Cranes in the Sky.

When Solange's A Seat at the Table dropped, I remember waking up 45 minutes before my alarm went off and immediately opening Tidal. I watched the clock as I fought to get through as many songs as possible before I had to peel myself out of bed and start the day. As much as I wanted to make it through tracks 1-21, I was stuck on track 4, "Cranes in the Sky." It just resonated with me at the time, for reasons I didn't understand. Life was okay. Work was okay. I was happy, despite unexpected life changes that required a little adjusting on my part.  But for the most part, this song about avoidance resonated with me, but I wasn't avoiding anything. Challenges in my professional and personal lives were met head on, and what I couldn't handle on my own I got the counsel from those who could. But still, I made this song my anthem, so much so that I caught my mom singing it by just day 2 of its release.

It wasn't until yesterday that I understood why of all the songs I absolutely love from A Seat at the Table, from "F.U.B.U". to "Don't Wish Me Well," "Cranes in the Sky" actually earned my famous "repeat button" treatment. (For those who don't know, I'm famously known for playing songs on repeat for hours on end. My peak was one song for 48 hours straight. It was Common's "I Want You" and for two whole days, I listened to nothing but that track.) 

The truth is, though, that life gets messy. Friendships can get tricky, Love can get difficult, and work can become overwhelming. And if we're being honest, we can't be these tough, soulless beings all the time, beings who can clean it up and make it out completely unaffected by it all. For me, the mess meant picking up the phone for friends who insisted on calling (I hate receiving phone calls) to see if I was holding up okay. It meant drafting ridiculously long (but necessary) emails. It meant filling my friends' inboxes with long texts asking for business advice and hoping they've been in my exact situation before. It meant locking my door. Pulling up old albums. Sitting in the sauna. Grieving. Crying. Venting.

Then, it meant buying a bus ticket to the city that gives me life, New York. I packed up my duffle bag, and I ran from the mess. And when I got there, I drank it away. I danced it away. I put one in the air. I ran my credit card bill up. I tried to keep myself busy, I ran around in circles, think I made myself dizzy. I slept it away. (Didn't sex it away.)

And it wasn't until I sat on the bus back to Richmond on Wednesday, struggling to stay awake, struggling to respond to emails, struggling to find the topic for my weekly newspaper feature, that I realized I'd successfully practiced the avoidance Solange sang about in that song I love. That song foreshadowed the very experiences I'd have just two weeks later. And maybe my mind was secretly taking notes about all the possible ways I could avoid the meltdown that was on the horizon. Maybe it needed validation that I'm not the only one who runs, and then ran for the hills once Solange provided it. Whatever the case, I sat on the Greyhound bus side-eyeing the man who wrote his number on my luggage tag, and I felt defeated. I had to admit to myself that the avoidance I practiced for almost a week while running around the city I love so dearly from sun up to...well, sun up, had kicked my butt. And it hurt, both physically and emotionally. 

I just knew I'd get flu-like symptoms when I woke up Thursday morning. (Similar to the time I spent a week driving cross-country, stopping in random states for nights of fun along the way. When we made it to LA, we partied some more, and I caught the earliest flight back to NYC. From the airport, I caught a taxi to my friend's house where we partied some more, spent a day at the beach, and partied again. When I woke up Monday morning, my body said, "No ma'am," and I stayed in bed with the flu for two days.)

But it wasn't like that. My body wasn't here for the pity. It wasn't here for the "woe is me, life is getting hard" sob story. It didn't even grant me a tiny cough. No excuse to keep avoiding, to keep running. So now, I'm here. Laying the ground rules for myself, not allowing myself to get engulfed in the mess that is life. Life happens, life hurts, she'll make you laugh then before you can wipe your tears of laughter, she'll turn them into tears of sorrow. And while self-care is necessary, avoidance is not. 

My last night in New York was spent at an amazing Italian restaurant in the Lower East Side with incredible friends. Then on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel. Then on the balcony of a hotel room that overlooked the city I love. Then in the back of an Uber with my dearest Angie. Then staying up way past our bedtime because she said she'd never watched Lemonade. Of course I forced her to watch. But then on that bumpy ride back to reality, I decided I had to put on my big girl panties and face life's mess head on. All of it. 

Here are pics from an impromptu photo shoot on my last night of avoidance. I won't lie; it was an amazing night.


  1. Wonderful thoughts indeed, looks like you had a special time. Happy photos make me happy, so thanks for sharing. Nice week!

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