Hello, I’m LaToya

This page is dedicated to all the wild thoughts I have, and am crazy enough to discuss for all to see.

  • ACircleIsRoundItHasNoEnd

    This weekend I had the biggest, best, full-circle moment with my son, Levi. 

    When I was a kid and my parents split up, there was a period where I didn’t see my dad at all. I don’t remember this time because I was between two and three years old. My big brothers remember a time when my parents lived together. I don’t. My memory only lets me go back to a point where I was probably about four. At that time, my parents had split up and were both in new relationships. I lived with my mother and her husband. I thought he was my father. I can remember hearing his keys in the door, and sprinting over to him screaming an energetic, “Daaaadddyyyy!” He would laugh hysterically and sweep me up into his arms. That was the routine until one day my dad came to our house. 

    He knocked on the door and my older brothers opened it. They were jumping up and down. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I was super confused. 

    “Where is your mother?”

     My father stood there waiting. Hands at his side.

     “Mommy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Rohan and Ricky cried out for her. They had no idea.

     As soon as she came to the door, he started hitting her. She didn’t have a chance to step back from the blows or even ask a question. I don’t know when he stopped, but I know that he and my stepfather had words. My stepfather told him if he was a man, he would be living in the house with my mom and us kids. I don’t know how my father replied. Despite the attack, my parents managed to come up with an arrangement where we were with him on the weekends. I liked going to his apartment because he would take us out for dinner on Friday nights. Most times, we went to the Sizzler. When I first moved to LA, and started seeing Sizzlers everywhere, I told myself I would go for nostalgia’s sake. Now, I can’t fathom it. Maybe I should go and take Levi so I can have another rabbit hole moment. Perhaps he will tell me buffalos don’t have wings like I told my father when he asked me what I wanted the first time we went there.

    On one of our weekend visits, he took us to Playworld. I think it was just me and Ricky. If Rohan was there, I don’t remember. He told us to get whatever we wanted. I picked up a Pretty Ballerina. She was Black, and came with a beautiful stand that made her twirl when you turned her on. She smelled like baby oil and had bright pink cheeks. I felt so lucky to have a dad that took me to the toy store and let me buy whatever I wanted. I have always loved my dad, even though I know how imperfect he is. He was my first love. So sweet to me all the time, and willing to do anything to make me happy. Always laughing with me and calling me darling. 

    Last weekend was my weekend with Levi. On Friday night, we stayed in. I promised him pizza, so I made that happen. On Saturday, my plan was to take him out for bacon. Bacon Saturday became a tradition when I had supervised visitation with him. It only took a couple meetings for me to understand that he needed to have breakfast before spending the day at whatever museum, or play space I picked for us to hang out in. I know how much he loves bacon, so every Friday, I made it my business to choose a spot for breakfast where he could gorge on bacon, and I could gorge on coffee. It has been my intention to keep things going since the gate was lifted, and I was able to be with him like normal again. 

    The thing is, last weekend, when he woke up, he wasn’t in the mood to leave the house. I am not sure how I knew it, but I did. He woke up and started playing. I offered him water, and vitamins. He took them, and went right back to his agenda. In my mind, I was like, “Levi doesn’t want to go anywhere.” I politely went to the Uber Eats app on my phone, and found a restaurant to order from. When the delivery driver sent word that she was outside, I told Levi that we needed to go outside and get the food. He reeled as I put his crocs on. I am not sure what bribe I offered as an incentive for him to go outside, but we eventually made it out there. The driver was an older lady. I guess we had taken too long, because she was on her way down the lobby steps. 

    I grabbed the bag from her. It was heavy with the hashbrowns and pancakes I had ordered for myself. We went inside, and as I parceled out the food between my son and myself, I felt settled. He devoured his bacon as usual. I picked over the pancakes and hashbrowns realizing that my eyes had been much bigger than my stomach when I looked at the menu. I lied to myself by placing the leftovers in the refrigerator. Once our bellies were settled, I got us both cleaned up and thought about what we were going to do for the day. I resolved to take him to the Mattel store. I learned about it from one of my co-workers. He said that the Hot Wheels cars were cheaper there. Levi was super into Hot Wheels. I figured that it wouldn’t damage my pockets too much to grab a few cars from them since it was the factory store. 

