Of Love and Timetables

Love as and when love presents itself

Love has no rules

I remember being fifteen or so and borrowing a copy of True Love magazine from a friend at school and taking it home for a thorough reading, as well as to add my own dogears to the pages that showcased clothes and makeup I liked. I hid it behind my bed and hoped my ever busy mother would give my room a reprieve from its weekly poke and prod. I recall starting on an advice column where one question concerned the relationship mourning period. I can’t tell you the response that the asker was given because shortly after I began reading the column, my mother walked in on me quietly huddled in the corner of my room and took possession of my contraband reading material. Many Black-Mother-Questions followed.

“Where did you get this?

“What do you know about true love?

“I don’t tolerate this filth in my house”

et cetera.

Mother took possession of the magazine and I automatically forfeited the following week’s pocket money to the owner of the magazine. Also, people stopped lending me things. So, there’s that. I don’t know that I thought about that column again until some time in my early twenties when love and the rules of affection became the primary subjects of all my girltalk. As people, we are raised to consume information and apply it, regardless of its accuracy. Our backgrounds determine how we see and interpret the world. We therefore, have a varying understanding of love and what a healthy relationship looks like. The toxicity of women being raised to be the primary lovers and carers of others has coloured the love lives of women across the spectrum, and far too many of us share scarily similar stories about emotional abuse, or what we have come to describe as simple misfortune when it comes to affairs of the heart. Too many of us probably share the belief that jumping from one relationship (whether exclusive or not) to another is unwise and that the Pause Button must be pressed and held down for *insert arbitrary period of time* before we can entertain another suitor, or other suitors.

So, when is it socially acceptable to move on to another love(r)?

If you had asked me this question when I was twenty two and staring at the bottom of some bottle or glass, nursing another broken heart, I would have told you that I don’t know, but certainly more than a month. And the arbitrary selection of 30+ days would have been born of having heard women from all walks of life preach about respectability and the best means of avoiding the oh so horrendous slut shaming. I would continue to rebuff any advances from boys I liked simply because the rules said I needed to wait. Until I walked into a local pub a few weeks after the heartbreaking took place to find the heart-breaker firmly attached at the lips to a pretty (I mean stunning) girl with whom I had shared a cab a few times after a quiet night had taken a sudden turn and liquor had taken the steering wheel. (Goodness, the betrayal.)

It hit me then that men are not conditioned to pause after the end of any dalliance and that it is their right to satisfy any and all cravings related to sex and attraction, regardless of the time that has lapsed between the ending of one thing, and the sudden appearance of a new option. I’ll skip past the embarrassing shot taking and awkward gyration in between Foosball and pool tables in a poor attempt to remind him what he was missing out on.

*cringes for the ages*

Fast forward to today, 27 years old and a healthy number of notches on my bedpost, I can categorically state that the mourning period preached by all the people is unmitigated bullshit. The idea that everyone in the world’s love life is governed by an identical set of rules which were thumbsucked by goodness knows who is comical to me (now). With the myriad (I’m gesticulating fiercely in my head right now) of relationship dynamics which exist, it cannot simply be true that we ALL are reading from the same rule book. It’s implausible that Simone in Geneva and Khanyisile in Delaware and every other girl whose name is Jennifer, all wait *arbitrary time period* before entertaining the next one. It’s equally ridiculous that even if they do not, that they SHOULD.

Love and attraction are not living breathing entities which operate on a scheduled time table. The simple fact that infidelity is common on earth is testament to the fact that one can be attracted to more than one individual simultaneously. Affairs that exist parallel to marriages for lifetimes speak to the fact that one can love more than one person at the same time. Whether the above are socially acceptable or evidence of our morally bankrupt society is neither here nor there.  One can fall out of love with X today and meet his/her next soulmate by supper time, and it’s nobody’s business whether or not they pursue those feelings.

As an active member of the Twitterverse, I’m constantly crying a little inside at the “advice” doled out freely about how we need to heal ourselves before embracing love. How selfish it is to move onto a new love without closure and intense introspection and and and… Imagine how many of us would have missed out on the loves of their lives had we waited until we weren’t as broken or were a little less hurt by our immediate pasts. How many of us have been carried from the dark place by a little kindness and attention? How many of us have found healing in a new love?

Love as and when love presents itself.

Take it with both hands and ride the wave until it can no longer carry you.

The Empress.

 

Weigh Them All

Sometimes that’s all they are.
Words.
Nothing more.

