"I know you worried about how the bills is gon’ get paid but what that got to do with us having sex? We can have sex if the lights get cut off. The lights need to be off anyway." [an interview]Read Now
MW: I heard through the grapevine that you’ve started running. You look good girl! What got you started?
Running saved my life after my granddaughter died, because I was very depressed. I went back to New Orleans and I was angry. My spirit sisters in New Orleans held space for me. When I found out initially that she had died, I was so distraught and my spirit sisters all came within minutes. They descended upon the house and just encircled me, bathed me, got me in my right mind. They gathered all their money together, bought a ticket, and put me on a plane to come home. They were like, you gotta be strong because you gotta take care of your family. And that’s what I did. And then I brought my daughter back to New Orleans with me and they did healing work on her and prayed and laid hands on her and sent her back home stronger. And when she left and got on the plane, I cried. And I heard distinctly, my granddaughter's voice in my ear – and she was a baby, but I felt like it was her spirit – and she was like, run. Go run. And at first it was just a block, two blocks. And now it’s miles (laughs). I’ve gotten to miles. On average I do about four miles every time I go out. I’ve been increasingly going further. I’ll be doing my first half-marathon soon.
So, you know, running saved my life because I was depressed and I wanted to leave here. You know, death has that… you have to come to terms with death. Which is why I’m so into ancestor worship. Because it’s about making peace and knowing that energy… we’re all energetic beings. We don’t lose energy, it just takes another form. And that form to me, is ancestor. They’re in the spirit world and they’re working and I believe it. Because honey I go to my altars and I have a conversation. I say, I don’t know how I’m going to pay this bill Grandma. Daddy, I don’t know what I’m gon’ do. Imma have to leave this up to you. And they come through every time. I’m like, thank you, thank you creator, thank you ancestors, thank you for being in the spirit world and always being a guiding and driving force for me. So that’s the way I make peace with death, knowing that it’s just life transformed to another way.
MW: I used to get so freaked out about death because so many people kept dying. But then I realized that there’s just as many people over there that love you as are over here. You know, if Grandma and Granddad and Auntie and cousin can do it, then I can do it too when my time comes.
Right! So when my time comes, I’m going to be on the other side helping out my folks. I’m going to be annoying. (laughs) Because spirit has got your back. You make decisions but you don’t always have to be right. In our minds, we start thinking that we have to be perfect, and we don’t get to make mistakes. And that’s just a falsehood. We do get to make mistakes. I’m not a perfect parent, I’m not a perfect spouse, and I don’t profess to be. I’m on this journey. It’s a learning experience every time I walk out my door, every time I’m blessed to be able to wake up and breathe that life energy into me. I am not going to work to be perfect. I’m going to work to be a person that contributes to the society in the only way that I can. And that’s all that I can do. I know people are like, oh you have to perfect, but I’m not buying into that. That is one of the ways that they oppress us. There was a time when I felt like, oh I gotta be perfect, and I don’t deserve to be in certain spaces unless I show up perfect … and then we buy into this belief that we don’t belong in these well off spaces and these nice places, like we don’t deserve to be there.
I’m a student laureate for the state through my university… and the whole time I was in my ceremony, among a sea of white folks… I was feeling like, I don’t deserve this. Even though I had worked hard and I graduated with honors, and I did so much – because it’s based on what you do in your community, your grades — even though I had done all of this phenomenal stuff, I still sat in that chair and I felt like I did not deserve to get this award. And so as I had been processing information about what I deserve and releasing fear in my life – because that’s been a constant work for me – I realized my fear in that situation was because I felt like I wasn’t perfect. My skin wasn’t perfect. I was among a sea of white folks who I have to be certain way around, and my dialect and my speech has to be a certain way in order to be a laureate. Hell, I ain’t Gwendolyn Brooks! (laughs)
MW: Shoot, Gwendolyn Brooks wasn’t “Gwendolyn Brooks” in that respect! She could be real hood.
Exactly! And I had to say, oh my God, you deserve it, yes! Ancestors opened the door and you need to walk your black ass through it. (laughs) Walk through that door.
