For Love and Jesse

I cannot express how excited I was when I first heard Jesse Williams’ speech on the 2016 BET Awards. I cannot tell you the level of pride and “Dear Lord, HE GET IT” that I felt when he said the following while accepting his Humanitarian of the Year Award (excerpt):

“…Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that.

If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

Thank you.”

 I heard this and cried and screamed. He got it! He freaking GOT IT! I cheered as he smacked his gum and Black Power-fisted off stage, daring cats to try it! He understood why we were all mad, and all hurt, and all so ready to (bleep) fight! He knew, and could say it with the verbal dexterity and linguistic venom  that college educated and street affiliated black men can. From there, he became a hero to many a black girl. Myself included. And his wife was black?! And he was fine?! YASSS! Erre’bady was winning! 
It was glorious. 
Then my husband said to me, “His wife isn’t that pretty.” I was so offended! I told him that he was wrong to say that, that she probably heard that all the time, but they were together and I am here AND EVER PRESENT for black love, hear me? 
HERE. FOR. IT. 
In the being HERE AND PRESENT FOR IT, the world and Aryn find out that her husband had dipped out on her. Then the world wants to turn on Jesse.

Hold on…


I thought about a forerunner of his:  Harry Belafonte.  There was a story I came across earlier this year about Mr. Belafonte and Eartha Kitt. They were ‘involved’ and Harry wouldn’t pursue anything further. Why? Because she was black. 
Yes, I’m serious–because she was black. 
He felt because of what he was trying to do, a black woman wouldn’t help him achieve the standard or establish the standard he desired. I thought about Sidney Poitier:  he had a decade long affair with Diahann Carrol (WHO I LOVE LIKE I LOVE PHYLICIA RASHAD AND LIKE I LOVE MY MOTHER!), and ended up with a white girl.
Perhaps we thought that Jesse was inoculated against that urge to abandon us. Perhaps we thought that he saw what we as black women saw in each other, and…are quick to snatch away from each other:  beauty and purpose.
Why would we extend Jesse Williams more than we extend any other man? Is he not, too, susceptible to the same temptations that are common to man? Am I making excuses for him? No. I am a staunch believer in people do what they deem important, and you have every opportunity to tell a married person that pursues you “No.” 
Jesse could have told this broad no, she could have told him no, and he could have gone home to his wife. Yet, according to gossip reports he told his wife he just didn’t wanna be married anymore. I can respect that. I really can. The bogus thing is that…this is an old story but new folk.
The word of God tells us, reminds us not to put people on pedestals, to not make people idols. The danger in that is we forget that those people we elevate people to a God-level, and the only being that can be at God-level, is GOD.
 Aryn is not the first woman with a famous husband that she sacrificed for, prayed for, and believed in that dipped out on her. She won’t be the last, in public or private. I’m sure Aryn has seen women look at her husband as if he were infallible and impossibly handsome. 
I’m sure she’d  had to discern what female friends to bring around, trusting they won’t try out her husband. I’m sure she had seen the shade posts, gossip links and random nattering of silly, clamorous women talking about how pretty she isn’t or should be. What do you think that did to her? Does to her? Did to their marriage? Even the strongest woman, has a weak moment. 
In those moments, we tear down our own houses. We tear ourselves apart. We make lists of what we have, need to get, and don’t possess to become…perfect. That perfection we give to the world. We give it to the world to assuage one wave of onslaught to be woman–to be physcially pleasing. 
Once we have that, we can go anywhere, right?
I cannot imagine what it is, would be, to be married to a man that is lusted after, idolized by a throng of women that don’t know the hitches and issues he has. They don’t know how when you ask him something when he’s upset he rolls his eyes, and then his swag is off. They don’t know that you worked like mad to help your daughter sing and he could manage her, or how you worked so he could audition, or how you  helped put him through school so he could ‘take care of us’. 
The world outside don’t get the privilege to see the ugly parts, the mean parts–the world sees the perfect parts. 
The dresses, the cars, the smiling pictures on the internet or framed on walls. With Jesse, we saw the perfect parts. With respect to the perfect parts, we get the the idolized version of a person.  
As people, we hate to be fooled. We love being able to assume the sanitized, idolized self is truest self, that way you can compare that self, that person with the person in your life–causing a level of strife in your life that is unneeded.
I hope that Jesse and Aryn work this out. I hope that Jesse sees what is really out there, now that he’s out there. I hope that Aryn sees what it is to be whole again and realize that her relationship will not define her to the point that she ceases to exist without him. 
I hope that reconciliation can happen, and she not be swayed by other people that want her husband for themselves, and would love to see her miserable. I hope that the children they have know their father for the man he is, and what he will give them–to arm with what it is to be dynamic in this world. 
I hope the world can see Jesse for what  he is:  a man. No more. No less.  With that shroud of mortality, he still is capable of stupidity, selfishness…and redemption. Not for us, the consuming voyeurs, but to himself and Aryn.
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Me & Shea

