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Lovers. Friends. A Story.

A story.

As I remember it.

Eight years later.

We had met before. She was “hanging” with a classmate of mine.

I had recently moved to Philly to start grad school.

She was tall. Very tall. 6 feet tall.

I was 20. Head-strong. Bold. And Christian. Very Christian. More than I even realized at the time.

On this particular night- her, the classmate and this really zealous girl I had met at lesbian club my first night out in Philly. How that experience scared the hell out of me is a story for another day.

But they were over my house. We went to get barbeque. Those were the days I was in love with pork. I wrote poems about this love.

This night stands out to me for several reasons. 1. The overzealous girl called God a she. I was Christian remember, very Christian. The type of Christian that thought calling God a girl was blasphemy. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember telling them (all three of them some type of queer-identified) that they were going to hell for being gay. I was righteous with my condemnation. Because I was Christian, very Christian. Of course, I had gay friends….I grew up and in the theatre and church. I also went gay clubs, but that was them and not me. And I mostly kicked it with gay men. Lesbians scared me. I thought they were all predators. I made sure to keep my distance from lesbian women.

I had never kissed a girl. Because that was gay. And a sin.

Times passed. I learned more about Philly. Dated some guy. He took me on my first $100+ date. I was 20 and easily impressed. He was sweet. I should gave him some. But not because he paid for dinner or because he offered to buy me a winter coat.

Anyway she stopped “hanging” out with my classmate. I say “hanging” in quotes because they were dating. Something she still refuses to admit.

I would see her around. I think she invited me to a sex toy party. And we were Facebook friends. Sometime over Christmas Break we started interacting via the FaceBook heavily and decided to hang out when I got back.

This a good point to mention I flirt. A lot. Most of the time I don’t even know I am flirting until the person is trying to pull me into the restroom for a quickie. (That has never happened, but you get the point.)

She liked men as well. So we would go out and scoop out dudes. I know…anyway she wasn’t really a threat because we would talk about boys. And she wasn’t one of those scary lesbians. I told you, I had issues with lesbians. Thought they were all predators. Over the course of the next couple of months we hung out. Heavy.

I remember one time we made plans for a sleepover and cuddle sessions. All this sounds very gay. I promise you the gayness escaped me at the time. Cause I was straight. But everyone loves to cuddle.

For Spring Break that year I went to Jamaica. I came back with a hickey. Some drunken night with some guy who worked at Dunns River Fall…who still calls me. But that is another story.

She was so mad about the hickey. I did not understand why. Cause me and her was friends and I was straight.

One day when I left her place. She asked me why I never kissed her.

I thought that was the most ridiculous question ever.

“Because I don’t kiss girls!”

She knew this, remember I been told her all the gays were going to hell. I went to church every Sunday so clearly I wasn’t going to hell.

But all the next day I would wonder…”Hmmm…why don’t I ever kiss her. Her lips are pretty nice.”

I figure I can like a girl and not be gay. Looking back I don’t understand how the fact that we were basically dating the whole spring escaped me.

The next time I saw her. I fixed the not kissing her thing.

What came after is none of your noisy ass business. We begin dating consciously.

We begin dating…consciously.

But you remember I was Christian. Very Christian.

So this did not work well for my consciousness. I was a wreck. I would have to take shots to be intimate with her. I was on the “Jesus don’t love me” ride. Blasting Tonex’s “Lord Make Me Over” and crying. Would not hold her hand in public. Would jump when she touched me. All that self-hate shit.  Plus I did not know anything about dating a girl. Did not understand why she expected me to open the door for her cause she was a girl….I was a girl too. Very confused about so much.

We had good times but this did not bode well for starting a relationship. To add to this one of my closest friends was dying from cancer. I was an emotional wreck.

I was getting better though…I might have been down to one shot before. And I only jumped sometimes when she touched me.

I understand now why she eventually ended things. It was a lot. I had my own experience being some extra-Christian woman’s first. I understood even more after that.

(I am almost to the point.)

