I’m at home, you know? At home in my life, my body, my being.
"Love reveals us. Profoundly and unnervingly, love reveals us. I think this is something that can often be a source of comfort and dismay. Most of us are not used to being naked. And I can’t speak to the world, but that first time you disrobe—the first time you disrobe before someone you care about—shrinks in comparison to the first time you begin to unveil your internal self. What I think of the stories that I was overwhelmed by growing up, that astonished me growing up, I think they always drew upon that notion of how we are revealed in love."
- Fifteen Questions with Junot Díaz | Magazine | The Harvard Crimson
i spent my morning just distracted and reflecting on a heap of things. mainly how time and love (including heartbreak and lovelessness) has transformed. i had to sit in it for a moment to also acknowledge the ways in which patriarchy, heteronormativity and sexism operate so daily in love and romance that my experiences are not personal. with that being said, it often doesn’t hurt any less as a feminist when you are faced with so few options. i choose love as a radical praxis in my life - a love that has enabled and fostered friendships and connections that have fulfilled, inspired, nurtured and challenged me, who hold me accountable. i choose love as a radical praxis in my life for the work i do and the work i want to do with others. 2014 has been phenomenal to say the last for me. it’s been that turning point where the grind slowly has drawn things together, work has come into fruition and for the first time in my life i’m happy with and know who i am and what it is i want on multiple levels. it is also the first time that i’m happy knowing that on my own i am good - i do not need a significant other to determine my worth or standing, i do not need ‘completing’. i am also inspired by my peers who are creating meaningful work, dialogues and conversations that i am blessed to not only lay witness to but be a part of. i wake up knowing that this is abundance, this is love in practice.
but what i wonder is what room there is for us to be frank not only about love, lovelessness and the transformation that is needed, but frank conversations about what it is to be a particular type of woman existing in a particular context. do i get to say it hurts to be disrespected or acknowledged as an equal? that time and time again i am categorized in ways i have not chosen to be - that i want to sit entirely outside of these labels because i am neither/nor. i can be committed to radical, decolonial, committed and transformative love but also not believe in marriage and life long monogamy. i can be committed to love without compromising my ideals, ambitions or vision. that i can be committed and practice love without having to quieten down, be prettier, be smaller.
yesterday had me reflect on a few hot minutes of when men actively and subconciously shut me down through out my life. when you get painted as ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’, or just out right ‘crazy’. last night when i began to share my desires about one day doing a phd at somewhere like columbia the guy responded ‘you know you have to be smart right?’ and when i proceeded to tell him ‘yeah… i’m kind of REALLY smart’ entirely unphased he then shut me down by telling me i drink too much. when i talk about the things that inspire my life (justice, equality, art, creation) and make me want to be better, i’m time and time told i am ‘too complex’. i was with a man for quite some time who would outright tell me i wasn’t attractive enough or my body wasn’t right when i would achieve something or when i was respected by his peers. these are just a few instances where i know i am NOT alone, that so many brilliant women i know around me face in trying to know and find an equal, transformative, and kind love. i meet so many men who say they want a ‘smart’ woman but when it comes down to it, they don’t want a woman to be ‘too smart’ i.e. challenge them. the more and more i come into myself, settle into who i am, celebrate and love, that not be needy for love and relationships like i am an extension of someone else, the more difficult it becomes to even just meet a guy who isn’t both fascinated and terrified all at once.
as of late, living with an entirely loving and committed couple who hold their own individual lives and space but love and understand one another has been inspiring. a small affirmation that respect, kindness, brilliance, and desire can exist between folks in a way that counteracts sexist ideals of love.
i think today i get to say that whilst i’m not looking for romantic love, i am always open to the possibility of it. i think i also get to say that the policing of women are constant attempts to diminish us in the areas we can doubt ourselves. i think today i get to say i am not a jezebel (when the men who want to make me their mistresses are thirsty all the time) cause for quite some time folks have tried to make me out to be that way because i do not follow conventions. i think today i get to say that this disrespect is tired, that i WILL NOT shrink or become smaller in the face of a love that is not love. i want to take up space and i would like to meet someone who would equally like to share/take up space/make room for my space in my life. i am not holding my breath for it, there are things for me now that have been more fulfilling than being somebody’s woman the way i have in the past. i think today i get to say there is no shame and pity in the space i occupy - how many folks at 25 get to say they are doing what they love? that is the life i wanna live, big hearted, bold and purposeful. so we give thanks and praise god cause mercies are mercies.
(shout out to junot diaz though who always reminds me that there are men out there who critically resist and do that work and make decolonial love possible!)
things that are happening right now:
- my flat would be so pretty if it wasn’t subject to damp the way it does. reflection of the way i try to constantly cleanse myself only to find i am always something pushing beneath the surface that is a little off?
- two weeks until the exhibition - my spirit is doing whirlwinds on the daily because i’ve never believed/hoped/wanted something to be so meaningful before.
- living in lambeth for the first time makes me want to invest in a geographical location, a place or part i want to lay claim to.
