The Savannah Syndrome:”He’s A Good Man, Savannah”

Savannah Syndrome Definition & Symptoms:

When a man proclaims to be a “good man” and is seemingly captivated by the idea that not only is he a “good man“, but that all women should see him as the Messiah of men, he may suffer from Savannah’s Syndrome. The man in his mirror tells him that he is THE man. The ultimate good guy. Any woman who doesn’t fall for his goodies is deemed not smart enough to see what is standing in front of her. His usual reaction to any type of rejection involves curse words, spiritual shaming, predictions of future regret, forever single and unapproachable. All while conveniently forgetting that he might be talking to a “good woman.” His language will read as if somehow the woman is now beneath him and his immeasurable awesomeness. These men are also known to accuse black women of being angry, often in unwarranted situations. Clinical trials have shown that men with Savannah’s Syndrome believe they are a savior for women (not to be confused with saving women). This condition is not rare as it’s known to affect 3 out of 5 “good men. The only cure is to death to the ego. 

 Note***This gif is meant to imply death to EGO. Don’t let a living ego tell you otherwise.

What is it about good guys who know they are good guys?

Do they smell their shit and think it’s the stuff roses are made of? Do their farts resemble toll house cookies being baked on a cold winter morning just before Santa Clauses slides down the chimney of their home? Is there a governmental kickback, tax-writeoff or a lifetime supply to Jordans and Jordan’s Chicken if they show the public how enchanted they are with their good guy status?

It seems there is a growing phenomenon of men, specifically “good men“, who know they are good men or at least deem themselves full of great qualities, that think because of this EVERY woman should not only want to entertain them but is somehow doing themselves a great disservice if they are NOT interested. They will guilt trip you using spirituality and your future, talk shit to you but use terms like “we” to make it seem less solely directed and/or get mad at you and shoot a white castle sack of ten texts to your phone just to let you know it’s fuck you because they know they are the good guy and oh one day you shall see. All this because you lack or lose interest.

Ummm….ok. But, my nigga you need to seek some help.

 

Seriously, get a therapist and get rid of that baggage boo. It’s not becoming of you. Let’s unpack this by starting with my most recent interaction with a male species….specifically the “good” kind.

We’ll make this short and refer to him as “Chocolate (C.) Winona.” He was handsome, not really the height I’m seeking but he was taller than me and I felt like I could wear heels around him. When I’m detailing a man for the first time, these are things I think about along with checking the lips, arms, Adam’s Apple and honestly, a rough estimate of his dick size. Hey, if men can gawk at my ass and make a big deal about it loud and in public, then I certainly can have an internal thought of big or small.

But about C.Winona…

We met on Saturday. By Monday afternoon, I had been informed not only that he didn’t “need me”, but also that  “The Devil Won.”

***I wrote that just as he did via text w/every first letter capital. No worries. Keep reading and you shall see for yourself. Now, hold fast to the phrase “The Devil Won” because I will be using that more in the future just to be an asshole. So about Saturday. A day trip out with mom to a local bar led to her wingmom’ing me into meeting Chocolate Winona. I was standoffish at first even though he initially caught my attention by giving me a $20 bill to put in the wall Jukebox. I’m a sucker for music so I obliged and chose songs that ranged from Rick James’ Mary Jane to The Carter’s Ape Shit. If he was looking for me to play love music by Tank and Keith Sweat, he chose wrong. But as the time passed and wine flowed, so did the conversation. He was a truck driver from Mississippi not too far from where my known roots began. At some point, we exchanged numbers although Peaches the Wingmom had already given him my business card.

I hoped to hear from him. He had informed me that even though he lived in MS, he stopped through Indy almost weekly. He was a good candidate for friendship. I’m not looking to be ‘boo’d up’ with none of these dudes. I am currently in a celebratory stage with my singleness. I enjoy not semi-owing another human being an explanation of where I am, what I am thinking or why I’m not fucking tonight.

But (t)HugzMansion gets lonely too. Just because I don’t want to be in a relationship doesn’t mean I don’t want to date and have a good time. Go out and have drinks. Eat food. Dance. Sweat. Laugh. You know, the things men and women do well together…or so I’ve heard. C. Winona seemed well for this because he doesn’t live here but he’s here often enough for us to engage in some of those things. Sex wouldn’t be something that could rule the connection because obviously IF we were having it, it wouldn’t be that much. And then there’s always the why am I trying to date men here (who obviously don’t dig me anyway) when I don’t want to live here ANYMORE. I want to graduate and move. It’s not Indy, it really is me. So there should be no more ties to no more tied-at-the-NAP niggas with kids, problems, and maternal nipples they still have their wallets attached to.

He seemed like a good start. He’s never lived with a woman, owns an acre or two down south and just really had an I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T aura. It was refreshing.

One thing I love about hanging out with my mom is that the wine will be flowing. The bad part is that more than likely, it will be wine flowing past my cutoff, straight to my glass.

There’s no point to me saying that other than shouting out another good time in the books. I didn’t leave my mom at the bar and go sleep with the truck driver. This isn’t a blog from the back of his truck cab that doubles as a help me message. We were at the bar for a long time and my mom ended up staying all night with me that night. She’s a great wingmom. They talked for quite a bit and I’m sure she has his life history recorded in her secret Book of NiggaNotes. It was an eventful Saturday out with my mom at The Living Room Lounge. It was really more of a scene out of a black episode of Cheers, just with a wine-drunk poet instead of the mailman.

Staging the Scene:

Sunday we talked briefly and decided to grab breakfast before he headed out to Texas. I drove to the truck stop where he graciously filled my tank up (after I had just put $16 in it…I wanted a refund). We stood outside chatting while he waited for his laundry to end and he asked me why I was so standoffish at first. This led to me saying I have trust issues. I’m thinking I’m not looking for you to marry me so I can say that openly, adult-like and honestly. He obliged my trust issues with some of his own and spoke on past occurrences that left him, side-eyeing folks. Again, we’re just going for food, not a marriage certificate, so I’m cool with this conversation as it was open and straightforward. I also had open and straightforward convos with the ex and so, alleged honesty or good convo isn’t impressive. But again, I’m a heterosexual woman who’s been single over a year and left dateless and dickless and saying “damn” three times randomly throughout the day.

I’ve been proud of myself lately. The guys I’ve come into contact with have all been met by me standing my ground. One guy asked for a hug after we walked and talked for an hour. I decided against it. Simple little thing it was but it felt good to say no. There have been several of these small gestures of me claiming my time properly that I’m hoping will bring a better litter of pedigree my way. It’s a new me that I’m quickly used to and in love with. This time, I stood my grounds on who I am willing to let cook for me:

Him: “Where you want to go get something to eat?”

Me: “Its two really good spots downtown. Wild Eggs and Yolk.”

Him: “Or we can go on the highway and get off on the next exit. There’s a Denny’s up there.”

Me (mentally scoffing AF): “No thanks, I don’t like Denny’s.”

Him: What do you want then?”

Me, without hesitation:”One of the two places I named.”

The conversation and food at Yolk were good. We laughed, talked travel, kids, food, life. We hit it off even more, sober nonetheless, and planned to meet up when he stopped back through Indy. I even gave him a hug which reminded me of how great a good embrace can be.

Monday Mourning:

Now I’m about to post screenshots for two reasons: to avoid typing and trying to summarize these messages without leaving out anything pertinent and two, so we can get back to the original question of this blog and end it. But first, let me start this at where things truly ended. Sunday night, I went fell asleep around 10:00 pm reading my book for class and watching Law & Order: SVU. When I woke up to turn the lights out around 1 AM, I saw he had called shortly after 10:30. I returned the call via text Monday morning wishing him a good day and noting that I was asleep the night before. Well, no need for paraphrasing. Peep this curveball:

The Capitalization of Every Letter Bled My Eyes Dry
**Jodeci sir.

Do you want my response to this madness or should I just dive back into the Savannah Syndrome? Fuck it:

I don’t have the battery life for this shit.

I immediately blocked him after I sent that last message because I mean it when I say I will cut your black ass off these days. No more sticking around and proving my instincts wrong. No more giving second chances. I’m all out. Sorry guise. I wasted them on trifelife niggas and now, either come right or miss me. Now, the term correct is not synonymous with perfect. But this shit right here…NAW! So as long as planes, trains, and automobiles cover the land and skies and ships cover the seas, I swear I will be God blessed and fine. My mom might be disappointed. I think she liked him. Mom, I think we need to make peace with me living this life to the fullest, solo. Or, as I am coming to wonder, maybe I have many true loves in faraway countries that are waiting for my arrival. I know this ain’t it. Oh and before I could get that block to stick, one final message came back to me from Chocolate Winona that I didn’t bother to screenshot (I only did shots to share w/my sister…but hey, why not the blog).

It said “Ok Ms. Smith. Take care. P.S. The Devil Won.”

N I G G A W H A T? ????

What exactly did the devil win? My soul? Cause that would be the only thing that matters and I’m certain that ceasing communications with someone other than God does not equate to the devil winning my soul….or virtually anything else! This makes me think about Too Black and Amiri Baraka. Too Black often performs Amiri Baraka’s poem “Must Be The Devil” as a tribute, and that repetitive line of “must be the devil!!”, popped in my head when I read that. So, it must be the devil winning, not you fucking up?

Seriously, please offer commentary to help me see the error of my ways. My comment sections are open for the public to leave real thoughts in. I welcome them. I gave you the whole screenshots because I want to get an outside take on how I handled this and if I jumped off the deep end. My conclusion was that based on this pre-convo about trust issues and me not answering my phone, that is how my morning text was greeted with “we gotta do better than this” and a reiteration of trust issues rather than something more friendly and fashionable (as in we just met each other) like “have a blessed day too.” Is that fucking hard???? Should I have really been told that we gotta do better? Nigga. I just met you!!! I don’t have to “do better.” Either you like what is being presented or you keep it trucking, Buck. And one more thing….did he hit me with the angry black woman technique? He suggested I shot him down in my aggressive texts but I never could locate either: not the aggressive texts or the shooting him down.

But that’s not the point of this blog.

This is really about The Savannah Syndrome. One thing that I noticed while we were headed to eat was Chocolate Winona’s repeated interrogation of whether or not I am the type that appreciates a good man. It got to a point that I felt I needed to throw it out there that I too am a good woman and make no mistake of that. It started to feel like he picked up a straggler from the corner who needed to be coached on being in a relationship so long as she was appreciative. I ended up saying yeah I’m appreciative but I also REQUIRE the same. I’m a good fucking woman, flaws.and.all. In order to take a seat at your table, I would have to sell one of my own.

I’m not a bum. But – I’m also still healing and reeling from the whatevers of my life so I took it with a grain of perception. But when I received these texts, I knew I wasn’t tripping. My ex used to do this shit. He would play this “good guy” role in attempts to guilt trip me (also known as manipulation) out of giving up on the relationship. He would say things like “you’ll never get someone who loves you like I love and support you”, “you know no one else will love you like me”, and other similar phrases often reserved for women to say to men but I digress. It worked but not because I didn’t think I would get a better love; but because I thought he was a good man and I wasn’t being ‘fair’ to him. Reality has shown that if someone isn’t loving you the way you want or need to be loved, regardless of their level of good, dropping them will allow you the opportunity for someone else to love you BETTER!!!! Even if that someone is yourself. 

Now, I know I’m one to overthink but I also know old relationships are supposed to teach us what to avoid and what to look for in new experiences. When that flurry of messages came through and I kept seeing about the devil winning and showing up Saturday “after the good man came”,  I was instantly yuckfaced about it. The final message of  “P.S. The Devil Won” really made me laugh. Because I couldn’t help but think what if the devil had nothing to do with this my G. What if God was saving me from something that wouldn’t ultimately be good FOR ME? What if for once in my life, I actually allowed that to happen without asking to be broken down first?

Just as there are still good guys left on Earth, there are good women. Most times, it is good women that raised them. I think it’s worth noting that “good” is a subjective term, which means its definition is subject to one’s own individual perceptions and experiences. What are you good at? Building? Cooking? Fucking? Manipulating? Staying out late? Just because you are “good”, doesn’t mean you are FOR everyone…or anyone. Being a good person or a good man or a good woman doesn’t make you perfect and it doesn’t automatically grant you access to whoever you want. Your version of your good self might be the worst choice for my version of my best self. This is how my last self-proclaimed “good man” left me looking:

Wow my boobs are flat.

It doesn’t mean either of us is bad people. And two good people not being compatible don’t mean the devil won shit!!!

It means yaw don’t mesh. The. End. Manipulation is running rampant in relationships and I’m no longer willing to sink in the murky waters of an unknown nigga ocean of confusion. Even if you’re a good guy. That “The Devil Won” shit rubbed me so ill man. Don’t try to use God to fuck with me. My ex did that shit too and thought he was the moral authority in the house while living a devildick lie of a life. Remember how Savannah’s mom from Waiting to Exhale told her that homeboy was “a good man”??? She said it with conviction in her face and voice. She wholeheartedly believed him to be such.

