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From the beginning, I've stressed that home is something internal, invisible, portable, especially for those of us with roots in many physical places; we have to root ourselves in our passions, our values, and our deepest friends. - Pico Iyer 

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Loss and Pride by Shantira Jackson

Loss and Pride by Shantira Jackson

 

This is dedicated to my Granny. A woman who taught me to love people, including myself. 

I like to think of what it was like when grandparents were children.  What was it like to call little Bernice Pride Jackson, my granny, in for dinner? I like to think it was probably cute AF.  

By the time I was born in 1987, Granny was well into her fifties. She’d had eight children and three grandchildren, so when I showed up she was ready. She already knew how to truly love folks. She loved me.  

When I was in high school  I would come home from basketball practice and sleep in her bed. Well into my twenties, I’d come home to visit and I would sit in her lap and lay my head on her chest and tell her of my trials in the big city of Chicago as I listened to her heart beat.  She had good a heart. She’d tell me I could always come home to Tallahassee whenever I needed to get warm. She had kind eyes and when I’d walk into her room I’d say “hey my Granny” and she’d say “hey my baby” and it was small and simple and it was ours. Small. Simple. Ours.

Granny had been sick for a little over a year when I got the call on Friday, April 29th around 10:00 am that my Granny was in hospice.  I was crying on the sidewalk in front of a giant catholic church in downtown Chicago and later I would cry on the train. I was a city girl now and I knew how to cry on public transit without causing a scene.  April 29th, 2016 was also the closing night of a solo show I’d written.  I was to go up at 7:30pm and at  5:30pm I got the call that my Granny had passed away.  I was alone in a hallway in an artist commune and I started sobbing. Then I went and told my director and I sobbed in his arms.

I would later get my shit together and do my show and because in comedy there is a thing called the ‘rule of threes’ I sobbed a third time during my final curtain call.  I had never truly sobbed a day in my life, cried yes, I cried a lot.  I cried watching videos of babies getting glasses and truly seeing their mom’s faces for the first time, but this was different.  This was a new sadness I’d never known.  

It was a new emotion.  My whole body hurt when I cried.  I couldn’t breathe and when I did, the air hurt. Someone who loved me from the moment I was born was gone. She really knew me. And still loved me.  My Granny with the good heart and the kind eyes who loved me with a ferocity I still can’t comprehend was gone.  I went my entire life thinking that I had felt a full range of most emotions and I think the average person honestly believes they’ve run the gamut on what it means to feel.  I’d tapped into something new with the loss of Bernice Pride.

This sadness was big, complicated and mine. It took me 28 years to feel the depths of my sadness and the realization that I have yet to feel the greatest extent of my emotions scared the crap out of me. What else had I been missing?

It’s been six months since my Granny passed away and I am still sad, it’s something I carry with me every day but I look forward to the new joys.  I know the depths of pain and sadness but I haven’t reached the greatest heights of gratitude or friendship or grace or love. Again I ask, what else have I been missing? No matter what, I like to think I’ll be ready. I’ll know how to love folks.  I learned from the best. Small. Simple. Ours.  

 

 

  Shantira Jackson hails from Tallahassee, FL and is a graduate of The Florida State University!   She is cast member in The Second City Mainstage's 105th Revue, a staff writer for Cards Against Humanity and can be seen performing weekly with her team 3Peat! at iO Chicago. Much love to her wonderful family and friends for supporting her dreamzzz.  She loves social media so Tweet @Tira_Son or Insta @tira_tira_tira

Shantira Jackson hails from Tallahassee, FL and is a graduate of The Florida State University!   She is cast member in The Second City Mainstage's 105th Revue, a staff writer for Cards Against Humanity and can be seen performing weekly with her team 3Peat! at iO Chicago. Much love to her wonderful family and friends for supporting her dreamzzz.  She loves social media so Tweet @Tira_Son or Insta @tira_tira_tira

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