Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Stupid Girl's Guide to Getting Over an Ex: An Easy 4 Year, 173 Step Process PART 1

My friend Olu posted this poem about me on his blog called "The Moral of the Story is..." . It's acutely painful. Why? Because it's entirely accurate. Alot of facts with a little bit of fiction thrown in. I'll let you decide which is which. But for anyone who has ever asked me all my life how I can manage to juggle 4 or 5 men at a time and not feel at all guilty about it, here's why. Yes, I have been known at certain times in my life as a sort of "man-eater". Yes I have been known to have a few men in my life at a time that serve different purposes, and yes I have been bold enough to tell them all about each other and dare them to walk. Of all the men I've dated have any of them ever walked when I gave them the option to get out? No. So do I feel bad when I "forget" to call someone back or when I cancel plans with #3 to spend time with #5 because I prefer his company? Absolutely not. Why? Because we are all adults and I gave you your option. It's an open door. You may exit at any time you wish. Just keep in mind this open door is also a revolving one and that your space will be filled pretty quickly. Please don't get upset. Please no letters, phone calls, emails, instant messages, or texts. You have resigned from your position and you have been replaced.

I've never felt bad about leaving because I have always been left. That's all folks.

Get over it.


Now there are many people who have been fired. I live by the pink slip. It is by far the greatest the most powerful piece of paper in the world. I've issued so many pink slips its a wonder my fingers aren't perpetually salmon. And I'm not sorry for that. Not a bit. Because I am nothing if not decisive and very clear about when I am ready to cut you out of my life.

Except for once that is. Which is what Olu's poem is about. He's a genius that boy. I couldn't have put it any better if I possessed his lyrical prowess myself.

So it all comes back to the age old question, "La why are you so focused?" Because focusing on what is coming ahead means you don't have to look back at the people you've left standing confused and means you don't have to risk getting attached to someone who you might not be able to let go of until they kill you from the inside.

Sounds like a pink slip that should have been sent a long time ago.

Monday, July 18, 2005

In an Effort not to be a Complete Loser...

Ok so just a lighthearted pit stop on the way to more depressing ranting soon to come. Please feel free to leave your answers to this questionaire in my comments section... you know where it says "Leave me a kind word! Or any word really..."? Yeah there. Enjoy!!

1. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I have no idea b/c I don't think anyone in the business. Although according to my ex it would have to be Christina Milian. I dunno if that's actually b/c we look similar or b/c he wishes that I looked more like her. Although our heritages are kinda similar so that could help.

2. Why do you read this site? You come to laugh at me don't you?
I got this questionaire from Rae and I read her blog b/c its simply the most insightful, human and hilarious thing on the internet. I can always seem to relate even though I have only had a cancer scare myself. However, I love that whether she recognizes it or not, she hasn't allowed cancer to overshadow her life completely and it encourages me to do the same with those problems I have that seem larger than life. And did I mention the girl is DAMN funny?

3. What is your favorite TV show/movie/book/whatever?
My favorite book is by far White Oleander by Janet Fitch. A close second is Between Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey. I've read them both at least 800 times. My favorite movie is While you Were Sleeping b/c I friggin' love Sandra Bullock. And I am slowly getting addicted to Grey's Anatomy since my 2 favoritest shows of all time, Friends and Sex and the City, aren't on anymore. Ooh and Alias!!! And my favorite CD is Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder.

4. How many days could you last in solitary confinement?
Solitary confinement would be better than sex right now. People suck. However I'd probably last only a couple months if I had to be there without animals or something to write with/on.

5. What CD is in your CD player right now? And don't even THINK about changing it to something cooler before you answer.
My CD player has been shamefully unused since I got my Dell but I've been listening to alot of Sarah Vaughn lately. And some Nina Simone. I've been in a "mood". Oh and You Put a Move on My Heart and Things I Collected both by Tamia

6. What is your best personality trait? Your best physical trait?
My best personality trait is probably that I'm damn funny in dry, Daria kinda way. And I've got to say my ass puts Jennifer Lopez to shame.