By now the whole world has seen how fragile the human ego is. In April, we saw things shift and shatter in front of us. One-the marriage between Jesse Williams and his wife, Ayrn. Second-is the too far reaching new PR campaign of the Black Woman birthed and friendly, Shea Moisture.

I started using Shea Moisture on a whim because it was on sale. I wanted a body scrub that would moisturize, and after seeing a YouTube beauty guru and real life MUA, Jackie Aina*, I was sold. I got body scrub and soap and lotion and I even hipped the hubs to for a skin issue he was having.

I loved the Super Bowl commercial the company has done a couple years ago that “broke the divide” in the beauty world. To be a woman of color and shop for hair and beauty items is a unique challenge. What I see most often is the aisle topics of HEALTH & BEAUTY or ETHNIC BEAUTY.

Yeah.

ETHNIC.

BEAUTY.

In a nation that hates people of color, people tan and call it beautiful. America.

Anyway, if you don’t find what you need at mainstream store like Target or Walmart, you can always find it at a beauty supply on any corner–in St. Louis at least. I was excited about what the brand was doing, and happy that black women were recreating a standard that was never made for us but meant to reprogram us to hate our lips, skin, hair and curves.

Which made the commercial and PR that more degrading. Why do I think everyone is up in arms? Erasure. Assimilation. Cowering to the “standard of beauty.” I get what Shea Moisture was trying to do:  be inclusive, so some women that didn’t look like the women that used this product. What do marketing execs call it? Crossover appeal. In that appeal, in that progress to cross cultural appeal, we see what has happened to us and our foremothers through history. We get “something for us” and then  folk “wanna come take it.” And that hurts.

Even though the company apologized, and as of this posting, there are no more commercials appealing to a ‘wider audience’, I get what they tried to do. I’m not upset about it, I’m not even shocked. I understand. For so long, we as black women have been ignore and our very bodies duplicated and sold for public consumption. I could hear the seething taking place as the chorus of black women stood up and holler out, “Dammit, we can’t have (bleep)!” There is however this sound that we made in utter contempt that, too, reminded the world that we are still here, and we will not longer be rinds of strange fruit. We are too dynamic for that. And yes, I still wear my Shea Moisture Argan oil, body Dragonfruit body scrub and Coconut & Hibiscus lotion. Why? I am supporter of the brand, and acknowledge that they acknowledged they missed this one this time. Folk can use it, that’s wonderful. But, there is an onus that is there where black women can look at those jars and bottles and say, “Yeah, this is ours”. It’s like my grandma’s sweet potato pie recipe. I can show you how to make it, and while you may have this ability to make it, you don’t have the roux (the basics):  the fundamental right to take what she made and gave to me. I was nice enough to share it with you…it’s still mine. You just happen to be privy to it.

 

*-Jackie Aina is African-American professional MUA, with a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers. She is pretty and unapologetically black. You can find her channel by searching her name. She does great tutorials, skin care and product reviews. Check her out.

I Promise, I Ain’t…

“I promise you, I promise I ain’t dealing with that (whatever ratchet dramatic happening is going on on TV/at work/in the lives of other people you SWEAR you ain’t about to deal with).  There is a reason I never really was absorbed in reality television. For me? The orchestration of ratchet dramatic is too much…and I’m a writer, so I can come up with better scenarios with people watching at work or Bread Co. in St. Louis.

If you get lost in Phaedra or Shawnie or OchoCinco’s ex-wife? Fine. No judgement. We all need shows we unplug with. But you have to remember those people are paid to air foolishness. They are paid to act up, drinks thrown on and to have phrases born out of public consumption for memes and likes and retweets. 

