As I stated last week I have been in the process of writing a book. I just finished this essay and something in me is saying I should share this rough draft. I don’t have a title just yet, but enjoy…
I Still Love You:
“I remember when we first fell in love. I was too young to know what it was. I couldn’t address what made me melt. But quick to tell you how I felt. That love was so real; and it still is.”-Kameelah Williams
When I first started writing this compilation of essays the magic number in my head was to write somewhere between ten and twenty of them. The latter of those numbers stuck; and then I decided to make it twenty-five with a foreword. Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I first started writing. I have completed twenty-two and I have the concept behind the other three. As I am beginning to revise edits and writing the first paragraph of “Rooftops,” 702’s ‘I Still Love You’ begins to play in my head and I have to write about it.
‘I Still Love You’ was released my senior year of high school. It was the tail end of The Neptunes’ three year tear churning out pop hits for just about everyone. Their trademark synth strings and the plucking of a guitar made a very simple melody. The difference in this and just about every other track they had on albums and all over radio at the time were the drums. It was a booming kick drum with lots of reverb and the clap one would recognize from Clipse’s ‘Grindin’.’ The track didn’t move around a lot and made for the melody of the words to stand out yet blend in nicely. I was weeks away from graduation, and heading to Atlanta. I was ready to leave everything I knew in New York not knowing-yet speculating-what was next for me.
Eleven years later I’m listening to the song while writing essays answering the questions that Chad Milner at seventeen may have had. My three year old daughter is sitting to my left drinking a Capri Sun playing with the travel bag that houses her soccer goal. Funny how that works.
I was writing about Timile, Cydney, and I first moving to Buffalo. I pictured Timile chopping all of her hair off and styling it one last time before chemo made it fall out. The short haircut made her feel good in spite of the fact that there was a feeding tube protruding out of her abdomen which six weeks earlier was poking out because a baby was in there. The brief moment of feeling like she looked good was because most of the time Timile looked at me and wondered what I thought of her. All I ever saw was the twenty-one year old girl with hair all the way down her back and bangs. That moment in a black robe while holding Cydney is what made me think about that moment. Not sure how things were going to go during this next leg of our journey I don’t know if I was any more in love with her than in that moment. Just when she felt the least attractive was when I was craziest about her.
*Takes break from writing to clean off said child who at three still doesn’t want to be potty trained and has gone number two in her underwear. Not diapers…underwear.*
Okay, where was I…Every once in a while Timile would say something to me inferring how I felt about her. She would show some glimpse of insecurity in her words. Reading behind the lines I could she wanted to know if my eyes wandered and even if this was all she’d be for fifty years would looking at what she thought was hideous was enough. She just wanted to know that I found her desirable. I did. She was the mother of my child and while we weren’t married, she was my wife. Timile would even slip dilaudid-which is stronger than morphine-into my drinks because I guess that’s the only way she assumed I would have sex with her. Bald headed and weighing eighty-eight pounds she was still my dream girl.
One of the moments when I felt the saddest was one September evening. Timile was staying at the hospital for a few days because that happened every three weeks or so. One day after work I was sitting by the bed and we were watching something on TV. A commercial came on that had something to do with children. Timile paused and said very casually “You know, at this point I wouldn’t mind having a second child.” Shit. I’ve had my heart broken quite a few times in my life; but nothing had ever crushed me like that one sentence. I was hurt because since Timile had undergone chemo, even if she were to survive her bout with cancer she would never be able to have another child. That was the moment when shit got real. That was the moment it really hit me that Timile wasn’t making it out of this.
While I died several deaths, and visited all seven layers of hell in Dante’s Inferno within seconds; I looked at Timile Brown with a smile on my face and said “I told you you’d be ready to do it again! I gave you eighteen months. Cydney isn’t even a year yet and you got baby fever!” She laughed and said “You’re right.” The moment was over and the conversation shifted immediately.
I took the long way home that night. I took Timile’s weed; smoked two pretty huge blunts back to back, and lapped around the whole city of Buffalo before I went home and passed out when I got home. It weighed so heavily on my spirit I didn’t know what else to do.
What may come off as a weakness is almost often a strength. Had I shown that what Timile had said crushed me our evening would have been morbid and filled with tears and long-term lingering thoughts. I made a joke, let the moment end with a smile, and while she never mentioned it again it played in my head repeatedly. She didn’t need to know that, though.
In physics one of the first things you learn is that energy cannot be created or destroyed; they are just transferred or converted or something like that (it’s been a while but that sounds accurate). If a ton of bricks fall from the sky and hit the ground that energy gets absorbed and it vibrates. That vibration turns into something that I would have learned in Physics 102 but I was a business major so whatever (an earthquake?). Emotions work the same exact way. Some people absorb others’ hurt and pain by internalizing it; and it manifests itself in other outlets. Whatever is receiving force does not externally show any signs of stress or affect whether it be the ground getting pounded by bricks or a person listening to another’s inner most thoughts. With that said, at this point in life I’m okay with my role in people’s lives.
With all that was going on around me was it easy to love Timile and not take care of myself? Yes. I made a choice. There was no looking back. For those who mix love up with a bunch of other things I will say it again: it’s an action. You make a decision to love someone. “Falling” in love is bullshit. Maybe you “fall” into it because one unconsciously makes a choice. Once one puts their mind to doing something, it’s pretty easy. It may be difficult to make it a habit at first, but eventually it becomes second nature.
Timile and I had fought many times during our time together. When we broke up and she started a relationship with someone else in Virginia I could have said to myself “This is gonna hurt for a second but I can’t do this anymore.” By that time, I was on autopilot. Timile wasn’t quite sold on us working out many times. She had even convinced herself that I wasn’t someone she would marry. Me? I was making shit happen regardless of what she thought or wasn’t sure of. There aren’t many things that I think can’t accomplish. I believe in myself that much and I am arrogant enough to say my track record backs this up.
By the time Timile was who I described her to be at the beginning of this essay I was prepared to love our family through it. I had been given tests of patience and adversity with this one person.
I’m going to end this right here….I can’t really think of a way to end this. Confirming that this essay needs to end here is that Cydney who is in her high heel slippers and a Cinderella dress is holding her hand out and asking for me to dance with her. I may even leave this one unedited and publish the rough draft.