7. What is your household like? Are you married? Have a roommate? Have pets? Have kids?
It's just me in my household right now. I'm not married yet but I could be in the next few years or so. I don't have any kids though I wanna have 4 and I don't have any pets b/c NO ONE WILL GIVE ME A PUPPY!!!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Reason # 45,829 Why I Friggin' Love Joy

An excerpt from our text message conversation today as to why there are prostitutes hanging around in the bar at the hotel she works in.


Me: Why do they hang around in the bar? The beds are upstairs.
Joy: Yes but would you want some woman wandering around your floor looking
for horny men? Best to let them come to you.
Me: You're so wise. You'd make a great pimp.
Joy: It would seem so but I'd get tired of slapping at high volume. One slap a day I say.
Me: But if u made enough money couldn't you just HIRE someone to slap the bitches? I mean that's like the ultimate supreme in pimpdom.
Joy: Yes but most new businesses don't have that kind of income for years... hiring a slapper is like hiring a secretary.
Me: Once again you prove to be wise. I kneel and study pimping at your pretty polished feet.


Yes I know what you're thinking. And yes my best friend is cooler than yours. And probably prettier too.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Recreating the Fairy Tale

I love my friend Shani. Of course you don't really know Shani like I know her in as much as that's not necessarily much at all but you might have read her blog, which means you don't really know her well because she doesn't really present all of herself well in it. So, you might be wondering, why then, woman, do you like this girl? Well aside from the fact she's amazingly intelligent, witty, kind, patient of my neurosis, beautiful, talented and gentle, my dear Shani always knows exactly what I'm in search of. As I've said before, the girl just has the perfect timing.

Shani sent me this quote:

"I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me."

- Anna Quindlen


And I just love it.

I'm in a transition period at this point, seeking somehow to balance who I was with who I have become and find the perfect meeting place between the two which will allow me to become who I am to be. It's strange because I feel like this transition has been going on forever. Or at least the last few years. When I was younger I depended on everyone for everything (because mostly I had to) but I also always seemed to be waiting around for that one thing, that one person, that one element to fall into place and for everything to begin running smoothly from then on.

No such luck.

It never really occurred to me that maybe I could be that final piece that fell into place. The day it finally hit me that I was waiting around on someone to do what I could easily do myself, I was sitting on my porch talking to my then boyfriend. My world had, as it seemed(s) to do often had fallen apart and he was the first person I called. He came rushing over, white horse disguised as a white Altima, to tend to my wounds and sooth my soul. And then a funny thing happened. As he went listened intently to my story of woe, I realized, before he even started his comforting song and dance routine, that I was tired of relaying my stories. I was tired of calling other people to commiserate with followed swiftly by bad ill-given advice. It was about time I started DOING something about being broken rather than just stay content to be broken.

I haven't always been so fiercely independent. Back then I was needy and afraid because I was generally alone in the world. He was to me, that fairy tale we all remember from childhood. The details might vary from each telling and get a little vague but the cliffs notes still read the same; girl falls apart, boy swoops in, saves girl and day, boy and girl live happily ever after with only love to see them through. And boy, of course, always just so happens to be ridiculously rich (a prince no less) and distractingly handsome. And I had this guy. I had my fairy tale wrapped all up in 6 years of togetherness that was far better and lasted much longer than 50% of all marriages in the Unites States.

And then I realized that I didn't want that and my world really came crumbling down.

Oh it wasn't that I didn't want him. It was that I was so goddamn tired on waiting to be saved all the time. So much of my life was spent waiting on that goddamn prince on his white horse that I'd heard so much about that I realized all the time I wasted waiting on him to to get to me and fix my problem, I could have fixed the damn thing myself. And it wasn't so much as he was no longer needed in as much as his capacity changed. I didn't need a savior. I needed a partner. Besides, Disney is just amazing. Who can live up to the hype?

This didn't go over too well.

