Rahwa's Thoughts

Mind (s)platter | I'm a grown ass kid

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Latest stories

Code-Switching

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I have a secret.

It’s about my mother.

There was the one I told my friends about,

The mom I wished I had…

Then, there was the other mom.

She faces her battles every day,

Even though

She may never win the war

She’s helped me see…

That I didn’t cause her disease.

I can’t control it.

And I can’t cure it.

This is my mom.

And that is her story.

And now…

I’m ready,

To claim my own.

–  Grace “Call Me Crazy”

8:16PM

Hello?

Hello?

Helloooo? Aieee this thing never works.

Mamaiay, I can hear you.

Rahweetay?

Yes, I’m here. Can you hear me?

Not really – they’re disrupting my phone.

Ok, I’ll speak louder.

Are you okay?

Yes, I’m doing good.

Really? Are you sure? I always worry.

Yea – I been trying to reach you for days though.

They block all my calls; they won’t let me speak.

How can I reach you if your phone is always off?

The monsters don’t let me, they follow me.

Just try to keep your phone on please and put it on loud.

They’re trying to kill me.

Focus, that’s not what I asked you.

Can you send me money?

I just sent you some last week, what did you spend it on?

They stole it.

What do you mean? The money went somewhere.

Aieee, you don’t understand they’re robbing me!

How much do you need?

As much you can give.

I can only give you $300 this week.

Okay thanks, I’m going to get a job soon.

You’ve been saying that for years. What happened to your interview?

The monsters don’t let me. They shocked me, my ears and eyes are disappearing.

Have you gone to the doctor to get them checked out?

Oof no – they can’t do anything.

Do you want me to schedule an appointment?

No, if you want to save me buy me a house.

We’ve talked about this already; I don’t want to buy one.

So, you’re going to let them kill me? I’m going to die.

No, you’re not.

The neighbors are poisoning me they send me gas through the walls.

You’ll be fine, just don’t start any trouble.

I’m not okay, they don’t let me do anything. You don’t care.                      

I do care, but I’m not going to argue with you.

Are you gaining weight? Moving apartments? Changing jobs? Don’t let the enemy win.

No – everything is fine.

You always do good. I worry for no reason, eh?

Yea, you do.

I’m going to pay you back and help one day.

It’s cool, I got it.

I’m sorry I know this isn’t life.

I have no complaints.

Did you put the money in my account?

Yea, I just transferred it in.

Okay, thank you zagualey.

You only ever call me for money.

What can I do? If I talk on the phone, they’re going to harm you.

But how am I supposed to know you’re okay?

I’m never okay. 

Well, what have you been up to lately?

Rahwa, they’re listening I have to go.

Wait, when will I hear –

I love you

*click*

8:18pm

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Ako Tomi

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I wrote this um poem because
A couple weeks ago I went um down to Watts with my homeboy
And uh he had some of his friends with him they was coming or whatever to take pictures or whatever
And they was looking like um
They had never seen black people
You know what I’m saying and um
I realized that uh
If you scared of your own people then you scared of yourself.

– Dom Kennedy

Ako Tomi loves watchin the news

But hates when Black people fill the screen

It gets him all embarrassed

The shootings, drugs, killings

Says they’re making us look bad

Well, not really us –

Because we’re not like them

But close enough –

Where white people get confused

He says we’re African

Never to be confused with

Niggers

Says nothing good comes out of Blackness

Just like how nothing good happens

After dark

 

Ako asks me to pick between white friends and Black friends

I tell him in a mostly white school –

Us Black kids stick together

He scoffs and tells me I’m wrong

That I’m picking the losin’ team

I tell’m but Black brings me joy

He says Black only brings pain

That Mamaiay didn’t travel all this way

For me to get sucked into a sinkhole

He says being around whites

Is the first step to success

That cuz I’m light skinned

It’ll be easier for me to fit in

But I never wanted to be somewhere

That’d make me want to rush home

 

