andrea gibson quote hand written on vintage paper

Speaking my truth through spoken word

In my last post, I spoke of not yet having the words to write the story of what has most certainly been the most challenging period of my life. I found them. Mostly in the form of a spoken word poem. But before I share that, lemme give you a lil bit of backstory.

So I’ve got this friend that I’ve known for like…. 7 years now or some shit. I met him when we were living on the gulf coast of Florida. I took the first photos of his little girl, while she was still in her mama’s belly. Mama and I started to hang, but something just felt “off” about her.

There was this nagging feeling in my gut… my kid didn’t like her, my sweet Luna dog would growl at her… but there wasn’t yet any evidence to confirm my household’s universal gut feeling. Fast forward a little while to their breakup, and needless to say, the way she behaved was all the confirmation I needed… and obviously, he got my friendship when they split.

Eventually circumstances took my family and I out of Florida, but thanks to social media and constant connectivity, our friendship continued to grow.

Less than a year after we left, a job offer brought us back to Florida again, this time just outside of Orlando. We hadn’t spoken in awhile, and when we finally got back in touch with one another, as it turns out, he too had moved to Central Florida. We started hanging out again. He’d stop by after work for a beer, bring his little girl over on the weekends to play with our kiddos… and we kept growing closer.

After a few years in the Orlando area, in the fall of 2016, we moved to Georgia. That October, while on a business trip, a piece of hotel ceiling fell on C’s head. And slowly, our lives began to unravel. Head injury, neck injury, emergency brain surgery… these were only the beginning of our 17 month long (and still counting) nightmare.

Baby mama drama

Around the same time, my friend… well… his life began unraveling too. First a breakup that broke his heart, and then some baby mama drama that no human being should ever be subjected to.

She managed to outdo even my wildest expectations of what she was capable of. In retrospect, of course my dog growled at her.

He hasn’t seen his little girl in over 7 months, and just before a court date that was going to cut her child support by more than 50%, she starts the first of what now total 4… DCF investigations.

I’d like to state for the record, I do not know a better father. I don’t know if I know a better man.

The first 3 investigations were closed nearly as quickly as they were opened. This last one happened about a week ago. And then just a few days ago, she took it upon herself to message all of his friends and family telling them he is a child molester. His little girl must be so heartbroken. Unstable, is an understatement when speaking of her mother. Her daddy was her rock and she hasn’t seen him in more than 7 months.

I’m getting somewhere with all of this, I promise.

So over the course of the last year and a half of the trash fire that has been both of our lives, we have grown even closer. Too many late night texts and long phone conversations to count… we have become the very best of friends.

For more than a year and a half we’ve been supporting each other through only our smartphones. For more than a year and a half now we have trudged through our continually unfolding traumas together; crying on the phone when we reach the end of our ropes, brightening each other’s mornings with cute messenger stickers, sending each other off to dream land with similarly adorable stickers involving images like sweet cartoon bears lounging on crescent moons.

And when too many stickers are missed, too many messages go unread, we call to check in. To be sure the other one is still here surviving this shit… staying on this side of that dark line.

Through our own personal darkness, we remind each other that we are survivors… and that no matter what the universe throws our way, we’ve gotta hang on to our hearts. No matter how much we hurt, we have to show up each day and keep putting love out into the world.

“Everyone’s survival looks a little bit like death sometimes.”
-Andrea Gibson

 

And slowly, but surely, things are getting better.
I can see my own shadow again, so that must mean there’s finally light.
My spark is coming back, I can see it in my eyes.

I’m even creating.

I think I’ve rambled enough… Now it’s time to share with you the first thing I’ve created in too many months.

Have you ever cared for someone so much that you could physically feel their pain? His heartache is my heartache, and my heartache is his. This poem is a tribute to the hug we waited so very long to give each other.

The Art of Time Travel

We pulled up, and there you were just leaning against your truck. And I jumped out the passenger side of the kind of still probably moving a little too much to really be tryna’ jump out of it van… And I ran to you. Remember that?

And with the energy of a caged bird finally feeling the wind beneath it’s wings,
I flew into your arms.
Your beard soft against my cheek.
My face cuddled into your chest, searching for a place to rest,
finding a home in the sound of your beating heart.

You know, the electromagnetic energy of the heart is the greatest of all the organs?
The energy of our brains can’t hold a candle to the 100xs the strength of our love.
And did you know that we got machines that can detect it…
up to 3 feet any which way, from our bodies?
And did you know, when people who care for each other find themselves in close proximity, a transference of this heart energy occurs?

