Stop Paying Attention to Age

“I need a slow motion video, right now,” he recited bubbly when he answered my phone call. Most greet others with a hug or a handshake. Our special welcome is a rap ad-lib that we uttered no less than a thousand times in one day during the summer of 2011. We joked, drank, partied, and conversed during his one night visit to NYC. Most importantly, we needed a slow motion video for our plethora of shenanigans.

We met while I attended the best university at a “we have extra money in our budget so let’s host an extravagant buffet styled lunch” appreciation luncheon during the summer. His mother was then an administrative assistant in the Dean’s office and proudly introduced me to her soon to be fourteen year old son. His tall lanky frame, with over sized hands and feet, highlighted that was he in the midst of a growth sprout. His mom and my boss mentor suddenly disappeared into the crowed after the brief introduction, and we were left awkwardly together. Making small talk (Editor’s note: small talk with a teenager is top ten hardest things to do in life…don’t doubt me, just shake your head in agreement), I asked what he liked to do in his free time, and he tersely replied, “Play basketball.” I then invited him to hoop with me and some friends, not thinking that he would take me up on the offer. But he did; I still remember the phone call from his mother asking what time she should bring him to the gym. A couple days later, we were running up and down the court together. He was on my team because my big brother instincts wanted to protect him because neither my friends nor I knew if he could actually hoop since he was younger than we were and if he sucked it was only right that I shouldered the burden. Impressively, he held his own against the older competition and we won the majority of our games. More importantly, our friendship began.

We are six years apart, and being the elder I assumed the mentor role. We spoke occasionally about school and his social life; I mainly listened and offered advice when asked for it. After I graduated, our conversations continued, evolving as we each became more of ourselves. The frequency decreased each year, but we always made it a point to check in with each other ever so often. For example, when I found out that I was going to have a child at twenty-three, we spoke about it like brothers. I shared with him my anxieties and apprehensions, especially given that both of us had grown up without our biological fathers present. Likewise, when he was having a difficult time in college, we spoke about it like brothers. I encouraged him to continue his educational journey, and even sent him some money for “books.”

After all the pleasantries and small talk, he exploded that he connected with his biological father and siblings. The story seemed surreal; he went to college with his half sister and even met her a couple times because they shared a similar friend group. Only a few months earlier did she somehow connect the dots. I smiled when I heard the excitement in his voice about being a big brother and how he and his sisters are actively working on crafting meaningful relationships. And then the conversation became authentic when we broached the difficult questions about his father and their initial meeting. Undeterred and maturely, he detailed the work in progress of moving past the past and focusing on the future. I could hear, faintly, the hurt in his voice that he was actively moving beyond. He understood that bitterness would destroy this opportunity, so he decided to be happy and embrace the moment. During our two hour conversation, I learned from him. He showcased for me what letting go actually looks like. He demonstrated a strength and courageousness that left me in awe. I just kept saying in my head, “I want to be like him when I grew up” because he was handling tough situations in an admirable way that I wanted to emulate.

After we hung up the phone, some two hours later, I decided that I can no longer pay attention to age because it can not quantify one’s wisdom and maturity. I have met some older adults who act like children immaturely. Similarly, I have met some young adults who speak and act with a knowledge beyond what one would expect given their age. Thus, I am actively working to remove my assumptions about others based on their age.

I Can’t Sleep…What’s New

It’s odd to be back, but I return to my blog after an almost fourteen week absence. Writing is good for me and I am elated to push the black and white keys that spell the words that are my thoughts. Writing is necessary for me. Throughout my time away, I constantly thought about foreverizing certain moments in a blog, but repeatedly failed to do so. I did do some writing here, here, and here. While writing about music is enjoyable and I will continue, it was not the same as being here, home, at Betweentheworldandme.

Most people that know me beyond lit computer screens and incessant social media (and even those that know me only within those realms) know that I have poor sleeping patterns. It’s true, I do, and even detailed its history in this post. What I did not share, however, is what I do when the world seemingly sleeps and I’m wide awake. The overwhelming majority of the time I listen to my mind pace (but not limited to), constructing analytical dissections of a relationship to formulating potential initiatives for my work community to worrying about life and all the what-ifs of the future. *Sidenote: For those that wonder what I do the other times not included in the overwhelming majority: I work out, try to go back to sleep, read, work on my clothing company, check instagram, watch “Orange is the new black,” which I recently completed and loved (most of it). I do the things most people do throughout the day, but I happen to do them around 3am.*

Most of the time, I wake to a stream of words that often form the opening line(s) to a poem, paper, or prose. *Sidenote: While in college, I often woke up to my thesis sentence spilling from my mind and from there was able to craft my argument and eventually write my paper.* Though energized from the few hours of rest, I often resist moving from my bed to quickly jot them down. As a result, hours later, when I try to grasp them, they avert my grip like grabbing at free flowing water. Because I have had a strong yearning to write and empty myself again, I decided to get up this morning and write those words:

He didn’t say sorry. He had no problem forming the three-syllable phrase and forcibly uttering the words. Throughout his life he has said sorry numerous times when he didn’t mean it. Not tonight. He did not want to accept blame for his mistakes because he stubbornly believed that she was the only one at fault. So, he sat there, looking into her pleadingly eyes and said nothing. A mere apologetic whisper would have bridged the growing gap in the conversation and salvaged the quickly eroding relationship. The overdue pregnant pause, with each new second adding to the deafening shrill, could not budge him. No, he was intently perched on his rock of “asshole” “not my fault” and had no intention of moving for her, for reconciliation, or for himself anytime soon. So he sat there, determined, but he struggled to look in her eyes long enough without feeling guilt for his refusal. He could see her hurt and knew unequivocally he was the reason for it. Suddenly fiddling with his hands, a feeble attempt to break eye contact, he readjusts his position atop his ego. And she waited uncomfortably, tears forming in her eyes, damned by her eyelids or pride or both, as she watched her now ex-boyfriend noticeably squirm in his seat like a child, exhibiting the same uneasiness of an eight year old learning accountability. Disgusted and frustrated with her inability to lock eyes with him again, she begrudgingly asked, “Now what, huh?”