Two West African Girls Talk Love

Adora: Whenever I think I have love figured out, something (or someone) brings me back to the drawing board. I love that you’re in a healthy relationship so I’ll put you on the spot. What is love, and do you think you’ve found it?

Esther: Love is good. In spite of the variations of love I have encountered, one thing is unchanging – Love is good. Like you, I go to the drawing board often and i’m back there again. This time, this love is honest. This love sheds itself to be known. This love has shown scars I didn’t know I carried and is sturdy in ways I didn’t know I needed. Do I think i’ve found it? I think so. This feels a lot like the real deal. What does your drawing board say about love?

Adora: I find it interesting that you said your current love is honest. Honesty was never something I actively looked for in love, because I viewed it as a given. Life has shown me that an honest love is key. Love should not make me want to filter my thoughts, nor should I have to read between the lines when it speaks. I am reluctantly coming to terms with this: love is a necessary but insufficient factor. I no longer harbor lofty notions of a love that conquers all, and it breaks my heart – this logic business; this cruel loss of my sense of wonder. I am officially an adult. Of course, I need commitment, the knowing that my love will show up, again, and again. That it will choose me every morning, and that on most mornings it will not feel like a choice. Do you think love can exist without commitment?

Esther: You are right to think of honesty as a given. The best part of this new honesty is that it is kind even when the subject matter is one that could easily bruise. It is one that allows for growth after careful examination of facts and feelings. I have had to come to terms with the insufficiency of love as well and it sucks that love really doesn’t conquer all. That you could give love as best you can, more than you have ever given in your entire life and still lose. It is a painful truth. And the wonder? I think I may have lost a bit of that too. A thing could be so wonderful and yet we must leave room for the complexities of the human heart because it changes things in significant ways. As for commitment, I think love cannot exist without it. This life is a whirlwind of things and you kinda need someone who is willing to stand with you in it and through it as often as they need to. That’s a huge amount of expectation and trust to put on a person. It makes me nervous. What scares you the most about love?

Adora: Falling out of love. Or worse yet, heartbreak. Falling out of love is its own form of heartbreak. I have a low pain tolerance so I don’t do heartbreak. So far, I have only been enchanted by people who expressed a healthy dose of affection towards me. It doesn’t guarantee an absence of heartbreak but it increases the odds of a good epilogue. Love bothers me because I can’t control for all of the unpredictability that comes with my partner’s humanity. A part of me is convinced I’d only find true happiness if my partner is John Legend meets Steph Curry meets Harry Styles (i.e. perfection). Is there a trait of yours that sometimes sets you back in relationships?

Esther: Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any significant trait. I mean, I am far from perfect and I get scared a lot. Actually… I think I have one. I find that at the beginning of something good, sometimes I feel the need to run (in the opposite direction). I think this is my mind’s way of protecting me from the possibility of something going wrong eventually. If I don’t go any further, getting hurt isn’t an option. But I always ask myself, What if this is doesn’t hurt? What if it is better than you could ever dream? Of course, no one knows how anything will turn out, we can only hope it goes in our favour. I strongly believe that there is nothing that can happen (to me) that I will not survive. And I mean, if push comes to shove, i’ll get a poem or two out of it lol and it’ll all be alright. Have you ever had to move on from a person? What was the hardest part?

Adora: If push comes to shove, i’ll get a poem or two out of it. I love you, Esther. I’m a bit of a “hopeless romantic.” I believe in soul mates and happy endings. I must confess, I’m the farthest thing from a serial dater. I think it comes with being an introvert and my natural inclination to keep myself to myself. The hardest person to move on from was my post-high school boyfriend. I think it was really tough because there was no one else crazy enough to take me to iHop at 2am for ice cream and pancakes. I swear 75% of my heart break stemmed from my missing our midnight food hunts. So in line with my penchant for romance, favorite date of all time?

