On Loving and Writing

Photo by Dalal Nizam on Unsplash

Originally published in Aug. 5 Sunday Kind of Love newsletter

I.
Loving you is something like swimming in still waters and driving with the windows down. Easy. Calm. Even. Smooth. I once believed that love was more of a roller coaster, with skyrocket moments and precipitous drops. Perhaps that is why I was so afraid of it, convinced that any sort of love would come complete with complicated emotions and an ongoing rumble of anxiety. I only ever knew relationships that involved waiting with bated breath for text messages that only sometimes arrived and squeezing substance out of small exchanges. My sole sign that things had crashed and burned came from a stream of silence on the other end—forcing me to read in between the lines, pour a glass or two of Cabernet Sauvignon, listen to SZA on an endless loop, and pick up whatever shards were left.

II.
But, then I met you. I used to think people were full of it when they would say “And then you just meet someone.” It seemed to oversimplify the kind of shift I imagine would only ever be tangled, difficult, and impossible to find. But, everything I once believed about love shattered and is now being to rebuilt. I’m still putting the bricks together. I’m still remembering to stop holding my breath or waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m still savoring the taste of “I love you” on my lips. I’m still soaking up the way it sounds coming from your end. I’m still learning how to be kinder and softer, unarmed and not so sharp at the tongue. I’m still learning the responsibility that comes with holding another person’s heart in your hands. I’m still learning. My sweet love, I am still learning.

III.
I fell in love with you early on a Friday afternoon, in a one-bedroom apartment on the other side of the world. 74 Franklin Street in Adelaide, South Australia. It was gray and overcast, the kind of day destined for curling up in a ball and flipping through television. I would fly to Sydney later that night, but not before I sent you a voice memo, with the phrase “I’m falling in love with you” cutting in somewhere around the one-minute mark. We were two weeks in to the trip by then, with another three remaining before we would see each other again. The weeks we spent apart did not necessarily make us, nor did they break us. As we both would probably put it now, we survived and are glad it’s over. But, with an ocean and a 13.5 hour time difference between us, I learned that there is something unwavering about you. There is something that lifts me up and keeps me steady. Perhaps this is not the stuff that fairy tales are made of. But, I do believe it’s the stuff that lives are built on and upon which lasting commitments are forged.

IV.
The Buddhist says if you meet someone and your heart pounds, your hands shake, and your knees go weak, then that’s not the one. So often, my past relationships felt like walking across dilapidated drawbridges that could give way at any moment. High highs and ground zero lows. I’ve now learned that love is much more balanced and rooted. Love should not leave you flailing or fighting for air.

V.
I spent five years writing about heartache and aching for connection. It seems strange to say that finding love has now made it more difficult to write, at least in a public forum. It’s strange, but true. In fact I’ve been doctoring these words for a few weeks, afraid to relinquish them to any of the online spaces that I’ve abandoned for the greater part of the year. I’m trying to uncover where I go from here—how I transition from lovelorn to in love, from lost to a little more found—and still manage to tell stories that resonate, roar, and ring true. I’m not sure if I even want to tell some of these recent love stories, now that they have shape, soul, and another person I admire attached to the end of them. I want less of my life out there now. Some days, I wish I could collect every morsel I ever left on the Internet and take it all back.

VI.
And I wonder if some of the magnetism and magic of my writing from these past few years was because heartache is so easy to understand; pain is a story we’re drawn to because we can so easily identify it in ourselves. Sometimes I flirt with the idea of writing about past lovers just so I can still sound like the same girl and writer I used to be. I’m still learning how to write from the vantage point of the woman I am now, a woman who feels a bit more grounded, somewhat more judicious, and a lot less willing to surrender her life to the Internet. I’m uncovering the voice of a woman who is searching less and discovering more.

VII.
Joy and love aren’t always easy for others to access. But, isn’t that the work of a writer, to take any sort of human experience and distill it from abstract to accessible? Maybe that is where I begin again. Love is a much more complex language for me to write in—harder to learn firsthand, tough to scribe in, and even more difficult at times to understand.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Honoring the Space In Between

The feeling of a pen in my hand dressing a blank page is foreign to me.

It is perhaps the greatest irony and embarrassment for a woman who identifies as a writer. But, it is also the reality of a woman who identifies as a blogger. A woman who has told the Internet a lot of her secrets. A woman more comfortable typing within the four walls of a WordPress frame than penning on a piece of loose leaf. A woman who hasn’t kept a steady diary of her inner thoughts since freshmen year of college. A woman who just recently took up a self-discovery course, hungry for it to catapult her back into journaling. A woman who now knows that public wounds still require private healing. A woman trying to find her way back to writing off the record.