I spent weeks trying to win her back. Maybe I wasn’t in love, maybe it was deep infatuation. I would write her poetry weekly. They are still saved in my email…some are better than others. But Lorde, I was serious.

She was the closest to love my young heart had experienced. The months that follow was rough. I could not see a place for her in my life as anything other than my lover. Part of this was me not be comfortable with my sexuality. If she was the only girl I ever dated, I could convince myself it was just her and that in general I wasn’t into women. So somehow not as big of a sinner. This is my 21-year old logic.

She taught and showed me how to form a friendship with someone you were so intimately connected with. Eight years later, I can text her at 1am about how ____has moved on and doesn’t want me no more. (This happened last week, I been in my lightskinned feelings). I can go on trips with her. I can hear about her relationships and not feel jealous. Legit be her friend. This took time I got the (email receipts to prove it). This also meant time away from each other. Open communication.

She is finally (kinda) over the fact that she had the Tab who didn’t hold hands in public with girls in public and not the Tab who makes out with women in Baby Gap. (This has not happen but I would be open to it).

I read a facebook post the other day from a friend from college.

“For those of you who have break-ups, just know that love is not limited to a particular person or situation. If you have patience, love will find you again (and again if necessary lol).

For those of you who have a hard time celebrating the successes and happiness of those who you have dated and loved…maybe you did not love them in the first place…maybe you just loved what they were to you.

For those of you who are battling to make a relationship work, because you have invested time, you love the person, and it seems like the both of you are good people outside of the pressures and confines of a relationship… it is possible, though unconventional, to resort back to a friendship, and it may be healthier for you both.

It takes a different way of thinking, a greater understanding of life and love, and an appreciation for the person beyond the relationship once shared…but in the end, “friends can become lovers, and lovers can become friends”.

When I am feeling like I can only be in someone life as their lover. I am reminded of her. I am reminded of her teaching me how to be friends with a former lover. I might have to take time to mourn the person as a lover and have patience imagining what new space we will occupy in each other lives.  The love does not have to go away, like energy it can just be transferred or transform until a new shape. Another type of love.  Transitions. Love has the ability and power to help transform us. When I say I love you I mean that forever. Anyone I have ever loved is still in my life.

I am not very Christian anymore. I am still not gay though.

I wrote this for me. I might currently be in the phase of ceasing communication to stop myself from writing a poem a week to proclaim my love to someone and remind their new boo ain’t got nothing on Tab.  I wrote this to remember what it was like making a lover a friend. You know…a friend that I don’t have sex with. I wrote this because I needed to affirm that things will be ok. I’m be ok.

Oh and just because you waded through this long ass story. Here is an excerpt of a poem I sent during my poem a week to reclaim the love phase. Hey, before you judge let me remind you I was 21.

If you had never ask why I didn’t kiss you
I would have never kissed you
If I had never kissed you
I wouldn’t have wanted to taste you
If I would have never tasted you
I wouldn’t have desired all of you
If I didn’t desire all of you
I would have never ask you to be my girl
If I never asked you to be my girl
It could have never been over
If it had never been over
I would have never try to forget you
If I never tried to forget you
I would have never known how much I valued you
If I never knew how much I valued you
Then I would never had the inspiration to write a poem a week for you
If I never wrote a poem a week for you
Would you have ever known how much I cared for you?

~Just Tab

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Ima Read!

Who is pretty much my heart and one of my favorite human in the world?

OJAY BRAIN MORGAN!

He was formerly associated with House of LaDosha…but now he is focusing on his on project Zebra Katz.  Here is their newest video- “Ima Read”. There is a bit of adult language but nothing you haven’t already heard.

While I am here sharing videos here is a trailer for a documentary that really made me think about my self-imposed exile from people and also reflect on the degree in which we matter to each other.

So think about it…would anyone miss you? Or even noticed you are gone?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in my friends

 

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Santa Claus

It’s Saturday night and I am home alone, just like I was on Friday night. Got invited out by a couple of people, all of which I declined. I left the house today for bread and to walk the dog. I don’t answer my phone. Half the time I turn it off. People keep inviting over for Thanksgiving…I keep declining.

