I recall the time I was helping my mother outside, there was a hose in hand, probably watering azaleas. Talking about nothing in particular. Probably trying to pry the past out of her. My parents never reveal a thing. You must have had to have been there to know something about them. So I ask my mom about the baby she had before my brother. She tells me he died at birth. Well really before birth. It was a still birth and she carried him to term, named him after my father and buried him. I gulp. She’s opening up, I think to myself. So I say to her I say it’d be nice to have an older brother, a brother older than my other brother, to keep him in line. And she smirks. Laughing subtly she says to me you probably wouldn’t be here if he was. I may have intended to say oh I could…you could have had three (like everybody else raising “middle” children). And she said no I’m pretty sure we agreed to have two. That agreement being between she and my father, not the rest of us or the Universe.
So I wasn’t meant to be. Or rather I obviously was meant to be…but unwanted? No. Yes. I get it. I was probably a teenager. I don’t have a timeline of personal moments with accurate ages because they’d prefer it if we didn’t have to talk about it. I assumed that people who don’t talk about things might also omit the deep seeded feelings they have about those very things. Save me sorrow and give me the idea that I wasn’t just left overs. I wasn’t the baby born girl, damn! a girl is such trouble and well, maybe. A girl. Or trouble. Maybe.
We are Black. We are black. We are mixed. No denying this. One Drop Rule despite mom. No matter. That’s how the world sees you and treats you. They’ll be afraid of what you look like. He was afraid of what I’d look like. He was afraid of what I looked like. He was afraid.
Being this nice genetic split in two. Down the middle of mom and dad, we sat being told who we favored. We favored both of them in equal and odd measure. I sound like my mother and walk like my father. My brother stands like my mom and explains things slowly like my father. We all have pregnant pauses. Way past the due date.
Maybe due to the lack of direct discussions in race and ethnicity or the passing and colorism or outright internalized racism, we, my brother and me, created obnoxiously diverse groups of intersectional friends. Out of many came two. Each of us had two best friends growing up. Why? So ridiculous. Why not one, for either of us. Just a different combination. But no. We each had two friends we were closest with throughout elementary and high school. And we each sat in the middle.
Were we creating a sense of balance? Were we off-kilter? Was this the beginning of us not having an”other half”? Were we in thirds this whole time and didn’t know?
We’ve since shed these friends and friendship triads. And we are no closer to one another. As if a middle piece is missing. We can see each other across the divide. We wave. We say hi. Then goodbye.
I have about one decent week out of each month. One week when I might feel a sense of normalcy. Three other weeks full of physical, emotional, and spiritual upheaval all contained in a five foot body. And the truth shoots out of my eyes. My brain can’t hide the roller coaster ride colliding with self control and logic. People see anger. My eyes blur. Who is in front of me if not myself? If you are my soul can’t you see this fight is for you, absolutely. It is not you I need to fight with, but the amassing of space and time between our memories.
I have about three days in me before I lose my shit. Three hours to decompress from a day that hit like a ton of bricks. Three more hours I could possibly work. Or wake up at the witching hour to see how much I hurt.
I have three names. The government makes me use two. I go by one. And that one name is the wind wrought branch on a tree with limbs that reach up more than they reach out. It is always the sun they’re seeking.