2. On What to Want (Metamorphosis 5) [365 project]

I think that, if I don’t get this right, if I keep this up, I won’t get married until I’m 60. At the earliest. If I don’t figure out what good sex is and if I don’t get the urge to have good sex, it’ll just be one of those things I can claim to have lost but, you know, it was never really there. And if I don’t figure out how to let someone love me without guiding them to love me, I won’t ever feel the level of fulfillment that I both expect and need. Which is to say: if I maneuver people away from the rough spots of dry,ashy skin; away from my uncombed hair in the morning; away from the secrets that line my veins. If I misdirect them to the small chest of Things I Can Be instead of carrying them to the trunk of What I Am, I will constantly have to curb myself with my own hands.

I think that, if I didn’t feel like beauty was an attainable thing that maybe I could feel the spirit of the universe inside of me and I wouldn’t have to try, I would just be beauty. And maybe, if people stopped writing articles about why Black women are objectively the least attractive; and why Black women can’t seem to find husbands; and why there is something pervasively wrong in the Black community that leaves us with single parent homes and lives stripped of love, then I would feel like I have a chance. That we all have a chance. I could put the meaning of love within the context of love and wouldn’t have to handle all of the variables that determine the kind of intimacy I’m allowed to have.

Because what I am is a young woman poisoned by heartsickness. I don’t know if it’s something you can die from but I know, if left untreated, it will douse the fire that has told me to keep going. And I know that heartsickness has a way of making mornings and evenings — the equal creases of the day — awfully difficult to deal with. And that’s because I know both of those times motivate me: morning, to see life through; evening, the desire to see life again. And sometimes, it gets lonely, you know? Sometimes you just want to see it with someone else, through someone else. Sometimes love acts as the only motivation.

Anyway, I have to get this right. I have to get it right because I am imperfect. I’m imperfect and I realize it and it means something. I have to figure out how to be embarrassingly honest with someone I can grow to love. I’ve got to let the hard parts shine. There are a lot of those. I’ve got to be unafraid of someone leaving and taking a part of me with them. I have to accept that people we don’t want to be without will leave us at inopportune times and infect us with lovesickness. And that’s okay.

I just don’t want to be 60 and looking back on my life saying I never loved enough and no one loved me and that I gave up because after awhile, spilling my pain all over New York city left puddles of sorrow in every sewer. I don’t want to be 60, or 70, or 80 and look back and say anything but: what beauty can I breathe now?


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