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tuesdays with tara – volume sixty-one

“Please don’t go. I’ll eat you whole. I love you so. I love you so.”

It had been one hell of a year.  Really, it was just the cruel punch line at the end of the three that preceded it.  I am talking about more than a bad breakup.  I am talking about watching a wrecking ball tear through everything that you thought you ever knew.  By the end of it, I dangled dangerously off a precipice; solid ground slipping out from underneath me.  I wasn’t sure what I knew anymore.  Did I really know anything about love?  Did I really understand what I was worth as a person?  How had things gotten so out of hand?  How did I lose perspective of how I deserved to be treated? How did I ever come to such a place in life?  Wasn’t I stronger than this?  Was that really the question I should have been asking myself?  Why do we always try to blame ourselves first?

I am not a victim.  That is not a role I want to play in life.  I stand before you accountable for my own actions.  There are certain things that happen to us in life that never could have happened had we not allowed them to occur.  There are doors that we walk through, either willingly or blindly, but we are the ones who do the walking.  We open that door and what we find on the other side of that door is the result of that choice.  We may not like what we find there.  We may not deserve what happens to us on the other side, but we have to acknowledge that we opened the door.

I am guilty of so many things.  I am guilty of ignoring the signs.  I am guilty of not being able to see what was right in front of me all along; of seeing what I wanted to see, and not the reality.

Here’s why I am not asking you to feel sorry for me, why you must not.  I knew he was bad news.  From the first moment we locked eyes, I knew he was trouble.  I read him completely from the first time we spoke.  I could see that he was wild, passionate, and out of control.  Unfortunately, his arrival in my life corresponded directly with an irrational need I felt for danger.  I had fallen into a rut of sorts and I needed some shaking up.  Sometimes it just happens like that.

The thing is that we hear the same advice all the time:  “You can’t change anyone.” and “You can’t save anyone.”  I am sure there has come a time when you have sat down someone you loved and told them these very words to their face.  I guess it’s what you might call tough love.  You may even believe that these are words that ring true.  Maybe you know someone who eventually had to leave a spouse with a drug addiction.  Maybe you said these very words to that friend. The fact of the matter is:  it’s easy for you to say.  Even if you have been down a similar road in life, you cannot judge another person’s love or pain.  You cannot weight it or chart it or begin to imagine it.

The fact of the matter is that until you are able to make sense of your own mind, you may as well be underwater.  No matter how many people sat me down, no matter what they said to me, it fell on deaf ears.  I can see my pattern of behavior so readily now in hindsight.

In the beginning, there were the justifications.  This is the part that I was born to play.  I suppose the reason why I put on such a convincing show was because, at first, my heart was really in it.  When I defended him, when I made excuses for his behavior, I was steadfast.  My well-meaning friend was forced to retreat, to back down.  “Well, alright, then.  As long as you know what you’re doing.”  I heard that one a lot.  I knew that I had not fully convinced them all the time, but I had also managed not to get tied to the chair until help came, either.

After giving so many of those performances, even I had lost the will to keep them going.  I realized that the cracks in the façade were spreading at an alarming rate.  Now when I faced my advisors, I had to hang my head.  It was hard to look anyone in the eye.  I even felt deeply ashamed of my tears.  Nobody dared say, “I told you so”.  Nobody had to.  I was fully aware of the fact that I had been asleep at the wheel and had caused my current demise with that reckless behavior.  I had run out of excuses.  All that I had left were my rationalizations.  So instead of cutting my losses, as any rational person would have done, I dug in the trenches.  I had convinced myself, was attempting to convince everyone around me, that I was fighting the good fight.  Look at all that I had sacrificed for this love.  How I had altered the entire course of my future to be with this one person.  How my love was the force that would lead him out of the darkness.  How my support and care would be the stabilizing elements that would lead him to himself.  I believed in these justifications with all that I was made of.  I clung to them, drank from them, cried myself to sleep with them.  I had become a martyr for this love.  I was willing to sacrifice my own health, safety, happiness, sanity in order to repair this broken person.  I had convinced myself that no one else on earth could do this job.  I was the only one who truly knew his soul, the only one who loved him enough to bother.

All of these were nothing but delusions of the most treacherous kind, but I allowed them to permeate my being because, quite simply, I felt that they were all I had left.  I thought that if I walked out, if I gave up, I would be thrust into some kind of terrifying personal limbo.  I hadn’t just moved to another part of town.  I had moved to another country on the other side of the planet.  I was partially submerged in a culture in which I was an outsider, a blunt and convenient threat that was leveled against me when it suited.  If I walked out that door, who was I going to be?  Where was I going to go? How was I going to find the strength to pick myself back up?

