(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
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
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
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.