be our guest.

welcome

There we all are, sitting in our living room in our old house in Ghana, surrounded by endless laughter and fascinating conversations. My parents are there; also uncles, aunts, various relatives, and longtime family friends that might as well be kin to us, being that I’ve known them and have been around them for as long as I could remember. Some of my earliest memories involve evenings like this, where my parents hosted friends, family, our neighbors. The joyous faces and smiles. The gentle teasing and ribbing between my father and his pals. The beautiful women I observed reverentially. And the food. Ah, the food. Without really understanding it, my parents were establishing, for their children, a blueprint of hospitality. Things didn’t change when we settled in the United States. From our little apartment to the townhouse we later lived in, there were always people. Family, friends, relatives, all part of our immediate family of six. My parents never hesitated to help friends in need; if someone needed a place to stay, he or she was staying at our home. As I got older, it was incredible to see the generosity and love my parents showed to others.

This posed a bit of a problem growing up, however. Sure, my parents could invite loads of people over because they were adults and could do whatever they, the payers of rent, pleased. But their kid inviting other kids over without telling them?

nah

It happened more than once. I’m convinced my mother had moments of stopping herself from doing permanent damage to my hind parts. No worries, though: I learned my lesson at the age of 14. We won’t get into the details, but it was the last time I didn’t check with my parents first before making invitation. Believe me.

Here’s the thing (if you’ve experienced it or are experiencing it, you’ll agree with me): living alone is glorious. There’s really nothing like being the queen/king of your castle of one; laying about, doing whatever strikes your fancy. I moved out of my parent’s house and lived on my own in my first apartment when I was 24 years old. It was amazing. It was eye-opening. It was frustrating. It was the best. After that, there was an interesting journey of roommates and housemates and then moving back home when Dad got sick and then, a year and six months ago, leaving VA and moving to the Lone Star state and living solo once again. All that said, I’m happiest in the company of my own solitude. But I’m also the daughter of two people who kept that open-door policy we discussed above, and so it’s necessary to tell you I love a house filled with people.

I’ve hosted gatherings, game nights, movie nights, come-over-and-chill evenings (my personal favorite), girls-just-talking-into-the-wee-hours-of-the-early-morning events, etc. It’s thrilling to look around my living room and see people, to hear the laughter, to go deep into conversation. Last night, I hosted an impromptu dinner with friends. I actually cooked dinner–chili a la Square Peg–and we ate and watched movies and had a smashing good time. You can’t beat that on a Sunday evening. (But it was also nice when everyone went home and I resumed my relaxing spot on the couch and watching cheesy Hallmark movies.)

Can’t thank my parents enough for showing me how to love people, how to be generous, and how to say welcome.

What say you? Loner or lover of guests or both?

 

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A to Z…

I saw this while strolling around in the blogosphere and thought it was a neat, creative idea. Not that you don’t know almost everything you need to know about This Square Peg, but like the waistband of all my winter clothes, your author keeps changing. See below and if you’re a blogger, have a go, won’t you?az

