Night Women: My first Art Gallery Exhibition Visit

Tonight I found myself in a white room surrounded by beautiful dark women, painted, hung up and beautifully displayed. Leaves green gold and all sorts of colours called out to me from the white walls. People stayed and chatted, glasses empty and full are scattered throughout the room in pensive hands with pensive faces drawn to the paintings on the wall. This was my first real art exhibition. I had amped up myself when I first heard about it and I was already a fan of the artist so I knew I had to be there. It was something I craved for some time, the urge to be surrounded by beautiful creations, forced to muse over the way they were painted. Why were the women’s faces speckled like the night sky? Why were they entangled in leaves, grounded, as my companion had pointed out. The unique spirituality of the piece caused me to question my own.

The women’s beauty inspired these thoughts: I have never been exposed to this level of black appreciation, power, poetry, spirituality, oneness. They were created by a remarkable woman, whose free-spirited nature always made her stand out to me, Brianna McCarthy. I saw her beauty, her likeness in the women she created. Their long slender necks, the wideness of their eyes, the way they stared at you as if knowing some ethereal secret. I wondered what their secrets were. What was it about the ‘twin’ pieces that made me feel suddenly aware of my ‘singleness’ my search for belonging and companionship. What was it about their black charcoal faces that made me reflect on my own blackness, my own African beauty.

I recall the first time I had seen Brianna McCarthy’s pieces and in them a color and vibrancy that celebrated the black female body. Her expressions of hair, their round foreheads, beautiful faces, open expressive eyes, their long slender necks, were elements of a beauty I was just beginning to appreciate myself. The black woman, her color, essence, her connections with the earth or the universe. The deep sense of spirituality that always made me question my own. The way these women were created also made me ponder my own creations, my own art, my self expression. I wanted to be as beautiful with my hands, my words. I was inspired to, moved to create, see, be and do. These Vetiver Women are just what I needed, time spent with  something beautiful, precious. Remarkable.

The Virginity Situation

I’ve known that I have been interested in what’s inside my boyfriend’s pants for a while now. It’s been two years and our sexual chemistry is like a steam engine, no breakdowns, no having to fix parts for it to work, it goes and goes. We’re like beasts. I tease him a lot and he’s handsy and I love it. He is especially smitten with my ass and though sometimes it makes me wonder if he likes that the most, I am always reassured that he’s smart enough to know that he has the whole package with me. I mean, not to blow my own horn (or anything else) but I’m pretty great. With all my insecurities and my fears about a lot of things and how frustrating I can make both myself and my boyfriend, I always realize that I am more than just my faults and shortcomings. I’ve heard it from his mouth, the ‘sometimes I don’t know why I’m with you, but then you remind me exactly why’ conversation takes me by surprise.

But here’s my issue. I’ve been fighting with myself about how to go about taking the next plunge. How do I look him in the eye and say “I’m ready now…for real this time” without second, third, fourth and fifth guessing myself. I look at him and I love absolutely everything about him, when he smiles, when he geeks out over car engines, or physics, or a random article he happens to agree with (despite not expecting to). The fact that he’s authoritative, can be an asshole, and bordering along the lines of an insufferable know-it-all even somehow, makes me love him even more. Why? Because he’s honest. He’s brave, bold and intelligent. He talks to you and listens, he knows himself and what he wants, he inspires me, he pushes me, pressures me to be the best version of myself, not to mention that he is my best friend and he is always there for me when I need him. Yes, my attraction and my feelings are there. I have hit the jackpot this time around, the first real time around actually, but I woke up this morning feeling so uneasy.

We were in the zone last night, play fighting, watching the t.v but not really. We we going places. Wink wink! But it wasn’t until this morning that I had to think about what was happening. I was hesitant, paranoid that at any moment we would be discovered. I didn’t tell him this but, I didn’t feel, alone with him. The windows were always too close and too open. The door was always too open or too noisey. The fan was either making too much noise and not enough. The t.v was the perfect distraction but it was both too loud and not loud enough. I wanted us to be cocooned in my room, safe from intrusion, but I couldn’t feel at ease. I couldn’t feel alone. 

