Category Archives: Dating and Relationships

A Heart’s Guide To Clicking Unfollow

August 9, 2016

 

 

click unfollow v3

Mindlessly jump on Instagram for the twenty-second time that day with your feet digging into Virginia Beach sand. Soak up the fact that you are exactly 201 miles from home, and although this is not the tropical getaway you hoped for at the start of 2016, it’s the first trip you’ve taken for leisure in two years. That counts for something. Inhale the happiness that comes with traveling simply for the sake of relaxation and a few good, hard laughs with the friends who know you inside and out. Breathe in the little bit of golden fortune that life has offered you in this particular moment.

Then stop scrolling when you see his photo.

Wonder for approximately one minute and fifteen seconds why his photos are even still popping up on your Instagram feed. Contemplate what stopped you from deleting him sooner. Peer at the photo and then read the caption three consecutive times. Ruminate about the woman next to him in the photo. Observe her curly hair. Her toothy smile. Speculate about who she is and how she got pulled into his orbit. Make up facts you’ll never be able to verify like “She’s probably into yoga” or “I bet she owns mason jars” or “She’s definitely the kind of person who remembers to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.” Tell yourself she’s everything you’re not, and observe your confidence as it shrinks three sizes.

Feel like a jackass. Keep staring at the photo.

Recall that time three months ago when you called him at 5 p.m. on a Sunday and tried to pretend everything was normal, like you routinely called him at 5 p.m. on Sundays to chit chat about the weather. Then recall the time six months before when he sent you four lengthy texts in a row, gray blobs of emotions you couldn’t decipher. Remember how you responded by telling him his words were “ambiguous” and “overly decorative.” Relive that time three years ago when he couldn’t gather the courage to walk toward you and you couldn’t summon the nerve to walk away.

Feel like a jackass again.

Read the photo caption once more before you decide that the older you get, the less recklessly you will handle your heart. Remember that you are more of an adult now than you were three years ago, or even three months ago, and your tolerance for emotional masochism is withering away. Admit to yourself that most things are hardly ever as complicated as you and your stirred up soul make them out to be. Confess that once you strip this story of its melodramatic decorations, you are left with a tale as old as time: boy meets girl; it does not work out. Bite your tongue until you taste the bittersweet blood of reality.

Observe your confidence as it expands two sizes. Sink your toes deeper into the sand.

Remind yourself that most feelings are not like the neatly packaged lyrics of a Taylor Swift refrain. No, most feelings are a hazy and disjointed mess of flashes that will yank you around until you choose to steer the ship of your own spirit.

See this instance for what it is. Decide that your heart has been battle-tested enough. Choose to steer the ship of your own spirit.

Click unfollow.

And when Instagram asks if you really want to unfollow him, do not let the cancel button tempt you. Don’t let your thumb hover over it for long. Let it go. Say goodbye. Bid farewell to the social media ghosts of bygone lovers. Decide your present joy is worth much more than pollution from the bullshit of your past choices.

And remember that this life is a continuous unfolding of the things you take on, the things you let go, and sometimes the things you cling to for far too long.

Xoxo,
Tyece

On Love and Podcasts: The First Half Of 2016

August 2, 2016

 

The brisk January day when I said I was open to love

The brisk January day when I said I was open to love

I’ve teamed up with State Farm® as part of its Color Full Lives campaign, an initiative that promotes positivity & empowerment and celebrates all women in the African American community through a multitude of experiential and digital engagements. You know how this works-views, opinions, and musings of the unscripted kind are all my own. 

Somewhere in between our tapas and bottle of wine, I told my friend that this was the year I would be open to love. That was back in January, when the air was brisk and my heart was wide open. Like everyone else around me, I was pumped up with the kind of blind and inflated hope that ushers in a new year.

