November 3,1992 was the first and last time I was early for anything. I entered the earth 27 days earlier than expected after my mom pushed for 30 hours straight, all the way through the only election she didn’t cast a vote in. Bill Clinton glided past incumbent George H.W. Bush and I was nearly named Hillary.
12 days later, my mom slipped into her size 2 skirt to head to her baby shower. I was at home, getting adjusted to the world and its kitchen-sink baths.
At the baby shower, festive hats were made, games were played, and I didn’t quite have a crib to lay in yet. All that baby preparation – the car seats, blankets, binkies, and boppies – happened as I was shuffled from hand to hand, each one weighing the new responsibilities that baby girls bring. On the crisp fall nights that would follow, my mom and I shared a bed in the basement of my grandmother’s house on Maiden. My aunt and cousin roomed on the top floor with easy access to a toy-filled attic and a bunk bed that was warm from weekend sleepovers.
If you sat on the wooden chair in my grandmother’s kitchen on a Saturday morning, you would see three generations, made up of Bakers, Grays, Mixons, and Thompkins seeping into and bubbling over each other like the batter at the center of Granny’s not-quite-cooked-through pancakes as bacon popped from the skillet as a warning for any grandkid who dared to get too close. The three-story house on Detroit’s east side was our home base until each of us made our next (or our first) step and decided whose hand to hold on the journey.
Back when the Detroit Pistons still had that crispy teal and white colorway, my aunt and cousin moved to a house on Wayburn. My cousin downgraded to a twin-size bed and upgraded to a comforter set emblazoned with jerseys from every NBA team.
Shortly after, my mom got her first house on Lanark, just near Mack and Moross, and I got my very first room. It was carpeted and my comforter was sprinkled with an assortment of pink, purple, and orange flowers. I played with my Spice Girls microphone set, I scribbled in notepads, I had cousins over, I got a puppy, I cried after misspelling “igloo” in a preschool spelling game, I got a playground set, and I gained a dad. I really lived there.
If you would have told me then that I would be yearning to return to this familiarity 18 years later, I wouldn’t believe you. As much as my upbringing offered me, I believed that there were bigger and better things to get elsewhere.
Last month, I got my first place in my birthplace and it feels good. Here I am, back in the city that I know a little too well. My spot is really little, hella cozy, too hot for visitors, and 13 minutes from my east side stomping grounds. When I return home after a long day out, after I make a mental list of all the things that I really need to buy to fill it with, my mind drifts to the same thought.
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
This apartment is permission for me to take up and remake space. To stretch, breathe, dance, come, and go. To cover the walls, floors, and ceilings in colors that look more like me than any other place ever could. I will gather my wishes here and introduce them to one another.
I hope my bathroom can invoke these feelings:
I hope my bedroom looks like me at my best:
I hope my front room will feel like this:
For image sources, head over to my Instagram.
In this place of my own, I will be completely independent and expressive. I will start to share my own story and create a history that a daughter of mine can write about one day. I hope I make her proud. I hope I write myself into fullness. I hope that I’m never tied to a place and only ever pulled by what feels right for right now.