When Waiting to Exhales Turns Into a Gasp for Air

When Waiting to Exhale becomes a Gasp for Air

I never knew what it meant to suffocate until that night…

You gave new birth to the meaning of the word. I couldn’t remember the last time I had an asthma attack, yet it was so easy for my lungs to give in to the pressure of not having enough room to breathe. I felt my chest collapse as though the world was on top of it. Five words:

I can’t be your friend…

This brought back six-year-old memories of asthma induced weight-loss…I remember secretly loving those moments where I was skinny… but only for a second.

But I didn’t love this feeling. I waited for the day you would give up on me, when your five-year chase would come to a screeching halt. Only I thought I would have a different reaction…

I never thought it would feel like a train wreck happened on the inside. It was as though someone ripped my heart right out of my chest.

I thought I knew what heartache felt like, but now, I’m not so sure.

The next 24-hours were the longest in history.
You gave me an ultimatum
and all I could think about was seeing you.

We sat
We cried
We talked
We cried.

I’d never heard you so hurt before.
Tears that only fell at funerals,
were falling because of me.

I knew that I couldn’t lose you
and I refused to risk it all.

No way would I deprive you of your happiness,
just because I chose to punish myself.

There was nothing keeping me from being with the love of my life,
just past hurt and religion.


When you’re almost 25 and with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and you hear “We need to talk,” your mind goes directly to breakup mode.

I just knew it was over.
They say that it takes twice as long to get over as it takes to get to know.
I knew that it would be a long 34 years.

34 years from now,
you’ll be retired and I’ll be running my private practice
helping others in the place of you.
I would no longer have you to give that extra push. Others would need that shove.

Maybe I can catch it early.
Maybe they won’t have to grow up with the pain from their past.
Maybe I could be their reason for letting go.
Maybe I can be the voice of reason to a girl surrounded by close-minded hypocrites,
the one who tells her that it’s okay to love who she loves.

I thought that my heart would break into two. But I already saw it coming. I spent the next few hours imagining what you’d share during our next conversation.

It’s that time…
You’re deploying and can’t stand the thought of leaving me here alone.
My greatest fear is now a reality.
You’re not happy and would rather end it now before you resented me.

Well my imaginations were half right. You weren’t deploying. My soldier was still going to be on this side of the world just not in mine. Just one of my worst fears was coming true. But it didn’t hurt any less.

Nothing hurt as much as the time you no longer wanted to be my friend. At least you’d still be in my life. That’s if I would have you. At least I still had my best friend.

What do you do when the only person who knows your worth tells you they’re not worthy of your love and the only person you chose to freely give your love to, doesn’t know how to deal with it? What if they’re not ready for the love you’ve been cultivating just for them.

That’s when you take all of the energy that you used to exhale the moment you realized that you could finally be with the love of your life and use it elsewhere.
It’s okay to cry…

They say that time heals all wounds, but I say oxygen prevents scars. It’s okay to cry, take all the time you need.



The Six-Year Date

“You’re the last of a dying breed,” is what I told him after realizing that he was the perfect example of something I couldn’t have. I wouldn’t call it settling. It’s more of a compromise.

Have you ever met someone who would make the perfect husband, yet doesn’t want to be tied down?
I have. A freedom about him gives you the push you need to fly. He’s that extra strength that you need to open that jar of pent up feelings. He is the date that your father never got the chance to meet.

Here’s to the perfect example of what all men should be.

I met him when I was sixteen, a few years after my tomboy phase and half of a decade past my father’s death. You see, I never got the opportunity to know how a real date should look. I took enough money to pay for my meal and kept my sis on speed dial in case I needed backup.

Only I didn’t need either of those. He was the mom-meeting, door-opening, and chair-pulling type of guy. I loved him for that.

New movies. New food.

We never went to the same place twice. It helped that I didn’t get out much. All of the time I spent inside of a book, he spent outside. The books gave me something to share. His travel gave him somewhere to take me. I never complained. I was indecisive and he chose my meals. There wasn’t a controlling bone in his body. He gave me the freedom to choose. However, he was a planner. He knew exactly what we were doing, a week in advanced and gave me clothing suggestions based on our future outing.