We’re a world of voyeurs. We lurk. We stalk. We share. We critique from behind the fourth wall of our televisions. By no means am I saying to cosign nonsense. What I am saying is in our voyeurism entertainment we forget our own potential to be in those same positions.

Phaedra’s husband is locked up. Joseline and Scrappy are constantly up to and in crazy. Peter Gunz got kids and no clue how to do other things that men his age know how to  do to keep a relationship.  But right when we think, “I promise I wouldn’t do (fill in the blank)…you should remember no one SAW youwhen you had a similar experience. 

No one made a hashtag.

No one made a meme.

No one made sure to quote you.

Don’t get so wrapped up in other people’s lives that you forget there may be a handful of people watching yours…no cable needed.

 

Came Back. Now What?

Call it C-B-P.

Call it, ‘he know what he got over here.’

Call it ‘can’t no other woman be me to him. I got him”.

NO. Don’t call it any of this silly sh!t. Ever. I mean that–EVER. Why? You’re more the outer parts and the sweet center. You are more than what your hips, lips and fingertips can do and will do.

Let me break his down for you, so you ever remember this:

Sex does not keep man. 

 Sex does not domesticate people. 

Relationships are these dynamic crazy making constructs. These infallible pacts made by fallible people. And in those pacts, hidden in these promises, people mess up. And sometimes they mess up BADLY.  In that messing up, we find, sometimes, sex is a culprit of that break up. What do I mean, you ask?

There’s an phrase I love that says, “Affairs don’t begin in bedrooms, they begin with conversations.” The subtle flirting when you feel neglected. The attention when she got on your nerves. The rush when the work crush eats with you. You become known by someone…else. It feels good, you look forward to it.

You play touch and go with the boundaries of what you set up. You play with them so much that you dare to cross over them, and plan when you can. You get a good look at them close up, find the gaps–after too much thirst and hoping, you sprint towards the first opening. You sprint to the opening because what you see, what you have made up,  is sexy. It’s new. It’s the grand and favorite Christmas present. It’s the thing that was kept from you until you lay hold to it.

Then…it’s not at all what you wanted. There nothing lasting, nothing like the warmth you just had. It’s been worth all and nothing and you go back to what was all and everything, except, those boundaries, that guardrail that made you safe and secure is gone. The funny thing? Those boundaries are made by respect and time–both irreparable when lost or squandered. The dirty little secret is that in the sprint to find the next latest greatest, you don’t see all you’re running from…until you head back.

It’s when you head back that you see what you ran past:  fidelity, safety, endurance of love and its stamina. In the pursuing of what you deem new and lasting, and better than ever, you don’t focus on that long enough to see and remember it. Which pulls me towards this point.  How do you fix it–do you fix it? This beloveds, is where you must decide what is to be kept or thrown away. No, you should not be any place where you are not valued, are not honored and are subject to be taken advantage of. Never should you settle for that. What I offer is this solution:  reflection and reconciliation.

In the age of Lemonade, and  boss-level Black Girl Magic, I tell you to think about what it is you are to give up, gain and live with.  There is a pain that comes with infidelity that cannot be mimicked. It’s what you DO with that pain–how you exercise those demons–that determines the course of everything else you will encounter with this relationship and the aftermath of it.

Not everything is salvageable, yes, however, most things are learned from. Can it not be said that if you desire better with this person that you be able to love them even when it’s hardest to? One of the things I see with women my age and younger is some have forgotten the concept of time. Everything has to be instant, constant and solely beneficial. I offer this:  can you make lemonade? Can you see the tormentor as the cure? Do you have the stamina, the will, to start over again and make it better–together? That’s what it will take:  TOGETHER.

The together is what is hard, what does not like to be admitted to. It’s easier to throw it all away, and start over. Starting over invites newness, thrill and passion. To rebuild? That is to re-trust, admit fault and agree what you have worked for is more valuable than to start again with another.

Being told you would have to do the hard things over again and to forgive? Nah. That’s too much like right and too hard and we think will require something else of God in us to do. And I believe that’s right. It will. In spaces and times where there is a breech, something outside of yourself, has to remind what it in yourself what it is you want–and can hang on to. It has to remind you of what you it is you are worthy of, want and will work toward. And that, beloveds, is hard. It’s hard.

