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When my family moved from our home in base housing in Nebraska to a tiny, old town on the edge of the Texas/Oklahoma border, I was not the happiest kid.  Though military family are known for for their constant moves across the country and even across the world, my family had lived in the yellow duplex for over four years, and moving from a place of vibrant seasons and ridiculous snowfalls to a place of pale greens and browns and ice storms was not my ideal.  But over the years, I’ve definitely changed my mind, and I love to call the South my home.yes4

There are any number of reasons I can list for you as to why I love the south.  Southern cooking, warmer winters (usually), Southern hospitality (which can also border on nosiness), and believe it or not, I even love the hot, humid summers! (As long as you have A/C to retreat into!)

But the other day I was reminded of something else I love about living in Texas: Southern black women.  More specifically, older Southern black women.  Here’s what happened:

We’d made a stop at B&N for Black Friday to pick up The 5th Wave (for less than $10!!) and I had to run and make a bathroom stop.  While taking care of business, I heard the following conversation between and younger woman (whom I never actually saw) and an awesome older black woman (who I did see upon leaving):

Young Woman(sounding very flustered): Oh!  I’m sorry!  So sorry!

Awesome Older Black Woman: That’s all right, sweetie!

YW: I’m sorry, I just needed to come in here to check myself.  I’m really nervous!

AOBW(sympathetically):Why?

YW(sounding terrified): It’s my first date, and I’m really nervous about it!

AOBW: Oh, honey, don’t be nervous!  You look great!

YW(a little more relieved):  Thanks.  It’s just…it’s my first date…ever.  This is the first date I’ve ever been on I’m really scared about it!

AOBW(amazed): Don’t be scared!  You’re gonna do great!

YW(reapeatedly): Thank you, thank you…

AOBW: There ain’t nothing to be worried about honey!  You look good and you’re going to have a great time!  Don’t worry about a thing, baby!

YW(sounding much more confident than when she entered):Thank you so much!  Seriously. Thank you.

By the time I got out to wash my hands, Date Girl was already gone and the AOBW was there, smiling away at me.  I won’t lie, I had a little bit of tears in my eyes.  And yes, I do tear up at the most minute of things sometimes (you do NOT want to see me watching the end of Meet the Robinsons or Lilo & Stitch!), but really this little act of kindness made my Black Friday a little brighter and sweeter, even though this didn’t happen to me.  I left saying a small prayer for that poor nervous girl luck, that her first date ever might go better than most, even if nothing ever comes of it.  I’ll never know her name or what she looked like, but I hope everything went okay for her.

One day, about ten years ago, this AOBW that I worked with at the mall, suggested the radical idea to me that maybe I didn’t have to focus just on Biology as a major, and that since I had an interest in writing, I should probably pursue that, too.  Now at the time, I was thinking more along the lines of Journalism – I didn’t think I had the creative skill or dedication to do fictional writing.  Now here I am, working out the story for my 3rd (unpublished) novel, shopping for agents for the first, and waiting on the 2nd to finish marinating in its first-draftiness so that I can pull it back out and work on the next round.  I volunteer with the local library’s Night Owls Teen Writing Group, helping teenagers to explore the joy of creative writing, and really learning scads from them on how not to put limits on your own creativity, that when you get a “create your own fictional religion” assignment, it’s much more fun to think up an epic, heavenly battle between the Waffle God and the rebellious Pancakes than the idea I came up with.

Whenever I think of that AOBW I worked with, who helped set me on the right path more than she will ever know, I say a little prayer for her, too.  Like so many coworkers of days gone by, I cannot remember her name, but I’m grateful to her and her Southern Hospitality, and that little bit of pushiness to convince me to get over my own insecurities and just enjoys things instead.  So to all the Awesome, Older, Southern Black Women out there, I say you rock, and God bless 🙂

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