Ako Tomi’s real name is Temesgen

He ironed it out to please the white folks

Like he creases his suit before he chauffeurs them ‘round the town

He spends all day servin them

Says ‘yessuh’ and ‘yessum’ until his mouth runs dry as cotton

But Ako’s car’s real nice

He drives one of them fancy limousines

He takes it to the car wash so much

It make the night sky look ashy

When he picks me up from school

I can’t ever eat my snacks

Says Black picks up everything

He spent too much time and money

Keepin it fresh

 

Ako smiles so big you see the Black in his gums

His skin rich as molasses

His waistline as thick as his head

Ako lives in the hood

Right next to all them motels

With the broken-down signs

And the broken-in women

He treats his Black neighbors

Just like ’em whites do

Smiles in their face

Spits behind their back

When Ako says he makin’ a store run

He really jus smokin on the corner

When I say I smell it on him

He raises his voice and his wrist

Ako rinses himself after his “run”

When the steam settles

Ako catches the mirror

Does he hate who he sees?

 

Ako always politickin’

Mamaiay always mouthin’ back

They tuggin back and forth

I’m gettin ripped in the middle

Ako tryna strip me of my Blackness

Mamaiay tryna preach fellowship

She says she don’t see color

That only love lives in her home

Ako Tomi don’t come ‘round much no more

 

Ako asks me to pick between rich friends and Poor friends

I tell him in a mostly rich school –

Us Poor kids stick together

He scoffs and asks me

Oof Rahwa, what is your mom teaching you?

 

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Repackaging Dreams

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dreams

The purpose of freedom is to free someone else.

-Tony Morrison.

Over the past few years I’ve worked solely with people of color as they take on their next great feat. Being able to see that transition and the rawness of an individual’s dreams and ambitions isn’t something I take for granted. Seldom is one more vulnerable than when they reveal their aspirations for the future. The most heartbreaking thing that I’ve noticed repeatedly amongst my clients is that they drown themselves in self-doubt, they predispose themselves to failure to cushion themselves from rejection. I often hear I don’t think I’m going to get this or I don’t know if this is the best path.

I’ve come to realize that when clients reach out to me to help write their resume for a new career shift, to write their business statement for their budding venture, or to write their college personal essay as an aspiring first generation grad – they don’t necessarily want my writing. At the core, what they’re seeking is affirmation and representation – they want a tangible copy of their dreams on paper. I don’t, however, pencil myself as a writer. I firmly believe to define, is to limit. Writing is just one tool I use to accomplish what I do best: removing barriers and seizing opportunities.

When I first meet with clients, they tend to come to me with an idea of what is it they want to convey. It catches them off guard when I derail their agenda and go into an informal interview session. I always articulate that in order to write well, I must know who it is I am writing for. I ask probing questions about one’s past, present and future and my clients end up questioning whether they attended a writing or therapy session. That’s the very thing that sets my work apart – it’s not transactional, it’s heavily embedded in relationships.

As people of color, we are systemically conditioned to be humble. We are not taught how to be boisterous and it immediately puts us at a disadvantage. We are serial under-performers when it comes to selling ourselves. It’s extremely rewarding when I’m able to tip the beam and see my clients reflect on my work. I hear them murmur Is that really me? Wow, I did all of that? Yes it is, and yes you did. To write, is to advocate, and my role was to repackage the stories of my clients to adequately reflect themselves and align with their dreams.

I’m working on formalizing my writing, and shifting it from a hobby into a professional business. I’m ready to take it a step further than just filter through requests via my DMs, emails and text messages. I’m currently building out my website, which includes a portfolio of my work. I’ve included some before/after samples of work I’ve done with past clients and their outcomes. I want to profusely thank everyone who’s trusted me to take part in their journey – the support in the pursuit of our dreams was a two-way street.

I’ll never forget when I was in 12th grade and my friend Emily sat me down and gave me a pep talk on how to properly sell yourself to the admissions committee. She might as well have been speaking a foreign language because I still didn’t fully grasp what she was saying. Nonetheless, she sat me down hours before the University of Washington’s college application was due and we cranked out my personal statement line by line. She adamantly affirmed: these applicants aren’t smarter than you, they’re just more privileged.

