Wednesday, November 26, 2008
"Hey La. I gotta talk to you about something."
I can hear the trees whipping by my car. The air they slice through breaks to either side loudly, telling me I am probably driving far faster than I should be. But my body feels heavy, and subsequently, the pedal is closer to the floor than it would be if I were in my right mind.
From behind the bars of the crib come little squeals, staccato and quiet at first, quickly escalating to a rolling forte, waking me from my sleep. I crawl over the wide expanse of the mattress, pulling myself upright at the carpeted floor. At the crib, I pull the small step stool from underneath and mount it, releasing the catches on the bars as I go, sliding them down enough so that I can reach in. His tiny red face calms slightly, his mouth still poised in an open 'O', ready to start howling again at a moments notice. I run my tiny fingers through his soft tuft of curly hair and murmur to him quietly. His tiny hands grab at my fingers and he kicks in glee. Bracing myself against the side of the crib, I lift him in my arms, the entire length of his body stretching more than half the length of mine. Even as an infant his size belies that he will one day be taller than me, despite him being almost 6 years my junior.
"What?!?!" I screech, swerving to barely miss a truck I am about to sideswipe because I drifted into his lane. "What happened?!?"
I walk both of us as best I can back to my bed, laying down and curling my tiny body around his even smaller one. I burrow him into the recess of my torso, singing and talking to him softly, letting is head rest against my chest so he can hear my heartbeat. Before long, he has drifted back off to sleep and I, after one final inhale of his baby scent, follow off to sleep behind him.
"One of your brother's lungs collapsed."
He falls while going for a layup, scraping his knee on one of the ragged boards on our porch. I swoop him up and carry him inside, cleaning his scrape while simultaneously correcting his form. I finish it off with a scooby band-aid because, like his big sister, he likes Scooby.
"They found fluid on his lungs so they are draining it..."
Behind me he wrestles with his long and awkward limbs that his trunk has not yet grown into, trying to ascend the ladder as effortlessly as I just did. We sit up on the roof watching the sky and listening to the insects chirp from the grass below. He tells me he wants to be an astronaught and I immediately begin trying to figure out how to get him into MIT.
"They are going to keep him for observation a little while longer..."
He launches himself towards me in an unsteady stagger, grinning his toothless smile and reaching for me with his fat arms. Barely a foot away, he hesitates and starts to plummet to the floor. In a flash, I catch him in my arms and hug him to my chest. "You walked baby!" I murmor into his hair and he giggles, trying to wiggle himself as best he can into the space between my chest and arms.
"They aren't sure what caused it exactly, maybe how thin he is. But they are watching him..."
The blue of his shirt ripples behind him as he runs, trying in vain to out run our huge golden retriever before getting tackled, his laughs carried high on the wind. That sound touches me so deeply it makes my heart leap into my chest.
"They want him to put on some more weight..."
He holds my hands firmly in front of me, steadying me, determined to teach me how to skate on rollerblades.
"The doctors are going to try to drain the fluid so it doesn't happen again..."
We ignore the begininngs of purple sunlight cresting the window sill and instead concentrate on the colors on the screen in front of us. We're both jerking and jumping, trying to supress our outburst of glee, lest we wake his parents. After another minute the screen bursts into confetti and his arms shoot up in the air. "We beat it!" he says, the sunlight catching his braces.
"Don't worry about him..."
I turn to from the mirror to face him and even though he has a good foot on me, my gaze makes him shrink and appear smaller. "You have to do this for yourself," I tell him, so angry that I am trembling. "No one is going to give you anything. But I will not have you waste all this talent. You are too damn smart for it. I wish I was half as smart as you are and I am pretty damn smart. You will not waste this life, do you hear me?"
"You don't have to come home. Everything is fine."
When I finally make it back to my house, I fall on my knees, sobbing, gasping for air, big, shuddering tears that make my body shake violently. I feel like I am choking. I say the only prayer I can think of in that moment, over and over.
Dios conmigo y yo con El. Su será hecho.
Dios conmigo y yo con El. Su será hecho.
Dios conmigo y yo con El. Su será hecho.
I curl up on the floor and stay there for as long as I can stand.
This holiday season be thankful that you can go home and spend it with your family, even if it isn't always your first choice. I know I am. Life happens faster than any of us can fathom.
I am out of town until next week. Be safe and well. Happy Holidays. :-)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
It's like a song that I forgot a long time ago. One who's melody is familiar but I can only remember parts of it. It's running loops on my mental stereo system.
Do you think we could get this right in our next life?
If lies were rape, I would be more violated than I choose to mention. If deception and dishonesty were outlawed I'd have enough to put you to death. If treading in vague were water, all the non-details I have swallowed would make me choke.
