On the Third Anniversary

It’s been three years since I had my fallopian tubes removed (a.k.a. elective tubal saplingectomy surgery). 

Other than the initial consultation with my doctor (she trusted me to make decisions about my body without question — shocking behavior), the process was unremarkable: a few hours in a hospital on the really good drugs, a few days of rest and taking it slow, and tiny twin incisions on my lower abdomen that, three years later, are almost gone. ¡Voila! A vision made real: no bebes, ever. 

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Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The cost of quiet is loneliness.
Part of the bed I made, so I can’t shy away from lying in it. The silence that usually feels like freedom occasionally threatens to suffocate me.
It shows up as a voice in my head screaming for something. I scroll my phone — click through streaming, podcast, and audiobook apps — searching for stimulus to shut out the nagging. Until I check my Digital Wellness app, see eight hours spent on my device, and realize that elusive thing I’ve sought all day is connection.

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The Osiris of This Shit

Yesterday, I sent some of my oldest and dearest blog-era friends the following text:

​”You know…thinking back to 2011-2012 when we were blogging about ‘Maybe there’s more to life than being wife material to some dude’ and everyone thought we were broken hoes who just wanted to slut it up for life… I realize that we were pioneers in the Never Mind These Dudes; Live Your Life, Sis movement.”​​

Don’t believe me, you say? Let’s revisit a post I unearthed from the 2012 iteration of The Skinny Black Girl:​

…I find my happiness in a quiet home. I love that feeling of sitting on my couch in my sweats after putting in my eight hours and knowing that I don’t have to do anything for anyone who isn’t named Robyn for the rest of the day. I also noted that I’m satisfied by my freedom. I can spend an hour G-chatting a male homey about life and the intricacies of Hov lyrics and the Giants pass rush and do so without explaining who I’m talking to or why I’m laughing so hard. Or I can shut everything off and not speak to anyone because I’m just not in the mood. And I don’t have to pick up any socks off my floor that don’t belong to me. (I have this thing about men and their footwear. Don’t ask.) I like pay day because I like knowing that I can pay my bills. And every morning I wake up to my 880 sq ft on Cleveland’s West Side and smile at the thought that this is all mine.

​I like quiet. I like being in charge unless I’m in bed or bent over some hard surface.

​These things don’t lend themselves to children or husbands.

Seven years later? Live Your Life, Sis is a MOOD. A lifestyle, honey. Drink your water. Mind your business. Leave these dudes on ‘read.’ Get your skin clear. See the world. Secure the bag. Do your squats. Work out your trauma. And do these things not because you’ll attract the “right” mate, as the barrage of Self Help Books By Men for Women instructed in the early aughts. Do it for yourself, sis because these dudes are trash.

When I brought this up to my friends the other day, here were some of the replies:​

“…there’s a lot of our OG natural principles being packaged in ‘self love’ advice these days. Never thought about it like that. I feel like the unmarried auntie that figured out life early lmao.”

​”Ahead of our time. Should’ve dropped a book.”

​”Just over the weekend, I was thinking back on a blog post I wrote about how [dudes weren’t] really chivalrous but doing the shit to score nice guy points. [Dudes] cussed me out for WEEKS. NOW THE SHIT IS REGULAR AND ACCEPTABLE CONVERSATION.”

“Waaaaay back. Told y’all asses to do what you wanted a long time ago, and you told us we’d never find a man, as if that was a punishment. Nice For What before Drake said anything.”

From the same 2012 post mentioned above:

​Then, last night, my dear friend @MF_Greatest dropped an article from The Atlantic written by author of The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti, called”Not Wanting Kids is Entirely Normal.” There was a passage that pinpointed my exact fears with marriage and motherhood:

‘The overwhelming sentiment, however was the feeling of a loss of self, the terrifying reality that their lives had been subsumed into the needs of their child. DS wrote, “I feel like I have completely lost any thing that was me. I never imagined having children and putting myself aside would make me feel this bad.” The expectation of total motherhood is bad enough, having to live it out every day is soul crushing. Everything that made us an individual, that made us unique, no longer matters. It’s our role as a mother that defines us.”