The first date was dinner and a movie. There was a quiet café downtown, which he knew I would love. I was pretty much game for anything. I love food. I let him order for me. We talked for hours. 8 o’clock turned into 10 o’clock rather quickly. If I were to get home before 12, we would have to be leaving soon.

He never missed a curfew. I think that’s why mom respected him so much. She didn’t have to worry when I was with him. As long as I got home safely, everything was fine.

The next date landed us at Perkins. There was a breakfast menu to die for and I had no complaints. All was well until it was time to pay the bill. He couldn’t find his wallet.

“I probably just left it in the car. I’ll be back”

The hostess began to worry.

“Are you sure he’s still out there? Maybe he needs you to pay it.”
Lady, who hurt you?
“He’ll be back.”
Before I had the chance to get annoyed with her lack of faith in men, in he walked carrying his wallet. He smiled as he kissed me on the forehead. “Told you I’d be back.”

That was the last time we saw each other as teenagers. He joined the military. I went off to college. He got married.

Fast Forward 2 Years

Ever been lying awake in bed with someone on your mind and all of a sudden your phone rings? You lie there in a panic. Could that be them? It can’t be. The universe can’t be this good.

It was 3 am and my phone rang. My roommate was asleep. I answered. The voice on the other end reminded me of a time I could never forget. He wanted to talk. We spent the next few hours catching up and talking about old times. We talked about our problems, he the stresses of the military and I the stresses of college. I honestly never expected to hear from him again. That was a pleasant surprise. One hour turned into five and we both had things to do. I had an 8 o’clock class to get to and he had to be at work. We said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch.

Fast Forward to Thanksgiving 2010

“I’m in town, want to meet up?” he texted me.

That drive was the longest ten minutes of my life. I couldn’t get there quick enough. I was just excited to see him.

I pulled up; he stood outside with his son.

“Who might this be?”
“You remember him”
“Yea I do. He looks just like you now.”
He had to be about five. Makes mental note about how hold we’re getting.

He was a father, and I was still missing mine.

By 10pm, I received a text. He asked how long it had been since I’d been on a date. Way too long. I hadn’t been out since the last time he took me. Guys didn’t date much anymore and I began to take it to heart. He made it his mission to keep that from happening. My mind refused to let this thought pass. I sent another message.

“What’s up?”
“You still married?”
“No I’m not.”
“K. Just checking. I can’t be dating someone’s husband.”
“You’re safe. Don’t worry.”

I thank him for showing me that men still know how to treat a woman and that if I looked hard enough, he might just be standing right in front of me.

He took me to see Paranormal Activity 2. He promised me that it was better than the first and if he were wrong, I would be $50 richer by the end of the night. Bet! I spent the next two hours laughing and jumping out of fear.

“You have a weird sense of humor.”
“I know.”

That night we went to Ruby Tuesdays. It was obvious that it had been a while since we’d gone out. Our conversation was different. We had goals and dreams. There were obstacles in life that we had both encountered. He gave me advice. I shared insight. It was a good night.

Spending the night with him was something I never got the chance to do. He made it happen that night. There was a fear of past break-ins in the house and he made sure I got in safely.

He was the security blanket that I didn’t want taken away from me.
He worked for a country that needed someone to fight for it.
He made himself available and I didn’t like it.
Who was going to fight for me?
He did it so well.

I was sick. He played the piano for me while I wished I could sing for him. My congestion wouldn’t allow that to happen. I bought Vicks Vapo-rub while we were out. He rubbed it on my chest. He opened up a part of me that had been closed for so long. He placed his hand on my heart and it sped up, trying to get his attention. I slept on his chest with his lips on my forehead. He brought new meaning to the forehead kiss. No more searching for temperatures rising, it meant he cared. I was his for the night.

Every year after that, I’ve gotten a cold and my mind wanders back to that night. He took care of me. Nights get cold when there’s no one to kiss your fever away.

Spring Break 2011

It was a long break. We hadn’t seen each other since Thanksgiving. He wanted to take me out and planned the entire thing. We would both drive into Memphis and check into a hotel. Dinner would be at 6pm. We would spend the entire weekend together.

