“Ayo, quick, give me a topic to write about,” I said to Genevieve at her workplace in Queens. Despite a fortnight of experiences to expound on, I had yet to make my way to the proverbial chair and needed a challenge-or prompt-to coax my thoughts into words onto this very page. Genevieve was quite the conversationalist, so I had a hunch she would be a good catalyst.
“I’m thinking about starting a podcast about dating American black men,” Genevieve said in her thick European accent. My eyes widened. It sounded like a great idea, so I asked her to explain.
“As someone from Europe, I see how they have to deal with things [I’m not used to]. They tend to carry this thing on them, and it is with them everywhere they go. But they just see and view things so differently,” Genevieve continued. The wheels in my head had begun and spun.
When Genevieve finished her thought, I began to respond; I agreed. I acquiesced to the notion in which black women in America have it way harder than us men, in a way I could never explain or comprehend it is. I then told her “It’s because nobody gives a fuck. So we often have to hold onto all of these thoughts and feelings, compartmentalize them, and just deal [until they dissolve]. It’s rare we are shown compassion or empathy, and this plays a role in how we see a lot of the world.” More than likely, my words were not this eloquent; nonetheless, I did say most of this and the rest of the sentiment was implied in my verbiage.
The producer in me wanted to hear more about this podcast. Genevieve said she did not intend to create one; but the idea in her head humored her. It was a prompt for her own thoughts, the way I inquired about one to write. Before the conversation got too deep and perhaps uncomfortable, I made a lighthearted statement which aligned with our dialog. “I find this interesting. I’ve kind of written a lot about this for years. I’m pretty proficient in this,” I said.
I began to divulge in aspects of this arena I have written about as I mulled over how to turn my thoughts into words. To Genevieve, I said “It is rare for a person to see me for who I really am. Like for real, in the past ten years, excluding my daughter’s mother, only two women I have [talked to or dated] made a true attempt and saw me for who I really am [and communicated it]. Often, I become an ideal [for others] which is rooted in something that has very little to do with me; but how they see the world.” More was said after this.
The conversation with Genevieve elicited thoughts about my own dark cloud. To many of my friends, family, peers, followers, and fans, I am a story; a beautiful and inspirational one, perhaps. Nonetheless, such a vantage point often leads to a narrowed narrative. I have learned how to hide behind a smile, wry remark, or not display any emotion when triggered with flashes of my past experiences. It becomes difficult to articulate this to people because they want to see, hear, and feel the story; but I am a man with thoughts and emotions. A few weeks ago, my therapist explained my ability to compartmentalize, due to my trauma, is identical to a soldier who has been to war. I received and processed my therapist’s words yet was unaware of the weight of her sincerity. Weeks later, my therapist told me she was a veteran who’d served in active duty.
The phrase which came across my mind was one I’d coined two weeks prior in a conversation with God: It’s time to sing a new song.
I made a career out of an off-the-cuff remark like Genevieve’s. “I should start a blog where I tell all of those who’d supported and prayed through my last year,” I said to myself with humor. I was 26, widowed, and a single parent to a little girl who had not a clue how to resolve the whirlwind of experiences life had thrown my way in my mid-twenties.
A few weeks ago, I prayed a different prayer as I commuted from my home in Nassau County to Queens. On this day, my spirit told me I needed to be in Sunnyside, Queens, the neighborhood where I have as of recent, spent many of my days, at my good friend, 360’s barbershop. It was God, who’d whispered “I need you to talk to me, today…I have some things to show you.” On the Long Island Expressway, I told the Elohim I was thankful for and do not regret any of my life experiences and ran through my greatest hits in intricate detail; however, a lot of what I’d endured still sucked. I then shifted to the present and my future, where I chronicled the places and spaces I’d like to improve and for the seeds I’ve sown to grow.
Three quarters into my 45-minute trek, I paused and ran down a list in which each sentence began with “I deserve.” I told God I deserved all which seems to be on the horizon and happiness because I have paid my dues; they were hard-earned. After a pause, I said “It’s time to sing a new song…Here I go again…”
My words inspired me to play “Here I Go Again,” a song by Glenn Jones, released in 1992. As I listened to the words, for the first time in my life, I cried tears of happiness. With less than all the digits on my two hands, I can count how many times I have shed tears in the past decade, with fingers to spare (excluding laughing until I’m in tears, which is a common occurrence). To have lived over 35 years and not once, a joyous snivel, not even for the birth of my child and I was in the room, is a lot…I had a breakthrough.
God was right. A lot of questions were answered on this day in Sunnyside and on my return home. I’ve been up ever since.
Five months ago, I vowed to release an album my friends would say was appropriately titled There’s Always a Girl Story. I vowed to release the project at the end of February and almost did. Two songs were unfinished. However, some events in my life occurred, and it required me to sit in silence for all of March. As I listened to this compilation of 20 tracks-an exceptional body of work-and discerned I needed to take the project into a different direction. I made a choice and started over.
The often bizarre and comedic tales of a cynical and jaded man, who with nonchalance finds humor in his awkward exchanges, got old. If you ever catch me in person, I will be glad to share a tale. Nonetheless, I’m on some new shit these days…The music-and life-is way better than I’d ever imagined I could compose.