I'm very picky about my reading style: one book at a time, time and place for certain reads. I wanted to be....settled when I read "sunny." by Gabrielle Hickmon (grab a copy while you're here). In a place where I could feel the words, because I knew preemptively that this book was going to ring home for me. And it did.
Months after receiving my copy in the mail, I finally felt that "just right" feeling. After breezing through the prose, I had a realization. Gabrielle writes like Jill Scott sings: smooth like honey with a dash of "mmhmm, that's right" spice. Every page of the 101 total was home to some thing, some saying, that resonated with me. Maybe that's because I've lusted and lost before. Maybe that's because like Gabrielle, I am a traveler, an introspective thinker, a black woman living and being in 2018. To prove my point, I'd like to do a little exercise where I flip to three pages in the book at random and tell you just what rang true for me and why:
1) Flip to page 15
"his family still asks about me.
my family stopped asking a long time ago."
My family has only truly been privy to the existence of two of the men that I've dated. Of the two, they only knew one by face and presence. I muse often about family with respect to tradition and longevity throughout this blog, but what I rarely touch on is the truth that family represents. When I think of truth, I don't just mean their deepest and darkest - I mean mine, too. Meet my family and you meet me. Not the person that I've packaged for you, not the woman that I've curated to exude strength and seriousness and spunk. No, instead, coming into my home, my parents' home, would allow you the ability to understand what about the people that raised me made me the way I am today. When it comes to family, I can show you better than I can tell you, but in the casual dating age that mars this phase of my life, who earns that right? That side of me? And who should even want to?
This quote stuck out to me because it brings out a common theme: baring your soul. Meeting the family is, and never will be, a small thing for me. And in seeing Gabrielle write about how easy it can be for our families to forget the people and the moments and the care that we never will, I realized why I play it so close to the vest when it comes to my family. You know what they say about black parents: I may forgive you, but my mama never will. And you don't want that kind of beef.
2) Now I'm on page 57
i wish i knew you can't make homes out of human beings.
i wish someone had told me that."
I am a wanderer partially because of my ability to separate places from the people that occupy them. Long ago I realized that if you want certain memories to remain sweet, you have to preserve them that way. In the same way that you probably wouldn't freeze spaghetti sauce mixed in with noodles (you'd freeze sauce in one tub and noodles in another, if you would at all), I keep my associations on ice methodically. If you ask me to recount an experience, I will seldom lead with "I did this with ___." It's the moment, not the person. Sure, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking it. Seeing their face, remembering our laughs, but to you, to me, as I recount the time, it was just a place.
Why is that? Places are important. There are road trips that I took as a child that were sullied by familial drama, but enjoyable for the time and the place and the purpose. If you remove the people from a memory, the lemon, you're left with lemonade that you can adjust to your liking: add sugar; remember it sweet, like it was, or like you wanted it to be. Maybe that mechanism is my way of avoiding making homes out of human beings. Home is where the heart is, but, I try to take my heart with me. It's safer that way.
3) Last one is page 97
"i may be lighter without you,
but who said i don't enjoy heavy things too?"
This one makes me chuckle because when it comes to romance, I think I do subconsciously prefer the heavy things. Often that is my downfall. I need to feel the lift and the weight, otherwise, I'll forget it's there.
Does that make sense?
I don't want to imply that people are that forgettable, but, in a way, they are. What is right in front of me, that is what I focus on. What, and who, I know I want, that is what I latch onto. That holds weight for me, gives me something to lift. Everything else is light work: easy to abandon, easy to avoid. Some might say that's backwards. Why chase, why work, when love, or like, are meant to be fluid, meant to ease burdens, not to create them? Well, I work for everything else I want, don't I? I study for hours on end, I work nights and weekends, I devote hours of my time to extracurricular activity. Maybe, just maybe, in my mind, the work is what yields the reward. The "I earned it." Maybe that projection is wrong, but, maybe, as I learned throughout the duration of "sunny." maybe I'm still 24 years old and maybe I'm still learning some things the hard - the heavy - way. And maybe what I mean by heavy is not the absence of returned calls and texts, the social media cat and mouse play, or the selection of the right first date locale. Maybe instead, it's the weight of the decision to take it further, to invest time, and energy, and pretty much anything other than nothing, into a person. To me, that small step alone, is heavy.
Gabrielle writes like Jill Scott sings: smooth like honey with a dash of "mmhmm, that's right" spice.
I'm grateful for writing like this because it reminds me that connection occurs on so many levels. This was the first time I had the pleasure of reading the writing of a social media buddy, someone whose journey I follow and admire through the interwebs. It was different, that feeling of "oh, girl, this is me! This needs to be a thread" that is so contemporary, so in the now. It made me wonder what it would've been like to be best friends with Nikki G., to be able to write her a letter or give her a call on the phone to say "you laid it all on the line, sis" in the same way that I could direct message Gabrielle on Instagram with a "whew, chile, you read me." I can't wait to see where writers like Gabrielle take our generation, how they continue to capture their lives and ours on paper.
Have you read any books by budding, black authors lately? Share your recommendations with me on Instagram!