I don’t write because I am afraid. I am afraid of my words. I am afraid to search for my words, of what I’ll find when I plumb the depths of my feelings to unearth them. I am afraid of turning on the spigot and having them rush out —or trickle. Or worse, there is not a single drop because the works have rusted from lack of use.
I am afraid of my voice because the silence in which I suffer has become my brittle chrysalis and making any sound might cause it to shatter. I am not quite ready or able to be a butterfly.
I am afraid of cutting myself open, my blood the ink on the page from wounds that won’t heal because I’m afraid to tend to them, too.
I am afraid. Of standing naked before myself and picking myself apart letter by letter until I am just bones.
But sometimes a word claws its way out of my belly and plops upon the page. I look at this strange thing that came out of me and it’s ugly and misshapen but also, somehow, beautiful.
I am so afraid. But fear is a casket and I am not yet dead.
So I will go in search of them, those elusive words that are sometimes at the tip of my pen and tongue. I will write myself into my own life’s story letter by letter even on crumpled pages until I am whole.
If you’ve spent any time around me, you ‘know’ my Miss Rena. I probably talk about her at least once a day, on average. She definitely crosses my mind at least once every day. Born Ena Mae Attride on this day in 1927, she was my grandmother by virtue of being the woman who raised my mother. She was a small, feisty, half-Cuban former floor show dancer who would not hesitate to tell you about yourself, especially if you dared cross her or trouble her own. Think Madea, minus the gun and getaway car. In her younger days, she probably would have fought you, too. She often shared the story of how she was expelled from secondary school (I think it was Convent of Mercy) because she hit one of the Sisters after being caned.
Dr. Terri-Karelle Reid—awesome supermom, media personality, speaker, host and all around G—recently sparked a one-woman reading revolution by sharing on Instagram that she read 45 books in 2019. Many people were shocked because that’s close to a book a week and how does she find the time when she’s, like, the definition of busy? If you’re familiar with Terri-Karrelle and have that question yourself, check out her blog post where she breaks it all down.
As an unabashed #wordnerd myself, I also spent 2019 buried in books—more than 100 by my guess, but whereas Terri-Karelle’s reading list is chock full of great books that can teach you something or help you grow as a person, mine was…not so much.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hadn’t planned for it to go so long between posts, but as you can clearly see if you’re even a semi-regular visitor to this URL, things haven’t exactly gone as planned for ya girl this year at all. 🤷🏾♀️
And suddenly you’re just a body
the things you owned and prized
left to be cast or given away —
the books you read, plus the ones you never got around to
knickknacks and mementos you never could part with
jeans you swore you’d fit into again someday
new nighties and underwear and fresh towels
folded away in a bag in your closet
just in case you were ever admitted to the hospital
your favourite, well-worn Sunday church shoes
plus the new ones still shiny and spotless in their boxes
pictures from beach trips and parties and birthdays
and embarrassing candid shots
your signature smile or belly laugh flash frozen in each one
— picked to the bone by family and friends
desperate to hold on to a piece of you
even those who never bothered to hold you
while you were still a life
The rest will be thrown into bags and boxes
detritus left outside the gate
to await their own demise
Next you’re a memory
your best moments
in a looping highlight reel
played and replayed at future gatherings
and in dark and lonely hours
to help soothe the pain
Then one day there are no more tears
and slowly you begin to fade
your image disintegrating
drifting away on the wind
swirling around like ashes
returning to the earth like dust
On Monday, New Year’s Day, at around 3PM, I put my older sister Karen on a taxi to Half Way Tree so she could get a ride to Spanish Town, from where she’d get on another bus to Ocho Rios, then home to Brown’s Town. We talked on the phone briefly about a week later. I can’t remember what we talked about. Then on the 13th of January, at 7:04AM, I got a call from our aunt, who was crying and hyperventilating on the phone.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a new year’s resolutions post. Or maybe it is. Whatever. Here’s a look at some of what I’ll be getting up to in this blessed 2018.
1. See a therapist. Often. More than once a week, if she doesn’t tire of me.
Self care is priority numero uno for me this year. In as many forms as it may take. Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair, and 2017 was the hottest of hot messes. I’ve had my brushes with depression, almost deep dived (dove?) into the pit last year, and I’m sensible enough to know that professional help is needed to unpack all the baggage if I’m to have a decent life going forward. Please, please, please pay attention to your mental health. There is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist or counsellor. Don’t let society’s messed up views on this matter keep you bound.
Happy New Year! Buh-bye 2017 and hello 2018! So excited to see ya. Needed this year to be OVER already and it feels like I’ve been waiting forEVER. (I’m also on pins and needles excited for Grown-ish, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time). Yayyyy, 2018! 🎆🎆🎆
I know it’s not even 10PM here in Jamaica, but my church is headquartered in Nigeria and we just live-streamed the NYE service and it’s after midnight there, so you will take these new year felicitations and bask in the joy with me, ok? Awesome!