Monthly Archives: June 2016

Blasts

WecantbetogetherbuttheworldisburningandlifeissoshortandtakenfromyousosuddenlyandIfeelsadandalsoscaredandIwanttoreachouttoyoubutIknowthatIcant.

Please, comfort me.

At the top of their stairs is a wall of bookshelves. It used to be like a house library, except filled with children’s books. The kind of children’s books that aren’t necessarily classics, but ones that every child should read. A collection of all the stories you vaguely remember, only it’s been such a long time that you aren’t sure whether the books exist, or if you made up their ideas. And then suddenly, you see the book in front of you at the bookshelf, you understand that everything was real, and your memories transport you back to that time period. The last time I was here, I found the Crestomanci chronicles. The last time I was here, I was by myself, and it was three years ago, and William hadn’t overdosed. Most of the books are gone now.

At the top of the stairs is a shrine.

I am facing photo after photo of the dead brothers. I’m even in one of the pictures. Edward’s arm is around me, and we are smiling into the camera. It’s Christmas of 2010, the year I caught onto his alcoholic and anorexic tendencies enough to worry, without knowing to be alarmed. It had still been a great Christmas. They used that photo in his memorial service. Proof of how apparent it was to everyone that we were connected. My aunt stays looking out.

I can look at our photo, and be okay. I know that he isn’t around, and I truly believe he’s in a better place. But what they left behind. Two parents who don’t like each other, are miserable together, but stay together for the benefit of their only surviving child, the daughter who graduated, who broke into tears during her graduation speech and then pulled herself together to thank her family and friends. I look at a picture of William, young enough to still be blond, before his hair naturally darkened to brown, smiling and pretending to work as he sat next to his father at his desk. It’s connected to a picture of baby Will on Uncle Steve’s shoulders.

“It was never so clear,” another cousin would tell me, “Two parents who absolutely had favorite children. Aunt Lori found Will’s body. She lay down next to him and told him to take care of Edward. Her speech at his funeral was all about how they could look after each other now. And Steve’s was just a really specific memory of Will. It was hard to watch.”

“No one chooses to be born,” Will said, at Edward’s funeral. “So I guess it’s good he got to choose when he died.”

I wonder if Will chose his death. It’s hard to tell. He’d been clean for a minute. It seemed like he was turning his life around. And then

I look at the happy babies with their happy parents. I look at the cards from their funerals. I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of, What’s the point?

You’d think it would be hard to go into Edward’s room, but it’s surprisingly easy. It’s also right next to the stairs. His cats lurk around like ghosts. They don’t run away from me like they used to; they just watch me as I sink into his couch. I wonder what that means, and then I try to stop myself from romanticizing the situation. Maybe our energies just match. We’re all still hiding together. Them from the family, and me from the babies.

What’s the point of crafting a life with someone, if that person will hurt you? Love fades, love sours. I guess that’s why people have children. So there will always be something to love. But then even when white, even when wealthy, your children can still grow up to hate themselves, and their lives, and maybe even you, a little bit. And they’ll leave you, and your suffering will only increase.

I guess it doesn’t have to be like this. These are just the examples I’ve been given.
I cry, silently, and Edward’s cats watch me.

“You know, Lucas believes in the same things we do,” their sister is telling me. “Like gay rights. He knows that Edward was gay.”

Lucas is her crush. They’re friends, and she wants more. I wonder if she knows about Orlando, and how she feels. Maybe Edward didn’t kill himself. Maybe he and Pat were just on vacation and got shot up for their orientation.

She shows me a picture of him.

“He’s pretty cute,” I say, and she side-eyes me. “But don’t worry, he’s all yours.” I put my hands up.
“Hey!” She says. “You take my guy, and I’ll take yours.”
“You couldn’t, even if you tried,” I tell her. “I don’t have a guy. I don’t think we can even hang out very much anymore.”
“Why not?” She wants to know.
“Because, it’s painful.”
“When I’m with Lucas,” she tells me. “It’s painful. But I keep spending time with him anyway, because he’s important to me. We have a connection. And I think that one day he’ll realize it.”
“But that’s why it’s painful,” I say. “We know we have a connection. He already realized. And it just gets stronger the more time we spend together, but he isn’t ready for it. It’s a tease.”

