Velvet and Leather: The 28th Birthday Post

October 12, 2017

 

There is something magical about the way women can morph and expand, retract and reinvent. It’s a different sort of evolution than that of men. Because there is something unique and exquisite that happens to a woman’s insides when she falls in love or witnesses her heart shatter, gives birth or confronts death, reaches ground zero or rises to Mount Rushmore.

Most of the women you know have had one million lives in a single lifetime. They have danced at their weddings. They have fallen for the wrong men. They have won big and lost hard. They have started over. They have buried their husbands. Sometimes they buried their babies. They have walked away from six-figure salaries and started businesses. They have recovered and they have prevailed. Yes, there is something so magical about the way women move through this world. The way their feet touch the floor. The way their hearts float outside of their bodies.

It is only now as you’re on the cusp of your thirties that you have started stepping into your own magic. Morphing. Expanding. Retracting. Reinventing. It is only now as you’re on the cusp of your thirties that you identify first and foremost with being a black woman, an identity that’s dripping in equal parts splendor and struggle.

You have been so many different women during these past eight years. You’ve been a machine. A crop-top-wearing, soul-baring feminist. A hermit. A voyager across a tightrope without a net. A shrill voice on the Internet. A bundle of insecurities. A wild child. A fledgling. A fireball. A girl dying to be loved. A woman ready to be loved. A human being unsure of how to be loved. A terrible person. A good person. A halfway decent person. You have been one man’s sins and another man’s sunrise. A wino. A wannabe. And a writer, through and through.

Traces of each of these women are still somewhere inside of you, particles that compose the atoms of whomever you will become. Even now as you write this post, you feel rumblings of the woman you were in your early twenties beating ever so softly in the middle of your chest. You can’t always quell her as much as you crave. Sometimes you are just as bewildered and lovelorn as that girl you were at 23, bewitched from the ghosts of lovers gone by.

And yet, there are a multitude of differences between that woman and the one now staring at the sunset of her twenties. You think much more now about who you want to be and how you want to show up in the world. Bold intention has replaced blind ambition. You blog less because you cradle your words more. You don’t say the things you do not mean, let alone give voice to them on the Internet. You no longer yearn to be funny or cool or aloof. Instead, you want to be poetic and warm and affected. You consider the tapestry of both good and bad karma you’ve knitted for yourself over the years, so you try harder to do right by people. You try even harder to do right by yourself. Most days, you manage to get through and keep your soul in tact. Some days, you still blow everything up and watch it burn to ash.

You still love deeply. You still cry hard. You still screw up. You still want things and experiences that feel out of range. You still wonder when it will all make any sort of sense. You still wear your tough exterior with battle scars hiding underneath.

But, nowadays, you are both velvet and leather, a woman who has decided her softness and severity are allowed to coexist. You’ve relinquished that gnawing desire to be just one person or trot along just one path. You are beginning to understand the richness of being a mosaic. You lust after a life with countless textures.

I hope you will read this a year or ten from now, and rest assured knowing that this was only the first line of your life’s love ballad. I hope you will read this and realize just how much you were already well on your way. I hope you will read this and know that there is beauty on the other side of battle.  I hope you will read this and be that much closer to both the things that seem so near and those that still feel beyond your reach.

Happy 28th Birthday.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Stories That Vibrate: Not Quite Over You

October 3, 2017

[A note for listeners: today’s installment is NSFW.]

Collect the majority of the men I’ve dated. Summon them to a room. Bring me in. Close the door. Witness my heart as it flutters, twists, turns, and sinks.

Because when, truly, are we ever over the lovers who at one point or another set us free?

I only heal because of time, disruption, willful ignorance and the next person who comes along to set me free once more.

The essay you’re about to listen to was penned more than four years ago, but its themes still ring true, albeit in the tone of different people. Different places. Different points in my lifelong love story. Here’s the second installment of Stories That Vibrate, “Not Quite Over You.”

 

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