I got in. Fast forward 10 years later and here I am. The old me wouldn’t have been able to even conceive what I’ve been able to manifest.

In sum, writing, is a launchpad – you take your tangible affirmation and run.

Business Statement

Before:

A Seeker of Life.

That’s one way to describe my father. He was the classiest, most confident, smartest, genuine, yet simple man.  He was a man of his words, a man’s-man to be exact who enjoyed traveling the world. He was sure to help everyone around him even while being sick and raising a family of seven.

The passing of my father crushed my family and his legacy was rarely talked about simply because it was one of those things that hurt. He left four daughters, two sons and a beautiful wife, my mother.

In recognition of his elegance, I decided to create a brand that represented who he was to me.

My mission is to share my watches with every man and woman who believes in the importance of legacy and honor. Through fashion and accessories, I am able to hone in on the idea that you are exactly who want to be.

After:

A Seeker of Life.

My father exemplified the sweetest fruits in life. He was the personification of love, empathy, confidence and resilience. His poise preceded his tongue whenever he entered the room, quiet by nature, it was his presence which wrapped his loved ones with affirmations. As a child, I religiously watched the habits of the man whose shoes I aspired to fill. As a man, I find myself catching glimpses of him – in the reflection of the mirror when I shave in the direction he taught me, or in the nostalgic yearning in my relatives’ eyes when they say I look just like him. My father had an insatiable curiosity, yet, he was wise enough to know the limits of wit. He was an avid reader, and the Bible was his favorite text.  He enjoyed traveling, yet, his favorite place in the world was with his family. A trailblazer, my father made superman obsolete. He was always first to rise, and now – the first to set.

Even the brightest of stars eventually burn out. When my father passed, my world went dark. It took me 18 years to accept that some wounds are too deep to patch. That sometimes, you don’t move on – you just move forward. So, what do you do when your hero falls? You keep their essence alive by sharing them with the world.

As I embark on this new journey of 28, I’m realizing that absence, too, is a gift. Although my father is no longer here physically, his spirit fortified. I’ve created the ADANƎ brand to pay homage to my father, and I’m now able to share remnants of him in each one of my creations. The mission of ADANƎ is to instill honor and cultivate legacy globally. Through fashion and accessories, I seek to convey that simplicity is the pinnacle of elegance and love has no bounds.

Outcome: Successful launch of business – verbatim text was included in the “About Me” section of the website.

College Essay

Before:

I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good is played over and over again, I keep listening to the jazz melody, feeling the piano keys being played so effortlessly I can feel Oscar Peterson’s sentiment through the music, almost like licking an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. No words, yet the jazz ensemble speaks volumes, so beautiful yet so sad all at once, similar to myself. My life has played out in unison with this song, the keys play softly and harmoniously, but there is a hidden feeling that sometimes overcomes it; one of sadness.

My dad had moved out of the house when I was almost a year old; you could say we lived in a broken home. He would call us and try to be active in our lives, but only when he wanted to or when he had time to spare. Most of the time he would want to be present and would get my hopes up for the littlest things. But, because of countless broken promises, I kept getting let down, and it was like the older I got the more I noticed the excuses that he gave me. I grew up under the care of my mom and grandmother. They made me into the person I am today and never once gave up on me, even when I had given up on myself at times they made me believe in myself.

 Things seemed to be going smoothly for years after that, leading up to my transition from middle to high school, which was one of the hardest things I had ever gone through. I went from knowing everyone in my private elementary and middle school to going to a high school where I did not know a single person; this was when I had first experienced anxiety, which was when I first felt a beautiful soft melody transition into a sad emptiness. This was the one time I needed him in years, and he had traveled back to his home country Ethiopia. My mother called him for me, but the only piece of advice he had to offer was to “man up and be strong”. I threw the phone against the wall and started to cry. This experience made me want to be an independent self sustaining person, and one that does not rely on others for anything. That is the one and only thing I got from my father. I had built up so much resentment and hate toward my dad over the years that I felt like if I was never good enough for myself. The piano keys play a little softer and shallower than ever. It took me a greater part of my life to realize that I needed to stop doing things to try to please other people in my life and instead do what makes me genuinely happy, a lesson that I was glad enough to learn before it was too late.

