RAINY DAYS

Maybe I will just blame it on Ed Sheeran. Or James Bay. Yeah, let’s go with James Bay.

Damn that guy.

Some note, some lyric of his just struck me in the heart and broke it clear in half.

It’s totally James Bay’s fault, and not the years of hard work that I’ve been doing to clean up the mess and clear space…

It’s totally James Bay’s fault, and not the ferociousness for positivity and goodness that has encased itself around my heart for myself, primarily, and those that I love…

It’s totally James Bay’s fault, and not the methodical way in which I’ve prioritized learning to become a safe place for myself to reside, for my friends to reside, for my family to reside…

That my hands are tingling at the thought of someone holding them.

That my name is now willing to slide over and add another one to it.

That my heart, my broken clear in half heart, has done so not out of pain but out of pure willingness to widen and grow to accommodate another human being.

That everything in my body is pushing out a “I’m ready for this. I can do this. I’m not afraid of it anymore.”

So yes, damn you, James Bay.

Damn you, but thank you.

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I’D RATHER BE A WILD ONE, INSTEAD

A wild one, wild woman, what does wild even mean?

Yes please, thank you, but no sir, quite frankly I don’t give a damn.

I don’t want you to open doors for me I want the world to. Burst, wide, open.

Doors.

Slam them in your face if I must, but I probably wouldn’t. But if I had to, I could, so don’t forget it.

Pretty.

Wild, sweaty, dirty, messy. Too bold to sit still and be pretty.

But I am though.

That’s the funny part.

The puzzling part.

The you don’t own me but we can play together for a little while part.

Oh honey, yes please, thank you, quite frankly I do give a damn part.

Make you feel big because I feel even bigger part.

There’s room for you and me at the top part.

I’ll wear my crown if you bring your A-game to the throne room part.

Amen, hallelujah, all of the yeses but only some of the noes part.

Yeses.

Bold emphatic yeses. I can say yes just as lusciously as I can say no. And I will. Say no. So don’t you forget it.

The honey yes on my mouth is not an everlasting promise to you sir, play date, play mate.

A wild one, woman, what does it even mean?

Free to be. Me. That’s what.

In all of the contradictions, convictions.

Free to be. You. That too.

You’re welcome, baby. You’re welcome.

EX-EMPLARY BEHAVIOR

“I think if you were music, you’d be jazz,” he said.

He being the English teaching, bee keeping ex I met on Bumble. He, an ex after a month. A month, just long enough to develop a mutual fondness for one another but short enough that, after the prescribed period of frustration, you accept—nay, need—them back in your life as a friend.

And then one day after you see his smiling face next to her smiling face—her, the love that was both before you and after you—you message him to say that they are adorable. And you converse for a time, because mutual fondness, and then the conversation makes this statement bubble forward, “I think if you were music, you’d be jazz,” and you feel known and you agree and you smile because of that feeling and you awaken to God in the room teaching you about a different kind of life partner and a bigger kind of love. The kind of life partner that is on the periphery, the kind of life partner that is a comfortable friend. The kind of love that you can’t own, the kind of love that you can’t control.

And at that moment you vow that you will speak of yourself as kindly and think of yourself as fondly and see yourself as lovely as does your ex-after-a-month who had been communicating to you, just now, from a mystical land called Scotland.

WOMAN/WOMEN

Traffic signs should change. The go should be red, not green. Green makes me think of a forest or an open plain. It is there that I want to linger. Red makes me think of blood, of flowing, of moving, of…going.

It makes me think of being woman. Maybe this is why all of my best thoughts start in the car. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Right now red means stop. So let’s stop for a moment. Let’s be, red.

To be red, to be woman. What does it mean?

Is it found over $5 martinis with a best friendship created behind a register, cultivated on an island?

Is it found galloping down the highway, well over the speed limit, with the reckless notion that the masculinity that is the police force couldn’t. possibly. touch. you. Not in this sphere. Not in this place.

Is it found in heartbreak? In stillness? In meekness? No. It is found in Going. The grand Going. The capital g, Going.

The essence of womanhood is change. Change means birth, yes. But it also means death. Because to live is to die is to live is to die again and again. (And I wonder why I love fall.) The essence of womanhood is the entire body from the head down. It is the feet that compel you to wander, the legs that hold you steady when the world shakes, the pelvis that ushers cycles of birth and not birth, the hips that bear the weight of the world, the heart that keeps a thousand secrets, the throat that exclaims gratitude and anger and love and hope in one breath, the neck—oh the neck—that supports it “all.” All: the head.