Pick a word like you pick a melon. examine its skin. its weight. its viscosity. its sound. its texture. its ability to be juice and meat.

~Nayyirah Waheed

I’m a sucker for long conversations and the exchange of words.

I crave meaningful engagement. Head to heart. The other way around. With mouths and tongues and long text messages.

I revel in the way they travel from the lips of a lover and float in the air to land on my ear. On purpose. I sit in silence as they pass through my brain and resonate after the comprehension. And when they settle on my heart, I anchor myself in the emotions they elicit. I sit with them and think through what they mean to me. What they meant to the lips that uttered them.

I miss you. Feels like winter has decided to visit three months early and I am missing from someone. Like an ingredient misses from your favourite late night indulgence and when you bite into it, you can tell that something just isn’t right.

I need you. Feels like what I imagine cracked lips feel like at high noon in the middle of a desert after days of walking in circles, searching for a way home. Water. Needed.

I don’t want you. Feels like the final hour of labour and smells like the halls of abandoned hospitals in B rated horror movies. Like your screams for help are heard by no-one and there won’t be anyone to catch the fruit of your pain as it leaves your body every single time your hips crack.

I hate you. Smells like burning letters from lovers past filled with sentences that convinced you to cut up half of your soul and hand it over to masked witches who promised you off-white dresses and happily ever afters as you slept.

I lied. Feels like waking up to false alarms on weekend mornings drenched in panic because you need to be somewhere. Anywhere really, where everything sounds real and your hands don’t slip through solid walls and Alice doesn’t have to drink from strange bottles or  speak with white rabbits to make sense of things.

I don’t care. Reminds me of the shade of rejection and features prominently on every seventh page of the book of life. Because how could we be complete if we didn’t hear words that hurt us. Well rounded, they say.

I love you. Feels like a secret message written in clumsy cursive on a torn-off page corner, folded too many times, passed down through rows of curious messengers with grubby hands which lifts up off of the paper as you open it. Warm and innocent. Well,it used to be.

Often, as I sit with the words, I forget to listen for what comes before, sometimes after. And as I am washed in the water that I have chosen to swim in, I forget to listen to the violent downpour that made it. To listen to the gentle rain that drew puddles which grew into lakes that flowed into oceans…

You get my drift though?

That sometimes that’s all they are.

Words.

Nothing more.

And seeking an anchor from well-practiced, hastily uttered speeches is unwise.

 

The House on the Hill

We all started off chameleon-ing through life

Do you know what living a double life is like? It’s like having an illicit affair with yourself. Your main piece is the you that the World sees. The perfectly curated personality held together by checks and balances learned from the generations that filtered and continue to filter their morals through your person.

The thread that binds humans the whole world over – “what will They say?” The ones whose opinions ultimately don’t matter. The house of “They”. The mystical institution that sits on an unreachable hill overlooking the peasants, as though sent by God to make a list of those who fall short. As though God himself, being omnipotent, cannot see my transgressions and I somehow owe a double duty of upstandingness to both Him and the house on the hill.

The you the World sees is a measured adult. Discreet and even-tempered. Indignant in the face of fornication and gossip. The respectable person who never lets the bottle get away with her. Who snorts in derision at the suggestion of altering ones psyche with chemicals – regardless of the limited time of experimentation. Poised and self -contained. Humble, as all women should be.

For the longest time I never cheated on myself. The straight and narrow was my badge of honour. Having been taught that my lips, breasts, thighs and the magic that lies between them are the devil’s gift. That my body’s sole purpose is to tempt weak, delicate men into falling from the high horse of morality and as a result, it is my responsibility to cover the curves and dips, to never accentuate my features. Can you imagine living in fear of being the reason someone never makes it to the pearly gates? As though the lust of men is more damming than that of women. As though my eyes are blind to the beauty of the male form…

As soon as the shackles of the curators’ house were loosed, I began to dance with the forbidden. But only when I was far from the minions in the employ of They. I met the other me and I loved her. The reckless wanton who spent very little time debating the pros and cons of indulgence. Physical or mental. I opened my mind and it did not fall out. I also opened my heart. Those scars I bear – not often with pride – but always with my head held high.

