Sunday, April 24, 2016

If No One Has Told You: You're Almost Thirty And That's Okay

I'm aging.

This is usually said with disdain, with a complaint of a thrown back or the distance between your overpriced Brooklyn apartment and group brunch, where everyone will want to split the check based on their order.

I am aging.

I say this proudly, no longer afflicted by the notion that my younger comrades will find me boring, that I will have missed out on something, that twenty-somethings are doing something better than what I'm doing right now.

I can tell by the way my tongue curves to tell the braider that she's pulling too hard, that she better be careful with my edges. I can tell the way I've started to accept the differences between my mother's blueprint and who I'm becoming. I can tell by the way I laugh, when my grandmother calls to ask if I voted for Hillary and I tell her Bernie, and she hangs up the phone. I can tell by the men that line my inboxes, text messages, and doorstep. They've returned to claim the only real woman they've ever known and disinterest isn't enough for me to express my disgust. I can tell by the way I pull my eyelashes off in front of my man and he does not flinch. I can tell when my 5'11 body steps into heels, and I'm no longer anxious about my head grazing a low ceiling. I will own any room I'm in.

A revolution happened inside of me, on the eve of my 28th birthday, in November. I released "Of Micah and Men" in a beautiful lounge surrounded by family and friends. I went to dinner afterwards and at 11 pm my friends started to depart.

Ro had to head back to her fiance.
Blue had homework to do, her degree within grasp.
Bethany and her boyfriend went to meet up with another couple.

She grabbed my hand, outside of the restaurant, "Girl, do you want to come with us?"

I nodded no and told her I'd be fine.

My cousin rode back, with me, to the house in silence. On the way she called an ex that she hadn't seen in a while. He arrived to scoop her, shortly after we arrived.

I walked in, to the silence of my apartment, like I have on plenty of weekends. Something was different. I glanced at the clock. It was midnight, early for a birthday evening. I did not reach for my phone to complain to my momma; I didn't feel a sudden surge of sadness, that I should be doing more.

I grabbed a makeup wipe, removed the foundation from my face, and smiled all the way through. As I got ready for bed, I thought of all the things I wanted to be doing by next year at this time. I wanted to own my own educational program. I wanted to be in a foreign country, celebrating another year under the stars. I wanted it to be with a lover and confidant, someone I could depend on that knew me deeply. I was suddenly so excited about the prospect of settling down, the notion of calmness, that I wasn't sad about going to bed early.

It's April and I am looking forward to solace. I find immense joy in the laughter of my students, daydreams on my subway rides home from performances, solitude in crossing my legs with those of a man that I want forever.

This is a different kind of storm.

I am remembering a girl, in love with love, stanzas abundant.
I was angry and proud, a downpour on my pointer finger.
If you wronged me, you became a martyr for the f-boy, the double-faced friend, the lie that tells itself.

& I weathered every aspect quietly.

I held grudges, like Zeus does lightening.
I knew how to demolish hope, with the flick of a pen.
I stuffed my hurt into the leaflets of leatherbound journals.
I kept it hidden well, tucked for no one to see.

But now...

I bleed everywhere.
On this blog.
On a stage.

In my aspirations.
In the way that I strut down a Bedstuy block, with thunder thighs.

I am slowly reaching the age of negated f--ks. I am open and honest. I am demanding and empathetic, all at once.

This is a different kind of storm.

One of my students could not stand me, when I started teaching his cohort. I am a no-nonsense instructor. Even though I have several fun moments in my class, I am sure to let students know that I expect them to delve into their writing, instead of throwing pencils across the room and telling jokes when they should be listening. I had to correct him several times; a reoccuring conversation that did sit well with him. But he listened. He had no choice. Backed against a wall, his mother's phone number under my thumb, I explained that I expected more from him. It's been seven months, since we met. The other day his mother passes me in the hallway, I've never met her in person, her son says she's a businesswoman and always out of town.

"Ms. Buddington?"

I smile at her, wondering who she might be, "Yes, that's me. How can I help you?"

"I know you don't know me, but you know my son Eric. I'm here to grab his reports. He admires you so much, he wants to be a writer when he grows up, now. Thank you, for all that you do."

This is a different kind of storm.

I wait for the hum. I always do. It's the moment where a relationship turns to magic, when the honeymoon is in full swing. I am the first to know. My best friend's mother calls to tell me that she's engaged. Bethany is still taking pictures and swimming in the moment. She hasn't had time to deliver the news, personally. She met John in April, he asked for her hand in June, they're engaged in November.

She finally calls, "Sometimes it just happens that fast. I love him so much. We just...knew."

I remember being twenty-five and annoyed. I'd been living with a man who took advantage of my kindness for three years and we were supposed to be married on that third year. The month we'd planned to make if official, we'd been broken up for almost three months. He called to ask about a mutual friend's wedding, "Would you be weird about me bringing someone with me? I have a plus one."

"Would I mind you bringing a new woman, not the one you cheated on me with, to a wedding on the same month we should've been wed? Sure, not at all."

For an entire year, after that moment, weddings and engagements on my timeline would make me cringe. I was twenty-seven and convinced, silly me, that I'd never make it to this place.

I listen to Bethany breathe a sigh of relief on the other end of the phone and I don't cringe. I am happy for her. We are nearing the big three-o and she deserves this. She's been through so much. I send her my love. She puts John on the phone and I tell him congratulations, too.

He laughs, "I wanted to tell you, when we were there for the release, but I couldn't get a moment alone with you!"

I laugh too.

This is a different kind of storm.

He shows up out of nowhere. We kind of know one another, from a distance. We met at a Troy Davis panel years ago; both passionate about injustice, youth development, black boys/men.

It is only such dedication, such fire, that could bring us back together again.

I am baffled, when he stands firm in my presence. I am not sure if I know how to do this anymore. How does a relationship sound? What does it feel like, again? Does it glimmer, as the Thursday sun rouses him awake for work? Does it tell his momma about you? Does it say that you remind him of of an old teacher, one of the most influential folks in his life? Does it feel like a crack in your chest, when he leaves? Is it supposed to be this early? Is it this soon? Is it swallowing three words, because society tells you that if you utter them he might leave?

He frightens me and excites me, all at once.

He doesn't read my work, unless I prompt him to. He won't see this.

But he is a different kind of storm.
& so are my students.
& my friends.

We are all evolving.
I am almost thirty and I am turning into someone I recognize.
I have been trying to be her, all along.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the purest form of love and I thank you for allowing us in with you :)