There is nothing like being in the presence of those who knew you before. Before the husband, before the children, before the move. Before the JD, before the phd, before the dissertation. Before kindergarten, or first grade, or second grade, or third babies. Before losing baby teeth. Before you even remember you.
When you are in the presence of those who knew you before, all pretense falls away. Who you are is who you’ve always been. Not “LaToya Baldwin Clark,” but “Toya,” “Toy,” and my parents pet name of “Boop.” How good it feels to have to be no one other than who you are — a Baldwin, a Noble. A big sister. A little cousin. A big cousin. A daughter. But loved still as a mother and a wife and a friend.
And a welcome accomplice to foolishness and nonsense. To be celebrated for staying out after 10. For shutting down the club at 3 a.m.
There is simply nothing like being with folks who knew you before. Who loved you then and love you now. People who don’t care about your degrees. People who are simply happy to see your face and the reflection of you in your children’s faces.
I feel grounded after my weekend in Philly. I know who I am and where I come from and that I am enough just being Toy. Toya. I love being where I am. But I needed to feel whole with the idea that even if I did nothing more in my life besides take care of my children and be a decent person, I’d be more than loved. I’d be cherished. I’d be wanted. I’d still be me.