My romantic past is littered with these histories, these moments of decision where I had to determine what was once and better. I had to decide what I wanted to fight for. I decided that, now after living awhile, everything cannot be trashed and not everything salvaged.  I learned what it is that I wanted from myself and those that I share my space with. With me finding my love with my second husband, that has not been a crystal stair, I assure you. But I am old enough to know what one thing is definite:  my worth, my time, my affection, my fidelity goes far beyond bedroom antics. And bedroom antics won’t keep me.

 

You domesticate cows, not me.

 

 

 

Break Up-Now What

There is nothing clean about a break up. There is nothing sanitizing, and soapy and cleansing about losing time and energy with someone that you cared for. Nothing. I even hate the phrase ‘break up.’ Like what else can it be called?! There has to be something else.

A few years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow said she and the leader of Coldplay, whom she was married to, said they weren’t divorcing, they were ‘consciously uncoupling.’ That sounded even sillier. That’s a cheaper name for an annulment. That’s what some churches do:  it just ERASES your relationship. With like the quickness it takes to pee or blow your nose. It’s just OVER. That’s even worse. At least give me the respect of a spme paperwork! A call log, something! Don’t just say to me “Nall, I changed my mind, you and I never happened.”

Nah.

The harder thing about a break-up is to admit that you were involved with something that wound up not working. You admit, or begin to admit, something that you are a conscious part of  is indeed not working or able to work no matter what you do to fix it. That is hard. There are people for fear of being alone, will never, ever, admit that to themselves, which is more honorable to the relationship. Maybe we should call is ‘conscious honoring’.  This is where you admit what you are doing is not working. It won’t ever work, and you do what is in the best interest of you and your partner. But namely, you.

The thought of being alone is frightening to many people. With the society we have now, everyone is engaged, everyone is pulled in, downloaded, app-ready and a swipe away. We don’t now what it means to be ‘alone’ or by ourselves. We don’t have the luxury of listening to own thoughts on a consistent basis without a notification going off. That’s what makes these decisions and feeling so hard to deal with.

The dirty secret? No one can complete you, they can only complement you. They will only compliment you. It is not another person’s responsibility to heal you, complete you, fix you, and make your crooked ways straight.  You cannot assign, designate someone with the same issues or tendencies for mishaps and brokenness as you to somehow make everything about you that displays the same thing okay.

This is why break ups hit so hard…the dream shatters. The thought of forever is gone and you have to face that. You have to admit that what you chose isn’t working and may never work. There is an honesty that is brutal in admitting what we cannot do. It is always easier to be with someone else and construct new crises rather than to do introspection on what contributed to what lessons are gleaned from the relationship. That is hard. It is hard. There will never be a time where it is not hard. The investment of time, love and energy is hard to replace unless healing takes place.

Where does the ‘Now What’ come in? Right here.

You were an entire person before you met this person so know you have to reconnect with that person. The dirty secret no one tells you is that you aren’t the exact same person you where as when you got into that last relationship. You now have to incorporate those experiences, good and ill, to the grand tapestry that is now your life. There are things that were once foreign to you that you now have to accept and recognize as good or ill. Can you do that apart from time alone? No. Will this introspection be needed? Yes. Will it be painful? Without a doubt.

You, me, them, us…this is what a dear friend of mine calls ‘shadow work.’ These are the things that few people know about you, things that are still painful and that you haven’t worked through, but can be worked through without anyone seeing it. In that, with that, is a blessing. Why? So no one can see you bleeding. No one can see you struggle openly, and if they do, they can at least remind you that you won’t die in this period of not being with someone. In this age of everything together, it seems evil to be separate from things…especially people. But, it’s necessary! It’s necessary because you have to be content and happy with whom you are before you begin to search for someone to ‘complete’ you.

You are complete when you can look at your ‘shadow work’ and know that all you’ve done and the result is you working through that. This way, you are indeed the best you for YOU, and you cannot be, will not be defined by someone else’s thoughts of you or lack of identifying the awesome in you.

If you love you first, no one can love you last.

 

The Able Unshakeable (Pt. 3)

Hangover:

Noun.

1.the disagreeable physical aftereffects of drunkenness, such as a headache or stomach disorder, usually felt several hours after cessation of drinking.

2. something remaining behind from a former period or state of affairs.

