Bassey's World:

Tales of An Underachieving Overachiever

Category: Open Letters

Challenge Day 7: Letter To An Ex

Written for my last serious relationship. In the voice of Bassey, 26, a week after the break up. 2003

Dear name withheld,


it’s early here. my clock reads 7 AM. could barely sleep last night, kept waking to these fits of stomach curling anxiety. same feeling has been my alarm for the last few weeks – some would say years. this rolling ball of something moving from my knees to my chest. a strange tug of war between my toes and my chin. I’m not sure who is winning – certainly not me. this thing makes me ill. makes me shake. makes my stomach drop. and empty. i’m sorry about last night. selfish of me to ask you to help me feel better. i just needed to cry. i spend too much time living in, “i’m all right. really.” it’s become second nature, this pretending. i go there before i go to truth. whatever that is.


i’m on my computer now. i wish i could sit in a park somewhere and write letters on beautiful stationary monogrammed with my initials. and lined with a quote i find beautiful. or touching. have always wanted to be one of those girls. soft and pink. princess and mermaid. flowing cursive letters and hearts dotting i’s. i am chicken scratch. I am pen awkward and uncomfortable between my fingers. my father told me years ago, that it’s because my brain is moving too fast. my hand can’t catch up. That may be true. so much races around in me. not much can catch up. often not even sleep. i want only a moment of silence.


Despite all that, after all these years i still want to be light purple, princess and pink. i have never been that girl. was 5’1 and 100lbs at 12. all muscle. was skinned knees and tumbles. was daredevil bike tricks and hardest football tackle. was skinned knees, climbing trees. was rough and tumble voice. was whispered about. was grit and oyster shell. was waiting for pearl self. was never sure it would come. am never sure it will come. i am scared often. of losing. of being wrong. of other’s being right about me. of not being able to prove them wrong. of being disowned. of being disloyal. of being selfish. of hurting others. of deserving whatever bad happens. of losing this battle. of never learning who or what this battle is for. or against.


i stay awake sometimes wondering. worrying. the words a tumble and jumble in my mind. i try desperately to catch them on paper. but i can’t seem to do even that these days. i’m not sure why i’m telling you this. i’ve wanted to write you a letter. about you. about us. wanted to sit somewhere with a pen. even took notes about my day last week. about my train ride into the city. about the young white girl, scared and small next to me. she was so young but was wearing her youth like an ill fitting sweater. so small. wanted to tell you about how she asked me question after question. about how i felt immediately protective of her. afraid for her and the reason she was in the city alone. she seemed so unsure. who was she meeting? wanted to follow her. make sure she was okay. but didn’t. wanted to write you about the way the city is wearing gray now. about how i long for spring. about how the gray is pressing down on my chest. about how much i need the sun right now. about how much i feel like i need you right now. about how difficult it is to do what’s right and not what’s easy. about how difficult it is to exist like this. empty and afraid of losing. always afraid of losing. i took notes. i was going to sit and write you a letter. but i’d write the first word. your name. and it never looked right. i wanted the letters to be more defined. wanted it to be more clear. wanted to give you something you could put in a box. years later pull out and read. i want you to get this and smile. almost gave the notes to someone and said, “you write it. your handwriting looks better across a blank page.” like it belongs there. I wanted to be free but i can’t do that with a pen anymore. too aware of how it looks. too much like chicken and scratch. my mind slowing down to keep up with my hand moving across the page. typing is easier for me. it’s just as fast. sometimes faster.
right now. i’m feeling empty. my head hurts. right eye owns the pain, but the left throbs with empathy.


it’s cold this morning. there’s a draft escaping from the window near my computer. where is spring? this winter has gone on far too long.  could use something more familiar than this echo inside me. this inexplicable, intangible sadness.


i’m sad about a lot of things right now. scared and sad. threat of next phase often does this to me. i’m trying to have faith in all this unknown, to look into the dark and anticipate light and warmth. right now, i’m preparing to live in this eyes closed and waiting. waiting to find the strength to rescue myself. waiting to find the strength to be rescued. waiting for god to remember that though silent and frightened –i still am.


i want only one thing, for you to know that this silence is not directed towards you. it is the only unselfish thing i can muster. letting you go. you deserve more than my quiet. i want for you a love that screams and vibrates from it’s highest, most sacred spaces. i want that for myself.

always. in all ways,

Bassey.