It’s August now. The air has grown thick and humid, and this heart of mine is more of a spectator to love, than a veteran recipient of it. Since that dinner in January, I moved my twenty-something self much closer to the District of Columbia, started swiping left and swiping right despite vehement declarations that I would never download Tinder, and watched time tick in the weeks that one man stopped texting me. And through it all, somehow, I’m still open to love – less as an eager pup hoping it manifests for me romantically, and more as an ardent and spirited observer of how that love has taken shape for people in my orbit.

The June day when I celebrated love, also known as my sister's wedding (photo credit Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Dejah Greene)

That beautiful day in June when I celebrated love, also known as my sister’s wedding (photo credit Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Dejah Greene)

Perhaps what I’ve learned most is that being open to love means just that – being open. It means extracting lessons from both the monumental and the molecular, keeping an ear out and an eye open for any pebble of wisdom you can garner from anywhere. I’ve collected a lot of that wisdom this year from podcasts. From the essayists behind the Modern Love podcast to the rapport between husband and wife duo Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson on #RelationshipGoals, there’s always something new to be gleaned from people’s perspectives on human connection.

And then there are the ladies of the Color Full Lives podcast.

Color Full Lives, a new podcast sponsored by State Farm, combines the sharp and influential voices of American radio personality Angela Yee, self-proclaimed “Duchess of Tech” Tatiana King Jones, and lifestyle influencer Francheska Medina, known for her brand Hey Fran Hey. During each episode, the women share their perspectives on everything from branding to diversity in tech. But, the episode that tugged at my heartstrings was episode 3 where the women broke down the raucous, unpredictable, and grey world of dating and relating. You can listen to it here.

 

Here are a few standout gems from the episode.

On trusting your partner in the age of social media | “If you have to look, you already know what it is.” – Angela

On balancing a public online presence with your private life | “I have a duty to protect myself and my family. They are people who did not sign up to be this public person.” – Tatiana

On dating a man’s potential instead of acknowledging his reality | “I’m a sucker for some potential. But, lesson learned. I’ve been burned too many times with that one.” – Fran

On not settling | “I’d much rather be single than be with the wrong person.” –Angela

On reconciling what a person looks like on paper with who they are in real life | “We tend to assume markers of success mean something about the mind of the man, but it’s not the case.” – Fran

On relinquishing the idea of saving or changing a partner | “Put your capes away! Why bother?” – Tatiana

These are all lessons we learn along the way if we are lucky, and early on if we are smart. But, we’re not always that smart. If there’s anything I’ve learned and heard reaffirmed from the women, it’s that the cobblestone road to love is a hands-on experience, a fight in the ring, a jump in the mud, and a dance with the devil. But, like the three of them, I am trying to both learn from my mistakes and laugh about them along the way.

That hot July day when I was surrounded by love

That hot July day when I was surrounded by love

I’m not sure how else “being open to love” will manifest this year. I don’t know if it will crystallize in some way or remain shapeless, coming to me through sound bites and spectatorship. But, what I do know is that I’ll remain open to whatever love – or podcasts – have to offer.

This post was sponsored by State Farm, as part of its Color Full Lives campaign. For more information, please visit https://www.statefarm.com/finances/

Salt

July 22, 2016

karen postA Guest Writers’ Week post by Karen Devigili

I still remember the way two of his lower eyelashes clung together as I saw the first palpable sign of sadness drop from them after hopelessly clinging on for a few seconds. The tear drop fell so violently, gravid with teeming despair. It fell past his remarkably high cheekbones and landed on his quivering chin, bending the rules of physics along with it. I watched it try to escape, unsuccessful, and ashamed of its existence as it lingered aside the corners of his lips.

His lips, his lips, his lips, the ones that used to carry the happiness I fell in love with, were now so rich with heart-breaking futility. And his eyes, pointed in my direction, still could not see me. They looked through me like a torn veil, standing between him and the world he used to recognize, obscuring his view of that sense of independence he craved so strongly. The one I took away. I used to think it so beautiful when he covered himself in me, self-sacrificial, and euphoric in my scent. The utter elation between the molecules that composed our stories, as we lay in my bed, “three hours feeling like 5 minutes”, he used to say. But he sat there, eyes glossy, looking at me like a misguided memory, concealing the truths he wished he could have chased.