Esther: Me too! I’m pretty optimistic and I used to think I wasn’t a hopeless romantic but I am. Not a serial dater either so I can be a little too careful when it comes to these things (I see why we are friends lol). I see why moving on from your post-high school boyfriend would be hard. Night time hunger pangs would always be associated with him and that’s just stressful. I think eating and food hunting together is so intimate or maybe i’m just weird haha. My favourite date has to be my most recent date. We had a little moment (i call our arguments moments) on our way to the restaurant but by the time we got seated, we were laughing and teasing like nothing happened. The food was delicious and way too much. I put our phones away so we could really be present in the moment. We talked about everything we could think of. Oh, we were sitting next to this beautiful fireplace and it was perfect. After dinner, we went to get drinks at a bar and like a true feminist, I offered to pay for drinks lol. SIS! I DIDN’T KNOW DRINKS WERE SO EXPENSIVE, especially the Patrone Gold (obviously never getting shots again). It was a fun night and I forgot my toms so I had to wear my heels the whole time. Ugh.

Adora: You are adorable. I hear you on the feminist struggle. I try to be super mindful of my bank account, but I’m all for treating him when you can because he is my little princess, haha. Catching up with you is my favorite thing. Let’s do this again?

Esther: Lol yes, men are princesses too. I’ve enjoyed this catch up session. Let’s definitely do this again.

We could be lovers

Five minutes ago, I was standing in the shower, hot water splattering on my chest, thinking about how we could never be lovers; because for you, I may be too serious.

But then I thought, maybe we could be lovers because we know each other. Because the first time we met, we were eleven year olds who barely knew a thing about anything, thrown into a world we did not know how to navigate. In this world, our clothes hung on our bodies for dear life because we got skinnier by the month. Because home felt farther than it was.

We could be lovers because we have watched each other out grow versions of ourselves. We have shed old skin, grown new ones and repaired broken skin we still needed. We have loved and not-loved but returned to loving again and again. We have fought. I have called you names. I have promised not to tell you anything ever again but you are still my safe place. I still tell you things because you know me. You accept me. You make it all feel small. Fixable.

Thursday night was our make up night. Bible study from 7pm to 9pm. Each time we fought, we could never get past a Thursday without relearning forgiveness. We had two hours to lift the rug and make sense of the broken pieces beneath it. I saved you a seat next to mine or you saved me one and we would sit there still a bit angry, pretending to listen while the tension between us rose like a leaf in the wind. We sat there with our throats dry and our hearts loud in our ears waiting for the first words to arrive. I cannot remember who was braver of the two of us but we walked out the hall feeling like our worlds rhymed again.

We have moved to a new continent yet we still love in the most infrequent ways. In three day old text messages and un-returned phone calls and face timing every six months. We share old jokes, old pictures, I love yous that we really mean and I miss yous that are always felt.

We are now twenty-two year olds. We talk about healthy eating, social justice, the legitimacy of christianity . We laugh (a lot). We still tell each other things we wouldn’t tell other people. Beneath the laughter, we are stripped down versions of ourselves. We share our biggest struggles; the losing and finding ourselves in cycles. We have created a dynamic that would drive normal people insane but for us, it works.

I talk about how I was such a bitch in junior high. You say “not really” a softer version of “yes really”. We call each other on nights we cannot breathe, on days it feels like the world is closing in on us and we are our last chance for air.

We could be lovers because five years ago, I watched your father drive off with you in the front seat and I thought I would miss you forever. In February, we stood in middle of a busy mall as though it hadn’t been five years. As if it had only been a week. But you could tell, couldn’t you? that we had changed, physically and in all other ways. That time had carried us through winter and fall.

We are different. You are different and yet our love feels the same – even stronger, even better. Effortless. It’s what I love most about it. There is your voice in my head, your face in a smile, your square shaped nails with its white tips and there is your handwriting, the one you changed to an uglier one in js2 because it meant you were older. I am your biggest “you-are-going-to-do-wonderful-things” and you are mine and perhaps I would be different without you.

