2010: Run Away Fast As You Can

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

Dear 2010,

Unlike most of my relationships, we started out rocky. There was no honeymoon period. There was no pedestal to place you on. No, magic to the moment you entered my life. Instead we were bitter divorce from the first day. We were crushed by the weight of each other. We were moonless.  I remember your January like it was hours ago. The way the tears would ease down my face like a violent caress. I remember how you entered, this bold knocking thing. This rip your heart out and feed it to you thing. You were an empty belly. You were clothes that hung like broken promises on my body. You were the face of my child, frightened because mommy does nothing but hold herself tight and lifts darkness from beneath her eyelids. You were the fear of family and friends. The worry that clouded their face like a sudden rain storm. I welcomed you in broken bits. Three weeks after you arrived, I carried what was left of me to the ER. Begged a woman with a kind face and southern, sugar to her voice to help me. I hid in my Sienna College Hoodie and my brother’s XXL sweatpants. The quiet one in the corner that barely spoke. I knew what I needed. Told the doctors as soon as they admitted me. “Medication. I have a list. I’ve been here before. I can’t come back again.” The nurses hugged me more than they were supposed to. I think the believed me to be younger than I actually was. I didn’t wear 33 like a proud garment, I wore it like a shaming. An empty bank account. Nothing to show for the years. We stayed there one week you and I. Allowed no visitors. This was no vacation. This was a rebuilding.

February came and the shock of the illness had not lifted. You closed my circle. Told me who could stay and who had to leave. Told me who was always there and who never should have come. Lifted the veil of so many years and showed me the person I never wanted to become. The guilt began to eat my bones as I remembered bits of conversations from years before, people I lied to and manipulated. The times I said I love you but never meant it. The times I wanted an I love you but never kept it. February was a shaking of my foundation. A peeling off of and a revealing. The skin underneath tender and raw. New to the world with these clear eyes. This brain that worked well again. It was like the sun was replaced. I saw it all. The good and the bad. The moments I should have held proud were crowded by the moments the shame attached itself to me. I spent most of February apologizing and atoning and wishing myself a better person than what I had proven. I spent some time throwing tantrums pissed at the God that thought it was okay for my brain to break like this. The people that found joy in my broken, jagged bits. I had to learn to forgive myself or die.

March and April and May were all rebuilding periods. Writing. Rethinking the book I needed to write. Finding joy again. Finding laughter. Making sure that the parts I loved were actually me and not that monster who shape shifts. I allowed myself spring. Created Basseyworld Live with the help of Yesha and her attention to detail and order. Could not have done it without her. That truth remains solid.

Summer was the relief of rain. There was joy there. Happiness. Enough sun in me to fuel 3 summers. It felt like the world was welcoming back. I forgave you for how we began. Started to fall in love with the year again. Watched my baby boy grow from part of me to his own. This is the year I discovered Elaiwe. Saw him for who he was and the man he will become. Always my baby but certainly his own person. His own laughing, joyful, joke telling, Spiderman fingers, Batman utility belt. We began to have conversations. He started to “tell me questions.” We became friends, my Boogie boy and I. I can’t hate you because you made me stronger for him.

Illadelph-Basslife. Those weeks in Philly that I regret but would never take back. The way morning welcomed me. The way the streets new I needed them.  The truth of Tarana and and Al and Biany and Chris and Christal and Charles and Yesha  and Nzinga and Camille and Meg and Mychal and Saeed and Michelle and Alba and Kanke and Jesam and Kebe and Mommy and Daddy and  my twitter lovelies and so many more who wrapped themselves around me and dared me to break free. The truth of what it would feel like if I could build myself a new beginning. It was frightening but worth it like so much of this life you offered me. 2010, we were a belief in something stronger. A reminder that the universe always has my back. Even if fear felt like it would bind me in twine as long as I allowed morning, the day would let me breathe.

2010 brought me the heros of my heart. Allowed me to sit in the presence of Ntozake Shange and read and write for Nicki Giovanni. These women that whispered to me when I was old enough to act this young, “you can do this, sis. These words are yours too.” and I will be forever grateful. That I was allowed to feel their skin and walk into their arms, the way I walked with their words for all these years. This is when we began to change. When this bitter divorce became a reconciliation called worth it. When the writer in me decided she had a story. When the writers I admired Denene and Helena and Aliya, told me,  you have a story by showing me their own.

There were hurricanes and flooding overs. There were angry words and brutal silences. But there was hope that lined the inside of my soul. There was a promise of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. There was that week in November when the entire world seemed to sing me a praise song, something coated in candy and promise. This wind that whispered, “keep going. Keep going, my God, child, just keep going.” And I did and I am and I’m grateful for the way you tried to break me. I am proud for how quickly and quietly and loudly and lovingly and angrily I fought back. There was that night in October when my skin peeled back and remembered myself beautiful, powerful woman. And I let it hold me and fell asleep in its arms. There is gratitude there that words can not make whole enough. There is only the sound of a heart beat, the push, the press and pull, the exhale, the petal like, the steel, the mortar, the pestle, honey, the sugared tongue, the possibility. the possibility. the possibility.

So this is how we end, 2010. Reconciled lovers destined to leave each other but holding the memories of our fire. The way it built itself into a roaring. The way the lighted ash falls from the sky like burning snow. This is what it feels like to forgive yourself for who you never meant to be. This is what it feels like to love yourself even when you feel like you have no right to. This is how it feels to pray to the only god you allow. The one that lives somewhere between the space of lungs and the expansion of breath. This is for a tomorrow that is guaranteed because I will it so. Because I believe. And on the days when I feel like waking up is just too heavy a burden to take on, I remember our January and I remember that just because it can be worse doesn’t mean I won’t do all I can to create better.

Here’s to you, 2010. Thank you for your tests. Welcome, 2011, thank you in advance for this praise and testimony.  Thank you for allowing me to be here to say I was here and staying.

Fuck fear; love someone and mean it.

In gratitude,

Bassey fucking Ikpi, the unfuckwitable