LA: Month 1

I find myself navigating more and more to the balconies of LA. No matter where you are, you can look and find an apartment adorned with a patio or porch. That’s one thing that reminds me of home. I spent so many of my years on the porch of my great grandmothers’ home. I can recall the changes built around it, when there were two small IMG_7227houses next door, that now rest an empty lot. Before and after the remodel, or before it became the property of my grandmother. Back when my great great grandma chuck was still there, memories of after school pickups, soap opera watching and badminton playing.

It is easy to sit on the porch and be filled with all the warmth of home. But there is also this presence of guilt I feel oh so far away. Before I left home I wanted to be unstoppable. So much so that I prayed that nothing would get in the way of my departure. I remember having dreams that my family would experience a detrimental moment and I prayed that should anything occur, God just let it happen after I’ve left.

There is no preparation for homesickness. It comes unprecedented and you can’t place a barometer around those feelings until you actually feel them. Homesick feels like fear and anxiety. Like a void of emptiness, loneliness.

IMG_0441Soon after I got to LA I learned of the power in that prayer. My great grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, a great aunt of mine with skin cancer, and my great uncle passed as well. Up until this point I was walking the streets of LA with just the small guilt of being far removed from the everyday life of my immediate family, but this happenstance magnified that experience for me. I didn’t even think there would be a response that would allow me to assuage the entirety of that burden of guilt.

I’m grateful for every aspect of my journey in LA. Primarily because I stand firmly knowing that I made the very best decision for my life. I can hardly believe all the things I have been able to IMG_7746accomplish. Like, I have literally worked in the business (that’s what they call it out here) every week since I’ve landed. I have been a PA on different lots and sets all over Los Angeles. I secured full time employment and I continue to meet incredible, like minded people who are both showing and telling of what feels like the best season of my life. Although I miss home, I no longer walk the streets feeling displaced or burdened. I walk with my chin held high, I’m a king and LA aint got nothing on me.

 

My Brother & Me .

You ever question your love for people as an adult? As children I feel that we are reared in a way that teaches the word love without always providing the context of its meaning or actions. We are introduced to family and we are taught to say that we love them. To be completely honest, I’ve questioned the love I have for my grandparents and even for my father, a few years ago. Lately, I find myself grappling with the relationship I have with my twin brother.

I decided to post this picture, not because it’s the most attractive or appealing for either of us, nor because its the only picture you’ll find of us, together, within the past few years, but because I feel it is indicative of our relationship. It almost feels foreign, strained and weary, frayed but present. My brother asked to take this picture and I was instantly annoyed. That appears to be my inclination, a defense mechanism of sorts, my first instinct most times he asks me to do anything. But, what I love most about this picture is the depth of its honesty. The half moon smirk on his face makes me feel loved. I feel like he sees me, he is proud of me and he wants to take a picture, with me.

I get it. This all sounds extremely weird to most because the idea or image you have of twins is Tia and Tamera, or Mary Kate and Ashley, two individuals that not only look alike, but are inseparable and best friends. I can’t think of a time where that was our experience. It probably started at birth, I was born May 26 an hour and eight minutes after Kenny and we probably haven’t been much closer ever since.

Looking back on my childhood, as I survey our “twinship” I feel guilty a lot of the time. We went through all the normal twin things to do. My mother dressed us identically, despite there always being a good foot between our heights, well into middle school. In fact, we were even in the same classroom as students up until the third grade. That year my mother made a decision to hold Kenny back. Y’all know I consistently pride myself on the way I was raised; moreover, the efforts of my mother. She was seamless and perfect, to me. She saw that when it came to education Kenny was not excelling. Rather than put him through a system that would allow him to pass on and be left by the waste side later, she refuted the public school system and made the decision she felt was best, one she felt would put her child in the best position for success. I asked her a couple of years ago if she regretted that decision. She doesn’t.

I think that decision gave us space to grow apart further. Kenny has always been quiet, introverted and my polar opposite. I don’t know his experience of me during those school years and I don’t really have a clear glimpse of him in mine. I went on to excel in academics. I was active in middle school and by the time we got to high school I was a superstar. I had found my passion in theatre, played sports, did chorus, band, pep rally and continued to make good grades, but where was Kenny? What was he doing? I couldn’t tell you, and that pains me. We rode the bus together, sat side by side from the elementary all through high school and I can’t say anything that would let you know who he was.

Soon after, maybe my sophomore year of high school, Kenny made the decision to go and live with my Dad. He had always been closer with that side of the family, conversely, just like the nature of our relationship, I was closer to my mom’s side. Growing up we had to go to my fathers every other weekend but by the time we got to high school we were old enough to make our own decision. There is no coming back from that. Any inkling we had of closeness was surely cast out into the shadows that come with the rift of separation.

