Andie M. Hayes

Author | Artist

Filtering by Tag: love

An Ode to Toni Morrison

Mourning. What is mourning anyway? Does someone have to sit in a dark room and cry, howl, jeremiad and lament for days on end to really, truly be considered “in mourning”? I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t feel the same after the death of one my all-time favorite authors a few days ago. You know who I’m talking about: Momma Toni, Mother Morrison, the one, the only, Toni Morrison.

James Baldwin died three years before I was born and when Maya Angelou died, I admit I was sad, but nothing like how I feel now. I did write a pretty substantial blog post that’s now long gone on the Tumblr interwebs, though. And when Gabo (Gabriel Garcia Márquez for the unfamiliar) died in 2014…chile, please. Do NOT get me started. I lost it. THAT was true mourning. It was almost as if I’d lost a literary grandfather, you know. No. I suppose you don’t. That’s how deeply his work has touched me.

Today, I started reading Love and I can honestly say I don’t know how popular this particular Toni Morrison book is because it’s one I haven’t heard of before. But three pages in and I’m enraptured. I only stopped reading to write this blog because I needed someone to know the depth of my pain when I realized there will never be another Toni Morrison book. Think about that for a moment. Toni Morrison will never write another book…

When I was eleven, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I’d just read How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and honestly, the book was probably much deeper than any girl my age should have been reading; but it was in my middle school library and I was already reading at a college level, so I had my pick of the bunch. It wasn’t until many years later that I came into contact with the illustrious Momma Toni, but when I did my decision to write was totally and completely solidified. I knew that no matter what I had to do to make money, writing would always be a part of my life and it would one day be how I made a living.

Because of authors like Toni Morrison, writing…has become a part of my very soul. Let me explain. I don’t just write for fun. I don’t just write for money. I don’t just write for other people to read my thoughts and say “oh, that’s deep”. I write for solace. I write to cleanse. I write to release. I write because I am free to do so and because others before me have paved a path where I have the freedom to write what I please when I please for the audience I please. Whew!

But there is so much more to writing. Toni Morrison wrote: “The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers.” One more time for the people in the back… The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers. Language with its twists and turns and complexities and eccentricities is what makes writing worth writing! If that makes any sense whatsoever. And Morrison understood that. She lived for it just like I do. She breathed it. She felt it in her soul. She felt the power of a single word and she knew how to use it! She knew how to make you feel something by using the right word at the right time and that, my friends, takes more than skill. It takes more than talent. It’s a gift. And not of us have it. I’m not sure I have it. But I keep working at it and I stay inspired.

As I write this my heart is heavy and my throat is tight. I feel as if I’ve lost an old friend I haven’t seen in far too long. Yesterday, I bought Love and The Source of Self Regard, hoping to reconnect with that friend before too much of her memory fades, knowing she’s already too far gone. Maybe reading her stories and essays will remind me of what I need to do as a writer in order to be successful and make my mark. Or maybe they’ll just take me to that place I’ve been needing to go in my heart to find myself.

I Never Thought I'd Get Dumped at 28 by Someone I Wasn't Even Dating

So, it took me a while to decide whether or not to write about this experience, because ya know, this blog is supposed to be about books and art and writing. But then I realized, I am a writer and everything that happens in my life is worth writing about. Writing gives me solace. Writing gives me peace of mind. Writing helps me heal. And so, here it goes.

A about a month ago…or maybe it’s been two…my best friend dumped me. You heard me. I got dumped by my best friend. This wasn’t someone I’d only met a year ago and called my “bestie” for fun. This was someone I’d known for five or six years; someone I’d created a real bond with. And so when I was told that we were “growing apart,” I was, in a sense, shell-shocked. I was totally and completely blindsided. I thought we were in a good place. We were planning a trip abroad. We were learning a new language together. We were NOT growing apart. At least from my point of view we weren’t.

From where I was standing, this person was going to be in my life for the rest of my life. She was going to be in my wedding. She was going to be there when I finally published my first book. She was like another sister to me and I assumed she was going to stay that way. Granted, I have another best friend who’s been around since high school and we’ve been through our ups and downs, but this friendship was of a different kind. We’d bonded in a different way; and, I thought that bond was deep enough to make it through anything and everything. I thought that if we had any issues that we could go to each other and talk about them, but que sera sera, ya know?

I’m telling y’all this to say that you never really know what’s going on with someone else. You can think that everything is perfect, but to that other person everything can be a total disaster. They can be holding things against you and you’ll never know it. I was told that my personality is “negative”; that she was “making observations” about things I’d been doing over the years. But I was taught love doesn’t keep account of the injury.

Losing friends in your 20s is a strange feeling. On the one hand, you really are sad. You want to know where it all went wrong and how you can fix it. You can’t help but wonder if things will get back to how they used to be one day. You look for loop holes in the final conversations to see if there’s a chance for that friendship to be rekindled. You miss your friend. But, on the other hand, you don’t care. You want to move on. You want to forget they exist. And if you’re like me, you purge: pictures, text messages, phone numbers, social media, anything that connects you to or reminds you of that person. And then, you tell yourself that you’re better off without them. But are you? Are you really better off alone? Are you even really alone?

When everything first happened, I kept thinking of myself as alone, but then I thought of all the friends I’d been neglecting over the years because I’d let this one friend monopolize my time and life. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. But when you really click with someone you decide, whether consciously or unconsciously, that you want to spend time with them. But then you realize you’re spending all of your time with them; and you’ve let your other friends fall by the wayside until those relationships become superficial and then those friends become mere acquaintances. That’s not fair to anyone.

I realize now that my old friendships need to be rekindled; that I need to put more effort in being a well-rounded friend. I need to put more focus on spending time with more people equally and showing all of my friends love. “Love is all we need,” right? Corny, I know. But still true.

I can’t say that I know I’ll grow from this because there were no warning signs. There was nothing to tell me that things were THIS wrong. Sure, she blew me off a few times, but I thought maybe she really was busy. She had been in the past. There was no reason to not believe the excuses to not do things together. I don’t have a definitive way to know how to grow, but I do know this: letting someone else’s perception of you dominate how you see yourself is not the way to live your life, especially when you know you didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t let someone’s ideas of how you should be dictate how you shape yourself. You are the only one who gets to mold you. YOU are the only one who gets to decide how big or small your personality is. No one else is given that privilege and you shouldn’t give them that power over you. It took me a few days to figure that out but, now that I have, I feel empowered by it, and I need to share it with as many people as I can.

I think in a world like today’s we need to focus on the good in people rather than the bad. By focusing on the bad parts we’re bound to find something we don’t like. We’re going to certainly find some things that aren’t suited to our tastes. But if we look for the good bits, for the parts that reflect qualities we want to see in the world in people, then we will be happier people all around. I’m not being ideological. And I’m not saying ignore the bad parts and only look for the good parts either. I’m just saying, don’t keep account of the injury. Don’t sit and count up the things that have offended you and never, ever say anything to someone until you reach a breaking point. Don’t hold it all in and never let your loved one know what they’re doing wrong or to offend you. It’s rude. It’s unkind. It’s unloving. And it’s being a bad friend.

-A

Do you have any thoughts? Leave me a comment!