    We walked in the door, and I was catapulted back to about 1988 when my dad took us to buy toys from Playworld. I don’t even know how to describe the way I felt about it. I guess I would call it freeing to walk into a store ready to buy whatever my son wanted. It was also a little sad that this was happening on a court appointed weekend visit with him. I never planned to be a single parent. I know that some people do, and they love it. I’m not one of those. As a matter of fact, full transparency-I ended a pregnancy after college because I was about 100% sure the father wasn’t going to help me raise the baby. 

    Being a single parent after going through a terrible divorce, and subsequent custody battle made my reality feel even heavier. We walked through a couple aisles, and I began to take a look at the toys right along with my baby. I forgot how amazing toys could be! The Barbies were super impressive. Beautiful dresses, different skin tones-BABY HAIR. The car assortment, same. Flames, spikes, bright colors- the whole shebang. 

    I remembered the joy I felt with my father, and brothers while we shopped years ago. I then realized I was making core memories with my baby, regardless of how it happened. 

    In the end, Levi left with a huge Hot Wheel set that did about four loops. Definitely a D battery kind of contraption. Regardless of my situation, or anyone’s situation as a single parent- bliss can be found in the most remote corners of El Segundo, or other cities with stores that sell baked goods, books, toys, or chicken nuggets. The idea is to be present for these small humans that we brought here, and to have some fun in the process. 


  • Maybe

    Maybe

    I didn’t know her that well until recently. She says we had a class together in undergrad. I don’t remember that. Most days, I was staring out the window, thinking about what to eat, or which girls were next on my list. It was a miracle I had made it to college. Not that I didn’t deserve to be there, whatever that means. I had the grades-but I also had a huge problem with authority, and experienced some thorny run-ins with the cops while I still lived in New York. Florida was a long way from home, but I ended up loving it there. I made some good friends, and I guess if had I never gone to St. Mary’s I wouldn’t have met her. Turns out, we ran in the same circles. I saw her, yet didn’t notice her. She wasn’t my type back then. For a long time, my type was big-breasts and low self-esteem. She was always with her friend Anthony, reciting Jay-Z lyrics and crying over her lame boyfriend. Maybe her self-esteem was low, but her boobs certainly weren’t big enough. Anyway, once I moved to LA, I got into the artist/writer scene, and that’s how she popped up on my radar. I went to this reading party. I know it sounds a little weird, but people are totally into it here. It was at a Mexican cantina in the Arts District. The flyer said to bring a book, and money for drinks. The “party” was from 12-4. As was my custom, I wore all black. I’m not exactly sure what I’m mourning, but I have been doing it for two years. I can’t get away from it. I don’t want to. I walked in and sat down with my copy of Song of Solomon. It’s been one of my favorite books forever. It makes me feel like I can find my way home.

    There was only one other person in the place besides me. It was quiet, and there was lots of sunlight pouring through the windows. A promising scene. A waitress came and whispered softly in my ear, “ Would you like a drink?” I thought for a moment and then asked for a Moscow Mule. I don’t usually drink those, but my ex did, and something about the placid scene reminded me of her. Well into my reading and doing my best to get that horrible drink down, I felt someone move next to me. I looked over, and there she was. Her mouth still permeates my thoughts every time I see that copy of Song of Solomon on my shelf. I can’t believe I let her go.

    I was so glad to get out of the house. When I first moved to LA, I had 3,000.00. I know it wasn’t much, but people come here with less and seem to make it. Sure, it takes forever to get noticed by a publishing company without an agent, but it was a risk I was willing to take. Besides, I had a thriving career in tech to fall back on should my manuscript end up in a bonfire, or dumpster. I had a plan. I would work the traditional 9-5 by day, and write for my life at night. I had to do it, no matter what he said. He was the reason I flew halfway across the continent to start a new life. Anyway, with only a few thousand dollars, I couldn’t afford to go to premiers or enjoy the legendary nightlife. I volleyed between the library and the thrift shop. Oh, and Trader Joe’s. A girl’s gotta eat. I found out about the reading party while I was there one day. I always have a book in my hand, so I guess the hipster cashier guy thought I would be interested. I was about to pay for my food when he blurted it out. “Hey, um, I don’t know if you would want to come, but there is a party-“ I interjected. “I don’t do parties. I’m poor.” He laughed, and shook his head. A lady with a baby on her hip rolled her eyes at me. “No, it’s not that kind of party. Here, look this over. I’ll be there, so you will have a friend.” I shoved the paper in my bag, and I took off before the angry lady could run into my heels with her shopping cart.