By the time I arrived, I was tired. I decided to finish getting ready for dinner when I got there. We pulled up around the same time. Something was different. He wasn’t alone. We got out of our separate cars. He walked towards me.

“This is my sister. How long will it take you to get ready?”
“About an hour or two.” I was transitioning and had to flat iron my hair.
“My parents want to go to Tunica to eat dinner.”

Instantly, I freaked out. I wasn’t prepared to meet his sister, let alone his parents. I definitely did not pack clothes for meeting the parents. I brought clothing that I knew he would like. I prayed that his mom wouldn’t think I was a hooker.

I assumed he was tired as well. He sat and watched TV while I finished my hair, until he fell asleep. His sister sat and watched me. That made me slightly uncomfortable. I searched for the highest cut, longest dress that I packed. In about an hour and a half, I was ready to go. I woke him up.

“You look good.”
“Thanks, ready to go?”

We got to his parents’ house and they were almost ready. He introduced me to his dad, while his mom is was getting dressed. His dad was at the bar and he offered me a drink. I politely declined.

“You know it’s okay to drink with my dad.”
“I am not drinking with your dad.”
“Suit yourself.”

His father drove and we made it to Tunica in about an hour. We went to a buffet. I chose typical food that anyone would choose being in a new place. He was determined to have me try something different. He got frog legs from the bar and asked me to try one. I did. It did not taste like chicken. It had a freshwater taste, not bad.

He went to gamble with his mom while his father, sister, and I sat at the table. His dad talked to me about school. We talked for about forty minutes before both of our dates returned. I was excited to see where he got his personality. He was the mirror image of his father.

Before leaving his parents’ house, his father talked to us on the porch. He asked our plans for the weekend and if my mom knew that I was home. Of course she didn’t. He talked about doing the exact same thing when he was in college. He told us to be safe and we left.

For the next few hours, we slept. We gave each other space. He had mastered that talent. He knew when to hold on and when to let go. We shared a few hours of sleep divided by moments of love, making that the best night of my life.

The last time I saw him. He met me with open arms. He complimented me on my choice of locs. He thought they fit me really well. Not sure if it had anything to do with his love for Marley, or his connection to nature. He kissed my forehead. He still cares. He placed his Marley necklace around my neck.

“Hold on to this for me”
“I can do that.”

So until next time…

Everyone said I should leave him alone. No one understood what he meant to me. He was representative of what a real date should be. He showed me that real men do exist and that they weren’t too far out of reach.

He would say, “Everyone that you date, isn’t meant to be your husband. People spend so much time trying not to date their friends, when they are usually their best option.”

Out of all the men that I know, he’s special. He holds me to such a standard and treats me like a Queen and we’re just friends. He raised the bar to an almost impossible height for the next guy who comes around. The next guy should be able to do that and so much more. He’s been the perfect date for the past six years. What more could a girl want?

When Hip-Hop Becomes your Best Friend



It was a usual Sunday night and I browsed my twitter feed. There was the usual riff raff and the know-it-alls prancing through my timeline. Then I saw it, the tweet that made me want to know the definition of soul mate. “Some of my best girl friends know the lyrics to Common ‘I Use to Love Her’.” Being the opportunist that I am, I replied, “I’m not your best friend but…. I met this girl when I was ten years old, and what I love most she had so much soul.” We quoted nearly the entire song. And so began a beautiful friendship. We chatted about Hip-Hop and poetry. Common and Tupac quotes turned into poetry and monologues of the Harlem Renaissance.

From that first conversation, I just knew that he was too good to be true. He made me want to know more, to the extent of sharing everything with him. He became my friend, my confidant, my refuge in the time of storm. We were so much alike. It was as if God had created him especially for me.

Being sensitive to things of the spiritual nature, it was always hard for me. I carried everyone’s burdens on my shoulders, which oftentimes caused me to break down emotionally. He understood this and so much more,

But something happens when

The only thing keeping you from break(ing)
is his dance and the sound of his voice
through the speakers in your stereo,
and you’ve learned the true meaning of love.

When you’ve grown fond of your hips
instead of the way he hops into bed with you,
you’ll learn to love yourself.

