LOVE AFTER LOVE (Derek Walcott)
“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. (emphasis added)“
Hello again my dear friends. I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite poems, “Love After Love”, by Derek Walcott. It has been a long time since we last communicated and in the last 4 years, I have been busy greeting myself at my own front door, over and over again.
Truly greeting yourself, and deciding to love the deeps depths of your physical being and all the colors of your soul, is not easy. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many self-help books and Instagram quotes about it. A few years ago I was dealing with a lot of personal struggles and when I came across this poem, it inspired me to really love myself, really love my life and somehow obtain a level of happiness that I wasn’t sure even existed. I didn’t know how to even start. I saw this poem as an internal goal that I would probably never come close to achieving but something I still hoped for.
The timing was never “the right time” to fully feast on my life. I thought I needed to grow professionally, build on my life goals, strengthen my close relationships, work on a healthier body, and learn to forgive past pains. Don’t make the same mistake I did, as I have spent years waiting for the right time to fully embrace myself, my life, my love, and my happiness. It took me creating life and finally experiencing unconditional love for another being to realize that it was possible to have that same unconditional love for myself. Me, loving myself unconditionally, is still a project I am working on but the time has come where I can finally greet myself with elation. I feel more beautiful, more vibrant, more alive, more significant than I have ever felt before. After years of always hungering for more, today I am feasting on my life.
If you are waiting for the right time, I challenge you to greet yourself every morning, as sometimes the minutes in-between each sunrise can minimize your strengths, make you question your values, re-examine your relationships…still feast on your life. Know that you can continue to grow professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally while loving yourself without any conditions and limits. Welcome both the changes and constants in your life. Praise yourself like you would your best friend. Forgive yourself like you would a close family member, who would never apologize for any wrongdoing, but you forgive anyways. Little by little, time after time, take back the pieces of your heart, whether you had given them to an unappreciating lover, unapologetic relationship, unfulfilling job, materialism, or a higher presence that left you empty. Return the pieces of your heart to yourself, for you are most deserving of your unconditional love. And one day, I hope you greet yourself with elation and feast on your life until your heart is full.
February 16, 2014: I felt trapped. Suffocating in a relationship that no longer had a future; with a man I had long fallen out of love with. Two days after Valentine’s Day and the only thing I was looking forward to was my move out date in 6 days. There is nothing harder than having a one-sided relationship with a man who won’t meet you halfway; nothing more heartbreaking than kissing a man who won’t kiss back; nothing more pathetic than crying alone on my side of the bed when he was less than an arm’s length away.
April 26, 2014: I turned 29. One year away from the big 30 and even with all that I had accomplished, I still felt dissatisfied with my life. But that was nothing new. Growing up, I always wanted more for myself and more out of the life I was so blessed to have. But that weekend was more than about me feeling like I was stuck in a rut; it was also the weekend I found out my good friend passed away…the day after I saw him for my birthday dinner. Even now, replaying the moment I heard the news still brings tears to my eyes. I still remember for my 26th birthday, he got to work early to blow up balloons and decorate my desk area to surprise me.
That was the kind of friend he was. He sat next to me for almost 2 years and kept me laughing and my spirits high every day that we worked together. When I moved into my first apartment alone, he gave me a really nice glass set. Till this day, it is still the glass set I drink from. It is so hard to explain what it feels like to see someone arriving on their customary motorcycle, to eat and laugh, to hug them good-bye…like you two have done for the last 5 years, only to find out that they got into a fatal motorcycle accident the next morning. As much as his friendship affected my life; his death affected it even more. Now more than before, I understood the meaning of cherishing every moment, appreciating every friendship, and most importantly to truly love living. It was at that moment, I knew I had to worry less about the future, enjoy the present, and pursue my daydreams even harder.