It was the second incident of physical abuse that finally woke me up.

The first time it happened, I had believed the grief that he felt by causing me such pain.  I believed him when he said that he would never be able to forgive himself for hurting me that way.

I managed to stay in that house with him for four days after the attack, and I marveled that it was that long.  Of course, he bent over backwards to play the afflicted man.  I don’t know how many tears were cried on my lap, how many apologies were choked through those tears, but something had grown inside of me.  A seed of fear had been planted.  When he came near me, I flinched.  When he raised his voice, I backed away.  I realized that I was behaving like a victim.  The trust that I had placed in him had been demolished.  The promise that he had made to me, to my family, to look after me, to protect me, had been broken.

There was no way to undo what had been done.  There was no going back from that place.  When I packed my bags that time, he didn’t try to stop me.  He loaded up the car with them and drove me to my safe house.  He knew that he was responsible for what had become of me and he knew that he could not change any of it.  As we drove in silence, I remember thinking to myself, eyes closed, almost a prayer, “You’re still alive.  You’re still alive.”  Aside from a few suitcases, it was all that I had at the time to hold onto.

I am about to appear certifiable by revealing to you that I went back.  I don’t think I will ever be able to reconcile such a lapse in intelligence.  There must have been a thought process involved, but I can’t tell you for the life of me what it was.  All I know is that a week after I left, I was moving right back in despite the pleas of the friends who had given me safe harbor, even against my better judgment.

This is why I stand accountable for the second incident of abuse.  This is why I cannot be considered a true victim.  I am not saying that I got what I deserved.  I certainly believe that no one has the right to abuse another person.  I am simply stating that I put myself in harm’s way.  I have no one to blame but myself for that.  Anyone in their right mind would consider the possibility of a recurrence of violence, or even a pattern of it.  I can’t claim to be someone who was abandoned or neglected at a young age.  I did not bounce around the foster care system or end up in juvenile detention.  No, I was raised very well.  I had a good head on my shoulders by all accounts.  My parents didn’t worry about me unduly when they set me out into the world to find myself as an adult.  They took stock in the knowledge that they had done their job.  Therefore it stands to reason that the fact that I had allowed myself to be in the line of fire a second time was entirely my own doing.  It was a clear-cut case of me not taking care of me.  It had to stop.

I staggered out of that dark, horrible place.    I suffered, and I did most of it alone.  I was too embarrassed, I think, to cry on anyone’s shoulder at that point.  What had happened in the end was no surprise to anyone in my life.  I know there was a huge collective sigh of relief when it became clear that it was all truly behind me; that I was not going back.  It would just be a long time before I had healed enough to join in the celebration.

Here’s the amazing part, the coup de grace.  All of the pain and loss that I experienced, all of the torment that I was subjected to, none of it killed me.  In fact, once the ragged edge ebbed off of the sorrow, once I passed through the tunnel of debilitating anger, I realized something very important about myself.  I was still standing.  I was still there.  Had I allowed my past to become my future, there were no guarantees about what I have just said.  This deeply traumatic experience was responsible for beginning a new and beautiful process.  Like the tender young shoots that spring from the ashes of a forest fire, I was starting anew.  I was not only going to get back to myself, but I was coming full-circle into the woman I was meant to be.  It’s the best gift I have ever given myself.

I am not suggesting that it has been an easy road.  There are no convenient answers, no quick fixes.  I know now that this process may very well occupy me until the end of my days.  Somehow I’m alright with that.  There are things in this life that are worth finding; yourself, chiefly among them.

tuesdays with tara – volume sixty

Sat me down, had a chat. Men are men but we’re all half alley cat.”

 I really loved you. You meant something. I left you like you didn’t. It’s an albatross I will always wear. You are forever gone and there are no amends forthcoming. What may have appeared as indifference was pure naked fear. You were dying and before our very eyes. It was a burden that swallowed me whole. And when you asked me to help you die, well, the distance I put between us become a chasm that could never be crossed, never be filled.

 You were what people like to refer to as “a character” ; an individual of the highest caliber. You were an eccentric blue blood living on the fringe of acceptability. Cast out of your family because of your sexuality and your brazen lifestyle, you carved out an extraordinary life and made no apologies for who you were.