There are a million questions that I'll never ask. This too is an unspoken boundary of this semi successful threesome of ours: don't ask and I won't tell you what you really might not wanna know anyway. Aren't these kind of emotional threesomes far more treacherous?
It's when you realize the depth, the width, the length of the deception, the totality of it all, that you realize just how wrong, how unhealthy, how toxic it all was.
I love you and I know you love me. You don't have to say anything.
I wanna vomit but I don't want to waste the energy. Carrying this new knowledge, this weight of everything I didn't know is like fighting quicksand. I'm drowning in it. Just like I did in you, once.
I should have known better.
It's amazing how, if we close our eyes and wade out into the calm waters of the ocean, we are under water before we ever knew the bottom was too deep to tread.
I know, intellectually, that even I, as mistrustful as I am, could not have even fathomed this kind of sociopathic lying in the onset. There's no way I could have even dreamed the lengths that you would go to design your life as you wanted, to depict yourself as whoever and however you felt you needed to manipulate me.
I never would have imagined that all the things I didn't know added up to this.
Don't be scared.
I have travelled so far from where I was. I have evolved so past who we were that I barely recognize me. But still I can't help but feel some kind of enormous pity for a man so worthless, so small, so nothing that he had to lie about his entire existence. I won't even bother being mad.
Unless of course it's at myself.
I will sweep this all up, gather it like dust and pack it in boxes, store it in a basement in my mind somewhere deep and dark to be eventually ruined by time and mold until it disintegrates and becomes part of the foundation. Maybe I'll come across a surviving scrap one day, after trodden underfoot for so long, and look at it fondly, allow a melancholy smile to touch my lips at the memory. But today is not that day.
I should have known better.
And now I do.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"This is crazy."
"I know, but I have to know."
"Are you sure about this? My investigative skills are seriously unparalleled."
"I don't know if I am totally sure, but I have to know."
"Lemme get on the computer and make a few calls. Give me a couple of hours"
"Ok. Let me know."
My friend J is gorgeous. And not like, "oh she's my friend so I have to say she's pretty" pretty. She is a damn near 6 foot, model type. Think a slightly more Black looking version of Cassie's face on Hoopz's body.
Yeah, chick is COLD.
If that wasn't already reason enough for me to hate her, she's incredibly smart and successful, she makes a ton of money, she's almost unrealistically sweet, and one of the most thoughtful and loyal things on earth next to a golden retriever.
I say all this to say, she isn't really the type you woulda wanna fuck over.
Unless of course you're her fiance.
J has been engaged for a year to Mr. Perfect. Well, Mr. Perfect to everyone else. To me he was Mr-I-got-something-to-hide-because-my-shit-is-always-a-bit-too-together. And before you go all buckwild in my comments hollerin' about how women don't know a good man if they see one and prefer someone all fucked up, let me clarify that I am not talking about simply a man with no baggage. I mean he's Guy who has a Seemingly Rehearsed Answer for Everything but Never Says Anything. You know I mean?
So they have been engaged for a year, ever since last year when he made a big show of flying home with her for Thanksgiving, asking for her father's permission, and getting down on one knee after dinner and making her whole family sob at his proposal. They have yet to set a date. And, in the interest of transparency, I will admit that this was mostly her doing.
Or so he would have her believe.
Over the spring this year, they separated for a time. They quickly started doing the whole counseling/dating again thing to see if they could reconcile their differences. They started out with one counselor, but after a few sessions J decided she didn't like her and they switched to another who started helping them through their issues. By late summer, the wedding was back on, the ring was back on her finger and they had set a date for spring of '09. Despite everything, their work to reconcile was all good.
One weekend he went missing. "Coincidentally" it was July 4th weekend when she would be in Chicago with her friends for The Taste and he would be in the city where they both live "working."
Now of course Mr. Too Perfect is far too perfect to just get missing
Over the months since then, they have rebuilt their bond, and started making strides towards the alter. But for some reason, J just can't shake feeling some kinda way about that weekend.
And that's when she calls me.
"I need you to find out some information for me."
"What kinda information?"
"The kind I need to know before I get married."
"I need his full name, where he works, the kinda car he drives and his email address."
I will admit to doing this quite a few times over the years. Sometimes it's as simple as a G.oogle search. If we know some of the same people without them knowing we know some of the same people, I make a few calls. (Even for significant other's I haven't met, it's hard to get around this. I know alot of people. God bless any meccas of young black people up to and including Atlanta, DC, Howard, and NYC.) But in this day and age of technology, there are no secrets. Or at least not for long.
A few hours later, she calls me before I can call her. Her breathing is shallow and anxious.
"You must have found something," she says to me. "Otherwise you wouldn't be taking so long."
"I found something."
