How We Mold The Memories

photo1-13I let my third set of tears drop somewhere in the neighborhood of 5:30 a.m. Commonwealth Avenue is quiet at that hour aside from another occasional car whizzing by. In the backseat of an Uber, I pass by Agganis Arena, a place that included a beautiful mess of families and friends standing outside of it only 12 hours before, needling their graduates to pose for photos. I half smile thinking about my own memories from those hours prior. I feel my face begin burn with emotion. The tear drops one minute before the driver asks me if I would prefer him to take a different route. I tell him no, this is perfectly fine. I want to soak up the city of Boston this way for what will probably be the last time in a long time. I want to remember this place with these new rose-colored recollections and a soundtrack of laughter playing behind them. I want to just sit and cry some happy tears for awhile. 

My face has burned with many emotions over the year–dim shame, unbridled anger, and blue-gray sadness. But, this feeling was something entirely different, and I couldn’t quite label it so definitively. This emotion was a special brew of pride and happiness and love. Somewhere underneath those tears, I felt my insides swell with joy because someone I treasure ripped the red tape off of a seemingly unreachable finish line.

This life is filled with days that all blend together with demands and relentlessness. This life is filled with the things we don’t always want to do and the people we don’t always want to see. But, every now and again, this life offers us something rare and platinum, a memory that we forever etch in the sands of time. If we are even the least bit lucky, this life surrounds us with just a few solid people who make our breaths count.

And, if there’s anything I’ve learned in these tender 26 years, it is that you have to show up for those people. You have to get on the plane or jump in the car or ride on the train. Show your face. You have to be there, for the birthdays and the babies, the tunnels and the trenches. If you don’t ever do anything else, you simply have to be present with your hand raised high. This life is about showing up for the people who matter in the ways that mold their memories. There are wrinkles in time that a text message or Twitter mention will never do justice.

Boston is a place filled with my emotional land mines. But, this past weekend took a place I’ve never remembered fondly and finally gave me some blindingly beautiful memories to bring home. This past weekend reminded me that by showing up for the people who matter, they too show up for us in ways we didn’t even know we needed.


Rocking Chairs


Last summer your mother and I sat in rocking chairs on her front porch talking about you. In the thick, hot heat of August, we talked about life. About broken hearts. About getting laid. About pain and God and the hot coals your death left underneath our feet. Noon became 2 p.m., and 2 p.m. became 5 p.m. I wasn’t ready to leave, so we got something to eat at the Noodles and Company in Hunt Valley. It’s that one right across from Wegman’s, the same Wegman’s we ran through as rambunctious teenagers before it was finished being built.

That afternoon with your mother, I kept glancing at my phone, knowing that my mom was calling to make sure I would be on time to see Straight Outta Compton. But, leaving your mother meant leaving the closest thing I have left to you, so I sent up five silent prayers for time to stop. That day, it almost felt like if we talked about you enough, you might just show up. Like if we kept telling stories and sharing laughs, you would zoom up in the red Jetta, waltz up the sidewalk, and say something outrageous and irreverent.

Before we parted, I urged your mom to have a birthday party a few weeks later. And because I knew I’d be in Baltimore, I bought a few flowers from the grocery store and showed up on her birthday to celebrate. I joked with her friends and other people I didn’t know. She told them about the essay, the one I wrote about you that’s now in the book. We ate cake and drank Coronas, but the air felt empty and hollow that evening.

Because it does not matter how many jokes we tell or how many laughs we bellow. They are not your jokes. They are not your laughs.

When someone leaves, the sound of their voice slips through your fingers like water. It’s the first thing you lose in a tornado of torture.

At least the pictures remind me of your face. But, I do not have your sounds anymore. The way it sounded when you laughed or said my name. The base in your voice when you said hello. The intonation when you told the story of your latest fling.

I want to believe the others when they tell me you’re somewhere in the sky, watching over all of us. I want to believe in a God who encourages me that I will see you again. I want to believe that you’ve ascended and climbed away from this ephemeral life on Earth. I want to believe that you moved on to greener pastures and better days.

