Long weave flowing down my backside. The longest of lashes, that allows my eyes to look their biggest and brightest. A cat-like claw embedded upon each fingernail; colored a shimmering pearl. My hand motions are exaggerated to show them off. My brows…neatly plucked and tinted jet black. My lips were full and painted the reddest of reds. I don’t just walk, I strut. My femininity is illuminating. I feel power in my beauty. And nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop me. I look fabulous and I know it.

It was mid to late March, as I recall, I was sitting at my desk, typing with my well-manicured fingers, when I got word that disaster struck. On not just a national, but a global scale. A virus, the deadliest, fast moving kind is upon us. All of us. Media outlets were scrambling to report the pandemonium that was transpiring. Ultimately, it was decided that we were all quarantined. And maintain a distance of at least six feet while out for essentials.

Four agonizing weeks passed, along with a couple of bottles of Merlot. My strut has become a painful drag. I had to remember to pull my shoulders back and hold my head up high. I asked myself, “Am I conscious?” A far stretch from my initial question. Which was “Is this a dream?” My answer, “No, dear, this is a nightmare.”

Which is how I was starting to appear. Like a nightmare. Due to social distancing, my stylist was not making house calls. The beauty supply stores were closed. As were the nail salons. I went from brushing my hair to raking it. No matter how much I tried to salvage it, it began to take on the appearance of a bird’s nest. After a while, I removed the extensions altogether. And then my nails…my poor nails…I was badly in need of a fill. My pearl tips were hanging on for dear life. And the stress from the whole situation, the lack of sleep, left me with bad skin and racoon eyes. And since we’re about eyes, my eyes, the mirror to my soul, were reflecting deep sadness. So deep that I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to turn it around.

Everything around me was going through a metamorphosis. Including myself. And I was not prepared for it. And I for sure didn’t ask for it. I have cried an ocean. And now my own very soul was drowning from the inside out. Without the beauty that I desired, I felt lost, hopeless. Unattractive. Vanity in a crisis, is a crisis all. I realized that it was unhealthy. It was cold, cruel. Cruel to myself and all the world that is in turmoil. And I wanted to be free. Free from the madness that was holding me. That’s when I heard thunder and I saw the sky light up.

You know, my Bigma always said when it’s thunder and lightning, turn everything off, and stay inside otherwise you risk electrocution. But I unlocked the backdoor to my house and deceitfully ran out into my yard. Then piece by piece, I removed all my clothing. I allowed the rain the fall upon my face. I permitted the rain to wet my hair, my curls, my coils drew up. My scalp felt cool. I laid on my backside and was baptized by mother earth. My soul felt it…freedom. Free from it all. And in freedom is where power resides.

This feature was submitted by Felicia F. Clark

Felicia F. Clark is an author and journalist from Madison, Wisc. Her writings are primarily based on factual events surrounding love, motherhood and healthcare. She writes all pieces, “As Lovingly As Possible.”