MW: Even if you ashy.
Even if you ashy. Walk through the door. You got crust in your eye. Walk through the door. Ancestors opened up a way for you. They smiling down on you in this very moment. This is a sacred moment. And don’t devalue it by thinking you don’t deserve it, or you’re not worthy. Or that you gotta be perfect to be worthy of it.
Ase. (laughs) Shit.
MW: So, I saw on Facebook that you and your wife recently had a civil union?
We did. We were the first couple to get our civil union in the state of Illinois.
MW: What? Awww! Ya’ll so fancy! You just gon’ be the first, and the first black, and the first black women… (laughs)
Baby let me tell you. I had to trick this woman. I was like, babe, they’re going to give us a vacation. They’re giving us a trip if we go. And she was like, seriously? She wanted a trip so bad. She was at that computer doing some work – I think it was for school – and I was like, shut it down, let’s go! We arrived, and like two minutes later, a white couple arrived. I was like, yes ancestors! We would have been number two if we had arrived like two minutes later…
MW: So you were there right when it opened?
No, we got there right before midnight and set up our chairs.
MW: You waited all night? That’s amazing…
We waited all night. We were also a part of the lawsuit to get marriage instituted for LGBTQ couples in the state of Illinois. So now Illinois has marriage equality, which doesn’t start until June 2014, officially. Which is a huge step, right? And I am very clear that for black LGBTQ people, we need extra support beyond just being able to be married, just like any other couple. We’re battling racism, among the LGBTQ community, okay? So I’m clear about that too. And we’re also battling poverty. Joblessness rates. I am working two part time jobs – doing things that I love – but in order to make ends meet, I’m clear that as a couple, we’re still existing in a state of poverty. We’re trying to transform that, and making the best of what we can here on the west side of Chicago raising our sons. We’re still battling the same fight that a straight couple is battling to exist in Chicago, in the hood.
MW: And single people too…
Single people, right. You know, just as a black person period. On top of being an LGBTQ couple, we have not had the comfort of being in the closet. We’ve got six kids we’ve been raising for 14 years.
MW: How old was your youngest child when you got together?
Our youngest son was one. He’ll be 15 this year.
MW: And he’s biologically yours or your wife’s?
He’s biologically mine but we’ve adopted them all together. But we each came to the relationship with three children. I came with two boys and a girl, and she came with two girls and a boy.
MW: Were you married to men when you…
I was married and getting a divorce when I met my wife. She was not with anyone at the time. She was just seeing other women.
MW: So did you two know – well I won’t ask you to speak for your wife – but did you know that you were a lesbian or…
So… here we are with these boxes (laughs). I would rather say…
MW: Get me out my boxes, girl.
I would rather say that I love people. Period. I’m attracted to who I’m attracted to. I just happened to be in love with a woman for the last 14 years. And when I was with the boys’ father, I was in love with a man for several years.
MW: So it wasn’t like, I love you but I have to go be with a woman now…
No, no, no. It was like, that was the end of our relationship, and it was done. And then my wife came along and I started loving her. It just happened like that. I never left my husband for somebody else. It was because our relationship had run its course and it was done.
MW: How did you know your relationship with your husband had run its course? Because that’s a really hard decision to make, especially when three kids are involved.
MW: Especially when you love the person, you know? And no one is necessarily the “villain” in the situation. How did you do that?
When your try just ain’t enough no more. When every attempt that you have made to reconcile the relationship is just not enough anymore. When it’s taking up more energy to try to reconcile the relationship than it takes to love each other. I think for me, that was it. There was moments where… because he and I had gotten back together. Actually, my youngest son was conceived when we were separated…
MW: You were on a break (laughs).
