How We Mold The Memories

photo1-13I let my third set of tears drop somewhere in the neighborhood of 5:30 a.m. Commonwealth Avenue is quiet at that hour aside from another occasional car whizzing by. In the backseat of an Uber, I pass by Agganis Arena, a place that included a beautiful mess of families and friends standing outside of it only 12 hours before, needling their graduates to pose for photos. I half smile thinking about my own memories from those hours prior. I feel my face begin burn with emotion. The tear drops one minute before the driver asks me if I would prefer him to take a different route. I tell him no, this is perfectly fine. I want to soak up the city of Boston this way for what will probably be the last time in a long time. I want to remember this place with these new rose-colored recollections and a soundtrack of laughter playing behind them. I want to just sit and cry some happy tears for awhile. 

My face has burned with many emotions over the year–dim shame, unbridled anger, and blue-gray sadness. But, this feeling was something entirely different, and I couldn’t quite label it so definitively. This emotion was a special brew of pride and happiness and love. Somewhere underneath those tears, I felt my insides swell with joy because someone I treasure ripped the red tape off of a seemingly unreachable finish line.

This life is filled with days that all blend together with demands and relentlessness. This life is filled with the things we don’t always want to do and the people we don’t always want to see. But, every now and again, this life offers us something rare and platinum, a memory that we forever etch in the sands of time. If we are even the least bit lucky, this life surrounds us with just a few solid people who make our breaths count.

And, if there’s anything I’ve learned in these tender 26 years, it is that you have to show up for those people. You have to get on the plane or jump in the car or ride on the train. Show your face. You have to be there, for the birthdays and the babies, the tunnels and the trenches. If you don’t ever do anything else, you simply have to be present with your hand raised high. This life is about showing up for the people who matter in the ways that mold their memories. There are wrinkles in time that a text message or Twitter mention will never do justice.

Boston is a place filled with my emotional land mines. But, this past weekend took a place I’ve never remembered fondly and finally gave me some blindingly beautiful memories to bring home. This past weekend reminded me that by showing up for the people who matter, they too show up for us in ways we didn’t even know we needed.


Rocking Chairs


Last summer your mother and I sat in rocking chairs on her front porch talking about you. In the thick, hot heat of August, we talked about life. About broken hearts. About getting laid. About pain and God and the hot coals your death left underneath our feet. Noon became 2 p.m., and 2 p.m. became 5 p.m. I wasn’t ready to leave, so we got something to eat at the Noodles and Company in Hunt Valley. It’s that one right across from Wegman’s, the same Wegman’s we ran through as rambunctious teenagers before it was finished being built.

That afternoon with your mother, I kept glancing at my phone, knowing that my mom was calling to make sure I would be on time to see Straight Outta Compton. But, leaving your mother meant leaving the closest thing I have left to you, so I sent up five silent prayers for time to stop. That day, it almost felt like if we talked about you enough, you might just show up. Like if we kept telling stories and sharing laughs, you would zoom up in the red Jetta, waltz up the sidewalk, and say something outrageous and irreverent.

Before we parted, I urged your mom to have a birthday party a few weeks later. And because I knew I’d be in Baltimore, I bought a few flowers from the grocery store and showed up on her birthday to celebrate. I joked with her friends and other people I didn’t know. She told them about the essay, the one I wrote about you that’s now in the book. We ate cake and drank Coronas, but the air felt empty and hollow that evening.

Because it does not matter how many jokes we tell or how many laughs we bellow. They are not your jokes. They are not your laughs.

When someone leaves, the sound of their voice slips through your fingers like water. It’s the first thing you lose in a tornado of torture.

At least the pictures remind me of your face. But, I do not have your sounds anymore. The way it sounded when you laughed or said my name. The base in your voice when you said hello. The intonation when you told the story of your latest fling.

I want to believe the others when they tell me you’re somewhere in the sky, watching over all of us. I want to believe in a God who encourages me that I will see you again. I want to believe that you’ve ascended and climbed away from this ephemeral life on Earth. I want to believe that you moved on to greener pastures and better days.

But, find me on the not-so-good days, and I am not there. I do not believe. Find me on the not-so-good days, and I miss you like hell. Find me on the not-so-good days and I am angry with you for not seeing my new apartment or being the first person I call when I’m wondering if a guy really likes me or witnessing these past five years here. On Earth. Next to me. By my side. I get mad at you, the same way I did when we were rambunctious teenagers just running through an unfinished Wegman’s.

Sometimes I have not-so-good days. Because I am human, and when you left, one fourth of my heart went with you.

So, when I can’t sit in rocking chairs with your mother, I write about you. I let you run through my veins in these sentences and breathe again through these words. When I can’t sit in rocking chairs with your mother, I remember and relive you the best way that I know how.


WYAO April general promo

This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 


I Think I Could Love You.


I think I could love you.

But, “think” is too flimsy, and “could” is too theoretical, and love is too loaded. Too nebulous. Too big for me to wrap my arms around, too heavy for me to wrap my mind around, too wild for me to wrap these words around. Because if I loved you in the ways I thought I could, then it would mean digging deep and diving under and doing this thing. With you. See, if I loved you in the ways I thought I could, then it would mean a one-way street to some place we’ve never been without a path back to this place we’ve always known.

But, I think about going to that some place.

I think about that one-way street. I think about leaving this place we’ve always known without the possibility of retracing our steps. And, in the small moments when I let my mind sweep me up and carry me away, I think about forever. About building something together. Because with you it seems so simple. So duh-yes-of-course-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that. It seems like if we were two people who summoned the courage to hold hands, our fingers would fold into one another’s without fumbling.

Except this would not be so simple. At least that is what logic and life and the scars on my heart all tell me. They all tell me that this would be taking our something simple and muddying it. Tangling it. This would be taking something so uncomplicated and foolishly choosing to complicate it.