And that is partly my fault. In my quest to begin to take care of my own demons, I became fiercely independent...
and by fiercely independent I mean completely incapable of letting anyone else do
anything for me.
I was all and completely "anything you can do I can do better" and the bad part was, well, it was true. I am infinitely efficient on my own. But you can see how in a relationship this may not fly. For a man who wanted to so badly to be the one to make me happy, to take care of me, this was like being laid off from a company that you helped build because you were "no longer useful". I never, EVER said this by the way, but I could see how this could be the general perception.

So here I am, 5 years later and tired. Because while I am infinitely efficient on my own, goddammit its just tiring. Trying to find the balance. Some sort of medium between taking care of myself and allowing myself to be taken care of by the people who love me and not fearing that allowing them to be as good to me as I am to them somehow makes me weak or will cause me to grow dependent on someone that might someday leave.

I can't blame him for what happened to our relationship after I decided to be my own superhero. I can't say I necessarily regret taking charge of my life either. But I can say that I'm so very sorry for the kind of man it turned him into...

Friday, July 8, 2005

How Modern Day Technology is Ruining Interpersonal Relationships: a Dissertation


Modern day technology is making me realize that I don't have to actually talk to people. Ever.

No, really. EVER.

Thus ruining all my relationships.

The end.

(And you people thought dissertations were long. Do you see my amazing?)

But no really. Technology is making it completely unnecessary for me to ever have another conversation with anyone EVER.


Take for instance my
sidekick II, which, benevolently bestowed upon me by boyfriend (you know the more I say that the more it seems right), means that I never have to speak to anyone ever again. I mean why actually TALK to someone when I can text message, unlimtedly might I add, forcing them to be brief, concise and to the point, totally doing away with that whole "hihowareyouhowsyourdaywhereareyouwhatsup?" bullshit. I love it. Why talk when I can instant message or email? Why pick up my phone when caller ID tells me who's calling, you can leave a message and I can decide if I wanna call you back. (Screening, btw, is my favorite practice of all time. Better than faking orgasms, really.) ALL of which I can do from this little piece of magic tucked inside my Coach bag (also benevolently bestowed upon me by boyfriend. 21 was a really good birthday.)

Why type out full words when I can abbreviate?

Isn't it ezr 4 me 2 do this instead of typing out long wds that rnt REALLY needed?

I think so.

Why talk to someone when I can go to a website and and do it electronically? Why go to the post office to mail something when I can even arrange to have them pick it up when its convenient for me? That's so nice. And I mean whoever heard of a nice post office worker.

It is sad but true people. I will choose to exercise any of the modern technology at my disposal if it means I don't have to stop what I'm doing to actually LISTEN to you in the moment rather than read an IM dialogue box after I send this email and pay my phone bill online.

Does this mean technology is totally to blame for my complete lack of ability to spell correctly when I'm writing a paper or to actually hold a phone conversation that doesn't involve someone screaming, "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!?" Maybe not. Does this mean that I have grown entirely lazy and a little dysfunctional in society? Probably. But I'm not ready to admit to that yet.

But in my defense, technology is just so COOL. And when I listen to my messages I can always determine if it's urgent or if you're upset and if it is then I'll call you right back and I PROMISE you have my undivided attention.

& if u don't choose 2 leave a message then that's ur fault. wut else do we have technology 4?

Thursday, July 7, 2005

The Greatest Love of All

Someone anonymously posted something on my blog saying I'd had a "pitiful life". And I was like well... ouch. But then I realized that's pretty much how I've presented myself while I have been trying to work out some of my issues using this kind of internet psychiatrist. So I have made the conscious decision to not be so negative in the hopes that if I say positive things that my life will reflect such. (Wishful thinking, I know but fuck you, you goddamn cynics. You're not helping me.) Truth is that I have had a kinda pitiful life but I am also 21, reasonably attractive and exceptionally bright. The truth is that I have my whole life ahead of me and when I graduate in 3 months I have the opportunity to create one of the biggest and most successful careers that anyone in this world has ever seen. (Oooh a fresh wave of anxiety at the thought of graduating and being in the "real world". Deep breath. Trying to hold it together... Ok keeping it movin'...)

