The Allure of the Mess

I wanted to believe that we could live somewhere above labels and the law. When I think of it now, it all seems so juvenile and silly, two adults with deepening feelings for one another and a refusal to put definition around them.

“We’re both adults; we know what we’re doing and not doing,” I told you on our second date. But by the eighth or ninth date, only one part of that sentence remained true. Yes, we were both adults, but I no longer had any idea what we were doing.

Somewhere in the realm of 1 a.m. Australia Central Time and 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, my boyfriend and I dig through my jagged relationship history. I tell him about you. I mention you and the lawyer who lived in the basement and the guy who flew in for the weekend. It’s the end of my first week in Australia, and he and I are on one of our longer calls, not limited by the confines of one of us needing to go to work or go to bed. He doesn’t understand it, the way I’ve willingly subjected myself to emotional mazes, mixed signals, and dead end roads with most of the men I’ve dated. I don’t quite understand it anymore either.

“Why are people drawn to messy situations?” he asks.

I try to explain it, almost in the interest of defending myself, until I realize that there is not much more than a heaping pile of dirt and bullshit to defend.

And yet, there is something alluring about the mess. At least that’s what I once believed. I believed there was something beautiful and boundless about an obscure relationship that still contained all of the vivid emotions of a defined one. I don’t know if I lived in the grey by choice or by default; looking back on it, I’m sure it was some combination of the two. Either way, that amorphous spot became my home and fueled the narrative I wrote repeatedly for five years. The mess became the magnet of my writing over the years, a gravitational pull for all of the women who had fallen for someone among a field of red flags. There we were, united on common ground with the burned love letters of half-baked lovers shredded beneath our soles.

Maybe we stood on that ground because we so hopelessly believed in sparks, even after they subsided and turned to ash. Maybe it was because we were convinced we could change people and the way they were wired, firm in our belief that the connection we forged with them would compel them to commit to us. Maybe it’s because we fell in love with the idea of bad boys, even when they proved they were still years away from being good men. Maybe it’s because the emotions pulled us under and we didn’t know how to come up for air. Maybe waiting for texts and holding our breath became reflexes, and we couldn’t learn how to live any other way. Maybe it’s because we scoffed at monogamy, realizing how on trend it was, and still is, to remain detached while sifting through an endless assortment of options. Maybe we were scared to admit that the idea of one life with one person sounded beautiful or terrifying or some blend of both. Maybe we were afraid to let someone in and show them our scars; maybe we only ever knew how to be someone’s sweet escape. Maybe we were even more afraid that our one life with our one person would never come.

I’d like to believe I redeemed myself from the mess. I’d like to think I walked away and bid it farewell because I became a stronger woman, resolute in what I wanted and the kind of affection I was willing to wait for. This is the story I like to tell myself.

But, I never really escaped the mess. Something greater and more solid just found me first.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Stories That Vibrate: Every Time I Want to Text You

Revisiting your old writing is less like looking in the rearview mirror and more like finding your way back home. Your first home. The place you grew up in. The space and land and grass and fences and hardwood floors that all remind you of a distinct era in time. You are not that writer anymore. Your sentences are cleaner; your voice hums with intention. You are not that woman anymore. Your life has more shape; your purpose now has testimonies behind it. You are not that human being anymore. You are a product of the way time heals old wounds and gives way to new evolution.

But, that is still your home.

Two years ago, I put this thing out into the Universe called a book. And at the time, it was my life’s work. Now, there are days when I’ll nonchalantly thumb through it and flinch at the blind audacity and ignorance of some of the things I put in ink. But, it’s still home. Those are still my stories. There are still traces of that woman I used to be hidden in my crevices. Hell, there are still parts of that woman taking up space at my core.

Stories That Vibrate is a limited edition series that revives five of my favorite essays from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity through audio. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share these on the blog. A huge thanks to my creative partner-in-crime Austin Weatherington (who produced the audio for last year’s Love Me Well project) for producing this series, and affirming this vision long before I even started recording.