It wasn’t always this way. What I feel about you ebbs and flows, crashes and burns, dies and gets resurrected again. Because I am a complex woman with 1,000 hearts that all beat at rates I can’t quite understand. I am a woman who falls in and out of love at record speeds. I am a woman who sees possibility in most men’s eyes and can extract meaning from even the most hollow words. Human connection is my drug of choice, and when it comes to you, most days I think I found my best high.

But, then I reel myself back in. I fold myself back up. I return to earth and convince myself that you and I are not the kind of people who walk down one-way streets. You and I are not two people who will hook ourselves to each other just so we can dive under.

Except I know these are all lies. Because I could love you. I could love you in all of the ways I ever imagined loving someone–messy, untamed, wild, beautiful, and complicated.


WYAO April general promoThis post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Ready to do this thing? Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

Which Woman Are You?

bio-pictureGuest post by Eboni of Keep Calm and Keep Yourself

I was scrolling through my Instagram timeline and found an interesting quote: “Other women are not my competition, I stand with them not against them.” It was a great quote and, of course, had thousands of likes. But, it really got me thinking. Is this quote really something that we as women abide by, or do we just “pretend” that we are all equally proud of one another, standing together holding hands singing Kumbaya? Come on now, you know that’s ridiculous.

If we as women are not “competing” then why is it that we tend to not go out to the club with girls who are “uglier then us,” thinking that men will steer clear? But on the other hand, we won’t go out with girls prettier than us because we think they will steal all the attention. Sometimes we even purposely go out with girls we think are ugly just to feel prettier. Sadly, this competitive nature gets even more pathetic.

Ever feel better about your life just by talking about another woman whose life is currently in shambles?  Ever compared your Facebook pictures to another woman’s – feeling skinny just because your high school girlfriend gained some weight? What about when you ask your friends what they are wearing out, just so you’re not outdone by their outfits? The list goes on and on.

The saddest part of this whole topic is that it’s not just young women who do this to one another – it’s every woman. Women, no matter what age, continue to judge, degrade and insult one another just to feel better about themselves.

My mother’s best friend, who is almost 60 and a very large woman, told my mom that sometimes her friends won’t eat out in public with her – simply because people tend to stare at her or give her bad service at restaurants. She then explained that she’s felt that way for years and that it still hurts her feelings.

The truth of the matter is that we do compete with other women. We talk about each other and get jealous of one another – whether it’s our best friend, a celebrity or the girl on the dance floor at the club. We roll our eyes when the girl with the big booty gets the most attention and whisper to our friends about the pretty girl on campus who “supposedly” slept with multiple football players – because this girl can’t just be a pretty girl that a lot of guys are attracted to – she’s got to be a hoe.

If we as women would stop trying to constantly one-up each other, we could do some amazing things within our society. We can put an end to the light skin vs. dark skin controversy and start really supporting one another, instead of hating on each other’s success behind closed doors. We as black women can stop looking disgusted when we see a white woman with one of “our black men” because frankly, that’s her man and there’s nothing we can say or do about it. Instead of being jealous about interracial dating and wishing our black men would come on home, we should just accept it and start dating other races. Everyone else has embraced interracial dating – why can’t we?

womanI'mcalledtobeSupporting other women is not a true desire but it’s a duty. It’s something we must do even when we don’t want to. Compare it to loving everyone and turning the other cheek. We go to church every Sunday and say we follow these spiritual principles but the minute we are disrespected, we are ready to fight and turn into completely different people. “Ugh, I hate that hoe other there.”

Which type of woman are you – a lover or a hater? Because, you can’t be both.

We should start complimenting each other, like Tyece from “Twenties Unscripted” said in her  post “Why Women Need to Look Out For Other Women.” Force yourself to go up to the girl with the big booty and compliment her on her outfit. Walk up to the pretty girl that you once called a hoe and tell her she’s got a beautiful smile. Sit down and eat with any woman, no matter what she looks like. Who cares if people stare? Support your best friend in every way – even if she’s getting married and your fiancé left you for another woman. It sometimes hurts to love and abstain from jealousy, but the more you make it a habit the easier it will be.

The most important thing to understand is that only weak-minded, unstable and insecure women hate on other women. We are all fighting the same fight. We have to know who we are and the type of women we are called to be. We have to stop worrying about other women and start worrying about the only woman we can control – ourselves.

About Keep Calm and Keep Yourself 

Keep Calm and Keep Yourself is a women’s wellness website and blog that helps women build healthy relationships and offers products that make women feel a little more beautiful. The blog explores popular relationship and dating topics and the online store provides women with revolutionary cosmetic products that improve the natural body’s look and feel.





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Roswell and I at someone's house senior year being ridiculous per usual
Roswell and I at someone’s house senior year being ridiculous per usual

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

That was not supposed to be the last time I saw my friend. But, it was. Four months later when my sister said Roswell was missing, I first brushed it off, thinking his phone probably conked out or he had taken some impromptu trip. But, the days during that weekend in August 2011 stretched and stretched. I still figured he was gallivanting somewhere fun on a spontaneous trip. I wasn’t worried. After all, it was Roswell; that is what he would and should be doing. I sat at my desk that Monday and at 4 p.m. I mindlessly checked Facebook where I saw someone had posted a status praying that Roswell would rest in peace. Around 6 p.m, our mutual friend Darius confirmed that it was true. Roswell was gone. The universe had shifted. My heart had a gaping hole. And life would never be quite the same. Just like that, the person I called with my good news, the person I called on my bad days, the person who rooted me on and heckled me and humbled me, would not be on the other end of the line. It did not seem right. It did not make sense. I could not understand. Most days, I still don’t.