Wednesday, October 28, 2015

If No One Has Told You: This Afternoon...


We are never still. 

Even when our social media proclaims we are single via relationship status, photos in solitude, and update, we are never still. We're always swiping, talking, asking our friends "who is that," referring to the handsome gentleman across the room. 

Your friend will shrug their shoulders, screw their face up in recollection, "Oh that's insert-name-here, I'm not sure he's single." You try to suppress the glimmer of hope in your chest, lest you be disappointed again. You probably are, once you've had two margaritas and misinterpret a casual nod as a come on over. 

He reads your work, is impressed with the fact that you're always creating, tells you that his woman loves the series with...

...the guy,
...the love,
...the profound quote about finding it and losing it, again.

You say thank you, pay your bar tab, go home, and repeat.

We are never still. 

Your girlfriend(s) cannot wait five minutes into your weekly conversation to ask about your love life. You shrug, knowing it doesn't exist, but she awaits your utterance. 

She lives through you, even though you are both on the same shore, searching, like ships at night for something that seems unattainable. Perhaps she thinks your stories are more vivid than her own. Maybe she yearns for a day when the tables will turn when you utter something that doesn't sound like reiterated f--kboys walking off of your tongue. 

& you know you have to give her something...
You are each other's lifelines. 
You tell romance war stories, pat yourselves on the back, in the form of post-date phone calls, followed by assurance. 

"One day."
"He's on his way."
"God has me."
"You've got to meet a few jerks before you get to the right one." 
"We gon' be alright." 

Or you swear off dating,
slip into a routine, 
cup Olivia-Pope-size wine glasses with the curvature of your palm, 
sip on your favorite Merlot, 
press play on the TV show seasons you've been trying to get through on Netflix,
make your way through a month or two, 
until someone slips through an inbox, 
a text, 
a friend of a friend, 
like a broken record...

your heart is a broken record, 
your conscience is a broken record, 

"What if this time...what if this time...this is it?"

You drop your clutch, on your foyer table. You dial your best friend's number. You tell her that you tried, 

...but he was sweet, 
...and he seemed worthy, 
....and you didn't want to mention him until you knew it was something real...

& she asks, with that glimmer of optimism lodged at the back of her bleeding heart, "Well...was it real?"

But she knows that it's 7 pm. 
You're home too early for a date that's gone right. 
Your heavy breath on the other end of the phone signifies, 
prompts,
cues the story. 

We are never still. 

We check in twice a month or when it becomes too difficult to do on our own.
Lunch.  
She orders the shrimp; I order the chicken. 
She curves her lips, into a smirk, and prompts, "So....?"

& I've got to give her something...

I tuck my intuition into my sleeve. I unfold half-truths throughout our meal. She replies in the same language. 

She wants to know how it's going with Dante.

He's a rich boy with Mary-Jane entitlement, thinks he's God's gift to black women. Our dates are filled with adjusted shirt collars, followed by random factoids of his prominence. There's a silver spoon in his mouth at dessert, but there's been one there all along. There is no effort, just the casual text with enough silence in between so he can communicate with his other choices. I understand immediately that he is not the type to bend over backwards, not the time to bend and pick up anything at all. 

I say: "Eh, he's not my type."

"But what about the other guy? The one you've seen a lot?"

She means the one who's in and out of town. He is a plethora of promises, drops a line when he's in the vicinity and not on the run. He has this habit of telling me, "We are what we are when I'm here." I lay awake at night wondering who he belongs to when he's not with me. I rise, with anxiety in my chest, knowing I deserve better. I pretend that I'm mature enough to handle something casual, something that doesn't have labels. I've equated my body and my worth to a poem, perhaps I'm the dope sh-t that's spit in front of microphones, the fire that is so unnerving that the poet's disclaimer is that I'm untitled. I kid myself. I miss him, when he leaves Brooklyn. I watch his travels through a social-media window as if he wasn't just standing in front of mine the other day, "It's getting dark out, babe. I've got to pack. I've got a plane to catch, tomorrow." I've been trying to get him to stay still.

But we are never still.

Instead, I respond, "He's in Los Angeles, this week. He'll be back soon."

She wants to know if I miss him. We're on the third course. We push longing into our mouths, forkfuls of pie, stifling what we know is true. 

She fixes her face to ask me about someone else or to tell me about her adversity. I stop her, I put down my next bite, I lean in, I tell her...

If no one has told you, this afternoon...

...dying in love and dying alone are not different things. We often make alone and lonely synonymous, forgetting that one is a truth, and the other is a feeling. 

You are alone. You can be in love and be alone. You can be in love with yourself and alone. You can be in love with yourself, your family, your career, your passions, and be alone. 

You are not obligated to tell a love story. You're not required to answer folks that throw sarcasm like, "Where do you find these fools?" 

Like the streets aren't scattered with them, like their cousins, uncles, and brothers haven't dabbled in act-up or never got it right. Like there ain't epidemic out here. Like it ain't statistically proven that 50% of all single folks in America are on dating sites and the least likely to get a reply is a black woman. Like we don't do math every day, like we ain't double negative but still multiply via womb. Like we don't divide down to our last penny to make sure everyone survives, but ourselves. Like we aren't a mountain of deleted status-updates, when our emotions get the best of us. Like we don't deserve those emotions. Like our own men don't troll us on Twitter. Like we ain't used as props for appropriation. Like it ain't bad enough that we are literally dragged through the streets...

or our front doors...
or over our country's borders...
or in our bikinis...
or out of our cars...
or in rap songs...
or on WSHH...
or in reality shows...
or in the back of Raven-Symone's throat...
or conscious rappers that rap about our skin, but won't kiss unless we 're redbone'...
or hanging with friends...
or sitting at a high school desk...

You deserve to stand on your two feet. You deserve to walk with your head held high, to the beat of any damn drum that you'd like. You deserve not to cook. You deserve to work twelve-hour days and then sit the hell down. You deserve to be spoken to like you matter. You deserve a front row seat, a conference room salutation, an office eradicated of sexism. You deserve more than the work diversity splashed with an HBO deal; that never sees the light of day. You deserve more than Hollywood's look..see...we're giving them a chance. You deserve more than a hashtag, a mention, a blip on a mini-feed to calm the activists. You deserve Ferguson allies that scream at the top of their lungs for you and your future son's freedoms. You deserve love at the front lines, rainbows in your palm, to identify however you goddamn please. 

You deserve to be still. 
Because we are never this way....

always talking, 
texting, 
exchanging numbers, 
swiping left, 
telling a love story,
force-feeding a sista who needs to understand...

that she is enough. 






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