3.any aftermath of or lingering effect from a distressing experience

*Alejandro peeked in and out of my life, he still does.
I see his influence in the cabinets and cupboards of my existence. I remember telling him in our throws together that he ‘was a high like none other’ and to not speak to him or after speaking to him, I felt a hangover.
This sense of a residue on my soul, this feeling of knowing without doubt or fear that this person has a knowledge of you that only someone that has crafted your soul would know. Almost as if he was looking over God’s shoulder.
You had that?
It’s like knowing porn or jazz–you know it when you see it…
**There were times that I wanted nothing else and no one else but him, and there were other times where I was so incensed that he could not see or believe he could have what he wanted, that I walked away from him!
I couldn’t take it, I didn’t understand it.
I could not fathom what we were crafting, what we believe that we were crafting, he would fear. Or settle for less than it.
**I would lie awake thinking, wondering why and how this had happened to me.
Why it had happened to me?
How does one mark or measure time or space when there seem to be fingerprints on your soul made by other hands?
I would think how I could get over him, that I had to get over him, that if he didn’t see what I held and hold for him and that I was determined to show him—but at what cost?
That cost was blindness and the losing of myself again. I couldn’t bare that. I couldn’t bare losing me again…even if that meant dividing my heart into hemispheres and quarters.
And him occupying a designated piece.
I couldn’t do it–and I didn’t know how I could get over him…I was so far under him.
The high of him, the thought of him.
How do you release all that you believe that you want?
I dated, even got married the first time in 2006. I had enough of waiting.
 I had enough of trying  to be split in two. I moved on…with a hitch in my heart.
I decided to move on, because, y’know, that’s what adults do. The killer part? He called me about a month or so before I got married in New Orleans.
He asked me why I was getting married. I said, “To get it over with.” I was in bed, with my fiance’, and I answered the phone half asleep.
Alejandro laughed–hard!
He didn’t believe it or  he didn’t believe we would make it. We didn’t–LOL But that’s besides the point.
Aight.
I know yall are like, “SIS! REALLY, WHAT THE HELL! If he was always BAE, why ain’t ch’all together?! We need all this tea, ma’am!”
Hold on.
I gotchu.
(Get a snack.)
I got married to my ex-husband because I loved him.
Did I use him to get over **Alejandro? Looking back on it? Yeah. I did.
 At the time, the ex-hubs was a really good boyfriend. He was a solid and righteous dude. He had his hang ups and issues, but it wasn’t anything that I thought couldn’t work through or he would grow out of. I mean I was 24, he was 21 (I KNOW!), and I loved him and he loved me and was DETERMINED me were going to make this isht happen–so help me!
I was going to move on with my life.
Worse part? There were months before we got married that there was a glimmer that Alejandro might have come to his senses.
 We talked about it, how we would do that whole ‘together’ thing, and…honestly? I didn’t believe him.
We had done this dance before:  he’d realize he loved me more than anyone else,  only to get scared and run.
This time? I decided it was better to take the sure thing. *Alejandro was not the sure thing. I hated admitting that…but he wasn’t.
As much as I loved him, as much as I wanted a life with him, I couldn’t trust him.
But…I couldn’t shake him!
It was good for a while with the ex hubs. We made life together. We were in love, young and childless.
We did goofy stuff, fun stuff and then we went on road trips and we were just…together! In that, all that life we were making together, we did what every couple in love does–we had a baby.
Our oldest was born in September 2007. In October 2007, I was washing dishes and I don’t even remember HOW I was thinking of him, but I was and fell to my knees.

No, I legit fell to my knees.
I cried.
I was like, “No, no. NO! I’m over him! NO!” Everything that I had thought about, repressed, lied to myself about–overtook me. There was no other word for it. From there, I don’t think I could ever repaired my marriage–that was it. That was legit the fuse to the end of it. His ghost, his residue, followed me, haunted me–no matter where I was or what I was doing.
**I was in love with him, and married to someone else.  And even after we got married, before the baby, I still talked to him…more.
I talked to him to the point my then husband demanded I stop! He didn’t like how it looked, he didn’t like feeling like his wife was with another man.
(Humph. I suppose I was.)
 The day I told him I could no longer speak to him? I cried. He cried. I remember I was listening to She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5 as I spoke to him on a CD player.
Oh, and the HOT, BOILING TEA?
Here it go, dahlin’.

*Alejandro was low-key dating someone in 2006 when he asked ME why I was getting married. This is the same broad he married. He married this broad (yes, broad!) while still having feelings for me. 
I got married in 2006, he got married either before then or after, still 2006. He married this woman, while still having items and stuff from me that he hid in his house.

