Category Archives: human connection

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. 

Too Much For You

May 10, 2016

I am too many walls to break down, too many questions to answers, too many tightropes to traverse, too many risks for the average man to take

When I meet him, I let my fingers rest on his back for two seconds too long. He’s leaning over the bar, trying to wave the bartender down. But once I arrive, the allegiance of his attention shifts. 

He introduces himself, offers up his seat, and orders me something I’ve never drank before but would like to have again. And then the night begins to unwind the way most nights like this do, with a pair of hands that find themselves lower on my spine as one hour bleeds into the next. We laugh. Exchange stories. Say yes to the shots even though in some creek of our judgment, we know it’s not the best idea. I joke with him that he’s dangerous because I’ve never matched up well with fellow libras. He retorts that libra women possess an intoxicating kind of charm, one that he keeps referring to as The Inveigle. 

When he kisses me, he does it slowly and with intention, an art I’ve found most men never learn. And when we part ways, two dim bars and one late night pizza later, I decide that I like him and want to see him again.

It’s the kind of evening I want to collect and save in a bottle for some 25 degree night next winter. But this little thing unraveled, the way most little things like this do. Something he said only an hour into our conversation that sweet spring night kept sending an unpleasant electric shock through my memory.

He told me he was ready to settle down. Have a wife. Make some babies.

I knew I wasn’t ready for any of that, but I kissed him anyway. I also wondered if the same men who unwaveringly say they are looking for a wife are just as sure they’re ready to be a husband.

The tightly knotted coils of that night disentangled rather quickly, folding into a blur of text messages that made me scoff more than they made me smile. And it was the last thing he said that has been singing a miserable love ballad in the back of my head ever since.

I understand if I’m too much for you, Tyece. 

There are things we never get the chance to say, so we write them instead.

He was not too much for me. But, perhaps I may have been too much for him, with my unruly spirit and mess of a self. I may have been too much with my unwillingness to quietly nod yes and fit into his mold. I may have been too much when I did not fall into praise dances at his urgency to start a family. I may have been too much because the reality is that most days, I am far too much. Most days, my heart is ten sizes too big for my body. Most days, I lose hours traipsing through the broken boulevards of my mind. Most days, I don’t have the tolerance for the dead end road of “What’s up?” text messages or interactions that insult the depth of human connection. Most days, I am too many colors and too many lights and too many sounds. I am too many walls to break down, too many questions to answers, too many tightropes to traverse, too many risks for the average man to take.

Funny how this life works. Because most days I’m the one forced to reconcile the reality that I’m far too much for you.

Xoxo,
Tyece