July 10, 2014: For the first time in my life, I stepped onto European soil. After a year of planning, saving, and daydreaming about the moment; it passes by in a blink of an eye. My best friend and I spent the next 2 weeks exploring Rome, Barcelona, and Madrid and it was a life changing experience; as most international travels always are. There is no way I can put into words what it feels like to walk down a cobblestone street listening to beautiful Italian accents, while enjoying an authentic gelato with my best friend, under a beautiful sun, with the iconic Roman Colosseum in sight. There is nothing as refreshing as “summer wine” in Madrid after a long, hot day or as delicious as spicy potato fritters at Bar Nuria (http://http://www.nuria.com/en/#_=_) while people watching in Barcelona. It is every bit as amazing as I had imagined it would be and exactly the break from my real life that I needed. If you are ever presented with the opportunity to travel internationally, do it!! It will bring more value to your life than any designer purse, spa day, or luxury car that will only depreciate over time. Traveling opens your eyes to sights not seen on tv and enlightens your soul, like few other things in this world can.
July 26, 2014: I had fallen in love/in lust with a married man. In life you always say there are certain things you will never do, certain lines you will never cross but the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that list gets shorter and shorter as I continue to break all the imaginary “rules” I laid out for myself. We spent all day at the beach and it was like a scene from a movie. A wonderful, sweet, sappy, and romantic movie. We laid out on the beach, frolicked among the waves, and kissed on the shoreline as the waves crashed against our laps.
Some people are in your life for a reason and he helped to remind me of what amazing chemistry felt like, what passion and love could be like…with the right person. He wasn’t the “right” person, but when he touched me, it felt like magic. When he kissed me and made love to me, I thought of nothing and no one else. We were both so deprived of intimacy, that we poured all of that need into each other. I had more orgasms in the few months I was with him, then I did in the year before I met him. He looked at me and I felt beautiful. When I had a bad day, he would make a point to send me funny videos. When I got discouraged, he would push and motivate me. He always believed that I would go on to do bigger and better things, sometimes more than I did. In the shortest time, he somehow colored my world more than he will ever know.
October 1, 2014: I found out I didn’t get the promotion at work. I was beyond insulted and thought I was more qualified than some of the others who got the promotion. I didn’t know it at the time, but this event was the main catalyst that would propel me to start looking outside my comfort zone. Looking back, I am so thankful that I didn’t get this promotion because if I did, I would have stayed in the same city I grew up in, surrounded by my family and friends, and my life would have completely taken another path than the journey I am on now.
October 27, 2014: The day that changed my life forever and I hated him. I wished he would get hit by a semi-truck and be forever paralyzed from the neck down. If my life were a reality show; this episode would be the season finale. I became every single crazy woman stereotype and continued breaking all of my “rules”. Catch him in multiple lies and stay with him – check. Catch him cheating and stay with him – check. Allow yourself to be in a love triangle and stay with him – check. Drive over to his house banging on the door and screaming at the top of your lungs at 2 in the morning – check. Try to get your roommate and 4 of his big friends to threaten the guy – check. Ask your pregnant sister if you could please have some of her urine so you can pretend to be pregnant – check. Out of every dark storm, there is a silver lining and my sanity was saved by the most unlikeliest person. “The other woman” made me a stronger person; she became my support group when I felt like I had no one else who could understand me. Despite all the hurt and anger, we became friends as he becomes a distant memory. Some days it is still a struggle to not think of him and as I feel that dark anger and sadness start to engulf me, she reminds me….everything will be ok, everything will get better, and I am beautiful and amazing and loved. We still talk on a regular basis and I know that, even though the bonds that tie us together are dark and ugly, we will be friends for the rest of our lives.