And good he may have been. He was also an adulterer. A liar. And a manipulator. All these things made him selfish as well. Quite similar to my ex, who again, suffered heavily from Savannah’s Syndrome. I’m not questioning whether he was good or not; I’m just saying there came a point for Savannah where his good wasn’t her cup of excellence.

When good dick is no longer the blinding force, you increase the odds of ending up with a confident good man who lacks Savannah Syndrome,

…and also has good dick attached to his beautiful, compatible soul.

So for now,

I’M GOOD, nigga, enjoy.

Today’s soundtrack is a new release from Chance the Rapper:

PS: God Won Again!!!! #AlwaysDoes

Hey Baby What U Cut With: A Good Thing?

….Then there was that one time that I was standing in a trio of associates and friendships having general conversation and enjoying an ending moment when the sole male of us three noticed a woman drawing close on our triangle. As she eased in on us, he began introducing all three of us to each other; this was his girlfriend. To my surprise, she didn’t stick around and make a quadrant. Instead, she opted to recognize her man, speak to us and walk away with a smile and a book or two (we were in a library). As the two of us girls began childishly teasing our male associate about having a girlfriend and falling in love, someone mentioned marriage (as a joke). He quickly shot down our leap of love faith but confidently said: “but she’s wifey material though.” We all smiled and our proverbial ‘awwws’ before ending the night with goodbyes and hugs.

Nothing wrong with that right?

Right!

But something he said struck me one day while I was driving down the street letting my mind wander.

“She’s wifey material.”

Wifey material.

Wife-y.

Material.

You know what I’m about to ask right?

What is wifey material exactly? What does it mean to be or possess personality traits that make you wifey material? What type of material are wives made of?

Before I go any further, let me state matter-a-factly that this blog is in NO WAY about the male associate or his observation of the woman in his life. I don’t have a problem with the phrase; I’m just wanting to unpack it a little. So this is not a knock on him – he just was the conduit for this blog.

So about these wives and their specialty material . . .

Are they silk? Able to be pressed? Do they need to be washed on delicate? How about Cashmere? Is there such thing as a mink wife? Chinchilla wife? Linen perhaps? Linen definitely sounds like wifey material. The way I see it, rayon, cotton, polyester, and burlap don’t really sound like they would be firmly marching down the aisle of love. Those would be the non-wifey materials, saved for the throwaway girlfriends, the accidental teachers (who show the men how to love which usually goes to a different woman), the baby mommas and the hoes. . . ?

Hey, don’t shoot me here. I’m not labeling; I’m reaching …for understanding. What exactly is wifey material? And let’s not try to convince me it’s goofy stuff such as cooking and cleaning and sex on a regular basis. I’m talking about the subconscious stuff, the shit that can make or break a person – the REAL relationship glue. I remember something my ex said to me while we are arguing the day we broke up.

“No woman I would marry would ever have a past as filthy as yours”

Ouch, my nigga.

Damn my G. That hurt

…annnnd it was also kinda funny because no man I would want to marry would have a present like his (at that time), and I risked my love on a hope anyway. But I digress. . .

Still, it made me wonder, especially in conjunction with the phrase wife-material, does your past affect the type of fabric you’re wrapped in? Does time, youth, ignorance nor time elapsed not make a difference? Do you OWE your other half a rundown of the life you had prior to him (as was reported to me by my now ex), and if so, does that imply that your past shouldn’t be something you wouldn’t be eager to share? Or does your past, much like bad credit, affect your ability to be seen as a qualified wife?

When a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing. Proverbs 18:22

One of America and especially black people’s favorite Bible verses to quote. I am not here to dispute this piece of scripture. In fact, I completely agree with it and at least have some understanding of it. Personally, I love the fact that finding a wife is gaining favor in the Lord. If every woman has the potential to be a wife, then every woman a man meets is cut from that same wifey-material…she just has to want to be a wife and intentionally align her actions, choices, and prayers up with it? I joined a group on Facebook at some point this year that was to go with this five-day challenge a friend suggested we sign up for. The challenge was about opening yourself up for Godly love but the FB group is called Young and Married. Yeah. I feel out of place but the people in it are mostly hopeful brides and grooms to be. I received an inbox asking if I wanted to sign up for a book that would help me prepare myself for a Godly marriage. Some of the emails I’ve received have been about molding you to be ready to be a wife (or husband). There was one video that Ciara posted a while ago that got her into all kinds of opinionated, social-media driven hot water. In it, a pastor is discussing being a wife before you have a ring. He repeats the scripture from above and addresses the fact that it doesn’t say “he who finds a girlfriend”, but rather “a wife”, suggesting you are a wife (or of wifey-material) without a husband, ring or marriage certificate. It is up to this elusive man to find you, realize who and what he has in front of him and then you get all the bells and whistles (proposals, weddings, marriage, etc). But in the meantime, you are (or should be) emotionally and mentally grooming yourself as who you want to be: a wife.

But what if I don’t want to be? What if I no longer care about getting married as much as I am concerned about living this life to the fullest? Even if that includes me dying single? Am I thot-material? Does the price of my fabric go down? Do I slip from the smooth edges of the silky shelves to the half-off clearance bin of leftover fabric parts? Can I never be of wifey-material because I am not reading books and ultimately preparing myself to be “the good thing-wife?”  Am I NOT “a good thing.” What exactly does a man find when he’s not finding a wife? A bad thing? Forgive me if I’m thinking too hard but if a man finds a woman that’s not a wife (or of wifey material), what exactly did he find? If this was answered in biblical terms, would she be a Jezebel? Are those of us who aren’t that man’s wife simply pieces of used fabric that no one wants to sew with?  What if we are no one’s wife????? #ThenWhat?

Actress Jennifer Lewis did a recent interview on The Breakfast Club where she was asked if she was married. She said she’s been engaged four times and still has the rings to prove it but she never went through with it.

“Honey, I’ve never been married. Listen, I married my career and I have no regrets.”

I’m not one of those people who believes there is someone for everyone. There are people who die every day without having ever been married, and many of these people have lived joyful lives and never once felt deprived of anything, especially not love. So for the women that fit that under this umbrella, what are they? Sluts? Whores? Devil-worshippers? Or just pieces of standard cotton that God tossed in the world to spice things up?

You know what made me want to be a wife? Power.

No, not the television show. As I came to understand wives based on readings, conversations, and random documentaries, while the husband may be head of household in many cases, it is almost always the wife that runs the house. She keeps the order. She balances the money. She inspires and raises the children and the husband! When I would see husbands gush over their wives, they would speak of her like an enigma. The ones that are truly in sync w/their marriage seem to almost shy away from understanding how they got so lucky. They know they fall short of her love and find themselves better and greater because of her. She leads the charges in their heart and is half the inspiration of their grind. All of this PLUS (depending on the beliefs) she gains them favor in the Lord. It’s a power-filled, selfless, spiritual act of love no matter what your beliefs are. By all means, finding a wife most definitely means finding a good thing and I’ve longed to BE a good a thing.

A good thing.

Not wifey material and I’ve hated that word since I first heard it @wifey. I never even longed to be a ‘wife’ until I started husbanding these stray, polyester sewn mutts looking for shelter and food. Playing house with my Barbie Doll raised imagination and my dry begging, cheap denim, Jegging-style boyfriends led me to want to be more than the role I was playing because they left me feeling like I wasn’t enough. And how could I be? Most of them needed their mommy or a parole officer, neither of which I was. And although I never really dug the live-in pussy situation, I somehow found hope that it would turn into a proposal a time or two. The only thing ever proposed from those mistakes were passions for fucking up my credit and my trust. Let Ciara’s pastor tell it, I guess I’ve been living as a girlfriend and not a wife, so every man who has found me, found a girlfriend, which doesn’t make me a ‘good thing’ as much as an easy conquest or short-term practice.

Interesting concept. . .

Becoming a wife wouldn’t have changed any of my relationships aside from putting me in the position to contact a cheap divorce lawyer. In all honesty, I  do want to make life art with someone and attack the world’s canvasses as if we have the only paintbrush left in the world. I want to be a good thing to someone and in return, receive a good thing back. But I don’t want to work to convince a nigga that I’m dope enough for the position. I also don’t want to give wife benefits to boyfriend material. I suppose there is a certain way I should be living or a certain hem of fabric I’m supposed to be cut from in order to have that and I’m not sure either of those is my priority or origin.

And I’m ok with it. I’m ok with never being married. I was ok with it in the past. I am ok with it now. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to be joined with one person and we go forth and change the world and each other’s lives for the better. It simply means I’m not waking up daily trying to align my feet with the wedding two-step or praying nightly for a man to come find me waiting.

Either a man will SEE me, or his legally blind ass won’t.

Hell after almost marrying my future divorce, what I know now is that being wifey material doesn’t make a man husband ready. Because let’s be honest: all the good men aren’t taken but the single ones are picky AF and some of us will be left out. Period. It doesn’t mean he’s not fresh off a block of abandoned sandpaper and masculine tears. What good is a wife to a man going through his third round of pre-pubescent attitude changes? Is she supposed to “good thing” him into adulthood? What about the dudes out here slanging unprotected dick front, back, and side to side (also known as hoe’ing and we know we can’t wife them), dropping babies at every missed left turn to Albuquerque? Sounds like my favorite scripture that asks:

“What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?” Mark 8:36

I’ve met my own share of wifey-material raised women who gained the husband and lost her soul and essence because that nigga was cut from strips of fleece and rayon.

What I know for certain is I am not living for the hope and prayer that a lifelong companion will find me and gain his rightful favor. I am living for me; not for this riddle or trying to reconcile with the fabric of my creation. I am flying to the places I want to and experiencing all this world has to show me. I am intentional about healing myself, helping others heal and creating safe spaces for those that need them. I create as I see fit and insert my voice only in the necessary moments. I love openly and wildly and for the most part, without any apology. I am intentional. I am light. I am beautiful and I am love. To experience me, in all my qualities and pitfalls, my vulnerabilities and my confidence, is to experience a good thing.

Who says I have to be a wife in order to be a good thing? What comes first? The chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the ring or the good?

I know I am definitely a good thing. Anyone who doesn’t see me as a wife is missing out. But after many years and tons of mistakes, I found my damn self and discovered someone pretty amazing living inside of me.

Found on IG (via @erickaps)

So I guess I will gift this good favor from the Lord to me!

Call me Pink Cashmere.

~J

Stay Away from Girls Like Me: Abusive Women

“I’m just abusive by nature

Not cause I hate you”

~Nicki Minaj, the Crying Game

 

Stay away from girls like me . .  .

Girls who are abusive.

Most of us aren’t this way because we want to be.  We have no ill intent but, as spoken in those lyrics, it’s in our nature somehow. Our lack of control embarrasses us. The aftermath is shameful. We don’t boast about it in attempts to emasculate you. We would much rather have you hold us and help us through our journey to stop but you won’t be able to, after, it’s not your job. Anger is the most important emotion to control due to how violent it can make someone. Our control needs help. We can feel the rage as it starts to grow, but most times the argument in question has already gone too far. We don’t hit for sport or to exercise control; we hit for defense. I know it doesn’t make that much sense. But that tone of disgust that appears in your voice, and the sounds you make when you’re tired of us in the moment seem to push our meters up. The louder you yell and the more your language leaves a common disagreement and begins treading the thin line of emotional abuse, the less we can hold it down.

Don’t date women like me. For us, words have the same hit and force as fists and so we respond accordingly. At our boiling point lies the ‘violent bitch.’ We won’t be able to stop ourselves from risking it all as fits fly, rage thrashes and our eyes close to the incoming response.

Stay away from for we are dangerous.

We need help. We are pre-packaged so neatly and imperfectly flawless that it’s hard to remember sometimes that underneath the underwire in our bra lies a violent heart.

“Violent bitch”

Two words that made up the title of a poem I heard back in 2003. Eventually, I wrote a response to it even though I wasn’t directly connecting myself to its subject matter. There have been several relationships where it never crossed my mind to throw a punch. For a while, I guess I thought I was ….ok.

We have ups and downs.

There are times, years even, where it seems like we’re different. We feel confident that we are healed although we never directly focused on such. It’s not until your kind comes along to dance a jig on our tightrope that we remember there is still something inside of us that needs fixing. We shake from the inside out. Use softer voices as a way of backtracking where the argument is heading because we know the feeling. We try without saying we are trying to keep from allowing the beast inside of us to be awakened.

Stay away from girls like me . . .

Because we fail at it often.

Your words will feel like mini knives, really sharp and piercing. Each one cuts a half-inch beneath the last and we can’t handle this. We weren’t taught how to properly deal with hurtful voices. Cruel and intentional word slinging can bring such mental devastation. Many people can handle that shit. They know how to pray their way through every disagreement or at least intercept it before it gets out of hand. We want to be this way and hopefully, one day we will. But for now, we know us and we beg you to watch your words. . . .