I was in awe of you. You were most likely in love with my husband. You never came on to him to my knowledge, but it’s possible my then husband was too polite to tell me about it, knowing how it would affect our friendship. Our bond was a found object that I treasured. Something I would reflect upon and feel a swelling in my heart. You were like no other and I loved you for that fact alone, but you gave me so many other reasons.

 You took us out to fine dinners. We were poor, but lively company. Our friendship was a fine mix of charity and genuine adoration. You opened the un-likeliest of doors for us.

 One night, we walked into a building on a block of boarded-up row houses. It was dark and desolate. There was no signage to speak of. When we walked through the door, it was like falling into a C.S.Lewis story. This was Maurice’s, a speak easy French bistro. The room opened up and we were greeted with a packed house illuminated by tabletop candles, Miles Davis on the sound system and Maurice himself, a diminutive man who resembled Pablo Picasso. Your good friend,it would turn out, he hugged you and shook our hands mightily, any friend of yours, etc. Maurice was a brooding difficult man who lived above the restaurant with his ailing mother. He learned French cooking when he was stationed in France during WWII. His pate nearly made me want to weep. It was a gem so deeply hidden, so exquisite in its underground perfection, and it was a gift that you gave to us. All you ever asked for was a little company.

 On a lark, you took up with a randy gang of hobos. They were squatting in an old row house in a shady part of town. Their days consisted of panhandling, purchasing cheap high octane vodka and lying about swilling it. There was an Irishman prone to shouting out sea chanties. There was an Appalachian woman who made stew with weeds that grew in the cracks of the sidewalk. It was unadulterated bohemian madness and you loved it for what it was.

 You had an aversion to water and french fries. You announced they were “common”. If served water in a restaurant, you waved your hand in disgust and said, “Take this away!” We judged the cool factor of our server based on their reaction to this performance. You weren’t rude. You were eccentric and there is a difference.

 You started to fall apart. You weren’t just sick anymore, you were leaving this world. There came a time when you decided the process wasn’t fast enough for your liking. You asked me to take your life. What was left of it wasn’t worth having, you said to me. You asked me if I would smother you with a pillow. It couldn’t have been an easy thing for you to ask of me. It scared me so much, the very thought of such an act, that I started running and I kept on running until you were already gone.

 My husband spoke at your funeral. I spent the whole day crying. Not only did I rob myself of the chance to say goodbye to you, but I never told you how much you meant to me.

 It’s an albatross I should be forced to carry.

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-nine

“I’ve got soft skin. Are you gonna’ let me in?”

It was Jacques who brought her around. He was the Kerouac of our group, swarthy, gregarious and slightly dangerous. A bit overly verbose and strangely wound, he was tolerated because of the gifts he gave the house. His father was a diplomat and Jacques was forever pinching things from his office: bottles of cognac, Cuban cigars, a rare first edition of a book. He said his father was an elitist shallow man who regarded such prizes as mere bribes from sycophants, people who expected favors in return. This lessened our guilt and aided in our enjoyment of the contraband.

She came in on his arm and barely stirred the breeze. She was like a tiny bird flitting from room to room. She was small and thin to the point of appearing gauzy. She had alabaster skin generously sprayed with sandy freckles. Her long red hair was ropy with hopeless tangles for lack of care. She was clearly a duchess and she was slumming it with us. But because she was only in high school, because she listened instead of spoke, nobody took her seriously.

She never contributed much when she was around, save for proximity. Her casual elegance was such that she classed up a room simply by being present. I watched her once in the kitchen as she poured tea. She had the studied mannerisms of a geisha. It was moments like this when she took a bit of my breath. I was certain that she was marvelous and just trying to keep it a secret from everyone.

Years after that bohemian cooperative had broken up, we would see her around. She showed up at my husband’s art show. She bought a piece because she could. She came to the after party and turned me on to gin and tonics; told me that I had strong beautiful legs.

Her mother was very powerful and important and had one of the best loft apartments in the city. They threw fantastic parties. At one of these, I had a conversation with David Byrne’s parents, at another, I beat her in a drunken wasabi-eating contest on the balcony. Her friends were contrite and oddly sophisticated the way rich and beautiful children often are and it never took long for me to feel uncomfortable enough to want to leave.

She seduced me once. I was home visiting my parents and her campus was an hour’s drive. She was naturally attending some over-rated liberal arts college suitable for her ilk. I missed her and so I agreed to do an overnight.

