1. To you, “let’s move in together” is an unknown declaration of love. Unknown, to the other party that is.
A statement of faith to jump head first, both sweaty palms and bright-eyed wonder into the abyss, trusting to happen upon that which is glorious.
Or it is to say, here, this is the passage way to my heart.
Come sit with me here, take your shoes off and be comfortable because though you don’t know it yet, this will be home.
So find your way to settle in.
2. Growing up, my mother was obsessed with having “good girls” around me.
She would say: Siwe, itshomi ziyakhethwa. Ungaziboni sewuxakene nabantu kula hostel ke.
A coded way of saying: if you get out of pocket or come back with uncanny habits or worse, pregnant (cough), hmmm uzondazi.
Now, coloured in and calloused by life, I think that love sometimes is represented in that sentiment.
Uzondazi is another way of saying: darling, I want all that is good and nourishing to water you tall.
For your best parts to bubble and boil and brim to surface, till they spill over.
I want depth in love, wealth in friendship, an ocean of all that is infinite and yes in this lifetime.
This imperfect love will present you as both firm hands and steady knees, so do not grasp for the vapouring substitutes.
Granted, it is a declaration of love enveloped in fear.
I guess love is like that sometimes, armoured by our defences, it doesn’t always come out just right.
When I met you, or you met me, whichever came first my stats friend, I didn’t know that you were the heads to the tail of my mother’s “uzondazi”.
An ocean of love, so deep and consuming sometimes I fear it might drown us both.
Or has – in debt, and recklessness and bad decisions…and sisterhood.
An “in spite of”, “always and forever”, “yiza wethu”, “lady”, “the Yen”, “beloved”.
Across seasons and the ocean.
An “I would fly anywhere if you needed me”.
That which covers a multitude of sins.
3. A lesson on love:
Learning to hold hands when the idea of sweat and physical contact sends shivers down your spine.
Learning to say, “it hurts”, cross legged, hands locked parallel when you’ve mbokodo’d your way through life•
A lesson on compromise: yes, I suck at texting and you hate it. But if you need me, send me an “I need you” text so I know to get over myself and…middle seats on long flights are a shared load.
Learning to decipher the coded language between two conflict avoidants: I am sad, I don’t like you very much right now, that hurt. A reckless abandonment without shame, anchored on a love secure. Coming to this sanctuary just as we are.
Learning how to speak: the parts said out loud “you will need to teach my boyfriend how to gift me the best gifts”, “I love you”. The parts whispered “here, where my heart meets yours and our minds adventure wherever they find a forest, you can relax. You have a home with me”.
Learning to laugh out loud: we are in our shared living room, our excitement extinguishing any shivers from wrestling the cold on our unenviable trek to our uphill apartment. You, hands on my waist, is it Tekno or Burna or Wizkid backup singing to your commands being barked at me to stop being so “stiff” and to shake my waist sexy? I still can’t distinguish between them Afrobeats boys
4. The parts of you unknown are unmoored.
Your breath both slinking stillness and roaring ocean all at the same time, signals at once that you are still here.
Your hearty laugh and lustrous smile.
A forever optimist.
With phrases like “don’t you sometimes marvel at the vastness of the ocean” or “do you look at the sky and feel overwhelmed at our capacity to behold all it contains and to exist within it?
Do you think it is a synonym for our capacity to love?”
I look at you, a mixture of bewilderment and an intense eye-roll.
This is corny, I think.
My poorest and least forgivable assessment to date.
You have proven me a poor judge at best, a liar at worst.
For you are the first visible sign of a lighthouse in an ocean riddled with storms that threaten to capsize us.
Textured by life yet unjaded.
Stars hanging in all right places, so full of light.
A beam radiating wonder unlost.
A thread through the history of Toni and Baldwin and Maya and Tsitsi and Zade.
Nina Simone’s invisible lyrical breath in “Young, Gifted and Black”.
Zora Howard in a Harlem jazz bar bolting out “Sister girlfriend”.
An unbounced courage cheque that Koleka Putuma keeps threatening we owe to our dreams.
The guitar strum in Pip Millet’s ‘Ava’.
Sleeping at Last hushing the ocean behind us.
Pedestaling beauty and wonder in the face of death and decay.
5. Speaking of decay, past a certain age our bodies start to betray us, no matter the pruning and prudence of care.
A cruel and constant reminder of death, our ever-present nemesis.
Yet this life given, though singular and seemingly short is a constant reminder that we are still here.
It signals another opportunity to shake your waist in some dingy bar somewhere in the world, or a moment to sit in a cabin crackling with laughter, a fire of youth burning deep within to warm us through the night.
Or is it the wine we’re drinking.
I can never quite tell where the passion ends and the wine begins in all our debates.
Anyway, what does it matter.
It beckons us to write books and papers to seriously reckon with the purpose of being.
Or to go home to our humble yet nourishing nest, birds who know to always return when the sky turns dark because of the clouds pregnant with rainfall.
To host poetry and champagne gatherings, gathering randoms who might one day call each other friend, or in my case, to just add to the list of your friends you claim I dislike.
It is an invitation to exist still.
To laugh heartily and smile lustrously still.
To be forever optimists with phrases like: Yes, the sky’s capacity to hold all it contains is a synonym for our capacity to love.
To marvel at the vastness of the ocean and to be here, in complete surrender, blessing the moment.
Today, I hope we all take it, even for the days when we don’t.
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