So this morning I started thinking to myself. What’s the real problem here? I wasn’t ready. I would look at his face and I couldn’t wait to sink into it. I couldn’t wait to unwrap that candy I had been saving for forever, that extremely delicate, expensive, rare, most desirable, important candy. But I digress. I needed to reassess what this meant for me. What does my virginity really mean and why was I afraid of losing it. I’m not ready because- I am terrified that once I open this door and go through it, I wouldn’t like what was on the other side. I wasn’t ready because- If I really believed that it was time, things would fall into place and I would feel safe about going about it. I wasn’t ready because- as much as I loved him, I couldn’t help but wonder about the possibly of us not destined to be together. Yes, I believed that we would always somehow be apart of each other’s lives and I would love him whether we were together or not, but it still didn’t feel like a big enough certainty. Granted, he’s my best friend and yeah, that’s awesome, being with someone you love and who you absolutely trust. But I didn’t feel 100 percent open to it. I wanted to, Lord knows I have been feeling the need. But the need, is constantly being overwritten by doubts.

Here’s what I musing about again today.

It always seems easier for a guy to lose his virginity to a girl. We come from a generation of parents who most likely weren’t virgins when they met, divorced or simply never married. Everyone in our family, starts wondering about that girl their son/ nephew is with and what they do when they’re out late. I was telling my boyfriend this, people automatically start wondering about your sexual activity and if you’re being safe. If your kid is being really close with someone of the opposite sex their age, you automatically start cataloging all the times they went out, the times they came in late, when they came over and when they left. Everyone has a case of sex-on-the-brain. So that in itself is proper motivation to prove them right or wrong. But as the mother of a son (hypothetically speaking), you’re not eager to protect his virginity in the same way you would if he’d been a girl, or that of his sisters. You won’t be too worried about him ‘getting pregnant’ but still you want him to be safe, maybe come home earlier, check in, the norm. But my Bf’s mother is protective, he is her only son and with that being the new girl in his life will cause a lot of curiosity.

Family always assume you’re doing things you’re technically not supposed to be doing. For a few moments today I felt like it was so unfair, that I was constantly being managed by everyone else’s expectations, although ironically, I had a more liberal household compared to that of the Bf’s. As a guy, he’s already ready to go there, he’s got the energy, he’s speaking the language, he’s made up his mind. But as the girl…I’m constantly worried that I would ruin my life. All I can think is if I get pregnant -sure he’d be a great father but, the stretchmarks, childbirth, this vagina, i’m the one going through the physical and psychological changes for this child. All he can do is support. My family is constantly going to remind me of my failure and how this is unlike me and I should have known better. His family is going to grateful that he’s not a girl, and his cousins are going to wonder when the baby is due and probably say something along the lines of Congrats Big Man. I already started seeing the disappointed/ saddened gaze of his mother…(Mind you these are assumptions based on experiences with my family and stories I’ve heard about his) And Yes go ahead and laugh…I’m being a little bit crazy here.

I needed to stop thinking for a second about these hypothetical situations and remember what was really important here and now- my own well being. My life’s a mess. I have no idea what I want to do yet, and I’m trying. Everyday I wake up and I’m terrified that I’m going to have to make a split-second decision that I’d have to stick with for the rest of my life. It’s a silly thought. I’m constantly bombard with questions about what’s next and what I want to do and where I’m going to work. This is my final semester (at University) and I have not figured out half as much as I have hoped, but I am determined to live this life of my mine for me. I’m always worried about what people would think, what if I have sex, what if I get pregnant, and all I remember of these terrifying thoughts is how my family will perceive me- which leads to my decision.

I cannot give up a piece of myself and have it be put up for speculation and personal opinions. Exactly one week ago the most terrifying thing happened to me, while I struggled with trying to figure my life out. I celebrated my birthday, as if everything else wasn’t hard enough. I hated the age I was and I hated the age I was becoming even more, but in the middle of my disappointment I realized. I am a woman now. I don’t have all my shit together but I’m working on it and I will make the best of what I am doing, what I am and what I have. My virginity is a big part of me, maybe that’s just another social construct. Maybe in actuality, it’s just one step in the forward direction of something more complicated. But I decided, If I was ready, I’d already have done it. If I was ready, I wouldn’t have anything or anyone else in my head and I wouldn’t be playing around with the possible outcomes in my head, bracing myself for something horrible. If I was ready, I would be writing all of this. This is my decision, I’m around my mid twenties now, almost and I decided to give myself a break about it and wait just a little while longer.