I could suddenly see the places he would have gone, the nights he would have had to himself, establishing his organic youth further, as opposed to letting his restless wanderlust accumulate into frantic boredom like a pestering insect. He tried to ignore it for so long, and I watched him do it. He let it land on his sighs, as he swallowed the frustration of not knowing how to rid himself of it. He couldn’t kill it; he loved it too much. That tiny pest was the last reminder of who he used to be. And he slowly began to realize it used to be a part of him, he shouldn’t need to swat it away. Those were the days when he looked at me less, understood me very little, and became increasingly absent. I would have done the same had I not sacrificed every part of me that didn’t find a place in our relationship.

He didn’t just wipe his tears, he sunk his face into his hands, the kind of tragic image that called for a soundtrack. Indulgence on top of indulgence. I took a serious moment to try to describe to myself the kind of pain that I was feeling. “I need to remember this,” I thought, “This is important.” After abandoning my obnoxiously ruthless and habitual tendency to objectify the situation by imagining what my dopamine levels probably looked like, I took a deep breath.

I suddenly saw myself floating, naked, out somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, between continents, surrounded by a black sky: I am freezing cold, floating on my back and the waves, indifferent to my existence, continue to thrash me underwater every now and then, whenever they please. I can feel the sharp, dreadful sting of the salt water on dozens of cuts, scrapes, and wounds on my bruised pale skin, and yet the only thing I seem preoccupied with is the vastness of everything. As I stare at the black sky full of stars-so deceitfully miniscule- like specks of dust deliberately sprinkled above humanity for purely aesthetic reasons, I am only reminded of how unfathomable the size of what’s under me is. The ocean, the creatures, the wholeness of their interactions as they create this vapid kingdom.

And I float there, slightly amused by how paralyzing the searing pain of the salt on all of my wounds is. I can feel it on my beat-up blue lips, my mouth half open, inviting the pain. I begin to see what might look like some sign of life on my peripheral, but by the time my eyes shift, I realize I’m chasing a hallucination of a life boat that moves accordingly, mocking me. It is only then that I suddenly realize, like a striking shock to my system, the reality of my situation. I can see myself, lifelessly floating in the crux of it all-so far from everything. My body, thousands of miles away from civilization, between the distant stars and the vast ocean. And this realization, awakens my long-lost ability to have a visceral, painful, human experience.

I start to feel a tear streaming down my face as I find myself floating back to significance. Although they loyally drift through my skin and into their salty, boundless, counterpart that is the sea, my tears feel bigger than anything I could imagine. And the stars, oh the stars. The stars that looked like simple decorations moments before now shone with their glimmering, incandescent light, enchanting me with their effortless beauty. The blackness of their surroundings, the vigor with which they shone, so far and resilient, as they covered the sky, made me feel a special kind of painful joy.

That’s when I felt the warm trickle of reality roll down my own cheek, on that painfully sunny day as I looked at him, now sobbing. Fully aware that he was just as lost as I was, I knew he was at least on dry land. I always resented him for that, but I suddenly felt a warm sense of acceptance. I reached out and took his hands away from his face. I kissed his salty tears, knowing that although the salty water on my wounds in the ample monster of the sea would be thought much less favorable than his despair on land by most, I disagreed. Even through the blistering pain, there’s nothing like that black sky, nothing like the sea, and I’m sure he’s never seen as many stars as I have.

IMG_6904Karen is a communications professional with a passion for words. On her time off she likes to overthink how to spend her time off while watching YouTube videos with her dog. She currently lives in the DC metro area. Connect with her on Twitter @Silvana_Dev.

A Stupid Flick

July 20, 2016

donovan post

A Guest Writers’ Week post by Donovan Smith

We were locked in an argument coming down the steps of your front porch. I don’t even remember the topic, I just remember you being mad that I didn’t open your door after. Childish of me.