Yeah, on a break. (laughs) My goodness. At that time I was working as a traveling CNA and I was up here at a hospital working a midnight shift and I was too tired to drive back home. I ended up at his house in his bed and our son was conceived. So we got back together again. But one of the things that was the final nail in the coffin for me – and he was a cheater – oh my goodness, just, such a cheater – but that was not even the final nail in the coffin. For me it was like, whatever dude, get your shit together. But he left me stranded in the car with the babies and no gas in the car. I had been telling him, please put gas in the car, I have to travel with the kids. I was stranded at their babysitter’s house. I had went to pick them up and the car would not start and I looked at the gas tank and it was empty. And you know, for a man to not put – it’s like those simple things that’s like, ok, that’s the nail. It’s just gas not being put in the tank but it personifies him not even looking at the minor things about caring for him and his children. You would leave us stranded somewhere. And it could have been worse. I was a traveling nurse’s aide, so I could have been on a highway with your kids or whatever. So the babysitter gave me money to get home. And when I got home, this asshole was standing on our porch – and it was a hot day and the neighbors were out – and he goes, you got me running late for work! I'm running late for work and you ain’t showed up and bitch this and – in front of the neighbors. And I was like, whoa.
MW: Oh yeah. That’s it.
The babysitter gave me money to get gas. She not only gave me the money, she sent her boys to the gas station to pick up gas – just enough to put in the tank so I could drive to the station with the money she’d given me. And this is my babysitter. (laughs)
MW: So you’re supposed to pay her.
Right. I pay her. And then I get home from putting money in the tank that she had to give me, to get cussed out because he’s running late for work. And he left us stranded and did not put in any gas in the first place. And that was it. I packed a bag. And I had been saving money because it had been getting progressively worse. I had been tucking away money in a savings account that he did not know about. I’d just been tucking away $20 here, $30 here, whatever I could. And I took that money and I left him $20 and a note.
MW: You left him $20? You so sweet.
I was very nice. I was like, here’s $20 for the gas tank because I knew he didn’t have any money. I was very responsible with like, keeping the money and maintaining the bills, so I left $20, like, this is for the gas tank for you to get to work, have a nice life. And he came over my mama's house that night, just raging. Where’s my family?! (laughs) Knocking on the window, acting a damn fool.
MW: Oh no!
After all that. And this is why I love women because bitches will come together on a nigga’s ass! (laughs)
MW: Girl, won’t we though!
My mother was like get off of my motherfucking porch before I blow your ass off.
MW: Thank God for mama's.
And that was it. That was the last straw.
MW: (Laughs) I can’t believe he was like, where’s my family?! Shit, you left your family stranded!
Exactly. Nigga your family was stranded and your ass wasn’t there. You didn’t show up.
MW: Cussing out your woman in front of her kids…
That’s right. I endured years of foolishness from him. We were together for about 7 years.
MW: That’s what always happens at 7 years. That’s when you decide, either you’re gon’ stay or you gone.
They call it the 7 year itch. But it is that 7th year that is the critical moment where you be like, what am I going to do? Am I going to keep doing this or am I not? You gotta decide. You’re at a critical moment where you ask, am I going to do another 7? And I’m gon’ tell you something – I am in the 14th year, and every 7th year is like, ok, what are you doing? It’s a reevaluation process. I think it’s that mother energy. Those waves, that Yemaya, that change… what are you doing now? What are doing with your life? You start questioning your life. This is the 7th year, how are you doing financially? Are you on your goals? Did you get to define yourself? Have you been loving yourself? I feel like the universe asks these critical questions of us all the time, and its whether or not you choose to hear it.
MW: And it gets worse if you don’t…
And it gets worse if you don’t, yeah.
MW: She gets so much louder, to where you’re like, ok. I got it.
And me and my wife go through it too. In every relationship, you just gotta be guided by spirit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you just gotta be guided by spirit and know, ok spirit, what am I doing? Speak to your spirit internally. Those spirits – ancestor spirits – those are great spirits to speak to, but you gotta speak life into your own spirit and say, spirit are you doing what you want to do? Are you dancing? Are you laughing? Are you playing? Are you enjoying life? Are you doing work that is meaningful to you? Are you writing? Are you praising? What are you doing? And I do that all the time. That’s part of my running. Running is a ritual for me. All of that is spirit work for me.
MW: I know that every marriage is unique – so this might be kind of a hard question for me to ask – but is it different being married to a woman than being married to a man?