But, find me on the not-so-good days, and I am not there. I do not believe. Find me on the not-so-good days, and I miss you like hell. Find me on the not-so-good days and I am angry with you for not seeing my new apartment or being the first person I call when I’m wondering if a guy really likes me or witnessing these past five years here. On Earth. Next to me. By my side. I get mad at you, the same way I did when we were rambunctious teenagers just running through an unfinished Wegman’s.

Sometimes I have not-so-good days. Because I am human, and when you left, one fourth of my heart went with you.

So, when I can’t sit in rocking chairs with your mother, I write about you. I let you run through my veins in these sentences and breathe again through these words. When I can’t sit in rocking chairs with your mother, I remember and relive you the best way that I know how.


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This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 


I Think I Could Love You.


I think I could love you.

But, “think” is too flimsy, and “could” is too theoretical, and love is too loaded. Too nebulous. Too big for me to wrap my arms around, too heavy for me to wrap my mind around, too wild for me to wrap these words around. Because if I loved you in the ways I thought I could, then it would mean digging deep and diving under and doing this thing. With you. See, if I loved you in the ways I thought I could, then it would mean a one-way street to some place we’ve never been without a path back to this place we’ve always known.

But, I think about going to that some place.

I think about that one-way street. I think about leaving this place we’ve always known without the possibility of retracing our steps. And, in the small moments when I let my mind sweep me up and carry me away, I think about forever. About building something together. Because with you it seems so simple. So duh-yes-of-course-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that. It seems like if we were two people who summoned the courage to hold hands, our fingers would fold into one another’s without fumbling.

Except this would not be so simple. At least that is what logic and life and the scars on my heart all tell me. They all tell me that this would be taking our something simple and muddying it. Tangling it. This would be taking something so uncomplicated and foolishly choosing to complicate it.

It wasn’t always this way. What I feel about you ebbs and flows, crashes and burns, dies and gets resurrected again. Because I am a complex woman with 1,000 hearts that all beat at rates I can’t quite understand. I am a woman who falls in and out of love at record speeds. I am a woman who sees possibility in most men’s eyes and can extract meaning from even the most hollow words. Human connection is my drug of choice, and when it comes to you, most days I think I found my best high.

But, then I reel myself back in. I fold myself back up. I return to earth and convince myself that you and I are not the kind of people who walk down one-way streets. You and I are not two people who will hook ourselves to each other just so we can dive under.

Except I know these are all lies. Because I could love you. I could love you in all of the ways I ever imagined loving someone–messy, untamed, wild, beautiful, and complicated.


WYAO April general promoThis post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Ready to do this thing? Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

Two Minutes And 37 Seconds

I want more stories we never told blended with sins we always commit. Maybe that’s what I never knew–that I wanted more.

You were in rare form that night. And for two minutes and 37 seconds, I saw you.

See, I’ve seen you at least four dozen times. Crawled under your comforter. Used my fingertips as brushes and painted broad strokes on your back. Asked you the best way to negotiate a salary. Sat on your couch and watched YouTube videos. Mixed jack with ginger and benefits with friendship. Wished you a Happy Birthday and texted you Merry Christmas.

Oh, I have seen you. And up until that moment, I always just assumed I knew you. Because isn’t that how it works? We know people for years, so we must know them. We laugh with them and drink with them and call them up for advice. We start to equate years with knowledge. We start to connect dots of familiarity with other dots of assumption until we decide that we’ve completed the sketch.

Except I didn’t know you. I did not know you until we stood there in the wee hours of the morning, clothed in a lack of inhibition and not much else. I didn’t know you until those two minutes and 37 seconds when you looked at me and clawed your guard down. Told me your story. Revealed your humanity. Undressed your masculinity. Unveiled your scars.

I did not know you until then. All these years and I did not know you until then.

I want another two minutes and 37 seconds. And another. And another. See, I think I could want a lifetime of two minutes and 37 seconds. I want more stories we never told blended with sins we always commit. Maybe that’s what I never knew–that I wanted more. Maybe that’s what’s been hiding underneath my layers for all these years. You clawed your guard down. So here I am, clawing mine down too. Except I am the cowardly lion, roaring my truth and knowing you’ll never hear it.