 

Day 2: Letter To Your Crush

Um… this is the weirdest letter I’ve ever written.  I had no idea that I was so stalker specific about people. Lord. I’m too pretty for jail.

B.

 

Dear You,

I wish I could. I wish I could face you like the day and tell you what the promise of you does to my morning.  I think about your hands often. The way they gripped the water glass that first day we met. I sat in silence too nervous to eat. Afraid that the fork would feel foreign. Afraid that my fingers were too focused on easing across the table and touching yours. I tried to focus. To listen as you spoke about what, I’m not sure but in order to hear you, I had to watch your lips. The way your tongue danced in your mouth. I had to remember that soon you would ask me something and I had to be prepared to answer so I looked up and was confronted with your face. Those eyes. The perfectly placed nose. Your hair, jet black and glistening like you were fresh from the shower not your office. You asked me something, I answered. You threw your head back and laughed and all I could think was, “I need to make sure this man laughs more often.” I wracked my brain for a joke something else to send that sound across the table towards me. But I couldn’t. This was business.

I stared at my plate. Pushed the food around while you spoke. Looked up and focused on your chin when I needed to hear you. Then back at  my pate. Back to pushing this food. Back to wondering what your hand would feel like on the small of my back. Could almost feel the heat rise there as I imagined it. Lost in this, I missed your question. Looked up and was attacked by your smile. “Did you hear what I said?”, You asked.

I shook my head. No.

“I’m looking forward to working with you.”

I nodded. “me too.”

You paid the bill asked if I wanted to package my untouched plate of pasta. The waitress took my plate and returned it before I noticed it was gone. Then you stood. Offered me your hand. I couldn’t take it. Afraid that I would be unable to let it go. So I stood on my own. Acted like I didn’t see it. Forced a friendly smile. Hoped it didn’t say, “What does your mouth feel like?”

Outside, we parted ways. You said, “I’m looking forward to this.”

Me too.

One day, I’ll tell you about that day. How I remember every detail. How I had the urge to hug you good bye but remembered, this is strictly business. I nodded and walked away promising to email you some documents. I knew you were watching. I wish I didn’t know that. When I rounded the corner, I leaned against the shoe store and sighed. “wow”. Then shook it off.

This was business.

And could only lead to a beautiful disaster.

I wish I didn’t know that. I’m the kind of girl who sees the end before I see the path. And as lovely as this moment was, the end would crush us. And I couldn’t risk the thought of never seeing the hands or the mouth or the voice that sounded like only I could hear it. So I’ll say nothing. Not a word.

B.

 

 

30 Day Letter Writing Challenge

As many of you know, I live with bipolar II disorder. I’m currently on medication in order to manage my symptoms but one of the symptoms that don’t really make sense is how I process memory. I don’t remember dates. I remember things in emotions and how I felt physically and what was my emotional space during when it happened. I remember very specific but odd things but not the big stuff most people would notice. I remember the day my first boyfriend and I broke up. Because I remember that I was furious that he wouldn’t let me leave the room. He kept standing in front of me. And I recall the frustration I felt and how it heated and even now, I can feel my body temperature rise in that same way. But because I remember that, I know what happened next and then after that. I’ve been working on my book and because my memory is so shaky, I have to be cognizant of how I present stories.

One thing that’s helped me is letter writing. So when I saw this posted on tumblr (Mine is basseyworld.tumblr.com) I knew that I needed to participate. And I asked some of my twitter followers if they wanted to join because I’d love to read some of the stuff out there. And I’m also asking YOU to join. And you can put the letters where ever you want. You don’t have to send them if you don’t want to. You don’t have to do anything but write the letter. So if you want to participate, let me know. If you have a blog or tumblr, list it in the comment section here so that other people can find you if you want them to.

So yeah, I’m going to still blog the way I normally do when I feel like talking about something but I’m working on the book now so I need these exercises to help pull me into the memories of my days.

It should be an interesting ride. Please come on it with me.

I’ll bring snacks,

B.