This affair I have with the woman who rarely says no is my saving grace and the bane of the existence of They. They still look down their righteous noses in something akin to despair at the loss of a virtuous woman. And I dance. Provocatively. To every thumping beat and at every chance. And maybe one day she’ll pull me out completely from under the watchful eye of They, and I’ll not have to retreat when the sun comes up. And when I dance, it won’t be for my eyes only.

xx

The Empress

Diaries of a day drinker

*pours more vodka and adjusts the fan*

Happy New Year everybody! Yes, it’s early. The reason for this is that I spend every new year’s eve in church. I don’t know what I will do with myself the one year I don’t make it to Africa (read Zimbabwe) for the holidays. If this ever happens, please can someone strap a whistle and my address to my person? I can guarantee that I will be comatose by the time I am required to make my way home.

As I write this I am sipping on vodka and coke. I’m usually a wine drinker however, Africa makes it unreasonable for my pocket to sustain my preference of  the red stuff and they don’t have my nice bottles. So I buy vodka and lace everything with it.My Mazoe (I cannot explain this to you. You must experience it), my coke, my tea.. There isn’t much to do at my house over the holidays. Our helper is away so I am the helper. I use the strong stuff as both motivation and reward (I’m a good master). Also, I have a curfew here. You know, the usual African girl child curfew that stipulates that any youth that possesses a vagina must be within the gates of the homestead by 6pm or sunset (whichever occurs first). The vodka helps pass the time.

The vodka (bless the Russians) is also an amazing thought stimulant. This year has been a roller coaster for me and because I am such a lovely individual,  I shall share what few pearls of wisdom I have gathered. In truth, these are truths my mother should have shared with me but we’re black and we don’t believe we should share important things with our children until they are married. (except ‘stay in school, don’t have sex and booze is bad’)

A few months ago I fell for a boy whilst I was busy minding my own business. I swear I wasn’t looking. (ain’t that always the way) The boy expressed his desire to chill but was crystal clear about his commitment issues but I fell anyway (because I’m a girl and if you pay me enough attention I will plan our wedding). Chile, when a man says he doesn’t want a relationship or is a fuckboy or likes dressing up in his grandmother’s pantihose, BELIEVE HIM. DO NOT FOR A SECOND think that because he’s hitched himself to your particular brand of female that you can change any of that. And even if you do fall please #thuglife your way through the mess. Play the Backstreet Boys at home whilst you guzzle the wine but be Beyonce pretending to be single when you leave the house in your 5  inch heels.

The trouble with blurred lines and uncertainty in romantic situations is ambiguity. Are we a thing or not? Does he really not mind that I’m a raging alcoholic who hates the gym? Did he enjoy my cooking or was that a ploy to make sure I put out? Where in defined relationships there is security and you can ask these questions and trip when he gives the wrong answer (yes, there is always a right answer), in blurred lines situations, you don’t ever know where the boundary lies.

Know yourself enough to know whether this is a person with whom you can handle uncertainty or one that needs to know that you are high maintenance woman who likes holding hands in public. And then be honest with both yourself and him about what you want. If it doesn’t work out, you can always visit your mother and clean her house for two weeks whilst perpetually tipsy.

*pours more vodka and adjusts the fan*

Another thing women are never told enough is that we don’t come with ‘sell by’ dates. Be single. Be married. Be divorced. Be a mother. I am surrounded by women in each of these situations who haven’t hit thirty and FYI, they are currently QUEENING. SLAYING. Living the heck out of their lives. My plus one is almost always a woman I love. And I refuse to apologise for being 25 and slaving away to prepare my future (whether there is a fabulous man pouring my wine and letting me help him take his empire to dizzying heights or not). Love yourself so hard that the absence of a partner is not a vacuum, but more room for your wine.

Always carry condoms. Having been raised in a Christian home, sex and condoms are taboo subjects unless euphemisms are being used to describe how cousin Thandi’s belly got big. Thandi most likely got pregnant because her person didn’t have condom and was surprised when she accused him of hiding her period. Men don’t get pregnant and can walk away when you do. Buy the damn things and stay ready. Do not be sold dreams about team skin-to-skin or team pull-out. Do not allow your aunts to tell you that carrying condoms makes you a penis hungry slut. The world is already on team men-run-the-world, they don’t have to run your womb too.

Finally, dear black girl, scrub your knees. With a stone. Our mothers have always taken pride in our dirty knees because it means we can polish the life out of wooden tiles and future husband will appreciate this. Mandela did not die so you cant wear a mini-skirt and be proud of your knees. Shine that floor and exfoliate like you are being paid for it.

Much love and hopes for mini-skirt summers

The Empress

 

 

 

 

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