So with that brand new apple shiny outlook on life, I decided that maybe its about time to put aside my whiny diatribes about the issues plaguing my soul and talk about something that is really important. Not my first love, or my maybe could be in the future fiance, but my biggest love, the greatest love of all...

My shoes.

(Ha I bet you were waiting for something soul shattering there.)

Aren't those just the most beautiful things you have ever seen? And wouldn't they look so beautiful on my feet? Well most of you don't know because you've never seen my feet but I'm telling you they would. I love shoes. I just LOVE them, just like every other woman I know. But maybe more so. You're now reading words from a woman who owns more than 250 pairs of shoes.

Yes, 250.

So what? You have problems too. And there are worse things to be addicted to right? Right? Am I right?

Don't you judge me. Don't you shoe-shame me!!! (Get it? Well of course not, if you're not addicted to Sex and the City the way I am of course you didn't.)

Remember the episode where Carrie goes to her friends house for a dinner party, they make her take off her new silver Manolos at the door and someone steals them? Then when she calls her friend and asks that she reimburse her the $485 she paid for them, she balks basically saying that it's money wasted and now that she has kids (I guess somehow making her responsible) that money like that on shoes seems wasted? Well I say if someone in your house steals shoes I spent $500 on because I had to take them off as to protect the immaculate cream carpet in your pretentious upper east side abode then you better damn well pay me back and not make me feel bad for loving shoes more than I love your carpet.

Anyway, I digress.

Oooh and these. I just love shoes. They make me more happy than... well sex. (Except with Almost Fiance which is just... well... goddamn I'm a lucky girl.) And I've been lucky enough to have some pretty great sex considering I just started 5 years ago. Whenever I'm having a bad day, or just a day in general, going and buying shoes make me happier. Hell, even trying them on makes me happier. Ahh the power of a nice pair of christian louboutin stiletto boots.

My witty friend Shani posted an entry about being a label whore. I, in my current position of complete label whoredom, recognize that while she tries to wax philosophical about how certain labels produce certain qualities and blah blah BLAH, that she is in the beginning of the throes of label whoredom. And, no matter what it may say about me, I'm strangely proud. That she would know and recognize the true value of say, a real monogram cerises Vuitton bag and a Canal Street knock-off, well it warms my heart. Why? Not because I think being a label whore is such a great thing, but because I'm glad she recognizes quality and the fact that she deserves it.

So at last a note to those (like my boyfriend) who think my fondness of shoes is a little too severe. Who cares?!?! This is about a woman's right... to choose, to have sex with whoever she wants, and to shoes. And if I would like to own a pair of $500 Marc Jacobs mary janes and it makes me happy, who are you to deny me my contentment at 4 inches higher than my diminutive 5 feet 1/2 inches? This is about a woman's right to shoes, and I as an American citizen choose to exercise that right.

LOL.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

On the Other Side of the Gate



When I was a little girl, my daddy worked at night (as he still does) for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. On the weekends and during the summers when I would stay with him, I would beg him to take me to work with him so I could run free around the warehouse and climb large piles of papers and talk to all the employees from all over the world. When he would let me go with him, it was a truly special day, a bright spot in otherwise dull, meaningless days of watching cartoons (yes I was highly dramatic as a child as well). We would drive fast down empty roads in the early hours before dawn, talking and laughing and eating donuts and feeling like the world laid empty at our feet for us to explore.

On these trips, my father would show me the houses that were in the district he oversaw, big, beautiful houses that seemed to loom large on acres of land. To my little eyes they seemed to stretch all the way to the sun with their multiple floors and elaborately built exteriors, the meticulously manicured yards. When there was a house my daddy particularly loved, we slow in front of the massive gate that seemed to be standard around each home and he'd tell me who lived there, what they did, what kinda people they were, what kinda car they drove. He'd always follow this information by telling me that no matter what I had to go to college, had to graduate and do something big with myself and not make the mistake he made of thinking he didn't need college. I, of course, eager to please, agreed. We would drive on letting the thick silence blanket us, until another beautiful house came up at which point the routine would repeat all over again.

