On the crevices of my thirty-third year if you listen hard enough and look long enough you might hear the rhythm of my blues. This is not a blues to sashay to– but rather one that leaves you listening to your heartbeat, while sitting on the floor legs folded, with crossed arms and neck pushed back, eyes closed. This is the kind of blues that leaves you unsure about life and reflective about the ways that life folds in on itself after a while. This is a Nina Simone-like blues. A fear of being alone-type blues. A blues that sustains and suffocates at the same time.
As I sit here I imagine myself fully strong and round and rise to perform myself accordingly. In reality, this week especially, I have been struggling, disappearing on myself the same way others have seemed to vanish from my life, silently but intentionally, and without warning. I had imagined these blues would be different, the post thirty blues, unrelated to the things that marked the ambivalence of my twenties. Instead I find these emotions are inextricably linked to the past. My blues are still sometimes about the ignorant acts of white folks in the south, the fear of abandonment and loneliness, the residue of bad choices and regret, the rejection and unreciprocated (and unexplained) interest of romantic possibilities, the insecurity of not being/having/becoming enough, the pressure of performance on my job, and in my life. This, as they say, is not supposed to be my life. I had imagined it different, post-thirty, as if I would miraculously wake up with all of my shit together, and all of my issues in order. Instead I trade war stories with friend girls about broken hearts and hurt feelings when sex is intermittent, love is underrated, dreams are drowned by disappointments, and the expectations and random requests of others outweigh my time, energy, and interest. My unintentional blues and forced celibacy come back at me like unintentional celibacy and forced blues. These are grown woman problems.
But I walk around, thick thighs and wayward hips, back tall, chin up, eyes open, just like my mama taught me, acting like I have it all together when only me and my big legs know it is a lie. A performance. A walk that reads as confident. A smile that looks the same whether I mean it or not. Truth is, I have gone eleven days without smiling… on the inside. I told my homegirl it was probably just post-birthday blues. The fog of reality we settle into after the euphoria of waking up into the first day of another year of life. My life is vibrant and predictable and beautiful… I am not ungrateful… but I don’t know what to do with the sadness that reverberates in my life like rhythms.
There is sadness in the world made manifest through the perpetuation of –isms and ignorance that I face on a daily basis, sometimes within inches of my own life’s breath. There is unjust justice that snatches away the innocence of life by those whose skin color and gender make them constantly in the wrong place at the wrong time (#wearetroydavis). There is the discrimination and disrespect I oftentimes have to negotiate in classrooms with white men and black women, respectively. There is sadness.
Then, there is sadness of the spirit that lingers like cigarette smoke and stays wherever it touches for days, sometimes weeks, until I have the energy, focus, and mind to clear my head space. The sadness of knowing that despite my best intentions (and other peoples’ misgivings about my abilities and availability) I am not superwoman (or strongblackwoman), and holding it together for everyone else’s benefit is an exhausting, oftentimes unreasonable endeavor. There is the sadness of feeling inadequate and replaceable. There are the multiple memories of mistreatment and the embodied memory of pain. There is sadness. And sometimes sadness is inevitable. And perhaps instead of concentrating so much on pushing it away, I should pull it in. Embrace it. Utilize it. Co-create with it until the blues slip away, to keep myself present, so that I don’t disappear.
There is power in my blues (sometimes), untapped potential, reservoirs of resources and creativity. Maybe instead of chasing my blues away I should invite her in for a while. Have a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine and patiently pay attention to her. Hear her words, heed her warnings, and listen to her rhythms.
I think I will make myself comfortable until the season changes.