…But you don’t. You can’t because you are hurting too, from stuff we have nothing to do with. We both have been raised by with disappointment in our fathers. Your buttons get pushed too. It’s a masculine viewpoint of a mirrored reflection and we won’t be good for each other because of this. At best, we’ll be a hard erection to a sweet spot and the more we age, the more we know that life is way bigger than sex.

So stay away from us . 

Girls like me are hurt inside our core where magma is pumping lava blood through our system. We have anger that knows how to get our attention. We’re not ready for what we wish we had and we won’t make good decisions while angry. To choose your kind would be to choose that same anger repeatedly. You may think it’s a knock against you but it’s not.

You’re not a bad person. You’re just a bad choice, for us.

Your beautiful is as bright as ours and I’m sure the shine will greatly impact a different life, but girls like me are too damaged to coddle your ego, tend to the needs you will have or pacify you with accommodating silence. Girls like me are loud.

Boisterous. There are times when we can be accommodating to our anger. Our hearts turn into leisure lounges for our temper to kick its feet upon. Anger feels welcomed with us; we open ourselves up and accept it…then we act on it. We don’t like being taken advantage of for the moment or the long-run or talked down to. We are not beneath you; we just have a different type of healing to do.

Girls like me can’t control it sometimes.

But we don’t give up. We are water bearers. Former mermaids that were drug out of the sea. Mercedes on feet, driving at full speed, poetry within a paragraph, perhaps we’re prose, girls like me don’t look like we would hoard the pain we do in our Micheal Kors bags but there’s much to be said about what we’ve internalized. It’s precisely why we don’t own compact mirrors. No one wants to see that when they are just trying to check for lipstick on their teeth. We feel secretly embarrassed when people speak of domestic violence. Because no matter how much of a discount we got on our Aldo heels, we know we still fit under that umbrella.

Stay away from girls like me….

Abusive girls. Abusive women.

Many would see us as lesser if they knew our secret, so we hide under cute dresses, crochet hairstyles, and Fenty foundation. We’re still ladies though. We want to do and be better but that begins with the choices we make on who we want to be and who we are willing to deal with.

Stay away from girls like me because we won’t deal appropriately with you. And you will call us crazy. You’ll tell a few friends that we are volatile. You’ll tell us we scare you and it will confuse us. We’ll respond with a chuckle at the idea that we instill fear in a grown man. But, I suppose it’s a fair statement.  You will begin to do more than restrain us. You too will become violent and it will start with self-defense. It will grow into our standard relationship practices.

Girls like me… won’t give you what you need. We’ll be the opposite. Dangerously in love will understate how we act. So stay away from us. We are still mad at our fathers. A few of us still have yet to figure that out. They (our fathers) should have shown up. They should have taught us better and treated our mothers with more respect. We’re pissed that we (us and our mothers) were treated like everyday weeds instead of marvelous one of a kind flowers. There are pieces of our puzzle that require attention and repair and for us to stop looking out of our childhood-colored glasses.

There is no choice but to see those who failed to teach us proper love as human beings that just so happened to be in control of someone else’s upbringing. We can’t hold them higher than human nature. We’re special but not that special. Some of us are in charge of someone else. It’s a learning process to figure out no parent is above being a human being and one day, if we don’t fix our broken pieces, our children will feel the same way we do. We will inevitably show them a poor path of loving if we don’t allow growth to take place within ourselves.

So….

Just stay away from us.

Not for now but for good. You are no good for us. Or to us.

We have to heal. We have to figure it out. We have to become greater than we are right now.

We have to choose better – for our internal and external selves.

And when this process has completed itself and we are open to freely fly in the name of love, we have one final request one of you:

Stay away from us.

Stay away from girls like me.

Abusive women.

We are fragile.

And no matter how much gold lines the cracks in our Kintsugi, you will break us open and re-expose our blackouts.

We don’t want that.

Neither do you.

“All this love you speak of,

All I want is to love and be loved”

Nicki Minaj, the Crying Game

So stay away from girls like me.

Girls who are abusive started as girls who were abused – could be literally, figuratively or both. And if you ever wondered, abandoning your child is a form of emotional abuse (and torture). We want a love that won’t make us look back and that won’t pull violent tendencies out of our luggage when our intention is to unpack.

You’re not so special that you should be able to bring us the bags we’ve sat down for the last time.

This is the year of breaking cycles: Cycles of how we act and,

…cycles in who we choose.

So stay away from girls like me.

~J

September 27th: Pt III, Love is a Two-Way Mirror

September 27th 2017.

September 27th wasn’t the day I got quietly engaged or destination married. And it wasn’t sad. Matter a fact, creating those imaginary thoughts in this blog series made me feel goofy in a sense. I really do love, love and I take it for granted as much as it takes me. I grew up lacking an emotional male connection. There is no denying the effects it has on your growing up when one tries to give a love to someone they’ve never properly received it from. This isn’t to take away from the stepfather I had; he was a great provider. But our reality is my pre-teen and teen years were spent arguing about who spoke to who and not about emotional paternal guidance. It’s unfortunate but hey, what can you do? You do your best with what you know and I suspect my stepdad is no different.

What I know about love and loving men comes from what I have collected from my attempts at loving. I have pieced together what I THINK is good love – albeit healthy love – based on what I have done right and wrong in past relationships. The biggest problem with this is I’m picking up individual needs and applying them to other individuals, with other fucking needs!!! It’s not fair or right and it’s not how love -healthy love – really works.

I have struggled to understand how I could be attracting the type of men that I do when I don’t do the shit that they don’t. What I experienced in this last relationship was nothing like what I felt I was giving. I gave honesty – I received lies. I gave I threw away memories in the trash that I had kept for years – he kept his white woman friend on the side doing who knows what. To me, on the surface (which is basically where I have been), this is a no-brainer. Why would these things happen to me if these aren’t the types of things I’ am doing? How could I attract them if I wasn’t doing them? Is it karma?

“..but love, it is YOU that I take for granted.

Curse you to be damned for what a human being has done when it was ‘we’ who spoke French first.”

~3461, JYork

Maybe it’s my loaded karma. Love owes me an ass whooping  for some of my not-blogged-about shit so there’s that. But what I also have come to understand is it the surface things that I didn’t realize I was putting so much stock into don’t matter. My stable job or my new(er) truck or how many times I can fly to New York in a year won’t count in the preliminary hearing.

What brings these particular moths to my flame is the energy of my inability to offer proper love. I am attracting at the level I am LOVING; not at the level I am in life.

Huge difference.

Until now, I haven’t known this. I hadn’t ever questioned HOW I give my love.  I have loved at the top of my game every single time. I’ve given all of me with each trip down the hopeful road to forever but it’s been a point of foolishness at times. Everyone doesn’t get all of you. People are supposed to work for your heart and the love you give out. You can’t be so hopeful that you give away all of your goods (and I’m not talking about sex at all) too quickly. You need to be able to reel yourself back when the time presents that necessary, which it will more often than not.

Otherwise, you will constantly sink in the pitfalls of the wrong men. I thought I knew this. Shiiiiit, by this relationship, I thought I was great at this. Part of my actionable-love was being a giver but you’re not supposed to do that. You can’t go around giving and giving – the only thing you’ll do is end up with a bunch of taking/taken ass men in your past. The majority of these men won’t help develop and deepen your understanding of love. They will keep you operating at a lower level. Sometimes that level will be beneath where you are in life otherwise.

If you learn to love through your experiences, then who you are experiencing love with matters a great deal.

I’m not sure how those of us who missed that father experience (or even a supplemental male role model) are supposed to properly learn to love the opposite sex (granted that’s what we are attracted to). It’s the same for heterosexual men who lack mothers; how are they to know how to care for a woman? Date a guy with mother issues and you will find he is just as volatile and emotionally inconsistent as women with father troubles. Then there are the people who grew up with no parents.

All these single people learning through DIY methods on each other.

Are our mothers (fathers) supposed to provide sufficient love from both sides of the perspective when the other is not available? Being the ‘mother and the father’ is more than showing up to sports games and cooking dinner and cleaning and providing. It’s also loving, teaching and guiding this young person who will eventually be an older person. They will live and love based on the knowledge they obtained at home. In the event this information is not properly passed on to you, where does it derive from? Aside from immediate counseling or intentionally seeking a mentor of the opposite sex, how do you learn to love who you will love?

When is the last time you were in a relationship consciously loving someone badly? And “love” doesn’t just mean how you show affection or support. It’s also how you deal with opposition within the relationship, how you communicate, what you hold important. . . it’s a listing of traits and ideas. I’ve looked at love with such high regard that I never stopped to question if  I was giving it defectively.

I saw that Will Smith posted this today about Jada Pinkett and love:

via Will Smith

I’ve never thought of love in such a grand way when it comes to giving it. Until now. I’ve always assumed that the energy I give off through my love was not just enough but right! Despite the notion that I don’t operate out of ego in certain situations, there are countless others of which I do.

And maybe that’s the key to learning how to love properly. The right person will challenge your love in a such a way that won’t make you question yourself but will reveal the needs for growth.  You have to be able and willing to do the necessary examinations on yourself. Our ego tells us if the other person isn’t meeting our current demand of the month, then we don’t have to meet theirs. Highe- self tells us that it doesn’t matter what they aren’t doing. Besides, these aren’t demands; they are ways to elevate. If we take Will Smith’s perspective into account, then that means the other person is not operating from ego in suggestion they make or needs that require addressing. They understand that the growth of you, as you should be not as they would have you, is the growth of all things attached to you. But that takes a special type of person. One that is crafted especially for your individuality and I’m not sure if you get one or more…

…but I can say I’ve had one. Unfortunately, he wasn’t my forever, although still a special and necessary person. We were mirrors of each other in a number of ways. We each gave what we had to give.

You can’t get someone to challenge your love until you are ready to receive that challenge. I’m guessing the more you transcend, the more you open yourself up to others who have peaked to that higher level of self as well. Ultimately this should lead to your one person if the tale of a one and one only exists. If not, then at least the pool feels more like the waters you think you should be swimming in.

By the time I met XXXXX, my idea of love had derived from all the wrong people. Even if you take the best parts of the wrong situations you can’t get a healthy idea of how to love on an elevated level.

Assessing how you love means crashing headfirst back into your past and finding out who you took your lessons from. Who made you believe X = Y? Were they ever logical? What percentage of you is loving from an absence: father, brother, dominate male figure? What makes you believe you give healthy love and how can you validate those beliefs?

There are plenty other questions one could ask themselves in an effort to find out how they give what they hope to receive. I found myself asking a ton of them on September 27th. I didn’t get it that day, but I eventually understood that I’m loving at a lower level while thinking my affection style is as advanced as I am with the rest of life.

Nah sis,

nah.

This doesn’t mean I’m less deserving of trustworthy, good treatment but it does mean that what I am pulling in won’t get higher than what I’m putting out.

I questioned myself for weeks trying to understand why I kept seeing signs telling me it’s me. And this may not even be all of it. It’s a huge revelation nonetheless. XXXXX doesn’t feel like a mistake. He feels like a culmination of all the lessons I needed to learn collectively. My reflection in his eyes wasn’t always heels and pretty dresses and I saw it for myself. We were a beautiful but explosive situation that could have been but ….

Mourning one while looking at another heartbreaker DJ. #Lifeism

is what it is.

If you are not ready to see yourself through love’s eyes, then you will not attract someone that will make you. You will keep getting duds and thinking everyone is shitting on you until you advance to your personal next level. I never met anyone that challenged how I gave my love. I guess you could say I’ve collected hella good and bad ideas and called them the right way. But they were too often based on faulty people and situations, acts of survival and loss of self. I’m a whole different woman today than that the girl that collected her ideas of love.

As mad as might be for a long time coming about things that happened, I also must give myself space to grow. That means recognizing self not as a victim but how I contributed to our demise. I pulled in a certain type of energy (man) because I was at a particular level of lovING. My hurt can’t make me see our failures to each other as something that overrides our successes. We gave birth to a newness in each other that I don’t think can be denied. Our relationship turned our skin inside out so that we could both see how much ego we were operating from. There was a genuine love created but it couldn’t be sustained at the levels were both on. He was the first person to do many things, most of all being the first to make me look at myself.

Our loss should be so great that causes us to look inward in an effort to eradicate the possibility of this ever happening again.

September 27th wasn’t spent in the white vacation secrets of Santorini, Greece or engaging in Puerta Vallarta by way of cruise ship. It was a slow day, full of TV, cleaning, and self-observation. We had only recently stopped talking to each other and it all felt fresh again. But – we tried.

I pray we both learned from it all . . .