At the time, I loved these outings and I tried desperately to retain all the information my daddy gave me in my little 6 year old mind. Whenever we'd pass a house we'd seen before he would ask me, "Who lives here?" or "What do they do?" Sometimes I knew and sometimes I didn't but the underlying message was always the same; "You can have this. This is attainable."

As I got older, I began to resent these trips with my father. Not because of anything in particular that my daddy had done but rather because he always seemed to be on the outside looking in, always just a temporary visitor to these beautiful homes that spoke of people who had "made it", never someone who actually accessed the attainability he was trying to open me up to. It made me sad, it still does really, thinking of my daddy driving down the tree lined streets and maybe contemplating what he could have, should have done. I mean, quite honestly and completely unbiased, my daddy's probably smarter than the majority of those guys, probably works much harder too. And our life is good but as I got older I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe there was to be more for him. This is a man who works 7 days a week, has all his life, has never been anywhere in this world, never even west of Mississippi let alone out of the country. This is a man for whom New York is just a dream he can tell his kids about at bedtime or sell them on in the wee hours of the morning. I mean to live a life and never really have the chance to LIVE your life because you're so busy taking care of everyone else... well I don't know many people that would or could do that. Not at all.

So someone asked me today, "La why are you so driven? I've never seen anyone as ambitious as you." And the truth is you probably haven't. But I am not ambitious in my own right or just to be able to say I have awards on my wall, famous friends and lots of money. I am ambitious, mostly because I promised my daddy I would be. On those morning trips I hold so dear to my heart, he made me promise that I would reach for those things that, at the time, seemed so impossible given my circumstances. And I intend to keep my promise. If somehow, by my own success, I can get my daddy one of those beautiful houses to call his very own, if somehow I can give him a life filled with memories he can cherish besides just the things he got to see his children do, if maybe, my hard work can be a way to get him on the other side of those imposing gates, then really, my ambition seems a small price to pay.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Hegira

"Leaving, after all, is not the same as being left."Anita Shreve The Pilot's Wife


When I was a little girl, right after my parents separated and eventually divorced, no one ever really sat me down and explained to me what was going on. All I knew was that my mother was crying and drinking a lot and my daddy wasn't coming home at night. Hours after my mama would tuck me in bed, I would sneak into the living room and sit in the window. At the time, my daddy worked nights and generally came home in the wee hours of the morning. I sat in the window with this white unicorn I used to have and waited for my daddy to come back home. He never did.


My mama got remarried to a cruel and abusive man a few years later. I hated absolutely everything about him. Sometime after he’d invaded our lives his brother, Kevin, came to live with us. And I loved every single thing about Uncle Kevin. I loved how he seemed to be a giant next to my diminutive three feet but somehow never intimidated me. I loved his loud voice and his jokes and his cooking. I loved the fact that he took the time to talk to me like a person and tell me about his life, the things he had seen and done. He was, for a time, my best friend. One day I came home from school and Uncle Kevin was packing. He told me that he and my stepfather had gotten into a fight and that he had to go away for awhile. He told me he would be back soon. I never saw him again, save once when I accompanied his family on a drive to see him in Atlantic City. I saw him, though my family wouldn’t let me talk to him, sick, and frail, his body emaciated, from the AIDS I didn’t find out about until much later. He looked the same, kind around the eyes, but my Uncle Kevin was gone.

After my mama and stepfather divorced, my mother reacted in the fashion that has made her infamous. She started drinking heavily, disappearing for days at a time. Once again, I had very little understanding of exactly what was going on, just bits and pieces of conversations snatched off the air passed between the hushed voices of my aunts that I was shipped between to stay with the days my mother was gone;

"Don't know where she is...",

"Hasn't even called to check on La...",

"Disappeared",

"Irresponsible...",

"Gone."