I was thinking…If I could hang out with anyone in Maricopa County today- who would I choose? I realized there would be no one I would choose, there is no one in this county I really care to see or spend time with. There was a time that the answer to this would have been so easy. I would have chosen her with little or no thought. I would have sacrificed sleep just to have talked to her. Gotten out of my bed just to spend 10 minutes with her. Changed my whole day just to see her face. But now…not so much. Honestly, I am debating if I ever want to see her again. It’s not that she has done anything so wrong. I guess I just feel like a kid who believed in Santa Claus with all their heart just to find out there is no North Pole with elves making gifts. That it is just a story they tell children. There is no old man sliding in to chimneys giving gifts to all the good boys and girls. Thankfully, I never believed in Santa Claus, but I did believe in the tale of a forever friend and I know the feeling of someone not being as great and wonderful as you believed them to be to find out what everyone was telling you was a lie. Or maybe this forever friend does exist and I just need to find fault with “friends” to push them away before they leave.

Honestly, I feel sorry for any of you who believe we are friends. I been without heart for a long time. Sooner or later you will figure out this “closeness” you think you have to me is about as real as Santa Claus.

 ~Just Tab
 
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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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First Semester Re-cap

As of this past Wednesday, I am officially done with my first semester as a PhD student. They say the first semester is the hardest- check back with me when I am finished and I will confirm or deny that.  What I can do is give you a couple highlights and low lights of the semester.

1.       I decided to focus my final project in my Dramaturgy class on The Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix. Upon contacting the Executive Director of the theatre company he provided me and my friend with comp tickets to see their season opener, Fences. That night, Asantewa and I not only saw an amazing show, we met two really cool people. One of which, was Nitty. Over the course of the last three months she has become a valuable asset to my life in Arizona. Her mother has officially adopted me as her third daughter and her son has decided he “loves” me. She has a really beautiful and amazing soul. When I actually got the chance to interview the Executive Director of The Black Theatre Troupe, he offered me the chance to work as the Dramaturg on their upcoming production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs From The Table of Joy.  This is an amazing opportunity to work on a professional theatre company’s production in Phoenix.

She was sick on Thanksgiving

2.       School is hard. It is a doctoral program -it should be hard. I like challenges, so my initial attitude was bring it on. Most days I was good, but there were some days where the pressure was intense. My confidence took such a hit this semester. I keep asking myself why was I here. Was I smart enough? I am a 23 year old black woman, I barely take myself seriously. Why would anyone take what I had to say serious? I was always reticent to discuss articles in class because what if I didn’t get the right meaning? Or understand it in a way that everyone else did? I study different, I think different from these white people who are my professors and classmates. I discovered that the remnants of my speech impediment as a child continues to make me self-conscious about my articulation as an adult. At points I didn’t think that my world and academia were at all compatible. I would get so nervous about assignments. I would know what I wanted to write but I would get so overwhelmed that I couldn’t think or write. I would just go to sleep. Shower. Do anything not to think about the task at hand. Then I would wake up and somehow get the motivation or encouragement to get my work done. I always have to fight the voices telling me I can’t do this because I am young, black and woman. But those are the reasons why I have to do this.

3.       Phoenix has a ridiculously small Black population and I really like Black people. Unlike Philadelphia, I can go up to people here and say “Hey, you are Black and so am I. Let’s be friends”.  As crazy as it sounds it works and I met a lot of people. One of my favorite people that I met this way is a boy name Courtney. I saw him at Target and as he walked out the store I approached him. He gave me his number so we could hang out. The first time we hung out we watched Beyonce videos at his friends house before hitting up the club and discovering we had the same birthday’s (Dec 26). Living here has made me very friendly. I am starting a blog PhxBlkSwag in dedication to all the Black people I will encounter in AZ.

