Unpacking these tears
I’m going to share this “live-writing” stream-of-consciousness post as it is happening.
Here is my attempt to unpack a big ol’ cry that still has my eyes feeling that tired, slightly cool sensation that lingers, like a reminder.
K. For context, I was just watching an episode of Queer Eye where a girl of about 11 years old nominated her dad for the show. The little girl ice skates and is damn good! Her dad is working on showing up for her so Johnathan brings him to the ice skating rink to watch her practice and get tips from none other than Olympic figure skating icon, Michelle Kwan! And it’s an unbelievable, magical moment for the girl, for her dad, for Johnathan and... daggonit... who gets swept up in the emotions? Me.
But my joyful laughing/crying, happy-for-this-lovely-young-lady, morphs ever so smoothly into tears of grief, tears of pain for my own missed opportunities during childhood.
Ugh. Is this because my birthday is coming up in about a month? Again?! Good lord. And the waterworks turn into a full on wail as I go through the moments I felt so alive and connected to gymnastics and dreamed of being an Olympian... All of which was all but shattered by my own father’s words: “It’s too late, you’ll never go to the olympics. Do you know how early those girls start training?” I think on how many times I’ve played that conversation over in my head. I acknowledge that this tape runs through my head even today, and often, and has become a fully realized inner voice applicable to so many of my goals and dreams now.
I cry for my 6 or 7 year old self. I weep for the adult who wrestles with the fear that I’m always too late. That I’ll never achieve it. That I’m not good enough. That I’ll never EVER catch up.
I mourn for the little me that had time, a supple body, a limitless reservoir of possibilities. I wish I could go back in time. Give her everything she needed. Say all the right words, shower her with encouragement and resources, and mentors.
But I can’t go back in time. I have to make it work now. I literally cannot change what’s already happened. And it breaks my heart. It makes me angry. It hurts. And the shittiest part about it is, that’s just the way it is. TIME KEEPS A-ticking. All I can do is move forward now, and I can’t seem to find any solace in that anywhere. Ugh.
I wish I didn’t remember. I wish I didn’t feel it. I wish it didn’t matter. But it does. Ugh.
I forgive him. I forgive both my parents for everything. They were babies themselves just trying to figure it out. They won’t even remember, and probably hardly realize. It’s my burden to bear now. I’m a whole entire adult... and have been for a while now.
E as in elephant
In my own words.
I didn't think I cared about the Royal Wedding...
I am a bit like Prince Harry... an iconoclast. I have never been obsessed with the monarch, nor terribly impressed with their grand gestures of opulence and influence. Why should I have been? I am an American. An African American. A woman who knows her history. The history of colonialism, imperialism, neocolonialism, and the slave trade... propagated on the content of my ancestry, in large part by the generations upon generations of the royal family over there in Buckingham Palace. Like most of us, I have felt justifiably detached and instinctually unmotivated to join the bandwagon of wde-eyed dreamers looking up at the castle. The headlines were sufficient. The Netflix show, The Crown, offered a new interest. But again, I am compelled by my DNA to give no more than polite acknowledgment of the main events and keep it moving.
When the news of Prince Harry dating the bi-racial American actress Meghan Markle began rolling in, however, my polite acknowledgment was accompanied by a raise of the eyebrows and one of those cocked head nods. Oh okay, Prince Harry. I see you. He suddenly seemed to be the realization and expansion of Princess Diana's global, humanistic perspective. He was breaking tradition in a bold and modern way, simply by courting Meghan. He defended her and his choice to be with her against the inevitable bigotry and vitriol that lines the underbelly of the west. I was becoming a fan.
I don't remember when I found out they were engaged. I don't recall ever knowing the date of the wedding until it was less than a week away. The Friday before the big event, I laughed as my hairdresser responded to a client under the dryer, "Why would I wake up at 4 a.m. to watch their wedding? They're not going to wake up to watch mine." I agreed. No extra effort would be made on my part either. I was certain I'd see the highlights the next day without even trying.
So before leaving to go bring some value to my community, I scrolled my Instagram, saw the dress, the reception dress, the tiara and the image of her pageboys and bridesmaids following her up the steps. I paused for a while on the image of her and her mom waving through the window on their way to the chapel. But all in all I was satisfied. The two of them looked radiant. I was happy for them both.
After teaching my drama workshops and absorbing all of the benefits of having been of service to the enthusiastic teens who attended, I found myself on the couch, deciding whether or not to press "Watch" under the picture of the glowing Megan and Harry on my streaming service. I had already received giddy texts form my aunt, grandmother and mother who had obviously watched. Why not. We'll have something to talk about.
3 1/2 hours later I am typing hearts and flowers on twitter for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex with stars in my eyes and a girlish grin.
It was Meghan, it was the Gospel Choir, it was Serena Williams and Oprah Winfrey, it was the cellist, Sheku Kanneh Mason. It was the passionate Bishop Curry quoting Dr. Martin Luther King that hooked me. And not just because they are American excellence, but let's just state the obvious. It was because they were black. And they were not bystanders, they were not wide-eyed dreamers. They were the story.
It was Doria Ragland. Gorgeous, proud, emotional mother of the bride, Doria. So familiar. She was my aunt, my mother, my professors from university, my mentors. She was me.
And let's just be real. The Royal Wedding was specular. I have a sense I am as feminist leaning as the Duchess herself, but what woman would deny such a grand affair for her day? None that I know personally. And as far as I am concerned, The Duchess of Sussex, like all women and especially all intersectional women, deserve to feel like a princess at least for a day.
Congratulations, Duke and Duchess! May your fairytale continue to bring the west ever closer to harmony.
enisha b jane
In my own words.