Accidental phoNo pic from fair

 

Shopping in Walmart like old days

If Will Smith is right, then many of us have had it all wrong including me. Love means trusting in who you fell in love with on a vibration so high that you understand their natural evolution is a prerequisite to you getting what you need in the relationship. It’s not wishing them into your fantasies-come-alive. Love doesn’t envy the yester-you; instead, it will cherish your right now and be inspired for who you will grow into. Love means knowing how to chin check your ego because that hoe will have you single AF and running through I Wish I Never Met You music.

We’ll get to my cracked reflection in January.

 

“Not All Black Men”: #PinningTheTailOnTheDonkeyOfTheDay

“Most men fuck women to destroy them . .  .”

~TK Kirkland

 

For nearly 39 years, I have watched black men drop the ball on me in every way imaginable. Starting with my natural father and blood brother to the man I planned to marry to the guys on the street and complete strangers and the play brothers and the guys I grew up with – -*the men I love so dearly have often left me hanging or worked overtime at disrespecting the very nature of my heart. Or at least, this is how it FEELS. I am currently searching my reserve tank for something to keep believing in them, loving them and fighting with and for them but it has thinned to the thickness of a single hair follicle. Recently, I watched a black man tear down a well-known black business woman in Indy. He trashed her restaurant, her food quality, and her prices. After legions of supporters chimed in, in her favor, he went to battle with each one (mostly women), myself included. He trolled our pages and insulted us based on what he was able to see. He referred to the sole black man (that I saw at that time) as a bitch ass nigga because he defended her. He even disrespected her mother by calling her a bitch (after she stated she was her mother). While other people get angry and go back and forth with this type of stuff, I get sad and seemingly ill. I can’t participate because I start shaking internally. My eyes cross, my heart breaks and tears sometimes form.

This has been a relatively hard blog to write.I’ve feared that my current relationship standing and my past baggage would sponsor a blog post that was too full of ‘black girl attitude’ instead of magic, and come off as whiny, full of complaints and inexperienced with more than one type of black man. What I am about to say is not without merit nor do I lack taking ownership for what I have entertained and allowed to permeate my life (in the cases where I could help it). I’m not another blogger using her platform to tear down the black man. I’m not that. I am a whole woman with validity to her claims, experience under her belt and just enough wisdom to know that some shit just ain’t right. I’m fine with being labeled as angry because….well, fuck it, I AM!

And I have EVERY right to be; to authentically feel WTF I am already feeling! I don’t hate black men and I am absolutely still full of love for them.  It’s just time for me to take the sugar spoon away and be real: our trust has been broken and our bond needs critical repairing, but no one is fine-tuning this shit except me and I’m damn near done completely.

I LOVE black men and I always have. I’ve loved them hard, relentlessly, and wildly on purpose; with intention and out loud. I could never claim to be perfect and I’ve always been on the learning curve of love, but I’ve given it as best as I had to put out.  I’m here for them. Once upon a time, I wrote for and performed to them. I loved them on stage as much as off. I got my first standing ovation from a room full of hood rich dudes who were there to stand their hip-hop grounds on a night that poetry had tried to ease in and take over. The poem, “Convicted Felon”, was written about struggles of re-entry and they ate it up. I wanted them to know that I was present for them and their struggles. In Louisville one night, I won audience favorite after doing a poem about black men being kings. That came w/a $100 and a standing ovation in a room crowded with black men. The hugs and high fives left me feeling like I had done my job: I let them know that SOMEONE (me) is rooting for them and can see them! I’ve never masked or hidden my love, support, and desire for their presence in my life, yet I find this has made me nothing more than a target with a fat ass.

“…and even if I end up spending my life without one of you/I will forever long to hold onto you like the sun longs to hold onto blue skies that are decorated by white clouds./ I will forever try to build you up/not tear you down.”

I’m not in denial about my rocky relationship with black men. I must specify “black men” because that’s who I have dealt with. I know other men of other races do the same shit; but my allegiance is to black men and gotdammit, I want my fucking reciprocity! More than that, I want this breach repaired. I don’t want to have to rely on men of other races – I WANT to love black men; but I don’t want to love for two anymore. It’s time that I just do my part; not both of ours. I have so much material where I have written them into the parts of my life that I needed or wanted them. I didn’t call them kings in a poem and treat them like peasants in real life. I’ve created fairytales with my words and I admit that was a mistake. In hindsight, I wonder did I think that I could write myself into a healthy space with black men in general? Had I been thinking that whole time that I could show them my authentic self via poetry and that might attract like-minds and good fruits of the harvest? Because if I did, I can say that it didn’t work.

It attracted more enemy-like predators. They saw my vulnerabilities and used them to their advantage while assisting in destroying my overall feelings regarding black men in general. Time and time again, I’ve been nothing more than an experimental situationship for them, and I’ve watched them ride off on white horses with other women. Literally.

PICTURE IT:

During my sophomore or junior year of high school, I was called a nigger by a white man entering a nearby Walgreen’s that I was leaving out of. We almost bumped into each other and that was his response. It was so unexpected that I don’t think I responded. I was shocked quite frankly and I was also skipping school sooooo, I didn’t tell anyone. That was the first and only time that I’ve been called that to my face, although I’m sure many have mumbled it about me under their cowardly breath. I was called a ho when I was in the seventh grade. The guyS that started spreading rumors about me at age 13, some true and plenty others embellished at that time, were all black. They lived in the same neighborhood as me and went to the same school. These guys had me thinking I was a slut before I ever lost my virginity. I was bullied, laughed and pointed at, made fun of me and alienated…all because of black boy joy, circa 1992. I took the long way home from the store, I had to transfer schools and I literally peeped around corners to see if I saw any trace of them when I was outside.  They made my life HELL. I lost my ‘friends‘. My shaky self-esteem plummeted and my reputation in my new neighborhood was trashed by the first two people I met: black boys. This continued until I left the neighborhood for good in 1998 @19 years old.

My point of that is not to rehash old memories but to show a juxtaposition of the hurt inflicted upon me by white men vs. black ones. It’s TROUBLING !!! Do I trust white men more than black men (or at all for that matter)??

I’m not stupid. I know they really don’t GAF about me. But I am an observer and what I have seen and experienced has shown me that most of the black men I come across don’t appreciate, want or love me either. It feels worse than that one time Walgreens occurrence or the subconscious thoughts other races may have because black men are who I associate and fight with and love greatly. I don’t want to feel this way about them. I WANT to feel like they look at me and see light and love, but I don’t really think so anymore. My own father and brother never saw worth in me. My brother has a bunch of children. I’m no one’s aunt. It makes me wonder what I did to deserve this shit? I’ve been stolen from, used, abused, left out of town, molested, nearly raped, killed and of course, cheated on and lied to while looking me in my eyes all by black men. Some of this I played a role in but not all of it and I’m not willing to take EVERYONE’s blame on my shoulders anymore. I’ve beat myself up for years over the choices and things I’ve done in the name of love or men. THIS BLOG IS NOT WRITTEN WITHOUT PRE-ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF MYSELF! I am responsible for what I allow. It’s just right now, I’m allowing myself to be honest.

I’m often perplexed as I listen, read and watch the seemingly effortless disrespect and mistreatment of black women by black men and boys. It bothers me to no end and maybe that is because my own personal relationships have always been met with an ICU-ending. It doesn’t matter what the context of our relationship was; just about every black man that I’ve ever had a relationship of any significant sort with has left me feeling unprotected and disposable. #NotAllBlackMen

I recently realized that I’ve been giving out labels that come with expectations to men who don’t want to or simply won’t meet those expectations. Matter a fact, I don’t know that they even wanted the labels. That’s not fair of me. These men aren’t required to protect me in any capacity (and they don’t).

What have I done to deserve their protection or respect aside from being born awesome? These the types of questions I ask myself before writing blogs like this.

Photo by ANKH Productions

But I’m not tripping: There IS a lack of protection by the black man of the black woman. I’m not the only person who feels this way. Other blogs have been written before this. VSB wrote one and received quite the backlash (from black men) because how dare they call them out on their shit? I got into a back and forth on FB with a guy about that exact blog because he wanted me to give him proof that it was valid. Instead of saying ‘fuck you and your proof’, I stopped the conversation. #IAmTheProof

I know if a man is reading this blog, his thoughts whilSt reading this might sound like “well, it’s #NotAllBlackMen.” While my personal relationships play a great deal into my perceptions, it’s not solely based on me. I sit and observe, listen and read things that further push me over the edge all the time. I envy the women who proudly profess their support and love for black men. I see stuff like this all the time:

It’s not that I don’t agree because I do. But I don’t feel it reciprocated in action towards me and never have. And so I also have mad respect for those who stand firmly in their disgruntled truth: that they are disappointed and untrusting of these beautifully created, melanted humans. When one of the young ladies from my neighborhood lab told me about two young guys, no older than 14, cat-called and heckled her and another 10-year-old little girl, I was sick. Their behavior was problematic AF and also learned. It may have even been taught to them. The young ladies asked to be left alone and were met with more advances. The ten year was a bit scared and the 14-year-old told me that she knew better than to show her fear because it would only increase their behavior more. TEN. FOURTEEN. They shouldn’t have to experience that and young boys shouldn’t be taught that girls (women) are owed to them. The inability to accept no for an answer or resorting to increased haggling/violence (resulting in fear for the girls/women) comes from a sense of entitlement.  #WhoTaughtYouToHateMe

The Common Denominator

Maybe the problem IS me. Seeing as though I am the common denominator, maybe I’m the issue. Do I hold them too high to their mistakes? Group them all together unfairly? Because it’s #NotAllBlackMen and I know that. I’ve seen ‘good’ black men; they are just a rare sighting in my personal life. Do I take how black men act towards me and other black women too damned personal? Does my disappointment stem from my inadvertent daddy/brother-search in niggas who are only good for slinging dick left to right or loving me tight for a few months or a couple of years? Do you know how many seasonal ‘brothers‘ I’ve put in my heart since poetry came into my life? #TewDahmnMany. You know how many of those brothers called/inboxed/dropped by to see if I was surviving my newest emotional apocalypse? Not even half. And honestly, I guess I haven’t done that for them either. It’s not their job to come check on me; ‘brother/bro’ is just a title – not a lifestyle they have to live. I take the blame for unnecessarily putting dudes in exalted titles and hoping no unspoken expectations are broken. I am no longer that growing teenager that needs her big bro or dad to fight these dudes for her; I fight my own battles. Kendria stands up for herdamnself against the atrocities of how she’s been treated. I’ve learned to stop giving away permanent titles to people who may be temporary. If my biological brother thought of me as trash, what chance did I stand with anyone else in that department? For these reasons, identifying the role I play in the demise of my own heart and respect for my black brothers is crucial.

Overall, I feel extremely failed by the black men I’ve loved. According to social media, it’s ALL me. It’s me suffering from low self-esteem or not loving myself enough. I attract these types of men due to my energy, says the media of socialites. My energy brings the shit to the plants huh? These damn memes and posts get on my EMM EFFIN nerves!!! It’s not that they don’t have truth (for SOME), but they do rush to put all the blame on the person who was mistreated. We love to preach to women and tell them to step to the mirror and love themselves more. There is some weird societal enjoyment in suggesting that the deficit resides solely in us as opposed to telling men to love themselves enough to realize without us, there is nothing. Where are the memes and posts and status’ that suggest to men that they stop using and abusing women? The memes that challenge their self-love based on their mistreatment of us?

In Summation . . .

I have a memory during my teen years of sneaking off into the alley with my neighborhood obsession. His name was Devon. I loved Devon for some reason although, even at such an early age, he didn’t respect me. Maybe he didn’t know how….nah, he knew how. He did it well with others but he saw the cracks in me and used them to his advantage. He was one of the first two guys I met when I moved on Cornelius. One day, while still a virgin, I met him in the alley and let jack off on a pair of checkerboard shorts I wore. The garage we stood behind belonged to a house I’d later move into at age 27. When he was done, I can’t remember what it was I wanted from him – a kiss or hug? For him to walk me back to the front? I don’t know, but it was something that he wasn’t willing to give. He zipped his pants up and started walking down the alley while I stood against the garage in tears. I will never forget him looking me dead in the eyes, walking backward and laughing. Then he took off running.

There it is folks.

That is the summation of my experience with black men. #NotAllOfEmTho

You know I gotta say that before one of them gets their boxer briefs in a bunch and hunts for me with the ‘you hate black men’ inscribed pitchforks. LOL.