She had a small gathering of cohorts upon my arrival. They drank wine, smoked clove cigarettes and talked of Nietzsche and Zen Buddhism with the passion and purpose of newly awakened beings. I felt too old all night. Felt like petting heads and pinching cheeks. I felt chagrined and steeped in cynicism.

After they had gone, she put on Henry and June, citing my love of Anais Nin. I knew then that she had been planning this. I was flattered though I felt the device was rather clumsy. I knew to her, I was June. I knew that she wanted to climb into my lap and whisper into my hair.

She drank just enough to maintain her courage. She put her feet in my lap and that was fine. She edged next to me and looped her arm through mine and that was fine.

At some stage, I think she was concerned about what she perceived as a lack of escalation or reciprocation on my part. She began to slam the wine back in angry gulps. She occasionally punctuated the air with weary pointed sighs. When she finally announced that she had a terrible headache and was going to bed, I felt rather relieved.

Feeling callous, I went into her room and sat on the edge of the bed. I caressed her cheek and asked if I could give her a scalp massage. As I did so, she moaned and smiled up at me. I looked down at her and was so saddened by what I saw lying there. Gone was her almost Victorian beauty and what was once feminine and gauzy had just turned skeletal. She had lost some vital spark and she just looked fragile and brittle in a way that made me sad for her. She grabbed my wrist and asked me, “Are you going to kiss me?” I looked at her, smiled compassionately and with tears in my eyes, shook my head no. She threw her head into my lap and wept. “What did I do wrong?”, she cried. ‘What did I do wrong?”

She fell asleep there in my lap and I woke with my back against the bed frame and a terrible ache in my eyes, fingers threaded in her copper knotted mane.

It was the last time I ever saw her.

[written by Tara Noble.]

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tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-eight

“You want a revelation. You want to get it right.

But it’s a conversation I just can’t have tonight.”

You are always asking if I am alright. You call it checking in. It’s one of your sympathetic habits. Your sensitivity serves as a double-edged sword of your nature. Lately when you ask me this, I spiral into a bit of a panic. The answer is not always there, you see. The very cause of my aloofness may elude even me and then what am I to say to you? I will not feed you just anything to suffice. You will see through such transparent cunning. No, only the truth will do for you and knowing that this is what you deserve, I do my best to honor this asking.

Silence is the worst thing I can hand you. Unknowing is your mortal enemy. Your brain will take a scrap that has been thrown and handle it again and again, passed through a process in your mind, turning it over until it has become threadbare and mealy. It is now a thing of danger, this scrap, infused with a poison, capable of taking you to a dark place. You will do anything to avoid going down this path and so an answer from me, anything I can say to you, any shred that might guide you to some understanding is not only kind, but necessary.

I am having a crisis of late. I am terrified, but to my credit, I am battling it head on.

For weeks on end, it was muddled thinking. My lack of recall was the butt of jokes, often instigated by myself. But soon, it lost its amusement value. I realized that I was moving through the majority of my day on some form of auto-pilot. Did I have some sort of primal defense mechanism in place? Was my waking dream state protecting me from something I would rather not feel, not experience? I was walking through a deep fog and asking myself how I got into it and how I might free myself from its smothering grasp.

I think I have my answer now, the root of all of this, and it is as unnerving as I feared.

I am not who I was. That person whom I knew so well, that woman whom I depended on to act a certain way, to do a thing, she is gone. I am no longer her.

I am evolved enough to know that changing and growing is the natural order of things and that if you fail to experience these, you are probably in a treacherous rut. It doesn’t do much to mitigate the fear that this person that I am now, this woman that I am becoming, well, I do not know her. I am a stranger unto myself. I do not know how this woman reacts or what she can handle. I know that she seems to be even more nakedly emotional, something that has always been my own double-edged sword. The thought of being even more vulnerable and emotionally exposed than I already was, well, again, the only word for it is terrified.

So you see, I am metamorphosing before you and alongside you. If you are the person that I suspect you are, you will be gentle and kind as I endure this process. It’s entirely possible, and much hoped, that the woman who emerges on the other side of this will be a better partner to you. If we are in this thing together, then we must carry each other. We do a kindness and return a kindness and it goes on in such a way that we are both made better. That’s my understanding of how this works, but I am certainly open to the surprises life will bring us. I know we are in for them, ready or not.