So, I graduated from high school with hopes that community college would be a chance to start over. When I enrolled at Bellevue College, I had my heart set on studying Business, I took a few prerequisite classes, and just like that, the vibrations of the music shifted and I knew that, that was not what I was destined to do. I decided to, instead, take up communications classes and network with my school’s department of communications heads. The piano keys started playing in an upbeat manor, and I was so inspired by one of my communications classes that I went up to the teacher and reached out to the Communications department and told them that I was interested in starting up the communications club on campus. From that point forward, I knew communications was my calling. At that time, the club was virtually nonexistent. It had no registered members, and no set leader. My experiences with my father had made me want to capitalize on my leadership skills, and I had the chance to by revitalizing Bellevue College’s communications club. The somber tone of the beginning of my life has altered in to a hopeful new tune. And now that I have graduated from Bellevue, the music has changed. I want to move forward with my communications studies and hope to do so using a blank sheet of paper, and new notes, at the University of Washington.

After:

I keep listening to the jazz melody, feeling the piano keys being played so effortlessly I embody Oscar Peterson’s sentiment through his music. As “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” loops on the record, I am overcome with solace like licking an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. No words, yet the jazz ensemble speaks volumes, so beautiful, yet so sad all at once, similar to me. My life has played out in unison with this song, the keys play softly and harmoniously, but there is a hidden feeling that sometimes overcomes it; one of sadness.

I knew the back of my father’s head better than the back of my hand and it seems that as I grew so did his excuses and absence. At an early age, my immigrant mother from Ethiopia instilled in me the importance of education and worked late to afford my private school tuition. However, with no support from my father she couldn’t continue, and I was forced to leave the community that temporarily fulfilled his paternal role. Adjusting to my new high school was difficult and I struggled to swim in a sea of unfamiliar faces. I began experiencing anxiety and the only support my father provided was to “man up” before he departed back to Ethiopia. I felt a beautiful soft melody transition into a sad emptiness. The hatred I carried for my father was debilitating until I realized that one invaluable lesson, he did teach me was self-sufficiency.

I began community college with high hopes that this would be a chance to start over and liberate myself from my father’s ties. When I enrolled at Bellevue College, I was set on studying Business, I took a few courses and just like that, the vibrations of the music shifted, and I knew this was not what I was destined to do. I decided to explore different departments of Communications after taking an introductory course. My desire only went up from there and every course increased my curiosity. I was so drawn to exploring the field, it was as though the piano keys started playing in an upbeat manor. I was so inspired by the contents of the class that I approached my mass media professor and told her that I wanted to create a Communications Club on campus. When I decided to concentrate on the focus of Communications, I felt confident in my vision for my future. My grades started to positively reflect my goals and I finally felt like I was in unison with my career path.

While I was taking my pre-requisite communication courses and building the clubs membership, I realized that of all the students that I was sitting amongst, none looked like me. The significant absence of minorities in the field of Communications concerned me and I passionately believed that the classroom homogeneity didn’t reflect an absence of interest, but opportunity.  One of my primary objectives as founder of the Communications Club was to recruit Bellevue College students of diverse backgrounds and educate them on the wide array of possibilities and job opportunities available to students with a Communications degree.

However, I did see a lack of clubs and social affairs regarding minorities and the spread/awareness in the Media/Communications Studies fields. Just like any community it is an integral part in one’s academic career to having students, especially outside of the classroom gather and share dialogue to form a bond with other students. I highly admire the growth and initiative of programs like the Black Student Union and the various leadership opportunities happening at the University of Washington. I believe it would be the perfect environment to satiate my appetite to learn.