Black men don’t like being talked about and called out on their shit. They don’t like being the center of attention if it ain’t what they deem good attention. They want women to stand by them, fighting, fucking & loving no matter what. My ex complained that our sex life wasn’t satisfying – but he carelessly had been telling lies the whole time. How do you have the expectations of getting your dick sucked on a regular when you have all these secrets, plus a white woman on the side? That goes back to that entitlement. It has been my experience that the men I have loved have all felt entitled to my body. They treat me like I OWE them sex. I once told a man I was not in the mood for sex and he didn’t respect it at all. When I later told him that it hurt me how he treated me that night, he called me crazy and said I was tripping. Some of them think we are deserving of their inability to take ‘no’ for an answer. That same man wrote hundreds of poems to women – calling us Queens and talking about what we deserved. But wait – I should blame myself for that. Right? You’ve read it before in my blogs. Or maybe not because when I wrote in great detail what happened, I privatized it days later. I have been protective of black men to a fault. Even my ex, who I blasted across social media. I’ve tried to rewrite how the public saw him many times because I love him. I know his good side; he loved me, although quite incorrectly. I got mad at myself for calling him out. But the reality was, once our ship sank, my body erupted like a volcano that had been FULL to the max of niggashyt that had been collected over 38 years. There was no time to make any other choice except scream at the top of my lungs. 8 months later, I am still smoldering.

Devon walking away from me in that alley was quite the significant foreshadow to my future. The black men I’ve known (#notallblackmen) would much rather piss on me and laugh in my face as they walk away and watch me cry about it. It’s as if they get a hard-on because of it. Becoming Devon’s girlfriend later in life symbolizes how I accept the bullshit and hope for greater anyway. I almost included an example of the few good men that I know to help balance the blog with black Light. But this isn’t about them. Today, I hope by purging this from my system that I will set forth a chain reaction of personal healing. Not just healing for my most recent ex, but a true repairing of my relationship with black men. I don’t want to sink into the abyss of fuck them.

But I got both heels and a spare in the quicksand.

I will pull myself out without a doubt. I always do and it’s always me and God. But who I will be when I emerge is only God’s best guess. If most men fuck women to destroy them, then consider me in repair from being fucked and fucked over and now standing on an emtpy train of my pieces, trying to reconfigure who TF I am. This is what devastation looks like on me:

Photo by ANKH Productions

 

SN: I do want to shout out a man I’ve referred to as my brother for years now. I won’t name him here, but he sent me over 70 text messages in an effort to help me stitch these breaches back together. He also reaffirmed that I don’t need to suffer in silence. That even though my feelings might not be shared by anyone but me, I have the right not to sit in silence and pretend. I’ve done enough loving out loud to be able to sit down and say “I’m tired boss.”

Thank you. I appreciate THAT push from a black man who knows my story.

~j

 

Sips from My Lemonade: Stages: Chasing Cars in Denial

“I can’t believe he’s not here”

“I can’t believe this happened”

“I can’t believe ( insert emotion ) ”

Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars plays on Spotify. The mood crashes. Suddenly she is thrust back into that space she is constantly trying to keep herself away from. It’s her way of protection; not thinking is her way of self-protection. But there are times when she can’t run, can’t hide and can’t pretend she didn’t lose a part of her that she really wanted to keep.

Life has a way of teaching us that what we WANT and what we DON’T need are sometimes the same damn thing.

It’s a hard lesson to swallow. Some lessons we run from and others won’t leave us be until we’ve accepted their truth. Sometimes it’s a line on a television show or a familiar smell or sound and suddenly you’re back among the echoes of yesterday. For her, this time, Chasing Cars is what sent her searching for the Parked Car she once sat shotgun in.

“If I lay here,

if i just lay here

would you lie with me and,

just forget the world”

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

In these four lines, she pauses the sip of her warm apple cider and looks up from her laptop. Her head, in a slight natural turn, focuses her eyes on the outside window. The leaves are turning colors. For the next five minutes of eternity, she is suspended in what once was.

This is what she mentally runs laps to stay away from. The aftermath of yesterday is haunting when she thinks of it, so for the most part, she doesn’t. She ignores it. She heals in what feels like a quick, slow motion of forwarding steps and controlled thoughts. But again, there are those instances where sprinting through her hurt ceases and all she can do is stand there in the outcome of the war of roses. As unbelievable as it still feels to be here, 8 months after the initial fallout, all she can do is deal with it.

What she always finds perplexing is the level of which she believed in all things them. It seems impossible to ever be able to trust another person with such grandeur but in hindsight, it feels overrated. Suddenly, she would rather have wine and so she pours a glass and places it parallel to the cider. Slow sips from both accompany the recollections: the words and the way they pierced her soul like chars of distressed glass. Insults that snatched her eyelids off and made her stare at the tattered reflection that she could see from his eyes. Shame. Guilt. Things she felt years prior to knowing the man who stood in front of her even existed. she had forgiven herself for everything up until this point and now she stood shortened and defeated by those things she was so good at: words.

Words were breaking her into pieces and alienating the right now from yesterday. Words killed her before: years ago, as a young 20 something, it was words that had her ready to swallow a bottle full of pills that were spread on the living room table. Words have always broken her bones. She found herself falling in love with words after learning how to use them to SPEAK. But on that day, in the second quarter of the newest year, she found words turning against her and ripping to shreds the woman she had become. More sips of the wine and less of the cider keep her tears at bay. She wonders if he thinks as deeply as she does or if the replays in his head seem as harsh to him as they do to her.

“I wonder does he wonder how we got here?”

The song keeps playing, now on repeat, with droopy lyrics that pull at her heartstrings.

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

She’s all the way in now and might as well allow this mental escapade to run its course. She remembers spontaneous selfies, dressed up events and tons of laughter. Lip syncing contests and long drives to discover waterfalls. It felt like she found her partner finally.  They were a beautiful duo that was the picture of what she thought she wanted.

“I knew you were out there”

She left that message to him on a grid-picture she posted one day. In this moment of 20/20 hindsight, she doesn’t foresee ever trusting herself again. Not in this capacity.  She knows she will get over it and it will become her distant past in due time. Reciprocity is a bitch to catch hold of and until him, she had never felt it from anyone. She’s never actually felt loved, until him. Everyone made her feel a myriad of other ways, but love wasn’t it. She felt loved and supported by him. That’s what hurt her deeply – the love she was confident he held for her was not enough to get him to act on. He didn’t trust who she was and she realized it too late into her love. He didn’t trust her to love him authentically and as is. He didn’t trust her with his truth or the truth they shared. He didn’t even trust that she could leave town and not come back with new dick on her breath. When she thinks back on these things, she runs further away from the idea that they ever existed.

It was all a smokescreen. She was never in a healthy relationship like she used to boast about. He never planned to marry her. He had fleeting respect for her and she couldn’t change his perspective about who she was. She thought he saw her at her core – but it ended up feeling like he saw the book cover and not it’s golden contents. But to that notion, she helped with that quite a bit. She wasn’t the greatest woman like she thought. She was abusive and mean. Cold and tired. She was a survivor who was doing her best to love properly but really had no idea how to execute what she felt. As her backward thoughts played on top of Snow Patrol’s third rotation around the speakers, she realized despite the levels of disappointment and anger she still feels, he most likely loved her as best as knew how too.  NEITHER of them was able to love each other the way they NEEDED.

 

Maybe Jilly w/the Stringy Ass Hair can do him better.

As for her, she never wants to date again. People tell her it will be ok and someone is coming and searching for her and blah blah, meme, meme, blah. . .

She subscribes to none of it. Most WANT this to be temporary feeling for her but she never intends on allowing herself to get that close to anyone else. This was the last time she would share her secrets in someone else’s palm only for them to be thrown into her face like acid. She had done this shit before and was not laughing at the choices she made that got her here again.  Her cherished relationship – the one she would have bet her next heartbeat on – was over and so was her friendship. In losing this friend, she distanced herself from everything and everyone else. It crushed a part of her she doesn’t even want back. As the year prepares to change, she hopes to let go of 2017 in full. But I have a feeling, her tears may continue for years to come.

For now, as other people seem to have LOVE well defined and healthy, she sits in silent envy, controlling her thoughts as best as she can. Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars remind her that she is still healing. She may spend the rest of her forever healing. And man is it easy for the tears to surface.

The song draws near to its close. She wipes her face and straightens her back.

It’s time again –

I’ve learned it’s as easy to remember the bad times as it is the good. Both create permanent records in our head of things that happened, good and bad, and we can pull from either direction. It’s sometimes hard to pull from the good when the bad is present and vice versa. Whichever you pull from, memories can’t decide your future for you…or at least they shouldn’t. But for her, they certainly have. 

– It’s time to stop thinking again.

It’s time to control my her thoughts.

And with that, she stops wondering how they got here, and goes back to accepting this unexpected, permanent truth. Denial serves no one; it only prolongs healthy healing. The last of her wine is gone and her cider is now cold.

How befitting.

Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

Resentment: Stages: Sips from My Lemonade

I’m on this stage. Image may contain: one or more people and people on stage

Usually, there is an artistic accompaniment. Maybe a band. A host. Lots of mics to choose from or colorful lights that can be changed depending on the mood of my speaking. There is usually poetry here.

Today, there is none of this. The stage is dark with burnt edges that have a stale smell of smoke. It’s empty. There is simply a stool and white spotlights that all aim in my direction. You can’t see anything other than …..

-me.

This is the stage that I am on.No automatic alt text available.

I cannot leave or abandon it until the showing is over and I will only know it’s over by the dimming of the overhead lights. Welcome to my newest one-woman show.  Please, kindly take your seats and enjoy the ride.

Unlimited tea and lemonade are included in your ticket.

Stage Left: Resentment

This is a bitter tea. As it goes down my throat it leaves a strong hint of habanero on my taste buds. My tongue may feel singed but I understand this to simply be part of the process. Water has yet to help with the inferno slowly building from the back of my mouth to the traces of my lipstick.

Sadness has subsided or at least put on a new outfit. Blessings can be hard to hold onto once you step foot into this world of emotion. I can feel the stage floor turning red and becoming too hot for my feet to stand on.

I walk through this place sometimes, listening for the sound of cologne hitting his wrists. Waiting for the dogs to hear his truck turn onto the block and run to the window. I sit and binge watch television while doing homework and working on the ball – wondering how it is that on television when men fuck up, they somehow make it back to their ex’s front door, lacking their ego and humbly dedicated to resolution instead of dissolution.

But maybe that’s just for Hollywood and Love and Hip Hop.

Or Geist.

Carmel perhaps? Fishers? California? Morocco??

Where exactly is this space in the world where people (men or women) who fuck up their relationships actually take a moment to realize the damage they have caused and try to EARN their spot back? Do those type of people actually exist? Or, better yet, am I even that type of person?

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and closeup

It’s like swallowing a horsepill full of urine; you kinda feel pissed on but you kinda feel like THE urine.

Oh love,

How I have waited for you to show back up at the doorstep

like a stork delivery

minus a return receipt

and I undo the locks and open the door

eyes staring into soul windows with curtains drawn

we pull each other in by the scent of our connection

and figure it out. You tell me,

you came to figure it out.

And we do. Like they do on tv.

Oh love,

how I have waited for you to show back up,

at the doorstep.

Ready.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzp2vUp3kyo

But alas I don’t live that poetry life anymore. I thought I was in my forever space and it was another temporary person with a lifelong lesson. I get angry because I wonder when will I gather up enough lessons in my binder to be able to meet someone that isn’t just a summer school teacher? When will the moment come when I inspire another person to be his greatest self and vice versa? To reach WITH me? I want to BUILD with someone; not sit around, playing house like God ain’t watching and life ain’t short. It’s maddening.

I’m angry at myself. I don’t know if I should be, but I am. I look through my hindsight lenses at stuff I overlooked, things that could have saved me but I want to see and believe in the great in people and in return, it usually gets me toodamnopen and vulnerable. I begin to lose my power. I get mad at myself for not doing a better job of self-protection. I get upset at how I love – how intent and full it is. I can’t stop the train once it pulls off. When I love, I go into the veins of my soul and suck the blood through a coffee straw just to put life into this new relationship. I was recently told that I lose myself in my relationships.

And that was a dose of ouch and wow to be honest, although not surprising. I’ve always known that, but I thought I had it under greater control more recently. I exhaust my and that other person’s love when the end draws near because letting go has never been my strong suit. My last texts to XXXXX were fresh off the live wire. I was angry, in my feelings and resenting the idea that I should be chasing him. In the weeks after, once the tears began to clear, I continued to allow resentment a space to dwell in, inside of me.

There were days that felt like an inferno replaced my heartbeat (and still are). Every breath was a cross between mourning what we had while trying to accept it is over. I felt like I changed my course to follow love again only to end up at the same fork I’m always at; this definitely sparked a seed of anger that was growing into an Oak Tree.

But the thing is, if I pretended to not be outraged and displeased, the resentment would stay and become baggage: baggage that I would never unpack. So I opened the door and welcomed it into the living room only.

There were no bathroom breaks and I only offered one complimentary mug of lukewarm water to quench its thirst. I acknowledged it silently. Then publicly. Then it began to release itself.