The next morning I wake up, and fifty people have been killed, with fifty-three injured, at a nightclub. Brown people. Gay people. I spend so much time worrying about my future, and theirs are gone. Taken.

America is burning out, and we don’t have very many friendly places to go, and hundreds of legitimate refugees have been and are drowning. Does anyone have a future? Does anything matter?

This is when I want to run back to Niles. Because with all the uncertainty, why would you not want to hold onto something that is sure? Like the fact that two people are in love. And if the future isn’t guaranteed, then why even think about it? I consider the guys who currently, actually, want me as a girlfriend, and wonder if it’s something I even want. Not because of him, or them, but because of myself and where I currently am, home for a few weeks before going somewhere and becoming unreachable, preparing to start work, trying to get it together enough to move into the city. Being In Love with one person, sure, but also loving different people in different parts of the world. Do I actually want to be in a strictly committed relationship right now? Not really.

But I do want to be in love, and be a priority, and not have to worry about seeing someone I care about hooking up with someone who isn’t me at a party. I want to be able to call someone when I’m down, and have them make me feel better, if only through distraction. I want to nestle in bed with someone and make them feel good. I want to hold hands, and feel safe, and truly believe that we’ll be together when we’re meant to.

So what does that mean? What is the healthiest option? For me, for him, for now, for the future that might not even be there?

And all I can think about now is how there was a moment last year, during our big fight, when we almost hooked up. I’m not sure he’s even aware of that, but it happened. I looked at him, and in the midst of all my anger and sadness I felt this overwhelming attraction, and I knew that if we hooked up, I would enjoy it. But I also knew that if we did hook up, that would be the end of us. So we didn’t, and here we are now. Now, I don’t know if we’re at the end, if I’m supposed to kill my internal flame, or if I’m supposed to run on hope that eventually things will work out. If one of us got shot tomorrow, would the other have regrets?

I’ve been exercising my arms, like he told me to. I can do fifteen pushups now. Next week, I’m going for twenty.

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Lions

All around my bed, roaring at me.

I need to be sleeping. I need to be awake in four hours, getting ready to take care of a bunch of sixth graders at their school camp in the woods. Privileged children, who don’t see many black people and don’t know how to move bugs off the seats of their canoes. I’m going to expend a lot of energy this week. I need to charge.

But these lions, man. They’re keeping me up.

“The way triggers were explained to me,” my professor/friend said, “Is that it’s like you went on a safari, and you were in what you thought was a safe location, so you left your vehicle to take pictures. And when you turn around to head back into your vehicle, the other people on your trip start shying for you to run. So you run and you make it into the vehicle and you realize that a lion had been stalking you, and was right behind you. You’re in safe, but it did swipe and catch the back of your leg. And when you feel this, you go into shock.
Your trip ends, and you come home safely. But then a while later, you see a house cat, and suddenly you get scared. It’s just a cat, but to you it’s a lion. And you remember feeling your leg get swiped. And a bit after that, you see a jungle show on TV, and even though the wrong cats are present, you still see lions. So you never know when the lions will pop up, but there they are, and this is what you’ll have to deal with.”

I want to be shielded. I want someone to wrap me in their arms until the lions go away. Rock me until I fall asleep. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

Sometimes I feel like what happened to me will prevent me from being comfortable or close with anyone, ever again. Then I fear that even if I start to get close with someone, the rape will still find a way to complicate everything. My physical non-virginity and simultaneous mental discomfort and unfamiliarity with sex is too much for the red-blooded potential partners of my age. My need for stability, support, and closeness is too confusing an ask, and I’m not even sure I’d trust it if it came to me.

Strangers can hurt you.

Friends can hurt you, too.

No place is safe.

No place is off limits, either. A dumpster?? He raped that girl behind a dumpster?? The lions get closer, and I’m in the aggravating position of being thankful that at least my rapist was considerate enough to use his own bed. Even though I’m sure he was considering himself more than he was me. It was his house, after all. He didn’t really need to take me anywhere else. I probably fell down, too, like she did.

Her sister blames herself. I wonder if my friends blame themselves? I know one of them does, a little.