November 17, 2014: I got the job! Everything happened in a whirlwind. Things were so bad at my last job that one day I went home and applied to 6 open positions. My best friend kept talking about the DC area and out of desperation, I just happened to apply to 2 jobs in the DC area that I found through LinkedIn. I got a phone interview that Thursday and an in person interview the following Monday. I walked into the firm and it felt like home; like I belonged there. I came home after the interview and told my roommate that the job was made for me and I don’t know who could have been more of a better candidate. I logged into my email to write out a thank you letter and had an offer waiting for me…4 hours after I had left my interview. Three weeks later, I moved to an unfamiliar city where I barely knew anyone and just prayed that I had made a good decision and that this move was for the best. Two months later, and I am happy to proclaim that this was the best decision I have ever made for myself.
February 14, 2015: I had a great Valentine’s Day. To think that just a year ago, I was dreading Valentine’s Day. I was getting over a cold at the same time that I was getting over my relationship. I woke up to a card, chocolates, and cough drops. Fast forward a year and I am enjoying Spanish tapas and refreshing sangrias, with one of the sweetest and most understanding guys I’ve ever met. We are laughing, he’s speaking Spanish to me, I am watching the snow falling outside, and he’s rubbing my bare feet that fit so comfortably on his lap. He knows parts of me that are dark, sees the tension that these secrets bring to me, and accepts me and my baggage wholeheartedly. He kisses me, touches me, and all the anger of the last 5 months slips away. I am still learning what his purpose in my life is, but he is giving me something to believe in again.
February 16, 2015: I am free. I love my new job. I love my new city. I am starting to love my body again. I have two international trips planned. My writer’s block has finally been lifted and I’m writing again. At this moment, all seems right in my life and I could not ask for anything more. I am happier than I have been in a long time.
For some people “will you marry me”
Is not a virgin term that escapes from their lips.
It serves to be only the tip
Of the matter that leads to disaster
And they wonder why, you wonder if
“I love you” is just a script
That seems so easily to drip from their lips.
For some people there is no “one and only”
Forever only you will hold me
Forever and always is just a trick tease
That speeds up your heartbeat
And then passes by
Just like a quick breeze.
And they wonder why, you wonder if
This love for you will also soon cease.
There is that reality that before you
There was her.
There was laughing and kissing
That had his toes curling
And ears ringing
And it was her name he was singing
With praises so high.
Her shadow follows your every move
From the way you cook to the way you clean
To the words you say and
How your actions may seem
To be like hers
Or maybe nothing like hers
If it suits his mood.
This may be a good or bad thing
Depending on memories it may allude
Like the times he missed her so much
He could have cried
Or the way her hair fell in waves
Before it dried into
The strands of joy that would caress his face
In the same bed
That he invites you to share with him.
And in the quiet moments
I get to thinking
And all the ways he used to love her, sinks in
To my brain, my heart
And I can’t stop, once I start.
He used to kiss her lips with a fever
Erased all doubt from her mind
And made her a believer
Of his words, his touches…
And the ring on her finger
A memory that still lingers
In the box that I found near the bed
Leftovers from two people unwed.
And he wonders why, I wonder if
An ending between us could occur
When I don’t have to look far to see
That before me, there was her.
He sat down and I looked at his long blonde hair, blue eyes, tattooed skinny frame and I wanted him. I wanted him because deep down inside, I knew that he would never pick me…that we would never get far and that we would never be…anything more than that moment.
One thing lead to another…another text, another dinner, another kiss, another move that would make me more confused.
I left his place without a kiss, there were no further talks about a future date and I had that feeling that I would never see him again. I had already heard that silent, unspoken farewell before the door to his house had fully closed. That we ended before we really started…this was no surprise. What is surprising is that I actually cared. At the cusp of hello and goodbye, I started to “like” this most unlikely companion. He was “jagged”…the rough edge to my conservative, straight laced figure that I put out to the public. I started to imagine nights filled with mixed drinks, lazy cable watching and whether I could handle this mixture of a man that could leave me at a loss for words. I started to wonder whether his beautiful smile would be enough for me to want to pursue a life of unfamiliarity and whether I would let him lead me to the cliff that I needed to jump off of, to learn more about myself.