- i’ve put on weight and i sigh or grow uncomfortable everyday in the way my belly hangs a little more or my arms undoing their work. i keep saying every (tired) day i will work out more or eat better or be beautiful. i don’t.
- i woke up on friday irritable and cut my hair off on a saturday morning.
- i am re-reading murakami’s norwegian wood because i miss writing and letting something stir up the whole chest. i never read the same book again but this felt necessary. i believed in love because of toru watanabe, i believed that the kind of love i would like to know is for us romantics always losing.
- the moon peaked through the glass ceiling of the kitchen and for a moment i felt both safe and alive.
- i sometimes exist outside the possibility of certain things.
- only when i remember you do i remind myself who i am
- big and unassuming.
You are one of those people, it is clear, who needs help. I think you should stop speaking in a low attractive voice whenever you call. Stop making me think of velvet and fragrant tobacco and that first sip of bourbon. Stop inciting stirrings, movements between us…little rebellions, causing chaos in all of my darker places. The top half of my body is at gross political warfare with the lower. One part of me is roaring and the other wholly disapproves. You are a beautiful danger. Do not force me to open up. Some books are bound tightly for years for reasons. Some books are burned for their own good, Love. Stop wearing clothes the way that you do. Don’t allow them to cling to your body like that. Do not follow these effortless fashions where everything looks just so, because, really who could resist such a thing? The Lord knows you are beautiful, and unfair. I think perhaps you should spare a thought, dear, for those who are sick over you, burning up with you, damp for you.You know what you do. You’re a slow fever. Don’t be so very engaging, amusing or witty, or bright. You are causing confusion and jams in tight spaces. You are an accident in waiting. The type of accident with casualties spanning from me to you and here to there, a potential tragedy, a stunning unborn disaster. Should I touch you, I will suffer and you will suffer and she will suffer. You are a danger zone. I must not enter, I should not enter, but I might.”
(c) Yrsa Daley-Ward"
for a long while all i really wanted to do was come apart in the warm of your skin, somewhere in the underworld of flesh. that i was so sure would keep me safe, it would perhaps for a moment stop the wounds becoming black holes that everything about me would get sucked in to, stolen even. but there was no respite there, no mercy. you and your hardbody was crooked and difficult, it liked to break open what tried to rest somewhere close to the chest. last night, when the wine brews a little into the spirit, i try to call you before i sleep. i want to tell you about the dream i had of us, we were younger, you were the person i’d imagine you to had your heart broken. you do not answer and i lay there swarming in a different space. i think of all the things men have called me, i think of a story i am writing, i think of two lonely people always doing lonely things. i thought that’s the woman i was. i sink into a guilt, caught between loving the women i do and do not know, and the men who either way never have.
i think about the man who messages me to unwind, a predicated loss, an attempt to make my body into a sinking ship. i entertain it like the edge of a knife against a throat. i laugh that this is how sadness manifests, how it forms the spine of almost everything i do. i tell him i want him even though i know i won’t have him. i think of all the things the women around me would say, i think of my mother, i think of Being Mary Jane, i think of the way men get away with always being a hungry ocean. if nobody touches you are you still alive? i think of what we look like when we look at women who do the same. i’ve named myself for so long after the things that are discarded everyday, i’ve named myself because how else then can you forget who you are? i want to say aloud i am delighted at the thought of him, delighted at the thought of having somebody else’s thing for a moment, of leaving it behind in the dark somewhere, of having something to do. i eat failed mogo for lunch, let my belly bloat a storm and imagine his girlfriend and what she must look like next to him. i want you to convince me not to have him, i want you to say out loud ‘maybe you deserve something more’. i miss your call at some hour i am finally asleep, waking up to realise how everything begins and ends in a body, even death.
I’ll never marry. Not any man. I’ve known men too intimately. I’ve witnessed their infidelities, and I’ve helped them to it. Unzipped and unhooked and agreed to clandestine maneuvers. I’ve been accomplice, committed premeditated crimes. I’m guilty of having caused deliberate pain to other women. I’m vindictive and cruel, and I’m capable of anything.
I admit, there was a time when all I wanted was to belong to a man. To wear that gold band on my left hand and be worn on his arm like an expensive jewel brilliant in the light of day. Not the sneaking around I did in different bars that all looked the same, red carpets with a black grillwork design, flocked wallpaper, wooden wagon-wheel light fixtures with hurricane lampshades a sick amber color like the drinking glasses you get for free at gas stations.
Dark bars, dark restaurants then. And if not – my apartment, with his toothbrush firmly planted in the toothbrush holder like a flag on the North Pole. The bed so big because he never stayed the whole night. Of course not.
Borrowed. That’s how I’ve had my men. Just the cream skimmed off the top. Just the sweetest part of the fruit, without the bitter skin that daily living with a spouse can rend. They’ve come to me when they wanted the sweet meat then.
So, no. I’ve never married and never will. Not because I couldn’t, but because I’m too romantic for marriage. Marriage has failed me, you could say. Not a man exists who hasn’t disappointed me, whom I could trust to love the way I’ve loved. It’s because I believe too much in marriage that I don’t. Better to not marry than live a lie."
Life stories by women that keep us alive.