When scrolling through the University of Washington’s Media & Communication website it instantaneously grasped my attention. The MCS program has been that piece of the puzzle that I have been missing. The program’s emphasis on exploring the evolving culture of Communications on a global scale aligned with my aspirations. I want to work towards providing impartial media coverage across the world and aspire to work for a global news outlet such as BBC or Al Jazeera. After finding the Communications Club at Bellevue College, I visited my family in Ethiopia and was able to witness first-hand how the government’s censorship was used as a tool to deliver biased and inaccurate media coverage to influence the masses. This experience made me see just how political and impactful information can be and further instilled my interest in Mass Media Communications.

I am eager to foster my insatiable curiosity at the University of Washington which offers exceptional programs and resources for ambitious students like myself. I would want nothing more than to be given the chance to seize those opportunities to help make the world that we live in better informed. The somber tone of the beginning of my life has altered into a hopeful new tune. And now that I have graduated from Bellevue College, the music has changed. I want to move forward with my communications studies and hope to do so using a blank sheet of paper, and new notes, at the University of Washington.

Additional Comments:

Spring Quarter 2016 my grandmother had fallen ill, I enrolled in an online and Hybrid course to allow more flexibility in supporting her. However, I was unable to find a hybrid course to fulfill my lab science pre-requisites and had to take an in-person Bio-Anthropology course. I was taking my grandmother to doctor appointments multiple times a week and it was demanding much of my time, forcing me to miss days from this class, so I had submitted a request for a Hardship Withdrawal, which was approved and supported by my instructor and academic advisor.

Outcome: Granted acceptance into the University of Washington, and graduated June 2019.

Resume

Before:

OBJECTIVE


To obtain a challenging career-oriented position that utilizes my acquired skill set and passion to learn while allowing me to demonstrate my proven ability to meet and exceed expectations in a performance-based environment

EDUCATION


Washington State University

Bachelors of Science in Economics

Graduated May 2011


WORK EXPERIENCE

Sherwin Williams July 2016 to October 2018

Seattle, WA

Outside Sales Representative

  • Manage an account base of 200 customers
  • Work with store team to generate new business and accounts
  • Deal with customer complaints and discrepancies
  • Use marketing tools to build customer base and stealing market shares
  • Help customers build their business using our marketing tools
  • 50 face to face meetings a week with customers both new and existing
  • Build trusting relationship with customers

Sherwin Williams April 2015 to July 2016

Woodinville, WA

Store Manager

  • Consulted with customers daily
  • Executed sales plans with staff to gain market shares
  • Hired and managed staff to assist in obtaining sales goals daily
  • Solved problems with customers to meet their expectations
  • Maintained stores inventory levels
  • Analyzed financial reports monthly
  • Lead monthly training and events with customers and employees

Sherwin Williams July 2013 to April 2015

Woodinville, WA

Assistant Store Manager

  • Led store’s Lead generation program which increase number of accounts and sales opportunities
  • Assisted store manager with inventory, merchandising, and financial activities
  • Provided excellent customer service to wholesale and retail customers
  • Assisted on developing the store’s annual sales plan
  • Made decisions regarding pricing, credit and other customer issues

ACHIEVEMENTS

Meet Sales goals as Sales Rep of $1,000,000 in sales in a new territory and was awarded to Leaders Club

Completed top 3 in the Seattle district in new accounts opened in 2017

Exceeded Sales goals as Store Manager of $1.2 million in sales and was awarded to Masters Club

Surpassed Sales Goals as AM of a new store and Manager was awarded to Presidents Club

After:

robelresume

Outcome: Received multiple job interviews within the first week, received a final job offer in his preferred industry with higher scope and pay, two weeks later.

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Sunday’s Sermon

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Love is an act of endless forgiveness. Forgiveness is the Final Act of Love.

-Beyonce

Luke 7:40-50

Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?

I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.

You have judged correctly…whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.

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Stitched Lips

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The oppressors stitched the past and the people called it history.

The oppressed stitched the past and the people called it ignorance.

