Category Archives: reflection

Embracing Blessings and Waiting to Exhale

April 3, 2017

Photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams

Listen for the whir of tires.

Any time I back out of my parents’ driveway, that is what I do. I listen for the whir of tires. With blind spots in both directions, the only way to know if a car is coming down the road is to turn the radio down and listen for the whir of tires.

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I want to collect the past three months and put them into words, but those words aren’t coming easily. I want to do the thing that feels most natural to me–wrangle the emotional cyclones and personal shifts that have been whipping around and turn them into verses. But I am not quite sure how to distill everything from this past season into a brew of letters and words. I am not quite certain how to tell you that right around the time the cherry blossoms began to bloom, my world elevated. Things changed. Layers shed. Old paths gave way to new galaxies. Prayers I never thought to utter were answered.

Yes, I want to collect the past three months, bottle them up, and uncork that bottle with prose and paragraphs and poetry. I want to walk you through the maze of emotions I’ve felt and experiences I’ve had, a maze I believe explains why I’ve spent much more time in my head than on the page. I want to tell you that many days, I still hold my breath when things seem too good to be true. I still wait for the ground to move beneath my feet. I still do the mental math of all of the dreadful things I’ve done and wonder when my good fortune will expire. I still know how cyclical and seasonal life is, and I struggle with the fine line between embracing my blessings and waiting to exhale.

But the words do not come as easily anymore. They do not always arrive at 7 p.m. when I sit down with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. I can’t squeeze them out the way I once did. The experiences want to linger much longer. The words want to play and dance in my mind much more. And those words often times arrive at inconvenient hours, like 12:50 a.m. when I should have been in bed two hours before. The words are stubborn now; they want to wait to land thunderingly in the ink of book 2. The words don’t always want to get dropped off into an Internet abyss, a place that doesn’t feel like home as much as the crisp pages of a memoir.

Evolution is a fragile thing. A complex thing. A dense thing. Evolution is a knotted thing, not easy to photograph or document or, in this case, wrangle into words. Evolution is not pronounced or easily predicted. Sometimes it is the kind of thing you only notice once you are en route to the next place, glancing into your rearview mirror and realizing just how much the town behind you has changed.

But, if you listen for the whir of tires, sometimes, you know an evolution’s coming. You hear it, first from afar and then up close.

I did not always listen for the whir of those tires. But, they are within earshot now.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Rip Through Me

February 6, 2017

I’m on my way to drinks with a friend when I realize I’m passing the restaurant where you serve part-time. My eyes dart through the window of the barely lit dining room and a fraction of my beating heart hopes to see you. It is the fraction that misses your laugh and jokes and carefree way of gliding through the world. It is the fraction that wrote you letters and returned to the last thing I penned for you any time a pang of wistfulness pulled at my gut. It is the fraction flooded by nostalgia, the part of my heart that lives waist deep in the recollection of when things were good.

And, yet, when my eyes dart through that barely lit dining room, there is another fraction of my beating heart that hopes not to see you. It is the fraction that knows memories are fun house mirrors, distorting our versions of reality. It is the part of my heart that holds hands with my mind, the two both worn thin from the emotional gymnastics my early twenties put them through. It is the fraction flooded by practicality, the part of my heart that lives waist deep in the recollection of when things fell apart.

I did not see you that night.

But, still, my memories of you are land mines, recklessly dropped across streets of the District.

On the way back to my car after drinks, just as the last traces of flashbacks fell away from me, I passed that Cheesecake Factory. It was the one where we had dinner on my birthday. I idled there and let myself get lost on a dark Clarendon street. I listened to my steps slow down as my heart sped up, the highlight reel of that night suddenly far too fresh in my mind. The Grey Goose before dinner. The way we both looked dressed in all black. Your encouragement that I wear the heeled boots instead of the flat ones. Your hand casually tossed across mine in the back of an Uber. The driver who said you were a lucky guy. The way we made waves rise and crash when night melded with morning.

My memories used to be loaded guns, cocked unflinchingly at my peace of mind. My memories were once defunct compasses, always leading me back down dead ends by way of phone numbers I promised I’d never dial again. But, now my memories are not much more than memories, emotional currents that rip through me and eventually find rest.

That night, I gave those thoughts permission to rip through me. And, sure enough, they eventually found rest.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Something About Turning 27

January 12, 2017

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My feet are on a different sidewalk of solid ground. I don’t know when it happened. It seems foolish to say that there was something about turning 27 a few months ago that picked me up from the rubble of earlier days and dropped me in this newfound place. Because there is hardly anything special or magical or definitive about turning 27. I am still new. Green. Young. Impressionable. Prone to making mistakes. I’m still following a compass that sometimes sends me into deep seas and dark oceans.

So, yes. It seems foolish to say there was something about turning 27 that reshaped the world and my precious place in it.

And, yet, there was something about turning 27.

There was something about driving up to the sunset of this first decade of adulthood, something that has pushed me to trim the fat, face the facts, and apologize less for the spaces I inhabit. There was something about this age that yanked the curtain up on the woman I am instead of the woman I spent one too many years trying to be.

There comes a point where you can’t run away from yourself; that point both liberates and elevates you. Maybe that is the something about turning 27.

I’m through with running away from myself. I am through with sitting under dim lights as I lean coyly over the table, saying one thing to a man while my spirit screams another. I am through with barricading myself behind walls and praying they won’t crumble. I am through cutting emotional deals with the devil or pouring gasoline on my wildfire heart just to keep up appearances. My portrayal of the cool girl while I was in my early twenties deserves a standing ovation, but she has performed her final act.

Sometimes knowing what you’re not is just as important as knowing who you are.