We could be lovers but we shouldn’t be. Because at least we have each other to run to if our lovers crack us open. If our lovers leave us bleeding. We could be lovers but there is a method to us and it will not survive the heartbreak of a failed us. We could be lovers but there is not a thing in the world that compares to the ridiculousness of us; this creation. We could be lovers but I will always be too serious for you.

talk to you soon

These nights look a lot like drinking the three day old strawberry banana juice sitting on our dresser and wondering why you still haven’t called. The crackers are not as crunchy as they were when we bought them three weeks ago but they still taste good. Isn’t that how it is with memory? The old still feels good even when it has lost a few details. The nutrition facts on the pack says 100 calories per three crackers, I have eaten five and I know I should stop before the guilt sets in.

It is 2:30am and I cannot understand why sadness feels so heavy after midnight or why you have refused to let me in.

Journal Entry #2: Closure

I do not think closure exists. In terms of a relationship, I mean. Even if a person tells you why they didn’t choose you, it doesn’t make it any more bearable. It doesn’t give the feeling of finality that it should. At first, it might give you an illusion of finality but ultimately, all it does is give you one more thing to analyze over and over.

I think that there are some things that will hurt forever for longer than they should. And maybe the hurt will reduce in intensity over time but there will be things that you will think about and still have that unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t happy or that you haven’t moved on, there are just some things that will have that effect on you; people that will always have that effect on you and that’s okay.

E.

I hope he loves you in flowers

I hope the man who loves you
brings you flowers every season.
Calendulas at the beginning of winter,
and Cyclamen when it gets brutal,
Daffodils when spring comes around,
and Lilies right before summer.

I hope he comes knocking on your door,
on the first day of summer with Daisies at his back and
Lavender, when you get sad because summer’s leaving.
I hope Autumn begins with Aster x Frikartii and
when the sun starts to set earlier,
I hope he sends forget-me-nots to remind you
that he thinks about you constantly.

I hope he sends you Tulips after a fight,
Jerusalem Sage when you’re down with a cold,
and White Roses when you feel like you are difficult to love.
I hope he plants flowers in the corners
of your soul and remembers to water them diligently.
On the nights when life has pushed you over the edge,
I hope he buries his nose in your neck
like you do your flowers and plants a thousand kisses there.

Most of all, I hope he opens up his heart to you every day like fresh flowers,
I hope he leaves the petals of his love in valley between your fingers,
and I hope he loves you for reasons you did not even know were possible.

Mama, she doesn’t need saving

Mama said you have always been feisty,
Your legs have run too fast into the arms of trouble,
She said you spit fire sometimes but
You love like a storm in the middle of winter.

For someone who has had to fight her way through the years,
You carry an aura of hope that only a child would understand,
Your heart is the brightest shade of red, robust with goodness
and it surprises me. It surprises me because
I heard that war leaves you hard and distant,
And this life? This life is one hell of a battlefield,
but somehow you have mastered the art of fighting
with one hand and loving with the other.

Mama always said you need to be saved.
She worried that you might blow yourself up
Into a million pieces,
The smoke from all the places you have been,
Circle right back to her front door,
She can smell you from many miles away.

But I say to her, “Mama, she doesn’t need saving”,
She doesn’t need a cage to contain her,
The world is vast enough for everything inside of her,
She can stretch herself thin and there will be places
she is yet to touch, so let her.
Let her roam free, let her crash into the various versions
of herself and all the people she is destined to meet.

Don’t worry your pretty little heart Mama,
Even the world will smell her from miles away.

This is how we learned to love

I know that life was hard for you
And maybe you didn’t know better.
I know that to you, Love meant
Wearing your masculinity like a shield,
Exuding strength and sometimes yelling at your wife,
Nobody taught you how to be gentle,
Nobody taught you that love could be soft and vulnerable.
I see how hard you have tried to defy history,
But we both know how hard it is
To teach an old dog new tricks,
If it is any consolation (at all), I hope you know
I learned the depth of unconditional love
By loving you.