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Coloring Tombstones

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Yoooo –

When I die,

Y’all niggas better not embarrass me.

I gotta go out like a man –

I don’t wanna see none of that Go Fund Me shit

I’m not about to be out here,

Looking like I didn’t handle my business

Like I didn’t make sure my family’s straight

Shieeeett

I got the highest life insurance policy out here!

Oh,

And don’t let noooone of these niggas,

Not one

Take pictures of me in the hospital,

Looking like a zombie –

Tied up to all them machines,

Talking ‘bout RIP to the bro.

I don’t want to be captured in no weak ass state.

Oh,

One last thing –

Don’t let them put that shit in me,

You know what I’m talkin bout?

That liquid that preserves your body,

Got you lookin fresh at the open casket.

I’m good off that –

I gotta go back into the ground,

100% natural.

I need the Earth to feed off me,

You know like fertilizer.

Let my last act…

Give back to the world somehow,

Feel me?

Anyways,

What about you Rahwa?

Got any requests?

How you not tryna go out?

Yea…

Iono bro,

Ima jus wing it.

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To Love, Is To Practice.

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 “Fake pimps, you ain’t even alive. At least I can say I tried plus enjoyed the ride. Next go round I hope I pick the truest type. Watch me do it all again it’s a beautiful life, aight?”

– Nas

I spent my 14th birthday with a fistful of tissues in one hand and a 2nd place trophy in the other. I asked the limousine driver to roll up the partition so I could bawl without feeling embarrassed or having to witness him attempt to wrap me with words that carried no warmth.  My volleyball team had just lost the championship game to Eastside Catholic. I was now making the journey from the game back to Vancouver B.C. to finish competing in the oral exams at a Latin Convention. I’ve never cared about sports, so this feeling of disappointment was foreign to me. I typically only engaged in physical activities recreationally and lacked a competitive bone. My coaches placed me as a habitual benchwarmer because I couldn’t break my habit of befriending the opponent. Needless to say, every sport I played I won best sportsmanship award. Yet, volleyball meant something different.

The following practice, the volleyball coach had my teammates and I engage in some fun drills to wind down from the season and boost morale. My favorite drill was when she’d throw the ball in random directions and I’d have to run and dive to make contact. I think I enjoyed the aspect of unpredictability and competing with myself most, that there were only two outcomes: either I make contact or miss entirely. Although, I was devastated we weren’t division champs – I didn’t dwell on it. I just picked back up and began working on my craft during practice, looking forward to next year’s season. I realized, when you love something, or someone, even when your desirable outcome isn’t reached – you don’t quit or harbor resentment, you just improve yourself for the next opportunity. Fundamentally, to love, is to practice. It’s the choice to commit to and enjoy the journey rather than fixate on the destination.

Last month marked my one-year anniversary of being single. It’s not a significant feat by any means, yet for someone who subconsciously feared being alone and jumped from man to man this was an important milestone for me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my season of singleness. It made me realize that a woman’s identity often belongs to everyone but her. Our identities are tied to our relationships – we constantly belong to someone. As a girl we are someone’s daughter, as a young adult we become someone’s lover, in maturity we become someone’s mother. As a woman, society has conditioned us to believe that love and obligation are interchangeable, and we become consumed and burdened by the wellness of those close to us.  There was nothing more that I wanted than to rid myself of all ties and have full autonomy of my identity. I wanted my individualized existence to precede any of my interpersonal relationships.

After my last relationship ended, although we ended on amicable terms, I still harbored resentment. I perpetuated the trope that “all men are trash” and became bitter towards the opposite sex. Having had dated this individual for 4 years I felt robbed of my happily ever after, I felt robbed of years of my youth, when a woman is seen as most desirable. A type of covert violence a man can inflict on a woman is to rob her of time. After 4 years I found myself as a reflection of my partner’s image, I had acquired his friends, his interests, his mannerisms. The once distinct lines of who we both were as individuals began to blur as we molded into each other, exposing and acquiring each other’s flaws and excellencies – I wondered whether our relationship disintegrated because we didn’t love each other, or if it was because we didn’t love ourselves – we didn’t love who we had each become throughout the course the relationship.