Baby, that hug. That moment. All the affection. Our undeniable connection… goes so far beyond words.

But wait, I got more to say.

I never waited for anything as long in my entire life, as I waited for that hug.
And when you called that day, I could hear your strength fading.
Felt an actual tug in my chest.
My heart trying to escape the cage of my ribs, my breath

Just to reach you.

And the very next day I crowd funded that trip halfway across the universe.
Ok.. so maybe it was more like 889 miles.
But with 3 kids, 2 still in 5 point harnesses, and one that suffers some serious car sickness…

I traveled the world for you.

Remember how this whole conversation started in the first place?
You were having girlfriend drama that ended in you no longer having a girlfriend.
You thought you were in love.
Your heart was breaking, leaving the space in your chest physically aching.
When you messaged me saying… you needed “one of my hugs”.

Yeah, I know, I give really fantastic hugs.

Not those suburban white girl hugs, that include as little contact of body or soul as possible to include, and still somehow manage to fall into the ‘hug’ category

No. My hugs have more presence than battle rappers have stage presence.
More heart than… I don’t know… some shit that’s got a lotta heart.
I’d drop some analogy here for the sake of stronger poetry but if I’m gonna get real with myself… I can’t think of anything, honestly… with more heart than my hugs.

Your hugs too.
Yeah, we are both really fuckin’ good at this whole hugging game.

And you needed me.
Problem was, we didn’t live in the same state anymore.
So through talk and text, we made the best of what was left to us.
And I held the line…
I stood by your side as you worked your way through an ending you didn’t see coming.­­

But it wasn’t long until the tables turned and I needed you. I needed that hug like I needed… well… you.

The sky falling… or that piece of hotel ceiling anyhow.. the business trip that turned my family inside out.
The head injury. The neck injury. The brain surgery. The tragedy that is Worker’s Compensation.
Then joblessness. Then Homelessness.

The unfortunate circumstances that brought me to the doorstep of a mother that had orphaned me years ago.

And as my life fell apart piece by piece, you were there.
Through talk. And text.

All the while your life was falling to pieces too. Your baby mama drama game is strong.. that chick be an evil one.
But that’s probably a story for another poem, I’ll just leave it at…
I’d like to kick that bitch right in the cunt that she is.
And I don’t give a single fuck how anti-feminist I just sounded.
That hoe got some screws loose.

For a year and a half this shit unfolded.
And the promise of that hug molded our survival.
And through the dark night of our souls…
The hardest year we had yet known,
we became the best…
the very best of friends.

Smartphones turned lifelines
Each other’s numbers nearly memorized—who even does that anymore?
All the miles between us… meaningless
As we taught ourselves the art of time travel
To hold each other’s hand.
To dry each other’s tears.
To bear witness.
To say I see you.
I see you there.
And you are nothing short.. of perfect.
A whole lotta heart and a little bit a hood
You bad ass mother fucker you,
I see your survival.
And you are doing.. so…so good.

Then there was that night in Austin…
I was on the bathroom floor, curled into a ball.
Filled with a grade school kind of scared, afraid to so much as cough…
Surviving an active shooter drill that wasn’t a drill at all, I texted you my SOS.
Tried calmly to express to you… the gravity of the situation.

In tears, I fumbled desperately for the words…
Fishing in the bone dry well of my breaking heart…  hoping to catch the big one
…trying to craft some narrative of what I had surely done so wrong..
…the reason he started raging in the first place.

Searching for some way to explain, why I’m asking you yet again, to bear witness to a story that by now had become so unfortunately normal.

You held steady on the line, the calm in the eye of my storm.
Then you flipped on the news to check the weather… told me the forecaster said, ‘If I wanna live, I better run.’

And for the 656 thousandth time in a year and four months…
you promised me that hug.
And I promised you that I really, really, really was… gonna stay gone this time.

Good news.

We kept our promises.

Two months and 889 miles past that night in Austin, we found each other again.

Two months and 889 miles later, we fell head over heels into the healing of our wounded hearts. Realized we were cut from the same cloth and we needed so much to sew our broken parts back together.

Two months and 889 miles later, we’re standing on the edge of forever, dangling a foot into our darkness, safe in the knowing that falling only leaves us floating… together… in a vast expanse of stars.