The ride there was like so many others we took that summer. I hated giving you the cord. The thought of jocquees squealing through my speakers made me nauseous, though I knew the harsh sounds of Nirvana b-sides, odd future, or satanic metal would do the same for you. I jumped track to track through Because the Internet in search of middle ground. No complaints, but no conversation either.

You were dressed for passion. Short shorts and a loose fitting shirt that cut off right at the belly button. I didn’t know you neglected a bra until we were already seated and it pissed me off. I was possessive that summer.

Jealousy couldn’t beat out my lust though. I copped a generous feel during a makeout session that was probably discourteous to the other moviegoers. It was an R rated movie; they’ll get over it. We had done much worse in the same theater.

You didn’t know I had already seen the movie with another girl the week before. We were “broken up”. You didn’t know that girl was my ex either.

It was a funny, stupid romantic movie. I didn’t plan on enjoying the movie or the date to be honest. Whatever I was mad about had already eaten up all the reserved space for happiness in the thought region of my brain. While I recycled my laughs to meet yours, there were times we looked at each other and your eyes met mine, holding my gaze with an entirely different pull. Softness. I was wearing you down that summer. I was too inward to realize that.

On the ride back you pressed the issue of us getting back together. I wasn’t into it. An argument we had multiple times before the date played out again at a much higher volume. I screamed. You laughed at me screaming. That pissed me off even more. I remember going above 70 on the interstate yelling at you while you giggled like an amused child. The thought of hitting you crossed my mind. I wouldn’t do it. I hated you with all I could gather, but I loved you even more.

You knew how to be mean and how to emasculate. Chalk it up to girl power. I could never match wits with you when it came to being hurtful. I never wanted to. But my uneven, mostly mute attitude always lent me a darker element. I made a comment about wrecking and killing us both as the truck barreled across the pavement. The words were sarcastic, but wrapped tight in dry delivery. You didn’t think that was funny. Neither did I, and seeing you become visibly disgusted with me made made me feel like the biggest asshole ever.

You didn’t want to go home with me anymore. I realized my mistake too late. I tried to lighten the mood and talk sweet. You wouldn’t let me touch you. It was silent when I pulled into the gas station to let you out. Your cousin waited in a parking spot to collect you and bring you home. I remember wanting so, so badly to hug you and cry and tell you I was sorry, but I couldn’t. Anger and pride and so much more underlying shit kept me from breaking down. You gave me a sarcastic smile when you stepped out and I finally moved. I flipped you off and drove away. I made my way home with no music playing and hot water on my face.

I never should’ve took you to see that stupid fucking movie.

Donovan Smith is a twenty year old from Chaneyville, Louisiana. He’s a depression prone young dude who takes refuge in twisting words in artful ways. Connect with him on Twitter @Lame__O and on Instagram @ _lord.nasty. 

I Must Confess, You Broke My Heart.

July 19, 2016

I wonder how it's possible that you could have completely shattered my heart while I was still trying to protect it.

A Guest Writers’ Week post by Lauren Harbury

For weeks I have sat in front of this laptop trying to find the right set of words. Words that would expose just how deeply you have hurt me, while helping me get over you. Words that would make you realize how badly you have fucked up… at least that’s what I want you to think.

I sit here and feel ridiculous. There’s the knowledge that whatever it was that happened between us was merely a blip on the radar. A short two month stint. Yet in those weeks you managed to wind yourself so deeply into my life that the mere absence of your name on my cell phone seems innately wrong.

How you could have knowingly lead me to open up to you, to share stories, scars and facts that not many people are privy to. How you could have lied in my bed, weary from “making love” at night, knowing that soon you would pack up your ever present backpack, never to return. How you could have met my friends and parents and how you could have introduced me to your people when you knew I didn’t really have a place next to you.