He was a man that could make me question where I stood. A man that could make me picture bike riding till the sun went down. A man who knew the exact spot to kiss on my neck until I moaned for more. A man who knew how to hold me without causing the fear of suffocation. A man who knew how to cook me breakfast without pleading for more of my time. A man who was carefree and content and who I wished would teach me how to be the same way.
Unfortunately, he let me go too easily. Unfortunately, I let him.
As this summer draws to an end, others will think of bar-b-ques and poolside drinks and sand in between their toes. I will only think of him and the taste of lemon and grape popsicles melted on my tongue. I still remember when my friend first bought them for me. I did not put popsicles on my grocery list, but she told me, “you are gonna be so glad to have them on a hot summer day.” Little did I know how right she would be. Indirectly, I have her to thank for sticky sheets and sweaty thighs and satisfied smiles…as I strolled into work late with my purple tongue as a reminder of what he tasted like.
He was the grounds keeper for the apartment complex. I was the sexy, single female who liked to water the plants on my balcony with nothing but my t-shirt and panties on…and sometimes with a lucky frozen fruit bar in my mouth.
It started with a favor on how to care for my plants. It ended with the taste of lemon and grape intertwined with each breath I took and every moan I released. I sucked on the tip of a frozen treat as he sucked on my nipples…until they stood erect like brown pyramids against the sandy desert of my skin. He used his tongue to taste me from my chest down to my navel, as I used mine to lick the juice dripping down the sides of the popsicle, like it was the sweat rolling down his abs.
He buried his head in between my thighs and proceeded to do a taste test of the pussy that was spread out before him. With the flat part of his tongue he stroked the entire length of my cleft. He sucked on my plump pussy lips till my thighs shook from the pleasure. He licked the juices flowing out of me like nectar from a flower, as I licked the melted sweetness dripping down my hands. He suckled and slurped me as if I tasted like the frozen lemon drop he finished minutes before he undressed me.
I fed him pussy with each thrust of my hip and he took in mouthful after mouthful. I tried to finish my frozen fruit bar before he finished me but I could no longer concentrate on the sticky sweetness which had melted all over my hands and mouth. He stroked my insides with his fingers as he sucked on my clit until I screamed out his name and begged him to stop.
As my pussy continued to pulsate, he kissed me with lips overworked from natural desires. He tasted of my orgasm mixed with a lemon tongue and I tasted of grape soda. His tongue was hot from my heat and I tried to cool it off with a tongue drenched in a frozen treat.
And so my summer began with the taste of lemon and grape. And in this way, it continued on… as I bought lemonade and grape frozen fruit bars, 2 and 3 boxes at a time. This past summer sure was a hot one …thank goodness for frozen popsicle treats.
She picks up her pencil and starts to take notes. She looks around the room at unfamiliar faces…younger faces…and struggles to pay attention as the professor lectures on, in a language that is natively, not her own.
After escaping a war-torn country, adapting to a new culture, raising 5 children into adulthood, and working the last 15 years on the assembly line level of a company that does not realize her worth…she finally decided to pursue her own dreams.
She spent the last 2 years writing a memoir, with only the hopes and dreams that the outside world would value her struggles as much as she did. At the beginning of this year, she sent off numerous manuscripts, with only a simple prayer. Her hopes and dreams became a reality when among the numerous “nos”, one publishing company finally said “yes.” Only in her dreams did she imagine that her memoir would not only be published, but that she would be asked to do a book signing, and that there would already be a pre-order of 1,000 books.
Today she is making another dream a reality. While others were getting teary eyed wishing their kids off to school…I was getting teary eyed wishing my mother “good luck” on her first day back at school…in 39 years!! She is 54 years old and starting Adult Education Classes at the 5th grade level…and I have never been more proud of her.
She has taught me a lot of life lessons, including the fact that…it is never to late to pursue your dreams and sometimes dreams really do come true!