It’s been a hell of a year, and I haven’t been able to visit this Internet home as much as I would like. But, I hope you’re still vibing with me and I hope you enjoy this first installment of Stories That Vibrate. Here’s “Every Time I Want to Text You.”

If you’d like to read the full essay, head over to purchase your copy of the book.

Xoxo,
Tyece

A Heart’s Guide To Clicking Unfollow

 

 

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Mindlessly jump on Instagram for the twenty-second time that day with your feet digging into Virginia Beach sand. Soak up the fact that you are exactly 201 miles from home, and although this is not the tropical getaway you hoped for at the start of 2016, it’s the first trip you’ve taken for leisure in two years. That counts for something. Inhale the happiness that comes with traveling simply for the sake of relaxation and a few good, hard laughs with the friends who know you inside and out. Breathe in the little bit of golden fortune that life has offered you in this particular moment.

Then stop scrolling when you see his photo.

Wonder for approximately one minute and fifteen seconds why his photos are even still popping up on your Instagram feed. Contemplate what stopped you from deleting him sooner. Peer at the photo and then read the caption three consecutive times. Ruminate about the woman next to him in the photo. Observe her curly hair. Her toothy smile. Speculate about who she is and how she got pulled into his orbit. Make up facts you’ll never be able to verify like “She’s probably into yoga” or “I bet she owns mason jars” or “She’s definitely the kind of person who remembers to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.” Tell yourself she’s everything you’re not, and observe your confidence as it shrinks three sizes.

Feel like a jackass. Keep staring at the photo.

Recall that time three months ago when you called him at 5 p.m. on a Sunday and tried to pretend everything was normal, like you routinely called him at 5 p.m. on Sundays to chit chat about the weather. Then recall the time six months before when he sent you four lengthy texts in a row, gray blobs of emotions you couldn’t decipher. Remember how you responded by telling him his words were “ambiguous” and “overly decorative.” Relive that time three years ago when he couldn’t gather the courage to walk toward you and you couldn’t summon the nerve to walk away.

Feel like a jackass again.

Read the photo caption once more before you decide that the older you get, the less recklessly you will handle your heart. Remember that you are more of an adult now than you were three years ago, or even three months ago, and your tolerance for emotional masochism is withering away. Admit to yourself that most things are hardly ever as complicated as you and your stirred up soul make them out to be. Confess that once you strip this story of its melodramatic decorations, you are left with a tale as old as time: boy meets girl; it does not work out. Bite your tongue until you taste the bittersweet blood of reality.

Observe your confidence as it expands two sizes. Sink your toes deeper into the sand.

Remind yourself that most feelings are not like the neatly packaged lyrics of a Taylor Swift refrain. No, most feelings are a hazy and disjointed mess of flashes that will yank you around until you choose to steer the ship of your own spirit.

See this instance for what it is. Decide that your heart has been battle-tested enough. Choose to steer the ship of your own spirit.

Click unfollow.

And when Instagram asks if you really want to unfollow him, do not let the cancel button tempt you. Don’t let your thumb hover over it for long. Let it go. Say goodbye. Bid farewell to the social media ghosts of bygone lovers. Decide your present joy is worth much more than pollution from the bullshit of your past choices.

And remember that this life is a continuous unfolding of the things you take on, the things you let go, and sometimes the things you cling to for far too long.

Xoxo,
Tyece

A Stupid Flick

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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. 

I Must Confess, You Broke My Heart.

I wonder how it's possible that you could have completely shattered my heart while I was still trying to protect it.

A Guest Writers’ Week post by Lauren Harbury

For weeks I have sat in front of this laptop trying to find the right set of words. Words that would expose just how deeply you have hurt me, while helping me get over you. Words that would make you realize how badly you have fucked up… at least that’s what I want you to think.

I sit here and feel ridiculous. There’s the knowledge that whatever it was that happened between us was merely a blip on the radar. A short two month stint. Yet in those weeks you managed to wind yourself so deeply into my life that the mere absence of your name on my cell phone seems innately wrong.

How you could have knowingly lead me to open up to you, to share stories, scars and facts that not many people are privy to. How you could have lied in my bed, weary from “making love” at night, knowing that soon you would pack up your ever present backpack, never to return. How you could have met my friends and parents and how you could have introduced me to your people when you knew I didn’t really have a place next to you.