She takes a deep breath on the line. I can almost hear her preparing herself.
"What is it?"
"When's the last time you've been home?"
"Home like California or Mexico?"
"Oh God. Like, 2 years ago for Christmas. I haven't been since."
"Oh yes you have. You went the weekend of the 4th. Stayed from Thursday the 3rd to Monday the 7th at the Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas."
"What? No I haven't. I made a reservation there for our honeymoon."
"Well, Mr. Too Perfect stayed there that weekend with someone he called his fiance."
"How on earth could you possibly know this?"
"He wrote a review about it on some travel site. He said he stayed there on those dates with his fiance."
"But no hotel in Mexico showed up on our account."
"That's because she paid for it."
"WHAT?!?! How do you know that?!?"
"I had the hotel fax me a copy of the bill."
"Who is this woman?"
"Does the name __________________ mean anything to you?"
There is silence on her end of the phone. I hear her already shallow breathing come faster and harder.
"That was our fucking counselor."
"WHAT?!?!?" I screech, forgetting that I am sitting at my desk at work.
"Yeah. Our first counselor we got rid of. That's her."
"Well, you said you didn't care for her."
"Now I see why."
"There's more, sweetie."
She takes a deep breath on the other line and I wonder if I have made a mistake in telling her. Even though she's angry now, I am sure she will be devastated soon.
"Send it to me. Send me everything. He has to get out of my house today."
I'd like to be able to say that Mr. Too Perfect was a good dude who just made some bad choices. But whether we like it or not, it's the things we hide that detail who we really are. It's our silences, not our words, that shade people's perception of us, add dimension. If the things we don't say are a shade of gray, consider our secrets the long shadows we cast.
The thing about secrets is that they are never really secrets. They never stay in the dark because really, they are not composed entirely of such; darkness is but a composition of light. The thing about darkness, and secrets to be assumed, is that they are conditional. They are subject to outside influence. And whether or not we trick ourselves into thinking so, they are never just ours to keep. They affect us, yes, but they also hold captive those who share our lives. They sense something behind the scenes even when you say nothing is there. They see the large shapes casting shadows, even when they can't make out the distinct form.
They use google to go looking for what you won't tell them because you're blocking their light too.
There are no such things as secrets.
I hope you're listening. Because she is gonna catch you.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
2. Announce that the Inauguration Ball is now a costume party, and come as the cover from the New Yorker.
3. Have Minister Louis Farrakhan participate in anything.
4. Give an interview to Fox News...
14. Greet all press corps with, "What's crackin' lil bitches."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I've felt you hanging around here.
I see the slight ruffle of bed covers imprinted with the indentation of your body weight. The long silver hair on the pillow next to mine. I see the way you pull your pearls out of my jewelry box. And feel your hand on my back when I can't sleep, rubbing slow circles. I hear you, just faintly, calling me by my middle name.
I will freely admit that having you around made me uncomfortable at first. You've been gone far longer than I prefer, and I have gotten used to referring to you in the past tense. Sometimes, I don't tear up when I talk about you. Now most of the stories I tell of us, of you, tumble forth on hearty bursts of laughter. Every morning when I brush the hair we share, I think of you. When I smile, I always pay special attention to the bow of my lips and think of your smile. When I slip my rings on, I always smile at the crooked middle finger we both possess, and I remember holding your hand.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why you were hanging around in the begininng. Usually when you visit, it is so rare and so brief that I've gotten used to feeling you in passing, smiling at the fact that you can't sit still, even in The After. So this lingering, this, occupation of sorts, threw me. I started to wonder, am I doing something wrong? Were you angry with me? Did you have something to tell me? Was I involved in something I needed to get out of?
As time went on, I realized, or remembered rather, that you never asked anything of me but me. So when my bedroom smells like your perfume, it doesn't make me uneasy anymore.
It took me a minute, but I started to figure out that while you may have been here to keep me company, you were also acutely interested in he that I am sure you would call "that handsome yella boy". I see you stopping the TV on MSNBC. (Rachel Maddow is brilliant right?)
I wish you were here so we could talk. So I could ask you about those dark years you hardly ever mentioned, what it's like for you, a child of the Olde South, watching a black man run for the highest office in our land. Often when I daydream, I picture sitting on the floor at your feet in the old Elm Street house, listening to the furnace rumble and whatever piece of hilarity or wisdom the images on the TV would provoke you to say. I imagine hearing stories of what it was like growing up in the segregated confederation, long before you ever fathomed there could be integration, even before four little girls, sit-ins and marches. I'd like to see it through your eyes.
I remember the first time I felt you being a part of this movement. It was right after I'd heard one of my favorite quotes;
"In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."
That isn't exactly how you put it, of course. I believe your version said, "Hope is not a dream, if you protect it fiercely." But either way, I teared up and heard you in the words.