For more on her story: My Mother, My Hero
Sometimes it seems as though you always run into certain people at certain places…whether it’s at the mall, the gym, or at Wal-Mart. For me and him, it was always the gas station. It’s moments like this when I wonder about the circumstance of coincidence or if there really is a thing such as fate.
We locked eyes and I immediately smiled. We had a brief summer fling before my first year of law school and have maintained a sense of mutual respect ever sense.
“You look good!” he said. “You look different. You colored your hair…you lost some weight…”
I just smiled and said, “yes.”
He looked the same. Tall and lean. Jet black hair. Golden skin. The prettiest turquoise eyes I’ve ever seen.
“You look happy,” he said.
“I am,” I replied.
“Good for you,” he said, with a simple nod.
We just stood there, eyeing each other and smiling…both of us carrying silly little grins. Then we both just burst out laughing. Yea…it was one of those moments. I couldn’t remember the last time I was this at ease and giddy at the same time.
“Sorry,” he said. “Damn, you just look really good. I know I just said that like 5 times, but I don’t know what else to say.”
I blushed like a school girl.
After a few seconds of stalling, he looked off to the side and somberly said, “I’m getting married next month.”
“I know,” I said. “Congratulations.”
In those 60 seconds, the mood had changed. Before anything else could be said, I asked for a hug and said that I needed to be on my way. He came over to my car and gave me one of those intimate hugs, where you can feel every muscle and every breath he takes. There was no space between his chest and mine.
“It could’ve been you,” he said. Then he kissed me on the forehead, took a deep breath, released me, and walked to his car. It was like a scene from a movie. Out of all the movie scenes in the world, why was I stuck with this sad one.
In that split second, something came over me. It was like ksoranna took over…my ego that was irrational, emotionally driven and too brazen for her own good.
“Wait!” I yelled and ran to him…straight into his arms. Not only did he accept my embrace…he lifted me up to meet his face. Our lips met and we kissed.
In the middle of the gas station…me in my late 20s…he in his mid 30s…like high school sweethearts saying good-bye…we kissed. My arms wrapped around his neck, legs wrapped around his back…his arms holding me steady…we kissed. Unaware of the stares, unaware of the heat, unaware of the time and place…we kissed. Like the memory of his lips hadn’t been absent from mine, for the last 6 years…we kissed.
As suddenly as it started, it stopped. He gently held me as I rested my head in the crook of his neck, one last time. The look on his face, once he released me…was it anguish, regret, guilt??
“Do me a favor,” he stated. “Please delete me from your Facebook and erase my number.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I can’t bear to do it and you are stronger than me,” he said.
A few seconds later…the exchange of “good-byes” and “take cares.” I knew that the next time I saw him, if I even would see him again, he would be a married man.
I drove off. “It could’ve have been you” repeated over and over in my head. I don’t know what I felt. It wasn’t guilt…it wasn’t even sadness. More like that dreadful acceptance that everyone else around me was moving on and starting new lives and new families…while I was still stuck in park.
I pulled my car over to the side of the road and like another sad movie scene, I put my head in my hands and cried.
NOTE TO ANY MAN I DATE IN THE FUTURE: You must be willing to leave your uneaten food at the table, walk to the car parked a few blocks away, to go get your phone charger, so that you can take pictures of me, if that is my desire. Yes…my pedestal for what I expect out of my future man has risen even higher! But don’t blame me…blame him.
The him that causes me to smile that comfortable, easy smile, shared between friends and past lovers. The him that can pull off a hot pink dress shirt, brown slacks, and brown and pink matching socks to complete the outfit. He looked good.
We argued on the way to the restaurant because he was late, had no idea where he was going, and I was hungry. After 7 years, some things never change. We talked, we laughed, we took pictures and teased each other about who was the more conceited one out of the two of us. After looking through the pics on his phone, the evidence was clear that it was him.