Parking lot love

It’s no wonder the parking lot was our favourite place,
We would drive across town to a bookstore or some fancy place,
But we would end up sitting in your car for hours,
Our love was not meant for miles.

I always wondered why we would rather sit in moveable boxes
Than go out with our feet and explore the world with our love,
But now i see that ours was fleeting.
That the thing we felt was not strong enough for the storm outside,
The thing we felt was safest with proximity,
The thing we felt was meant for small, dark spaces like parking lots.

It was love, wasn’t it?
or maybe it just looked like love.
The thing we felt, sitting in the evening air,
Everything within our reach, laughing and teasing,
looked a lot like love. But somehow,
We couldn’t seem to love beyond the parking lot,
so we had to leave everything we felt there.

Missing you comes in waves

Missing you comes in waves,
My feet are just behind the shoreline of moving on,
Some days my feet are dry and parched,
On other days, i am wet with emotions,
All the things i felt, All the things i feel
come reaching for me, beyond the shore.
Some days, i am not strong enough.
Today, i wasn’t strong enough,
I sat in the coffee shop wondering
why the waves were hitting so hard.
Last night, I could feel the waters kissing my toes,
Kissing and reaching, Kissing and reaching for more.
This morning, i woke up dripping, i woke up weak with feelings,
Missing you comes in waves,
Today the waves have hit harder than they ever have,
and i am not strong enough to resist.
I miss you so much; so much.

Eshaal

i.
I spoke to your father
And every word out of his mouth was love for you.
I can confidently conclude that your very existence
Is intertwined with the reason he was created.
You are the blood in his veins.

He told me had to wait sixteen years for you to come.
16 years with one woman; your mother.
He looked at me and said “you don’t understand what it means to wait for 16 years”.
He was right. I couldn’t possibly understand,
So when you finally came he named you “flower in heaven”.

ii.
Nineteen months and you are the most beautiful flower,
He showed me a picture of you and your eyes look like a constellation of stars,
Your smile reminds me of the brightest day of summer,
And the corners of your mouth spell mischief but your father loves it.
The things he feels for you could bring even the greatest lovers to their knees.

He misses you.
In between the 12 hours of driving strangers to their destinations,
You are like a prize to be reached, a light at the end of the tunnel.
As the hours go by, the day is easier to bear and time with you is almost near.

iii.
He said he took two days off to be with you.
Darling, you are his drug and he craves a daily dose of you.
Your energy is his fortitude. Every second with you is gold.
And when you rest your head on his chest after play-dates and ask to be fed,
Every beat in his heart is laced with love.

He told me he had to get a better job.
Two hours with you every day is too little, he can’t take it.
“I want to give her a better life but I also want to watch her grow.”
Your father would build an entire world for you if he could.
He loves you and he has the kindest; most gentle soul.

iv.
Eshaal,
Today, i met your father for the first time.
He is so grateful to Allah for you.
And I want you to know that after your mother,
You are the only flower in his garden; the brightest.

In Loving Memory of who I was 3 years ago.

I think that videos, pictures and journals are ultimately important parts of our lives.
They capture us in a moment, a feeling, a phase, a season and most importantly, in our entirety.
They capture an outpour of happiness or rage, hope or fear or nothingness.
They capture us as girls or almost-women, boys or almost-men, or neither.
We are suspended in time in that one moment…and everything we are is captured as well.
All the things we believe about ourselves, all the things we are afraid of,
Our view of the world, our hopes… dreams… all caught in a single moment.

I was just watching a video I made 3 years ago and right from the sound of my voice I could tell that I am a different person from who i was then. I could actually hear it. I had just finished W.A.E.C, I was about to go home, but I decided to make a quick video of all my classmates (I’m so glad I did).

