3t: Changes

3s-1
Hari “Woo!” / Leolin “Yeah!”
3s-2
Apollo “Oh, for the love of… could you keep it down? Some people have work to do!”

I don’t know why it was, but around this time, I couldn’t help but reflect on the way things were. And the way things had been. Apollo was older now, for one; though he’d always been your older brother, and something of an authority, he looked the part now too. And little Leolin—he had blended into your group as seamlessly as I could have hoped. Though Apollo felt himself too “old” for such childish things, you, Hari, and Leolin could dance the night away when you got it in your heads to do so. It made the house brighter, I think. Leolin made the house brighter.

Or maybe that was Leo.

3s-6
Leo “The kids seem pretty busy, huh? Think they’d notice if…?”

3s-7

Come to think of it, it was probably a combination of both. The cheerful Leolin was a light in my life, but like he had seemed to from the moment I met him, Leo provided me with brightness. He gave me a spring in my step, something that came from the release of all that baggage I’d carried around for so long. I don’t know what he did, exactly, to help me set it down; all I knew was that, when he was around, I didn’t feel like it weighed on me anymore.

3s-19

With a renewed sense of purpose, I felt like I could engage in my spiritual side again. I’d meditated and done yoga when I was younger, if you remember Janelle. But it was never much for the… deep side of it all. Nothing spiritual. It was all about the weight loss, about the physique.

But after that spa day with Leo, something woke up inside me. There was something I needed to pursue, and for whatever reason it seemed as though I might fight that in engaging in the practice mindfulness.

I probably sound like some hoodoo-voodoo crazy person, don’t I? But it’s true. Just wait until you find something that catches your attention that way. I don’t know what to call it, really. It wasn’t a passion, really—it wasn’t that I was excited about it or dedicated to it or felt that I was especially good at it. It was more of a compulsion. A conviction.

A happy glow at the end of a successful meditation session. A warm flush following a yoga routine.

3s-21

My renewed flexibility didn’t hurt matters in bed for me either.

3s-23
B “You up to anything right now, lover?”
3s-28
Leo “Don’t look so excited. The kids will notice!”

3s-29

And my renewed physique didn’t hurt matters in any other areas of my life either.

3s-33
B “Hey Reginald, are you on your way?”
3s-35
B “It’s great to see you again, Reggie.”

It felt good to slip into a dress like that. It wasn’t as revealing I was necessarily used to—I had, for quite a long time, felt like one should flaunt what they’ve got. But I was coming to somewhat of a realization (maybe the yoga was helping) that I was a mother, and that I could look hot as hell without sacrificing all of my class (at least in public).

3s-37
Reginald “You look smokin’. You wanna go somewhere? To, ya know…”

For some reason, though, it felt a little wasted on a guy like Reginald, and on most of the other people I went out with. It wasn’t like things were bad, necessarily. I just had the sensation that the dress very much wasn’t for them.

Who was it for, then?

3s-41
B “I’m okay, I think. Let’s just sit here for a bit. It’s a beautiful day today.”
3s-42
Reginald “Okay… What do you want to talk about?” / B “Anything!”
3s-44
Reginald “Okay, but, what if we didn’t talk?”
3s-46
Reginald “You know?”

3s-50

3s-51
B “Is that what you meant?”
3s-52
Reginald “Close. But not exactly…”

I can’t be sure, Janelle. It was a long time ago. But I’m pretty sure I left right after that.

Not because I was angry with Reginald. Hell, guys talked like that to me all the time. They talked to me like that in the shop on a regular basis—in a place where I was the proprietor—to say nothing of in the street and during dates. Reginald was, to be perfectly honest, par for the course, and one of the more charming of those.

No, instead, I was angry at myself. Maybe it was the yoga, or Leolin, or Leo, or something, but again, I couldn’t stop thinking about the way things had been. About the kinds of things I would have done on a date with Reginald, way back when. About the euphoric high I would have had, about the glow of joy and fun I would have experienced.

Instead, with Reginald, I wasn’t repulsed or anything. It was just… meh. It was okay. Nothing great. Nothing special. Nothing fun.

What was wrong with me?

Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me. I know this seems like the same song and dance I’d been through before. “Oh, it’s not fun anymore! Oh, woe is me!”

But this was different. That kind of lack, it was pervasive. It filtered through my whole life, making everything around me seem less. This lack, though—I only noticed it in fleeting bursts. Because, for the most part, I was loving my life. It was only in those moments—habitual moments, on dates or at the shop—that, by comparison to the past, so greatly paled.

3s-57

I didn’t even change out of the dress.

3s-58
Leolin “Hey mom!” / B “Hello darling! How was your day?” 

 

3s-59
B “Were they good for you?” / Leo “Janelle got a little pouty when I told her she’d have to spend the day outside with us, but otherwise it was great. And she had a good time once she got to rolling around in the mud with her brothers.”
3s-60
Leo “How was your day?” / B “Oh, you know. It was. I’m glad to be home.”

When had that happened? I’d been running for so long—from memories, from commitment, from my home life—into the arms of whoever happened to catch me first. I hadn’t even noticed when I’d stopped running.

3s-79
*internally* B “Oh, Creator. Have I been living my whole life all wrong?”

I didn’t know how to face that idea. Had my whole way of living, prior to now, been incorrect? Had I just been fooling myself? I could tell, by the looks on everyone else’s faces, by the snide comments they sometimes threw my way, that my way of life wasn’t the norm, to be sure. But were they right, in that it was actually wrong?

3s-84

The thought made me nauseous.

3s-60
Leo “Hey, earth to B. Are you alright?”

Had it been any other time in my life, I would have said, yes, of course I’m fine. Instead, something came over me. Again, Janelle, I blame the yoga.

3s-61
B “…you know what? Yeah, actually…”

And you know what? Leo was incredibly understanding. Maybe it’s that alien empathy thing that let him so perfectly understand where I was coming from. It was all him, though—all impressively wise him—that advised me how to cope with it all, though.

3s-62
Leo “You’ve changed. I can see that, your kids can see it, and now you can see it too. But you know the great thing about it? People just change. Sometimes it’s because they learn something better. Sometimes it’s because they can’t help but do something worse. But most often, it’s just because people change. No good, no bad. It just is.”
3s-63
B “So if, say, I decided in the future-not now, but in the future-that maybe I wanted to be only with one person, only one person… that wouldn’t mean I had been wrong to do it my own way up until then?”

Smart and sexy. I got damn lucky, didn’t I. I can only hope that, if you decide to spend your life beside someone, you find someone as good-hearted as Leo. As reluctant as I was to commit to him (and, to be clear, I still wasn’t committed), I was honest enough with myself, at least, to acknowledge that he was a fantastic person. Still is.

3s-64
Leo “If you’re taking a step back from dating, you’ll probably need a new coping outlet. Any thoughts?”

3s-116

3s-117

In life, I saw my mother in two states, really. Overjoyed, in her moments with Mama. And heartbroken, in every moment she had to live without her. There was no in between.

I liked to think, though, that the moment I discovered that I could play music, too, my mother smiled down on me the same way she looked at Mama. With love. With pride.

Whether or not it was true, the thought, at least, made me smile too.

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