When I Was Without Women

26 Mar

Firstly, I hope you can come see me and some splendiferous writers read in Indy tonight at Vouched Presents:Ling, Pritts, Harriell, Ford, and Blanchard. We’ll be reading at 7:00 PM in Big Car Gallery. I’d love to see you there.

This is a really exciting time in my life. Headed toward graduation, writing better and more often, working two jobs I love. Feeling useful feeling loved feeling nice. Elysia and I will be moving into a beautiful (my goodness–TRULY beautiful) apartment together this summer. My family is doing well. I am completely engaged in my life. Over the past six months or so, I’ve dealt with some tough things, yes, but I’ve never doubted my ability to handle any situation I was in. I’ve felt supported, even protected from the thought that if I should fail in any way, there would be no way back. I often wonder what’s changed for me that I feel closer to complete in a way I haven’t most of my life.

I think it’s the women.

I’ve never been the “girl who doesn’t get along with girls”, but I have been the girl who just couldn’t seem to relate. From a very young age I learned to get along with girls without actually having to talk to them. Most of the girls I grew up with had been taught to talk about pretty much three things: boys, beauty, and braids (well, hair, but every little black girl had braids it seemed). Clothes were of little concern to me. I NEVER had braids (scandalous!). I had a few big crushes, but even then, I crushed so intensely that unlike other girls who had a different crush every week, I crushed on one boy for an entire year, an eternity in kid time. Which makes sense because I’m the same way as an adult. I just can’t stop loving you. RIP MJ. (Our n*gga dead!)

I suppose from a young age I felt like women were constantly judging me. My mother, my grandmother, my aunts, cousins, teachers, etc. I felt I had to be someone else around women, someone I wasn’t comfortable being. Someone I had to force myself to be. To be fair, there weren’t a lot of men around to be judgmental. Still, that mess was exhausting. And so boring. So it became that I would seek out few women to spend a significant amount of time with out of fear of being shamed. Most of my friends were male. Nerds, but still male. Boys who let me be exactly who I was and didn’t try to change me. I was obviously weird, but so were they. So we were weird together and dug for worms and threw rocks at the mouths of people who made fun of our round wire-rimmed glasses or our shoes from K-Mart.

We don’t play on the streets.

As I got older, my need for females friends my own age became a hungry thing. Although, my guy friends and I were still tight, I was dealing with things internally I knew they just couldn’t understand, and I couldn’t talk to my mom about them. Everything changed my freshman year of high school. That was the year accidentally I stabbed a girl named Ashley in my Algebra class with a pencil. For the third time. It really was on accident. To this day, I don’t think she’s being completely honest with me when she says she never got mad about it. Anyway, I stabbed her and then she was my best friend. I’d had female best friends before, but only superficially. No real hanging out, speaking outside of school, or being particularly involved in one another’s lives. This is the way I preferred it.   Ashley is a woman, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, an athlete, an activist, and she just happens to be the love of my life. My whole life. Ashley is my soul mate. I don’t mind telling people that even when it sounds like I’m a creep who is not only announcing to the world she is her own soul mate, but also talks about herself in third person like a douche.

Ashley taught me how to be friends with a woman. A real friend, a good friend. She’s still teaching me. And it’s paying off. College has allowed me to come in contact with so many blooming women. We are all unfolding, becoming so much of everything we’ve always wanted to be: happy. I’m watching us all move closer, and my God, these women are catching me. They are watching and waving and sweeping me off my heels. I’m meeting them, speaking to them, falling in five kinds of love with them. I am a part of something with them. How could I not find joy in my life, when I am moving in time with these audacious and moving creatures?

I am still a woman with close male friends. Lots of them. Now, I am also a woman who found the beauty in simply being a woman.

Not that there is anything simple about it.

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2 Responses to “When I Was Without Women”

  1. Sunshinegrl March 28, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Ashley,
    This is truly beautiful and uplifting. It is wonderful to see such a young woman totally in touch with herself and her womanhood. I am thankful that you and Elysia will be roomies next year…you will be a great support for her.

  2. Lindsey.p.LaVal March 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    AWE-SHUCKS!

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