I was excited to see my cousin Gina; we remained close with each other, despite growing up in two different states. Gina and Aunt Gloria were happy to see me and I was happy to see them!
“Look at you, looking like Pat” Aunt Gloria said, as she hugged me. “Come on” she motioned at my bags. Aunt Gloria named me; she told Momma I was a joy, but that I was different, so she added an ‘e’ to the end. She said it had to be special like me, because I would bring lots of joy to the world. I loved me some Aunt Gloria.
Aunt Gloria and Aunt Melanie lived in the Lincoln Manor projects in Goldsboro; Aunt Melanie is Momma’s baby sister; my cousins Woot and Boom’s mama. She was just 10 years older than me, beautiful and crazy; I loved me some Aunt Melanie too!
She and my cousins were waiting for us when we got there; she gave me lots of hugs! Aunt Melanie was tore-out-the-frame and slightly slurring when I got there, but she was happy.
Woot and Boom had not seen me since they were really little in Dallas; they hugged me, but stared more than anything. They were too cute! I unpacked and settled in.
Aunt Gloria and Aunt Melanie still partied; Aunt Gloria sold liquor shots out of her apartment, so something was always popping. I loved to be around them, they were funny.
We spent the rest of the evening listening to them reminisce about their past and Momma, while they got tore-out-the-frame. Aunt Melanie slipped me a joint of my own, but I could not smoke it in front of Aunt Gloria; she did not play that!
There were people sitting around drinking and talking loudly. It was cool until Aunt Gloria got mad and had to get this guy straight, who was there drinking. Gina shrugged it off and so did I, as Aunt Gloria hit him with her belt; we had seen it before. We had seen them beat men with planks, switches and belts.
“Oh you want to show yo ass in front of company” Aunt Gloria said, with her face scrunched. “What the hell ya’ll looking at” Aunt Melanie stood and shouted seconds after, as she stood shotgun for Aunt Gloria as she beat the guy; talking mad trash to everyone in the room, “It ain’t none of ya’ll damn business!” Gina and I left the living room and called it a night.
The next day Gina took me to visit Uncle Donnie, Momma’s baby brother. He owned a beauty shop and a women’s clothing store.
We then went to our other cousins house; the Moore’s, to hang out. Aunt Lula and Uncle Gump’s house was always the place to be, even when we were little. There were so many of them, there was always people around and something going on.
“Your body finally caught up to your big bell-head, Joyebell”, they joked. They were all drinkers and everyone was happy, playing cards, music was playing and cousins Rhebia and Angela were always in the kitchen frying something. Their house was alive and I was happy to be there!
“Come and sing something Joyebell” Aunt Lula said loudly! Other family members backed her up, as they gathered around in the living and dining room to listen. I stood in the middle of the living room floor and sang Anita Baker’s song ‘Angel’ for everyone.
I went the following week with Gina to see the Air Force recruiter. I filled out paperwork and was told to come back for the test. I failed it three times! It made no sense to me, I was not stupid!
None-the-less, I was not able to join the Air Force. I decided to stay in NC for a while; I was not ready to go back to Dallas.