Arms Outstretched

September 15, 2017

I almost pass her by. I am on my way back from lunch scurrying up Wilson Blvd. as a pool of sweat begins to form in my cleavage. It is not until I’m right up on her that she catches my periphery. I do not read her sign. But, something about her posture punches me in the gut. She is not making eye contact with anyone. She is not asking for money. Instead, she is crouched low to the ground with her head bowed and her arms outstretched.

My mind instantly recalls the $10 dollar bill my coworker handed me less than an hour before so I could also grab her lunch. I remember how that bill is still balled up in my wallet because I paid for everything on my card, assuming the $10 dollar bill would be an unexpected treat I’d forget about and find in my wallet a few days later. But, there is something about her. There is something about this black woman who is crouched low to the ground with her head bowed and her arms outstretched that compels me to unzip my wallet.

I’d love to say this is something I do often. I’d love to tell you that I always find my heartstrings being yanked on as I pass paupers on metropolitan streets. But, I am not always a good human being or even a decent one. I, like so many others, can grow numb to the way the world chews people up and spits them up.

But, today, the emotional Novocaine wore off. And I saw this black woman who suddenly didn’t seem or feel or look so far away from me. I saw her more than likely praying to the same God who I’ve been trying to find my way back to as of late. I saw her on a sunny Friday afternoon fighting to live and smile and survive in a world that decided it would be fine to bypass her or, at best, keep her in its periphery.

Our eyes lock when I hand her the bill. And something about the way her voice bounces one note higher when she said “Bless your heart, sis” leaves me in tears both times I reminisce on the exchange.

I want to make some resounding statement about black women, but the truth is the way an encounter like that brings me to my knees is still brand new. I am still making sense of the way my passion for black women bubbles over. I am still finding outlets for anger that swells when I witness the inequities we experience. I am still figuring out how to keep my feet on solid ground when it seems as though the world just keeps spinning.

But, all I can do is fight to keep my heart wide open and my arms outstretched.

Stories That Vibrate: Every Time I Want to Text You

September 8, 2017

Revisiting your old writing is less like looking in the rearview mirror and more like finding your way back home. Your first home. The place you grew up in. The space and land and grass and fences and hardwood floors that all remind you of a distinct era in time. You are not that writer anymore. Your sentences are cleaner; your voice hums with intention. You are not that woman anymore. Your life has more shape; your purpose now has testimonies behind it. You are not that human being anymore. You are a product of the way time heals old wounds and gives way to new evolution.

But, that is still your home.

Two years ago, I put this thing out into the Universe called a book. And at the time, it was my life’s work. Now, there are days when I’ll nonchalantly thumb through it and flinch at the blind audacity and ignorance of some of the things I put in ink. But, it’s still home. Those are still my stories. There are still traces of that woman I used to be hidden in my crevices. Hell, there are still parts of that woman taking up space at my core.

Stories That Vibrate is a limited edition series that revives five of my favorite essays from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity through audio. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share these on the blog. A huge thanks to my creative partner-in-crime Austin Weatherington (who produced the audio for last year’s Love Me Well project) for producing this series, and affirming this vision long before I even started recording.

It’s been a hell of a year, and I haven’t been able to visit this Internet home as much as I would like. But, I hope you’re still vibing with me and I hope you enjoy this first installment of Stories That Vibrate. Here’s “Every Time I Want to Text You.”

If you’d like to read the full essay, head over to purchase your copy of the book.

Xoxo,
Tyece

I Still Think Of You.

August 14, 2017

It was around this time last year, just as summer began to sunset, that you and I started to make waves. First they were tiny, soon they were tidal, and now I don’t know if there will ever be another August when I don’t think about you.

It’s not lost on me that the level to which you still puncture my thoughts is completely incongruent with the amount of time we spent together. But, that is how the human heart works. It clings to the memories of the last connection that made her feel like she was on fire, even months after the embers have stopped burning. So, I decided long ago to forgive my heart for how she beats. She is her own creature. Her own temple. Her own jungle. I can only watch lovingly as she pumps bright red blood.

I still think of you when I notice the bold print of a man’s socks and remember how you always wore your loafers without them, even in the dead of winter. I think of you anytime I’m at Marvin, the first stop on our six-hour U street date. I think of you when I see orange. Or when I hear “We lit.” Or when someone recommends a restaurant in Old Town.

