Sunday, November 26, 2006

8 Months Ago

"Hey mami."
"Hey."
He kisses my lips. He tastes like his mint mouthwash. I think it's so cute how he "cleans himself up" before I get here.
"What's wrong?" he asks me, his light brown eyes on mine. I'm trapped between him and the door. Seems proverbial. I could run. But he'd catch me.
"Nothing," I reply, averting my gaze to the floor. I can't seem to lie to him. He knows that.
"Liar," he tosses over his shoulder as he grabs my overnight bag and takes it to his room. I look at the door. I could still make a break for it. I close my eyes and follow him. Once I enter the room he closes the door behind me. Before I can blink my face is in his hands. He kisses me again, deeper. He missed me. He brushes my hair out of my face. I've worn it curly on purpose because he mentioned months ago that he liked it.
"You wanna tell me what's up?" He looks me square in my eyes. I shiver and look away. He shakes me. Part of me is thrilled, exhilerated to be so moved, so outta control. Another part of me, a stronger part of me, is terrified to be so exposed. Sometimes I don't want him to see how he affects me.
"I'm good," I murmur. "Is the game on?" I ask, diverting the conversation. He hates when I do this. I can see it in the hard lines that appear in his jaw. He takes pause for a minute. He's debating whether or not to fight with me. I know it. He conceeds.
"Not yet. Change your clothes," he says and leaves the room.
Victory for the time being.

My hands are shaking. I let out all the air I've been holding in a heavy sigh. I'm so stupid sometimes. I want to not be stupid forever.

I change and join him on the couch, my makeup washed off, sweats on, hair pulled up. He touches my face.
"Come here crazy," he says and tucks me under his arm as the whistle for the tip off sounds. He's murmuring in my hair. Stroking the top of my head, running his fingers through the length of my mane, rubbing the back of my neck. The tension starts to leave me slowly. I feel my back loosen, my shoulders, my neck, my temples. He's working on me. I know it. I wanna talk, but I'm just not that kinda girl.

We watch the game like that, me tucked into him, the smell of his cologne getting in my skin, laughing and smiling, talking too much shit. Between plays he showers me with kisses. My cheeks, the top of my head, my lips, my nose, my forehead, my neck, my collar bone. Oh God I love when he kisses my collar bone. I feel his eye lashes flutter against my neck. I'm disarmed. His whispers in my hair some more. I giggle, soft and sweet and feminine and it occurs to me that I haven't heard me this way in a long time.

Hours later he's asleep and I'm watching him. From time to time he puts his fists up to his face, rubs them into his smooth skin before he settles back into sleep. He looks like a little boy. It's like getting a glimpse of what his sons will look like while they sleep. For a second I allow myself to wonder if I'll be around to watch them sleep too.
He wants to name his son after him. Call him Duece. I know that.

I want to wake him up. I want to tell him about my parents, about my family, about my friends. I want to tell him my life story, the joys, the trivial memories important to only me. I want to tell him about me, give him details I've never told a soul. I want to show him my pain, paint him a complete picture of who I am. I want to let him in my head, get him to understand me better. I need him to understand me. Needing him to want me as I am, honestly, makes so much sense. I want to lay out my life for him and invite him to walk the rest of it with me, if he wants.

But I don't. I put my back to the cold wall and pull at the hair at the back of my neck. Like I have for so many nights, I watch him sleep and I smile because I realize I'm so into him that I even wanna know how he sleeps. I laugh at myself. Sometimes I can be so stupid.

Maybe one day I'll wake him up. Maybe one day I'll stop being a coward, living behind the fear that if I let someone see me as I am, completely, honestly, no glitter or gold, that I'll lose them. But not tonight. Tonight, I tuck myself underneath his arm and he curls his body around mine. He wakes up just long enought to kiss the back of my neck and then drift back off. His skin is warm and I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe, he's patient enough with my coldness to thaw me.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Ah HA!!!!

So right after this asshole pulled my dress down in the club, I was standing downstairs at the bar and I realized...

There's nothing out here for me.

I couldn't for the life of me, figure out why I was there. I knew I didn't really wanna come. I'm barely even a club person. I knew where I wanted to be, but instead of following my heart, I decided to do the safe thing.

Again.

I realized that maybe I was a little deeper in than what I thought. And it simultaneous scared and thrilled me. I finally got what everyone had been telling me, what he'd been trying to show me, what I'd been trying to tell myself.

There is nothing out here for me that I don't already have waiting for me at home.

I get it now. Thanks universe.

Man vs. Man

Disrespect drives me crazy. To absolutely no end. I recognize that many of the things I find utterly disrespectful, other people simply shrug off. And that's fine.

But let me tell you what isn't...

Disrespecting someone you claim to love, no matter how minor.

I'm one of those people that if I'm with you, I'm WITH you. At the risk of this post coming at you in high definition ghetto, I am the quintessiental ride or die chick. You'll never find anyone more loyal than me. Point blank period. Maybe this is why so many have described me as "wifey material" so often that when I meet friends of friends they go, "oh YOU'RE the one."

Yes. More often than not, I am THE ONE.

I recognize that the things people find disrespectful will vary. Case and point, I'm kinda involved with someone now. Lets call him Psuedo. (By the way Psuedo is short for PsuedoBoyfriendTypeIndividual and was the subject of Parts 1-7.) Me and Psuedo hardly ever fight, but when we do its crazy. He's crazy, I'm crazy, he threatens to shake me like a yoohoo, I say mean and hurtful things. However, one thing that even sporadic fighting with Psuedo has taught me is to respect other peoples boundaries. When I fight, I can be mean, downright cruel actually. However, some of the things he finds infinitely disrespectful, I'd never think twice about. But I've learned (the hard way) that it generally doesn't matter whether or not I agree. It's about respect for him and how he feels about a situation, how he feels about me.