The 30 Day Letter Challenge

WRITE A LETTER TO THESE PEOPLE :

Day 1 — Your Best Friend

Day 2 — Your Crush

Day 3 — Your parents

Day 4 — Your sibling (or closest relative)

Day 5 — Your dreams

Day 6 — A stranger

Day 7 — Your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush

Day 8 — Your favorite internet friend

Day 9 — Someone you wish you could meet

Day 10 — Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to

Day 11 — A Deceased person you wish you could talk to

Day 12 — The person you hate most/caused you a lot of pain

Day 13 — Someone you wish could forgive you

Day 14 — Someone you’ve drifted away from

Day 15 — The person you miss the most

Day 16 — Someone that’s not in your state/country

Day 17 — Someone from your childhood

Day 18 — The person that you wish you could be

Day 19 — Someone that pesters your mind—good or bad

Day 20 — The one that broke your heart the hardest

Day 21 — Someone you judged by their first impression

Day 22 — Someone you want to give a second chance to

Day 23 — The last person you kissed

Day 24 — The person that gave you your favorite memory

Day 25 — The person you know that is going through the worst of times

Day 26 — The last person you made a pinky promise to

Day 27 — The friendliest person you knew for only one day

Day 28 — Someone that changed your life

Day 29 — The person that you want tell everything to, but too afraid to

Day 30 — Your reflection in the mirror

Repost: Dear Michael

Rest in Protection Michael Joseph Jackson.

***

6/27/09

Dear Michael,

I can’t seem to locate a poem for you. I can’t seem to turn this river of emotion into anything useful. I wanted to write you a tribute minutes after I heard but my words betrayed me. I have no poetry. I have heart emptying childhood memories, wet and persistent all over my t-shirt. One of these days, the tears will come less like drowning and more like cleansing.
Right now it’s an impossible stubborn flood.
Right now it is an outrageous blow to the stomach. To the head. To the heart. But still, there is still this stubborn need to believe it all a hoax. I forgot how much I cared. Every song played is attached to my biography in ways that reveal themselves slowly. The time I stole my mother’s ivory wool glove so I could wear it to school. The way the kids oohed and ahhed as I toyed with the lie that you had sent it to me personally. I decided against it. Said that a distant cousin had bought it. I remember the punishment my mother delivered when I returned it, soiled, blackened and stretched from all the hands that took turns wearing it. It was the only beating I ever felt proud to take. I remember the hours I spent studying your dance moves and songs. I remember the boys I used to sing altered versions of your songs to before I slept. Remember forcing my sister, 5 years and some months my junior, to take part in the elaborate choreographed routines I created in your honor. To this day, I’m sure if prompted we can recreate the Rockin’ Robin routine flawlessly.
Do you have any idea how much you are missed?

Motown 25 is when it started for most of us. I sat in front of the TV, my mouth hanging open. My mother stunned into silence behind me. I tried to get as close to the TV as I possibly could. I told myself, it was because I wanted a closer view. The reality, I wanted to touch you. In reality, I was hoping that you would reach out and touch me. I was hoping that a spin would fling a crystal bead of sweat from your forehead onto me. I knew very little and understood then that physics would make that impossible. But watching you glide across the stage like the sun dancing across a lake, made me feel like there was no such thing. You could do anything. I wish I had the poetry to document every moment as I felt it that evening. I know that 25 years later, I have yet to experience anything that raised the hair on my body that same way. I have yet to recreate the magic that I suddenly felt was real. I was a practical kid. Unaffected by tales of Santa or Easter Bunny but right then, you could have told me the Tooth Fairy was my mom’s sister and I would have believed. I saw a man fly backwards across a stage. I believed.
We all have our stories. I’ve been hesitant to share mine because I’ve held them impossibly close for all these years. Remember when I was embarrassed to admit that I still loved you. Despite the face that change. Despite the body once this strong perfect brown; becoming this pale fragile thing. The love had dimmed

For years, I thought Little Michael Jackson and Thriller Michael were the same person. The older Michael frightened me with his raw energy; his dazzling good looks. The way he moved across the stage opened my heart in ways I didn’t recognize until the first time I fell in love. Little Michael, charmed me. He was perfect and old enough for me to watch, unafriad. The Jackson 5’s Greatest Hits was the first album I “bought”. The second, was Thriller. My sister and I, aged 2 would dance in the tiny bedrooms we shared for years. Choreographing elaborate routines we begged my father to record. I wanted to marry them both. I needed to practice with the younger one before I moved on to the older one. For 8, I had it all figured out. I remember that same year, being confronted when the Prince or Michael Jackson question. I pretended to debate. Pretended to gingerly weigh the merits of both. I pretended like Prince stood a remote chance. I picked Michael. And held onto that for years longer than it was healthy.

