Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Life: The Beautiful Struggle (Momentary PR Interruption)

You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time - you are fierce with reality.
~Florida Scott-Maxwell

There is more here than meets the eye. ~ Lady Murasaki

I met a man today. An interesting man; an unapologetically candid and real and visibly wounded man. He took my order at the cafĂ© I’d settled into this afternoon, when I was in search of soup and a salad. As usual, he asked my name, as to associate it with my order. I told him. He stared at me.

“No. My name is yours as well. How did a woman get such a name? Where are you from?”

By rote, I rattled off the brief history of me and my namesake - which was bestowed upon me by my elusive Pops. My father, whom I could label as many things – brilliant, selfish, creative, womanizer, dope-addicted, unconventional, stubborn, talented, self-destructive – and most of all, absent – though to this day, I secretly applaud him for ensuring that as his first-born daughter, I would enter this world stamped with uniqueness.

But back to Jamal. (Him, not I.)

As we chatted over my food transaction, I learned Jamal was Pakistani and his father was a cook. We’d both lived in Maryland for a time – strangely, in the same city, around the same time. We jokingly claimed to be distantly related, and simultaneously pulled out our government issued identifications, then marveled that our names were the same, no variation in spelling.

He also wore a patch over his left eye. In his driver’s license picture, and today.

“So what happened to your eye?” I asked.

He laughed. “Wow, you’re brave. Most people want to ignore it, pretend it's not there; don’t even ask…”

“Well...What happened?”

“I tried to kill myself,” he answered plainly and without hesitation.

“Really. How?”

“February 22nd, 1997. I was in college and drinking with friends and I downed two twelve packs of beer before hitting the bar..then did a line of shots at the local pub until we got kicked out and I was so wasted on the way home that I drove myself into a tree and then into a light pole and cracked my skull in three places and my eye was gouged by a piece of metal… (he pulled off his cap; showed me the scars on his head)…I’d drank myself to a 3.8 alcohol limit and was in a coma for a month and my brain actually seeped out of my skull and it took more than a few operations before the swelling went down. They thought I was dead…but here I am. And not a day goes by that I don't remember it all.”

I took a second to absorb the story, then said: “Wow. You must have been in a lot of pain...”

“It took about six months to recover..”

“No, not after the accident. Before.”

He looked at me thoughtfully, then said: “You know people always remind me how stupid I was or how could I do that or what were you thinking and you’re lucky to be alive. You are the first person to even acknowledge there’s more to that story. And it’s true. My emotional pain is what led to the physical ones..”

“Well, I’ve learned to look beyond the obvious…and trust, I can recognize pain. I can see underneath,” I half-laughed, as he handed me my change.

He held my hand as I reached for the remaining dollas. “Thank you for listening. I’m honored.”

“Thank you for sharing.” I took my receipt and turned to walk away.

“You have wounds of your own, I can tell.”

“Very good, but yo - we’re holding up the line,” I sidestepped. People behind me were hungry and didn’t give a shit….

“I’m due for my break,” he offered; slamming the register shut.

“I’ll be on the patio.”

And 10 minutes later, he met me there. And we had real conversation. No bullshit, no trivia, no minutia, no whoring off the minutes of God’s creation; but the kind of conversation one could have with a perfect stranger; that was more frank and connected and forthright than with people you'd known your entire life. Free-flowing and unselfish and spontaneous and real.

He studied me. Asked about the tattoo on my foot. "Now see," I told him – "that’s a very long story."

“Please. It's your story. I want to hear it.”

I did my best to keeep it short: My mommy whom I cherished and loved endlessly, who was so very beautiful and at the same time in so much pain and couldn’t find a way to heal all the things that had happened to her in life, and she smiled silently and struggled ten years before dying too young to The Cancer, and then exactly one year later my baby sister was shot in the head by her boyfriend who didn’t appreciate her being six months pregnant with their child, and after losing the both of them I kinda lost my mind and wanted very much to die and like you, was on the way to killing myself via irresponsible subtle suicide but when I miraculously didn’t, I tattooed myself to anchor me back down to the earth as a reminder to never forget yet still have hope for the future. And some days, I still wonder….

And he looked at me and said: I understand.

And I thanked him. For listening.

And he thanked me. For sharing.

And I came home and started thinking about life wounds and battle scars.