To say I grew fond of him would be an understatement. He was the Hip-Hop head that was the true definition of the thing. I listened to his music and became his biggest fan. I supported him in all that he dreamed. His dreams became my dreams and he pushed me to pursue mine.

He’ll give you the push you need
to no longer need him.

I use to think that I was more in love with the idea of falling in love than all of the guys who said they loved me before. A hopeless romantic’s job is almost impossible with no one to share that charm.

I had witnessed something that was beyond imaginable. I had experienced Hip-Hop in the flesh, the actual being, the perfect verse over a beat that hadn’t been written yet.

You’ve loved Hip-Hop longer than you’ve loved yourself
and it seems only right that he appeared out of thin air,
like a mixtape drop in the middle of the night.

I had settled for less than what I deserved most of my life. I had given 100% to men who only offered me 50%. They short changed me and left me wanting more.

Your pusher stands outside waiting
for you to get your fix.
It’s been your fix for far too long.

You waited and he appeared,
posing as the new kid on the block.

Only he’s different.
He resonates truth
and hope for something you no longer thought existed.

He gave me a reason to travel. If he could make my heart flutter from 200 miles away, who knew what would happen in person. I made that leap, drove 3 hours to meet him. His aura was one that I will never forget. Just to feel his arms around me, was like finally being at home after years of sleeping in shelters. We talked as though we had known each other our entire lives. We shared our deepest secrets over a game of pool. We talked music, family, goals, and books over Chinese. We walked and listened to hip-hop. We experienced nature together.

He shared his heart with me in the lyrics of his rhymes. I stood and watched him speak words memorized. He spit lyrics with ease. I witnessed a lion in his habitat. I could feel his passion in the way he spit. His heart seeped through his pores.

He bled the art
And you wouldn’t mind being the vessel
To which it flows

I met my best friend, my kindred soul, and my fellow Hip-Hop head.

He is the reason I question all things past. The reason I finally know the meaning of the word prototype. I can honestly say that I’m happy with him being a part of my life in any form. I’m just glad to have the ability to experience such a Godsend, such a miracle. Writing has literally saved my life and so has he. I thank God for my life and for his. He offers me such peace and he’s what I imagine serenity looks like. I’d give him the world if was mine to give, but instead I pray that God gives him the desires of his heart.

He deserves it, because he helped me find mine.

Where Serenity Resides

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

                                                    –Reinhold Niebuhr “The Serenity Prayer”

He’s a King covered in peace.
The physical appearance of serenity.
Crowned in favor that others can’t seem to understand
His castle is the universe
He’s the ruler of his journey
to peace.
He’s gentle courage, giving me the ability to change what I can.
He’s verbal wisdom, helping me to know the difference.
He’s the outward manifestation of an inward prayer
that blinds me every time he appears.
I see him and I can’t tell the difference
between reality and my dreams.

What to do when your dream is staring you in the face
bragging about not being another nightmare?
He’s the dream that I don’t have to wake up from.
He’s become the reality
That I stopped searching for.

He wears his power in his Crown.
No need to question the source
The most high is his plug.
His ultimate healer,
ultimate leader.
The creator of he.
The reason I be-
came the woman I am
for him, his rib
The missing help,
and the reason I never needed any.
He was there receiving power from the source
sharing the extra with me
through his words.
Dropping rubies that led me to him,
The king,
on a throne
Fit to be shared
With me.

The addiction I couldn’t get clean from.
Don’t let them tell you that your keys won’t fit.
The locksmith is not welcome here.
When you’ve found a home
Less than perfect,
A place to lay your head
When the heaviness is too much to bear.
Don’t let them take your peace
that only came when he arrived
and gave you a reason to move
into a place of solace.

When serenity resides in a man
who gives the word justice,
you’ve found a home worth sharing.

April 30 in 30 #7: To the Man who Shares my Dreams

Let’s take a trip to Harlem
On the backs of angels,
Defer the dreams of those that never believed.

We share the dreams
Of a sleepless generation
Caused by waking hours
Of dreamless conversations
That we’ve grown to despise.

Loners in a room
Of those unable to be alone.
We’ve mastered the art
And the ability to dream.