Girl yes! And let’s talk about how it’s different being married to a black man than to a black woman! Yes, let’s get real specific! (laughs) Hell yes it’s different. We women, we are emotional characters. We are heart centered. We are sacral chakra centered. We sit in our seat of creativity. We are loving, we are nurturing. We are ferocious and crazy sometimes. (laughs) And I’m speaking to me. My wife has had to deal with a lot from me, as I have from her. But being with a woman, there’s been more communication. When I was with my ex – like, there’s a secret life of men that women know absolutely nothing about. But being with a woman, I feel like there’s so many levels that her and I connect on. Very woman centered things. Like understanding that we both have a womb and what is needed to take care of that womb. I can go to her and be like, did you do your breast check? That’s caring and nurturing too. Sometimes men don’t want to talk about that stuff. I tried to talk to my ex about caring for himself but… in society, men aren’t given permission for self care. That’s very soft and there’s supposed to be so hardcore.
MW: Like, I’m a real man. I’m gon’ let the crust on my feet get as thick as possible… (laughs)
Exactly. And my wife and I get to cry together. But society says to men, men and boys don’t cry. There’s been moments where both us have been breaking down and crying and boo hooing and snotting and saying, what we gon’ do about the kids? and both of so emotional. And then also, I get to walk with her side by side and be very warrior woman. I’m very warrior woman. And she is very logical, brain, very sweet. So there are times when we play good cop, bad cop. And then there are times where we both fucking annoy the fuck out of each other.
MW: What are ya’ll signs?
She is a Libra and I am a fucking Ram. I’m Aries.
MW: Oh shit, so ya’ll are like direct opposites!
Oh my God. And there are times when…
[Her wife walks past and completes the sentence] I want to strangle the hell outta her…
And I want to strangle the hell outta her too. Even as we speak right now, we have been going through this very critical point in our lives, figuring out whether we will go another 7 years. Because the last year has been so hard. Losing our granddaughter. And then I was in New Orleans. And then she went to Paris. We essentially spent this last year apart. Apart not only in physical space, but also being apart spiritually, sexually – because of the physical space. So this year we’ve been asking ourselves, you know, what will this look like for us? Are we going to go our separate ways? And if we do, what will that look like?
MW: Damn girl, that’s real…
That is real. Yes. (laughs) But I’m at peace with that. She’s at peace with that. And we’re still friends. And that is my best friend. Like I can talk to her about anything, including how I feel about her. And I love that. I love that – even if we do decide together to go our own ways, since that is my best friend I can still talk to her about, I hate you right now. And I know you’re hating me.
Yeah. We live life, we learn honey. Nobody ain’t perfect.
MW: So, with you two getting together and having three kids already – apiece – did you have any kind of honeymoon period?
Girl no. Which is why, at 14 years, and the kids are already raised, we’re thinking, what are you going to do for the next 14 years? Because there has never been a honeymoon phase for us. We stepped into this shit and we’ve had guns blazing. We hit the ground running. And now we’re at the point of self-reflection, evaluation, and asking, what do you want to do for the next 14 years of your life? I’m 37, so that would put me in my 50’s. I wouldn’t consider that an old woman but right now I feel like I’m in the prime of my life. I feel good. When I wake up in the morning, I feel good. I put on my running shoes.
So yeah, we never had a honeymoon period to answer your question, but we have had moments of sweetness. She and I – I remember this one time where we just loaded up our car and asked Daddy at the last minute if he would watch the kids and he was like, yeah, bring them all over here. It was during winter break. We loaded up the car and went to Canada because I wanted to see Canada. And when we drove back – and let me tell you, we didn’t have a lot of money either – we drove back on gas fumes pretty much from Michigan to Chicago. We put our last bit of money in the gas tank in Kalamazoo, and we were like, Lord Jesus, Jesus take the wheel. (laughs)
MW: Like, pray that ‘E’ don’t really mean Empty… (laughs)
We laugh about that to this day. We’ve had so many moments of sweetness. Taking the kids on vacation, arguments and make up sex, all kinds of stuff. Our life has been so interesting. And I couldn’t have chosen – the spirits, the ancestors– could not have chosen a better person for me to have gone on this journey with the last 14 years. There is no other person I know in this world that would have gone on a journey like this with me. She’s helped me tackle this autism thing with my son. She will research the heck out of something. And then she’ll come back and say, you need to say this or do this, or you need to read this article. And I do the same with her. So it has been a very cohesive journey, fighting schools, doing things in our community… and I could not have done it with anybody else. I can look around my friends and I’ll be like, could I have done that with this other woman? No.