About the events in our lives, determined by destiny (or in our minds, damnation), those things that test and grind and break and shatter us and slit us open ‘till our guts hang out; but miraculously for some unknown reason, don’t kill us - the events that become the fabric of who We Are. The shit that, somewhere down the line (maybe waaaay far), helps the flowers bloom. Most of us wear our wounds, (and keep our stories) on the inside. Most times there is no eye patch or tattoo or visible scar to announce to the world: Something happened here.

So I wanna thank Jamal. A man with the same name from across the ocean, who by a chance/destined meeting (?) shared an hour or so of a sunny LA afternoon as we explained and honored our “scars for freedom,” who reminded me that we need to claim who we were and who we are, and the bridge between the two. We need to own ourselves and our entire stories (as individuals, and as a people): plainly, blatantly, humbly, unapologetically, proudly.

We all got a story. We all have wounds and triumphs, beautiful painful redeeming realities, that need to be accepted and acknowledged and shared. Don't hold them in. Write them. Speak them. Shout them. Embrace them...I applaud you.

And maybe these thoughts are just the writer in me. But I think it’s the humanity in us all.

So, thank ya’ll for listening. I'm honored. I’ll be back with the silliness shortly.

The spiritual journey is one of continuously falling on your face, getting up, brushing yourself off, looking sheepishly at God, and taking another step.
~ Aurobindo

If you don't tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about anyone else.
~ Virginia Woolf

It is tragic that some gifts have to be made so costly.
~ Berta Damon

Be blessed, Blogger Fam. Don’t ever hesitate to tell your story. Care to share any of your "something happened here" moments?


bunny said...

Damn Supa how awesome was that meeting? Destiny for sure and I'm also honored for you sharing your story(ies) with me/us out here.

If you don't tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about anyone else.
~ Virginia Woolf

I'm going to remember this!!

Anonymous said...

beautifully stated...

onecoolhoney said...

That was simply beautiful, J. The eloquence in the telling of it is remarkably, uniquely, and exquisitely you in all your gifted splendor...which is why I am so anxiously anticipating your next move on this fork we've reached. Mine drops today, but I still don't think you'll be able to ... uh, check IMs!!

Brave Lurker said...

Continue on your path Supa . . . you're inspiring a lot of us through your carthartic experience. Stay in grace . . .

1969 said...

Beautifully written Supa.

I shared my story on my Blog...titled "In My Mind"

Do you ever think that sometimes when you have these chance encounters with a stranger that you have just met God? I wonder about this.

Diva (in Demand) said...

Supa this was the best post I've ever read on any blog to date. It's simply amazing.

tjeanise said...

That was a very interesting story. Thanks for sharing.

Phat_In_Phoenix said...

I am feeling you on that for real! Excellent! I have a 'something happened here' moment. I think we all do. I've openly discussed it when the time presents itself and found that we all have a piece of God that we share as hope with others.

nikki said...

wow wow wow. i have to tell you this is the most moving entry i've read in months. something in me shifted as i finished this story and my heart became light after the burden was removed from it. thank you for sharing this with us. i can't say anything else other than to let you know how much i truly appreciate it.

mrpunchcar said...

a 3.8 alcohol content? that's nothing, what a pussy! i'm at 4.0 as i type and drive right now! never had any use for anyone named jamal. hi jamal!

CeeCee said...

...See, that's why I come to your blog EVERYDAY. My eyes have welled up quite a few times, today is one of those times. I've been a lurker here and on a couple of the other WCBH pages for a while. I've never commented before, but have been tempted to many, many times. I guess this one pushed me over the edge. I truly enjoy reading your writings. Very well stated.

The Phoenix aka ThatGirlTam said...

Well written...this is a heartwarming post. Thank you for sharing with us.

Yanno, I've come to realize that even though we all have "a story", no matter how many times we tell it, the pain never REALLY goes away. I think I've told my story at least a few DOZEN times and I still hurt like the first time I told it.

My strength comes from my friends...my sistagurls.

Again, thank you for sharing.

@ Ceecee: girl you betta SPEAK UP!!! We wanna know who you are now! HAHAHAHA...

Anonymous said...

Lady J -

How beautiful:) I wish I allowed myself to think and feel more deeply more often.

@ 1969 Do you ever think that sometimes when you have these chance encounters with a stranger that you have just met God?

That's hot...never thought about it before.

Anonymous said...

You're getting stronger. Can u see it? I do....

African girl, American world said...

Jamal (you)..first of all I LOVE YOU!!!
Jamal (him) I LOVE YOU too.

Damn I love it when humans connect on such a level. I have had such encounters and they leave me SHOOK and then deliriuosly elated.