As I ponder on our childhood experiences I feel an enormous weight of guilt. It’s something I constantly try to shake but I can’t help it. I feel badly that we didn’t have a more similar experience. For years I blamed me. I felt it was my fault because I was always living in some parts of the fullness of myself. So much so that I have wondered how could he have any space to breathe? Not that he’d have to compete, I just feel like I didn’t make it easy for him to find space enough to be himself.  I know that we all have to be who we are. I can’t take responsibility for any of his shortcoming and it would be foolish to think I would ever have to deny myself the ability to be me for him to breathe; still. I can remember sleeping in twin beds that were next to each other. We had a small room and our beds were close enough in space where I could reach over and soothe a scar he’d have by tracing the tip of my index finger around it until he feel asleep, and just as easily kick him hard enough to stop his constant snoring when he found sleep sooner than me. It never stopped his snoring for too long. Sometimes I feel like I may have kicked him out of the womb of our mother and into the world that hour and eight minutes ahead of me. Time that he may have needed just as badly to come into himself wholly.

All throughout college people would be surprised to learn that I actually have a twin brother. Many times people didn’t believe me because I didn’t talk about him enough or never produced a picture. It’s ironic because whenever I’m asked an interesting fact about myself my most anticipated answer is the fact that I have a twin brother. I always say it, and then combat or lessen it by saying, “but it doesn’t  count because we’re fraternal.” What I’m really saying is that a lot of the times, I guess I didn’t really consider myself a twin because we are so vastly different, and not close. I remember making male friends in college and I would always hold them in such high regard. I revered the men in my life I was able to grow close to because as a gay man there was a yearning in me to connect to black men, and bigger than that, I had a desire to know what it feels like to have a brother, because so much of my own experience excludes my twin.

The parameters of our relationship is not something that makes me most proud. I don’t look forward to feeling the regret of not being closer, of navigating through this world  further away from him, but I love Kenny. He is my twin brother and no part of me questions that further.

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And a happy new year.

The morning after Christmas Day. This year we did things differently. Instead of a traditional Christmas at home, we tarried down to North Carolina on Christmas Eve to fill my baby sisters new home with our presence. We had an amazing time. She and her girlfriend, Ty, have made quite the home for themselves. I felt love and happiness, peace and comfort. We spent the night cooking and laughing, drinking, playing games; fueled by Christmas spirit.

Naturally, I got to thinking. It’s been a many of moons since I’ve spent my Christmas unwrapping presents, tucked beneath pine needles and tree skirts, and I’m okay with that. I find that my holiday season is so much more connected to being surrounded by love. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t want lots of presents on Christmas? But, I am growing accustomed to an environment that gives way to allowing you to just be you. Without any pretense or effort, just being yourself and sharing in the company of those who want to share in that space.

“Change aint change until you change.” My mom used to say that and it’s all I’ve been able to think about lately. Well, we traveled back home on Christmas Day listening to ‘A Christmas Carol’ on audiobook and all felt right in the world. Here’s to new traditions, I’m vowing not to spend another holiday in NN, VA.

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Beyond that, I find that it is so easy to note all the changes that I want to see in myself, over my own life. I don’t doubt that you agree and can understand how easy and tempting it can be to just bask in all of that. You know, those things that overwhelm us with anxiety and make us scurry into trying to be that which we were all the time. It is just as important to celebrate the things that you’re most proud of. Those traits and qualities that have gotten you thus far in life. The talents or dreams that guide you into greater, striving to fulfill you purpose. Don’t sweat the small stuff. As 2016 quickens her step, approaching as vivid and steadily as ever, keep a tally of all the things you are working on and don’t forget your strategy. Yet, just as important, celebrate all the victories you’ve accomplished this year and design a ‘get bag’ that shows off all your greatest assets. At the end of the day, no matter how far you have to go to accomplish your dreams, you are already a big deal, so just don’t forget to celebrate in that too.

How did you spend your Holiday? Tell me all about it. See you Sunday.

Realizing you’re a coffee person kind of sucks;

well, at least it did for me.

I have always enjoyed the taste of coffee. There was no surprise there. I feel like I spent the majority of my adolescence and young adult years sitting quietly gathering myself, early morning, on the porch, having the best coffee I may have ever tasted with my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and a few of my siblings. There rests a memory most prized; I shall never forget! But, from there I developed a more specific taste for coffee, Starbucks reigns supreme; yet, still unattached. Coffee was not my necessary.

Now, I need coffee. I wake, as last minute as possible, trying to make my commute as painless as possible, and I drag my feet, driving like a dazed zombie to a cup of joe. It’s pretty bad y’all. All this week I have felt grave depravity without a good brew! What’s worse, the fact that I suck, more often than not, at making my own coffee. I love Starbucks. Not sure when I was introduced to the grande white mocha, its been many moons but it’s my fave, and I am pretty sure it has something to do with the whipped cream. But, I digress. At five and a quarter a cup (closer to six dollars at the Starbucks at my job) it’s not a habit I’m most eager to embrace. To be quite frank, its not one I can afford.