MW: So how did you know that she was the one?
So I know that people don’t often believe in love at first sight but I want to say it was a spirit connection at first sight. She and I met over Yahoo personals. She sent me a message and I sent her a message. My best friend who lives in Canada right now was like, there’s this cute girl on yahoo personals. I’m going to send you a link to her profile. And I said ok, I’m going to do it. This was right after I left my husband. I was like, I don’t know if I’m ready to do that. She might be some rebound booty or whatever. And that’s what I thought it was going to be. And then I came up to Chicago and I met her. I must have tried on like 16 different dresses and I pulled my hair up this way or that way. The first person who greeted me at the door was our daughter. She was a little bitty baby with these cute little locks and her bows were in her hair and they were just stuck in her hair any kind of way. My wife does not know how to do hair (laughs). And I fell in love with that little baby. And then my wife came to the door and it was a soul connection. That’s all I can tell you. We stayed up way into the night. In a month she had moved down here. And we’ve been on the west side pretty much ever since. Except there was this brief moment in our relationship where we lived on 119th.
MW: Oh shit…
Yeah, that’s wild wild. The wild wild hundreds.
MW: Yeah, that block is hot.
Hot. As soon as we moved there, a boy got shot right here on the corner. In the head. Right there on the bus stop. We tried to set up a block club right there. We had a block party. Girl do you know them people got an attitude because we had blocked off the street? The crackheads stole the dinner plates.
MW: Shut up!
It was a hot mess! My baby girl was manning the tables. Me and another neighbor had pitched in and barbecued. We had little Styrofoam plates we were going to hand out to everybody. My baby turned her back and the crackheads bum rushed the table, girl. Stole the dinner plates. I was so upset. And they were like – we had this little inflatable jumping house that the kids were jumping in – and they were like, you got this blocking the way! I said, the kids are playing! I had to move quick fast in a hurry. I was like, give me my west side back! Give me back my community! I love the west side. And I love New Orleans for that fact too, because of the community. I would go out on my porch in the morning and wave – and you better wave! Because if you don’t wave, folks gon’ be like, oh really? You ain’t gon’ say good morning? Well we ain’t gon’ watch out for you.
MW: We gon’ let it happen to you.
We gon’ let life happen to you, baby.
MW: A lot of the women I talked to discussed the inequality of marriage, and the disparity between women’s and men’s roles. How do you and your wife share the work? And how is that different from the way you and a man shared the work?
So, for instance – and it’s not perfectly hashed out, but… I feel like we do more of like, if you see something that needs to be done, just do it. It’s not a role. If the trash needs to be taken out, take the trash out. The kids have chores that they’re supposed to do and I’m forever hollering, like, do your chores! It can seem unequal in a same sex relationship too. Like, financially. Like over the years, there’s been an imbalance where I’m making a little bit more that what my wife is making. And it’s because of our education. She hasn’t graduated college and I have graduated college. What we try to do is be conscious of one another. Like for instance, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking note of what she does in the house and thanking her for it. Like when she cooked a couple of days last week, I had these little cards left over from Christmas and I wrote her a note that said, thank you honey for cooking. It’s about being conscious in any relationship because sometimes we’ll miss what somebody else has done…
MW: But we don’t miss what we do…
Yeah, we’ll be like, because I paid the bills! Because I, blah blah blah! And she had to tell me, like, yeah ok, you paid the bills, but I did these other things. And you didn’t notice that I mopped the floor. So I started coming in consciously, with more conscious effort and saying, she mopped that floor. Thank you for mopping the floor. Thank you for whatever contributions you are doing in this house. Because society will have you believe that everything must be equal. Well, there needs to be some equity but everybody can’t contribute in the same way. Especially right now where we in the African American community are experiencing such a drastic rate of unemployment and cutting in services. We have to gather whatever resources we can – whatever forms of community we can and try to bind them together to support us and save our community. And we are under some forms of attack. When you cut resources in the community like mental health services and drug rehabilitation programs and you’re cutting the SNAP program, that puts pressure on any relationship. It’s hard. And then you gotta think about like, okay so, I’m going to make a conscious effort to love and appreciate this person that much more.