I still think of you sometimes first thing in the morning. Before I know what day it is. Before I munch on breakfast. Before I scroll social media. Before my feet hit the floor. These are the broad and big picture musings where I wonder how you’re doing or where you’ve been living or if you’re happy with the way things have been.

I still think of you when I hear PnB Rock’s Selfish or Third Eye Blind’s Never Let You Go.

I still think of you when I arrive at the notes section of my phone to jot down a grocery list or capture a blog post idea. I think of the way that notes section was once a treasure trove of messages we sent to each other after we hung out. Every single time. I think of you when I glance at the bookshelf in my living room and my eyes catch the spine of the book you created, a collection of all the notes we ever shared. Dispatches from one heart to another.

I still think of you when I slip on my favorite black dress and remember the last time we saw each other, just as spring gave way to summer. I think of the subtext, sultriness and sadness you tasted on my skin that night. Each of those pieces fused until the sun came up and everything lost its color again.

I still think of you in moments such as these when I summon the audacity to tell the Internet my half-baked love stories and uncover my emotional wounds. I think of the bevy of strangers who will read this. I think of their eyes scanning this story and their minds drawing conclusions. I think of the way an essay like this can feel like a shout in the void or a shot in the dark or the shrill of a woman who is lost at sea.

And then, once more, I think of you.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment [By Roconia Price]

July 25, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

The series rounds out today with Roconia Price.

Roconia is the quiet storm. When we first got together for a dinner at Founding Farmers in 2015, she spent a good fraction of the time just listening to me chat about everything and nothing. It wasn’t until the end of dinner when she peeled open a notebook to reveal a host of ideas for her upcoming event, each concept bubbling over with her signature sense of thoughtfulness and brilliance. Roconia’s creative genius often times speaks for itself; it doesn’t require pretense or pomp and circumstance. You don’t always see it coming, but when it does, it whips, roars and downpours. I’m so excited to close out the transformation and Turning Tides series with her piece, “The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment.” 


I can see you now. Telling the woman beneath you that your nana was Chippewa and that “Roconia” is Ojibwe for “honor.” I can see you tracing her lips with your thumb, telling her that’s why the word was inked on your left pec. Kissing her. For your nana. Kissing her. For honor.

Maybe you wouldn’t think twice about that day, your narrative feeling so natural it could replace the truth. Or maybe you would, diving deep into her neck to chase away that image of me before you on my knees, imploring you not to tattoo my name on your heart.

I might have been 20 then, maybe 21. I had only come back to haunt you. To give you just enough of me that you might thirst for more. To keep you close, clinging to the idea of my forgiveness so I could sting you like a scorpion, over and over again. I sat before you on my knees, giving you elevation over my eyes, but never again over my heart. I blinked calmly, coldly, as your declaration of love passed through me like air.

“Don’t,” I said.

I told you that day that your actions would not be reciprocated. That ink is not the AED for defiled trust, that it can’t undo disappointment, that under no circumstances would your name be permanently endorsed on my skin. You took it like a wounded soldier, valiantly limping to your next resolution. You didn’t care, you said. I could do what I wanted. But you would get that tattoo. And you’d tell anyone who asked that Roconia was your first love, that Roconia would always be the name in, and above, your heart.  

But I can see you now, using that same synthetic sincerity to reel in a new catch, spewing that guff about your Native grandma. And your lady would lap it up, believing that when she traced the writing on your chest, she was coming in contact with your honor.

I’ve tied a piece of my transformation to that moment on my knees. It was an undefining moment for me. One that had no direct correlation to the growth I’ve experienced since then, but one that still flares up when I think of the woman on the brink of a new me. There wasn’t any revelation that day. My heart and mind still tripped over each other like two left feet. After I refused your tattoo I fell back into your arms and we rocked to our own played out rhythm all afternoon.

This is me admitting to myself, to God, to the internet, that in some ways, I have not grown much since then. I can still be Petty Price, laughing at the woman you cheated on me with, and the baby that surprised us both. Letting you access me on social media so you can eat your heart out, tattoo and all. But in other ways I’ve matured like a 1994 Bordeaux. I only give the kindness and forgiveness I want to receive, and never say it’s okay when I truly don’t mean it.  No longer hold anyone close with the hope of getting the knife in a little deeper.

My life seems to be a series of these undefining moments and I’ve named them like art in my autobiographical  gallery.  The Girl on Her Knees; The Girl in the Basement; The Girl at the Book Fair; The Girl in the Principal’s Office; The Cool Girl; The Girl in the Law Office; The Girl in Church; and my latest, The Woman.