At the time, my whole world was my mother. I was simply Earth, revolving around her bright and burning solar presence, my ebbs and flows dictated by her movement. She was all I knew. This was, in fact, the way she had carefully orchestrated it. A sort of “me-and-you-against-the-world” mentality that pitted us against family, friend and foe as though we were the only two in the world being victimized by life. Her being my “sun”, my world went dark for days at a time, moments still and stagnant like swamp water in the summer, and I, not knowing what else one should do when not being dictated by another, sat silent, invisible, bending and folding into the crevices of strange couches and houses, waiting for her to come back to save me from these people outside our world. She came, physically present, but after that she seemed opaque, translucent, a threadbare sheet tossing in the wind, barely there and mostly gone.

I met my first best friend during my time in private school, CJ. She and I became fast friends in kindergarten when we first realized that our darker skin made us different than our classmates with their shiny blond hair like spun silk and blue eyes like spring skies. We bonded over this difference, consoled each other with promises that one day we too would be what was considered beautiful. One day she came to school, shiny tears clinging her smattering of dark lashes, desperate not to run down her cheeks. She didn't really have to say anything because I already knew; she was leaving. We promised to stay in touch, to continue to nurture this friendship grounded in shared strangeness and loneliness. I watched her climb into her family car her last day of school, the feet of concrete growing between us with every step she took like a gray ocean I didn’t know how to swim. She slammed the door and I never heard from her again.

I met a boy through church who wasn't exactly what he seemed to be. He had the heart of a soldier, the mind of a leader, and the instincts of a hustler, a dangerous combination in any mere human. He took care of me in a way I was all but foreign to, provided me with this long held attachment I have to men like him because I know they are loyal. He was, one might say, a “street pharmaceutical distribution agent” and made no secret of the fact that he was harsh to traitors. But he was tender with me. It was never a romantic relationship, he was far too old, but he took care of “babygirl” like I was his sister and made sure that everyone surrounding him did the same. One night we were sitting outside his house, talking about whether or not I wanted to go to college when we noticed a black car crawling down the street, lights out, eerily silent. He barely pushed me inside before shots rang out, clear as bells, the sharp tinkling of metal against metal strangely soothing. Huddled in a dark corner, I drew my knees to my chest and waited for the bells to stop, the sudden bursts of light to fade away. After a loud screech of tires, he burst through the doors, pulled his six foot frame down to the floor with me, cradled me in his arms like the child I was and wiped my tears. He brushed my long hair out of my face and look me straight in the eyes.

"Get OUT," he said to me, his sweet baritone twisted with anger and fear.

He called one of the very few men he trusted me with. He commanded him in a voice I barely recognized. Looking at me in my innocent eyes and he said, "I love you babygirl, more than any man ever will. But don't look for a man like me. But don't settle for a man that loves you any less and any differently than I do."

He walked out of the door, barely a man but still a soldier, guns tucked at his waist and ankle, knife in his pocket. It was the last time I ever laid eyes on him.

In middle school, I befriended a girl, ironically enough with the same moniker, and we bonded through shared misery and troubles. She introduced me, at 12, to smoking, a habit I've kicked but backslide into occasionally. She taught me how to mix hard liquor so that it couldn't be smelled in the air around you, how to burn or cut your skin when there was no internal release for the pressure your heart built up in your head. She took me under her broken and battered wing I, seeking someone, anyone who could swim better than I to save me from drowning, and taught me to be hard, to be mean. She taught me to protect myself from all the people in the world that sought to do me harm (everyone abiding by her standards) and how to inflict swift and finite pain before anyone could do so to me. She was like some strange, intoxicating fruit I had never tasted and I loved the feel of her floating around inside my stomach, turning over her words and her wisdoms. I loved her, wholly and totally as I am prone to doing, because even in her fractured life she somehow managed to make room for me, taught me all the things no one had ever bothered to, taught me to survive. Even though she was, by far, much stronger than I, she was faulty and impaired, someone I could be broken with and not be judged. And I appreciated it. I loved her until the day she got a boyfriend and forgot my number, condemning me back to the solitary life I thought I had been saved from.