    I got there a little late. I wasn’t going to show up at all, but I was getting tired of sitting in the house every day hoping he would ask me to come back. I put on a little black dress-well, more like a big black dress. It was long, came all the way down to my ankles, and had long sleeves. It was made of cheap material, maybe a mix of cotton and spandex or something. It looked good on me. My starving artist figure was quite nice. I wore my hair up in a tight ballerina bun, and my jewelry consisted of the hoops in my ears. I let my neck be naked, save the perfumed oil I got from Moreesa. I walked in with my copy of Song of Solomon. It was a beat up hard back with threads coming out of the top. I got it at the thrift shop a couple days ago, and it’s been glued to my hand ever since. Most of the chairs were taken. Book nerds are punctual, I guess. I headed for the closest empty seat and slid down. That’s when I saw him looking at me. He had music in his eyes. I ruined my life simply trying to get out of the house.


  • KVille

    New short-longish story. The first two chapters.

    1. 

    Kenny was fucking stressed. He sat in the train wishing he had just killed himself as planned, but that bitch of a monitor sat across from him constantly asking questions without moving a muscle like he was her son or something. The sun was a bright orange color, on her way out for the day. Apron thrown over her shoulder, she sank down into the horizon. Kenny tried not to look around or make contact with any of the other passengers. He was pretty sure he looked like shit. There was no getting ready this morning. No wash basin in his room. Or toilet. Just a bed, blaring alarm, and some slippers. The monitor walked him outside and pushed a ticket into his hand. Finally, an end to her gazing.

     No one told him where he was going, or who to talk to once he got there. At this point, it didn’t matter. He hadn’t slept in days. May not sleep anymore. Every time he closed his eyes, it was there waiting for him. More menacing than a plate of cold green peas that your mom was harassing you to eat before you could get up from the table. As the train droned on, Kenny looked up, inwardly hoping that no one would make eye contact with him. Thankfully, no one did. Most people were facing the opposite direction. The ones who weren’t must have been reading books, because their eyes were glued to their laps. 

    Good. 

    He wanted to avoid people at all costs. 

    Kenny took out his own book, and as he brought it to his face, he remembered that he hadn’t brushed his teeth for the day. “Bad breath might come in handy,” he thought. His copy of Native Son was in perfect condition aside from the brown clouds of dried blood on the back. No one in his present company would care. He didn’t either. This was his truth, and if his grandma was right, then God would forgive him and let him into heaven with the rest of the sinners. He had made a mistake. Nothing new under the sun, right? David, Cain, Moses. He was in good company.

    He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before starting at the first page yet again. Native Son was his favorite book, and now his only book, so he was looking forward to reading it. Nothing else to do on this train to nowhere. The windows were blacked out, so even if Kenny cared to know where he was being carted off to, there were no clues/indicators. The words on the page floated across his mind, but he wasn’t reading them. All he could see was her. Her floppy body across the bed with bruises on her arms, and knots on her forehead. The lips he used to play a million games with were swollen and purple. And it was because of him. 

    2. 

    When Kenny walked into Daphne’s house that day, he didn’t know what he was going to say. Everyone had been talking about them. They knew she was seeing someone new, and that she had been showing up to different events wearing these huge dark glasses, hiding her perfect almond shaped eyes that rose even higher on the corners when she smiled, although she hadn’t been doing too much of that lately. He wanted to talk to her. That’s it. Make sure she was okay. They had been divorced now for a few months, and didn’t really talk much, but he thought that in some way, he was still responsible for her. Her entire family was in Phoenix, and they didn’t come see her very much, because they were still bitter about the move, especially her mother. She thought Kenny and Daphne were to young to be married, let alone move across the country together without any support. He almost called her when people started telling him that Daphne was in trouble, but he decided against it, and just  went to see if he could get a better read of the situation. Kenny knew there was a great chance Daphne would just think he was coming to get her back. She was slightly right about that. 

    Kenny put his tongue up in front of his teeth and licked his lips before knocking on the door. Her car was outside, but he didn’t hear any stirring behind the door. Maybe she was asleep. He turned around to make sure no one from the neighborhood saw him. The street was clear. Almost strangely quiet. Usually there were kids riding up and down the street. They had been renting the house for a couple years before the split, and most times there was something going on. Since the house was at the end of the street, bikes and scooters topped with eager youngsters were a common occurrence. Not today. Just wind whistling. 