As I sit on and through these different stages and take slow sips of my lukewarm lemonade, I must face my own mirror at every interval. I am nothing if I do not confront my inner demons while acknowledging the ones in others that I do not wish to encounter in others again. I could write a blog about all the things that my ex did that made me unhappy and hurt my feelings, but then I would just be a victim. That is also a planting field for resentful feelings.  I could also write about how my therapist is helping me see ME in a whole new light and damn it feels good to have that, but shit, the ‘aha moments’ are like:

This stage of sour lemons is natural. I don’t feel embarrassed or like I’m not where I should be in life. I went all the way this time. I put it all on the line and I fell off and still held that tightrope with my bare hands until the yarns cut my skin open and the blood loosened my grip. I’m not sure if I’m sitting on this stage, or if I fell onto it, bloody and out of breath.

Maybe we were both exhausted. And then, I paused and thought about my role. The things I’ve done and said at times weren’t the greatest or most poetic. At times, they were flat out wrong. It made me wonder if we are both relieved in some way. . .

The exhaustion is over. The show has ended and the people have all left the venue. The fight is done and the stage lights are beginning to dim. Maybe I didn’t fall on this stage of resentment. What if my instincts were already here, waiting on my physical to arrive while watching real life play out. And now that I have officially stepped foot into the building, I can go. I can gather my toys and go. Ever since I spoke it aloud, the universe has beckoned me to free myself from the pitfalls and dangers of resentment. I also had to come to realize maybe XXXXX has resentment towards me too and what if that’s fair? Well, now we are both free again to be who we are and where we are. I would be a crooked ass liar if I said that it doesn’t hurt that we can’t be our authentic selves with each other.

And sometimes, that hurt feels like anger….resentment.

But I free it. I free the anger. I free the pain. I free myself – from this stage and the inside of this particular arena. And if you are reading this, let this be a reminder or a form of inspire that it is natural to feel outraged or enraged by situations that occur and things people do. It doesn’t reduce you in size, character, strength or power – it simply makes you human. It is my belief that it’s actually more healthy to give yourself the space to be the human that you are and to authentically FEEL instead of running and fronting in front of the mirror. Once you sit with yourself – study it and understand it’s origin as well as the role you played in its existence, then you are giving yourself the path to let it go. And that’s all resentment is good for…letting go of.

But in order to do it, you have to first allow yourself the room to feel it.

I am proudly learning yet a new journey from the comfort of the warmth in my chrysalis. A rising will soon come.  I

 

~j

 

Intensive Care Unit: The Surgical Yes

I started binge watching Grey’s Anatomy a few weeks back and ever since the onslaught of Owen and Christina Yang’s relationship, I have found myself entranced by the storyline. Yang and Owen had an indisputable love for each other, but their conflicting overall desires for their lives as individuals and as a couple wouldn’t allow them to prosper. Over the course of several seasons, the audience is pulled from north to south in their love story. They have passion, desire, and unfiltered love; it’s undeniably present. But Christina doesn’t want to be who Owen wants her to be (a mother). And Owen can’t shrink his needs to fit Christina’s plans for her future (winning the Harper-Avery surgeon award). On one of the final episodes of her Grey’s Anatomy career, Yang finds herself asking a newly-paralyzed but conscious husband if he would like to end any life-saving techniques, as his distraught but supportive wife stands on side listening. At the exact moment of his response, Yang envisions two different scenarios, neither of which resulted in dual happiness for both her and Owen.

In the first scenario, Owen’s desires to be a father were fulfilled by Yang’s willingness to carry and care for not one, but TWO children (keep in mind she NEVER wanted kids). She lost or gave away the opportunities at winning the research award she once passionately sought after and secretly confessed to her best friend Meredith that she knew messed up. She aged with a disturbed happiness that glowed across her face as she introduced the award recipient who was one of her former interns. This is what self-disappointment looks like.Related image

In the second flash, the shoe was on the other foot. Christina was on her 4th award win and dedicated her time to continued research efforts. Owen, on the other hand, still wanted to be a father and had turned to drinking to cope with the dreams he gave up on for love. This eventually led to him being considered for termination due him working under the influence and creating a hostile environment for the attendings. Christina no longer wanted a relationship with him and while talking to Meredith, she asked her “don’t let me go back to him.“During her award acceptance speech, she asked a series of three questions that encapsulated her daydreaming and aroused my inquisitiveness.

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I watched their relationship and particularly this episode during a time in my life where I was mourning the loss of my own failed-future alongside someone. I found myself relating my failures (and wins) to what Yang was going through. Who would have guessed that I would find myself connecting to a fictional, non-black Cardiothoracic surgeon who was once in love with a black man and ultimately married a white one? I found so many parts of my personality showing through her passion for …..herself! When she asked herself these three questions, she inadvertently asked me. And now, after the revelations and epiphanies I had from watching these old reruns, I am asking myself AND you!

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I tend to use my age as a scale to measure my life’s progress. It’s not because I really subscribe to the idea that by a certain age certain things should have happened (although I do believe there is a hint of truth to it depending on the circumstances). It’s more because I tend to look at things from the standpoint of how many years I’ve been on earth and allotted the time to get shit done! So when I say at age 38, I should be able to answer these questions without blinking, it’s not because that’s my worldview on humans, age and progression but rather because, after three decades of living, I should fucking know these answers….even if they change in a week!!

In the circumstances where Christina gave birth to two children, she was miserable! It was on her face, with her plastic smile and her aloof conversations. She looked like she regretted her choices, and she did; she had long stated that she never wanted to be a mother and now here she was the mother of two! It wasn’t her dream she was living – it was Owens.

No one wants to or even should live that way. It’s mentally and emotionally dangerous. Owen was in complete bliss as he played with the boys while Yang confessed to Meredith that she knew she had made a mistake. When one of her kids got sick in the middle of her research, she passed her award-winning project off to someone else, who ultimately ended up being the recipient of the award she had spent a lifetime hoping to earn. She had given up her dreams to live for someone else’s, and in the process, the things she wanted most were never achieved. It was a life she was born for that never finished getting actualized. The minute she chose Owen’s dreams over hers, she died and was reborn as a version of herself that he was creating.

So what is the point of this blog? I am asking both myself and you the reader if you are able to answer these questions and what you will do if the answer to the last question is NO? At some point in my last relationship, I began to feel like Christina. I had not been rewatching old Grey’s episodes at the time and maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have felt so wrong. I started to question whether I was eager to marry the wrong person. I never told him these things because I never wanted him to feel like he wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that – everything that he was at face value was enough for me. But I was concerned that in my love for him and excitement for our future, I would end up compromising parts of dreams that my long-term joy needed me to experience.Image may contain: one or more people and closeup

I wanted to leave the city and much like Christina, I expressed that from the start. I never wanted to spend an indefinite amount of time in Indianapolis, but I had fallen in love with an active father of two children. Who was I to move him away? He used to tell me not to worry; that it would all work itself out and I trusted in that. But in the back of mind, I worried that I would hit a point of no return with Indianapolis and he wouldn’t even have teenagers yet (his kids were under 13). I was willing to be the puppeteered Yang over the authentic Christina. I was trying to prove to myself that the things I had come to find I needed weren’t that big of a deal in comparison to love. That love was, dare I say it: ENOUGH.

When you get fed up with your own fronting, as posted by Tamar Braxton

Sometimes, our authenticity will come at a price.  Listen, if you know anything about me, you know I love me some love! It’s beautiful and in many ways, it will carry and sustain you and be enough. But love isn’t the end all be all and it’s certainly low on the priority scale when it comes to goal-setting and achieving unless that’s what all you really want. 

If we are seeking a true unimpeachable human experience, then sometimes, that means choosing ourselves OVER the things that come into our lives and compromise who we are and/or what we want.  Selfishness is a form of self-care. When Christina was envisioning these scenarios, she didn’t lack love and respect for Owen nor did she think he was out to hurt her. To the contrary, she adored HIM. But she didn’t adore motherhood or want it. . . EVER. She wanted to pursue her passions and dreams and to her, they held the same weight of importance and value as motherhood. When she attempted to see herself living without her dream while creating a world for Owen to be happy, she saw sadness and disappointment. Regret. On the flip side, when it was Owen who she imagined doing the sacrificing, it led to his misery and ultimate downfall. His lack of personal fulfillment lead to him becoming an alcoholic. You are going to cope with the decisions you’ve made and it’s not guaranteed to be in a healthy way, so you might as well create and live the life you envision, alongside people whose ultimate goals aren’t out of alignment with yours. At no point did both of their goals find a common ground and therefore, there was no possibility of true happiness, or better yet longstanding JOY between the two of them.

The Bottom Line:

It doesn’t matter what your gender is or how you identify sexually or beyond; choosing to exist in the stories of other people rather than the passionate future you desire to create for yourself will undoubtedly cause you great unhappiness. There has to be a way to co-exist and climb the ladders of life successes together OR understanding and ACCEPTING that you can’t be together due to the vast differences; anything else is just wasting love. It will more than likely HURT to choose yourself sometimes; it’s like a surgery with no anesthesia. But when you emerge from recovery, you are a better, more healthy YOU. It’s worth it to choose yourself when you otherwise being left out of the equation.

Do you know who you are –

What do you like? What is your perception of the world and of life? What brings you joy and what causes you grief or pain? What upsets you? How do you love? Are you awake, alert and involved or are you just existing? What do you want for yourself? What would make you feel successful? What are you dreams and where do they lie? 

Do you know what has happened to you –

What caused you to think and feel this way? Are you ok with that? Who hurt you? Who made you laugh? Where were you when the ball dropped? What did it look like when you got back up? How long were you down? How hard do you fly? What shapes you? What caused you to fear? What has helped you believe? Who did or do you run to? Did you know that you own the rights to everything that has happened to you? Now, what are you going to do with that? 

Do you want to live this way –

If you died today, on a scale of one – five with five being the highest possible feeling, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with how you lived your life?  What surgery needs to be done to achieve a 5…today? How can this answer be YES?!

Welcome to the Intensive Care Unit. Extreme care will be taken of yourself by yourself from this point on. Take a second and ask yourself Christina Yang’s questions. Allow your imagination to create potential layouts of what your future may look like depending on the door you choose. And when you are searching for the answers, be sure to open discernment’s door for the people, places and/or things that you need to let go of. You will find this to be a necessary surgery in order to get a Yes answer at the end of the third question.  

A Joke In My Town: Guns, 911 & the Point of an Apology

During the car ride of pure silence, with my mouth literally hanging open and tears hanging at the cliffs of my eye lashes, I remember thinking ‘I just wrote that it’s ok to be in the hood.’ Right then, I felt like I had been tied to a post and was being beaten with embarrassment’s fist, along with tons of other emotional heavyweights. Let’s go back . .  .

A couple of days ago, I went to meet my sister for lunch. She had a short trip in the city and was on her way back to Atlanta on this particular day, so we decided to meet up for brunch. Since she was dropping her daughter off at a church nearby where I live, I told her I would meet her at my house. With Nicki Minaj’s “Looking Ass Nigga” on near volume max (and repeat), I hit the highway in a festive mood, feeling and looking like great. Setting the emotional tone is important. I was hype and happy when I slowed to the red light just off the highway. Everything happened so quickly. As I turned onto my street, I saw my sister’s car pulling up to the stop sign. I figured my niece must have forgotten something or that she needed to go to the gas station. I could tell as I waited to turn onto my street that she was on the phone. She flagged me down with her arm hanging out the window and I pulled up right next to her, turning the music down. Before she could say anything, there was a car turning onto the street behind me so I had to pull off because we were blocking the street entirely. I drove to the corner and pulled up in front of my house before deciding I needed to run to the gas station and might as well drive. I pulled up into a space in front of the door after noticing my sister’s car parked away from the pumps and off to the side. Still oblivious to all things, I turned my music down and was slowly grabbing up my purse and covering my laptop. I turned to open the door and she was right there, shaking and almost in tears.

“Some guy just pulled a gun out on me”, she said as my brain scrambled to process what I had just heard. She further explained that she had simply parked and started messing with her phone when she noticed an issue arising.

Let’s back up some more. She got there before I did and had driven to the end of the street to make the u-turn. Once she turned around and parked, she noticed someone in a car that had pulled up very close behind her and seemed to be ‘poppin off’ at her. She thought maybe he wanted the parking space so she pulled up more. Next thing she knew, the guy was outside of his car, cussing and hollering and showing his gun…AT HER! Mind you, her windows are tinted dark so you can’t see inside her car very much and she has Georgia plates, so I was just as confused when she told me as she was when it was happening. Who would have a problem with her and why? Was it me? Had I done something and it was now spilling out on her? Instantly terrified, she sped off and up the street to get away just as I turned onto it.

Now here is where things go even more left field.

She had already called the police, which is why she was on the phone when I turned onto the street. When you think your life is in danger, that’s what you do right? Call the police? I don’t know. To be black in America, I can say for certain I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. It could turn out against YOU!  That is a REAL and legitimate Black In America fear. Who would want that on their conscious?