MW: So how have you changed in the 14 years the two of you have been together?
Girl bye, I was a hot mess. (laughs) I’m still a hot mess. [Calls wife] Babe! How have I changed in the last 14 years?
[Her wife laughs and walks in from the other room]
MW: That was a very telling laugh…
She’s a lot more patient. A lot less naïve. A lot more understanding. A lot less demanding… she’s still demanding like she was but in a different way.
How in a different way?
Because I was a pushy ass bitch.
Yeah. It was like your way or the highway.
MW: Well that makes sense. Because she's the Aries, right?
(laughs) Oh yeah baby, April 9th. I’m on the nine which is Oya energy. So my Aries energy is a warrior energy. I will wipe it clean. I will show up and show out honey. I’m more mindful that I can be that way and I make a concerted effort to not be that way.
But sometimes it’s helpful to us for her to be that way. People will ask me, how do you deal with that? Well, okay, it is a lot. But on the flip side, when we have to go and fight CPS (Chicago Public Schools), all I have to do is say, well we can’t seem to work this out. Maybe I should call my wife. And they say, oh no, no, no. We can work this out.
My name precedes me (laughs.) But in a very good way. Let me tell you, I don’t attack people over freaking nothing! Usually it’s because you fucking over something. You know you doing it and I can’t tolerate it. I have no tolerance for people being wronged. I just don’t have that in me.
Yeah, I was telling one of my co-workers – we were talking about the lengths we’ll go through to help people – and I was telling her that one time we were driving down Sacramento and this woman runs out into traffic with one leg in her pants and one leg out and no shoes on, screaming, screaming, screaming. We saw the cops pass her. This woman is standing there…
Naked. Coming out of the field…
The cops passed her right on by and kept on going. We stopped. It turned out she had just been raped.
She had just been raped. She said the man was still over there in the field.
She had got away.
She had got away with her pants in her hands. No shoes on. And cars just passing by. This naked black woman screaming in the middle of the street…
With her pants off…
And ya’ll won’t stop?
Screaming and crying. So we stopped. And my wife gave her the shoes off her feet. And we called the police.
Yes, and we called the police. And you know them suckers showed up…
Acting a fool…
Talking about, what did you do?
What did you do?
And you know I have told the police off honey, let me tell you, plenty of times.
Yes, she is a cop cusser. (laughs) I keep bail money.
Because right is right and wrong is wrong. I mean they were addressing this woman who has been raped as if she raped herself. You know? Come on. This is a black woman. And they’re talking about, what did you do? Asking her, why didn’t you call the police? Come on! This woman standing here butt ass naked in the middle of Sacramento, a large major thoroughfare, boulevard…
Where the police just passed her by…
And you’re asking her what she’s doing wrong? Baby I was like, no. And we think about her often and how she’s doing and what she’s doing. Because she just got in the car with the police and you never know…
What they did…[Her wife goes back into the other room]
Did they take her to the hospital or file a report? What happened? Where did she go? Did she get counseling? So many times when shit happens to black women we just gotta live through it. We just gotta deal with it. And I feel like we shouldn’t just live with it. Because that – whatever that dis-ease is with us, it manifests in our physical body. We’re never allowed to line up spirit and the wholeness of ourselves. And so we’re always diseased. We’re always – it’s like – I know the First Lady – and I love her for it – has this fitness program now where she wants to get everybody moving and that’s going to be the answer to all that ails us… but when you’re talking about the complicated lives of women, and specifically the complicated lives of women of color, and you’re only addressing the physical, and you’re not addressing the mental / emotional, and you don’t have enough resources and you’re cutting resources for counseling and mental health and we don’t have these community healers anymore or we’re not seeking them out. We’re losing critical resources and you want us to just run it off. Exercise it off.