I pray that you don’t sleep
That reality takes the place of your dreams
That you’re blinded by the stars that shine through your eyes

I wish for lonely nights
That cause you to look elsewhere for companionship
For moments of doubt
That lend time to pray for guidance.

I pray that you get homesick
That you become dissatisfied
With your current living conditions.
That you look forward to your eviction.

They’ve placed a notice on your dreams
For the lack of deposits
And allowed me to move in
I had been waiting to see what it’s like
to experience the dreams of someone else.

Then I met you,
The dream chaser
Placed a down payment on your heart
Asked for insurance
To fully cover
The damages that you incurred from past relationships
Turned nightmares
Into dreams worth staying asleep for.


April 30 in 30 #6: Grafitti

We share a gift.
They accept mine
more freely.
You provide words for all to see.
I hide behind
Metaphors, simile,
An art that many would not understand
yet judge
like the church before judgment day.
Don’t let them see you sweat.
Our gifts came from the same God
that they serve.
Let your words be seen,
by a generation
That has stopped listening
to some of mine.
I’ve given my all to the art.
You’ve shared your heart
on a wall
In hopes of someone witnessing your past
as they pass
the nearest bridge
that I’ve often
been scared to cross.
Rejection gave me reason
to no longer submit
to a cause that not many supported.
But you never waited
on the opportunity.
You stole it
in hopes of sharing
what they refused to.
I guess we both have that dream,
To be heard, To be seen,
To share, To write

30 in 30 #5: Awkward Silence

I fell for you the way a kid trips over his new shoes on his first day of school.
I’ve tried many times to protect myself
from bruises that seemed to develop behind my elbow pads.
You made me realize that I’m not as cool as i thought.
I’m awkward in every sense of the word.
But i guess that means we’ll blend together perfectly
Awkward silence that noone else seems to understand yet we’re comfortable here.
This is home to us.
In a room full of people yet the only ones we see are us.
We share the need to be alone
so much that we’ve mastered the art of doing it
together we’re alone.
When we’re alone, we’re together
Speaking without really speaking at all.
Telepathy if you will.
Our silence speaks volumes
to those around us
causing them to wonder
about what goes on inside our minds.
We’ve shared this for far too long.
We’ve been here even longer.

April 30 in 30 #4: Love’s Travel

No one ever told me that love would be a journey.
That I would be backpacking through the windows of your past
boarded to hide the things you’re ashamed of.
Skating by your insecurities in order to ease the pain.
Knee deep in the only ocean that separates you from your truth.
That everyone else seems to have been floating by
With the ease of knowing you would be their lifeguard
And save them
From death by drowning.
Yet all along, you were drowning in the thought
Of falling in love.
Yet no one caught you.

For some reason this boat ride seems longer than it should
And there are no iceburgs in this ocean.
No excuse for the women to leave you stranded
Wishing someone would share their unconventional bed with you.
There’s no reason for them to leave you out to freeze
To death in the ocean of your tears.
I’m just here to provide you with the wind that you need to dry them.

No one ever told me that love would be a journey.
But as long as you’re the copilot,
I don’t mind sharing that plane.

April 30 in 30: #3 Untitled (for now)

I’ve wondered how you handle your tears.
If you let them fall like rain
Or wipe them away like secrets that no one else has the right to see.

I can only imagine how you felt when your nephew was born,
Someone you can share your gifts with,
Your protégé.

I’ve pictured you with a million things to say
So much that a single feature
Wouldn’t do you justice

I spent a year imagining what I would say when I met you.
But we all know
That most plans don’t always go as planned.

I approached you
And my brain turned to mush.
The writer in me was suddenly silenced.

Choked up,
Like a kid who witnessed something they had no business.
I didn’t say much

I just smiled
In hopes that you
Could see past my nervous ticks

I met you and you were everything
That I ever thought you would be
And then some.

I gave you all that I had to offer
In a $3 gift bag.

A bag that wasn’t quite big enough
To hold my dreams
Of what you would mean to me.

I live vicariously through you,
No way I could be this cool
On my own.

I use to be known
As a shy kid,
Not from the Chi.

You’ve given yourself
To the art
of writing

You breathe
As though you have a thousand memories
Under your belt

Memories that I would love
To introduce
My dreams to.