I sit here and wonder how you fucking sleep at night, but in the same thought, I wonder if I cross your mind before you fall asleep. I wonder if, like me, you wake up during the night and think of me, or if it causes a weird pain when Lil Dickey comes on.

I sit here and wonder how I let my guard down for you. I knew better. The words on your lips as you left, “I think you’ll find that I have been hurting you,” were as true as anything I could ever write. The way you brought me into your life and convinced me to stay is staggering. You made me feel safe, wanted, treasured, while simultaneously making me feel unstable, jealous and needy. You lifted me up, telling me that I was ingrained into your mind, sharing pictures and videos of your time with your son, talking about a future where I was there with you. You tore me down, waffling, waiting, playing games and pretending to be innocent.

You told me you were “leaning toward me”–something I should have recognized as beyond fucked up from the moment it left your lips. Asking if it was really “bad” to be lying next to me and texting I love you guys to someone else. Wrapping your arms around me each time a piece of my heart broke off on the jagged corners of your life. Convincing me that I was something truly special, not only to you, but to the world. Something cherished.

You knew that you were going to break my heart, yet you kept coming back because it was easy. I was nothing more than a vacation from what had become a hard life for you to live. I was a fun pit stop on the highway of life, a layaway where you could find adoration and support. A layaway where you could find someone to fuck. Where you could find someone to love you. Where you could feel safe.

There are so many worst parts of what happened, but the sense of being used is overwhelming.

You told me you were falling for me. You told me you wanted me to meet your brother, and more importantly your son. You spent so much of your time here, with me, holding my hand, kissing me, making love with me. You seemed so genuine, so happy. You seemed so honest, so caring. You seemed so funny, so brilliant.

You said you loved my mind, how smart I am. You said you had been looking for someone like me for so long. You said that you were ready. You said you loved that I was interested in your mind, in your stories, in your work, in the things that made you tick. You said I made you feel safe and wanted and important.

Was it just a lie? Was any of it true? Or did it just not matter?

Was it a game that you wanted to win? A trophy to put on top of your dresser? Was it nothing more than a joke, watching me make a fool of myself for you? Was it just fun to have a “rich girl” take you out for massages? Was it just a moment of weakness?

I hate that I miss you and I hate that I give a shit. I hate that today I read an article about the negative effects of giving your children melatonin and the first thing I thought about was Sean*. I hate that I listen to Sia’s House On Fire and Halsey’s Ghost and think that those two songs capture my feelings completely. I hate that every house I enter and every book store I pop into has The Goldfinch on display. I hate that you think you have the power to tell me that I can’t write about you, when you’re just afraid of the things I could say.

I hate that you think you know me, know exactly how I’ll react and what I’ll think. I hate that you had the audacity to say that you couldn’t have the pressure of knowing that I would wonder if you are coming back. I hate that you said you would miss me, but that you wouldn’t tell me. I hate that you cried. I hate that you made me feel like I needed to comfort you. I hate that you found me endearing, if your words are to be trusted.

I hate that you invited me into the relationship you have with your son, having me sit next to you while you FaceTimed. I hate that you played house with me; I hate that I know how you take your coffee and exactly how toasted you like your bagel. I hate that I know what your living room looks like and that on Thursdays I picture you sitting at the table working. I hate that after reading the first thing I wrote about us, you said that you never wanted me to feel that way. Then you did exactly the same thing.

I want to hate you, but I can’t. Instead I am trapped in this mind of mine, wondering where you are and what you are doing and if you are ever going to figure it out.

Lauren is a twenty-something who can often be found searching for the perfect IPA. An ex-Portlander, she is enjoying the warmth and sunshine of the East Coast, while acting as the glue to this network of amazing, talented individuals. She is the proud parent of a perfect rescue pup named Snugs, and just recently checked off the 14th country on her travel list. If she had it her way, she would wear lulu lemon every day, and always have a beer at lunch.

Connect with Lauren at www.twentysomethingliving.com and on Twitter @laurenharbury.