  1. Age: 38 and feeling great.
  2. Bed size: Queen, but I honestly feel like those chumps fooled me. Or maybe I’m having twin bed PTSD from back in the day?
  3. Chore that you hate: Hmm. Most of them allow me to daydream and come up with ideas for my fiction, so…nah, let’s be real. Something about a sinkful of dishes gives me the dry heaves.
  4. Dogs: None, but there’s a teacup terrier waiting for me out there.
  5. Essential start to your day: A nice drink of cold water to restart my system.
  6. Favorite color: Brown.
  7. Gold or Silver: I tend to favor silver, but there’s something about gold.
  8. Height: I think I’m 5’7, but my siblings insist that I’m 5’5. Not true.
  9. Instruments you play: I play a mean recorder. In other words, none.
  10. Job title: Exec Assistant
  11. Kids: 0
  12. Live: Texas
  13. Mother’s name: If I won’t share my Government Name with y’all, I won’t share hers, either. But it’s a lovely name.
  14. Nicknames: Princess, Muffin Breath, Cool Cat, the Hamburglar, etc. Out of them all, Princess seems like the ticket to Buckingham Palace, no?
  15. Overnight hospital stays: They kicked me out.
  16. Pet peeves: The word “foodie” makes my teeth itch. There are others, but you don’t have the time and I can’t type for an eternity.
  17. Quote from a movie: “This is America, Jack.” — Coming to America (I quote that movie more than should be allowed, I think.)
  18. Right or left handed: Righties rule! (But I secretly have always been intrigued by lefties. There was a time when I was shooting for ambidexterity.)
  19. Siblings: 3 of them: younger than me and super bossy.
  20. Time you wake up: 615AM-ish. The alarm goes off at 5:50AM, but nah, that’s just not happening.
  21. Underwear: YES. Oh, the type? Uh…The safe kind, where everything stays in place.
  22. Vegetable you hate: All of them. But I force myself to eat because I don’t want scurvy.
  23. What makes you run late: If I don’t pick out my clothes the night before, standing in the closet and trying to make decisions. Le sigh.
  24. X-Rays you’ve had: A lot.
  25. Yummy food that you love: Fried plantains and every pastry ever created.
  26. Zoo animal: Baby chimps make me want to adopt them.

All she wrote. Try it!

she who has bloomed.

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I used to bristle when folks called me a late bloomer. (Those folks being my bestie, whom you’ll hear about often, and my mama, whom you’ll hear about often.) There was something condescending and juvenile about it, as if I hadn’t grown up yet.

The online definition I found for late bloomer is “a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.” I like that, don’t you? No juvenility or stunted growth to be found.

Nevertheless, my blooming was a bit different. It wasn’t that my talents and capabilities became visible to others at a later time. I can honestly say that the important people in my life have always been pretty communicative about things like writing and what I can do. Major cheerleader action, thankfully. But those talents and capabilities were never visible to me.

I didn’t buy it. I was waiting for the Carrie-like bucket of yuckness to fall when people gave me compliments. I thought my writing was sub-par, that my strengths weren’t strengths at all, another blip on the screen of life. Lack of self-esteem was certainly the culprit here, combined with a long-held belief that those cheerleaders had something sinister up their sleeves. (It’s usually the forcible harvesting of my kidneys. Don’t ask. I watch too much Law and Order.)

Things change, though.

Women who are not yet 30 and reading this, embrace what is coming. I bloomed at 30. Something happened that day. I woke up and began to fall in love with myself, my writing, my mind, my capabilities, my body. There’s always, always room for improvement. I accept that. But I blooooomed. And five years later, the process continues.

“You’re a late bloomer.” Yep, sure am.

from the start.

I’ve always been different.

I entered the world quietly. No crying or whimpering. As a result, the doctor gently swatted me on the bottom. My mother said I turned my brand new head toward the doctor and seemed to gaze at him with disdain. Like, did you just SWAT me, fool? I then responded to the swat with a slight whimper. She had arrived.

And so she has.

"You wanna fight me?"
“You wanna fight me?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was born into a world of beautiful women who never hesitated to speak their minds; into a colorful world filled with electric sights and sounds; into a continent that can best be described as enigmatic and compelling. Yet I came in quietly and remained that way. I observed; I feared speaking up; I sat still. But I also loved what I loved, held on to what I wanted despite the opinions of others, and leveled that same seconds-after-birth expression of disdain to whomever warranted it.

Painfully shy yet unflinchingly stubborn. Wanting to be like everyone else for a long time and hardly a thing like them at all. Never fitting into the mold people expected of me, including the things I wanted for myself. And finally, finally proud of the person I am.

This square peg…is about me. The writer, the worrier, the dreamer, the art lover, the travel lover, the thinker, the overthinker, the African girl, the African woman, the American woman, the silly, the serious, the foolish, the fearful.

Come away with me…