I have been wanting to write, meaning to write, trying to write, but I just cannot get my feet under me to carve out some time to do so. I have been scrambling around making sure everyone is fed and watered, on time to their activities, and that the house is still relatively habitable by the time I collapse into bed at oh, 9:15. I am, my grandfather used to say, busier than a one-armed paper hanger.
Yeah. . .I’m still working through that myself.
I know, my little tale of woe is a totes #firstworldproblem. I’m not even going to bother to explain why I’m all in a twist. Suffice it to say, I’m trying to jump back into a jive after having been a wallflower for several months. Still, I can’t believe I’m the only one who comes home from vacation and feels like everything was put on pause, just waiting for my return to restore order and serve up chicken nuggets.
It’s Wednesday and I’m still playing catch up, sorting laundry, and deciphering the contents of various Tupperware containers in the fridge after having been out-of-pocket about 18 hours. 18 hours is not that long; I did a lot in that time and yet you’d think I’ve been gone 18 days with the way I feel.
So what happened in 18 hours? Well, buckle up because I’m about to take you through it. Sunday, the Hubs, the girls and I drove up to Maryland for a birthday party. We got to celebrate the cutest little 5-year-old superhero wannabes at this awesome outdoor park. The weather was great. The playground equipment was amazing — M kept saying, “We need this in RVA. No, seriously. We need a playground like this.” We laughed, we had cake. It was great. From the party, we listened to the Patriots beat up on the Cowboys as we drove to my in-laws house. After a nice dinner, with the sound of the Cowboys season circling down the drain as background noise, I made sure the girls hadn’t completely run amok in their grandmother’s closet before retiring for the night at about 8:15.
The Curls Room, which kicked off in July of 2015, is this awesome video series all about natural hair. Akilah Hughes, the creator, is a staff writer and comedian at Fusion, who has set about to bring hair acceptance to the masses. On The Curls Room YouTube channel, you can find both men and women discussing their hair journeys, everything from learning to love their hair to the big chop to the best birthday gifts for people with curly hair (FYI, I’m happy to accept any and all of those gifts *koff*September 8th*koff*).
After subscribing to the channel and watching the videos, I knew I wanted to be a part of this project. I am so not social media etiquette savvy. Should I tweet about it? Update my status on Facebook about it? How do I get down without seeming try-hard? So, I left comments after a few videos posted to the site, just casually mentioning that I loved what they were doing and Oh, Hey! If you would ever want to talk to me about my hair journey, I’d love that. Here’s a link to everything I’ve ever done that’s hair related!
I was #pressed (ha, look at what I did there).
As it turned out, I had a connection to one of the producers. I reached out and that’s how I found myself on a train Monday morning headed to New York to film my spot for The Curls Room.
I barely slept the night before, part nerves, part the Hubs snoring and part anticipation of having to get up early to catch the train. Nevermind the fact that I get up early every.single.day. I was just hyped because I had somewhere to be and a very small window of time in which to operate. I made it to the station on time, grabbed a Toasted Graham Latte (no whip) and queued up to get on the train. I won’t blame the caffeine on my inability to sleep on the train. I’m just paranoid about missing my stop. The last thing I needed was to close my eyes and wake up at Route 128/Back Bay. So, I read my magazines, I snapped some pics for Insta and tried not to let the dude sitting next to me “manspread” into my turf.
Once in New York, I had about an hour and half before I was scheduled to arrive at the studio. I figured I would scout the location and then hole up in a Starbucks until I had to go. The first step was navigating the subway.
Even though I grew up in New Jersey, we hardly ever went into the city. My dad worked in Manhattan; the last thing he wanted to do on the week-ends was go back. My mom, while adventurous to some degree, wasn’t up for a trip to New York unless it involved the Chinatown bus, a gaggle of her friends, and the promise of designer handbags. While I don’t make week-end jaunts up to the city, I have been to NYC more times as an adult than when I was living about an hour away.
I used to be embarrassed about looking like a tourist whenever I would visit. I would never want to ask for directions. It’s not that I wanted to be mistaken for a New Yorker. I just didn’t want to be mistaken for a tourist. It took me forever to get comfortable on the subway, mainly because it was a good long while before I realized that Uptown actually meant up on the map and Downtown actually meant down on the map of the island. I know, and I’m college educated. Once I got that figured out, the rest was easy. And thankfully, in this age of smartphones and iPads, you could be all up in Google Maps or the subway app and no one would ever know. The other thing that helped me navigate the labyrinth of trains?