– Tara Noble

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-seven

I don’t know what I knew before, but now I know I wanna’ win the war.”

It’s happened. It’s all been let loose. The stop gap has been yanked free and what is flowing through me is clear and right.

So let’s do this; the conversation that we are always having in my head. Let’s go one step closer to actually having it. I will speak it into the void. Place it on the outside where it might have a chance of making its way to you. It’s the best I can do.

I am angry with you. I will be perpetually angry with you. It’s not that I am not done with it, because I am. It’s just that not only can what has been done not be undone, but what could have been will never come to pass and I blame you for the whole lot. All of it is on your head.

I can never forgive you for not knowing what you should have known. You should have known that you were safe with me. You should have known that you could trust me. You should have known that I was the one, your one, and that I would sit and hold you and listen for as long as you needed me to do so. Why didn’t you know that?  If you did know it, why did you reject it? Why did you run from the notion of breaking down walls, of relinquishing ills and spoils and re-imagining something else?

I want to believe that you lacked the courage. I need to believe this. If your actions could be excused as cowardice, it might be easier to bear. What do I need with anyone so weak that they cannot endure their truest feelings? Why would I bother with anyone who would speak to me as they had and then act as contrary as they did? I would say that I didn’t have time for it. I would remind whoever was listening that life was for the living and for all that contradicted that notion, a fare thee fucking well.

What if I was your one and you were mine? Did it ever occur to you how it would affect the fabric of both of our lives when you rejected us the way you did? Your exit was so dramatic, there was nothing for it but to allow you to leave and leave completely. You walked out that door and as you did, I knew that it was the last time I would ever see you. It was and it always will be.

Do not mistake my words or my purpose. I do not long for you. You are not my “What If”. I have resolved within myself the many reasons why our love was not proper food for me, at least the me that I wanted to be. When you set it all on fire, when you threw the can of gasoline over your shoulder, you didn’t look back. Thank you for not looking back.

It’s just my nature, you know, to feel it all. It is my way to take a thing, such as a feeling, such as a hole in my heart, such as a cry that needs to be let loose, to take that thing and squeeze it dry. I will turn it in my hands like soil. I will clutch it like the corner of my pillow when I am trapped inside some terrible dream that I should not be dreaming.

I can tell myself not to feel it. I can tell myself not to think it. What good am I? What power do I possess in these matters?

I feel it all. It defines me. You knew this about me, as you knew so many things.

My only consolation is to know that you will always have a special ache in your chest.  You will always feel a faint longing.  You will undoubtedly feel unresolved when your mind drifts back to me, to us, as I know it will. That ache will bear my name. That ache will haunt you just enough to please me. I am willing to consider it a righteous parting gift from the universe.

It will do, as gifts go.

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Feist – ‘I Feel All’

editor’s note: this was written by Tara Noble. not Aric S. Queen. that’s why we call it ‘tuesdays with tara’. all 57 of ’em.

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-six

“To touch something real will help your wounds to heal.”

I don’t miss you. I never have. Not once, for a fleeting moment, have I thought about you and felt a fondness. The not thinking is making me think. After all, did I not profess to have loved you? Did I not believe in a happiness that we created? In the nearly two years of my life that I was your girl, did I not make sacrifices with our future in mind?

They were an eventful two years. They were not nothing. They were not idly passing the time as though watching traffic out of my peripheral vision. You happened to me and it meant something. You gathered me up with all of your strength when I was broken and sad and you set about sorting my pieces. I may have put myself back together, but your kind and gentle ways helped make that possible. How then, when I ought to be indebted to you, do I never think of you?

It felt like something very real, what we were making. It restored a drive and a sense of passion within me. Our think tank sessions were electrified. We sat across from one another in your kitchen, smoking cigarettes, drinking cocktails and scheming and plotting, well until the sun began to peak over the horizon. We are giddy with anticipation and we fed off the others’ excitement. It felt real and it was healing me.

Something that you figure out later on in life is that there are certain people who come into your life for a very specific purpose. You may suppose in advance what that may be. You may also be surprised to find out that your supposition was incorrect. You might find yourself completely blindsided by the end of it all.

For our end, I believe that your purpose in my life was two-fold: the first was to show me that there are men out there who will not take their anger at the world out on me. The second was to show me, remind me of, my personal worth. One of the awful consequences of having been abused was a puncture in my self-esteem. I didn’t believe that I deserved to be abused. But the image I had of myself as a strong powerful female fell to the wayside. And by helping me to heal with your kind ways, I was able to build myself back up again.