“I was with you earlier that night,” he told me. “We went out together.”
“And we left each other hours before the bar crawl ended,” I told him. “I went to his house with completely other people.”

The others, who were there, and then suddenly gone. I don’t blame them, really. I wonder if they ever thought to blame themselves, though. I wonder if things would have ended differently, had they still been there the only time I managed to get out of the room, before more nameless liquid was poured down my throat.

I still have images, shadowy, but there. Like snapshots in my mind. Projected like strobe, pieces of what happened. We don’t need to go over them. I just need to keep up the clicking of the keyboard, until the lions go away.

This is the time things get dangerous for me. This is when my mind turns into a spider and climbs to the ceiling, spinning webs of doubt and sorrow and fear and terror, which are actually quite different. Fear is the pulsing feeling; terror makes me think I won’t be able to move again. Only my fingers, as the spider webs continue to loop over me.

Will I be alone forever?
Will I ever be chosen in a way that doesn’t hurt me?
Is my only value to the world my body and energy?
Should I expect anything other than hurt?
Where does the line fall between overly dramatic, and simply truthful?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and considering them makes me so tired. Too tired to keep going. Do I want to keep living?

Maybe I shouldn’t ask that question.
Maybe I should just sleep.

Turn the roars into lullabies, let them mount until it’s overwhelming, and then pass out from the sheer exhaustion of stress.

Distractions

Lean more into being a person.

Wake up to Odesza. Play her while you get out of bed, go through your routine, make your bed, and get breakfast.

Open your windows, open your shades. Look three backyards over, to where men are re-roofing a garage. Remember that they can probably see you, too.

Exercise.

Talk to friends. Talk to family. Talk to strangers.

Make yourself open to new things. Let someone take you to Aladdin on Broadway. Marvel at the genie. Laugh at Iago. Appreciate how many beautiful black women are on stage, even though their roles are secondary and they end up serving a white woman. Dance a little as you walk.

Work on being comfortable with strangers.

Go back and forth on the black hole bridge in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. Lean over the edge and feel like you’re high.

Go to the Harlem Jazz museum.

Consider competing for Miss Harlem Shake, even though you’d be disqualified for living in Westchester. Maybe next year, when you’ve moved.

Seek out the scariest attractions at the amusement park. The rush will make you forget who you are for a minute.

Don’t react when you see that the white French girl in your house now has box braids. Talk her through how to take care of her hair.

Laugh about it with your friends. Be thankful that she’ll be back home when her hair starts to unravel.

Reflect on what you did while you didn’t think you were alive.

Think about cousins when you want to cry, and trust that you’re going in the right direction.

Listen to Spotless Mind on repeat. Connect to Jhené Aiko’s character.

Try not to analyze your situation. Try not to think about the future.

Be kind to the stranger on the train who wants to know what you’re reading. Show him the blurb. Let him buy you dinner. Listen to him talk about God. Ask him not to call you a female. Shake his hand.

Think about angels.

Think about friendships.

Try to figure out what you’re waiting for.

Sleep.

Letting Go

Somewhere, his soul is free. I feel it.

I’m walking with Ramses, and he asks me if I’m happy. I tell him no, but at least I’m not sad anymore.
“Were you sad?” He seems surprised.
“Yes,” I tell him. “I spent about five-six years being sad.”
“When did you stop?”
“Maybe a month ago.”

I tell him about Edward, but it’s different this time. This is the first person with whom I can share my story, and end it knowing that I’m in the right place. My spot. I recognize the tragedy of what I’m saying, while simultaneously recognizing the beauty of the way the setting sun pierces through the bushes of flowers that surround us. The shadows that play across our winding path, the leaves at our feet, and the trees overhead. I take everything in, and love it. This can be a paradise. For a moment. I’m glad to be here, and I’m glad he’s free.

We all possess our own magics.

I think I turned Edward into a crow all those years ago. I think my pain pressed his into the crow’s body. I didn’t want him to be at peace until I could be, myself. It was selfish. I knew it was selfish the whole time, but that didn’t help me let go.

And then, in dealing with XXXXX, I did. And then I found Ramses, whom I don’t love, but I think I could, at least as a friend. And he told me about spiritual planes, and physical bodies becoming ethereal, and seven layers of existence. I’m not sure how deeply into all that I can understand, but I do believe that Edward is now finally past the physical. His crow is gone, and I can smile about it. Thinking of him makes me happy, for the first time since he left.