I had coffee from Wawa this morning. Any size for a dollar, and its nothing I can complain about, it was pretty good. Being a coffee person sucks because we grow accustomed to yielding ourselves to that hot aroma to fully wake ourselves most mornings. I can’t afford my beloved Starbucks Monday-Friday; however, (comma) that $26.25 a week, its way cheaper than the unemployment line.

Continue to pray, Sunday’s not so far.

DAY FOURTEEN .

Do you have any siblings? Talk about them, or talk about what its like to be an only child.

Five of the very best friends I had growing up. My mother reared us well, and together. We spent the most of our time in single filed lines, cutting grass, or walking each other to someplace or another. You know, I’ve heard it said that we spend most of our lives with our siblings. Think about it, we live with them the longest, typically outlasting the death of parents, family and other relatives. Tanikka is the oldest, she has to be the most sensitive hot headed person in the world. She has a big heart but life hasn’t always made it easy for her to share. Next, is Kenny (Kenneth) my twin. We are polar opposite, fraternal twins, looking mildly alike. He is quiet and introverted. For years I carried this  burden in feeling like my presence may have made it more difficult for him to exist in his own voice, but the fact of the matter is that he is indeed his own man, as crazy or aloof as it may seem at times, he walks to the beat of his own drum, and that is to be applauded. After me, comes Tamara, my roommate, and in many ways whom I’m closest with. That girl knows everything! She’s just so level and balanced. An all knowing, no mess taking sweetheart. Tania was the baby for years. We all really got the chance to see and participate in her growth. She was this quiet shy girl who blossomed into a beautiful, track running, natural hair guru! She is completely living her life, she’s got a mean streak, but she is so giving of herself. Lastly, comes Richard. At fourteen years old he is a freshman in high school, feels like he’s twice my height and wears a size thirteen shoe. I can hardly believe it. Rich is the super funny, video gaming gentle black young man. He is a hoot. I would not trade any of my siblings for all of the world. They have shaped, solidified, and vilified me. I was and am myself to them, before I could be anything to the world. My first audience; critiques, haters, supporters, and musings. So much of who I am comes from these people and I am hugely blessed to have all of my life to experience with each of them.

P.S. I am taking so much delight in Chrisette Michele. I love what she’s doing, now, and she kind of set a blueprint for artists who can’t be boxed in and who have decided to be entrepreneurs, So, I say kudos to her. And what an important message she shows in this video, tell me what you think?

How do you know that you believe in your dream?

THE ANSWERS TO WHY: Men have daddy issues too

Happy Sunday Afternoon!

I am deeply pleased and excited to have received so much feedback on the previous post, you can read and comment here. It is becoming both a cathartic and inspiring experience to be able to share, visibly, my vulnerabilities and experiences with each of you. We are all participants in life’s journey and an expression of self is necessary.

That being said, I have decided to create a series, a column, if you will, for this blog. During the week I will post on a specific topic and on Sunday’s I will present a solution or tips to gaining resolution on the subject, THE ANSWERS TO WHY. The title comes from a Ledisi song, I lover her so much and its one of my favorites.

In researching the topic at hand, Daddy Issues, I came across an article,10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’ by Terry Gaspard. Naturally its geared for women with issues, but the tips are all encompassing and will help to develop and repair relationships in general.

10 tips for reconnecting with your father:

1. Be honest about your relationship with your father and any wounds that exist.

2. Let go of self-blame and forgive your dad and yourself (for whatever you told yourself about your relationship with him).

3. Examine your relationship with your father and attempt to reconnect if there have been any wounds. He may be able to help you be your best self.

4. Look at ways you may have accepted an unhealthy romantic relationship to fill the void your dad left (dating unavailable men or ones who are all wrong for you).

5. Give up your dream of a perfect connection with your father and accept that tension may exist and must be confronted. All relationships go through rough patches.

6. Expect resistance and be patient. It may take time to iron out the kinks in your relationship.

7. Explore your intentions and desires. Counseling and talking to close friends can help you to come up with realistic goals.

8. Create healthy boundaries. It’s not necessary to dredge up past hurt every time you meet with your father. Asking questions about the past can promote healing, but allow time for you and your dad time to reconnect before discussing the past.

9. Request a change and be patient. Try one request at a time and have realistic expectations.

10. Express your thoughts, feelings, and wishes clearly and calmly. This could be verbally, a letter, or a release (“I release you from not being more active in my life”). You may decide not to share your letter or release with your father, but this step can still be therapeutic — especially if your dad died before you were able to reconnect.

I hope this helps and that you will continue to build this community of expression and discourse with me. Please, read, comment, share, like and subscribe! THESUNDAYAFTERNOON.COM

Everyday is a little like Sunday.