By Tahirah Walker
PROMPT — Despite ...
I can't bring myself to finish writing your name. Like you couldn't bring yourself to finish loving me. You know I never really wanted you exactly. I wanted something better than what I was used to. Something magical like the warm feeling in my belly as we watched other people ice skate around a lit tree at 6pm on a Friday in December. I wanted the feels. All of them. I wanted no one pushing me down to dominate me physically in whatever way felt best. I wanted no one doing his business on me. I wanted eyes that smiled when they looked at mine. I wanted someone with free hands to carry all my baggage and shit. And I wanted never to be asked what was in all of it.
I was ready to plunge into a life of forgetting with you. I was ready to pretend that no one had ever hurt me. I was ready to pretend that the baby I already had was yours. And ready to have more. I was ready to laugh like Julia Roberts and grow my hair so that I could sweep it over your shoulders from above you in the early morning hours of an apartment where we would grow plants and drink wine. I wanted to sing over the other side of your keyboard and wear your white collar shirts before I took them to the dry cleaners. I wanted to buy you a birthday present that would make you pull me close and place your chin on the crown of my head before you said "thank you, babe" and wiped a tear from just one eye. I was ready for every dream you had if only I could have this one of me and you to myself.
It must have been easy to break my heart. I mean I think back and realize how incredibly strong I seemed. I spoke three languages. I traveled from the U.K. to the Caribbean. I kept my white sneakers pristine and my silver jewelry clean. My skin was honey and amber and gold in the June sunlight. My hair was dark and seaworthy. My fingers were healing and my hips were perfectly curvy. I remember saying goodbye in the airport and thinking that for just a tiny fraction of a second you looked afraid. And somehow I knew then that I had once again missed a boat by getting on a plane. It must have been easy to date the woman who was right there in front of you and know that someone else would come along for me. It must have been easy to think that I would be ok. I imagined you even thinking someone better would come my way.
So I think it must have been bizarre to know that months later I still needed to see you. I hated the restaurant you worked in and my family had no idea why I chose it. Well except for my nephew. He knew when he saw you. His seven year old face searched mine with an understanding "you ok auntie?" He must have been so sad for me. But he never thought I was crazy. When we walked out without the closure I wanted from you, he held my hand and thanked me for the trip into the city. It was late but I decided to take him down to The World Trade Center after that. I wanted him to look at the whole world if he could. It was dark by then and we almost didn't make it but a friendly man made an exception so we could stand in the window and fulfill my tiny little dream. Honestly, that may not have happened that night if my nephew had seen me and you as I wanted him to—reunited, sleepless in Seattle, sorry I hurt you, I'm also just a girl standing in front of a boy, this is urgent, all the love lines all the life is but a dream. Instead I took him to the top of that night's world and offered him this one thing having no idea it would soon be gone forever...much like you and me.
So here I am decades later. My nephew has a family of his own and the last time I saw him he was graduating from high school. They moved to Arizona where skyscrapers aren't the way to say sorry I dragged you to a pop up on a guy who wrote me a Dear Jane. All desert quiet, all blue sky plain. And where I am is different, too. I don't take long elevator rides to get over my problems. I cut my hair often and roller skate in any season. My belly decides what temperature is best and I don't even necessarily feel it really because of the scalpel that removed the last child from what must have seemed to you like that blessing of a curvy body. I moved on but, no it wasn't easy. There were no knights in shining armor thanking you for letting them rescue me. I grew bitterness not greenery. I drank religion, then Jack Daniels, and became the tea. I weaned myself from R&B. Not a single song to sing. I focused instead on technology. I wore black and red clothes and washed them myself. I read books by myself in the laundromat. I drove by myself to get groceries. I let ten more people break up with me. I married eventually. Divorced and did it all over again. You should be so proud of me.
I wrote this letter to say nothing at all except that this is what happened to me. I had no idea if it would be sad or angry or healing or funny. My only expectation was that it be. And so it has no ending really. I suppose what I'd say all these years later is thank you if you ever loved me. And thank you if you couldn't or didn't. I guess all I'm saying is despite these many years, look, I still have this memory with me.
How are you?
Tahirah Walker is a writer and teacher. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetorical Studies. Her passion is celebrating the accomplishments and everyday lives of Black womxn and girls. Tahirah enjoys books, books, music, books, and her beautiful supportive family. Tahirah’s dream is to have an epic block party where the DJ plays books and poems. She writes from Turtle Creek, PA.