29

Birthdays used to be the worst days, now I sign books in the hallways.

Born smack dab between Christmas and New Years. So it’s hard to make RSVP’s when everyone is M.I.A. for the holidays.

I had a hard time in grade school getting friends to blow out candles of my cake but I discovered a gift for herding adults into venues with open bars where they could play the field.

I’ve had a knack for picking up the bill for everyone to party at my expense. But never knowing if I had nothing to offer would they still be there to offer at toast if they had nothing to chase it with.

But this year was different. I took off my party hat. Took alcohol out of the equation. Wrapped myself in a scarf and some reading glasses. Found an intimate room inside of a YMCA center and held a book release party.

Text messages from friends bailing at the last minute streamed through my phone. I put in on airplane mode because I was beginning to experience turbulence from all the guests taking off.

I hired a live painter to illustrate the moment, a Dj to get people in a sentimental mood, and a professional photographer to catch it all. Excuse me if I go out of my means but I’ll spend my last dollar for an experience that will last.

To my disbelief,  people started to arrive early. To help me set up chairs, decorate table arrangements, even share a hug before the big event.

When I raised the curtain I couldn’t believe what I saw. Rows of familiar faces and some acquaintances. Parents of ex lovers and even a few old flames themselves. Who although, fell out of contact, never lost sight of who I was.

I gave them the proper appetizer. Friends who inspired me along the way performing poems or singing original songs to warm them up until main dish. I introduced the acts with impromptu stories and allegories that had the crowd roaring.

I made it a point to thank everyone for coming every chance I got. And the more I showered compliments the more the room flooded with friends. Before I knew it we were over capacity and even I was at a loss for words.

By the time it was my time to grace the stage I took one final second to absorb the moment. All eyes fixated on me with anticipation. I spent months writing about the darkest parts of my life and in a few minutes I was going to put a ultraviolet light on them.

I started from the dedication. Moved into some of my bold pieces on my appreciation for black women and my dislike for do nothing bitches. Laughter filled the room with snaps and whistles.

Found myself at my most tender place in the book, exploring my insecurities with self, struggle with drinking, and the effect of an absent father. I never remember hearing a more deafening silence than in the minutes that proceeded those readings.

I looked up periodically to see if people had fell asleep but all I saw was their mouths open with astonishment. People following along in their own copies. Restless feet shuffling had become legs crossed. Mouths smacking with fruits and cheese was suddenly jaw clenched.

I ended with my assertive pieces expressing my fetish for voluptuous women, my delight for a deeper connection, and my desire for mental stimulation.  People stood up to show approval. Rounds of applause followed long after I finished.

I wish I could have framed that feeling. Hung it up on the wall. For every day I hung my head. I write like I have something I want to get off my chest. And I do. I just want to prove I wasn’t a mistake.

People waited in lines for pictures and signatures and all I could do was bask in the abundance of love. The floodgates of emotion was cracked open. People mingled in the lobby until closing hours.

For a while I found myself in limbo, after my grandmother passed. Drifting away. Wondering if I could ever recapture the joy of writing. I read my reviews on amazon the other day. I cried. This was all a dream.

That became a goal. That manifested into a process.That found it’s way from the back of my lobe to the front of my palm. And on this day I turned 29, I celebrated the last year of my 20’s with my book on the shelves next to the authors I grew up reading.

And when people read my words they will know my scars like a neighbor. Take a seat next to everybody I pretended to be at different stages of my entire life. Next up:30.

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