Looking at our due hairs, skinny wrists, makeup-free faces and extremely visible neck bones, I can see hope and exuberance for life glittering in our eyes. We were children so ready to take on the world, our dreams seemed attainable…. We didn’t want to write N.E.C.O, we just wanted to graduate from secondary school and face the world.

We would sit around in circles and talk about College; how we would dress, if we’d go to clubs or not, if we would date white boys or not and all the things we wanted to achieve. Renowned Lawyers, doctors, engineers, MBGNs, talk show hosts, politicians, C.E.Os. , As far as I can remember, we had big dreams. We all wanted to find true love, we all loved Jesus.

I spoke a little more pidgin English then, than I do now (I guess I realized I sounded awful so I just stopped). I had all these ideologies and beliefs on how the world should work. I had a picture in my head of how my life would play out. I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew I hated business. I didn’t like tattoos and I wanted to be a writer.

Zooming in on my classmates’ faces with my camera, I can see they all felt the way I did. We just couldn’t wait to be done with boarding school and all that came with it. We wanted to grow up and make our own decisions. In that classroom, *moving my camera from person to person* some were in love with people who didn’t love them back , some had people who loved them but they didn’t feel the same, some others wished someone would like them…. the others really didn’t care.

We had spent a maximum of six years in each other’s lives. We slept in the same dormitory, borrowed sports wear shorts and shirts, we made deals with our foods, we knew who liked Thursday fish and who didn’t, we knew our families, we played on the same soccer field, we knew our strengths and weakness, and we were family!

We are all different now. I am different. I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I think tattoos are cool. I love being a business student and I still want to be a writer (that hasn’t changed). I’m sure a lot of us have had a change of heart about a lot of things. We’ve grown and we’ve found ourselves. We’ve put on some weight and lost some. We understand that people are entitled to their own religious beliefs. Some have had questions about all we were taught at bible club… some have found answers. Some haven’t. Some smoke weed, drink lots of beer, and talk about sex alot.

We have seen that making friends is not as easy and we can’t stop reminiscing about high school days. We have seen that we owe the world our kindness and even good people are victims of tragedy. We realize we have to work extra hard to be extra ordinary and if we want success, we have to go out and find it.

I am sitting here looking at my sixteen-year-old self, listening to my voice and hearing my laugh. If there is one thing I would say to her, it would be, “life will push you and bend you but you won’t break, you will grow. You will be a witness to miracles and you will hear of tragedies… all of these will teach you to appreciate life. The pursuit of happiness is futile…. aim for wholeness. Do not wait for anyone … Chase your dreams no matter what! and Finally, Learn !…read !…write ! and grow!  Believe in that fire in your heart and in your eyes… most of all Believe in the one who put it there.”

And If there’s one thing I want from the girl in this video…. It is the fearlessness in her voice and in her spirit. The belief that she could do anything.. Be anything. I really want that back.

New Baltshire.

Should i ever visit in the summer,
with my pencil and journal in hand,
i will find a coffee shop at the center of the city,
a seat next to the window and with my favorite muffin,
i will watch as beautiful souls walk by me.
i will drink in the beauty of this city,
while thinking of all the streets you must have walked.
and i will write about it.

i might occasionally stir my coffee absent-mindedly
as i picture you driving across town to see a movie
or get some grocery. but don’t be too concerned,
for i will paint you into the portrait of this beautiful city
unraveling before my beauty seeking eyes.

Should i ever visit in the fall or spring,
i would still find a coffee shop at the center of the city.
i will spend a couple of minutes watching the raindrops
race each other to the bottom of the window-pane.
i’ll be cheering them on with every fibre of my being,
and the winner will feel like it just won the lottery.

