Granny Annie Ruth introduced us. She prayed over our matrimony. It had to have been on a Sunday morning, before church. I'm almost certain we were eating pan-fried spot fish plopped into a puddle of buttery, peppery, salty grits. My mama, with her neckbones and rice, along with my platoon of aunts, made sure the relationship stayed afloat with ham hocks, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese. Even my big sister Crystal, who's usually hyper-critical of any women in my life, treated us to smothered pork chops and lima beans. My father fried us chicken, doused in Texas Pete hot sauce, and cheered for us with everything but pom poms.
I took a sip of her potlikker and I ain't been the same since.
Whenever I'm with her it's gravy, and if you can't make sense of that, you're lost in the sauce. She's for sure heavy-handed and doesn't know the slightest thing about moderation, but I'm comfy in her embrace, like being lullaby-ed into deep slumber by Chaka Khan.
She was there, feeding me before the days I could afford anything haute. Everyday around 12-ish all I could do is think about those greasy-lipped smooches. She forgave me when I explained to her that those drunken 2:35 in a.m. patty melts at the Waffle House were merely flings. Occasionally she'd get jealous when she'd catch me at a fast food drive-thru ordering double bacon cheeseburgers, but she knew that no matter how many dollops of beluga caviar or bamboo steam baskets dotted with shrimp dumplings I ate, she'd always have my heart with tender, gelatinous oxtails and candied yams with enough brown sugar and butter to make D'Angelo proud and Paula Deen blush.
When I moved to New York City for film school, I finally met members of my family that thought our relationship was vile. My Aunt Diddy and Uncle Butch, they told me if I wanted longevity I should leave her "down South" and that being in her company was expediting my meeting my maker. It was them who introduced me to this other lady. We flirted at the Whole Food in Columbus Circle with Brussels sprouts and kombucha and feelings started to sprout organically. I can't front, she invigorated me. But whenever our conversations became more about milk thistle than buttermilk, I'd miss my old thang, and I'd sneak off to meet her at Sylvia's for barbecue ribs and banana pudding, and I'd always leave reduced to a lazy, yawning, but happy mess.
I don't know how she expected me to stick around, knowing the damage women her type can do. A woman like her took all the sugar my dad had to give and left him with diabetes and even though he's not bitter about it, seeing him sick is like seeing Superman hobble around on crutches. Lords knows I love her, but she's breaking my heart. Literally breaking it.
Our roots are too deep to completely sever but I have to leave her for that lady I met on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem at the Whole Foods. I'm not ashamed to admit, she feeds my mind, body, and..... (nevermind). Don't vex ! I'm not turning into a tofu nibble. We'll still rendezvous maybe on a Sunday at my Aunt Lash's house after church or at one of those janky little joints she likes, sitting on blistered upholstery, playing footsie on peeling linoleum floors eating chitterlings from styrofoam clamshells.