Spoiler alert: it’s not really all there is. To live in the head is to live at the expense of the entire body. A body filled with everything that it is to be human. The varying levels of emotions that we all experience. The differences, the desires.

This is why, I’m convinced this is why, society has feared women for as long as it has been allowed to get away with fearing women. We are wild creatures, wild things, that are at our most beautiful when we are unkempt, unbroken. We go when the world says stop, we stop when the world says go.

There is a depth of emotion within all of us, flowing through all of our blood, our Womanhood, that is beyond what most of us care to experience. We have birthed nations and we have started wars but we have also ended nations and ended wars. We are at the beginning and the end of everything. Because we are women.

Fear us, love us, revere us, demean us but you cannot take away the power that is Woman. Because to be Woman is to be in the dark woods, under a naked sky, staring up at Creation, counting the stars and beckoning them closer to you. To be Woman is to barrel down the highway, until the light pollution ceases, to be in community with God. To be Woman, is to seek, to hunt, to connect, to birth, to destroy, to allow Life to flow through you and with you without trying to control it or yield it. To be Woman, is to Be.

It was at this revelation that I laughed at the sky and said, “Of course. Of course to me, You would be a Woman.” I am a woman and I am Womanhood and I am here. For you. Amen.

THOUGHTS ONE HAS WHILE DRIVING TO THE HAMPTONS

SPEEDING, COPS, BAD SANTA

83 on the dash feels delicious–I’m clocking one lusty MPH over for every (impending) year of life. But I pull it back because I distrust authority, and because my instinct for self-preservation is too strong, and because I’m a law-abiding citizen (apparently).

LANA, LOVE, LOST

I’m singing out loud, not my words but hers, and I find myself both lost in thought and thoughtfully lost. Rerouting.

HORSES, MARRIAGE, COMMITMENTS

You can’t own a wild thing unless you break its will and bend it to your own. I do not want to be owned, broken or made by anyone but myself (and God, of course God). And so I trot and gallop and run like hell away from anything that feels like captivity.

IT’S ALL GOOD

I let you open the door for me. You think you have me more than you do. I play it violently sweet; I play nothing at all.

But you think things.

I got a hangover from your cheap whine. But okay baby, tell me how it is. Tell me all about the day you spent building a castle in the clouds. All about the games you do not play. All about the she’s that came before me. All about the he’s you can’t wait to be. All about the worlds that divide your brain in two so you can sleep at night.

You memorized a pattern of freckles on my arm and you know what it means when I bite my lip. But you will not know me.  You saw my body in that dress and you know what I like to do on a Saturday. But you do not have me. You order me a drink I like and you can tell a stranger my story. But you can not love me.

Because I am not yours. I never was. Capital m-Mine; capital f-Fine.

 

 

F*CK YOU AND YOUR IVORY TOWER

I refuse to apologize for this post to anyone except my mother, for whom the title may be too offensive. But as I’ve enlightened even her as to her cushy seat up in the Ivory Tower of White Privilege, I give zero f*cks. Except for maybe my language but that’s what happens when you’ve absolutely had it with society.

I work in customer service and that generally means two things: 1) It’s my job to be helpful and 2) It’s my job to be polite. Unfortunately both requirements apply to everyone, even the openly bigoted ones. And boy have they been having a field day lately, all out in the open frolicking hand-in-hand as they make literally all. of. us. uncomfortable. #CheckYourselfBeforeYouWreckYourself

A “field day” event happened today and it blew the cap off of the lid I’ve been trying to keep on my emotions post-November 8, 2016. A customer, flanked by her bougie daughters and aloof husband, had been steadily getting on my last nerve ordering me around and talking to me as if I were beneath her. But then this happened as she was attempting to describe the sales associate that was helping her before I was:

Customer: She had dark hair. It was kind of long.

Me: Was she young?

Customer: Yes…and she looked not-American.

Me: …you mean Latina?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s my job to be polite and my job was not worth losing due to this woman’s disgusting display of bigotry. So I held my tongue and refrained from giving her a piece of my mind. And I swallowed hard when she later scrunched up her nose at a fellow human and walked away from them because they were—God forbid—scratching their head and presumably of a lower socio-economic status than her (she who was obsessed with sales and discounts, riddle me that). And I tried to not lash out when another associate, who happens to be an immigrant from a European country, said this woman had refused her assistance before she found me at my register. But I had it when she inferred that not-American is synonymous with Latina. And now we’re here.

Last time I checked, Americans come in all shapes, sizes, and skin colors. But the problem lies when well-meaning white people open their mouths in an attempt to be our allies after situations like the above happen. Confused? Let’s back track.