How do I know this?
Because he read it to me–verbatim what I had said–years prior. 
His soon-to-be ex wife emailed me to leave her husband alone AFTER I had mailed him a letter his mother found that I had written  two months prior in 2007 (I mailed it in October 2007, she emailed me in December 2007).
To this day, she cannot stand me.
At ALL.
Has she ever met me? No. 
Ask me if I care? Nope.
She asked him if he had feelings for me. He told her no. She told him that she didn’t believe him because she saw how he “looked at pictures” of me. He and his wife are divorcing now and they have 2 children. So clearly,  I wasn’t the only one with a handprint on my soul. 
I’m not the only one that tried to move on…and somehow, he got haunted too.
From the saga beginning in 2003 with sleepless nights and Teenage Love Affair phone calls, to drunk phone calls where no English was spoken, fights over why I did what I wanted because he ‘wasn’t my man’ and why did he care, silent treatment with no contact, to so much laughter, I can look back on time with him and smile.
Does it still hurt? Sometimes.
 Would I trade it? No.
Have y’all heard everything?
NO. LMBO
But you have enough to proceed. He’s a part of my life, and as is our cycle,  he will pop up again before I die, and who knows what may happen?
We all make our way in the world one day at a time, and we don’t know which person will put the most impact on us.
That doesn’t mean that impact isn’t long lasting, hunty!
For all those, and there are less than 5 people that know the ENTIRE saga, and even those that have read the work I published, have asked me and still ask, “How are you not married to Alejandro?” And they are legit PUZZLED.
My answer? “He didn’t know what he wanted.”
Plain. Simple. Period.
The moral of this story–ain’t one. The lesson is to know what is to be loved utterly, valued completely and not be afraid of the back side of your tapestry.
The colors and knots and pieces that make up whom you are, the part some people play in your life.
Alejandro, for good or ill, is a part of me–it took me so long to admit that. Loving him, equipped me to love the man I have now.
I grin sometimes, and think this–
I have to live the rest of my life without Alejandro.
But…he has to live the rest of his life without me.
**-One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the themes of the books the relationship between Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby.  For this moment in time, I was Daisy. I hated that I was Daisy.
*-I’m still not telling y’all his real name. NO. Stop askin’.

The Able Unshakeable (Pt. 2)

I have had a handful of favorite professors in my college experience. One was Dr. Kurt Schreyer for my ENG 4670:  Shakespeare’s Tragedies & Comedies class. Even his name was hot!

(Anyway, I digress…)

He helped me to love Shaskespeare (Shax) again. He used Shax in casual conversation as I did, and low-key thought I was brilliant. He even wore a fedora in the winter!

But most of all, aside from him being in the US Navy in his last life, he swore. He was utterly dashing, brilliant, knew I was brilliant–and I liked Schreyer’s class because he did what most dashing men do. He made me…think!

He was able to treat me as a lowly nursing student, as a viable, intelligent English major: someone that used words as weapons of warfare or instruments of healing.

There was a time 8 years before that class that I thought such weaponry was gone from my arsenal. The gift, the talent, the instrument of my coping was gone. The cause? I had spent the better part of my 20s with a man with no prospects, goals or his own light.

For three years, I poured into him, his son and whatever life 20-22 year olds promise to make while having really good sex (or what I know know wasn’t as good as it could be… ).

But, between times of being naked and not naked, I decided that I was going to trust him, and love him and help him with all he needed. From money, to time with his son, to…all I had. In that taking, I conjured up all the strength, love and all the ancestral BGM (Black Girl Magic) I could think of.

Not for me, but for him!

Thinking, believing, hoping, he would put that back into me. I ran on fumes for the better half our relationship.

At the end of it, near the end of it, my mother made a stark observation. She told me to look at her.

I did.

She told me that I looked dead. She said my eyes had always shone, since I was a little girl, and they no longer were shining. She told me the relationship I was in was killing me.

And it was.

I knew it was. I  knew it was, when I was sitting with pen and paper and NOTHING came out of mixture of time and space and energy.

Since I was 8, even earlier, the stories, the words, would just come–THEY WOULD JUST COME. There was nothing–nothing. I thought it was gone. I just new it was gone. I mourned for it. I missed it. I would get smattering of it every now and then, the ebb and flow of its power like I was pulling the sword from the stone or a disciple of Hecate from Macbeth.

