So, we have five hours and some change remaining in 2015. I wanted to do some sort of reflection, considering how much I've packed into this year and how much writing I've done about it. I'm not one to normally say this, but I am pretty proud of the progress that I've made this year as far as writing - particularly considering everything else that I had going on. It's always been extremely important to me, but because so many other important things were happening, I realized it was sort of now or never: I could allow my other responsibilities and new roles to dwarf my commitment to my creative outlet, or I could wake earlier, sleep less, prioritize more, and maximize my effort, my reach. I may not have hit every mark, accomplished every single goal. But I came damn close, certainly much closer than I ever thought possible.
To celebrate this, I've decided to do a round-up of my eleven favorite things I've written this year. I realize that for many people who were following my 100 day challenge, keeping up with a new essay every single day was a bit much. So here's a much more manageable list, in no particular order.
1. Watch Carla On my inability to cut ties, because the scissors feel too definite, and I like running my fingers along the thread.
I peer into the mirror and try to separate my face from my self, see the disparate features and pigment and assortment of hairs that comprise my image without marrying them with the me that lies beneath. It is a nearly impossible task. And I realize, although I look into mirrors every day, I don’t really know what I look like.
2. On My Honor, I Will Try On childhood deception, and a dream of ice cream much deferred.
We confronted reality: there was no reason to expect we’d just be given money to buy ice cream. We knew the boundaries of our small world, and those walls were insulated with the word “no”.
3. Fumeuse On French affectations and international ennui.
I felt swindled by the illusion of my picking up and leaving, when in reality I was still exactly where I’d always been. Your location is not where you are, I was learning. I’d flown so many miles and walked so many streets, and yet I was the same small girl from Overbrook Road, with the skinny calves and solemn disposition.
4. Black On finding beauty in the mirror, finally, finally.
And despite the thousands of years of rape, pillage, subjugation, and humiliation that communicated to not-white people, you are less; despite the legacies of those legacies snaking their cold, cold hands around the necks of little girls like me in 1993 and whispering, you are still less; despite the lunch counters and the firehoses and the strange fruit and the Skittles and Arizona iced tea, despite all of this, I am ready to not just accept, but to revel in, my unfolding understanding and appreciation of my blackness.
5. Full Term, Full Heart On the incredible pain of bringing a child into this broken world.
And so sometimes, as you get older, we may make decisions that seem needlessly harsh, or unfair, or overprotective. And you will resent us, and feel angry and infantilized, which is perfectly valid. But please try to remember that you are perceived as a threat.
6. July 5, 2015: Independence Day On the most indescribable experience of my life, and trying to describe it.
And then, whenever I felt I couldn’t stand another second, the pain would begin to recede and I would float back down again. The relief was instant and wonderful. Eric was still there. I was still whole. This all has a purpose, I would think to myself, lightly touching my belly. At some point, it will be over and our little girl would be here. That point seemed light years away. Especially when another contraction started.
7. E-V-E On poetry and children and the beautiful inevitability of their growth.
I read to her often, and she listens, or doesn’t listen, or perhaps at this age she does both at the same time, hearing my voice and smelling my scent and always reaching and grasping for a tighter hold on this strange new world. I peer into her eyes and wonder what form her thoughts take, what color her emotions are, how sensitive she is to my moods; I kiss her cheeks endlessly, willing her to understand the love that I still cannot.
8. We Do Stuff On adventuring with my favorite person.
I puzzled for a minute before I caught sight of Eric’s waving arm, connected to his body, which was perched beside the bar. I floated to him, the safe port in a storm. I ordered my house red. He was drinking whiskey. "It's Makers," he shrugged, ice clinking.
9. Franklin Park On Brittany's birthday.
You yell-talk with a girl you've seen before, whose name you're supposed to know, but you don't. She's pretty. Sometimes you are honest. "What? Sorry, I didn't get that?" And other times you "Ha, ha!" and smile wide, and nod. You have missed half of this conversation. You hope there will not be a quiz later.
10. Adrift in the Maghreb: Finding Peace in Discontent On hoping the secondary character in this essay doesn't stumble across this link on my Facebook timeline.
I reveled in it all: wasn’t this what I had traveled for, emptied my bank account for, stressed my mother out for? This round-bellied life? I could not tell where the delusion began and ended — if the grandeur and majesty of the ancient city we explored were truly changing me, or if I just desperately wanted it to, needed it to.
11. One Art On relinquishing regret.
For the past five years, I have not only accepted my regret; I have embraced it. It has become a part of me, the way my poor eyesight and slightly crooked front tooth are a part of me. I can easily trace many, if not all, of my current dissatisfactions to my years at college, and thus my regrets multiply, in number and in volume. I carry that crippling weight with me, as if I never set down that backpack that I wore to class every day. And finally, I think that I am ready to take it off.