I didn't know the meaning of your tatoo....a beautiful thing.

I could go on and on but I know you know..

obifromsouthlondon said...

damn. sweetheart. this is a very moving post. things happen to us in life and we draw a line in the sand to move on. tatoo, scar, anything to reach closure. to make some sense of the senseless. to regain the will to live. God rest you peoples souls.

Remember my story brooklyn masala? it was true. perhaps thats "something happened here".

thanks for the awards nomination. got asked by the british library for permission to archive my blog. who is gonna read it in a hundred years time :)

Exhausted Spirit said...

Wonderful post! It's amazing how our lives can be enriched by the experiences of others!

Single Ma said...

So beautifully written. I've never met you, yet I can sense the loving, nurturing, positive energy you possess. You are one talented sista.

It is no coincidence that you and Jamal met, share a name and similar stories. When it can't be explained, it's a higher power at work.

Supa said...

I'm playing catch-up - first time logging on today!

Hey Blogger Fam - I'm thankful ya'll are too a witness to my journey...

@ Bunny: She white, but that chick Virgina Woolf was MAD deep!

@ Anonymous: Thank you.

@ Cool Honey: T - No words, mama. Thank you for being a true sistafriend, guide, and cheerleader. I'ma long on IM in a minute!! (don't hold me to it, tho..) lol

@ Brave: Thanks, sis. Girl, we've got to meet up! I heard your braids are supa dupa fly!

@ 1969 - I must tell you, you're one of my new fave blogs. "A chance meeting with God?" Wow. Gonna marinate on that for a minute....

@ Diva: :) So do you take it back that you called me a heffa!?! (inside joke) Tlol Keep being the diva you are.

@ Tjeanise: Thank you and welcome!

@ Phat in Phoenix: Chrissy YOU ARE MY GIRL!!! I'm still trying to respond to your last post, with your crazy ass! So glad we met up in Dallas. I'm still reading your chapters, but everyone this sis is a HELLUVA writer and storyteller!!!

Okay hold up, I gotta go potty...

Supa said...

Back, bitchez. (ya'll know I say that with love and respect) lol

@ Nikki: Sis, I can't even RECALL how many times your writing has moved me. The appreciation is mutual. Keep strivin, sis. We're ALL in the beautiful struggle. We gotta be thankful that we can right about it.

@ MRpunchcar: Skeezie. Go away and write. And stop texting me. And I love your stoopid ass. Meet me at Bryant Park, yo....frozen mojitos on me. :)

@ CeeCee - Welcome and a big thank you!! A lurker revealed, yay!!! Now don't stop, now that you're out of the closet! :) All my crew got madd skills, show 'em so love. :)

@ Phoenix: Well, Tammy Tam... Damn. You mean the pain NEVER goes away? Silly me/us. Guess we gotta keep lettin' it out....saw your Evite, I'ma pull it up, promise :)

@ Cocoa: Thanks, ma. So, did you and Zed elope, or what? (snicker)

@ Anonymous: I still feel as fragile as a new born baby. But maybe I do have my moments...more often.

@ Mwabs: I LOVE YOU BACK. True human connection, right? It's the only thing that makes the livin' easier. And I'm definitely gonna go back and share this post with Jamal - mos def!!!

@ Obs: Ahhh...you remind me. :) You know I loved that piece. Who'll read your blog in a hundred years??? You're etched in history, love! And I'll be reading, in a thousand years, from my distant star...

@ Exhuasted Spirit: You and me both! (referring to your blog name) One small step at a time, thx for your comment.

@ SingleMa: Girl. Ms. Fabulous...You already know we're sistas from anotha motha. I was/am drawn to your unique and special spirit as well...amazing how the blogworld has brought us all together, right! 10 years ago, none of us would have known the other existed. I'm gettin all melancholy. Damn (bless!) the full (fool) moon!!!

But really tho - I have to think that this Jamal came into my path for a reason. Male/female, Outward wounds/inside scars; it's as if we saw each other outside of ourselves...he wanted to make sure he knew MY story as I wanted to know his....the reciprocal exchange of information and energy...I've been feeling so drained by others lately...I am thankful for this experience..

Anonymous said...

Mwabi read this to me and Sis I wanna let you know that I am moved and plan on sharing this with my students. I want to show them the power in writing their thoughts down. Mwabi speaks very highly of you and I now see why.


Anonymous said...

