So, it is late April 2007 and a day or two has passed since I spoke to Jareld. Prior to this day, we spoke every day, several times a day. He lived in Harlem. I lived in Brooklyn and even as I write I knew before these days that the relationship would not last always.
I wanna put a pin here. Isn’t funny how we live 10+ lives in the one life? I don’t even remember his last name today, but I remember how the relationship made me feel and what was explored. I’ll get to that in a moment.
So, this fucking guy calls me after going ghost for days. He was the first man I had sexual intercourse with. At the time, I thought I was such an idiot. I don’t hear from him from days and it felt like I really did “lose” my virginity to someone. I always hated that phrase. “Lost” means cannot be found and/or someone has said item. I knew where it was and I gave it away. Perhaps not freely because there is baggage there, but I certainly did so with my eyes wide open, but I digress. So, this brotha does not call me. I am texting him and calling him and after day 3, I get a voicemail that says the following:
“Hey, Ebonni. My ex is pregnant and I think it is mine. I need to take care of my responsibilities.” I did not understand what this had to do with me. I didn’t want to be a ready-made mom, but I didn’t think that meant anything. So, I’m shocked that she was about to have a baby, as their time together was before me, but it was not a deal breaker.
When I didn’t hear from him again, the shock that I had sex with this guy who moved on as quickly as he moved in (literally and figuratively) was infuriating to me. I could not believe I made the decision to sleep with someone for the first time who had no real connection to me, but instead someone you date and move on from.
I felt like I finally met someone who liked me. He didn’t just like me for me, but liked me and easily fell into the trap of “he has good conversation and thinks I’m good enough so I’ll date him”. There was no real connection to if this person inspired me, moved me. I didn’t consider if I could build with him or if we could go through life well together. I didn’t even think about whether I wanted to do life with him or if it was just a one-off situation. I didn’t have any power. I gave my power, not to him, but to the part of me that was “just happy to be good enough”.
As a child, being liked and having friends was par for the course. As an adult, I felt bad about not knowing where my need to be connected came from. As an adult, I wanted to be good enough or perfect to at least blend in and not be bothered. I made my relationship with Jareld about me, but not the adult me. I made it about the 11-year-old me who didn’t understand why being nice wasn’t good enough.
As an adult of 35 almost 36 years, how you see me is none of my business. As an adult, when I feel the weight of speaking up, demanding respect or advocating for myself, I recognize there may always be a small part of me that is the small part of me. I recognize 11-year-old Ebonni and 24-year-old Ebonni is 35 almost 36-year-old Ebonni. She evolved and will never be perfect. She will always feel it when her words upset a loved one. She may always hope people will just understand her heart, but today I recognize every man, job and lesson came at the best price possible. It came with a wisdom nothing other than experience could give and for that, I am not just grateful. I am whole.