I am dense and intense, fragile and flammable, a woman with her heart turned up two volumes higher than recommended. I am the sum of all of the goodbyes I ever said and all of the scars they ever left. I am equal parts concrete and shattered glass, whole and broken, complete and wildly unfinished.

And, yet, here I am. Because there was something about turning 27 that summoned me to start singing all of the notes on my staff.

I want to fall hard. I want to dig deep. I want to dive under. I want to taste love on my lips. I want to live big. I want to apologize less. I want to take up all of the space the Universe already carved out for me. I want to stop wanting and instead start soaking up the distance in between then and now, before and after, the things that were and the things that will be.

Maybe therein lies the sweet something about turning 27.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Growth You Can’t See, Height You Can’t Measure

December 29, 2016

growth-you-cant-see

There is not a yardstick for this.

There are not rulers or scales or levers to measure the woman I’ve become. I can’t assess her according to numbers, can’t spit her out on the other side of an equation, can’t plot her on a graph where x marks the spot. I would be doing the woman I’ve become a disservice if I crammed her into the box of digits we so often and mistakenly appraise people by: salaries or weight or age or likes or karats.

All I know is that things are different now. Something is different now. The woman I am is different now.

Maybe I became this woman sometime in early spring, donning a flower crown and shedding inhibitions while drinking smuggled-in whiskey at a music festival. Or maybe I became her one balmy summer night on U street, flirting with a man who was once a much-needed jolt of electricity and now resides in the archive of my other fond memories. Maybe I became her some time in autumn when I gave my heart permission to grow five inches wider and let someone in. Maybe I became her sometime right before winter when I gathered all of the courage in my body and said goodbye.

Or maybe I became this woman during the more motionless moments–on the Sundays I sat with my cat folded next to me; on the weeknights when I lied on the couch contemplating all of the things that could be next; in the hours when I welcomed silence as an answer and not a threat; in the minutes when I chose to bid farewell to the things and people and feelings that no longer served me.

Or maybe I have always been this woman, this web of complexities, this yin and yang of free-spirited and committed, creative and corporate, spontaneous and forward-thinking, lost and somehow still found. Maybe this woman has always brewed beneath the surface and I spent too many years foolishly trying to measure her by arbitrary markers, force fitting her into the box of digits. Maybe this year I finally just let her be and live and dance and twist and shout.

Maybe she is better off that way.

So, at a time of the year when many people’s declarations tingle with the hope of everything they want to leave behind in the year ahead, I want to take the woman who always brewed beneath the surface with me. I am bringing her moxie and her newfound comfort with not always knowing what’s next. I am bringing her resolve and her familiarity with letting go. I am bringing her unpainted fingernails, her beloved neon pink sweater with the hole in it, and her inability to keep flowers alive. I am bringing her yin just as much as I am bringing her yang. I am bringing her heart, one that I know will expand again whenever the time is right and the person on the other end is ready for a heavyweight kind of love. I am bringing her spring and her summer, her autumn and her winter. I am bringing all of her seasons and all of the tides that turned within them.

I am bringing this woman I’ve become with me. She is my greatest compass for wherever the road weaves and however the wind blows. And when I survey this woman, I will know that there is not a yardstick or a scale or ruler on this planet that can measure her coming of age. Evolution is simply not a numbers game.

So if I could offer you anything in my last post of the year, among the chorus of feel-goodness you’ll consume in the coming days, maybe it’s this: a wish that we’ll put the measuring tape down in 2017. It’s a yearning that we won’t wedge the many ways in which we blossom into that box of digits that don’t matter. Instead, let the seasons come and let the tides turn. Let the moments bloom and let the mountains crumble. Let the messes spill and let the waves crash. Let the life happen and let the words follow. Be and live and dance and twist and shout. Grow in the directions not everyone can see. Stand tall in the ways that simply can’t be measured.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Not Getting Over, But Moving Through

December 22, 2016

Photo by GG Renee Hill

Photo by GG Renee Hill

There is something about 6:47 a.m. that my emotions can’t hide behind. They can hide behind 1:23 p.m. when I’m at my desk gulping down a cup of afternoon coffee. And they can hide behind 10:12 p.m. when the day’s events have finally worn me out and I doze off to Hey Arnold! while lying on the couch. But my emotions can’t hide behind 6:47 a.m. when I am 17 minutes into the day and all too aware of what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. At 6:47 a.m., I am in tune with the stitches of my heart that are coming undone.

Mornings are both beautiful and unforgiving in that way.

In the time since I’ve substituted my essays with other people’s love stories on this space, I wrote and concluded a love story of my own. The country imploded overnight. I danced at a friend’s wedding and shouted “Surprise!” at another friend’s going away party. I’ve watched some of my closest friends move up north and out west in a short span of time. I dug my feet into the hole I feel from not busying myself with plans for a showcase next year. I traded in publicly pouring out my heart for doing it semi-privately in other places. Some nights I told myself that I would write, only to end up opting for MSNBC viewing and 9 p.m. naps instead.

That is the thing about your twenties, and maybe that is the thing about life. You have to ride the waves when they’re high, but you owe it to yourself to ride them when they’re crashing, too.

These days, and particularly some of these recent moments, are less about getting over things and more about moving through them. Feeling them. Letting the reality bite and allowing the truth to sting. I am detached from quotable inspiration plastered to Instagram feeds, urging me to bounce back in less than 60 seconds. These days I am most drawn to letting my emotions breathe and take shape.

So, I am reeling and dealing and fighting to hold fast to faith. I am laughing and crying and feeling it out as I go. I am thinking and contemplating and sometimes only coming up with blanks. I am reminiscing and reflecting and missing summer sunsets from early September. I am craving what once was, flinching at what it became, and grappling with what will be. I am reconfiguring all of my jagged jigsaw pieces in hopes of remaining whole. I am certainly not getting over, but I am absolutely moving through.

Xoxo,
Tyece