​@MF_Greatest summed it up beautifully when she tweeted: “I just don’t want to be drained. Or drowned. And I’m not changing my last name.”​

So, where are we now? The OGs who ran as “You Single Bitches” in 2012 so the “Unbothered Queens” of 2019 could fly?​

You know me. Freshly sterilized and settled in solitude; going for round three of real Live By Myself Adulthood at 35. Some are deeply committed to fulfilling, challenging careers and business pursuits. Some in relationships or marriages with space, freedom, and individuality at their very foundations. Different as our paths may be, one thing remains true: a non-negotiable wholeness unto ourselves.​

As I said back in 2012:​

Because when you dedicate great periods of time to accepting and becoming yourself, you tend to feel a bit queasy when someone demands that you be and answer to something/someone else.​

And if I’m to lay myself bare and be completely honest: it does become disheartening to repeatedly hear that my desire to hold on to myself makes me unlovable.

​But when presented with the option of being lonely versus being without myself?

Yeah, the lonely wins.

Welcome to the party, ladies. I’m not saying you had to bring flowers. But if you did, you can drop them in the water-filled vase at the door.

Peerless

You don’t realize how much time you spend talking about dating until you’re not dating.

When you lock boxes of memories and store them in the back of your closets, ready to get on with life.

When there is no associate with whom you exchange the occasional flirtatious quip.

When your former “possibles” are settling into lives with partners and children.

When crushes fizzle in 72 hours because you forgot how exhausting those little shots of dopamine can be.

When there is just you. And you won’t go out of your way to change it.

You become a passive participant in conversations over wine and tapas. Listening intently while fighting the inclination to pepper the conversation with memories. Remember? You locked those up. Now is all that matters and now there is just you.

You treasure conversations about anything else. Work. Politics. Sports. Music. Your latest TV binge. Books. Ideas for writing projects. Your latest astrological discovery. The stuff that lets you explore ideas and find analogies and dig into nuance.

The stuff that doesn’t remind you you’re venturing into a way of life that may eventually leave you peerless.

I Told You So

“I’m wondering what happens when this isn’t enough for you,” you say. You hate to say you know how this works; that at the beginning — the “Oh my God, could this be real” phase — you’re seeing the end. You tell him you’re falling. That’s a lie. You’re choosing. Feet planted on solid ground. Refusing to be swept away.

You chose this — the 500 miles between you and him — because it doesn’t disrupt your carefully-crafted existence. When it ends (and you know it will), it’s a clean break. No shared spaces, communities, or friends. Just a few “unfollows” and a deleted text thread. Voila! All gone.

“I feel like you need to be still right now and I wonder what happens when you’re ready to move again,” you say. At some point, he will want more than your arms-length approach. Permission to leave it in post-coitus. Consideration of his unsolicited opinions. Submission to his spontaneous nature. Room to dream of relocation to a sexy city outside the safety of the Midwest, a Vegas elopement, dropping your last name, a kid, a dog.

“Don’t worry about that,” he says. “You’re everything I could want in a woman.”

You don’t worry. You just know.

Five months later, morning texts fade to one-sided threads and calls on the drive home from the bar turn into days of silence and “I love yous” become “I’m sorrys.” You’re driving home from work thinking of nothing in particular when He always got them fuckin’ excuses blares from the radio and rips through you like an electric current.

How many more apologies and justifications can you absorb?

But baby, I’m no fool and I’ve got pride…

He’s decided you’re no longer enough.

You breathe a sigh of relief.

Just November

It’s the time of year that makes you reach for someone.

When you wrap yourself in stories of lovers past to keep warm at night.

Scents left behind on your sheets. Gangly frames that clutched your body for dear life. Tentative invitations to “come here” to their side of the bed. Hands on your lower back guiding you through crowded rooms. Knowing glances traded over group dinners. Tension-filled car rides after an evening out.

And the kissing. Pinned to the wall in parking garages. Thighs locked around waists in torrid couch sessions. Swallowing moans to keep the sounds from penetrating closed doors.

Phone calls until 4:00 AM. Early mornings with ESPN. Sneaking peeks at your texts during the work day and struggling to hide your smile. Innuendo delivered through double taps and lyrics quoted on Twitter.

This was once I Can’t Believe I’m Telling You This Season / I Woke Up Thinking of You Season / What Are You Doing After This? Season / We Might Not Make It to the Bed Season.

Now it’s just November.