Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter #4: Letter To Your Siblings

Dear Riana & Langston,

I’ve tried and tried to think back to our most memorable times together. There are but two that I can remember tangibly. They don’t include the awfulness of the fire or the divorce.  

The first predates those markers in our history.

It was our ritual in the old house to have our own little party when Mom and Dad went out with friends on a weekend night. Already in our pj’s, we’d say our goodbyes and wait just until the garage door had closed behind them to assume our respective positions in the den.

Riana, you were always the DJ, the only one allowed to touch Dad’s stereo and the stacks and stacks of albums we had in the house. Each of us manned with our own makeshift microphone, we’d sing and dance for hours with breaks only for Pizza Rolls and Hawaiian Punch.

You guys died laughing when I made my own dance, “The Boo-Boo Dance”, as you call it. It was the only one I did in our line up for years. Untill you guys taught me the butterfly, that is. Together we marveled at the brilliance of Michael & Janet, tried to pull of the Boyz II Men harmonies, and screamed at the top of our lungs to Whitney Houston classics.

We spent every minute of the two or three hours that Mom and Dad were gone in that den together. Singing, dancing and laughing our heads off. Those songs hold our memories, I’ll never forget how good those times were.

The second came after the fire, the divorce, my beautiful neice and nephew and all of our moves to and back from Florida.

Lang, I loved that you chose your sisters to be your guest at Jay-Z’s Blueprint III concert in Indy this past summer. It had been so long since we all spent time together, which is probably why we spent a ridiculous amount of time posing for pre-concert pics, (one of which is still my Facebook profile picture).

I’ll never forget how you grabbed our hands and pulled us through the overly-crowded downtown streets, sure that we’d all make it together. And then there was the look on your face when Jay-Z, who I’d listened to you imitate for years, took the stage. “That’s Jay-Z,” you said with childlike wonder.

Together, we danced and sang along for hours, just like the good ole’ days.

We dubbed ourselves “The Bratpack” that night, and I can’t wait for our next adventure.

Let’s do it big.

Love you both,


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day #3: Letter To Your Parents

If I'm honest, there is only a small window of time in my childhood where I saw you two as a unit. I learned too early that you were two separate people, with two separate lives.

For as long as I  can remember, I have loved you in different languages.


I remember all too vividly my first few weeks at my new high school in Florida. I shrank in your absence. It was then that I realized just how much influence you had in shaping my self-esteem and building my confidence. I had always been your little girl. Mom still tells the story of how you wouldn’t let anyone hold me as a baby. There were no special exceptions for family or close friends. “You can look at her from right there,” is what she says you’d say.

As I grew, I became your buddy. You took me everywhere. Believe or not, I was so proud to be known as Mr. Holbert’s daughter.

But here, all of this was null and void. I wasn’t anyone’s little girl. Here, I was on my own.

I missed you more than words, matter of fact I only spoke when spoken to. I’d never known so much uncertainty and instability. Our new relationship consisted of Sunday evening phone calls and summer visits.

My first summer back home you arranged for me to have my wisdom teeth taken out. You took such good care of me. I didn’t even know you knew how. Mom was always the one I cried for when I was sick. I guess we both learned something new that day.

I love the carefree spirit that returned to me as soon as I was back home. All I had to worry about was what my friends and I were doing later that night. I had no doubt that you’d take care of everything else.

Six years later, after enduring the biggest heartbreak of my young adult life, I came back home indefinitely. To be taken care of. To heal. While you were unaware of  the circumstances that brought me home, you made me smile and laugh, just like you always had.

You would leave a box of my favorite candy with a smiley face drawn on the front. We spent weekends going on bike rides, watching too many movies and eating chili dogs from Gene’s.

Thank you for loving me and letting me be a kid. I know that letting go isn’t easy.




We never bonded more than the years of just you and I living in the sunshine together. I couldn’t fathom up and leaving you when it was time for me to go to college. Thankfully, USF was right down the street.

We took care of each other. Every night after classes and coaching, you’d find me sleeping on the couch with unfinished homework on my lap. You nagged me to sleep and save my homework for the morning. I nagged you to eat something other than just a bowl of cereal before bed.

We enjoyed the beach on the weekends and extravagant lunches after church on Sundays. After all, it was just the two of us.

But, we’ve had a rocky relationship as mothers and daughters often do. You got the brunt of my anger and pain once it finally surfaced--because you were there. I can only thank you for enduring that, and forgiving me once I finally came to my senses.

When I decided to leave the nest, I broke your heart. I’m sorry. I’ve become all to familiar with the loneliness you must have felt with too many hours to fill each day and no one to share your time.

But you came through it. I’m incredibly proud of your strength and resilience as a woman. If you came through it, I will too. I am my mother’s daughter.

I’ve found myself needing you now more than ever. I call just to be comforted by your voice, to ask why my coffee is never as perfect as yours, or what color Maalox to buy when I’ve got an upset stomach.

Your visits are too few and far between. I never want you to leave. I’m looking forward to my visit in June. You’ll spoil me like you always do, and I’ll let you because I miss you like crazy.


Your baby

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Letter #2: Letter To Your Crush

Dear Jackson,

The first time I saw you I was just waking from a nap that lasted a little too long. My eyes fell upon your face, that beautiful face, and I couldn't help but stare. You were gone after a few short minutes, leaving me wondering who you were and when I'd have the chance to see you again.

I never napped again on a Thursday night, instead I restlessly hoped for your return. Much to my delight, you stood before me once again. I grew to anticipate seeing your face on Thursday nights along with the others. It became my ritual to watch you quietly, hanging on your every word.