Growing up, I was square peg. I was foreign born and awkward. I was thrift store before thrift store was cool. I was a bag of hand me down clothes either 2 sizes too big or one size too small. I was a mess of hair that made little to no sense. I was a Mildred in a sea of Amy Dawns and Mandy Stewarts and Jennifer Wheelers. I was never enough money for dance classes or music lessons. I was thick tongued and ineloquent. Owned a voice too big for a child. I was brown in a field of blonde and blue. I was never quite comfortable in this skin I now love. I was never quite enough. But then there was you, Michael. You lived in the pack of Michael Jackson trading cards that I carried around with me like oxygen tank. My favorite, vaciliated. Sometimes it was you in the pale yellow sweater vest. Other times, it was you in the brown zippered leather jacket. My God, you were beautiful. I would go to my friend, Sarah’s house after school, every day. She had cable and this channel called MTV. I would study those videos, those dances, like my life depended on it. Because they did. We would practice in the “breezeway” of her apartment building. Arguing over who would play Michael. She had the jacket her white grandma sent her. I had the moves. I always had the moves. I needed to be you. I needed to be you in ways that Sarah with the white mom and black dad could never understand. I need it because the next day at school, I would hold court on the playground. All eyes on me, I would strut and dance and spin and kick like my clothes fit. Like I wasn’t poor. Like I was beautiful. Like I was popular. Like I was important. And because they loved you in all your brown and perfect, I hoped they would love me too. I hoped that I would be perfect. At least until the next thing that I couldn’t afford to do or be became all the rage. So when you became to change in front of our eyes, I couldn’t help but take it personally. Read the rest of this entry »

WIP: Bassey speaks to herself

Inspired by a poem by the brilliant Safia Elhillo. She can be reached at www.oddballsdontbounce.blogspot.com. I have to admit that I’m embarrassed and feel guilty that so much is going on in Haiti and the world yet I feel trapped in my own head. I apologize if anyone is offended by my lack of words on the subject. I don’t know what to say. It’s all too big and I can barely comprehend the relatively minor and unimportant things that are happening. Please forgive me for not being a better person.

My heart goes out to the worried and those who have lost. I’m praying.

love someone and mean it. It’s the ‘mean it’ and the ‘someone’ that’s been tripping me up lately.

B.

PS. Not well written. Just needed to be written.

bass,

i’d ask how you are
but i already know
can barely recognize you
these days
stained sweatshirt
hood obscuring face

eyes swollen, black rimmed
blank
when did you become this again
broken damp faced creature
confused cracked cretin

where is this girl whose heart
was glittered upon sleeve?
who is this burgundy bleeding?
who is this dripping angst
against your bones?

you, notorious for being hardheaded
must accept this with love.
if you feel nothing else,
know i still love you
still find you worthy
on your worst days
Read the rest of this entry »

For Michael.

I just wanted to get it out. It’s rough. It’s long. It’s everything I wanted poured out at once. It may make no sense. It’s for Michael.
Maybe one day, it will be more eloquent or articulate.
Tonight, it’s this.

love someone and mean it,
B.

**********************************************************************************

Dear Michael,

I can’t seem to locate a poem for you. I can’t seem to turn this river of emotion into anything useful. I wanted to write you a tribute minutes after I heard but my words betrayed me. I have no poetry. I have heart emptying childhood memories, wet and persistent all over my t-shirt. One of these days, the tears will come less like drowning and more like cleansing.
Right now it’s an impossible stubborn flood.
Right now it is an outrageous blow to the stomach. To the head. To the heart. But still, there is still this stubborn need to believe it all a hoax. I forgot how much I cared. Every song played is attached to my biography in ways that reveal themselves slowly. The time I stole my mother’s ivory wool glove so I could wear it to school. The way the kids oohed and ahhed as I toyed with the lie that you had sent it to me personally. I decided against it. Said that a distant cousin had bought it. I remember the punishment my mother delivered when I returned it, soiled, blackened and stretched from all the hands that took turns wearing it. It was the only beating I ever felt proud to take. I remember the hours I spent studying your dance moves and songs. I remember the boys I used to sing altered versions of your songs to before I slept. Remember forcing my sister, 5 years and some months my junior, to take part in the elaborate choreographed routines I created in your honor. To this day, I’m sure if prompted we can recreate the Rockin’ Robin routine flawlessly.
Do you have any idea how much you are missed? Read the rest of this entry »