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.

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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.

Twenty Twelve

The togetherness of crisp
summer days, afternoons spent laughing and
picnics at the beach. The unexpected
drop ins we welcomed. Late night jamming to
afrobeat and the sound of familiar voices.

We talked politics, the insatiable
Lagos life, the rush, the quickening
pulse, trading stories of police men
swinging loaded guns (in our faces).

There were spicy chicken wings. Liquor store
spendings- Jack Daniels. Merlot. Moet. Some
pulped orange juice and wedding party get-togethers.

Dress fittings. Secret dance practice
in the basement. Left over blue and white
candy from the wedding. Thanksgiving dinner
that actually involved Turkey and mashed potatoes.
The boys didn’t like it.

We made plans and cellphone videos.
Road trips to Edmonton. Sing-alongs to Davido’s Ekuro.
A steady trail of job applications. The long-distance
marriages. Snowstorms and Long-awaited victories.
The awe. The serenity. The magic of it all.

GRAY

You remind me of the midnight sky
Filled with twinkling stars,
Calm,soothing,quiet and serene.

I am travelling back in time,
So I can at least make some moments
from the past, somehow close to present,
You are special.

Somehow a year has taught me,
What the days were a little afraid to show.
Somehow you wove your way into a part of me,
A part i’ll always remember.
Time really does have a way of letting you know
Who will always be important,
Ill sing with you.

Ill sing with you all the songs,
The slow-rock and weirdly beautiful melodies
That our favourite bands make,
Music is our connection, our common ground.
Time has taught me that too.
Allow me to stare…

Allow me to stare at the immense authenticity
That you exude, your mind is like fire,
Burning with the most amazing yet
Strangely believable insight, don’t let it waste.

Remember the calculator,
It touched my heart  in ways I cant explain,
Ill tell my little girls of moments like that,
You put me first, wore your heart on your sleeve,
I may not have known it right then,
But you won a spot on my paper heart,
You’re my inspiration.

The lines on my palm
Are a constant reminder of you.
I never knew I had some many lines
but you showed me,
that’s something I may never have noticed,
had our paths not intertwined.

I look forward to seeing how your life turns out,
All the moments we had, I didn’t exactly cherish,
I do now, time taught me that…Ill never forget u,
I call u GRAY.