When I fell in love the first time, it was because I’d found someone who could love me and protect me with the same kind of flawed ferociousness I was used to. For years, I let him protect me, take care of me, only periodically realizing that I couldn't depend on someone else to be strong for me for the rest of my life. It took me six years to get to the point where I was ready to be different. I never stopped loving him, but I felt it was about time I learn to take care of myself, about time I stopped letting him save me when I knew, deep down, that I had to be capable of saving myself. In all our break ups to find each other again, I never once thought he wouldn’t understand. I never once thought that this beginning of a journey with myself might signal the end of an us. I have never known his love since.

My mother, in her infinite wisdom "fell in love" again, this time with a married man. "La," she told me one morning, all breathless and see through, "this is different. He is different."

I didn't know how to tell her that no man was different, no person was different, and even at 17 this ideal of "different" was as foreign and unreadable to me as Chinese. So I said nothing, nodded and smiled like a mannequin, all the while disgusted with her choice in mate. What slowly began as coming home later and later every night soon stretched into nights of not coming home at all. There was still a part of me, deeply indoctrinated in the religion of us against the world, that worried myself sick when the sun would rise to an empty bed in her bedroom. I’d wait in silence unbroken by a ringing phone to tell me my sun was somewhere, still shining, still breathing. I sat awake nights, a childhood habit ingrained by much of the same circumstance, waiting for her to come home and the nights she did come in, stumbling, reeking of alcohol, cigarettes and sex, I'd quickly run to my room and jump under the covers pretending to be asleep, refusing to let her see how panicked, how concerned I'd been, just in case she came in my room. She never came in to check on me.

In my first college relationship, after a year of possession that felt like love he said, "This is only temporary. I need some time." I believed him. Night after night, I'd leave my door unlocked, waiting for the times when he'd crawl in the bed next to me. Most nights, he never came. And the nights he did, he was so preoccupied, so consumed with everything but loving me, that he might as well had been gone.

The summer after my freshman year in college, my mother went to visit my second stepdad in Houston. We were staying with cousins in Atlanta at the time. She grabbed her suitcase, kissed me on my forehead. On her way out, she yelled over her shoulder, "I'll be back!!!" She never came back. She moved to Houston and came back a few weeks later, briefly, only to retrieve her things. Late one night, I packed up all my things and went to stay with my daddy because my mama had left.

Over Christmas this year, as I'm sitting watching the Disney Channel, "Dangerously in Love" rings on my phone. It's my boyfriend and something is wrong. "I'm getting deployed. I'm going to Iraq." I don't remember much else about that night, many tears, lots of anger and the sinking familiar feeling that I had, somehow, done this before. Trying hard not to be accused of being difficult or not understanding, trying to be selfless and put someone else's feelings ahead of my own, I tried to reason that it wasn't like he was choosing to leave. "I'll be back. I'm coming home." Only time will tell if that's true or not.

I said that all to say that I have found my greatest fear. My greatest fear is being left. Of hanging on to buoys of promises to return that do nothing but carry me further out to sea. My whole life is governed by this fear, everything I do, everything I am or everything I give or carry close, is controlled by the fear of being left. I govern my friendships by it, my relationships according to it, the intensity with which I follow my career goals is fueled by the sheer terror of somehow, even at 21, becoming that same five year old girl again sitting in a window, streams of dawn creeping across my face. I have been left so often that it seems commonplace, standard operating procedure, more so the rule than the exception. And I have so become used to it that I take very little comfort in the presence of others, hold very little stock in relationships because, as I know firsthand, they'll end. In the most natural way, I have adapted into a creature that has mastered the art of leaving first because, after all, leaving is not the same as being left.