Sometimes, it must be said.
I Will Be the Bearer of Awkward News
Musical Selection: Alex Isley|Wait
I own it and I won’t ever deny it.
A friend of mine sent a text message on New Year’s Eve stating Betty White had died. Suddenly, it felt as though a galaxy found its way into my body and exploded. I was not prepared for something as heavy as Betty’s death to sit on my chest and pierce its way into me. Granted, I hadn’t been feeling my best — having had a booster shot pumped into my bloodstream earlier that day. No one tells you the autoimmune or invisible illness with which you’ve been saddled will shape your life in a way you never planned. They don’t tell you that an overgrown virus once thought to be efficiently combated by two doses of the vaccine of your choice is now one they could not have predicted and instead of just one booster to further ensure your health — you will also need another.
Now, with the news of four different mass-produced pharmaceutical marketed vaccine visits lumped together on my vaccination card, I can’t breathe. What an odd day to die, I thought . . . And at ninety-nine, too. When I am given information I find hard to dissect, I start reading about it — I start researching from where did it originate? You cannot pinpoint a person’s death before it occurs. And why do I think I should be able to do it?
There is the possibility that knowing a friend of mine who recently pulled up a seat to the table of my heart contracting the Coronavirus, COVID-19, is pressing me harder than I thought it would. The next day — found out her toddler and mother are both positive as well. The same week — a cousin, then another, then another, and I just . . . am so fucking tired of it all. I want to scream, but no one will hear me. I want to lash out, but at whom?
I promised myself 2022 would be different.
The week before all this insanity, I toyed with the idea of emailing a friend, not friend — a love, not love, to begin the process of us. This sounds like a business transaction — a potentially lucrative investment, doesn’t it? I’d been sitting on what I would say for years now and instead of every word being lodged deep in my throat, they were slowly creeping upward — daily; I feel nauseated. If I love this person as much as I feel I do, why is this so hard? I’ve made mistakes before — thought what I was feeling was validated, confirmed, but it was not. I have spent many years trying to understand emotions — feelings — the intensity of it all. And I am better at it than I was before, but I still worry about loss.
And loss keeps me from moving forward. However, I will be the bearer of awkward news. I own it. I won’t ever deny it. I have played paragraphs in my head, formed them without blinking, and now, all I have to do is push them from the inside out — all I have to do is load them up, review them, and send them off. And as sorted as this all may sound, there are things that can go wrong during the process. It is not a carefully constructed assembly line. There is no one to test the structure or its faults before I engage in putting my heart on the line . . . I’ll just be out there bare-assed, waiting . . . waiting for a response.
I can take it, I tell myself.
Whatever happens after I do this, I can take it, is what I am telling myself. I have been tested — I’m tried. I’m true. But I am not battery-operated, so I will feel the magnitude of this — whatever the outcome. It will be a part of me for years to come. Once you have lent your true feelings to the ether, there is no going back — no 360 turns you can take to lasso what you sent back to its birthplace. It will be. It is. And you will have to deal with it in whatever shape or form it takes.
The moment came, and I typed my feelings onto the screen. He’s aware. He knows. Just as I am aware of his — I know. One of us has to be less scared — less threatened by what could be and just jump into what might be. I pick up the weight — secure it to my shoulders — settle it evenly on my back, and type as fast as I have been taught to. I don’t miss a beat. I am mindful of the verbiage used — it’s carefully selected. I breathe. I pace myself.
You’re doing it, I say. Holy shit, you’re doing it! And as I see myself taking these steps — diving into the deep end, I notice the dog is stirring. She will need a walk soon, and I won’t be able to overlook this. It builds anxiety within me. I’m anxious to be done, but I also still want to be careful — cautious of what I say. Once I am done composing and I send it, there is no turning back.
And as I watch my words carry themselves into the depths of an ancient email account — obtained during Gmail’s beta period, I breathe a sigh of relief. I did it. I shared a burden — unpacked the heaviest pieces of my baggage, and tossed them into the waste bin of life.
All that’s left to do now is wait.
Ode to a Man Who Once Called Me a “Porcelain Doll”
years ago, when I was still
wading in closeted waters, a man
I loved wrote a poem for me.
he had always been kind–never
uttered a word of disrespect in
my direction and I swam in
every word of his as if they
were Heaven’s bath.
his poem, entitled, “porcelain doll,”
stuck to my bones and
hasn’t pulled its gluey residue
away from me, and I
hold on to his words–they
calm me when times shuck
the peacefulness from my mind.
we still communicate. I doubt
we’ll ever break free of each
other–friends, almost lovers,
back to friends, almost lovers . . .
it’s a cycle that has its own
tune and I can hum it in
seven different languages.