I've always had a thing for guys like you. I just can't shake it, and trust me I've tried. You're hard working, kind-hearted, charming and oh-so-gorgeous. What's not to love?

I'm pretty sure I'm not your type, I'd peg you as a tall, skinny blonde-loving kind of guy. I am certainly not that girl, but I'm also pretty sure you'd love me.

What do you say, let's see more of each other?



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letter #1: A Letter to Your Best Friend

Dear Shayna,  

I’ve only carried only a few true friends with me into adulthood, but you were the first and for that you hold a special place in my heart. 

I remember the first day I saw you. You were sandwiched between your parents on the pulpit at Sherman Street. Before the end of their set, you picked up the microphone and sang “I Am”. I wanted to dislike you because I was 13 and insecure and you were effortlessly beautiful, charming and talented. While I can’t remember our first conversation, I also can’t remember a day after that one that we weren’t the best of friends. Where there was one, there was always the other.

You came into my life at an interesting time. My world was falling apart and I was holding a smile, hoping it would be enough to make it all go away. It wasn’t. But thankfully you were there. Day after day, phone call after phone call. You made the smile real, often times turning it to pee your pants laughter. 

A little over a year after we met, my parent’s finalized their ugly divorce and I was on a plane to Florida. The hardest part about leaving home was leaving you. From 1,000 miles away, I used a borrowed, pre-paid cell phone to sneak chats with you from my closet at the end of the each day.

The next time I came home for the summer, you were already in Maryland after being accepted into a top-notch performing arts high school. Already chasing down your dreams. Before long, we were living our own separate lives again. Our relationship consisted of yearly visits at the NIYC convention and random phone calls. 

Nevertheless, we remained close enough to hold a conversation for hours, sharing our secrets. You have always been safe. Around you, I open my mouth without hesitation. 

On a whim, I decided to take you up on an offer to visit you in New York City while we were both enjoying (or enduring) our last year of college, you at The Juilliard School and me at good ole’ Ball State University. 

The hour bus ride back to the city was the most awkward we’d ever shared. We literally spent the time trying to figure how many years it had been since we’d last seen each other. I can’t remember the answer to that, only that it was too many. After some Spanish food and a few of Harry’s margaritas things got back to normal. Although some re-acquainting was in order.  Your voice had a more serious tone; you were living on your own in the City, doing laundry and cooking. You were a grown up. 

The memories I have of that week are among my fondest. I still laugh out loud when I think of ripping my pants in Central Park, the disappointment I felt when you told me you didn’t eat hot dogs as we passed Gray’s Papaya, the happy hours spent in serious (albeit tipsy) conversation at Harry’s and the night before I went home, when I sat down on the floor and let you cut my hair. All of it. 

I returned home the next morning, overjoyed to be reunited with my best friend. I’m proud to know you, blessed to love you and grateful to call you friend. 
Now, if we could just fix this long distance thing...

I love you forever, 


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A New Challenge

I've neglected this blog lately for two reasons: 1. I've been pouring all of my writing energy into the Invictus Writers book project (which I'll tell you more about later) and 2. I've found it much harder to write my truth in public now that I'm a member of the real world.

I've been told that I'm a very private person, and I would agree that I am. I realize the irony of that as I write a very public blog post on my ever so personal blog. But, I'm a writer by nature and have been since before the life of this blog and the other social networking sites where I choose to my life in public.

It all seemed much less intimidating when I started, a college kid shuffling around on campus with 22,000 other kids. But fast forward to 6 months post-college and I'm a professional (though I can't bring myself to say that in real life), surrounded by clients, colleagues, bosses, endless responsibilities and overwhelming pressure. Needless to say I've found myself retreating back into my little shell.

But, I've been lurking as always because the blogosphere is still my home. When my friend Ashley or @SmashFizzle (her Twitter handle since we've never met in person), started 30 Days of Letters I gushed with excitement. And when my brilliant former classmate and friend, Megan, joined in I knew I couldn't resist. Another friend, Sierra, said that if I'd do it, she would too.

And so it begins again, my first challenge since the 90-in-90. Starting tomorrow I'll be writing 30 letters for 30 days in the company of some amazing women.

It feels kind of Ya-Ya sisterhood-ish. In a good way. My letters will be posted here, but be sure to keep up with Ashley, Megan, and Sierra as well.

30 Days of Letters
Day 1 — Your Best Friend
Day 2 — Your Crush
Day 3 — Your parents
Day 4 — Your sibling (or closest relative)
Day 5 — Your dreams
Day 6 — A stranger
Day 7 — Your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush
Day 8 — Your favorite internet friend
Day 9 — Someone you wish you could meet
Day 10 — Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to
Day 11 — A Deceased person you wish you could talk to
Day 12 — The person you hate most/caused you a lot of pain
Day 13 — Someone you wish could forgive you
Day 14 — Someone you’ve drifted away from
Day 15 — The person you miss the most
Day 16 — Someone that’s not in your state/country
Day 17 — Someone from your childhood
Day 18 — The person that you wish you could be
Day 19 — Someone that pesters your mind. Good or bad
Day 20 — The one that broke your heart the hardest
Day 21 — Someone you judged by their first impression
Day 22 — Someone you want to give a second chance to
Day 23 — The last person you kissed
Day 24 — The person that gave you your favorite memory
Day 25 — The person you know that is going through the worst of times
Day 26 — The last person you made a pinky promise to
Day 27 — The friendliest person you knew for only one day
Day 28 — Someone that changed your life
Day 29 — The person that you want tell everything to, but too afraid to
Day 30 — Your reflection in the mirror