When bitterness brews you begin to vilify individuals, I had a caricature of what men were and templatized myself in my interactions with them. I had unrealistic expectations that focused more on the ending – I was hyper protective of my time, energy and identity. What I tried to construe as knowing my self-worth was routed in ego and fear. I was holding all men accountable for the mistakes and pains of my past.

When you focus on what should be, you miss out on what is and filter out experiences that could’ve been transformative. Love is rooted in madness, and I’ve always thought it bordered mental illness. It goes against all human rationale. Love is the only thing we as humans expect to be infinite. We can conceptualize all other aspects of life as being ephemeral, but not love. When the seasons change, we immediately swap our wardrobes, when fruits spoil we throw them in the compost, when a song ends our playlist shuffles to the next, when the buzzer rings we say good game. It’s madness to wear flip flops in the snow, consume a molded orange, demand the DJ to put one song on loop, or beg the referee to put more time on the clock. Yet – this is the friction we stir when we fail to adapt to the waning of love.

Nas is my all-time favorite rapper and I kept his song “Bye Baby” on repeat as I was healing. Music fuels the subconscious and I was intentional in not listening to songs that promoted “Fuck Bitches” or “Niggas Ain’t Shit” ideologies. “Bye Baby” was unique in that it told the story about the rollercoaster ride of Nas’ relationship with his ex-wife, Kelis. It captured the highs of the relationship, and the lows. It ended with a recap of Nas’ friends dogging him for even trusting a woman in the first place when he was legally mandated to split half of his earnings as a part of their divorce settlement. Instead of fueling the narrative that he fucked up and would never love again, his message conveyed optimism and hope. He prided himself in taking a risk that most men were too timid to take and said “Next go round I hope I pick the truest type. Watch me do it all again it’s a beautiful life.” The best artists are those whose messages you can’t differentiate from your conscious, and I was grateful for this affirmation. Bitterness doesn’t look good on me, I’m most authentic when I’m in a loving and open state. I’ve come to terms that I am a hopelessful romantic and thank God for blessing me with a vast capacity for love, for partners, family and friends.

As humans we’re programmed to identify threats and protect ourselves from pain. We implement guard rails, as one sets up bumpers in bowling, to increase our chances of striking out. With each year, my tolerance for pain increases along with my ability to let it go. Some things are meant to be painful, and losing a partner is one of those. My friends have called me crazy for not wanting a prenup, but I never wanted something contractual to be a safety net, an easy cop-out. Should I get married and my husband and I have a fall out I want that to be terribly painful. Losing your other half is supposed to hurt and I don’t want external remedies to lighten the blow.

I’m now in a state where I’m open, yet not searching. I’m beyond grateful about the lessons my past lovers have taught me for they’ve played a role in me becoming a better iteration of myself. I hope my next love embodies a sequence of hypotheses – where we’re constantly experimenting and figuring out what works and what doesn’t and adjusting accordingly. He’ll learn when I’ve had too many drinks and it’s time to take me home before I get sick. I’ll learn how many times he presses the snooze button before actually waking up for work.

I want our love to wear multiple hats. Sometimes we’ll play the role of a coach, teammate, opponent, referee, or cheerleader. You’ll push yourself. I’ll push myself. We’ll push each other. We’ll compete against our personal best. We’ll compete against each other. Even we’re on opposing ends – when we fight – we’ll come out of each argument better. We’ll have the understanding that we have a shared goal of holding each other accountable to being the best version we can be, for ourselves and the greater collective. Nothing says I love you more than to be able to say I’ve dedicated my life to being the best version of myself which I’ve now chosen to share, and continue to build with you. Nothing is more intimate than chasing dreams side by side.

I’ll tell my love there’s no such thing as a happily ever after, but for each day that we both show up – we can build happily today.

To love, is to practice.

This is how your heart expands.

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