I could tell you about how Sears and a slice from a pizza spot in Yonkers brought us together in 2004. He always said that he secretly knew food was the way to my heart. I could tell you about how on November 30th, I talked to him for three hours on a school night in the dark, under covers, and on the low in my mother’s house, inquiring about what were we. And I’ll never forget, “You know you my girl” and waking up in the morning with him still on the other line. We did that cheesy “You hang up,” “No, you hang up” thing and woke up to the sounds of someone we were falling for breathing on the other line as alarm clocks.
That was a big thing 11 years ago.
He stripped me of my skin before I even let him have me. I told him I loved him before the new year came in.
• • •
I could write about my freshmen year in college in 2005 and how I hung the only picture I had of him (taken by my best friend Janaé with the throwback disposable camera) on my dorm room wall and prayed God would bring us together after months apart. I still carry that photo in my wallet as a sign that things come back if it’s yours, wondering if I soak up the fading ink every time I rub my fingers across the affirmation.
“Rob will always luv you.”
Fabulous’ “Baby” was his ringtone. That song will come on once in a blue and our eyes will crash into each another’s every time. The first year is always something special…
• • •
I could delve into 2006 when we chilled on building roof tops and drank beers before legal age, watching sunsets consume the city and prayed to get away. One day. Anywhere. Just together.
He told me I would have his kids and I laughed in his face in denial. His certainty, of course, incarnated itself years later, but no one knew that we had lost a child that summer. We luxuriated in carnal desires like medicine, aspiring to heal in a broken moment that only time could repair. We engaged in anything, everything just to get our minds off of it.
It was that part of dangerous love where blurred vision clouds sound judgement and the throbs of your heart light your path, sometimes, into darkness. I would’ve done whatever. He could’ve taken me wherever. He clutched my hands, I closed my eyes, and we danced to scratchy music emanating from flip phones underneath the sun on that roof. And we lived.
I would’ve jumped from that building if he could affirm he would be there to catch me at the bottom. But internal battles he fought within himself would bring him to his own low point and still, I leaped. I jumped from a fairytale and landed on reality.
• • •
I could write you a dissertation about 2007 when we were separated by life, but I still listed him as an emergency contact on forms. There was no one else I wanted to come to my rescue if I ever needed it except him. But even if he couldn’t save me, having him there–wherever I was–was all that mattered to me. Our spirits were yoked and we rekindled a fire during the coldest winter ever.
Conversations were in relation to handwritten notes he sent me, penned behind jail walls but never received. My mother took each one (it’s still unknown if she actually read each one), but I had him to tell me stories one-on-one, flesh to flesh, hearing him spit out caged thoughts in front of me; beside me; inside of me in lieu of fantasizing his voice in my head.
I felt like a woman.
I was still a girl.
• • •
I could tell you about 2008 when I got pregnant and breaking the news that we were going to be parents didn’t come as a surprise to him. He goes back to what he said in 2006.
“I knew before you did. I knew the day I met you.”
Our spirits entwined and created a life growing within the vulnerable veins of my being from the depths of his undeveloped soul. We felt so complete in our incompleteness.
• • •
I could go into depth about 2009, year number five, when KMHJ #1 was born and it was then that we understood we knew nothing about love. At 22 and 23-years-old, we acknowledged the reality that we were too young to have kids. We were both studying and scrutinizing ourselves and somehow, we thought a baby would be the answer to years of unanswered questions. But the loss we endured three years prior left an imprint on us that in all of our inexperienced glory, we would vow to be the best parents we could.
Our baby was made from love. Love we wanted for ourselves. Love we wanted for one another.
• • •
I could tell you about 2010 when another baby, KMHJ #2, made his way to the scene and that being one of the roughest years of our lives. Everything fell apart. Demons from years past became present again and we didn’t know where else we could turn. So we stayed together, resided with the demons and drifted apart. Fear was the uninvited guest that lived in our home.
It kept me in a headlock and shut my eyes to what was really happening. We weren’t living in a fantasy anymore–we were big people who decided to live with big decisions and didn’t know how to let go. Our struggle was in our anger. This fucked up logic of love flourished between us and somehow thought we could unearth strength by developing a high tolerance of BS. I pinned that ‘Strong Black Woman’ narrative on my back because I condoned things most women wouldn’t.
I learned about expectations, unresolved issues, and disappointments that year.
I can tell you about 2011, 2012 and 2013–all extremely difficult years that are hard to revisit (so difficult, I ain’t talking about it), but prevalent to our growth today.
It was like a post I saw relative to Mercury Retrograde:
Mercury Retrograde asks for constant surrender:
and old ways of
Let’s just say those three years were secretly in retrograde. We were so snug in our disfunction that we didn’t realize when it was our season of deliverance.
• • •
I could travel back to 2014, one whole decade in, when we decided to split and go our separate ways for personal reasons. And that time apart birthed much-needed conversations on co-parenting and moving on in love. 2014 was sitting down with kids and having to explain parents living in different places and holding on to love by a thread. They’re little people, but children know. They know when something’s wrong; when a house is divided and Mommy and Daddy are carrying around extra weight. When our minds are elsewhere and love is bordering on nonexistent.
It was 10 years in and realizing that we never really had a moment away from one another. and understanding space was crucial if we wanted to evolve. We cultivated a stifling space and suffocated one another.
It was impossible to grow. . .
The space we needed to nurture was within. It was time to invest in ourselves.
“She threw away all of her masks and put on her soul.”
• • •
But I’ll tell you about 2015, 11 years in, when two people blossomed into who they were destined to be and became the best parents they could be. They loved one another fiercely because they finally learned to fully loved themselves.
We finally understood that love was everything people were afraid of: effort, transparency, vulnerability, forgiveness, selflessness, sacrifice.
I could tell you about the nights we’ve cried looking at reflections of ourselves in the other person’s face and realized that the Universe put us with together so we could face what we were running from–our past, our childhoods, our flaws, ourselves. I could tell you about the summer nights we drank until we passed out in each other’s arms and leg locked in the most comfortable positions in the morning. Or how we pass that Sears sometimes and talk about 2004 like it happened yesterday. The memories are still fresh and reliving some of those years are refreshing.
I can still taste the pizza. Pepperoni. I still hear the confidence in the timbre of his voice beginning in the pit of his belly when he confirmed what I already felt. You know you my girl.
You don’t ever forget the day you locked eyes with your person. Or the day you first kissed. The afternoon you made love. The exact night you were with child. The expression he makes when your son is entering the world. The feeling in his hand as he helps you deliver another baby. The tears that decorate his face when you lose what you both created. The change in his body, his being, when he realizes that you are his and the look in your eyes when you know in your heart, he is yours.
That is what 11 years of our life looks like. Today, we celebrate growth in love.
Happy Anniversary, papa. Thank you for being a breathing work of art.