So tell me, what do you do on rainy days?
do the gloomy skies inspire you?
do you even notice how perfect rainy days are for those who cry?
notice how the sky cries with them? for it wouldn’t let them cry alone?
do you get mad because the rain ruined your outdoor plans?
or do you jump at the chance to stay indoors, turn up the music
and perhaps do a little dance?
i hope you do, it’ll be so divine.

But if i visit when you have moved away,
i will find a map and trace where you once called home,
i will walk the streets at night staring at the stars,
wondering if you ever noticed them too.
Should it rain, i will stand like the statue of liberty,
not moved, as the waters trace my skin, knowing they probably traced yours,
should the sun shine, i will bask in the light of the sun on my soul,
knowing the sun probably smiled at you every moment you were here.

My darling, it would be the most fulfilling journey,
and such a beautiful memories will i make.
i will visit, at least i hope to, i really want to.
and i really hope you’ll still be in town.

You with everything.

I’ve been thinking about you.
Between every major and minor thought
you slip through and you blend right in.
i could think of you and cake or you and snow
and it would make perfect sense,you know.
Thinking of someone while thinking of something,
a thought inside a thought, something like the inception
is really fascinating and quite unusual,thrilling even.
My mind conscientiously drifts to you,
like a boat sails towards shore.
you kinda look like home.

Just Incase You Have A Hard Time Breathing

He broke your heart, didn’t he?
Just like the summer, he left a little too soon.
Left you in the middle of the nowhere,
with bags of emotions and bottles of tears,
And now you have to find your way home… alone.

I’m sorry.
i’m sorry that the thorn in the roses he gave you, have you torn,
i’m sorry that your heart is hurt and like a baby, needs to be nursed,
i’m sorry that your vision of love has been jeopardized,
i’m sorry that “i love you” doesn’t mean i’ll love you forever.

So drink some tea and shed some tears if you have to,
lay awake tonight and listen to all the sad songs,
Stare into the darkness of the night, see if you can find some light,
tell yourself it’s not your fault that this is where it ends,
and maybe time will let you catch your breath.

Moving on is like running against the wind,
its hard because the wind keeps pushing too hard,
but slowly and surely, the wind will lose its strength,
and Time will come to your rescue right when it needs to.

i would help you run away from the hurt, if i could,
but i heard that pain like this demands to be felt,
So just incase you have a hard time breathing,
Place your hand on your chest and tell your heart “it gets better”.

For Her.

hands.I love you, I love you, I love you,
My heart sings these words
Whenever I think of you.

Have you ever looked perfection in the eye?Cos I have.
You are perfect in every way; every single way.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
Therefore every eye can decide to see beauty or not,
But I am certain without a doubt, that every eye
Privileged to behold you even for a short time,
Is utterly mesmerized by the extraordinary beauty you possess.
You are beautiful, so very beautiful.

I love the way you love me,
Deep, royal, sensational kind of love.
Your love is like the wind, it blows my worries away,
Like a sheet of paper on an empty street.
Your voice is my alarm, it rings when I’m in the wrong.
It keeps me in check, it makes me strong.

Have I told you what my heart does apart from sing I love you?
It swells. It swells like a balloon getting pumped.
Like a fetus, my love for you grows.
And my eyes cry for no particular reason,
Maybe I’m blown away by the fact that I call you mom.

You’re my princess, my queen, my world.
Life has cut you pieces of cake form pain and heartache,
But I’ll bake you one with love and laughter,
I’ll serve you happiness in a jug, so you can drink all you want,
Then I’ll make you a bed of roses so you can lay in beautiful peace.

I would write you a song, but someone would sing it out of tune,
I would bring you the moon, but I can’t seem to get it out of the sky,
There are so many things I would do for you if I could,
But I’m only human, so ill love you the best way I know how.

I could go on and on and on,
But no words would be enough,
To sing the songs my heart has made for you,
You are my star, my world, my everything,
That is all i have been trying to say.

happy birthday Mom. thank you for believing in me. i love you forever!!!