Bushwick Bill said 'it's fucked up I had to lose an eye to see things clearly.'


Anonymous said...

No chick, no eloping por moi!

BoSoxQT said...

Okay, I have to do it. I wanted to let you know, I read your blog all the time, but I never post. I love the way you mix it up. I come away after reading your post either enligtened, laughing hysterically, or a little sad as I think about the curveballs life has thrown you, and how it forces me to reflect upon my own obstacles and tragedies. Usually a combination of the three. But this post brought me out of hiding. This is such a beautiful story, and the fact that you are a writer only enhanced it. I believe in destiny enough to know that this meeting was no accident. Something greater than all of us gives us opportunities to grow ourselvs and come to realizations throught the oddest of circumstances. Strangers are often the best listeners. They are objective and have no reasont to judge you. The simple exchange between two knowing souls has to power to move mountains. We ALL need these moments in our lives.

Reading this has me pondering all sorts of things. Why don't we have these conversations with those who know and love us? Is all the pain neccessary? Some yes, but there are times when one has to wonder. Just as your meeting with your namesake (and I love your name btw) was needed and destined, I wanted to let you know that reading this post feels that way to me. I don't want to think all of the time, but someone, somewhere, knew this is what I needed to read today.

Okay, I'm done now. Gushing, off.

Theresa (peachy0114) said...

omg!!! I often thought I was the only one who had a story until I started on this wonderful world of blogging. I swear reading blogs like this and writing if only for yourself is so therapeutic. Thank You Thank You Thank You J preciate it. Much Love from yo new sista. Oh yeah you can blam Tia its her blogs that got me hooked. lol Love ya girl....

Brave Lurker said...

Supa/Jamal, Girl, we've got to meet and chat sometime over cocktails (I know you're a vodka girl), so something strong. BTW, the braids are fly. Honey, so many men are flirting w/a sista that I'm toooooo feeling myself.

Phat_In_Phoenix said...

hey Supa...thanks for the support on my story.

It's my belief that we all serve as a season in the lives of those we meet. Some people are summer, some are winter, some are hurricanes & some only serve as a drizzle in the day. sounds like you were a sun amongst the clouds that may have been in Jamal's life or maybe he was a ray of light 4 u..only u & he knows.

I know there is much more to come from our season. I'm looking forward to it.

Peace & Blessings,


African girl, American world said...

damn phat_in_phoenix..you be breaking it down...
Some people are summer, some are winter, some are hurricanes & some only serve as a drizzle in the day.

Anonymous said...

your choice

Kasandra said...

Supa...I am a new reader and I have to say that this post was very deep. I enjoy your blog.

911 said...

Random conversation that's......I don't know uhm that deep and enthralling it seems even more otherworldly.....inspiring....1

Phat_In_Phoenix said...

@ mwabi...It's also good for us as humans to acknowledge who we are and what we represent to others as their season.


Knockout Zed said...

Believe it or not, the thing that struck me in this encounter was the message of patience. Every impossible, unthinkable, painful experience we have can be overcome with time. It might not be on OUR time, but it comes EVERYtime.

I proposed to CG, she just had other plans!


MzNewAgenda said...

wow that was a very thought provoking story

chica said...

This entry was awesome! Awesome I said! I came here from Single Ma. First time here, but you are bookmarked.

I agree with Cocoa's comment that referred 1969's comment. It does cause one to stop and reflect...

TooSerious said...

Supa, thank you for this post. It touched me and made me remember to love life and the struggles that get you to today.

This was my first time on your page (a friend sent a link) but it won't me my last.

Ja said...

Okay so I'm a little late and I'm just right down the 405 from you, or as my grandmother used to say "down the road a piece."

Irrespective, regarding your entry, quite simply put, you're brilliant. That's why I let you in my life circle. '-)

The other reason is I think you might be a little bit more deranged than I am. So you are a good baseline for my weekly sanity check.

Excuse me, my OCD is calling. I need to go and wash my hands again.

ogd (not to be confused with OCD)

Supa said...

Bosoxqt: Thanks for leaving your feedback. I'm a lil' late responding but I've been re-reading your reply and absorbing it as the beauty it is.

@Kasandra: Welcome, and thank you!

@ 911: Been meaning to roll thru your spot.

@ Zed: Back in Satan's Anus, hunh??

@Mz., Chica, and Too Serious: Thx for leaving some love!

@ JA: Brilliant and deranged? Thank you for the compliment....I think that pretty much sums it up. LOL (Look who's talkin!)