If you, in your odd curiosity, have ever asked me, “Are you adopted?” as if my lily white mother would never willingly have a baby with my deep bronze father; or “Are your parents still together?” as if a black man is incapable of willingly showing up as a husband and father; or “Are you and your sisters all the same skin color?” as if you’re hoping I break out some on-trend ombre family photo that’ll make you feel cultured; or even “What race do you identify with?” as if I choose who I am in the same reductive way you choose your socks in the morning, I’ve got news for you: you’re part of the us vs. them problem. If you seek reassurance that age-old tropes and stereotypes about my race don’t apply to me and my family because we’re on your List of Good and Okay Minorities to Associate With, you’re perpetuating said stereotypes. Sorry (not sorry).

If you, after saying something uncouth, have ever had the words, “I’m not racist, my (insert personal relation here) is (insert minority here),” come out of your mouth, I’ve got news for you: you’re racist. If you have to associate a race with a person in your life that you’re fond of in order to justify your feelings for other members of that race instead of just seeing said race as part of the larger collective of humans in general and treating them kindly, then you’re racist. Sorry (not sorry).

You can’t fix a system that you (unconsciously?) perpetuate. So, allies, if you’re still with me, I have a charge for you. But…before you get too fussy about what I’ve written so far, you must know and accept what we’ve come to know and accept: you can’t fix the behavior or mindset of Mrs. Cold Spring Harbor up there (yes that’s the town she lives in #OnBlast #NoShame). She and the many people like her are too far gone. But you can fix the small ways in which people like you go about their business in the world. If you boldly change your line of thinking and acting—and you’re a white man or woman—then other white men and women have a higher likelihood of following suit. Because sadly, that’s how it seems to work.

But before you ask for help in changing your ways, here’s me (all of us?) saying, “Nah, b. We’re tired. Figure it out yourself.”

Sound harsh? Tough.

Sincerely,
That Fly on the Wall You Didn’t Realize Was Biracial

BE, HERE, NOW

I wish I could say that I remember living in Queens, but I don’t. I know that I did certain things like skip home from the public library with a stack of books around the age of 3 and play in snow that nearly came up to my tiny little shoulder around the age of 2. But remember, I do not.

I don’t remember moving from Queens to Suffolk County, Long Island with my family around the age of 3-and-a-half! nor do I remember painting my new, all-to-myself room a shade of purply-pink. But what I do remember is a constant, pervasive feeling of Not Quite Liking Where I Was.

I’m one of those people who is always reaching for what’s beyond me; always seeking something better or grander and always thinking it can’t be found where I am. I don’t know why but I’ve never really liked Long Island. Well, that’s not true. I like the geography, and some of the towns, but the people—sorry to say it—embarrass me a bit. The rough and tumbled accents; the crassness and propensity for strong language; the general lack of grace and gentility; the culture of god only knows what that’s always felt very much Their’s and not at all Mine—even though a peek through a few of my family’s photo albums would tell a different story. But let’s just say that’s because I was an eccentric teenager trying, for a minute, to fit in to a place where I never fully could.

That’s the problem I guess, Long Island never felt like mine. It wasn’t a place that I could lay claim to, so when a dear friend recently said to me that there was something “so Long Island about you,” I felt my blood boil because to me, there isn’t. Worth noting: she isn’t from here.

You see, my closest friends growing up weren’t in my school district, one wasn’t even in the same state as me. My earliest boyfriends were also from different school districts, most weren’t in my grade either. My own family is mostly from the city, if not different states all together. For college, I shirked convention and hightailed it to a private school in North Carolina, much to the surprise of what felt like everyone and their mother’s who attended in-state public universities or ones within a few hours’ drive of home.

So when I came back to Long Island after college, I did so with my tail between my legs with all intentions of at least working in the city. But that was a thing that very much didn’t happen as I worked for the town I grew up in for 2 years—literally, I was in Town Hall. All the while scratching that itch of mine to leave (again). So I dated someone who lived in Brooklyn. When I finally moved to Brooklyn myself for school, it was largely a disaster and I found myself back in Long Island sooner than I ever wished to return (which at that time was never, mostly never, with the exception of birthdays and holidays and the occasional trip to the Hamptons).

So I was back here. Living in Long Island, at least working in New Jersey (words I never thought I’d say). But when that commute just got to be way. too. much., I was fully here once more—goodbye Brooklyn Boy—dating here, working here, living here. All the while scratching that itch of mine to leave (again). So I dated someone else who lived in Brooklyn; and then someone who lived further east in Long Island but had an apartment in the city; and then that one who lived in Harlem that was so good until it wasn’t good at all. And then I was fully here once again.

