(soundtrack Window Seat by Erykah Badu)
The plane is late… It’s ok. My sister told me not to take this plane, because one caught on fire the week that I left Florida. I’m not worried, I’m also not ready to leave. I left Memphis yesterday and I’ll still be there tomorrow. I am always the pivot, sometimes willingly and personally and other times by default.
This is no different, I think “Memphis is my forever love. In between the homes of my coming and going is Memphis, always Memphis.” Memphis is me in between New Relationship Emotion and falling in or out of loves, reconciling past and future. Memphis is birth, death, life, and what lies between. It is my heart, my soul, my friend, my lover. Kinship, relative, and family. And I never leave the same way I came.
When I came, from the East this time, I was all fairy-hair and yoga. Flexing and stretching to fit back into the spaces I left. Checking and rechecking for everything in familiar spaces, in their places. Longing for things to be as close to the way I left them as they can, even though I know they deserve change, have earned change, and are stretching and growing toward their change everyday. Selfishly I impose myself and overextend myself, trying to do it all. I want to sit, see, connect. I want to be everywhere at once. For the ones I see, I am fortunate and filled with joy, love, and strength to travel on a little more. For the ones I don’t see, I am filled with longing, guilt, and shame. I promise next time you will come first and we will have all the time we need.
When I came, I came for a week; I stayed for two. I came to my village, my tribe, and I came to 20 years. I came to sit with, hold space, conjure magick, and heal me. I convened, I communed, observed, learned. I heard what the trees had to say, the wind, the rain, the birds, The Elders, and the Ancestors.
I came feral, wild, ready. And sad. Yes, Sadness about loss, longing, and leaving. Sadness sat with me on the earth, grounded with my feet and palms and thighs pressed to the cool dirt and cold stone. It hung around and with each day and with each admission it loosened its grip, until breathing was easier. Every time I was honest about Sadness, allowed the tears to flow freely, and acknowledged it’s presence , I could breathe. It was work. Hard work. It was so hard that some days I felt a literal ache in my heart and shoulders… a dull, moaning ache in my muscles as they unseized and longed for proper touch.
My heart, as much as any muscle, desired the warm manipulation of heart and mind. My mind desired stimulation, validation, creativity. I wanted people who understood me, had soundtracks to their lives, and random jukebox music in their hands. People who laughed louder, told stories more passionately, held an embrace longer, long enough for vibrations, heartbeats, and breaths to synchronize. I came for the people, my kindred who could finish my thoughts, in word and deed. I abjured duty and obligation and craved love and support as mother’s milk and every decadent thing.
And I revealed itself to me, there. In the pivot between going and coming. It lie in between the different couches; the folds and warmth of the childhood covers of a day bed; it was under blankets as words; it clung to the rim of glasses and spilled forth from one too many pitchers of margaritas. It was the promise of toast and toasts. It was served with all of the fish of the rivers, lakes, streams, and seas to satiate indigenous, water babies. It was brunch. It was in me, my sisters (blood and bond) and family.
I danced when I came. I danced in my pantydraws and it was good with me, to me, and for me. And I, I was good with it, free with it, ready for it in ancient and practical ways. Kinship grew heart to heart in our sorority of skin and vulnerability. Iron sharpened iron and I envisioned what could be. The future was present, seen and celebrated, intentions and work lovingly received and honoured.
Oh those beauty.full Mahogany, Chocolate, Sepia-toned, Honey-coated, Cinnamon and Caramel Covergirls; vast and varied Diapsora Performers. How they gyrated our freedom, peeled and revealed our confidence, celebrated our existence. They are co-parents to this baby of mine. This group of womb warriors are the first generation of brave women to stand at the precipice and JUMP! Jumping into this space ensures there will always be Mahogany Covergirls. My bond to them will never be broken, love will not waiver, for these women who trusted and believed first.
After dancing came rest and then more dancing and revelry. Hi, goodbye, checking-in with sincerity all converged. With each passing day on the other side of the dance Sadness crept in, a new and different Sadness. Not the Sadness of grief and longing. This other Sadness was unsated, longing and betrayal. The betrayal of unfulfilled love and desire. The betrayal of Gigi’s body, a lump in her breast tissue near the axillae. Threatening me with loss. Challenging me to face Cancer and mortality. I am Malaika’s disbelief, denial, bargaining. I am Malaika’s courage, faith, hope. I am Malaika’s overwhelming joy that a lump is sometimes just a lump.
Each day on the other side of the dance, Sadness joins me for hazelnut coffee. Hangs around like a light mist, reminding me of the bitter taste of betrayal in my mouth and having to leave my love again. Sadness reminds me that I’ll be going soon and not coming back soon enough. My body grows heavier, my shoulders slump, my spine curves yielding to the weight. A dull ache, different and the same as before sets up in my heart. Behind my eyes, where the tears burn hot, attempting to erupt and stream down my face with the slow intensity and viscosity of lava. I process myself again and again, playing coping games and confuse my tears with their purposes until they are dizzy and relent.
I came with clarity, clear skin, fairy hair. I left scarred. Cut, bruised, bumped, and blistered. Cultivated. Refined. Complex answers to simple queries and simple answers for mercurial questions. Nothing was the same. I am the raven-haired pixie now, headed back to the baptismal waters. Back o the space in between. A return to the assemblage of rivers and oceans, sweet and salty waters. Back to Mami Wata.
This time when I leave there is no rain, the expected chill of Fall is abated. My path is clear. Again, I will leave from my Grand Ones. I leave them with completed and simplified tasks and love. Love I say and love I show. I never miss an opportunity to say and show love, loss has taught me.
I leave different than I came, different than when I came from the West, to which I still have to return. I am older, yes. I am younger too. I am wiser and more foolish. I am happier and sadder. Heavier and lighter. Lighter and darker. I received my therapy and not my healing. I feel love and support and my loneliness burdens me more.
The children in the airport and on the plane are not my children. I miss my children; the woman child who called everyday to ask a proper accounting of my comings, goings, and visitations. I miss the man child, who made it to the 16 year milestone and broods quietly, he called once. “Hi Mom,” his baritone filledthe line. One day soon, this is how it will be with us. Traveling, writing, dancing, acting, fixing, creating, story-telling in different spaces. All of us still growing, living, loving, doing and being, especially BEing. Calling and not calling.
Scary and exhilarating feelings, fill me. Knowing each time I will never leave the same as I came. I give myself permission to create this life and fully embrace it.