4. The Friday before school started, I met a wonderful person. Over the course of a month we became really good friends. Intense and fast friends. So we all know how that ended, right? Sometimes friendships and relationships can act as mirrors, not everyone is happy with their reflection. My ability to be an open and honest individual made her feel some type of way about her ability to do the same. At a point I thought she was a person that I could trust and who cared about me. Lesson learned: someone who does not love themselves cannot love others. That was a rather painful lesson to learn, but a valuable one. I wish nothing but love and the best for her. “Remember that the universe has bigger plans for you than those you have for yourself. You can’t take everyone with you. Send them off with love and well wishes and access to their own plans but send them off nonetheless. Not everyone is a friend but nobody is an enemy. Not everyone belongs in your heart but nobody is heartless. Just hurting. Allow them their hurt. Don’t let them hurt you”.

5. My support system has been amazing. I have two other friends who started PhD programs this fall, their support from the East Coast has been invaluable. Inside the School of Theatre the other PhD’s have been awesome and really provided encouragement and shoulders to lean on as well as great advice. My friends outside of academia- have been a welcome distraction from the Ivory Tower. Of course, my parents have been great. My little brother has been a standout. He provides an outlet for my frustration, so much support and the kid believes in my abilities so much that I start believing in them myself. I am so grateful that he came and visited me in Arizona. I barely complained about cooking and cleaning up for him. And of course, my girl Isis- she stays up with me during my all nighters. She begs for walks while I am trying to get my reading done for class.

1st year PhD's

2nd year PhD

I am home in Florida. Relaxing. Seeing my family. While also preparing for my next adventure…

Living and Loving life. Living my life. Loving who I am.

I don’t want be any one but

~JustTab

 

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New People. New Place.

In my short life I have lived in three locations outside my place of birth Palm Beach County, Florida. Those three places were Tallahassee, Fl; Philadelphia, Pa and Mesa (Phoenix), AZ.  In my transition and move to each of these places I experience loneliness throughout my transition.

In Tallahassee, I was negotiating my way through the new freedoms and responsibilities that come with living away from your parents for the first time. I was lucky to be able to have people who came from my hometown or similar backgrounds at the same point in their lives negotiating similar things. I was blessed with the optimism to see the best in others and the ability to open myself up to the others. I had never really known the sting of hurt that can only come from being hurt by someone you let in and called your friend. The demised of my “friendships” up to that point had occurred because I grew bored with them and discarded “friends” like play things. I came out of high school not really concerned about making lasting human connections. As shallow as that seems it probably saved me from putting too much energy in relationships and saved me the heartbreak of teenage love affairs that my friends endured.

Two and a half years passed in Tallahassee. I made connections. Dare say I even made friends. I got my heart broken and my optimism took some hits. But I emerged from my time in Tallahassee stronger and wiser; with a bit more understanding of why people might be important in your life. I went home, rested up and my next stop was Philadelphia, Pa. I entered Philadelphia with more of the knowledge of what a “life-long friendship” could be and why I might actually want that in my life. I was in a new place, so excited about meeting new people that could enrich my time in Philly. I quickly learned that everyone who smiles in your face is not your friend. I foolishly thought that I was building friendship while my colleagues in my MA program were simply scoping out the competition (save for one beautiful exception). At the same time I was going through a period of discovering who I was, which lead to tension within my “friends” from before Philadelphia. Many relationships did not survive this period of “discovering Tab” yet some were strengthen during this period. I learn to guard myself. Everybody ain’t your friend. Everybody will not be in your life forever. I left Philly with both love and heart break. With determination yet very much jaded.

I went home. Saw changes in me and in my hometown. Distanced myself away from my high school and childhood friends because the reflection I saw in them was no longer familiar. I am also sure the Tabitha they saw was also a stranger to them.  I spent the year hanging with my parents and family. The people I associated with in West Palm Beach were mostly those who were easy and superficial with two exceptions. I nurtured my friendships with my friends who lived elsewhere. I spent a lot of time either alone or traveling.

I have always been pretty comfortable with myself. As a child I spent hours reading, a pastime of solitude. I have always craved the option of solitude. When I decided to move across the country to attend ASU, I thought back on my transition to Tallahassee and Philadelphia. Although those weren’t the easiest I believed I could it. I am older and wiser, right? I have built a support network, I can do this! Right?