Excuse my long ass book of a post!

Scars

I have this scar on my left leg, just above my knee, it was one afternoon, my cousin and I were next door at my grandma’s house. The fence between my house and my grandma’s was sagging, so my cousin, with his wild-boy self, decided it would be cool to climb over the fence where it sagged. He got over easily, I however had to think more deeply about it. I calculated the success of this and eventually decided to go for it. About halfway through, the edges of the wire that had come undone (and I didn’t know this) dug deeply into my leg and as I moved more over, it tore through my skin. I can’t remember the pain very well, but I can faintly remember the burning sensation of the the gaping strips on my leg that were milky white and slowly began to bleed. It was a terrifying feeling, watching myself bleed slowly like that.

I learned my lesson that day, and I felt unlucky so it was a classic “Why me?” situation. But looking at the one scar remaining out of the four or five gashes in my skin, I find it to be this cool thing. I love my scars because every one of them is a memory, every one has a story to tell, even if I forget sometimes. Most importantly, my scars are a reminder that I have suffered, I have been in pain, but I managed to overcome it, fight through and heal eventually. For this I am thankful.

“Your Boyfriend Is Not Allowed In Here”

He sits in the place he isn’t allowed

because rules are always and only for breaking.

With my lover, I’ve come to dislike things I once couldn’t wait to have. Certain words like “Boyfriend” “relationship” “being together” have all come to invoke certain feelings of nausea and dizziness. My heart leaps in a quick panic when anyone refers to my significant other as my ‘boyfriend’, why? Here’s why. And let me be frank, honest and open about this.

He turned me off of the idea of it. We were getting close, spending time together, laughing at each other’s jokes, being deep and philosophical with each other. We shared the same pained understanding about our youth, our friends, ourselves and our education. We were, it would seem, a near perfect match after all. I remember the words that started us off on the relationship bandwagon. It was late and we were in my room, I was sitting on top of him playfully and in-between laughter and giggling, something clicked, I looked down at his face as he reclined against a pillow, the t.v humming softly in the background, light reflecting off of his face, so I could focus on his eyes especially. The moment was right , I decided, to tell him how I felt. We were close enough, we were right there, so I said it and watched for his response. I said, “I…I want you all to myself…” I was serious, looking down shyly at his hands as I played with them, then I looked up to see his face, he was still there in the moment with me, he was thinking now, and I was readying myself to respond to what ever he was to say next. He said that he’ll try. Up until he left that evening, he said, in-between my ‘see ya later’ kisses, that he’ll try and see. I was optimistic, surprised, but cautiously optimistic. It made me nervous and giddy.

I didn’t know however that him saying that he’ll ‘try’ meant that he’d try from that night, that we’d be official with those words. It was an communicated sentiment. I was thinking he would mull it over, give it some more thoughts, have a few conversations about it then come to a relationship agreement. Eight days later, i pried and discovered that he counted that night as THE night it started. For a while we couldn’t say anything to people, no posting random selfies, no going overboard with the pdas, except that we were very loving. It was a convenient beginning because it was in April and we had a long summer ahead of us to , spend more time together. He was honestly the most exciting experience of the semester. Sorry, but it’s the truth. School was stupid, people were being difficult, I had lost a couple of my friends, because I decided that I deserved better than shitty, poor form friendships, where treating you like less that you deserve was supposed to be seen as ‘motivation’ or for ‘your own good’. Nope! It was bullshit. So my so-called relationship came at a time I needed something good to happen.

I never really like the feel of the word ‘boyfriend’ in my mouth, after a while, I started referring to him as my ‘boyfriend’ at home but it felt weird. He was so much more that a ‘boyfriend’ he deserved much finer words like ‘everything’ and as cheesy and cliched as the word is, it described the depths of our relationship. He became, my family in a sense, the one who would pull up my socks when I was being stupid, who would hold my hand because I needed it sometimes, He supported me in everything and said the hardest things I would ever have to hear, the truth. He was honest, considerate, real. I needed real. After getting rid of the toxic friendships in my life, I needed honesty, even if I couldn’t hear it sometimes. I needed someone to be honest with me about myself, so I could know where I stand with them and how they see me and our relationship. Plus it’s just good to keep a relationship on track, so that NO ONE has any illusions about what’s going on.

