Red is my favorite color. Some of you already know that because I bring it up quite often. I have a thing with red doors, red hats, red nails, red lipsticks, and red bags. The color red is so powerful, even the slightest drop of it brightens everything.
Almost three months ago, exactly one week before our eleventh-year anniversary, I married the love of my life. It was truly the most beautiful day of my life. It was everything I needed. It was everything I wouldn’t dare dream of as a child lost in the Haitian clouds. It was magical.
On the day of the wedding, a mesmerizing storm lifted me from my sleep around six in the morning. I looked at the mountains, hidden from the sun, kissed by the dark, grey clouds, and I smiled. My ancestors were with me, celebrating before the festivities even started. I could feel them dancing underneath the deep dark clouds. As I get older, I no longer associate darkness with sadness, and so I knew that the dark morning was everything but somber. My great grandmother was crying, and they were tears of joy. I knew that because that’s what I do, too, when I’m really happy. I cry.
In addition to being a full time student at the university, I served on the board of several on-campus organizations, worked three part-time jobs, and during the holiday season, I'd scour the student center website and craigslist for random gigs. During my freshman year, I found a dish-washing/serving opportunity at a wealthy family's home in a town near my campus on Thanksgiving. It offered $15-$20/hour just to help clear tables, wash dishes, and tidy the kitchen.
I remember that day clearly because I'd never experience anything of the sort. It was my first time ever setting foot in a wealthy American home. It was the kind of home I read about when I was just an awkward, skinny, dreamer-girl in Haiti. The kind of home I thought I'd move into when the US called for me, not the one-bedroom apartment in Newark my parents, little brother, and I found refuge to during my early teenage years. The place that collected most of my tears.
I remember elementary school vividly. Perhaps even more than high school and all of the new quirkiness I was starting to embrace about myself. I attended an all girls catholic school where we wore shiny Mary Jane shoes with crispy white doily socks laced with ribbons and ruffles. I didn't hate them, but I was always curious about the shoes the boys got to wear. I loved Sunday afternoons because after my school work, I'd polish my shoes just like I liked them, and I would lay my perfectly ironed uniform on a chair for easy reach in the morning. At church, after my readings at Eglise Saint Pierre, I'd shyly stare at the boys' shoes.
I've been really into wearing trousers lately. It might be the whole turning thirty thing, ya know? I used to hate pants, but now a good comfortable pair is my go-to in the morning or in the evening for cocktail events. I'm probably just over buying so many pairs of tights and stockings during the cold weather seasons. Can we talk about wearing a pair of stockings once then having to discard them because they seem to always rip no matter how careful we are? I'm not even talking about the two-dollar kinds!
At the table, the calm air danced around us. A cat brushed past Regine's ankles, and she froze. She's terrified of them I learned that day. I dug in my plate of akra (malanga fritters), and waved the server over for more pikliz (a condiment made of picked shredded cabbage and hot peppers that I can't live without.) I had a bottle of cold Prestige just a few inches away from my big plate of Haitian fritay. That afternoon was to be cherished for a long time.
I got this grey hat from my local hats store in Harlem about a week before my 30th birthday. I find pleasure in going in a men's shop to try on various hats. I always tip each hat to the side and stare at my profile for a little Paola drama. There's just something about buying things made for men, from men, that I love. I get this strange feeling of freedom and power. Is that weird?
I love pieces that pull me, and seem to tell me that they belong in my closet for a very long time. Pieces that my daughter would love to borrow. And this trench kimono yelled that to me from all the way across the room. I swear it did. And then, when I got closer, it whispered sweet nothings in my ear, and the next thing I knew, I was folding it to take it home with me, where it clearly belonged.
I scored this Chanel vintage blazer at JBBORN, a second hand shop founded and operated by television hit series Born To Style, in Harlem right before it closed. When I tried it on, I loved the fit so much, I didn't even realize it was a Chanel piece. Double win! I kept it in my closet for a while. Why do I do this? I find a blazer. I get thrilled! I buy it, and then it sits there for a while... Because I'm waiting on Michelle Obama to invite me out?