Woman.

A woman who has been transforming and watching her tides turn for some time now. A woman at the juncture of who she shared with the online world and who she became when they weren’t watching. When they weren’t reading. When they weren’t there to bear witness.

Five years after breaking ground on this blog, I am less wedded to the trademark of being in my twenties. I have foregone impassioned rants about rent and the relentlessness of adult responsibilities. I feel less compelled to preach and pontificate, all too aware of how that approach diluted so much of what I wrote early on. I do not need to shout from the mountaintops that I am a feminist or a millennial or any of the other labels I once wore so proudly. I simply need to live the life I am convinced is mine for the taking. Some times, I need to write about it. Other times, I just need to walk in it.

Tyece – 2014 [photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams]
Nowadays, I am more wrapped up in my womanhood and all of its complexity, fragility, and multiple dimensions. What started as a coming-of-age outlet brimming with angst has transformed into a sea of thoughts and ideas about what it means to shape one’s place in the universe. What it means to feel lost and found in the same body.What it means to experience life in a way that often times feels different and unconventional from the way those around me live it. What it means to honor the past without allowing it permission to dismantle the present. What it means to be a woman who aims to thrive with intention, substance and self-possession.

I also crave a more private life now. A more full-bodied life. A life that takes shape off the screen. A life that doesn’t beg for documentation. A life and a set of memories that can stand on their own two feet. There are times when I thumb through my book or scroll through my blog archives, cringing at how I made parts of my personal life so public. But, perhaps all I can do is appreciate that version of myself from afar, a girl who gave the digital world all of the fearlessness and chutzpah she had. She is the reason I now know how important it is to snatch some of that fearlessness and chutzpah back from online airwaves and return it to myself.

So, this blog anniversary is not like the others. It’s a milestone that arrives with the most bittersweet blend of celebration, reflection, nostalgia and vision. I always knew I would not wait until I turned thirty to answer the question, “What happens to the blog when you’re not in your twenties anymore?” I would not wait for the arrival of a new decade to force my hand; I would only wait until the Universe whispered that it was time to begin again.

Tyece – 2017 [photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams]
The Universe started to whisper a few years ago, prompting me to register a domain that’s been waiting in the wings. There is still a bit more left here at Twenties Unscripted to do. But, I’m assured that when I move out of this Internet home, I will be ready to start construction on a new place. A place that will evolve over time. A place that will give me new layers of purpose and meaning. A place that I will pour parts of myself into. A place that will come alive with my signature blend of poetry, prose and power. Another place that I can call my own.

Five years feel right. They feel round. I feel ready for a new leg of the marathon.

But, for now and the balance of the year, I will honor the space in between. Between Twenties Unscripted and her successor. Between being a woman well on her way while still a work in progress. The space in between a shrill life on the Internet and a rich existence outside of it. The space in between the vastness of the ocean and the stable sand of the shore. The space in between then and now, past and future, yesteryear and everything that’s still to come.

Here I am, at the space in between, prepared to honor it with my whole heart.

Happy 5th Birthday, Twenties Unscripted.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Bruised Knees, Scraped Elbows: What I’ve Learned From Cultivating Twenties Unscripted

What a wild ride the past year has been.
What a wild ride the past year has been.

The best lessons come by way of bruised knees and scraped elbows.

There are things people could have told me early on about blogging that wouldn’t have translated at the time. Because there are things that don’t make sense until you creep through the dark tunnels of this Internet writing journey with only a caving head lamp and a heap of faith to see your way through.

It’s hard, nearly impossible, to believe that I’ve now blogged on Twenties Unscripted for the same amount of time I spent earning a college education. I remember who I was when I started school and who I was when I graduated, and it hits me that the ways in which a person can metamorphose in only four years are unending and unexpected. It hits me that who I was when I purchased this domain and who I am now as I pen this post are two very different versions of myself, with Twenties Unscripted as the single most important thread to tie those two women together.

Nonetheless, I’ve managed to keep this little corner of the Internet lit with my fire, despite  extinguishers sometimes blasting my way. I gave birth to something I believed in, nurtured it, helicopter-parented it at times to the point of agony, and finally started trusting in a little bit of what I learned along the way. If my bruised knees and scraped elbows from four years of blogging could grab the mic, here’s what I’m sure they would say.

Don’t be afraid to look back.