The moment my boss told me that I couldn’t bring him inside the lab where I work, I cringed on the inside. Suddenly it became real and we couldn’t hide behind the ‘we’ll try and see’ anymore. Our relationship had always been our affair, our business, people speculated but we never openly answered them. We had tossed and turned over the status of our relationship for a long time and now knowing that others saw it, really saw it for what it was to us, without speaking to us directly or just straight up being told, it alarmed me. Yes we were clearly ‘together’ but for most of the year of our ‘trying’ we had hidden the labels, we had decided against the ‘what is it’, especially me, I was always eager, so I had to calm down and wait. We had lived in and out of denial every week and now, hearing someone referring to him like that, it made it seem so real. Do you understand how complicated our relationship is? By now you should get the idea. We’re not typical guys and gals, we’re not like the other ‘couples’, it’s not as simple as holding hands and kissing, it’s a whole host of shit that comes with this new, challenging territory. We have created a mountain out of a mole hill and fussed and fumed over with it is or should be, but in the end, after all the thoughts and heart to hearts, we’re together and it’s as simple as that, (well it should be anyways.)

Let’s not break the rules, but first thing’s first… You are what you are. A label is only a label.

Skin, Thoughts about Things

It started with my first real encounter. He was dark chocolate beautiful. He literally took my breath away. I thought, wow, I’ve never seen such a dark beauty before. His head was perfectly round and he had a slim build. His eyes were young and mischievous. He was talkative and loud, but beautiful. Ever since then all my encounters with him had began with, “Gosh, he cute!” and ended with “He really is cute, boy!” It was my in-between crushing on him that remained one of the highlights of my two years doing sixth form.

At my earlier high school, I had been smitten with a boy, in my class. He was light-skinned with soft brown wavy hair. He was tall and ridiculously lean. He was always neat and spoken eloquently enough to stand out from the other students. He was so cute, the way he would strut around like a pale flamingo, silently, smiling, smirking. I remember it was our first week at class and we had been assigned to sit next to each other. Those days I felt awkward, ugly and stood out like a sore thumb, at least to me. Our teacher had wanted us to switch pardners every week, so we got to know everyone else better. I hated her for this especially since, I had fallen out with my so-called best friends and was left with a void. So I was alone and shy and kept to myself. It was an awful time. I so full of angst that when I had to sit next to my light-skinned crush, I snapped at him as he was trying to tell me something. I can’t remember exactly what it was, so I’ll illustrate with this.
The teacher had just finished setting up our new class arrangements. We were to all sit here and get to know each other. I feeling the pain of awkward lonesomeness, felt absolutely  self conscious sitting next to this beautiful boy, who I had never seen this close before and was automatically crushing on. Next to him I felt like a duck sitting next to a swan, I know this a dramatic comparison but is very suiting to my situation her. He turns to me and is about to say something, I turn to him, and in screwing up my face, I snap telling him something about how I was just gonna sit here and wasn’t looking for any nonsense and was taking any crap. This of course would have sounded much better, had it been those exact words. When I finished, he continued and it had nothing to do with me personally, it wasn’t any insult, he was just telling me…something. Because of my feelings about myself, I assumed to worst. I felt badly after and hoped silently that we could still be friends. And we were almost best friends, but I was never lucky enough to keep him close. My poor self-esteem along with time and growing up intervened. Plus it’s hard being friends with someone you were crushing on every other day.

