Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where Do I Go from Here

Speaking with a counselor at Berklee's counseling center was definitely necessary in order for me to work through my grief. This was the first time that someone I was close to had died. There had been deaths of relatives, but those happened when I was very, very young. Plus this was the death of someone with whom I was in love. I was in counseling for the rest of the school year, then I went back to Georgia for the summer. In some ways it was easier being home than it was being in Boston. I was around my family, which was nice. My mom and I are very close, so it was great to get to see her every day for three months.

Once the summer was over, things were kind of tough. Pretty much everywhere around the campus of Berklee was filled with memories of Mr. Nice Guy. I would come to a street corner and be reminded of the day that he gave me the last bite of his biscotti. To this day that's a memory that makes me smile. He was such a sweet person.

Although I was coming to terms with my grief, October was a hard month for me. The time around my birthday was hard, too, because he died a little less than a month after my 21st birthday. For a long time I would fall into a depression during the autumn months and it would last through the winter into spring. Sometimes it even stretched into summer. Sometimes it didn't end for a year or two. During my senior year of college I continued to see the counselor, but he had gone into private practice, so I had to pay to see him. I ended up in tears during at least 80% of our sessions, if not more. It was something that I needed at that time in my life because it helped me work through much more than the grief I was feeling.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I've Got a Mirror and Eyes to See It

An email from a friend inspired me to elaborate on a remark I made about some white people not feeling comfortable around black people. When I was in elementary school one of my friends was having a sleepover. She didn't invite me because  her mom said she "didn't want me to feel uncomfortable being the only black person there." She may have meant well, or she may have been projecting her feelings onto me. God only knows for sure. For the first seven years of my educational life, I was the only black person in the room for at least six hours a day. Why on earth should that bother me? We all speak English. We all eat with utensils held in our hands. We all wear clothes. We all wear shoes. I'm sure you see my point.

My whole life that's been my take on things. Most of the time I go about my business, doing my own thing, while others do theirs. Occasionally I'll experience a situation that slaps me "black to reality". It's not that I forget that I'm black. As the title clearly states, it's hard for me not to know. It's that I forget that it still matters to other people that I'm black. There has been more than one incidence of my getting on the subway, sitting down across from an older white person, and watching as that person gets up and goes to another seat. I can tell by the look of disgust on the person's face that they're moving because I sat down. It would be a different story if I sat right beside them when there are so many seats to choose from, but I'm sitting across from them. How sad is it that a person has such an issue with me being in their line of sight, that they feel the need to get up?

You may think it's just older people who are like this, but I had an ugly incident with a younger person take place when I was waiting to cross the street one night. At that particular intersection, I know the cycle of the traffic lights and knew that the light would be red for a few minutes while traffic from the opposite direction got the green light, in order to allow the people on that side to make a left turn. As I was starting to cross the street, the light on my side turned green, so I went back to the curb. As I was standing there, a car drove by and there was a white teenaged boy hanging out the window. He threw something at me as he shouted "Fucking nigger!" Because he doesn't understand the laws of physics, whatever he threw missed me completely. Why such anger? I wasn't holding up traffic. As soon as that light turned green I scurried out of the way. I must admit that encounter shook me up a bit. I hadn't felt pure hatred like that directed toward me by a stranger in a very long time. Regardless, I still refuse to go through the world in a defensive posture.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'd Never Been So Low

The words you regret most in life are the ones that remain unsaid. The untimely death of Mr. Nice Guy threw me into a tailspin. For the first couple of weeks, not a day went by that I didn't cry. To know that I would never see that smiling face or feel his arms around me again was almost more than I could take. All I wanted to do was sleep. When I wasn't in class, which I was now known to skip, depending on the class, I was sleeping. Food and sleep were my escape from the pain. Whenever I had to interact with anyone in class, I felt like I was standing outside myself. The world was a movie, and I was a mere observer. I felt very isolated. To a certain degree I shut down. My friend who always pointed out my accent didn't understand the amount of pain I was feeling. She kept trying to get me to go out and do things with her and her boyfriend, but I was grieving. Because I didn't know how to vocalize my pain I froze her out.