We hear a lot about the danger in looking back, the temptation to cover our memories in make up until they become unrecognizable. But a little reflection every now and again never turned anyone into Lot’s wife. Your blog is your evolution, accessible whenever you need a testament to how much you’ve grown and how much grace you needed. So, don’t beat yourself up too much when you read the posts you wish you would have waited to publish. Try not to scoff or cringe at all of the f-bombs you dropped in 2013. Blogging is a here and now kind of sport. It is about game time decisions. Whims of the heart. The audacity to click publish, time and time again.

And don’t spend too much time looking forward.

All of your plans on pretty paper and all of your goals on giant post it notes are no match for the Universe’s magic. Give her the space to pull rabbits out of hats. Resist the urge to litter every single month with some sort of plan in hopes of keeping yourself relevant. There comes a point where the work speaks for itself and no longer requires your megaphone. And that point only arrives when you leave enough space on the page for the Universe to fill in the blanks. The Universe cannot perform magic if you only leave the margins empty.

Don’t get so hungry for the future that you starve yourself of the present.

You’ve got to let life happen. You don’t have to wait for that life to make any sense before you write it down. But, you’ve got to let life happen and you’ve got to be there when it does. You won’t look back and regret the nights you didn’t blog; you’ll regret the nights you didn’t show up, the nights you flaked, the nights you said no to that you’ll never get a chance to say yes to again.

Create boundaries.

As a personal blogger, your mind is your business, so the boundaries teach other people how to mind their damn business. Give yourself permission to go off the grid without summoning guest writers to substitute your space. Say no and mean it. Find polite ways to tell people to go kick rocks. Let go of the need to explain your whereabouts or whys. The people who need to know where you are always will. Consistency matters, yes. So does your sanity. So does your freedom. So does the rhythm of your tiny beating heart.

Choose your tribe wisely. Then show up for them all the way.

Some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Say it again: some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Your tribe is a group of creatives dependent on the land of their art to survive. Your tribe is not integrated into the trends of the broader online society. So once you sort through the riff raff and inevitable bullshit of the Internet, you’ll be left with your tribe. Those are the only people you really have to show up for. Those are the people you book bus tickets for, the people you clear a weekend for, the people you root on from your seat in the front row. Don’t let the pervasiveness and ease of social media fool you; there are moments where you simply need to be in the room and show your smiling face.

Remember that there is a pencil thin line between jealousy and admiration, one that gets harder to toe the more social media you consume.

Mute them if you need to, unfollow them if you must. Consume purposefully. Intentionally. Proactively. Deliberately. Go to the online spheres you adore when you are well and ready to taste them, without wanting to snatch their recipes or compare them to whatever’s cooking in your own kitchen.

And, above all else, always say what you need to say before considering what they need to hear.

You are not required to speak to the times or reflect popular culture or go viral. You are required, however, to write your heart out, to tell the truth, to tear down walls, to break chains, and to never give the page any less than you know you have.

Happy 4th birthday, Twenties Unscripted.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

Announcing Twerk, Write & Roar: Celebrating Four Years of Twenties Unscripted

Blog anniversary graphic

This happened somewhere on a rooftop bar in Chicago, after my Jack and coke and before my Corona. This happened after an 11-hour work day where I almost gave in to my old habits, the ones that tempt me to say no to plans when I know I should say yes. This happened while I sat next to Melissa Kimble for the first time ever, even though the minute we started talking, it felt like we’ve spent a million Tuesday nights together at a bar named Reggie’s.

I threw around both of my potential ideas for this year’s blog anniversary theme with Melissa, and the minute this one came out of my mouth, we both knew.

“That’s it,” Melissa told me. “That’s you.”

The words “twerk” and “write” as a duo have been sashaying through my head since the beginning of the year. I didn’t quite know what life they would take on, but as I approached my four-year mark, they finally made sense as the umbrella for this year’s theme. And roar? Roaring is my native tongue. It’s what I’ve been doing on this blog since 2012. It’s the verb that explains everything from the fonts I choose to the opportunities I create. It’s the reason I’m here: not to whisper my truth, but to shout it from the Internet skyscraper I built by hand.

Twerk, Write & Roar captures where my heart and mind are at this distinct wrinkle in time. This year has been unprecedented when it comes to my sense of personal freedom and my detachment from the treadmill. This year has been about writing my definition of carefree black-girling. This year has been about kindly pointing my middle finger to a drum that beats to the tune of fighting to remain relevant in an ever-changing online world. This year has been about silencing the noise and listening to my heart, whether her tune is a lengthy and lovelorn ballad or the best 16 bars I ever heard. This year has been about bottomless celebration. It’s about embracing the here and now despite every single demon in my head that cries to connect the dots of the future. This year has taught me that it’s one thing to live the life you’ve always imagined, but it’s another to live one you never expected.