I find myself facing the same problems I faced before. More specifically the issue of who can I trust. I know better than to be open with everyone. But sometimes feelings, emotion and loneliness can cloud one’s sense of judgment. Not knowing anyone and wanting or even needing a connection from someone that is not over the telephone or through skype- can make someone eager to make a connection with someone- anyone. Then you make that connection too fast or too soon and learn that person probably couldn’t be trusted. As independent as I say I am- I am still human. I still desired to be hugged by someone who loves me. Be around those who love and affirm me. I also have to accept that it is very real possibility that will not happen anytime soon if ever in Phoenix. I must learn to find ways to sustain myself without those types of relationships; while also not completely closing myself of to the possibility of genuine relationships here in Phoenix.

But I came here for a degree. Heart break and pain is not on the agenda.

I guess it will have to be…

~Just Tab (for now)

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Arizona, Learning bout Tab!, my friends

 

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Guess who is back?!?!

Well, I actually have been back for about 5 days. I had to take care of important business-my eyebrows and hair. After a month of wearing boots and looking “ruggedly”, I was excited to go back to my freshly pressed Polo’s and Sperry shoes- the preppy Americana look. Skirt and heels on Sunday were also a welcome change from the “outdoor” look I was rocking.

My last week in Guatemala was the most unscripted part of my journey- I was in 6 cities in about 6 days. I would tell you about but I need to leave something for the autobiography.  What I can tell you is what I am taking from my month in Guatemala. Do not worry I will not launch into a speech about how my life has been in-reversely changed and how I am such a different person. I am not that dramatic and it would probably be a lie.

In Guatemala I was peaceful, patient and open to new things. I discovered I REALLY like refried beans and tortillas. Who would have known? I waited 2-3 hours for buses with no complaints. However, those changes have not survived the plane ride home. While trying to get a new Blackberry on Saturday as my frustration with the sales associate rose, the old Tabitha quickly reemerged.

Patience was not something I took home with me, but patience is overrated.  What I hope to always remember is the kindness of others. With my home stays, particularly my family in Coban-they went above and beyond to insure that I was always comfortable and happy. Nabila- my Spanish teacher invited me back to Tactic to spend her birthday with her and her family. Again, doing everything in her power to make sure I was happy and comfortable. Her cousin allowed me to use her shower since the one at Nabila’s house did not have hot water. Even the kids were so great to me- this tall black girl in their house who spoke the worst Spanish ever. I am pretty sure that most American kids would ignore some strange person in their house who did not speak their language fluently. The day I was planning to leave Tactic to go back to Antigua-it was Dia de Banco or something ridiculous- which basically meant that the ATM’s were not working. I had enough for a bus ticket, but not much else. Nabila insisted on buying me a bus ticket so I would have money to eat while I was traveling. The amount of money she gave me was really insignificant in America- but was very significant for a single mother in Guatemala. I am used to encountering people who wouldn’t think of giving someone a dime even when they are very financially comfortable. Her act of kindness meant so much to me, this skinny, awkward, nerdy, “rough” looking black American girl- who she had only known for 2 weeks.

On my second trip to Antigua I meet 2 black Belizean men, who were so warm and genuine to me just because I was a fellow black traveler (ok the fact that I was walking around in tights probably helped out too). They cooked me dinner, wouldn’t allow me to help pay for the groceries or even wash the dishes and not once did they act inappropriate towards me.

Over and Over I encountered strangers who were more genuine and sincerely kind to me then the people who call themselves my friends will ever be. My aspiration is that I can pass the hospitality, kindness and that I experienced to those I encounter in my life. Seeing so much good in people so far from home motivates and challenges me to be better. The most important thing I gain in Guatemala is a friend through Nabila and I don’t use that term lightly. I rarely encounter people who do not make preconceptions about who I am based solely on my physicality- to find that was refreshing and beautiful.

Next stop for me is Atlanta, Georgia to witness the nuptials of good friend and possibly find a little trouble. 🙂

Then my fulltime focus will be on moving to Tempe, AZ.

 
 

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