My schoolwork had started to suffer, and one of my professors said something to me about it. I told her what was going on with me, and she suggested that I visit Berklee's counseling center to talk to a counselor. At this point I want to stop and tell you that for pretty much my whole life I've felt like I needed to be in therapy. You know my background. Though I was never abused, actually, what my paternal grandmother did to us could be considered verbal abuse, as well as emotional abuse. Regardless, I've always felt different, not only because I was a little black girl in a mostly white environment, but also because of the way my parents (more specifically, my mom) raised me. A lot of black children are raised to be angry and to hate white people. As soon as they step out into the world, they assume a defensive posture. I wasn't raised to hate white people, and there was very little anger in my household toward whites. Sometimes my dad exhibited it because of some of the prejudice he endured while growing up, but for my mom it was different. Her views and her tolerance are what shaped me as a person.

That being said, I grew into a kind, sensitive, loving, shy woman with a strong sense of morality. That doesn't play very well when you start going to school with more black kids and they think that in order to be black you have to be loud and obnoxious. I didn't really fit in with most of them, and although I was very comfortable around white people, they weren't necessarily all comfortable around me. Another thing that contributed to my feeling out of place is the fact that before I left for college my mom recommended that I stifle the sarcastic side of my personality so as not to alienate people in my new surroundings. I know she meant well, but for a really long time I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be. Yes, sometimes my sarcasm could be hurtful, but it fell more under the category of not suffering fools gladly.

Back to seeing the counselor. I made an appointment with a counselor at Berklee's counseling center. Although I naturally thought if I was ever in counseling/therapy it would be with a woman, my counselor ended up being a man who wasn't that much older than me. He was also very attractive, but once I started talking about my pain, his attractiveness was an afterthought.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More About Me

My girl Cathy Keisha tagged me in a post on her blog in an effort to learn more about me. I'm already baring my soul on this blog. What more does she want? She's so demanding, that one!

Without further ado, here are the things that I must reveal about myself:

Describe yourself in seven words:

What keeps you up at night?
Thoughts of how I'm going to transition from my current occupation to being a yoga teacher, Weight Watchers leader, and possibly a therapist. I also wonder if I'll make enough money doing those things to keep myself afloat.

Who would you like to be?
The very best version of myself.

What are you wearing right now?
Work clothes. A magenta cardigan, white camisole, gray slacks, and black boots.

What scares you?
The prospect that my niece could grow up to be exactly like her mother. This is a woman with major issues, that I'm started to see become a part of my niece's life.

The best and worst of blogging:
The best is when I post something that resonates with someone, and they truly understand where I'm coming from. The worst is trying to come up with things to write about.

Last website you visited:
My girl CK's to read these questions.

One thing you'd change about yourself:
I would've saved money for college when I was a kid.

Slankets or no?
The concept is a solid one, but I don't know if I could walk around like that, even just in my apartment.

Tell us about the cat/person that tagged you:
CK and I met through Twitter. She's a sista like me, so we bonded immediately. Her disposition is also similar to my kitty Topaz's so how can I not love her?

Next up I need to tag other bloggers that I'd like to learn more about.

Carole: This is Admiral Hestorb's and Katie Bella's mom. I've learned a bit about her, but it would be nice to know more.
Max: Although Max is the kitty whose name is featured on this blog, his sibs Bugsy and Knuckles live with HH and cause havoc as Max watches them from OTRB.
Confucius Cat: CC and I have been out of touch lately and it would be nice to know what's on his mind.
Mattie: Here's my little sweet tater. He loves everyone and everyone loves him. Let's see how he describes himself. Bet he'll use the word "smexy" ;-).

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Thought I Knew Pain Before...

Sophomore year without Mr. Nice Guy was kind of like a settling in period for me. A lot of time was spent getting to know my way around Boston. I felt like I was finally finding my place. Just before the beginning of junior year I was walking around Boston enjoying the warm weather, when who should I see on the street corner, but Mr. Nice Guy! He came up to me and gave me a big hug and then apologized for being sweaty from riding his bike. Do you think I cared that he was sweaty? Of course not! We did the usual chitchat thing, and he told me that he was kind of sad that his old roommate that he moved off-campus with left school. At the time his next words didn't really register that much. He said, "Now that I'm living with a cop it should be easier for me to stay sober." I thought his sobriety was firmly in hand, so I didn't think twice about his words.