So, let’s celebrate, shall we? Deets below.

07.15 | Twenties Unscripted DC Happy Hour 5 p.m. El Centro, 14th Street Location
If you’re in the DC area, head over to El Centro for drinks and turn up.

07.16 | Twenties Unscripted honored at Black Weblog Awards
While this is a ticketed, closed event, I can’t thank you all enough for helping me win the Best Writing in a Blog award last year! I can’t wait to celebrate with the other honorees during what’s always a very special month for me.

07.17 | Special 50th Edition of Sunday Kind of Love Newsletter
It’s hard to believe I’ve sent almost 50 editions of my Sunday Kind of Love newsletter. Look out for a special edition on July 17. You can subscribe here.

07.17-07.23 | Guest Writers’ Week – Submissions due July 10
This is always one of my favorite parts of the blog anniversary month. It’s a chance to showcase the voices of other talented writers, many of whom inspire me on the daily. If you’re interested in learning more and submitting your work for this year’s Guest Writers’ Week, click here.

And finally, the book will be on sale all month! Purchase your discounted signed copy here starting Friday, July 1.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Peril and Pilgrimage of Personal Blogging

personal bloggingPlease do not ask me who I wrote that about.

I did not write the essay so that you could connect the dots and draw conclusions. I did not write the essay so that you could conjure up assumptions about whose arms I’ve been in and whose fingers have grazed my soul. I did not write the essay so that you could fill in the gaps or furnish the blanks. I wrote the essay because I am not the only one with unrequited love stories and nights with Adele on repeat.

I do not want to tell you what I do in my free time.

Because then I’ll drop my voice and tell you that I like to blog. And then you’ll ask about that blog and I won’t want to elaborate. Not at first. I won’t want to tell you that I left my heart wide open on the Internet. I won’t want to tell you that I write a lot of things that would make you raise your brow and take a step back. Maybe two. I won’t want to tell you that if you really wanted to climb into the hammock of my mind, you could grab yourself a bottle of red and pour through post after post.

But I wish you didn’t think you really knew me. Because in both grand and molecular ways, you do not.

I wish you didn’t take the liberty to say things like “That’s your signature look” or ask me how I paid for my Macbook. And I wish you didn’t start sentences with, “Well, I read on your blog…” I wish you didn’t slip off your shoes in my house and get all comfortable. I wish you didn’t mount me up on some imaginary pedestal, only to unsubscribe from my newsletter when you got tired of hearing my thoughts. I wish you would use my words as a mirror to your own life instead of a magnifying glass on mine.

I hope you did not fall in love with me from something you read.

Because I am flesh and I am skin. I am eyes that light up and a smile that crams my whole face. I am a voice that never gets below a certain decibel and a laugh that invades everyone’s space. I am sweaty palms and fingernails that never have polish. I am a person. A human. A beating heart. And you need that person, that human and that beating heart if you stand any chance at falling in love. The words help, but they are only a fraction of my whole.

But, maybe I should not ask. And maybe I should not wish. And maybe I should not hope. Because somewhere along the line, in a world of infopreneurs and lifestyle bloggers, I planted my flag in the world of personal blogging. I strapped up my boots and decided to climb to the mountaintop. I turned away from going viral or writing listicles. I dedicated myself to telling stories and stripping my soul bare. See, the world is crammed with documentaries. Photos and quotes and vestiges of damn good days. But, it’s all autobiographical. It’s not personal. It tells the story of someone’s existence, but it never unearths the emotions.

Personal blogging is a pilgrimage toward unearthing the emotions of any and every experience. Personal blogging is a pilgrimage toward writing the words that the world doesn’t even know it needs to hear.

So, maybe I should not ask. And maybe I should not wish. And maybe I should not hope.

Because when I started the pilgrimage, I opened myself up to the peril. The assumptions. The overtly and unapologetically personal questions. The conclusions. The hunger to fill in the blanks. The ephemeral love and loyalty. The appetite to learn and hear more. But far away, on the opposite end of that spectrum, there is safety. There is love. There is a tribe and there is a testimony. There are open minds and people who don’t need to read in between the lines. So I will relace my boots and keep marching on.

Xoxo,
Tyece