I want to believe that as I grow I become all around better. But I’m more like the silt at the bed of a river, being sifted and settled in an array of areas by the undetected tides of time. I am not a better woman today, just a different one. And the tides keep turning.

Roconia Price is a storyteller and creative spirit, running on sunlight and sisterhood. She writes at eversoroco.com. She is very tall.

My Semi-Celibate Life [By Dana Sukontarak]

July 19, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Dana Sukontarak.

Dana is the rebel. From tweets to the essays in her book “Men”, Dana pulls no punches. She isn’t someone I always talk about when I mention my blogging folks, but she is someone to whom I’m forever indebted. Years ago, she helped me unearth my voice and vulnerability when I contributed an essay about my sexual assault to her then-website The Apposite. Her writing has always wowed me, challenged me and raised the hair on my arms just a little bit. I think that’s what excellent writing does; it blows us away all while making us think or rethink about the lens through which we view the world.

I hope you enjoy Dana’s contribution to this series, “My Semi-Celibate Life.”


In my early twenties, I have often confused a sexual prowess with what could more accurately be described as sexual irrationality. I once treated sex like a conquest. I lost my virginity 10 years ago. In that time, I’d never stopped to consider the negative implications of my self-proclaimed sexual liberation. Now, I’m 28, in the midst of my languid late twenties. I no longer have the energy for certain things. I have become selective about the assignment of my time, money, and emotions. I recently came to the realization that sex has consistently clouded my judgment since the time I began having it. I’d never considered a self-imposed hiatus until this year. My celibacy was all but absolute, but even short stretches of consciously sex-free days allowed me to see many things in a clearer light.

This year, I came face to face with someone who’d broken my heart two years ago. The summer of our breakup, I had sex with a lot of different people. I guess I thought it would help my healing, or maybe I was content in denying there was healing to do. After much turmoil and many unanswered emails, I saw him on my work plaza at 8:30 one morning, walking a new way to the train and passing me in the opposite direction. We had an awkward but friendly conversation that led to friendly messages that led to a month of us talking and having sex twice within one week. He knew I was trying to be celibate. We did it anyway. We talked about a lot, he cried and apologized. He told me he’d been at home for most of the past two years, cautious not to run into me because our feelings were still too alive. He seemed genuinely remorseful for how he left, which was suddenly and for his emotionally manipulative ex. Still, he didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me. He wanted to be single, but he still started arguments with me for hanging out with another guy I’d dated after him.

I told him that I was glad we reconnected, but didn’t want to continue anything sexual. The almost month I’d spent without sex leading up to our tryst had instilled me with logic in the face of potential orgasms. I did the math and it wasn’t worth it. We had gambled once before, and quickly run short on beginner’s luck. I knew that history would repeat itself. He told me he was unable to even be around me, as a friend, if he knew sex wasn’t on the table.

It was a jarring experience, hearing my worthiness equated to my willingness to fuck, by someone I thought I loved and respected. Since then I have been considering the importance of sex, but mostly, I have been considering the ways I’d been using sex.

I realized I’d been having sex for a number of differently problematic reasons: control, affection, and validation, to name a few. I was doing it casually, but less for pleasure than for intimacy. Sometimes, I was doing it with people I didn’t care for, but forced myself to pretend to want to care. I often made sex into a challenge, focusing on conquering another person’s attention and emotions. It was all ownership and entitlement, under the guise of a deep and meaningful connection. I’d been absentmindedly ruled by oxytocin and directed by a dark, subconscious urge to manipulate and manage another person. Sex was imbued with expectation. It paved the way for disappointment when reality did not align. Sex had become a complication, more of an empty investment than a satisfying experience. Of course, sometimes I’d feel like doing it. But that desire was already being snuffed by my interest in growing and connecting in other ways.

Love is not about sex. Sex is not impossible without, but better with love. Sex is a very fragile thread to tie heartstrings with. Sex should supplement, not supplant an emotional connection. It took me ten years and a lot of sex to come to these conclusions. Sex is special and confusing. It is a powerful thing to share with another person, but used too often in the wrong ways.

A previous version of me may have begged for him to stay, to concede to his notion that our sex was an all-important form of communication between us and should flow freely as such. This version of me knows that sex is as important as we make it. And right now, it’s really not that important at all.

Dana is a 28-year-old writer and editor from Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter at @UnlimitedDana or visit her blog here. Her first book ‘Men’ is a collection of writing about love and relationships released in 2016. It can be purchased here.