I’m still working on my
Swahili, but German and French
have made a solid return.
every time I see a text message
from him bubble to my
phone, a child of a different decade
ushers in her presence.
he still makes me feel like
living is the best gift from God.
and it is a Tango’d web which
I’ve found myself dancing on,
and these days–I do not wear
the best shoes for the job.
here is a man so far away from
me, so far away from my presence,
but near in others . . . what will
change? what can change?
he is someone for who I’d relocate–
shift life goals, and pack up
all my things once more.
yet, here we are . . .
afraid to take the plunge.
the years pile on, aging us
both in ways often hard to
discern–is today a good day
to broach the subject? will tomorrow be?
the dog doesn’t know his face,
hasn’t heard his voice, but
I recall every image of him
shared with me and still have to
beat his voice out of my ears
during the witching hours.
could sleep be better alongside
his body entwined with mine?
this man, for whom I carry
both pain and joy–settles in
the thickness of my breasts,
caresses my aura. the Chakras
of my body align with the presence
of the Holy Spirt, and I am
devout in this form of worship.
I won’t label myself . . .
I won’t mock my growth . . .
but long ago, years before, when
I was still wading in closeted waters,
he wrote a poem for me.
I was his “porcelain doll.”
A one-lined poem about Netflix’s The Harder They Fall
Real people fashioned from the mind of a genius, repurposed for entertainment and education–can’t deny us now.
We Never Stop Loving Those Who We Love the Most
Sometimes that can be a hindrance
Intimately, on a scale of deep passion, I have loved — truly loved four people. Two women. Two men. This isn’t to say, I have only had four relationships, no . . . it is to convey I have only fallen in love with four people. Others I have liked — have been fond of — have enjoyed their presence. But . . . I could walk away from them or they could walk away from me and not one eyelash would bat.
I recognize, at age forty-one, this could seem perplexing to some. It is probably even unbelievable to others, but I have always been a person who loves hard but only with a person who could break down some effectively built walls. Four people did that.
And after each one, I threw up another wall — bigger and stronger than the previous barricade. Two years ago, the last person with whom I was in love and I stopped communicating — the wall remains. It keeps bad people out, and all the good feelings — memories and fun-filled times, in. “I just wanna be loved. Like everybody else does. I just wanna be loved.” ©Jill Scott
Recently, a friend of mine said to me, “Eventually, Tre, you will have to let someone else in. And they won’t have an easy time if that wall is still there.” I am aware of this. It sits with me for many days and taunts me. But the wall is my safety. The wall is security. Anyone willing to dive into my heart should be able to knock it down, correct?
We think we know what we want.
Sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we are clearly flailing about on this earth, grasping at strings of air, yearning to survive another day. I can tell you who I think would be most compatible with me, but it doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome for us. I can tell you what I want most in a partner, but there could be things within me that person may not want or gravitate toward.
“I just wanna be loved. Like everybody else does. I just wanna be loved.” ©Jill Scott
On a good day, I can say with certainty, this is all I need. On a bad day, other things cram into the spaces of my brain and force me to believe there is more. There is so much more. But what? And why?
Learning to love more than the four.
Currently, I am teaching myself the importance of loving more than the four. What does this mean? It means I have to be willing to know someone else can do what the four did. Someone else will want to do what the four did. And if I don’t keep my eyes open and be mindful of this person’s attempt when it occurs, I could miss out on the fifth because of the damn four.
You still here? Are you following me?
We never stop loving those who we love the most. No one’s asking us to. No one expects us to. We fall in love for so many reasons, many of them understandable to most, and some, not so much. The things that make us reminisce about our lost loves during our transition back into the dating world will always hang in the shadows — dangling their hindrance devices.
Can we move on? A better question . . . do we even want to?
Currently, I am teaching myself the importance of loving more than the four.
I want to believe I have enough strength in me to let loose and let love have its way when it tries to sneak in again. But first, I’ll have to do something about this damn wall. I don’t want to tire myself out from the heavy lifting. Stripping away one’s barrier could end up being a test on “survival of the fittest.” Am I fit enough to survive?
The four won’t hold me back.
This is my mantra. It is what I am telling myself these days to get through the lonely moments. The four can only do what I let them. The four will only be as harmful to me as I allow. I won’t be held back any longer.
There is a whole life in this world waiting to be had, and love is a part of it. Opening up is a part of it. Being able to be vulnerable and willing to take a risk is a part of it.
We never stop loving those who we love the most. No one’s asking us to do this at all. No one expects us to. But we have to differentiate between holding on to our past loves because the experiences were positive, and we’d like more like them, and holding on to our past loves because we are afraid every other one will not be like them.
If we keep holding on to them, what else will we be willing to grasp. Today, I refuse to allow the four to be a hindrance.
Where’s the sledgehammer? I’ve got a wall to destroy.
Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium
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