Category Archives: human connection

The Unbearable Weight of What If

October 23, 2017

There are some things still tangled in the boughs of your belly. Memories. Mistakes. Mayhem. Men. You’ve been carrying them around with you not realizing that these are not just things, but instead they are bricks. Weighing you down. Collapsing your core. Holding you back from the freedom to fly.

You will not know it. You will not know that every time your mind flickers to that memory or dances with the devil, your center of gravity sinks. You will not know it because it is so easy, or so it seems, to walk lightly even as your insides are cloaked in the weight of what if.

What if? You hardly ever say it aloud, and yet the idea still sprints through your mind, a stampede of fantasies you can’t quite seem to surrender. What if you reached out again? What if it never happened? What if you didn’t say that? What if you destroyed the memories of what was and penned a new story on a crisp set of blank pages?

And, perhaps most poisonous of all, what if he still thinks about you too?

This last one is the brick that weighs one ton, a theory you have dressed your heart in for months on end. It is the reason why you have grown cold and left your soul in limbo. It is the boulder pulling you down the most.

What if?

You will not know the toxin of what if until reality replaces reverie, and you aren’t left to wonder anymore. You will not know just how much what if was weighing you down until you let out a loud cry on a Sunday evening, your skin and hair still drenched from the shower, a hot pink towel wrapped halfway around your body. In that moment, there will not be anymore what ifs. There will only be you, your boundless curiosity, and the photo of him with his arms draped around another woman.

This is not what if. This is what is.

This moment will become your redemption song, a severe but necessary jolt to bring you back to what’s true. What’s real. What is yours and yours alone. This is your baptism by fire. Your blend of blind rage and breakthrough. This is the flash that will finally give you the freedom to fly once more.

You deserve a life that does not hinge on hypotheticals or doors only left halfway ajar. You cannot breathe off of sheer possibilities; you require much more air than that. You are the sum of stars and moons and entire galaxies; can’t you see how much love you have to give? You cannot fit gallons of your heart into a test tube of a man. They will spill over, only for him to tell you that you are the one who made this mess. You are not a woman who has to settle for fractions of affection; the totality of someone’s love is your birthright. Know that. Honor that. Cherish that. Preserve that. Do not spend another moment of this life overloaded by the weight of what if.

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

When You Really Are A Gem

July 27, 2016

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Adapted from Sunday Kind of Love, July 17 edition

I came to know those walls the same way my fingertips knew the maze of muscles in your back–familiar and foreign, all at once. There was the Tracy Chapman poster. The coffee table from West Elm. The drawing your ex-girlfriend sketched using only ink pens. I knew exactly where you kept the ice trays; I popped three cubes out once and dropped them into a drink you made for me–lemon juice, Jameson, and a touch of water to even it out.

Your father died when you were young. Your mother is still in Sierra Leone. Your favorite beer is Stella Artois. See, my romantic life is laced with half-baked histories about men who no longer matter. I’ve only recently discovered that I’m not proud of this, I’m not proud of how I’ve never been able to embody Lauryn Hill’s advice not to be a hard rock when you really are a gem.

That night was stale with the scent of familiarity. The loss of novelty. The final flicker of the spark. It didn’t feel like the first night I came over and we joked with our Uber driver on the way from the bar or that time we split a bottle of wine and listened to Kid Cudi. No, that night was our default, our convenient place, our skin-deep status quo.

And when we found ourselves on separate sides of the couch, only ankle deep in a debate about whether or not people are happiest when they’re in love, I stopped you. I casually said, “Well none of this really matters because we’re just kicking it, right?” And in some crevice of my heart, the part of me that acknowledged I am a gem trying so fiercely to be a hard rock, I hoped that you wouldn’t agree. I hoped that you would stop me and tell me that I was wrong; I shouldn’t say things like that.

But, you didn’t. You fell silent and when I asked again if you agreed, you softly said that you did.

It has been some time now since you answered with that stroke of silence. We no longer stitch ourselves into the threads of each other’s Friday nights. To say I miss you would be an overstatement, but to say I don’t think of you would be a myth. Except I think of you now the way that women in the autumn of their twenties think of men from their past, with fewer floods of nostalgia and more trickles of appreciation. Because in some strange and contorted way, I needed you. I needed you to remind me that I am not a woman who ever “just kicks it.” I needed you to show me my heart grew two sizes too large to have maintained a charade of indifference. I needed you to be there during a season simmering with young, wild, and free whims of the twenty-something kind. I needed you to carry me just far enough away to feel fire, but not so far away that I couldn’t find my path back home.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

 

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.