I held onto Edward because I didn’t have faith that I would be able to survive otherwise. The torture of grieving him was all that I knew, and I figured miserable existence was better than the worse existence I imagined without him.

I am a coward.

Now, I wish that I had let go sooner.

I let go of Edward on my birthday, and for a minute, bad love made me regret it. I do not want to be miserable holding onto love, purely because it is the only love I have known, and I don’t know what I’ll be without it. We need to grow. We need to be free.

He will always be in my heart, just as Edward is, but maybe the best thing for now is for me to let go of him. I’ll see Edward again, and XXXXX and I can always find each other.

I didn’t cry yesterday. We have progress.

Inviting a Good Love/What I Need

On the anniversary of my rape, he wanted to have sex. And I did too, a little, but not enough to overcome the feelings of fear and foreboding and discomfort. I couldn’t.

In 2015, I said no. And no, and no, and no. And when it was clear that I was going to continue saying no, he stopped asking. And forced it anyway.
In 2016, I said no. And no, and no, and no. And when it was clear that I was going to continue to say no, he stopped asking. And turned away from me, calling me a tease, blaming his frustrations on me, telling me that he regretted the time we had spent together because it prevented him from sleeping with other people.

I needed comfort. I got a bed partner who resented my inaccessible body.

I switched. Stopped thinking about myself, my triggers and traumas, and began to worry about him, and his mood, and how I could make it better.

Why do I always end up with an angry man of color? Is it my role to be burned by someone else’s rage time and again?
Is it my duty, as the sad girl, to weave my grief into blankets that will cocoon the angry man and absorb his pain until they burst all over me?

I am tired.

On my birthday, I made the mistake of showing him how upset I was that I had waited on him for dinner for so long, the restaurants were closed by the time he finally showed up.
“I don’t feel comfortable; Imma head out,” he told me.
“But it’s my birthday,” I pleaded, “And my party is tomorrow. How am I supposed to host people, how am I supposed to keep everyone happy and light, and have a good time? How can I do that when you’ve made me so sad? How can I project the positive energy that people will want from me?”
“You’ll do it the way you always do it,” he told me before he left.

The party was great. Everyone but him said so.
“I haven’t felt this happy in a long time,” our friend told me, and she continued to dance even as everyone else was leaving.

“You’ve had the best parties of the week,” the DJ told me some days later. “Your birthday was so much fun. It was the favorite.”
“Well, I had you DJ-ing!” I told him.
“It’s not that,” he said. “Everyone came for you. They came because they all love you.”

I know that people have love for me, because I work hard to spread love to them. I care about their wellbeing, before my own. Sometimes, I think about the Mrs Who, Whatsit, and Which in “A Wrinkle in Time”, and try to emulate them. Their characters are magical beings, former stars who exploded to bring more light into the world, in a fight against the Dark. When I’m with others, especially when I bring people into spaces I have created, I try to explode positivity at them. It’s why I’m an introvert; I need to recharge afterward. It’s funny: most of campus thought I was so positive, but my housemate believes I am one of the most negative people in the world. As an actually positive person himself, his energy was integral in most of my recoveries. Thank you, Nkosi. I love you.

You know what’s detrimental to recharging? Being in love with someone who drains you even more. Angry men of color will turn the humanity I’ve accepted into a shell.

I’ve spent the past ten days reflecting, and crying, and aching. The pain is becoming dulled, the tears becoming less heavy, finishing more quickly. I stopped crying today and went to greet my sister and her mother on the street. I hugged my father when I came home. I allowed myself to chat with my own mother. Wished some people happy birthdays. Reconnected with other friends, gave time to other guys.

It hit me that if I was in a supportive love, one in which we simultaneously grew, charged each other’s batteries, trusted and supported each other, we could do so much more sustainable good for the world.

That’s what I want. That’s what I need. I wouldn’t have to explode and give out. I could just emanate.
A silly part of me holds out hope that someday, this love will evolve into that. The realistic side of me knows this will not happen any time soon.

So in the meantime, come find me, love. Please. I need you, and I’m waiting for you. Help me to grow.