That is, if she could talk.
Pet owners: I’m pretty sure you have your very own thirty things and we’d probably swap stories and laugh hysterically about the ways of our non-human friends/family. Feel free to share a few in the comments if you want to.
- Human . . . I expect dinner promptly at 5:30 pm, there should be no deviation from this plan.
- That place that you go to every day in the morning and come back much later in the day, what shall I call it?
- While you were gone, I ate the crumbs on the floor you thought you brushed “off” the counter and into the cleaning cloth.
- Remember that one time you asked me if I liked the new grain-free food you bought me?! Do you recall my reaction, how I dove into the bowl as if I’d not eaten before? Well, I faked it.
- There’s this thing that rings loudly while you’re away. How can we make that not happen?
- Every time Nana visits, she sits in my favorite spot on the couch. I don’t like that.
- Why does she have to visit us anyway? Don’t you visit her enough now?
- I think you should warn me about bath-time, preferably a week in advance. I need time to evade this entire process.
- I’m not religious. You know that, right? God or mercy or hallelujah should never be in our discussions. I’m just sayin’.
- What’s this thing about “voting” I keep hearing on the radio? Is this something you’re going to do?
- If you are, will they pay you for it? I need more treats. Prioritize. Monetize this vote thing. Treats are important.
- Okay. You’ve seen Shrek 378 times already. That’s enough.
- The same goes for Finding Nemo.
- Auntie hasn’t been here in a while, neither has Nala. Did I do something? Did YOU do something? It’s always you. Yes, let’s go with that. Did you do something, human?
- You like to tell me not to drool on the couch, but please recognize how that’s not working out for you. Do I tell you not to drool on your pillows?
- Crushed ice is my favorite snack. More crushed ice, please.
- It’s been a while since we’ve had a daddy or another mommy around. What’s the holdup, human?
- I mean, I’m trying to gather all the attention I can. Are you keeping this from happening?
- The Vet . . . That’s one place I’d like not to go to anymore.
- If there’s any way we can make that happen, I’ll be happy about it. Tell them I’m good — we shouldn’t have to pay for pre and post-excellence. Let’s face it, I’m both. Save your money.
- Think of the treats.
- When you say things to me and you think I don’t understand what you’re saying, I’ve news for you, I do. I’m just ignoring you.
- Do we have new neighbors? I hear strange noises while you’re away.
- What’s with the burning of all the candles? And the sage?
- It’s been 5 minutes since you rubbed my belly or scratched behind my ears. Let’s change that.
- I’m not eating my food because I noticed yours smells much better.
- Yes, that’s right . . . Pick up my poop! Good human.
- No, I don’t like this taking pictures of me all the time thing. Stop it.
- When you take my collar off, it’s like you’re removing a piece of me. My identity shifts. How’d you like to have your identity shifted?
- NO, I WILL NOT STOP BARKING AT THE NEIGHBOR’S DOG! I’M PROTECTING US!
Bonus: I really do love you. That, I’m not faking.
And I always will
We have grown apart for a reason or reasons. We know that reason or reasons. Perhaps we’d always known them. Yet we tucked them deep within ourselves and buried them as lies. Our little truths were showing their heads, flashing beady eyes — devils from the dawn. We wanted to escape the crumble, denied the fall. But it still happened. I have loved what some may consider many and others not enough. And I love them all still, and I always will.
Our meeting had been destined to occur but not fated to last. Their presence in my life had its effects.
I have either become stronger from knowing them or wiser. And in my days of believing I’d become weaker, I have learned we design what we truly want and what we truly need. If I stayed, that was on me and me alone.
In The Beginning
Growing up, I was the eldest of seven children, three of my siblings lived with me. I was their “Go-to” person, their safe place. I cooked, ironed clothes, helped with homework, played with, and disciplined boys who would become men. Without going into much detail, I’ll express that my mom was fighting demons we could not see, and we suffered because of it.
Our household lacked the parental units necessary to maintain it and we grew up well before our time. Being children of divorce and separation, we all developed certain psychological “issues” that would linger into adulthood. I struggled with abandonment and fear of loss. I still do.
I am open about this and am the only one who has sought therapy because of it. I know there are still pieces of me yearning to have my “original” family back and a mother who was more active or involved, but I also know the past is gone and there’s no getting it back.
Healthy human development requires needs for physical and emotional care to be met. Unmet needs can result in feelings of abandonment. — Good Therapy
I search for bits of what I wanted my family to be in the people I meet: a devoted & more present mother, a faithful & more responsible father, less violence— curbed dysfunction . . . But I have to remind myself, I cannot go actively looking for what I am missing — it cannot be my ultimate reason for building relationships.
It is an everyday experience in knowing who I loved and why and remembering what I have lost too.
I have riddled my adult life with relationships where either I was deathly afraid to leave or my partner or friend felt as though they couldn’t leave. We stuck to each other, okay with the familiar, exasperated with holding on, but denied ourselves the freedom of letting go. I held on much longer than I should have. I did not want to lose them — I’d lost so much.
Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. — Mental Health America
It was obvious that much of my behavior centered on codependency which stemmed from feelings of childhood abandonment and either I was going to stare this truth into its face and take it head-on or continue to deny it. I faced it. I am getting better daily because of this option.
During these growth spurts, I have had to let go of some people I loved and will always love but held on to them because of history or decades of time that lapsed between us. Or . . . I did not want to feel what I needed to feel without their presence — peace. I didn’t know it would exist without them.