But in came the one I mentioned in the dedication of my book, *The Love Songs Of The Unrequited, Volume 1. The words came back, slowly, crawling and then with dam breaking speed.

That portion of me, that portion of self I thought my malevolent ex  had stolen from me along with everything else, was coming back. I was me again.  How can you not love someone that gave you back what you thought was gone?

Someone whom helped you regain the hope in you?

I shared worked with him, like a shy child and favorite teacher. At every positive acknowledging, every tear-born word, he heard, he accepted and told me that I was unlike any woman he had ever known.

The kicker?

He told me that I was talented and to keep writing.

He told me to keep going.

That was like breathing again after being underwater. It was glorious to see the light again, it was that dark for me without being able to write. I had a muse…he was it.

I wrote when I was happy. I wrote when I was sad. I wrote to deal without having him nearby. I wrote when I couldn’t talk to him. I wrote when I couldn’t sleep. I memorized his accent, his inflection, his voice, I locked him away in my heart–incomparable to anything before or since. There was *Alejandro and then everyone else.

With him being out of state, all I had to hang onto him was his voice, letters, cards and calls. I smiled again, jumped rope again (yes, OLD SKOOL ROPE!), stayed on the phone with him three hours a night, after working second shift (he worked first shift) and did we did stupid teenage things.

Oh, like what? Like this:

Me:  “No, I love you.”

Him: “I love you too.”

Silence.

(Same conversation after doing kissy-faces to the phone receiver)

Him: “You hang up, I have to go to work in the morning. I feel like crap when I can’t wake up.”

Me:  “Welp, gimme 5 more minutes and I’ll let you go. Por favor, mi amor? Para mi?

(An hour later, same conversation)

Me: *Alejandro, it’s (however stupid late in the morning it is).

Him:  (breathing in the phone, clearly asleep)

Me: (closing eyes, listening to him breathe. Hangs up the phone only when dial tone wakes me up. (I fell asleep like this more than I will admit here.))

Oh, yeah. We did that at…all in love and not giving a damn.

At 23, I was 16 again.

It was lovely. It was new, it was healthy. He loved me, and I knew to my depth of marrow that he did.

Oh, you wanna know how Shax fits into all this, you ask? Welp, anyone whom is close to me will eventually get a name from literature. Whether that be from a comic or a centuries old play, or a TV show I’m hooked on.

He was my Romeo, my Antony, my County Paris  and my Hamlet…and My Dean (you gotta be a fangirl to know #SPN).

He, too, was my Peter Parker. All mild-mannered, dorky, intelligent, strong and sweet.

He called me his MJ.

(I don’t care! I LOVE TOBEY AS SPIDER-MAN!)

MJ.

Mary. Jane.

Mary Jane Watson.

You would have to be a geek, or love one, to get how deep that is, and how sweet that is, and how I could not want the forever after with Parker.

Sigh.

Every time I would move beyond his grasp in the time we occupied–I would be dating, he would be dating  (but we still spoke on a fairly consistent basis), but I would think about him, him about me, and somehow come back together again.

The weirder thing?

He knew when I was ‘far’ from him, and he from me. We knew when the closeness wasn’t there or quite right.

Quite remarkable.

I was getting back to me.

My Able Unshakeable was a reminder that knights still do exist.

They still fight in wars, have armor and still find damsels in distress.

They still hold love and honor as virtues not punchlines.

They still find the broken in the beautiful ones.

They still are willing to tell the Queens of the realms, they can cry again–that strength and beauty she is clothed in, but it is not destiny always to rule alone.

There is one, will be one, to see tears behind smiles, childlike joy in laughter that reaches your toes and thinks your eyes hold light even when they are shut.

These chosen of your heart are able to see you as no one else. If the Fate of God be merciful, you get to spend your life with them.

As for me?

Maybe next lifetime.

I have this one to live out with a man that is able to do that…and he found me while I was yet hiding. How blessed am I?

I love you, Phillip**.

*-For sanity and anonymity, his legal name will not be mentioned here. He does know the work exists, and even the dedication. He has moved on with his life, and I wish him nothing but happiness and joy. He has earned it.

**-Yes, that is my  real husband’s real name.

[images from Google]