I just finished the Coldest Winter Ever and I can’t believe I haven’t read it until now. However, all things happen for a reason and I feel like this book occurred when it was supposed to. Winter Santiaga was a character that I will never forget. I can see her in so many of my friends in Memphis. Being away for four years caused me to loose base with some of my original homies, the girl friends that I made in elementary, middle, and high as well as summer camps and malls and other places adolescent girls from the hood go to hangout and catch up and check on each other. I could have easily been a little Winter myself, however my father made it known to me that he expected me to love education, he expected me to be somebody, to work hard and get out of the hood. Unlike Santiaga, who only ever told Winter that she was supposed to have the best!
I was a very friendly kid. I made a new friend everywhere I went and for the most part they stuck with me. Being a child of the drug world, even though I was surrounded by violence, my dad tried his best to keep the streets from the house and keep me from the streets. I always had a book in my hand or a Barbie doll. I never dressed provocatively, never even had the desire too, because I always had dreams of better. Going away from Memphis, going North like my ancestors. With my charismatic personality, never ending supply of Barbies and toys, nail polishes, and all the things little girls wanted, plus the teen years when I was the only one in my friend circle to have a sweet 16 bash and get a car, I was the one that all the around the way girls wanted to kick it with. But it was always genuine, you see I was drawn to the pretty girls with tough lives, because they were so cool. They had all the street smarts that I lacked. Just like Bullet said in the Coldest Winter Ever, you can’t inherit street smarts, and I guess even as a little girl I knew that, that was something that I wanted because it was something that I lacked. I was the daughter of high roller, but I was very naïve about the world of the streets. I lived in lala land with my head in a book, but I knew that other girls were not having similar experiences.
I was drawn to these girls because they were just so cool. They were everything that I wasn’t. They would teach me how to my hair “because it’s a shame that you have good hair but don’t know how to wear it” they would go shopping with me to give me a make over “because you need to know how to dress for a man” and they taught me about heterosexual sex because they were doing it all ready or well on their way. They even tried to make my fat ass diet and exercise, to make me “cuteier”. These girls moved fast, were “fast”, and were the flyest, prettiest chicks. They filled in the blanks of street sense that I was missing. I remember after my first sexual encounter with a man, one of my Winterlike friends told me to drink vinegar to make sure I didn’t get pregnant because that’s what her sister did. Lawd and my dumbass accompanied my completely naïve mother to the Piggly Wiggly and got her to buy me a bottle of 64 fl oz bottle of vinegar by telling her that I was starting a new diet that my winter like friend Cyieta had told me about. The point I’m trying to get to is that the Coldest Winter Ever, really shook up my spirit woman, because I can see Winter Santiaga in so many of my friends from the hood, and even in myself. Brilliant, beautiful girls who just need a little guidance, just need to be encouraged to believe in themselves, to be told that they are smart that they are good in school, that they can be whatever they want in life. However, they were not told these things. They were brought up under the spell of fast money, and the prosperity of wealth of southern rappers, from the households of neglectful parents, and broken homes, these girls knew how to use their bodies, but didn’t know how to use their minds. I know Winter, she has so many recognizable faces she just can’t recognize her own potential because she got caught up.