I give advice that I don’t follow. Good advice. Change-how-you-look-at-yourself-and-the-world-advice. Call it fear. Call it poetry. Call it a funeral pyre. Call it late for dinner. Call it bad manners. Call it whatever you want. I just don’t follow it. I’m tired of metaphors and analogies. My story’s not unique. None of our stories are that unique.
Let me write you a letter. Let me share my thoughts. They’re not all bad thoughts. Well……they’re not good, but they’re mildly interesting. In June, I took a week-long break from social media that stretched into two months because social media is a mind-numbing cesspool of unoriginal thought that does not lessen the impulse to hurl myself from a cliff. Thanks to both WAP and Kamala Harris, I felt like I hadn’t missed any time at all. From the classy black women like Michelle and Obama to the “ghetto, ratchet” women like Cardi and Megan to the long dead women like Harriet and Rosa, I feel secure that, no matter what happens, the hatred of black women will still be very much in vogue.
Thank you for making sure while the world turns inside out, some things will never change. I get it. We all love to masturbate. It releases stress, and there’s plenty of stress to go around in 2020. Let’s all agree that you really don’t have to do it overtly in the public square during our social-political debates though. Stop making yourself feel good in front of a horrified audience, captive in their own homes, and go back to watching your nine streaming sites and baking your fifteenth loaf of bread.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m not great at parties. I’m not great at selling people things they need or want. I’m not great with needing people. I’m more comfortable serving than being served. More comfortable encouraging than being encouraged. More comfortable loving than being loved.
From childhood adultification to teaching to present-day work in the nonprofit field, I’ve been a caregiver. The shoe fits. I know what to do when others cry or shout or have a panic attack. With my hands, my words, my spirit, I have a semblance of the right action to take. Out of the three friendships I’ve left, all three offered a steady influx of companionship that gradually waned to a trickle because they didn’t need me anymore.
Most times I don’t mind (or even notice) that I’m initiating most of the conversations or hangouts, but this year has been awful for noticing that if I didn’t talk to friends, we’d never talk. Now that I’ve noticed it, I hate it. I’m not like those who can up and jump ship when they realize they’re the only ones rowing in the boat. I’ll try to withdraw only to find that I physically can’t.
When I’m the one who needs affection, I seek it out and once I find it, I don’t know how to let go when it’s no longer there. More disposable than indispensable, which is fine, until it wasn’t. Then, whew boy, it is tough to wrangle my heart down and go “No, you know you don’t matter that much. We’ve been over this 47 fucking times.” There’s an approved visa application to Barbados in my email at this moment, and I still probably won’t leave because of people’s fears. Even as the country burns down and sends a harm reduction team to the primaries.
A friend told me, “You need to let others take care of you sometimes.” which is valid and also completely foreign to me.You can’t let people take care of you without being vulnerable, and you can’t be vulnerable without incurring pain from someone. Mess is an unfortunate side effect of being human. Most people have been perfectly fine with the caregiver side of me, and more than a few don’t know what to do when the person who usually encouraged, made them laugh, and fights for them doesn’t have much fight to give. Those who have taken care of me have done so on extremely conditional terms. Even when I naturally meet conditions, it gets tiring. Exhausting. Just because balancing comes easier to me doesn’t mean it’s not still a tightrope.
I’m not sure why this trait persists. Disentangling personality from upbringing from trauma from habit is, if not impossible, downright difficult. I do know I don’t like needing people more than they need me. I don’t like wanting people more than they want me. Right now, there are two people I want to talk to more than I should at any given moment, and I don’t know how to feel about that so I’m feeling nothing.
Still no death can quell the hunger. I’ll be resurrected in an idea that sets flame to the paper. Even as I cry to the dirt, to the sky. Even as my knees are bloodied and my breaths grows ragged. I wish my memory wouldn’t be anything but a pyre, and somehow, the fire seems enough for me. Try to break fire. Try to bend it. Try to crush it or tear it apart. You’ll be repaid in singed fingers and scorched eyebrows.
I suppose I’ve been spoiled by mythology and fairy tales into thinking there’s a grand purpose, an invisible sheen of magic humanity possesses. We don’t, and I wish this quest for meaning wasn’t so hardwired into me. Into us. I wish we’d let the universe rest already and stop begging it for answers way past our bedtime. I wish I’d stop looking for grand magical epiphanies. Accept life in its dullness, its temporary moments of wonder between the long mundane stretches.
This isn’t real writing. It’s a diary entry and I usually don’t publish these rambles, but who cares if these words have no weight? Almost none of my writing does. It’s just been carefully crafted and selected, painstakingly edited and published with my heart in my throat. This piece? I’m writing in bed, and after I hit publish, I’ll close the laptop and go to sleep.