I tightened my grasp even if the relationship was one-sided; I did what I thought would keep us together: I showered them with gifts, made more time for them, checked up on them even when the gesture had not been reciprocated. In short, I removed layers of me with any semblance of hope that it would change them or make them stay.
In letting them go and giving them room to run, I also learned not to chase after them — not to reclaim what had been dead years before its actual expiration date.
There is an overwhelming sense of relief leaning into genuine bonds and friendships that come with no strings attached. I am also more aware of pointing out codependency, negative attachment, and fear of abandonment in others and moving away from forming these types of relationships.
Not that I am perfect in the selection of those coming into my life — I never will be. This is a testament that I now know what to look for and how to bow out of or back away from what could be potentially harmful to me.
You Are In My Heart
If I loved you, you had meaning in my life. You were here for a time and if you have vanished, that time has passed and rightfully so. I mourn your loss just as I would the death of the physical body. Your soul remains. I can feel you.
It was wise for us to part, for us to move on and move forward, and I believe this wholeheartedly. I am still learning, still growing, and recognizing parts of me that need fine-tuning.
But I know I loved you, and I always will.
Originally published on Medium.
My father has a display of the three wise monkeys in his garden. It is his place of peace. In the garden, there is a fountain — water flows rhythmically from the fountain’s mouth. A gush of purity envelops its passersby. My father is meticulous in his efforts to instill a sense of calm and undying appreciation for nature in us — me and my siblings. We gather at his feet, adorned in the mellifluous breeze from the flowers, captured by his tales of the dark & weary.
He looks much older than his age. His wiry gray hair stands on his head. He shuffle-kick walks — his whole body shakes. A dance of convulsion springs forth. He is a quiet man. A man who doesn’t mind letting the air speak for him.
We listen. We want to become pure, like the surrounding air.
My father was a letters man — he delivered letters to widows. Letters their loves left behind but never shared. He had been their “Go-to Guy” for giving them one last moment of happiness. Thirty years of this and one day, he stopped.
He had been ordered by the City of Hernadin to cease and desist. Love was no longer in. No one could receive it. No one could give it. My father, the hopeless romantic, hard-loving man, could not grasp this concept. He continued his efforts in secret.
On a quiet, black-sky day, a hired hand attacked my father. The Mayor had enough of his deviance. They cut out my father’s tongue, cut off my father’s ears, and gouged out his eyes.
He didn’t fight back. No, he remained genteel, my father. If he had eyes, he’d cry. If he had a tongue, he’d wail. If he had ears, he’d tune in to the assailant’s actions during this stripping of himself. Instead, he’d laid alone in his own blood on the cold concrete and waited for the pain to end.
You may think how do I know all of this if my father cannot verbally tell me. He’s an artist. He sits in the solace of his garden and creates. He sketched every account — every gruesome detail and bid us utter silence. We were to never speak of it again. And I haven’t until now.
You see, my father is dying. His last request is that we bury him under the three wise monkeys, the cold of the sooty dirt piled upon his pine-boxed coffin drenching his spirit. He has written every detailed order of action and has labeled each with one of our names.
I have the spirited task of bathing his body. A ceremonial bath with the heads of tulips, roses, and lilies followed by the lighting of incense and sage is first on the list. We will sing his favorite songs and eat his favorite fruits.
My sister is tasked with praying over his body as he’s lowered into the unforgiving ground. She will chant as we throw gritty handfuls of clay onto his coffin.
My brother is tasked with singing a hymn, one of his choosing, while he plays the harp. It can be the harp only. No other music will accompany this ensemble.
When all of this is complete, we will lead the guests away from the burial site and find our way back to my father’s garden.
We will share his stories. We will cry. We will remember the man he was and be thankful for his blood.
Three weeks from his funeral, I am also tasked with lapidifying the flower garden. Per my father, “When my last breath meets the sky, I will turn flowers to stone.”
It’s the one thing I don’t want to do.
But I will. Because of my father.
I stretch out my hands to my lover,
my life — he lifts his wandering eyes
up at me, happy to catch my silhouette
still as the nightlife.
This now is a scary place
to be — we linger on each other’s
tongues, hopeful to create passion
in the pique of all pain.
I know he doesn’t really see me —
he looks past this skin, calls me
his caramel, hot-mama, Georgia-Peach
elite. I am his Upper Echelon under
the covers, undercover — hidden
We keep secrets nestled in the grooves
of our aging skin, collecting them
as we meet another year.
I tell him I’d live in his curls if I could —
a universe of wonder for hair.
He smiles. He loves a good
compliment. His full lips
measure the amount of stress
I’ve stored in my collarbone.
By his hands, relief appears.
I pay him in orgasms.
When we go out, our hands
are at our sides, we stand close
but far — close but away from the
scent of each other’s breath.
We feign tolerance of the
stares that follow us.
I nod and smile — nod and smile,
keep my composure.
He tells me the people in this
neighborhood don’t see color and
I worry even more. How can they
know me if they don’t see me?
I fiddle with my newly broken fingernail
and ignore what he says just
for a moment.
We pass time by walking two blocks —
white picket fences fill my eyes.
Election signs for the Elephant
are markers for miles.
“They don’t see color, huh?”
He is silent. He pulls me closer,
latches on to my hand, and
quickens his pace.
I keep step — keep time, my swollen
heart beats faster as we exit
The depth of our essence — this skin
will not protect us, not even
from the colorblind.
I lay in his thoughts — stir myself
deeper as a mixture of lust, love, and
curiosity. He plucks his brain
for a better view of this world.
There is none.
It saddens him to realize this.
I hug him close to me — I knew
what he didn’t.
I prepared myself for it
before we left the house.