Me and Mr. Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

I, like many other girls before me, had expectations for my husband. I dreamed I would lovingly provide a warm and inviting environment for him to come home to. It would be beautiful with feminine touches and strong masculine furniture. Nothing too dainty so he would never feel out-of-place. And he, would fix stuff. He would be responsible for all the “manly” things I have no interest in being bothered with: unclogging the toilet; mowing the lawn; making sure the AC filters are cleaned regularly; hanging the curtain rods, the picture frames, the fixtures; assembling, re-assembling, and repositioning furniture; installing shelving units; taking care of the cars; cleaning out the garage; getting rid of bugs and critters… You know, all the stuff you imagine the men at Home Depot are confidently going to do at home.

I had expectations. And early Sunday morning – dressed in my pajamas, rain jacket, and gardening gloves, wielding a newly purchased tree trimmer – I pruned my own trees in preparation for tropical storm Isaac. Not exactly what I had dreamed my role would be at 32 and three-quarters. As a single woman, I have had to “be bothered with” all of the above and then some. Tree-trimming in the rain was a cold and wet reminder that my expectations of my “role” have slowly disintegrated with each new task, taking an unfulfilled dream to its ashes.

So Mr. Hughes, “What, indeed, does happen to a dream deferred?”

I have had my share of dreams deferred. Halted. Squashed. Postponed. Laid aside for a better day, a better time, a better economic climate. Some, to my relief; others to my chagrin. Usually I find solace in knowing there are better plans, greater opportunities, more deserving people than what I had foolishly hoped for in my limited wisdom. If that is not an option, I chalk it up to the lesson in the experience. I consider where I veered off course, lost sight of my goals, vow to learn from that and move on. Then, my broken dream will at least have purpose. But what happens when all was going well? What happens when there were no foolish expectations? When the goal was in sight and the prize within reach? What happens when the only lesson is that dreams are sometimes deferred and the pain is just that, painful? Mr. Hughes wondered the same thing.

“…Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”

Something else happened on Sunday, beside my tree-trimming epiphany; my heart was deeply broken. A dream was… snuffed out…

But there is no one to blame. No unkept promise to grieve. No sore to fester and nothing to explode at. It was only a dream. God is sovereign. It was simply not His will for me. I accept that. And yet the pain is still, painful. It still sags like a heavy load and each jagged breath feels like dying. I want to scream it out, like Mr. Hughes! I want somebody to tell me – what do you do with it? I want somebody to know – this hurts! But I don’t know what to say, or who to say it to. So I find myself singing.

Sick of Deferred Hope

I don’t want to hope anymore. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being sick. I’m sick of its cold indifference. I’ve come to believe that it’s got to be easier to long for nothing than to hang on to this dead tree.

I don’t want to anticipate the next email, I don’t want to wait for the phone call.I don’t want to consider the results of one last moment of patience.I don’t want to envision the joys of the final answer.

I’m done.I don’t want to hold on for………….

I want something else. I want something different. I want something more than these dying breaths. I need something more than this unfulfilled emptiness.

I’m sick… I’m sick of the cycling roller-coaster… I’m sick of deferred hope.

Side hugs are for the sexually oppressed

Side hugs are for the sexually oppressed. Oops! Did I just say that out loud? Actually, I am doing way more than saying it, I am writing it for the world to see.

OK, I don’t really believe that. However, the frustration behind this outburst has been brewing in my draft box since June 7, 2008 –  and in my mind for much longer. So, before I’m labeled all sorts of colored letters, I will take an opportunity to explain.

There are two factors that affect this repulsion to side hugs. First, I grew up with brothers. Being a bit of a tom-boy, I rough-housed with my brothers and male cousins constantly. Respecting our physical differences didn’t equate to rejecting one another. Second, I’m from a Haitian culture where we greet each other with hugs and kisses. I am not naive enough to generalize these two factors. In fact, I tend to be very reserved with my personal space. But for ME, hugs were a sign of safe and friendly affection – regardless of sex. Even within the church – I attended Haitian congregations for most of my childhood and young adulthood. And beyond that, I became a member of a Messianic congregation. Although in both settings, sexual purity was always emphasized, it wasn’t until I became involved with the American church that I encountered the side-hug.

What is a side-hug? Well, to put it plainly, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A girl and a guy hug each other from the side in order to avoid any “frontal contact”. With my background, I was well into my twenties when I first received a side-hug. The concept was so foreign to me that I felt confused, ashamed and rejected. “What was that? Why would someone pretend to give me a hug and then stop halfway? Did I smell? Did I do something wrong?” Unfortunately, the answers to my questions only made me feel worse. How, I wondered, could anyone take something as warm and wonderful as a hug from a friend and pervert it? Hugs are like Oreo cookies and milk after school; a warm cup of chocolate on a cold night; a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer day! What on earth has gone wrong the world, the Church, that a hug is something to be ashamed of?

This may sound harsh, but I genuinely just don’t understand. If I don’t feel comfortable with someone, or I don’t know them very well, I just don’t hug them. There are other options, i.e., a handshake, a general wave. I don’t half accept and half reject them from my personal bubble. That’s just weird, and I’m just plain tired of playing along like it’s OK. From now on, I will reserve my precious hugs for the precious few that appreciate it: Kens, Julie, Alex, Kris, Cathi, Jude, Paul, Pat, Brian, Klebert, Marie, Sasha, Jugi, Betsy, Ryan, Sara, Nydessa, Lauri, Joyce, Bethany, Michey, Wendy, Charles, etc., etc., etc.

… Still

So last night, a boy talked to me. A regular boy and I had a regular conversation. Just a nice, Christian, good looking boy and I had a nice innocent conversation. Nothing truly personal was discussed; nothing extraordinary to make note of in a journal; no deep theological debate to ponder over for hours; not even any commitments for any further discussions…

Still, my mind is buzzing. Still my thoughts are racing. Still my imagination is running… wild

Still, I’ve lost my peace. Still, I’ve misplaced my contentment. Still, my heart is going… wild

This year I had committed to be more mature when it came to the opposite sex. Gone were the days of planning outfits based on a certain someone being present. In my dust I had left the silly doubts and insecurities about who “I” was. No longer would I be 28 going on 18. My imagination had been reigned in and corralled into productive, fruitful ventures that left me with a sense of empowerment and satisfaction.

And still… all it took to knock me off my high horse was a beautiful smile from a beautiful boy.