We don’t always get along and barely agree on anything, but for some reason we have remained in each other’s lives, despite a short-lived romance that was more down than up. We don’t have much in common, don’t share the same circle of friends, and haven’t even made time to see each other, yet for some reason I know his number will never be deleted from my phone. My friends sometimes wonder why I put up with his snarky remarks and uncensored comments. It’s for the same reason I still am close with my high school friends, still keep in touch with folks from college…I like having someone in my life who can appreciate the woman I have become, because they once knew the girl I was. He is one of the few guys out there, who knows how I voted during the presidential election of 2004, who knows what I looked like in pictures that I have long since deleted from Facebook, and who will proudly acknowledge my success because he once helped me complete homework assignments.
He has a good head on his shoulder and a good heart. Someday he will learn to love a woman who will put up with his weird disdain for water, Michael Jackson obsession, and conceited mirror loving ways. If they are blessed enough to have children, he will be the most devoted and loving father. That wife and mother won’t be me…but it was nice to know, that at one time it could have been.
We haven’t spoken since that dinner and he is moving to Atlanta, Georgia…this time for the right reasons. If our history is any indication, it will be months, maybe years before we speak or ever see each other again. But the last text he sent me said, “If my wife doesn’t mind, you will be invited to my wedding.” I will take that, as an early invitation. Until then, good-bye for now and take care.
Waves and tides are like the heartbeat of the ocean,
So the rivers, lakes and streams must be its bloodline.
How ironic is it, that you took your last breath among the waves.
They say we are made of dirt and so to dirt we shall return,
Yet are we not about 75% water and is it not water that must sustain us.
So if we are made of water, thus it is only right that to water we shall return
As you two did…
Death does not take only the dying.
Sometimes it takes the living, those very happy, those on the brink of their dreams, and yes, even those very young.
In life there are seasons
And everything does happen for a reason,
But it is only the living and the loved ones left behind
That can’t comprehend the “why.”
You two were loved beyond any words that could ever be expressed.
The church was standing room only.
Family and friends came from all over the state.
People sung songs, girls were bows in their hair in your remembrance, and memories were shared.
Your lives were short but your impact on others was strong.
You took your last breath among the waves
And you were buried below tear soaked flowers.
Best friends and cousins…together at the end…forever.
The fear of drowning is one of the most paralyzing fears in the human mind.
But I sometimes wonder, if after all the struggle
There’s a sense of peace at the end.
And I wonder if, before you closed your eyes forever,
The view was as beautiful as this…
RIP H’Katherine and John.
“All rivers, even the most dazzling, even those that catch the sun in their course…all rivers go down to the ocean and drown. And life awaits us, as the sea awaits the river.” – Simone Schwarz-Bart
For more information on the tragedy,visit:
Ksoranna…you need to get shit done today…and tomorrow…and the day after that!!!! You cannot sit around on your ass every day and eat sweets and read vampire romance novels and watch Korean Dramas and day dream about Jeremy Lin and sexy ass Korean men that you will never meet. And stop blogging…I mean seriously…you already have like 5 freaking blogs. And stop buying plants…you already have like 9 potted plants…pretty soon your balcony will look like a poor man’s jungle. Get your shit together woman!!! REMEMBER….
Wow…what an awesome motivational speaker I am to myself. I can’t believe that actually worked.
30 MINUTES LATER….
What the hell…this shit is too stressful…I can’t do this shit anymore…my brain hurts…I am just going to take a small break to clear my head so I can come back in 20 minutes and be more productive.
My “20 minute” break:
damn my house is dirty…
OMG…I am sooo hungry…must eat…
and then…. and then…
and then…OMG…Jeremy Lin…
and then OMG…I’m hungry again!!!
and then dancing around while listening to BigBang…
and then watching Kdrama…
…and then crying my eyes out because it was so sad
8 HOURS LATER…
Damn it! I’m exhausted and I need to go to sleep. Didn’t get any shit done today…again…for like the 5th day in a row.
Tomorrow I will try this method….I wonder if it will make a difference…or will I just watch Kdramas with my one eye…