Monday, November 17, 2014

Alive.



"But what if he doesn't call?" 

I asked my best friend this question after an amazing date, my doubting mind correlating it with the millions of horrible OKCupid outings I'd endured. I'd had men tell me that they thought I was shorter, slimmer, less intimidating or anything else that made them feel more secure. Like the infamous scene from "Just Wright"  where Queen Latifah finishes the sentences of her stereotypical first date, I know the game all too well. 

I'd watch carefully across the table at reactions. when certain conversations emerged:

Him: So what do you do for a living? 

Me: I'm a program director at a non-profit.

Him: Well not to sound creepy, but I read somewhere that you're a writer.

Me: I am. 

Him: Oh. That's awesome. Like your hobby, right?

Me: Actually, I write professionally. I've got a few freelance gigs.

Him: Wow. That's great. You know, there's a spoken word poet with your same nickname. She's pretty dope, perhaps I can take you to see her sometime. Writers totally dig that stuff.

Me: Yeah. That's actually me. I'm a slam champion and I perform every now and then, not as much as I used to.

Him: Whoa. You look so different, now. (I've lost a lot of weight.) Do you get paid for that?

Me: Yes. 

Or perhaps this scenario:

Him: Honestly, I thought you'd be a lot shorter.

Me: Really? What gave you that impression?

Him: Idk. I guess you don't really take pictures with anyone next to you. 

Me: Is my height going to be a problem?

Him: No. I mean, I don't think so. Would you be opposed to retiring the heels for someone you're with? 

Me: Sigh.

I'm used to intimidating men in some shape or form. Gone are the days where I'd try to pretend I was just a "teacher" or I did something concerning education. Gone are the days where I'd hide my writing life, until it was absolutely necessary to reveal. It's going to come out anyway. Why hide it? 

Word to Chimamanda: "Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in."

I'd sat at tables and had great conversation with guys, had them in stitches, and even had a few tell me that I was awesome. So...where are they?

A few of these dates came full circle, when they did I asked why we never followed through. 

Often I heard:

"I wasn't ready for a woman like you, yet."

"You had a lot going on and I needed to get myself together before I could come at a girl like you." 

That may have very well been true, but I rarely give second chances.

Because of this reiterative experience, I became guarded. I thought about dates ending before they began. I figured out how to go out with a bang, keeping my pride and trudging their own. A master of words and intention, I placed hidden motives in the palms of men who beckoned attention. 

I scared the mess out of men who swore they knew how to commandeer me, before they got through the door.

However, once in a while, upon the whiff of good heart, I'd let one in. 

& every now and then, someone will surprise the mess out of you. 

Although I'm an advocate of taking experiences for lessons, I often forget to take my own. Sometimes, someone comes along just to crack something open, just to give a forgotten emotion life, just to prompt a smile once again. 

On the first date, I reached out to give him the church hug that I give all acquaintances: light pat, chin lightly on shoulder, pull away. He stood back flabbergasted. 

"This might be our first one on one, but we've known each other for a while. Hug me, for real this time."

It was awkward and long, but after a whole minute of him holding me tight and not letting me go, something in me collapsed into him and I allowed someone to really hug me, for the first time, in a long time. 

There was another moment, while watching the movie, in the theatre, that he put his arms around me. 

"I know it's been a while, since you've been snuggled up like this. Don't you miss it?"

I was getting ready to go off on him, assuming he was trying to poke fun at me being single. 

& then I thought about it...I did miss it. A lot.

& so I basked. 
I did not question.
I did not delve into assumed calculation.
I didn't stop him.

I'd become so accustomed to stopping. 

We, women, are creatures of defense with hurt engraved in our spine. Why do you think we're able to stand up so straight? Why do you think we're able to carry burdens like they're air? 

Our spines are filled with stories:

The story of a woman who is used to one word answers and definite, used to dealing with a man whose emotion is frequently absent.

The story of a woman who can't seem figure out if his best friend is just that or someone lingering until the right moment.

The story of a woman who smiles as though nothing is cracked and wounded, but has ongoing correctional surgery for her broken jaw.

The story of a woman who is successful and presents her accolades instead of her being, because someone told her that was her worth.

The story of a woman who knows the smell of salt and sweat, but knows nothing of her favorite flower.

The story of a woman whose intuition nags every time he walks in a room, unlike himself--the man she initiated with, but denies the change with a fury.

The story of a woman who knows the snuggle of good pajamas, a home cooked meal for one, and the sound of Law & Order, all too well.

The story of a woman who will never know children because forgotten STDs, karma, or refusing to convulse has gotten in the way. 

The story of a woman who rides the train, engaged with her text, but is still called a bitch for not giving an onlooker attention.

The story of a woman who changes his ringtone or name in her phone, because the memories are stifling. 

The story of a woman who has convinced herself that long distance is a testament of their trust, but weeps when he misses their Skype call.

The story of a woman who flicks through Tinder with a numbness, knowing she'll never follow through anyway. 

What's the point?

The story of a woman who has just been "ghosted"---no text, no call.

Are you still alive? You owe me that. 

The story of a woman who believes that kissing is more intimate than sex, so she gives her temple instead.

The story of women who know that repetition can leave you dazed, confused, and most importantly: Defeated.

To avoid this feeling...we cut off the ability to feel, we diminish our capacity to tolerate bullshit.

But what if...what if...

We're closing out the eventual, the inevitable, the one thing that will heal all...

I ask myself this now, before I dabble in sabotage. 

What if?

& suddenly something fractured inside of me.

Something flew open. It wasn't the valve reserved for my students, friends, or family...it was a place that's been closed for a while.

I felt a different kind of alive. As I walked away from the amazing first date, the fear started to take over me...

I asked my best friend again, "But what if he doesn't call?"

She snickered, "So...what if he doesn't call? Did you have a good time? Did he make you feel special?" 

I replied yes.

She spoke again, "Enjoy that. Forget the future, forget his intentions. Delve in the enjoyment. Use it as the prototype for what you want or don't want. Feel alive."

She was/is absolutely right. 

& if you're wondering...

He called...


Over and over and over again. 


1 comment:

Just Peachy! said...

I think we as women can be too guarded sometimes and go against the flow. We question & worry over everything. I just pay attention to my intuition and follow the vibes because sooner or later you will know. In the meantime I am am still guarded but not blocking blessings completely. Great read.