    Kenny knocked a second time. Nothing. He shifted his weight from right to left, and reached into his pocket for his cell phone. He went to his favorites, and hit “X.” Daphne’s line rang a few times before going to voicemail. Kenny turned around to look at the street again. Nothing. He put his hand on the doorknob and turned it. The door was open. His hands immediately began to sweat, but he pushed the door and went inside. He closed the door behind him. He had a right to be there. She was his wife. Ex-wife. If that even means anything. According to Corinthians, that is the only wife that God will recognize, if you ask Auntie Jackie. 

    Kenny felt a little strange being back in the house he used to share with Daphne. He called out to her. 

    “Daph?” 

    No answer.

    “Daph?”

    He thought he should just go. Maybe she went somewhere with a friend. Just because her car was there didn’t actually mean that she was at home. His inner man told him to go. He didn’t. He walked to the bedroom, and that is where he saw her. And him. 


  • NOGIRLSALLOWED

    This was originally published in 2017, but it most certainly has a different meaning now.

    So, I’ve been meaning to share a couple things with you guys.

    First of all, I told my little brothers about this blog, and they think it’s cool, which means it’s cool. They are pretty much my spirit guides. I can’t wait to thank them on a huge stage in front of a roaring crowd of people one day.  I don’t know any other people who are as honest with me about my work. My big brother Rohan is up there, but Anthony and Jason just get me. It matters.

    Okay. I went into Ross the other day. Tuesday, I think it was. I’ve been in a funk. Marriage is hard sometimes. Thought I would go into one of the busiest, unorganized, havens of miscellaneous stuff in order to do some retail therapy and just clear my mind. Crazy places like that are perfect for me, because my mind looks just like your average Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or Big Lots. The only thing better than that kind of chaos is a shower.

    So, I’m in the store and Levi is playing with wind chimes, yelling, and knocking things down. We are having a blast. I get to the section with the rugs and decide I need one. I’m standing there trying to figure out if I want a navy blue one with a white swirly pattern, or a navy blue one with thin, periwinkle stripes when Levi’s babbling gets the attention of an older lady nearby. She sidles up to us and asks how old he is. I tell her. All of a sudden, a storm cloud forms over her head.

    “Don’t have a girl. They are trouble.”

    I say, “that’s what I keep hearing.” “

    It’s true,” she says, shaking her head.

    “My son is an attorney, and he is doing well. Has his stuff together. That daughter of mine-“

    She lets out a guffaw, and immediately I am sad for her daughter, never having seen her a day in my life. I grab one of the rugs and use my body to tell her I am finished talking. She says a warm, grandmotherly goodbye to Levi, and I go over to the part of the store where there are mounds of hapless toys looking like they know they are the dregs of toy society and will only be bought hastily on the way to a birthday party. I stop to think about what the stranger said.

    I am guilty of hating girls up until maybe about five years ago. I stopped hating them because I found some I like. Weird ones with big hair that wear Doc Martens and opaque tights, and lots of bangles and dreadlocks and too much lipstick who eat with their hands and emote with all their limbs. Girls who think like me, and love even harder than I do.

    I don’t particularly love the little ones. They have lots of attitude, yet cry over every little thing.  The older ones I can deal with once I understand them on  a personal level. They are hard to be around without breaks though.

    I am assuming having a daughter can be hard on a woman for many reasons. You know the things she will fall for, and there is that whole pesky adolescent phase where she may become a dumping ground for boys. Some women are jealous of their daughters and everything they are. Prettier, smarter, more daring. I can’t lie, I was overjoyed when I learned Levi was a boy. They are more fun to be around. My sisters are cool, but sooooo dramatic. My brothers like to eat and talk about rap music. They don’t gossip, or wallow in self-pity because they have gained weight.

    I know for sure my next child will be a girl. I am looking forward to helping her become a woman whose company I enjoy. If not, I’ll just kick it with her dad.


  • How?

    Ok, so I am a self-professed queen of stupid questions, but veteran moms please oblige me. 

    How on earth do you manage to love more than one miniature cross-section of yourself? I am in my fifth month of pregnancy, and for the past couple weeks, all I can think about is how I am going to love both my son, and this little girl? My son still needs/wants lots of attention from me. He is six years old, and supremely attached. 