But not quite! Because I was still hoping for something better/different/farther away to come my way somehow. Until, quite literally last night, when a very important person in my life—mind you, this is a person I never thought I’d see again (life, you’re funny)—stopped me in the middle of yet another one of my “Why am I here? I can’t stand it here,” diatribes and looked directly at me as he said, “There’s nothing wrong with being here.”

Here.

It has literally cost me so much trying to not be here. I’ve chased down every possible avenue to have an excuse to not be here—religion, education, romance, work—and all of them have ended with an exasperated, financially-strapped, heartbroken me looking up at the sky saying, “Really? Here? Again?”

But yes. Here: apparently where I’m supposed to be now (thanks for nothing Ram Dass). My parents moved my siblings and I here, as in Long Island, for a “better life” and my stubbornness has left me trying to leave this “idyllic suburb” every chance I’ve gotten. Yet my Parent—capitalization necessary as I’m talking about God y’all—has kept bringing me back, saying all the while, “Child, will you just be Here.”

So I shall be here; and not reluctantly this time. Because maybe there’s nothing wrong with being in a place that doesn’t quite feel like Mine. Because maybe it’s not supposed to, and maybe it can’t feel like Mine yet if I am to truly make my mark on it. And maybe, just maybe, this is the biggest test of all: being fully here, in this place and in this moment, even though it’s a here I never really wanted, and finding its light and all the ways I can love it.

Aha.

P.S. Necessary listening…

 

NOON SUN (AKA: MY INNER STRUGGLE WITH LETTING PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN MISTAKES)

“Are you sure? You’re sure you didn’t do anything wrong…seriously?” – Me, in a booth in a restaurant after work with friends chatting about life

If you took a quick poll of the people who know me well exactly zero of them would say that I shy away from confrontation. In fact, depending on the situation, I relish it. That sounds harsh. What I relish is the responsibility and high level of concern that I feel to the people I love to keep them honest and living authentically. And we all know that one of the biggest killers of authenticity is lying (to yourself and to others).

So as I was dunking artichoke leaves and sipping rosé in the seat across from my dear friend in that booth and heard her say, “I don’t really think I did anything wrong,” fire crackled behind my eyes and flushed my cheeks. This Leo pulled all of the heat and searing light from the sun and pointed it at her friend until she relented into the truth. Because I viscerally couldn’t tolerate hearing those words because I knew she didn’t believe them.

It’s been days since that confrontation and I still can’t fully explain why I felt so personally offended at my friend’s choices—aside from the fact that she (and others) teasingly call me mom for a reason—but I knew couldn’t break eye contact until I felt her slide out of the defenses she had built around herself. I couldn’t allow any sort of cloud to diffuse the heat of that sun until I knew she faced her truth. And immediately then, when I felt it all slide away and my friend—my real friend and not the facade friend I had been facing just a minute earlier—returned, I softened my harsh noon sun and let it fade like a sunset as I listened, encouraged, and strengthened her post-confessional self alongside our far more earthly friend who is cool and soft like a forest after rain.

AUDACIOUS, FICKLE, AND ALL THE FRIENDS IN BETWEEN

This is one of those posts where a bold title came to me before anything else. I’ve since forgotten the exact event that made me muse on friendships, as this had been a draft for quite some time now, but I’m sure it was an occasion where I read a situation to have way more a precarious nuance that most people would dismiss or not catch alltogether. 

Regardless, I still find value here so let’s chat about those we allow closer to us than most others: our friends.

I don’t know about you but I happen to be an audacious friend. I hold no qualms about calling out those I love, questioning their intentions, and challenging them to grow through their periods of stagnation. I’m not a warm fuzzy blanket of complacency and I’m certainly not the friend cheering on your bad decisions from the sidelines. I dig even deeper when it starts getting messy and I still stay through the inevitable cleanup. I love hard and intensely, and though my delivery is characterized by the flowery languages of love and respect, the intention behind it is strong and fierce.

But even I have fickle friends. The ones that are around because of habit, because of comfort or because you don’t want to be mean or dismissive for “no real reason alltogether.” The ones you can’t help but agree to do things for because they’re lovely but your heart isn’t all there. It feels wrong, surely, but it’s hard to stop something like that. 

The fickle friend offers a levity to the audacious friend. It’s a space where it’s strangely okay to care a little less. But as that’s the nature of the audacious friend, surely it’s damaging to engage in such a relationship. Right?

I don’t know. But as soon as I figure it out, I’ll let you know.