta. There were weeks I only had $15 to eat with. Dollar menus were my friend back then. My nuclear pharmacy professor fronted me my first few weeks stay in an extended stay hotel until I would get my first paycheck. As great of an idea an extended stay hotel seemed before I got there, it didn’t take long to realize how draining that was and how lonely it could be. A friend of mine in Little Rock, virtually bridged me to a friend who grew up in Little Rock but was now living in Georgia. He’d been working in Georgia for a year or two now and wanted to break into the music business. He had a roommate and welcomed me into their fold so I wouldn’t have to be myself in this new place. Courtney and Juan become my lifeline in Atlanta. They formed a friendship with me as if we had all been friends for years. So, it didn’t seem too far fetched when I offered to pay them a little every paycheck if they’d let me crash on their couch instead of paying way more than that to live in a hotel basically. They agreed and my finances saw instant relief. We were like Three’s Company…but reverse with the gender ratio.
We were all so young and still trying to find our way in so many areas in life. Courtney never wanted to run the air condition. We’d buy in bulk and try and cook sensible meals together. They had a card table for a kitchen table, so of course we’d play dominos and spades when their friends would come over. The best of the best, however, was Fridays. We’d go to happy hour at Dave & Buster’s which was like a night club itself. The line to get in would be as far as the eye could see. Then we’d go out to bigger night club districts later on in the evening. It would usually be a bigger group than just the three of us but I was always the only woman. It was fun to mess with them about the caliber of women that would catch their eyes. Must admit it got a little lonely sometimes though. I couldn’t cling to any one of them too much because we didn’t want to give off appearances that they were taken… 😂 Awww….the young days 🤔
Now when it comes to Kelvin and the kids, they could occupy a whole section of this entire website. However, I’ll try my best to keep my reflection on them poignant yet brief so as to keep to the theme of reflecting upon these decades as a whole.
When I met Kelvin, neither of us were strangers to love or serious relationships. We’d both had some pretty serious recent severances and had a whole lot of things different about us as individuals. Yet, there was always one consistent thing about both of us that we had in common and that was wanting a family… a relationship we could call our own and some kids to bring up in that. Kelvin and I pretty much clung tight to each other from not too long after our start. Because this series has been a memory lane of sorts, I’ll give a few fun fact dates for us:
- First date: Aug 19, 2005
- Officially became a couple: Aug 22, 2005
- Got engaged: June 16, 2007
- Got married: Dec 29, 2007
- First house: June 2008
- First notice of first kiddo: Jan 20, 2009 (Obama Inauguration Day)
- First kid: Sept 24, 2009
- Second house: April 2015
- Second kiddo: May 11, 2015
- First notice of third kiddo: May 18, 2016
- Third kiddo: Jan 17, 2017
Ok, ok…Everything after that first kid pretty much happened in the 30’s not 20’s, but you get the picture. I even remember Kelvin ushered me into my 30’s with my very first surprise birthday party. I spent the last half of my 20’s with him. We’ve had our bumps and bruises with each other on our ride over the last 15 years, but we’ve done exactly what we said we would do at the beginning. For that reason, he’ll always be a part of my decades to come.
Well, no need to repeat that date. You saw it above. I remember That after we got married we were going to give ourselves some time to save some money and get our affairs in order before buying our first home. Little did we know, there were some really great ways for first time home buyers to realize that dream even sooner than we’d thought. I remember spending free time at work searching for houses online. I’d look at pictures of them and then bring them home to show Kelvin. We’d go and ride past them in the evenings (because back then it was just us and we had absolutely nothing else to do… ahhh 😌 ). Because he worked evenings back then, sometimes I’d ride past them myself and form my own initial opinion about them. When we ultimately settled on the winner, it felt like a dream. A brand new custom built 1800 square foot house. It had 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. It was an absolutely beautiful house too. Laminate wood floors, dark bronze fixtures, granite countertops, gas stove, a laundry room, a pantry, and the ultimate best of the best….a garage!!
A garage was something neither of us had had the pleasure of having growing up. It was something that seemed so baller about your car being “inside the house” too 😂. I learned the hard way that a garage spoils you and you have no idea what the weather really is like outside….at least in the winter time. I’ve been stuck a many times not having a jacket or coat because I didn’t realize I needed one. I know, I know…should have been an adult and watched the news 🙄
That house was so special to me. It was a first home purchase for both of us. It’s where both of us brought our firstborn child home to. It’s where we had her birthday parties and get-togethers with friends and holidays with family. Although we ultimately bought a bigger home in 2015, I’ve always missed that house. I think the first year after we sold it was the hardest for me. I’d drive past it and mourn it. I’d wish that we could just call the new owner and say we changed our minds and get it back. I wonder what it looks like on the inside now….because I know exactly what it looks like on the outside… 👀 😂
Alright and here is where it will get even harder not to write a novel. My first baby… Brooklyn Rose ❤️ I have always wanted children sooooo badly!! I’ve just always loved children. Now that I have my own and very much feel the weighted responsibility for them, I can say that I see how people tell you that’s great but don’t rush. Being a parent is a lot…like a whole lot. It’s a total life takeover both for you as the parent of the kid, but the kid takes over your life as well. These kids are my literal breath sometimes. Those who know Brook or Toot as she has said only I can call her, know that her life started quite bumpy from the time she was only a few days old. I won’t tell her story on this particular journey, but I will say the scares of that drew me into the throws of motherhood even deeper than I ever imagined I can feel. As a result of that, I feel like I’m Brooklyn’s breath too. She has always, always clung to me like Saran Wrap. I still remember everything about my pregnancy with her and the little piece of my 20’s I spent with her. It was filled with some pretty scary moments but soooo much love and intimacy. There’s just something so peaceful and special about holding your baby in your arms while you both sleep. She was my little hip accessory when she was awake too.
Now she’s tall enough to look me in the eye, and I literally feel the saying the days are long but the years are short. By the time I end this next decade, my Toot will be all grown up. I just hope she still wants to come watch movies with me and sleep in my bed sometimes 🤔