Present day, I am in much better spirits about my self esteem, though I have a long long way to go. I have literally never felt sexier about myself. And I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to my new found feelings about myself and my blossoming sexuality had nothing to do with a boy. This boy, with whom I’ve shared a tough, neither here nor there sorta friendship, became the most important person in a year. Not exaggerating. Through our experiences together I have learned to love myself more, come to terms with what I am and seriously question who I want to be. He is also the closest I’ve ever come to actually loving someone. I mean I love in general, but the kind of love you find in romance novels, except not pristine or white, but grayish with a few bruises. It’s nice and battered, in a good way. Obviously I have no idea what I’m talking about. My less than perfect new love, is great! He is for me the exception to the rule, the one you least expected, the one you tried to avoid, but hoped to crash into. He is my everything. It’s exhausting thinking about us all the time, and honestly I get so annoyed at us, always so childish, and loving and warm….sometimes, but I’d rather his hand be the only one I hold, even if I have to tickle him mercilessly to get it. It may not be perfect or the only relationship I’ll get into, but I’m  certainly pleased with life….with him.

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Here’s What I’m Thinking

My day today wasn’t anything special, I did chores, I straighten up my room, I listened to music and I danced. I had radical bursts of happiness. I didn’t miss anyone, I don’t feel particularly alone, or confused or weighted down by life and school. Yes, I have assignments coming up and that are due in a couple of days, but I’m still trying to keep an open mind.

Anyway, I had a good day, by myself. But then you came and I was happy, I felt as though I was oddly complete because my person was here. My best friend, was here, unexpectedly. But here’s the thing. I was fine before you came and I always love when you do, but times like tonight, you leave me messed up… I have all these thoughts and feelings that I can do nothing with. I have this weird numbness, this feeling in the center of my being that I would be love to not exist. You came into my day and I was happy but then you made things so complicated, we made things complicated. You made me think too much, you made feel raw. You made me try to understand the sum of all my feelings and yours again, in one sitting. Your silence alone makes me weary of how deep the talk goes and how many times we’ve had it. Even now I’m talking in circles. My feelings about you are so simple but together we make them complicated. Even simplifying it gives way to a tone of heartbreak or a ‘break’ simply put.

The Chalk Mural

Confused by her thoughts, she seeks solace, anywhere, but most specifically in her creating things. She finds herself horribly unhappy, wanting to burst out of herself. The music, once a heavenly chorus of sound, dulls. It begins to lose it’s flavor. Its sound doesn’t bind her the way it used to. Once she has tasted it over and over, she finds it has become boring. The voices the rhythms, still beautiful but not enough to pull her out of this state. He emotions become like quicksand, the sadness pulling her down, deeper and deeper until the more she smiles and breathes the worse it gets. She is accustomed to being sad or that dreadful “D” word that most creatives suffer on and off, but this time it felt different.

Her sadness had taken on a new taste, a new sting. She had been fighting for so long to find herself, to find her passion and life. Now the ironic blunder that life is had offered her this ridiculous, yet oddly satisfying thought- had her unhappiness, her restlessness and emptiness become her passion? (she laughs)  Was she now in a strange way finding that her passion  is in the searching for it? Now there’s an idea. She’d been searching for something to call her own, find her place, her talent, only to  realize or come to belief that she had been incomplete. She loved writing, but it scared her, so she could no longer finish new pieces. She loved photography once, but could not keep up with the technology, the science behind it. She loved making things, useful crafts, but she found herself with less means to make them, so was stuck, searching for the next DIY, while she dreamed of full pockets and shopping sprees to the nearest or most convenient art shop. She had her eye on those cans of glitter spray paint and that fabric paint was calling her. But she needed to plan and wait…for full enough pockets.

She loved singing and always dreamed of recording music, but something was never in her to know how to do it. Singing was another failed talent, (she thinks) and she now has this fear of losing her voice. She croaks slightly while singing along to her favorite songs. She frowns as Sam Smith comes on and she can barely, (she thinks) keep a decent tune. She is utterly afraid of ending up like that lady she once saw featured on Humans of New York, who had never found her passion in life. Could that be her? She wonders daily. God, lord what is she going to do when this final semester is over?! What will she do with her life? Will her struggle end? Will see finally dance, make things to her heart’s content, record a few songs, perform her poetry or write that book she had been wanting to for most of her life? What will she become? What will she be? Will she ever know? I pray she gets all the answers she’s looking for as she begins another strange distraction- her lonely scattered, chalk mural.

Let there be flowers and poetry and let all good things bloom on your life. Let all things bloom beautifully.

Angela Valerie