We stood at the gas station and she expressed her concern for going back on my street and talking to the police especially because I live there and she didn’t want to exacerbate the situation. Keep in mind we had no idea why this man pulled his gun out and was snapping on her or who he even was. I didn’t recognize the car description and had no idea of what to do. We were both pretty scared, to say the least.  I saw my neighbor walking his dog and I went into auto-pilot. I was standing there in heels and a bouncy dress that I bought in the Bahamas and some fancy footwear that I got from NYC; I needed to change into war gear and investigation shoes. I told my sister to stay at the station and I was going to ask my neighbor if he saw anything and change my clothes. Remember: the police have already been called at this point. We see a cop drive up the street. I got back in my truck, drove home and pulled up just as my neighbor was stepping onto his porch. I stopped him and ask him if he saw anything or was familiar with the car she described. He said no and I walked off, nervous and wondering why someone would do this and what should I do. I can’t have my sister scared to visit me- that’s my fucking sister. NO!

AND, it’s broad effin daylight on a weekday!!! WTF?

The police drove past two more times while I stood there and on their third rotation, I stood in the street with my arms stretched with the best WTF look that I could plaster across my face. He stopped just as he passed me, opened his door and asked did I call the police. I told him verbatim “no, but my sister did. She’s scared to come back on the street and she is over at the gas station”, and proceeded to describe her car. He said ok, got back in his car and drove off. Assuming he was heading over to her, I ran in the house and changed clothes, let the dogs out real quick and quick-footed it back outside. I was at her car in less than ten minutes. When I got to her passenger door to open it, a voice rang out from across the parking lot “Hey Kendra, tell her I’m sorry.”

I stood there perplexed as fuck and he said, “I wouldn’t have done that, I thought she was someone else. I’m sorry.”

Finally words came to my lips: “That was you!!???”

He said, “Yeah, tell her I’m sorry.” 

I nodded and got in the car to find my sister staring at me with the WTF face I had given the police and I’m not sure what face I gave her back. I regurgitated his words as best as I could and included the fact that I knew him. Seconds passed and we pulled off and up MLK BlVD, not really sure what to say or feel. Well, at least we knew it was over and nothing else would come of it? Was she safe to come back on my street? Was she traumatized? Was I angry? Scared? I had so many feelings fighting for top attention that I physically could not speak. I felt like crying. Straight up, I felt like bursting into complete tears but then she would console me and this was soooo not about me right now. Again, I had so many emotions. When she apologized for calling the cops and cried as we crossed 16th Street, I felt like the words were pushing to get out but there was no connection with my voice. It might seem dramatic, but I promise, we were both stunned into silence. Her apology broke that silence and I returned it with nothingness although inside of me, I screamed to her that she did nothing wrong.  What is life when you apologize for calling the police because your life feels threatened? But again, when you’re Black in America, that can result in lives lost and IMPD is no exception.

That right there is some complicated, unfair shit.

We pulled over and parked on the outskirts of the IUPUI lot across from Crispus Attucks. We sat there, my sister still shaken and really not up for driving, and me in silence with my mind on a thousand speed. I suggested we pray. It was the best, safest place I could think to go. I didn’t feel emotionally equipped to know what to say to make her feel ok. I felt bad for knowing the guy and even worse because I had to deliver his apology. When I spoke it, it felt like the first cigarette after a long day on a new addict’s tongue; there was a sense of relief and sadness. As we sat there in this parking lot, I was able to find my words and tell my sister not to apologize for being scared or for calling the police. I reminded her that that’s what is supposed to happen. That in the heat of the moment of straight fear, you’re not always (if ever) going to think about how Black Lives (don’t really) Matter while in search of help. We are supposed to be able to call the police. They are supposed to be trained to help us, especially in these situations.

EVEN.IF.WE.ARE.BLACK.

EVEN.IF.WE.LIVE.IN.THE.HOOD.

As the ice was broken and we were able to calm and collect ourselves and find some peace in it all, a group of three people walked in front of the car on the way back to work at Attucks; one white man in a suit and two black women. One woman walked a bit ahead of the two others and as the white man and black woman trailed, we both noticed the woman’s cute heels. They were Lucite-block style 3′ or 4′ inch sandals with triple straps, but not over the top. She had on a cute red dress that didn’t hug or hide her figure. Her hair was natural and we both noted that she was STRUTTING in those heels. She walked so confidently in who she was that I’d dare someone try to convince me she ever shed a tear. Black women, I tell you. We are beautiful. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to roll down the window and shout “YOU BETTA WERK BLACK QUEEN!!!!”

She raised her hands and smiled a thank you. It was like the clouds broke and the sun came through. I don’t know what significance that was, but I had to share it. We set forth on our journey to food (tried to get some Trap food but she ran out #Splat #NextTimeGadget), picked up my niece and made the rest of our time beautiful. At least two and a half hours passed by before we went back to my house, feeling at ease and safe to pull up.

Life comes at you fast man . . .

As I got out of her car, the young man that I knew (yes, the young man that had the gun out) was walking up to my neighbor’s house (yes, the same neighbor who I had stopped earlier). It was spooky AF. I’m not even trying to tie anything together because I know it was all mere coincidence, but the irony wasn’t lost on me. He had clearly seen us pulling up because as soon as I stood outside the car door (my sister and niece still in the car), he began apologizing again. Like I said, this guy is no stranger to me. I don’t ‘fear’ him. I know him well and have always thought he was a good kid. He lives around here but I’ve known him prior to moving over here. We speak every time we see each other. I ask about his children. It’s easy to say I’m disappointed in the situation as a whole, but it’s a greater thing to appreciate the fact that from the most sincere place he could foster it from, he was offering an apology. That’s not something that can be ignored in this society. That situation could have gone horribly wrong. One of the thoughts that ran through my mind was wondering how many people have lost their lives as a case of mistaken identity. I’ve always heard that if you’re going to pull your gun you better be prepared to shoot, so in his preparation, that whole scenario could have been an unnecessary disaster. His apology simply can’t fall on deaf ears and you know why? Because if it does, it teaches him (people) that remorse is not appreciated and therefore not necessary. In the arrogance of the today’s society, someone owning up and saying they made a fucked up mistake and apologizing is something that has to be noted. It doesn’t erase anything, but it one isn’t sorry for an offense, then they are liable to do it again. In the end, we all found a place to share a smile as we went in our respective different directions. It was the best possible ending to an unlikely, fucked up situation that shouldn’t have happened, but did.

And that’s that piece. . .

Or is it? 

Before I end this blog, let me address the real yellow elephant with the mouth full of peanuts. My sister called IMPD, against her better judgment and inner black woman voice. She felt threatened and scared and she told the 911 operator that she was “terrified”. I know she was scared because when she was standing at my door in tears, she was shaking. When a car drove up alongside us while we were parked, she jumped. She did the right thing, per the way our society is supposed to behave. She called 911 and even left them her number to contact her back, per the operator’s request. My interaction with the officer was bare minimal. Remember, I directed him straight to my sister with a description of her car. That was the end all of our conversation.

That officer and no other one ever went to my sister’s car. They did absolutely nothing and I’m going to be honest by saying I don’t know what they could have done given the situation. They didn’t know who it was and neither did we.  The car was nowhere in sight from what I could tell. But to refrain from going and talking to the person that called, regardless of what you can or can’t do to help, is a sign of weak ass policing, a true lack of concern for local citizens and possibly some area-stereotyping. Here’s a little more irony: approximately seven days prior to this, members of IMPD were all gathered and standing with Rev. Harris, the Ten Point Coalition and the news cameras in this exact same area at the old Double 8, which also doubles as the ten point central location. It’s where I see them standing almost daily when I come home from work. I won’t pretend to know what that meet and greet was for but I’m sure it had something to do with this bullshit campaign Rev. Harris and IMPD are serving the public by suggesting they are responsible for lowering crime in certain areas, this one in particular.

You know what I did not see the entire time this situation played out with my sister? A fluorescent green vest! Twenty-four hours later, I saw them at the same Double 8 parking lot, standing and congregating.

You see, I’m calling bullshit on the biggest bullhorn I can find. It is a slap in my face and it is disrespectful to the community members that live in this area and live with the crime and fears to play on our intelligence in the name of receiving grant and state funding to live the good life. I’m appalled that a man who oversees a church, where people go to serve the Lord, could so smugly be ok with lying to the public and his own black people. Many people have called bullshit, but I actually live here and we’re no stranger to the fact that I grew up in (and mother lives in) the heart of Butler Tarkington. I’m not just talking about what I heard, it’s what I know. I can’t blame the Reverand or IMPD or ten point for the actions of another person and I don’t. But when I see them marching up the street with Channel 6 or whoever is the first to hit record, and I see them standing on the corner every day at 5 o’clock, but when something really pops off I don’t see not one through eleven fucks given by either the ten point coalition or the police, it really pisses me the fuck off. I know that was a long sentence and this blog is full of expletives, but man…these are actual feelings being placed into words. The lackadaisical attitude of the IMPD officers, particularly the one I spoke with (my goofy ass didn’t get his name and badge) has damaging results whereas trust, which was already minuscule at best, is concerned. The convenient broadcasts of the ten point dangerous area-field trips with news crews and Mike Pence are laden with irony to their lack of visibility on this day. Let me guess, they can’t be everywhere all the time. Yep. I know.  I don’t like myself, my neighbors or community being used as experimental zoo pets in an effort to gain more funds to misuse. The Reverand and IMPD owe this community an apology for misrepresenting themselves.  They should take some humility lessons from the guy that pulled the gun out.

This broad daylight, weekday situation had to de-escalate itself, which then makes me wonder how many other situations have found their own resolution. I’ve heard shooting, arguing in the middle of the night between men and women, disrupting and disrespecting the entire neighborhood and have yet to see a fluorescent vest come through and offer any positive assistance. Or any assistance period. I watch as the police park at the old Double 8 day in and out and watch the gas station for trouble. There is also a press conference held at that very Double 8 parking lot between IMPD, Rev. Harris & the coalition and whoever they invite at least once every few months, complete with bullhorns, microphones, AND BODYGUARDS (I can’t make this up…I’ve witnessed it), so there seems to be a lot of time on folks hands, yet a woman fears for her life in broad daylight and can’t find a bullhorn, a vest, a bodyguard or a fucking police officer that gives a fuck.

I am all out of wows.

I have so many questions, but none that will ever be answered. This shit will continue on as it has. Honestly, I feel some type of way about feeling some type of way towards IMPD. I know they aren’t to be trusted. I know they don’t give a fuck. They’ve shown it and I have no faith in police departments in general. The last time I was pulled over by a police officer, I turned my video on before he got to my window. I don’t trust them. So why should I expect them to care? Why should I be mad at what I could have predicted? Why do I feel some type of relief that they didn’t do anything because this IS the same neighborhood they killed Aaron Bailey in and yet they can’t seem to come clean and admit that was a fucked up situation and an officer deserves to swap his citizen job for an inmate gig.

As my sis Rheagan Gilmore would say, “TUH!”  What faith did I even have in them to be broken?

Am I just shitty because they have proven what I had assumed? That it’s best to not even call. At least that way, no one gets killed by the police because of a call you placed, and you don’t run the risk of being disappointed in how much they don’t care. That officer looked me right in my face and said ok like he was about to go be Johnny on the Spot. Instead, he went back to his slop container, where Rev Harris has cooked up a nice meal of bullshit. Eat up. Tip accordingly.

Oh,

Before I go….so what do we do in case of an emergency??? Who do we call?

This is a question I fear I will never have a sufficient answer for.

Thanks for reading.

~j

Started From Winona, With No Fear: My Golden Girls #NPM

 

Big Momma is a staple matriarchal figure in the black community. We know her as the older woman with the world in the palm of one hand and all of iitsresolutions in the fist of the other. She is larger than life. There is no question she doesn’t know the answer to or at least how to find out. There is no meal she cannot cook from scratch and her biscuits, greens and macaroni are all dishes that people fight over the last plate. She holds recipes in her head like brand new Jay-Z song lyrics. Big Momma doesn’t get sick. She nurtures her immune system with natural ingredients and special homemade remedies. She seems invincible in her existence and families know her as the glue that holds them all together. Her image has been portrayed in many movies, often which show the downfall of family relations in her absence.  Just as every daughter longs for her father and every son needs the affection of his mother, all grandchildren want that relationship that they many other enjoy with a woman often called Big Momma.

This isn’t a story of Big Momma. That would be more of her oldest sister, Anna Lee, who never left Winona.

Matter a fact, if my description of Big Momma is accurate, then the title that an old friend gave to my grandmother after being in her company a few times, is more than befitting: G-Momma. It’s perfect. My grandmother was a fucking G ! 

