Why is it cold in here? What time is it? Do I have to wake up already? The sun isn’t up, or is it? Is it going to be an overcast day? You have your arms wrapped so securely around me, like you’re afraid I’ll float away if you don’t anchor me. How do you look the same when you’re asleep as you do when you’re awake? A bit of insecurity creeps in to steal this moment from me. I’m wondering what you think when the night disturbs your sleep and you see me. I remember the text you sent that told me how beautiful you think these moments are, but I don’t allow myself to fully believe you. I’m still guarded. You have yet to fully earn my trust and I wonder if you ever will again. I realize now why it’s cold. You opened the window for me, because you know how hot I get in my sleep. You know that I took two Valiums to kill the migraine I had been fighting against all day, and my body is way too limp to do it myself. The wind is making my shades scrape gently back and forth on the ledge of my window. I want to see what time it is, but if I move too much I’ll kill this moment. So I lay there so comfortable that it scares me. My mind starts to catch up to my body and worry sets in. If it’s morning, then my other job is now 7 days late paying me. My rent is due in a week. I need alternatives. What can I do to figure this out? Laundry. I have so much laundry. Did I work out this week? No. Guilt. I’m supposed to do a photoshoot on Saturday, but I haven’t the money or the body for it. I should’ve done more to prevent this. More guilt. I feel myself slipping back into sleep. I hear you stirring around, but not enough fully wake me. You pull my comforter back over me, and kiss my forehead, and tell me to have a good day. You close my window. You take my trash out when you leave. I hear the drumroll and awake to find that you’re gone, and now I have to face the day. Can I call in? I’m not ready. Snooze. Snooze. Damn I’m gonna be late.
I wonder if she can tell how annoyed I am with her talking to me. There’s something in her teeth, and I won’t tell her out of spite. She’ll figure it out. I’ve been sitting at my desk reading Their Eyes Were Watching God to pass the time. There are so many things to consider about the state of black people. The dynamics between black men and black women. The fact that so much of what was said here still applies now. Was she ahead of her time, or are we behind in our evolution? My thoughts get disturbed by people asking me to do this, or that. Work isn’t so bad. I would still rather be here than some of the other jobs I’ve had, but sometimes I fear the mask I put on to come here wears off. I fear that they can see my dissatisfaction with being the only black person here, and the most junior person here at that. Office politics play out in front of my desk all day, and I feel like I’m the only person in an audience watching a play, because I can’t believe the things they think are important are real. There isn’t enough strife in your personal life, so you come to work to create a little bit of friction just so you can feel alive, and I pity you. I pity you that talking down to people is the only thing you have to get you through. Ain’t you tired?
6:00 PM hits and I rush to the bathroom. I can change into the metallic gold dress I bought, put on my strappy heels, and my red lipstick and take off the mask. Now I can go live my real life. I’m adjusting myself in the mirror of the elevator, and I hope I don’t run into anyone on my way out. I don’t feel like lying about where I’m going, or exchanging pleasantries with “All Lives Matter” types. I want to go feel like myself. There’s a light drizzle, and I can’t really afford to take a cab. The Louboutin store is only a few blocks driving, but it would feel like an eternity walking in heels in the rain. Screw it. Cab it is. I get in and tell him the address.
As we pass by the stores on Madison Avenue, I flashback to three years ago. I was taking a cab halfway to the Louboutin store from school, because I couldn’t afford to pay for the whole ride there. I was terrified to take the subway back then, which is comical to me now. I got out and walked about seven blocks in the most uncomfortable flat shoes ever. It was raining that day too. The humidity had gotten to my edges, so I dipped into a coffee shop to check myself out. I smoothed out my hair and changed into my heels. I walked in on the plush red carpet that covers their floor. Down the stairs I could see a tall, thin blonde with boxes and boxes of red soles scattered about her feet, and sales people fawning over her. I wondered how many of those she’s going to buy, and how much of an impact it probably wouldn’t have on her account. I gave my quick pitch to the manager of the store and hand her my envelope clad resume and cover letter that had been revised a thousand times, going back and forth with my career advisor on campus. She humored me, but I knew in my heart that, that resume and cover letter would never see the light of day. They would stay in that envelope in the bottom of some drawer for years until someone finally tossed it. That was one of about a dozen passive rejections I got that year. As we pass by the Oscar de la Renta store that I had to run to a hundred times during my stint as an intern at the corporate office, I remember the feeling of validation from finally getting that yes a year after all those rejections. A smile creeps across my face.
We arrive at the store where they’re hosting a preview event for their Spring 2016 collection. I am in the back of the cab shuffling between one card or another trying to figure out which one will hurt the least to put this $11 ride on, but the machine is broken. He asks if I have cash, and I regretfully tell him no. We sit there in awkward silence until he finally just lets me out. A free cab ride. I walk into the store and give my name to the publicist working the door. There’s a server standing nearby with a silver tray of champagne and cocktails, as I walk across the same plush red carpet to the same counter, only this time my presence was requested here. I take the envelope of clues given to help us solve the murder mystery which is the premise of the event, and find that they gifted us a free Louboutin polish. I wonder if I can get an extra for Rivea. She would love this. My gold dress is drawing all kinds of compliments, and my red lip always gets a “what color is that?” from a few people. I chat with a girl from Staten Island about our handbag philosophies while an African server keeps refilling my champagne glass. He has very kind eyes, and a beautiful accent. After taking a few Snaps to make sure I get paid for attending this event, I head home.
I’m on the train listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and they’re discussing marriage. I think about how I actually feel about the subject myself. My opinion on it is always changing. I think about Janie as if she is a real person I know, and in a way she is. I think about where I left off in the book. She’s tried yet again to find happiness with a man, and happiness continues to elude her. So many women look at marriage like it’s supposed to complete them, and I wonder if that’s true. Not being married I can’t quite say. In church, they teach us that marriage should be everyone’s goal in life, and that you won’t be complete until you find that person and he finds you. I question that so often now. Have we been sold a lie? I see so few people who are happily married. I see so few people who are getting married who are excited about spending their life with someone. Rather they are stuck between excited for the wedding, and stressed out about paying for and planning it. I have friends who are slaves to the concept of marriage, because until they check that off of their list of things to do they won’t be happy. I think about how we are slaves to our bodies, because if we want to have children that window of time is only but so open. I think about how I never want to be somebody’s “baby mama,” and that Parker* is my only motivation for wanting to be married at some point. I want Parker to grow up in a home with both of their parents loving each other and loving them even more for completing us. I find myself thinking about Parker often. What I want to teach, what I hope to learn. What I hope to give. Parker won’t be able to say “before I was even thought of,” because I have thought of them so often without even knowing where they will come from. By the time I have showered and gotten into bed, I am happy where I am. I feel relieved that I don’t actually have to be either of those women struggling with marriage right now. I’m happy that I can just explore being me for now. I’m happy that when I need him, there’s a man who will come pick me up and make me blush over drinks. Who will hold my hand and stand on the outside closer to the street when we walk. Who will hold me securely as I sleep, and take out my trash when he leaves, and kiss my forehead to wish me well before I face the day without him. And right now, that’s all I need.
*What I’m naming my first child, boy or girl.