After that day I saw him all the time. One day I was headed back to the dorms after class and was waiting to cross the street. As I'm standing there, he comes walking up to me from the other direction. We hug, and chat for a few minutes. He's eating biscotti and gets down to the last bite. He offers it to me, but I don't want to take it because it's the last bite. He's like "Come on. It's the last bite." So I take it and we part ways. I remember having a warm feeling inside because he gave me the last bite of his biscotti. Cheesy, I know, but I'm a romantic at heart. Another time I ran into him a day or two before my 21st birthday. I told him that me and some friends were going out to celebrate and invited him along, but he had other plans. He was like "I'll have to buy you a beer sometime." Of course I don't drink and I let him know that. With a hug we parted at the corner, and I spent the rest of the day all dreamy-eyed from having seen him again.

Because we kept running into each other so frequently I just knew this was a sign. My love for him had been rekindled so I decided it was time to lay it all on the line. I found out his student mailbox number and decided to send him a note. Basically the note said I missed hanging out with him and that maybe we could get together. I gave him my number and told him to call me. So I dropped it off at the student mailroom and then I waited. A few days go by, no phone call. A week goes by, no phone call. I finally actually see him in the mailroom one day while I'm checking my mail. We hug and I ask him if he got my note. He said yes, but that he lost it along with $200 that he had in his pocket. He told me he'd definitely like to hang out and asked for my number. He also gave me his. That weekend I called him, but his roommate answered the phone and said he wasn't there. I left a message for him to call me, and the waiting began again. A few days later I was on the phone telling my mom about how I had called him and he hadn't called me back when call waiting beeped in. Lo and behold it was Mr. Nice Guy returning my phone call. Apparently he had been in the studio doing some recording (he was a drummer), and found the message that I had called on a note on the refrigerator. He said that he had recorded some really good stuff, and that I should come over sometime and listen to it. In my mind I was thinking "Yes!". I was thinking that maybe we'd finally be alone together so that I could confess my feelings to him. He said he'd let me know when I could come over.

That next week I saw him outside a convenience store across from my dorm. I was walking with the friend of mine who used to always point out my accent and she didn't like him. He didn't really like her either, but that's beside the point. I remember he was eating a small bag of Baked Lay's and he offered us both some. He was always really kind like that. We all chatted for a bit and then she and I left. Little did I know that was the last time I'd ever see him.

That next week during my usual travels around campus I kept expecting to see him, but I never did. The night of October 20, 1996 into the morning of October 21, 1996 was awful for me. During the night I kept having the recurring nightmare that someone had slit the throats of the cast of the show "Friends". I could see the bright red blood from the slashes on their throats and their heads were lolling back. I'd wake up from it, but everytime I fell asleep I would see that same image again. The next morning I felt awful, like a cloak of misery had been draped around me. I didn't want to get out of bed. It was so bad that I skipped my first class that day, which was at 9:00 in the morning. When I did get out of bed I looked out the window to the church across the street. I saw a statue of an angel there, but all I could think of was how awful I felt. It was such a gloomy day outside, which matched the feelings inside me. Finally I decided to go to my afternoon class. At the end of class I saw my roommate standing outside the door. When I walked up to her and asked her what was up, I couldn't believe the words that came out of her mouth. She said, "Mr. Nice Guy is dead." My immediate response was "You're lying!" She said no and went on to tell me that there was a sign in the Production and Engineering Department (since that was his major) announcing it.

We walked to the department so that I could see the sign for myself. There it was in black and white. That's when my world came crashing down around me. My roommate and accent girl both had to go to class, so I went back to my room. With tears streaming down my face, I immediately called my mom. When she answered the phone the first words out of my mouth were "He's dead!" Of course she had no clue who I was talking about. Through my sobs I explained to her what I had found out. Word was he had been hit by a car while riding his bike. Later accent girl told me she heard he had OD'd. It didn't matter to me how he died. All I knew was that the man I loved had died before I had the chance to express my feelings to him. After I hung up with my mom all I could do was cry. I sat on the floor of my dormroom and bawled like a baby. I cried so hard that I literally made myself sick. At one point I had to go to the bathroom and throw up. The next day there was a memorial service for him at school. My roommate and I went, but all I could do is sit there as my tears flowed. How was it possible that my first real love had been taken from me?