If I know you as I think I do, I know that you never thought I'd see the day this might happen. You were always cautiously distrustful of the political process, as I imagine anyone who lived your experiences would. But I wish, more than anything, I could share this with you.
Stepping into the voting booth, I felt a kind of warmth I haven't felt in so long. I fought tears and giddy laughter as I stared at the screen in front of me. I stood there for what felt like eternity, absorbing it, letting the moment wash over my skin. I felt my hand, barely my own, lifting, touching, and making it real. For a second I swore I tasted peppermint.
I know, too, that you are disappointed in me, in the choices I have made, the things I am not doing. I hear you fussing. I feel you shaking your head at me. And I know you don't understand.
It seemed for so long that something was missing, some intangible thing that I couldn't put my finger on and couldn't shake. Some something bigger than the dreams you told me I should have for myself.
On the brink of what could or could not be an extraordinary day, I know I owe you, and many more before me, more than what I have been giving. And I promise that I will guard my hope fiercely. That I will become the me that you told me I could be. Because now I believe...
Yes we can.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Are you really suing Obama for using campaign funds to go see his dying grandmother?
Even after the decision was vetted by independent lawyers who said it was perfectly legal?
While I try to convince myself to chalk this up to pure bad timing on the part of ruthless GOP operatives, the glaringly obvious conclusion is that this is just a latest in a string of disgusting and dispicable ploys by Republicans flailing helplessly in their obvious incompetence. Even if I wasn't already convinced that I want Barack Obama to be my next president, this would have put me over the edge. How tasteless, low down and outright heartless. I'd say I'm disappointed, but that would imply that I had any kind of shred of faith left in the decency of the Republican party.
I guess it would have been ok if the money had been spent on 150K worth of makeup and manolos to dress a
Senator Obama, I am not sure how much your last minute plane ticket was. Surely expensive in this ridiculously high transportation market, thanks to Republican mismanagement. Over the course of your campaign, I have donated about $100. I hereby authorize you to use my contribution towards your plane ticket.
I trust that it will be donated to your favorite consignment shop for charity after the election.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I decided to exercise the ability to early vote so I didn't spend all my good sex years in line at the polls. I was expecting to spend a couple hours there, especially considering the foolishness that was the primaries, but to my surprise, I was in and out in about 20-30 minutes, even at the height of lunch hour. (If you're in Houston and in Harris County, go to the Ponderosa Fire Station!) However, part of me wished I'd stayed longer because surely I would have gotten to see more foolishness and mayhem...
10 Things You're Likely to see During Texas Early Voting
2. The woman who comes inside the polling station with A PARROT on her shoulder.
3. A tiny mother of 2 of the cutest, blondest tykes ever... whipping her head around and exclaiming, "THAT'S MY SHIT!!!" when an SUV rolls by blaring Bun B "That's Gangster". Yes. I am in fact putting in my application to be her new best friend.
4. Black folks detailing the many ways they plan to get out of going to work November 5th if Barack wins. This is why they don't want to let niggas have nothing.
5. Little gangster grandmas. I.e. the little old lady who rolled up on my voting location in her wheelchair and, after being told she had to remove her Obama button, put up a fuss before saying, "I'll take it off... but that won't stop me from voting for him." And then fussing at the young man behind her that says he is voting for McCain just because he is a Republican. She says, "I'm a lifelong Republican too, but even I know stupid when I see it." She will be my backup new best friend.
6. The young black guy rolling up in a monster pick up truck... and then hustling around to the passenger side to help an elderly Hispanic woman out. Even better? In line he is voicing his support for Obama, and trying to relay the convo as best he can to his companion in broken spanish. The person in line that he is talking to assumes that she is supporting Obama too, at which point the guy says, "No she's voting Republican. But she still deserves the chance to vote so I brought her with me." Awesome.
7. A random White Man standing on his lawn while people park on the residential streets to get to the polling location that is muttering at all the Black and Brown people who walk by, assuming that they are all voting for Obama. He continues to do so until a rather large Hispanic man yells, "I'M A REPUBLICAN YOU DICK!!!"
White Man goes into his house.
8. A car full of young black girls that drives by the voting location, scowling at the (rather short) line. "Girl let's go get some food and come back," one of them says, before I have the chance to tell them I was in and out in about 20 minutes. We are SUCH an impatient people.
9. Someone swiping the lone Obama/Biden sign posted on someones lawn. People are taking this waaaaay too seriously.
10. People. Of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. Voting for all candidates. (I even met an independent). And in this reliably Republican state, that has to mean something incredibly remarkable about this election.
I just hope, that if somebody pulls some bullshit, we don't lose that.
GO VOTE PEOPLE!!!!!