    When I follow him to the bathroom to make sure that he poops after school (he refuses to poop in public), he often hugs me either before or after sitting to do the deed. In that moment, where it feels like we are going to melt into one another- I try to be present. I think of his warmth, and the way he smells, and his little fingers on my back. Then my mind drifts, and I am like-you mean to tell me I can love another person like I love him? 

    Seems impossible to me.

    After what seemed like eons of contemplation, I had to call in some reinforcement. Or maybe it called me.

    My boyfriend-who is the most sagacious man I have ever met-comes into our bedroom the other night, as I am scrolling through Tik Tok, and asks if I am okay. 

    “Yeah, babe. I am fine. Just thinking.” 

    I pull the covers up, and stretch my legs.

    He kneels at the foot of the bed, and rests his elbows on top of it.

    “Wanna share?”

    He is an air sign. Even though, how? He is an Aquarius, which in my highly-organized mind, should make him a water sign. 

    But whatever. 

    The air sign people love to idly chat. Or so I am told.

    That is never the case with me, but I am learning to go with it. I take a beat to think, because Mom Brain has me sounding like a cross between Michael Eric Dyson and Pootie Tang these days. 

    “I am thinking about how I am gonna love another kid. Like, whether or not I even have the capacity.” 

    I sigh because I know full well that he has no idea what I am saying. 

    “What do you mean?” 

    He looks at me like he is very confused. As if what I have said makes absolutely no sense. 

    “I am saying, you know how much I love Levi, right? I am wondering how I am supposed to do that again, with another baby. Like, is it even possible? I know it sounds crazy, but I know what I am trying to say. I guess when she gets here, I will prove to myself that it’s something I can do.” 

    I feel crazy now.

    “Yeah, I am really not getting it.” 

    He almost rolls his eyes. 

    “This conversation would really only make sense to another woman.” 

    He looks surprised. I just sit there wondering why I opened up about it in the first place, since I am the only one who knows how I feel about mothering. He sees me every day. He watches me be Levi’s mother, and a mother-figure to his daughter. But he has no idea what goes through my head when I see my son in the morning, or how the curls atop his head and their powdery smell alight my heart. How could he possibly understand my fear, and my confusion regarding the new life that I am carrying? 

    I end the conversation by asking what we are going to eat. I decide that the only person who might actually understand what I am saying is my mother. It’s too late to call, so I sit with my thoughts as I eat dinner with my love. Bob’s Burgers plays in the background. 

    **************************************************************************************************

    “Hi Mommy.” 

    “Hi baby. How you doin’?”

    “I’m good. I just have a question.”

    “What is it?”

    “Well, I’ve been thinking about how Levi has been my only baby for six years, and I’m wondering how in the world I’m going to love another baby like I love him.”

    “Ahhhhh, I understand what you mean. Don’t worry about that. You will have enough love. More than enough to go around.”

    I don’t know how to explain it, but in that very moment, I knew exactly what she meant. I decided that I wouldn’t worry about it anymore. My mom said I would know what to do, so that meant I would. 

    End of story. 

    I wish I had the words to explain how different it is-the love I have for each of them, but maybe I’m not as good with words as I think. When I see Levi’s face, I want to smile immediately. For seemingly no reason. He is joy personified. Always so happy, and so sweet. Depending on the time of day, I can predict what is on his mind, or what he might want to eat. And Stori-well she is me. Although I can’t wait until she starts smiling purposefully, her eye rolls and scowls resonate with me. We are both Earth sign folks, so to watch her be visibly unimpressed with her time on this planet is hilarious. 

    Caring for both of them simultaneously can be difficult, but as my mom said-I have enough love to go around, and that’s pretty much all we need. 


About Me

I emigrated from Nassau, Bahamas to Delray Beach, Florida when I was two years old. My parents, Jamaican natives- left the Caribbean in search of solace from political unrest, and the promise of the American Dream. 

After earning my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Bethune-Cookman College, I became a humanities instructor at my former high school. I have since maintained a career as a teacher working with At-Promise students in Florida, Maryland and California. I am a writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University.

The posts on this blog are dedicated to motherhood, social justice, and science fiction.

I am a diversity trainer dedicated to fighting for quality educational access for all students.

Check out my children’s book, Poor Mr. Monday on Amazon.com.

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