MW: Just eat right…
Eat right. When we ain’t got nothing in the community…
MW: Food deserts…
We got food deserts. Come on. We got work to do. And I ain’t got no time for all that stressed out trauma shit. You gotta find sliding scale services, seek out a healer, do what you got to do. Because we have to heal our whole selves. Exercise is only one part of it. I do reiki therapy, I do energy work. I tap into all of that because I need to heal my whole self. Running is just one part of that. And it fuels me to say, okay, I can run. Now what else can I do? Can I dance? And so I started dancing and that helps me, oh my God. Dancing was like, yes!
MW: And I love how open your house is because you have so much room to dance or do yoga, all that stuff.
Do alla that.
MW: Some of the couples I’ve talked to say that after being together for so long, and sleeping together for so long, and then the kids get in the bed… I hear women say they’ve totally squeezed out their own sleep. And more than their sleep, they’ve squeezed out their own rest. They say they have no space that’s just their own space. But when they tell their husbands they need space, it hurts their husbands’ feelings. So with you two both being women, do you ever sleep apart? I mean, do you ever need to? And is it ok?
I live on the third floor of this house. That’s my space. My bed’s up there. She has her room and I have my room. And there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Because we need our own spaces. My grandmother on my father’s side had her own space. I would see them sleep together sometimes, but my grandma had her own room. She had her sewing room and she sewed in there, she had her bed in there. I saw her doing prayer work in there. I think elders figured it out long ago. I used to think, why would people do that when they’re married? But I was younger. But now that I’ve been married for some years? Know that it is critical that you have your own space! You have to have your own space! Sometimes in the morning, I just need to wake up to my damn self, and she does too. It’s self preservation. And you also have to be able to have conversations with yourself and then be able to take it back to others and have a conversation with them that is more cohesive than arguing. Sometimes, you know – just being silent. I had never lived by myself until I went to New Orleans. And that was the first time I ever had a room of my own, just by myself. And that was so great. I had moved from my mother’s house, and then I moved into my own place and I had my daughter. I was a young mother then and my baby slept with me. And then when I met my husband, I was with him. And then I went from my husband’s house back to my mother’s house. And I lived a little bit alone in between there, and then I met my wife. And then we were together and we existed in the same space. And I never just had my own space for any length of time.
MW: So when you went to New Orleans, that was pretty much the first time for both of you, having your own spaces. And so when you came back together you were both like…
I need space! I need my own space. (laughs) And she was like yes, yes you do. And I do too.
MW: What are some of the struggles that the two of you have faced together?
An easier question would be what haven’t we faced together. (laughs) I am telling you, we have been through a lot. Monetary struggles. Housing struggles. Communication struggles. Intimacy struggles. You name it, we’ve been through it. And I’m looking to change that. I want to thrive. Everybody’s in such survival mode when it comes to this life and I don’t want to be in that survival mode anymore. I’ve been there. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy my life. I’m ready to thrive. I’m ready to see and touch things that I haven’t seen before. And travel. I’m ready to worry about my damn self.
MW: A lot of the women that I talk to say that some point – especially when there are children in the house – the men complain about all the sex they’re not having.
Girl bye, yes.
MW: So do you…
Yes. (laughs) Yes! That’s what I mean by intimacy problems. Yes.
MW: So which one of you doesn’t want to…
[Her wife says from the next room] Me!
MW: (Laughs) Right… because she’s the Libra and you’re the Aries…
Yes! I want it want it want it want it! That’s why I went to a concert the other day, so I could see some booties twerking!
MW: For me, the thing that turns my faucet off – cause I’m a Virgo – if my money is not right, my coochie’s not right. [Her wife runs in and gives me a high five]
But shit, we black women. Our money ain’t never fucking right! I ain’t got time for that. There’s a struggle out here and we should have sex through it! (laughs)
MW: Oh shit, I love ya’ll!