Really and truly, pop in some earbuds as your walking through the subway station or above ground, walk with purpose, even if you have no idea where you’re going, and you’ll fit right in. Everyone has earbuds on. Everyone is moving hurriedly and with a destination in mind, even if it’s that Starbucks on the corner to pop in and check their route. That’s how I kept my cool when I got off a stop to early, when I walked a few blocks away from my destination as opposed to towards it.
Anyway, I navigated the city with the air of someone who does it all the time. I even got asked if the Downtown A train goes to Flushing — I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
As the saying goes, “Early is on time and on time is late,” so you know what time I arrived — ahead of the producers. I got to post up in the green room and go over my notes for a bit.
I met with the producers, Mona P. and Dodai S., two supremely talented ladies absolutely crushing it in digital media. Dodai was featured on The Curls Room several weeks ago, discussing how it took years to learn to love her natural hair. Definitely check it out.
I met with the camera guy, Joon,who mic’ed me up and away we went.
When I first talked with Mona about my being a part of the video series, she straight up asked me what my angle was. When it comes to natural hair, I’m so passionate about it and I’ve learned so much that I want to share. I didn’t know if I could whittle it all down. Ultimately, I said that I wanted to talk about changing the language we use to talk about natural hair — moving away from negative action words like “fix” and “tame” and “wrangle” so that if we change the dialogue, we can change our impressions of natural hair. Then I talked about “Maggie Sinclair” and my hair journey. Mona and Dodai revisited that with me on Monday. Each question snowballed into another and another. We talked about everything from the most outrageous things people have said about my hair to why I had a relaxer at a young age to how my hair enters the room before I do. I could have talked about natural hair all day.
No, really, I could have talked all day, the experience was that incredible. It was exhilarating talking about the very things that are so important to me – my kids, my book, my hair — and knowing that I’m adding valuable content to the natural hair conversation.
I had a train to catch. We wrapped a little shy of 2pm and the Northeast Regional left Penn Station at 3:05. I wanted to change my shoes (travel in flats, work in wedges), grab something to eat and give myself enough time to get to the station without incident. I was ahead of the game this time, too, since I knew not to get off at 5th Ave like I did on the way across town.
I hustled on over to the closest Prêt-A-Manger (so good!), grabbed some munchies and popped in my earbuds. I wove through the Grand Central subway station and caught the train right as the doors were closing. I know that another train is always like 5 minutes way, but I didn’t have a whole lot of leeway. I rolled into Penn Station at about 2:35 and promptly discovered that they don’t announce the train platform until two minutes before the train leaves. I am not kidding; there are a crap ton of people milling around like zombies from The Walking Dead and when the board refreshes like one of those old flip clocks, pandemonium breaks loose.
Did any of you watch the season premier of TWD on Sunday? Remember how all those walkers were milling about in the canyon and slowly funneling between the two trucks? That was Penn Station just before it was revealed Train 85 was leaving from Track 12 West. Then it was like the Lily Pulitzer sale at Target. Folks were trying to push through, breaking up families and what not. Some dude on crutches kept getting washed away from the gate with the current. This chick cut ahead of me — I tried to box her out but she was too quick — and then tried to reach back for her boyfriend. Him, I boxed out with a hip check.
She was telling the Amtrak agent, “Oh, well it’s me and my boyfriend and I have his ticket.” She’s waving her paper like a beacon behind her, trying to guide him to the light, while at the same time trying to push her way ahead of me. At this point, my stomach is touching my back because I was waiting to get on the train before I ate, it’s 1000 degrees in the room and my feet are starting to hurt from standing for close to 40 minutes waiting for the board to change. So, I gave her my best People’s Eyebrow and said, “Excuse me. If you really give a shit, fall back and wait for him,” and then proceeded to push through the turnstile.
I know! I was the embodiment of hangry.
I didn’t stick around for her response. I hot-footed it onto the train and went in the opposite direction of the masses, finding a semi empty car in which to enjoy my Balsamic Chicken Avocado sandwich, chips and Love Bite. The train pulled away at 3:06, the city falling behind us as six and half hours of travel un-spooled down the track.
I made it back to RVA by 9:30, cross eyed with travel fatigue, but still riding the high of spending the day in the city. Did I make it to Zara or Prohibition Bakery like I had hoped? Was I able to grab a bite or a coffee with friends that I rarely see? Were my Louboutins ready for pick-up at the 5th Avenue location. Nope, nope and ha, ha, don’t I wish. The fact is I’m about thisclose to breaking my arm patting myself on the back for having had this whirlwind of an experience. And I’m super grateful to be able to share it with y’all!
Check back soon for the link to my video on The Curls Room!