I sit here and wonder how you fucking sleep at night, but in the same thought, I wonder if I cross your mind before you fall asleep. I wonder if, like me, you wake up during the night and think of me, or if it causes a weird pain when Lil Dickey comes on.

I sit here and wonder how I let my guard down for you. I knew better. The words on your lips as you left, “I think you’ll find that I have been hurting you,” were as true as anything I could ever write. The way you brought me into your life and convinced me to stay is staggering. You made me feel safe, wanted, treasured, while simultaneously making me feel unstable, jealous and needy. You lifted me up, telling me that I was ingrained into your mind, sharing pictures and videos of your time with your son, talking about a future where I was there with you. You tore me down, waffling, waiting, playing games and pretending to be innocent.

You told me you were “leaning toward me”–something I should have recognized as beyond fucked up from the moment it left your lips. Asking if it was really “bad” to be lying next to me and texting I love you guys to someone else. Wrapping your arms around me each time a piece of my heart broke off on the jagged corners of your life. Convincing me that I was something truly special, not only to you, but to the world. Something cherished.

You knew that you were going to break my heart, yet you kept coming back because it was easy. I was nothing more than a vacation from what had become a hard life for you to live. I was a fun pit stop on the highway of life, a layaway where you could find adoration and support. A layaway where you could find someone to fuck. Where you could find someone to love you. Where you could feel safe.

There are so many worst parts of what happened, but the sense of being used is overwhelming.

You told me you were falling for me. You told me you wanted me to meet your brother, and more importantly your son. You spent so much of your time here, with me, holding my hand, kissing me, making love with me. You seemed so genuine, so happy. You seemed so honest, so caring. You seemed so funny, so brilliant.

You said you loved my mind, how smart I am. You said you had been looking for someone like me for so long. You said that you were ready. You said you loved that I was interested in your mind, in your stories, in your work, in the things that made you tick. You said I made you feel safe and wanted and important.

Was it just a lie? Was any of it true? Or did it just not matter?

Was it a game that you wanted to win? A trophy to put on top of your dresser? Was it nothing more than a joke, watching me make a fool of myself for you? Was it just fun to have a “rich girl” take you out for massages? Was it just a moment of weakness?

I hate that I miss you and I hate that I give a shit. I hate that today I read an article about the negative effects of giving your children melatonin and the first thing I thought about was Sean*. I hate that I listen to Sia’s House On Fire and Halsey’s Ghost and think that those two songs capture my feelings completely. I hate that every house I enter and every book store I pop into has The Goldfinch on display. I hate that you think you have the power to tell me that I can’t write about you, when you’re just afraid of the things I could say.

I hate that you think you know me, know exactly how I’ll react and what I’ll think. I hate that you had the audacity to say that you couldn’t have the pressure of knowing that I would wonder if you are coming back. I hate that you said you would miss me, but that you wouldn’t tell me. I hate that you cried. I hate that you made me feel like I needed to comfort you. I hate that you found me endearing, if your words are to be trusted.

I hate that you invited me into the relationship you have with your son, having me sit next to you while you FaceTimed. I hate that you played house with me; I hate that I know how you take your coffee and exactly how toasted you like your bagel. I hate that I know what your living room looks like and that on Thursdays I picture you sitting at the table working. I hate that after reading the first thing I wrote about us, you said that you never wanted me to feel that way. Then you did exactly the same thing.

I want to hate you, but I can’t. Instead I am trapped in this mind of mine, wondering where you are and what you are doing and if you are ever going to figure it out.

Lauren is a twenty-something who can often be found searching for the perfect IPA. An ex-Portlander, she is enjoying the warmth and sunshine of the East Coast, while acting as the glue to this network of amazing, talented individuals. She is the proud parent of a perfect rescue pup named Snugs, and just recently checked off the 14th country on her travel list. If she had it her way, she would wear lulu lemon every day, and always have a beer at lunch.

Connect with Lauren at www.twentysomethingliving.com and on Twitter @laurenharbury.