I was a late bloomer when it came to learning how to ride a bike. I was nine when I got the hang of it, and my younger sister and close friends had already learned and were rolling around our suburban Minneapolis neighborhood. I was jealous of their independence, but at the same time, I was a little afraid of riding. Eventually, with the help of a number of individuals, I finally mastered the two-wheeler. I can recall the exact moment I got it right, and it was a truly joyous moment. I look back at this event as the birth of my independent self; one of the first times I felt the power of my own agency.
A miracle happened in Trinidad. There was nothing that science or faith could do to save my grandfather from the cruelty of degenerative old age. That February in 2000, on my first trip to my father’s Caribbean homeland, my younger sister and I observed through pre-teen eyes as the old man slipped further away from the world of the living, confined to his bedroom, squirreled away behind an almost-closed door in our grandparents’ apartment.
Once again, poet Sarah Bey brings words to life.
Lying in the temporary. She began to speak to the Eternal. And the waters rolled, washing and letting the stories unfold into spoken words. Cleansed and a little congested, she ended with a simple and genuine Thank You.
You don’t sleep well. Ever since you were little—ever since your first night terror—you lost your ability to pass out cold. Your mom had always said, before, you were a deep sleeper. You don’t quite realize what a gift shut-eye is until it’s lost. Clinically speaking, night terrors are akin to sleepwalking—parasomnia. Awake, you see what does not exist.
It’s quite the paradox — but I’d venture that this unhealthy reliance on social networking is really just a symptom of a more complex issue: monophobia. We live in a society in which we are fearful of being alone, because aloneness has somehow become equated to loneliness. We are fearful of being still, fearful that we will miss out on something. We are socialized to do, and say, and strive for things — everything. We are socialized to consistently chase and collect experiences.
I woke from sleep as if I knew there was a presence around me. I looked out the window, a finger's length from the bed, and there he was: his face pressed up against the glass, his eyes staring so intently at me. As I waited the forty-five, excruciating minutes until the police arrived, I kept the emergency operator on the phone with me as I wept and wondered, is he trying to come in and kidnap me?
We’ve all been there before (well, some more than others) : stealthily snaking a leg over [ooh-what-was-his-name?]’s snoring body, to collect your bra, shoes, dignity, and cell phone. Praying that he doesn’t wake, you make those painful steps to the door in a real life, grown up version of Don’t-Wake-Daddy—except he’s not your daddy (despite what he asked you to call him last night), he’s the guy you stuffed between your thighs all night, hoping he might get lucky and find your clit.
A while ago, my friend brought my attention to a powerful and poignant article published in Vice, written by Megan Koester. Koester’s article was brave and honest. In her essay, she briefly retells her experience of getting assaulted on the street while walking alone at night. She says she doesn’t feel afraid walking alone now; she refuses to let her attacker win. I am of two minds when I think about this issue—about walking alone, and the concept of safety, and what it means for women.
Find that "one thing." Live it every, single, fucking day. Learn to love all of the shit that is going to come with loving it unconditionally. Be with it (because you need it). Let it consume every particle of you so that every day will be your best.
Throughout my almost 4-year relationship, I always thought of myself as a particularly Independent Woman—yes, so much so that the phrase required a capital I, capital W. I had a full life aside from my man: friends, activities, hobbies, and projects that were 100% my own. In love but aloof, it was important to me to never be needy or clingy. I didn’t realize all of the little ways that being one half of a whole had seeped into my subconscious, influencing every decision I made, and coloring my life with compromise. It was a harsh realization that, for all of my independence, I still needed to take time to “find myself” post-breakup.