Something tells me that I will not get another two minutes and 37 seconds. These years will pass. Time and adulthood and sheer distance will pull us apart. I will fall in love or you will fall in love, but not with one another. We will move on. Things will change. We’ll outgrow the invincibility of our twenties. The hunger of our twenties. The we-fall-hard-and-pretend-we-don’t-give-a-fuck recklessness of our twenties.

But, for now, we have those two minutes and 37 seconds. I know I won’t forget them. I hope you don’t regret them.


The Perfect Storm: She Who Believes Recap

The Tribe at She Who Believes

The storm has brewed inside of me for some quite some time. Winds have roared, rain has poured and entire houses have been blown away. Everyone likes to say there’s a calm before the storm. But this is the storm before the calm. That day I walked into She Who Believes was the day thunder shook everything in my not-so-distant past. It was the day I couldn’t summon my storm to be quiet any longer. It was the day I had to toss my umbrella aside so I could get drenched once and for all.

But, first, rewind. Rewind to Wednesday, July 1 in the “living room” section of Founding Farmers when I sat with Roconia having dinner. Rewind to a moment when She Who Believes was simply an idea penned across several pages in a notebook. Roconia and I sat at dinner for almost two hours before she started divulging the gems about what she planned to do and precisely how she planned to do it. I quietly applauded her for protecting the vision that long. I rooted her on and I did that thing I do where I get way too revved up in a public place. I remember telling Roconia that I planned to attend another event on that same day, but I promised to be there in spirit.

Little did I know on Wednesday, July 1 just how much my spirit would need to be there on Saturday, September 19.

Fast forward to She Who Believes, an event with a simple objective: help women visualize our way toward our ideal lives. A simple objective, but a boulder of an undertaking when you consider the complexity of womanhood, the fragility of our dreams and the moving target of our ideal lives. Fast forward even more to halfway through the event when life coach and motivational speaker Ayana Coston commanded the room’s attention. I instantly liked her. Her energy. Her pacing. Her bright orange pants. She was someone I wanted to listen to. So, I did. And when she started outlining her idea of a successful life, I noticed just how much her definition contradicted my own empty one. I wanted the kind of success she alluded to, the kind of success rooted in peace, joy and freedom.

Ayana locked eyes with me for all of five seconds, and that is when I felt the storm.

I let the wind roar. I let the rain pour. I let all of the houses blow away.

I let myself be that awkward girl at the event who cried her hideous cry and required someone (thank you, Yetti!) to bring her tissues. I let myself buckle over and feel shittier-than-shit. I let myself finally acknowledge that the way I’ve done things hasn’t always worked. The things I’ve believed haven’t always yielded happiness. The goals I’ve fought for simply haven’t always been worth it. I let myself surrender to the storm and I told myself that it’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.

There are moments that allow us to break chains we didn’t even know existed.

I gave Roconia the nickname R Squared for Revolutionary Roconia a few weeks ago. What she created with She Who Believes was nothing short of revolutionary. Since those few hours on Sept. 19, things in my life have been set into motion. I’ve felt a new blend of courage getting stirred inside of me, one that has propelled me to grasp things I shied away from just months ago. I I said yes to a spoken word opportunity that only a month ago I deemed myself unqualified for. I sit with my legs crossed in the dim hours of each morning silently preparing myself for the day.

I’ve committed to living my most fulfilling and creative life. Not an entrepreneurial life. Not a powerhouse life. Not a boss life. Not a life that looks great on the outside but feels hollow in the middle. But a solid, vibrant and creative life. With family. And friends. And things that make me feel good even when they’re not tethered to any sort of perceived success. A life rooted in the things Ayana mentioned–peace, joy and freedom. So, I wiped the slate clean of many of my upcoming plans in favor of spending autumn focused on just being happy. Creating the things that mean the most to me. Spending time with people who mean even more to me. Not holding my feet to the fire. Not kicking myself in the ass. But instead, enjoying the calm after the storm.

Thank you, Roconia, for starting a revolution and sparking my evolution.