Shit. The struggle is real and I need sex. I really do believe that when you can have some intimate loving, energy begins to flow. And I know ya’ll worried about money but money problems is gon’ always be there if we can’t manifest anything beyond thinking about money. If we’re concerned about money and struggling about money and everything is about money, we ain’t never gon’ have no money. If we always seeing lack and we not seeing abundance and beauty and being grateful for what we got and trying to be intimate with our partners and loving to ourselves and patient with ourselves, we gon’ always struggle for money. We cannot let money continue to be the sole basis of why we fucking exist. We can’t. Girl I know it’s hard, I know. But I need some sex. I know you worried about how the bills is gon’ get paid but what that got to do with us having sex? We can have sex if the lights get cut off. The lights need to be off anyway. (laughs) That’s one less thing we gotta do. But that’s what I always try to tell my wife. Don’t the ancestors always keep us? Seriously. Things always work out in the end. We always uptight and worried about how we gon’ pay this and stressed out and blocking our own blessings… Shit always works out. A check always arrives from somewhere, somehow, we don’t know. But it always works out. You got a roof over your head, the babies are taken care of, you’re loved abundantly – that’s all that really really really matters. It really is. Because this white man will have you thinking, all I gotta do is work, all I gotta do is work, all I gotta do is work. (laughs)
MW: Okay. You shamed me. (laughs)
Shit, don’t give the white man everything and your vagina. I’m just saying.
MW: But you know, when I don’t want to have sex, I think what I’m really saying is, I need time for myself. Because when you wake up with somebody and go to sleep with them, and you cook and clean and deal with the kids, it’s hard to open your legs at the end of the night because you don’t have anything left. And so I think sometimes I withhold sex because it’s the only thing I have control over. I can’t not take care of my kids or cook or clean for my family, or deal with my husband kindly. So I think sometimes I keep my sex because it’s the one thing I have control over, that I can keep for myself.
Right, yeah. You need to restore yourself. You need to be able to go in your little room and say, babe, tonight I just want to be by myself and nurture myself. I take baths. I take long baths. I moisture myself up. And it ain’t for nobody but for myself. My wife don’t get to see it. It’s all about me. Maybe you need that. It gets greater later though. Right now we’re in the struggle. But at least we have partners. Because so many people don’t have partners. And whether we’re male or female or what have you – whatever relationship you’re in – there’s got to be a compromise. And you just gotta decide what you’re willing to compromise. For me and my wife – she doesn’t make a whole lot of money. So it’s about equity. At one point I was like, you’re not putting in money. I need you to put in the same amount of money that I’m putting in. But that’s not feasible. Her job pays low, you know? And they’re only giving her part time hours. So she’s putting in whatever she can. And she’s putting in some other things that I wasn’t accounting for, like the times that she would cook and I would come home and I didn’t have to cook. Or if she would clean and so I didn’t have to clean. And that is equity. You have to look at relationships from all aspects of what a partner can contribute beyond the money piece. The money is only a tool. That’s one tool that you have in your tool box to get you from point A to point B in life but you also have other tools that you need. And your partner may come with those tools.
MW: What advice would you give to women that you wish somebody had given to you?
I wish that somebody woulda told me don’t take my damn self too seriously. Have fun. Enjoy life. Run, jump, skip, dance, holler, scream, laugh real loud, be obnoxious, read everything, and enjoy. And just enjoy life. I know there is stuff that we need to take serious but we don’t have to be on edge every moment of our life. ‘Cause what it does it build up the fight or flight hormone in our body, and you see those women that have these bellies. My mama used to say, your gut bigger than your butt, baby! It was her way of saying, don’t be stressing out so much. Your seat of creation is off balance. Enjoy life. The stuff you gotta take serious, take serious. You do that job and then, once that job is done and it’s the end of the day, make sure you take some self care. Take a long hot bath and take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. I wish somebody would have told me to take care of myself real good. Love myself real good.
MW: And don’t wait for somebody else to do it.
And don’t wait for somebody else to do it. Love yourself real, real good.
MW: That’s so perfect. Thank you.