So anyway, I digress.

There are things, as a woman, I'd never do to anyone, let alone my man. There are things that, if a man did them to me, I'd beat his ass in the streets and leave him lying there for his boys to see. (See the high definition ghetto?) Because I will not be disrespected. Under any circumstances.

This weekend, I witnessed some shit that was SO FUCKIN DISRESPECTFUL it made my skin crawl. And it wasn't even directed at me. Didn't even really affect me. As a matter of fact, if I was a differnt kinda woman, I woulda been kinda proud. But I wasn't. I found it kinda sickening. All from a man I've grown to admire and respect. I saw behavior that, if it were done to me... well see above description of beating him down.

But on to the real topic of this post. And the real reason I've finally mentioned Psuedo after so much time. Have you ever had one man in your life do something so mean and dirty that it completely changed your views of another man in your life? I try never to compare people, but there are times when the similarities, and in this case, the vast differences, are glaringly obvious and you must comment. I was talking to Yoj about this situation this weekend, and the more I talked to her the more I realized some things I never realized. (More of that to come in the post about my ah ha moment back during homecoming.) I've never had a man so effortlessly drive me into someone else's arms.

And without even knowing it.

Monday, November 6, 2006

The Return

I can tell I'm getting closer because the trees are turning. In Texas, the trees are still bright green and healthy, even in these early days of November. But the closer I get the more the trees change. First, slight hints of yellow creep into the folliage at the top. Then bright bursts of orange are scattered further down, until eventually there are whole trees, brilliant crimson, majestically standing guard by the side of the highway. I smile. I've always loved fall because of the trees.

I'm getting anxious. I know I'm getting close. With every mile that is tread under the wheels of the Chevy, I am simultaneously excited and calmed. I can't believe I stayed away so long.

I hit the state line and blow the horn two times as we pass the 'Welcome to Georgia' sign. It's a looming blue sign with a peach on it, "Georgia on my mind" scrawled in cursive across the bottom. The interchangeable part at the bottom says Sony Purdue is the mayor. I remember when it said Andrew Jackson. "I need some Atl music," I announce to the car and slip T.I. in the CD player. My foot pushes the pedal to the floor.

Driving up 85 I come upon my favorite view of the city. Leaving the south side of the city and passing Turner Field you can see the skyline perfectly. It's lit up, the lights bouncing off the buildings, the headlights from the cars moving swiftly past and blending into the lumination of the city. Tears start to sting behind my eyes as I struggle rapidly to blink them back. I love this city. I can't believe I've been gone so long.

Atlanta is very different than all the other cities I've ever lived in. It has a soul all its own, a distinct rhythm that you probably misinterpret if you're not from here.
But I am from here. So I feel it very deeply.

I remember, of course, the reasons why I left, the things I was running from. I remember saying to myself that once I left I'd never come back, that there was nothing left in this city for me. I can't believe how wrong I was. Now that the majority of the issues and people I was trying to get away from have fallen by the wayside, my vision is no longer clouded by pain. I love this city. And I love everything about the person I've become due to its influence. I love the street that my grandmother has lived on all my life that's right down the street from the stadium where her beloved Braves play. I love the south side of the city, on the streets of East Point, College Park, the S.W.A.T.S. where I did most of my growing up. I love passing by my high school and remembering cheering at football games, the entire sky lit up for miles from the Friday night lights. I love sliding through the back streets of Decatur that I know like a lover I've had forever, tiny roads that wind through all so many different neighborhoods you'd think it was a different city all together. Now that I am farther removed from the things I suffered before I left, I can see unbiasedly places I've been, the streets I've driven, the places I love to eat that you'd never know about unless you lived here, the landmarks I love, the corners I've stood on, the secret places that are dear to me, each holding their own special memory. As I drive, the memories wash over me and coat me like a second skin. Atlanta is who I am.

I turn on the radio just because I want to hear music that does something to me, hear people who talk like me. Each time I answer my phone to friends demanding to know if I've arrived yet, my old accent creeps back in and I realize how much I've missed it while I was making an effort to cut down the amount of times someone asked me "Huh?!?!" in a conversation. I roll the windows down and let the air roll over me. Its cold. It smells like maple syrup and pine. It's fall. It's home.

I still know why I left, why I vowed I'd never come back. And I won't negate those reasons. But I just can't believe I've been gone so long. I can't believe I ever thought I could stay away. I miss being here so much my heart hurts, even my skin crawls with the need to get out and reconnect with the streets I know, relearn my shortcuts through alleys and backstreets. The Chevy hugs the curves of 285 now as I look up at the clear night sky. I. Missed. This.

The one thing you never learn until the day you finally learn it is that you can always come home. It may look different, it may change in some superficial ways, but it will always feel the same. No matter what made you leave, good, bad or indifferent, you always belong somewhere if you still love it. You can always rebuild a life there if you desire it. No matter what happens and where life carries you, you can always come home.

I'm driving but I'm watching the trees. The moonlight streams through the branches, illuminating the vibrant fall colors. The wind rustles the leaves and knocks a few free. I watch them as they flutter to the ground. Four years ago when I left, I remember being melancholy when the fall hit, feeling sad for the leaves that died and fell from the trees. Now that I'm older, wiser, and far more settled in my skin, I look at the leaves and feel at peace with their earthly tumble. I know that even though they fall, they are part of a process. They'll be recycled, turned back into the earth that they are apart of. Renewed and replenished in another form. Still a part of the process, still a part of the city from which they came. I, like the leaves, get thrown and scattered, but I know now, unlike I did then, that I am still part of the scenery. No matter where I fall, I can always return home.