This is a story of my grandmother. I can’t tell everything about her, but there are some great highlights and straight dopeness that are worth sharing in a blog short. Netria Parker Marlin. I wonder why she didn’t have a middle name. Parker was her maiden. I’ve written poems about her in the recent years. I’ve had memories of happenstances with situations that seemed to foreshadow all that has come to pass. I decided, after staring at my grandmother who seemed to be worlds away in her eyes, that I would tell a story she can no longer tell. I would tell who she was to me. I would tell why it hurts to see her forget us all, but mostly her own life. I will speak of a life, lived to the fullest extent she knew how that I remember in bigger pieces each day. My grandmother has Alzheimers…or something that has altered her brain. It seems permanent. God always has the final say…but who am I to say God is not speaking now? So, what I know, I want to share. I want to immortalize a woman who was anything but Big Momma…

…but every bit my grandmother.

I never called her grandmother. Or granny.  In fact, I called her Netria. I remember it being a big deal to some and non-big deal to others. She didn’t seem to mind and when people questioned her, I don’t really remember her response but it didn’t result in much change. I vaguely remember her having a conversation with me about it and I wonder now if it ever hurt her feelings, as that was never my childish intent. I was just a spoiled child I guess, I don’t know. Eventually, I stopped calling her anything. I don’t remember if someone told me to or if it was a natural progression, but I stopped calling her by her first name and I never referred to her as anything else. I just spoke to her. I talked to her and she talked back to me and never a word was spoken about me not calling her grandmother. I knew her as my grandmother, I just didn’t reference that in speaking to her. And truthfully, it didn’t even fit her. She wasn’t Big Momma, she wasn’t grandmother, or granny…she was G-Momma. And I wish I had been introduced to that term long before my adulthood. I think she may have loved it.

While Big Momma was up in her kitchen snapping green beans, my grandmother was in the basement gambling. I don’t quite remember exactly why she chose to move to Indianapolis, but it was told to me that she always a strong-willed child who didn’t cry when got whoopings and was the second oldest of five. She was a soaring 5’9 with silky hair, smart, played basketball and was the Prophesies of her graduating class. When she came here, she worked first at the Finance Center out in Ft. Harrison and then moved on to being a postal carrier, as well as her first and only husband, Kenneth Marlin (my mother’s father). She was a talker, a mover, and a shaker. My grandmother knew or came to know everydamnbody. She would make friends at the Goodwill because we would go so often that the cashiers would recognize her and she was always good for striking conversation. We’d go to the  Goodwill, or the “GW” as she called it, and come out with bags of stuff for a few twenties that went partly in the register and partly in the cashier’s pocket. She never knew a stranger and I didn’t fully grasp that term until I realized my grandmother knew the entire city. My grandfather was long gone when I was born. I split my time between the women in my family – my mom, my grandmother and my two aunts. There were no babysitters or cousins, sisters or younger aunts. I was never around kids unless they were friends I made and brought with me. I wasn’t a grown child in my attitude, but I kicked it hard with the adults.

The day she buried my grandfather

And the adults were enjoying the primes of their lives. My grandmother was the gambler. She had a basement outfitted for sleepovers and poker playing. Her kitchens smelled of large trays of food cooked in other kitchens and brought over for dinner and snacks throughout the night. I never dreaded going over there. It was live. There was music sometimes, but mostly it was a house filled with poker plays, arguments, laughter, and television. There were people everywhere but no danger was ever present. Folks would await their turn at the table upstairs, and that’s where my grandmother would tell ghost stories and let me play in her hair. I’d brush her hair until she got tired of me brushing it and then I’d put it in a ponytail. The first one never worked right so I’d have to take it down, brush it and try again. I smile as I type this, remembering those moments my grandmother allowed me to be her stylist and her my babydoll with the pretty hair.  Her house was always popping, for lack of better word. There were cars everywhere, parked on each side of the street and in her driveway. Out of seven days a week, she had card games probably roughly five. I remember B.R. had every Thursday no matter what. I don’t know how the exchange of money went but I know my grandmother was pulling in what the young folks call ‘racks’ or whatever. She had to be!!! She was good at being a hustler and she would take me to the P Shake house with her. I was her partner in many ways and it’s baffling how long it took me to realize that. She let me work her card games – I would bring the poker players their coffee and Pepsi in exchange for them giving me tips. It was exciting to me because I could glimpse into the basement at all the money on the table, witness the cussing and the cigarette smoke and take sips out of their pop on the way down.

These beautifully sometimes haunting memories are ones that I could only get from experiencing life alongside her. She may not recall it anymore, but I do.

She was no Big Momma, but she every bit my grandmother.

She loved pictures. My grandmother had a photo of everything and everyone. She had tons of collages, frames and photo books, all full and stuffed with multiple photos in each sleeve. She kept long wallets that had lots of plastic pockets, and for every credit card and ID card, there were photos of random people she knew…and me. She always had pictures of me – they were in her books, her wallet, and her house.  For everything I think is so uniquely drawn about me, I come to realize it originated in my roots somewhere along the lines. I get my love of photos from my grandmother. She kept a camera and was always ready to pull it out and get a new picture. If I were to go to her house today, pictures would be everywhere. Her in Vegas or back in Mississippi.  My school pictures. Pictures of the man I called my grandfather, someone I think she loved more than she could bear to stand. Pictures of Candy, one of her best friends and also a transgender. I’ll put it in my book about how me and my friend Shakira discovered she was formerly a man when we were just 8 and 9 years old. That was a big deal back then and we thought we’d discovered something no one else knew, and had no idea how to sit on our ‘secret.’ It made for a laughter filled story G-Momma would later share with folks.

Her house had red and gold velvet wallpaper. I used to enjoy running my fingers up the velvet part because of how it tickled me. Her living room had red velvet like couches with a gold and red glass table that had mini chairs that fit around it. It was elegant. Beautiful. I’m sure my mom has it locked in a human size safety deposit box now. There is no way something like that is available now. It was full of gold pillars that held the glass up and I used to use them for my Barbies.

G-Momma told ghost stories that honestly used to scare the shit out of me. I still remember the story about the man with the wooden leg who she could hear walking down a hallway and how my grandfather still turned the doorknob every day at 4:30 pm, when he was coming home from work. She used to say that some spirits don’t know they are dead yet. She and her friends would trade tales of hauntings and occurrences and I would sit and listen without showing signs of fear. She always had a story for something. I never thought those stories would end. She had a stellar memory and spoke the last four digits of a phone number in blocks: “forty-seven, thirty-six.” Singling out numbers was foreign to her.

She was a night owl who slept hard in the day time and was wide awake gambling or reading the latest national enquirer and counting change in her bedroom. She varied on how she liked to keep her attention. McDonald’s breakfast was our thing. She’d wake me up at 5 in the morning after the last poker player went home and ask if I wanted to go get something to eat. There was also this spot called Fast Eddies, that used to be at 38th and Meridian where the old Subway sat. It was a diner style joint and of course, my grandmother was friends with everyone, including Fast Eddie. My love of waffles came from that spot. My love of peach cobbler came from us eating at Marbles all the time, where again there were no strangers. Either we got the peach cobbler…

…or we’d b-lined around the block to Long’s Bakery, where we would joke about needing to put the box in the trunk so we didn’t eat them all.  She loved Cadillacs and she loved her friends. My fearless G-Momma kept a personal arsenal of guns. When her friend was robbed at gunpoint at 500 Liquor store, she started going up there, me in tow and keeping watch with her gun in the armrest. I really was her buddy. The more I type, the more time I realize that we spent together and all the things we did. She taught me to play 5 & 7 Card Stud, Fifty-Three, and several other card games. We’d gamble on the floor for pennies.

My mom told me she wrote me a letter when I was born because she wasn’t going to be in the hospital to see me into the world. She was at the Mayo Clinic prepping for brain surgery that would cause her to lose her teeth, but little to nothing else. Her dentures had a gold on the side and I used to love it when she wore them. She kept long fingernails on one hand and a gold rings on her finger, or hanging from a necklace. The nursing home recently cut her nails because she’s a bit combative and they don’t want to get scratched. I get it but….yeah. I’ve never seen that one hand with those short nails before. It was like slicing off one of the lasting pieces of her. G-Momma was that woman that had a gold nugget and diamond ring on her pinky. It was a money sign to be exact and both she and my grandfather had one. When he passed, she wore them both. She didn’t have a hood mentality or talk with broken English. She just …was who she was. A lady who loved the blues and Al Green, and who may or may not have been on the run late in age.

She had throat surgery when I was a young kid. I can’t remember what her original voice sounds like as the operation did something to her vocal chords and caused her to speak in a raspy but loud whisper still to this day. It’s a distinct voice that can’t get as loud as she sometimes pushed it to be but when she was making a point, or if she were upset, best believe you knew. She didn’t cook. She wasn’t Big Momma. She had can goods in her oven and her favorite things were beans, bacon, an egg scrambled in the pan, steak and her famous hot-watered cornbread that used to look like pancakes and taste like a buttery offering from Heaven. She had a washer and dryer in her basement, but she mostly bagged her clothes up in Hefties and dropped them off at the laundromat. She didn’t mind paying for what she didn’t want to do. She was responsible. She loving. She was beautiful.

She wasn’t Big Momma, but she was my damn G-Momma and that was enough.

My grandmother never showed emotions. I watched her outlive so many of the poker players that I had come to know as family. I saw her lose love several times and not bat a tear. When my grandfather passed, I wondered how she could sit in front of the pew with such grace and class. She was dressed up the way he would have wanted to see her: in a mink coat that drug the floor. I can’t remember much else about her outfit but Crown Hill was so full of people that they were out in the hallway in bunches. She floated around to everyone, stopping for conversations and laughs. When the service started, I watched her. There was no emotion the public could see. When I spoke, which was my first time ever doing a poem or speaking in public, I could tell she was proud. I made her laugh and smile with my words and I could feel it. Thinking back, I can still feel how we connected. She had to be devastated…but didn’t wear the types of sleeves that would show it. She also never said I love you, until right before she stopped remembering me. It was jolting when she said it because I had never heard it from her. “I love you too”, I awkwardly said back to her on the phone one day back in about 2013 or 2014. I realize now, as she began to fade into a new Netria, God allowed the old Netria to give out a phrase that would come to be cherished like gold.

She was a resilient woman. I could give many stories on how she bounced back repeatedly from what would otherwise put others down for the count. But I have to stop the blog right?

My grandmother. Netria Parker Marlin. She used to smile a lot. Laugh. Talk on the phone for hours. She loved boosters (hot people as she called them) and a good deal. She loved dogs and a good spontaneous trip back to Winona. She could cuss and dress well but she preferred to be barefoot, outside on her patio drinking a Pepsi. There was once a time I thought she didn’t love me or that I wasn’t good enough for her. She used to have this saying that hurt me to hear but she let it be known every chance she got that “I could have made something of Kendria.” I didn’t understand it. Well, when I was dancing I did, but after my life began to change and I started to show myself with great purpose, I couldn’t figure out why she always said that. I get it now. She was old school, from the backwoods of Mississippi. She saw something in me and she saw me quitting everything I started. Everything I tried, I was good at. Piano, Karate (which we took together for a couple of classes), dance, cosmetology; I was good at everything I put my mind to but I quit it all. I chose a different path, consciously. I became the girl that cried “I’m Great” but had yet to stick with anything long enough to prove it.

Until poetry. My grandmother used to come watch my performances. She was one of my first fans. Once she saw I was relentless with it, she started to pay attention and when she heard me, she wanted everyone to hear me. She wanted to contact Oprah and get me on her show. She wanted the poker players to hear the “God Are You Listening” poem that I wrote early on which included some lines about her. She was one of the people at one of my first features, held at The House in Glendale before there was a Target. She rocked with me. That saying, although hurtful for me, wasn’t meant to hurt me. She just wanted me to see my greatness and follow it upward. I miss going to the Goodwill with her. And hearing her blow outside instead of parking, getting out and knocking...like normal folks would. I miss walking into her house and the door never being locked. I miss the sounds of the poker players and all the drama they brought with them.

I miss my grandmother.

She didn’t need to be Big Momma. And she never intended to be. She was simply Netria Marlin. She never remarried after my mom’s dad but she loved again and again. She had a smile that I miss seeing and she didn’t like to sit still. Neither do I. In fact, sitting still is something I still work on doing. I’m a night owl like she was and while I never fell in love with Cadillacs, I am able to drive across the country without batting an eye because of our frequent 9-hour trips back to Winona, MS. She loved her sisters. I miss our patio sessions where I would look up in the sky and watch the planes flying over while listening to conversations between her and my aunt that often times included belly aching laughter.

I miss her.

But …..

I can’t ever say I didn’t experience her.

And what an experience she was.

Her love was not traditional. It may have even been hard to detect at first. But looking back, I know she loved me. She loved us all.

She loved us like the G she was.

She was no Big Momma,

That one time we accidentally dressed alike.

But she was every bit my Netria.