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I and I

Updated: May 1, 2020

"The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome" (Derek Walcott, Love After Love).

One time I was dating a human who had a deeply different concept of the word relationship than I. To my knowledge, and in the way things reveal themselves when you live in a place with more social circles than actual people so circles overlap and touch, an estimate at the number of other persons in relationship at that same time I assumed exclusive commitment numbers at least three and possibly up to five.

It di rough.

Horn is not the word. Horn is the word, but the quality and volume of horn was, if one were a non-attached observer, impressive. Consider the brazenness. Consider the constitution. Consider the effort needed to build, suspend and maintain a web of lies of that magnitude. The fact of the scam is all the more impressive if you look at the who’s. Hashtag harem goals.

In a newsroom one evening, another human who could never really be accused of gallantry himself looked at the dude and in my presence said, don’t hurt her, she’s a good one….or something to that effect. If I had been savvy enough to know, I would have picked up and headed hillside then. Alas and also alack, I knew not and did not.

Cultures where respectability is championed put women of colour in peculiar positions. Precariously set up in towers, we are trained to maintain our positions and climb higher, to rely on ourselves, to serve faithfully, to work and to earn, to believe. To do it all with aplomb. At the same time, we learn that there are things that good girls aren’t, will never do. Reputation, reputation, reputation. We’re ducks gliding across the water, no motion of wings, paddling furiously.

I’m particularly, perpetually disappointed in the way the Church as I know it fails women of colour. Liberation theologies aside, I can’t figure out how it makes sense for faith to fail to lead and be surprised by its lack of relevance. What happens, when you take a little girl and tell her that she should believe in God and love his church, that she can be Jesus’s handmaiden, but not consecrated to serve on the altar? Maybe it's me trying to make an excuse for my lack of common sense.

Former lack of common sense. Community policing and respectability politics will probably keep going. Learning to listen to my gut rather than to the voice telling me what I should never ever do issa process. Some days, gut wins though.

Dude, of non-sainted memory, messages at minutes to four am. Last message was in twenty twelve. “Hmmm, what games (plural) afoot?” I wonder….cause games (plural), always. I happen to be up, because, reasons. We message back and forth and arrange to meet for a drink that evening. That evening, behold and lo, at the appointed time, I’m present, because - punctuality is respectful. Human messages to “check if I’m there,” ‘cause, wait for it, he wants to change the time to ninety minutes later. Eh? - my ninety minutes, fifteen minutes more than I had was allotted to spend having said drink? No, Sir. According to either of my Grandmothers “Mwen?, Pa mwen.”

The most important job I have is to be in relationship with myself. To smile at my own welcome. To champion my truth, all of my truths, all the parts of becoming ever more myself. If I betray myself, I betray all the women who came before to bring me here. If I betray myself I betray all the women whose ancestor I am. My niece, my cousins, my goddaughters. Mwen? Pa mwen.



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