I don’t think about you. In the end, you revealed yourself as not worth holding on to. When you didn’t get what you wanted (me/us), you turned everything off. You refused to show any emotion because you felt it served no purpose.

Your robotic treatment of our demise was the best gift a parting lover has ever given me. You were not additional weight on the pile of love lost, of regrets and dreams dashed. You simply finished a transaction. It’s no good for this romantic heart, this.

It is why I never think of you.

Whitley – More Than Life

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this was written by Tara Noble. she’s written a lot of these. you should read a lot of these.

 

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-five

So I think it’s best we both forget before we dwell on it

It would be wrong to say it wasn’t love. How many times did I ask myself, “Is this what it is? Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?” I remember telling my mother how much it hurt and how confused I was. We had been at it for so very long and never seemed to get it right for very long. We were exhausted. After one particularly difficult evening, I called her in tears; something she was getting accustomed to. She listened to me pour it all out, desperation behind my words. She sighed deeply and she said to me, “Baby girl, love takes hard work, but I don’t know if it’s supposed to be that hard.”

It was love, of this I am sure now. It’s something I would learn later in life; that there are many different varieties of love. They served a purpose, filled a void, had something to teach us. But two people do not always experience the same kind of love at the same time. It is an injustice of a sort when this comes to pass, but it’s something that just is.

We were the best of friends. We made so much sense. It was effortless when we weren’t trying so hard. I don’t know why getting married changed everything for me. It just did. It felt like a hand at my throat; gradually tightening its grip and robbing me of breath. You didn’t make me feel that way. You just went about things in your usual fashion. I felt a sense of panic; as though I had made some grave error of judgment, had put myself in a situation that could not be easily remedied. For the first time in my life, there would be no easy escape. I was terrified and I felt more alone than I had ever felt. You were so happy. It only made matters worse for me. How well could you know me when you didn’t see me drowning before your eyes?

It was love, for so very long. It was a pair of well worn comfortable slippers. You were always there, trying to pull me from the darkness. You loved me because it seemed natural for you to do so. You loved me because you had promised to do so. You just loved me and you did it the best you could.

I held on to you for too long. The fits, the stops and starts, I was in control of all of them. I pushed you away until I felt like pulling you back and you just allowed it to happen all over again because you loved me and you loved me well. When I came back, it all made sense to you. It was the reward for all of your tireless loyalty, all of your dreaming. Unfortunately for both of us, it was a castle made of sand. It wasn’t long before the tide rolled in and destroyed our work. It happened again and again and for all of my crying, for all of exasperation, I couldn’t figure out why.

One day I had my answer: I just didn’t love you the same way you loved me. You loved me with all of you. I loved you because you loved me so well. My holding on to you was an act of selfishness disguised as deep friendship. You deserved someone who loved you back the way you loved. I needed someone who made me happy in every way. That’s all there was. So I decided to let you go, at long last. It was an act of mercy that was long overdue.

As we lay there holding one another, hot tears falling down our faces, I said to you, “You really are such an amazing guy. You’re just not my guy.” It finally fell out of my mouth, the right words. They tumbled easily, but fell so hard upon us. It wasn’t what your heart wanted to hear, but it set you free in a way. All those years of wondering why I wasn’t content and why we weren’t moving forward.

It would take some time before you began to feel the lightness of this new freedom. Your love would not be so easily undone. But you let me walk out of your life and you wished me the best and you did it with your signature grace.

All of these years later, we can better appreciate what we had in one another. We can also see that when we let it go, we did right. It was a life lesson that was not so easily gained. It was something that we both survived in our own way. It’s the kind of love that will always reside in our hearts. It deserves such treatment.

Of Monsters and Men – Love, Love, Love

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this was written by Tara Noble. her name is Tara Noble. this was not written by Aric S. Queen – that’s my name. and I did not write this. she’s written fifty-four more of these. Tara Noble has. not Aric S. Queen.

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-four

Yea, there was a time I didn’t like the love, I liked the climbers. I was no sister then, I was running out of time and one liners.”

Growing up is a humbling process, spurring countless occasions for pondering. My thirties have been a time of rich introspection. I have gutted my proverbial house and torn away so much proverbial insulation. For me, making amends, whether outrightly towards the person whom I have offended, or merely to myself (as in prayer), has been an essential operation. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and integrity to honestly examine your dark and dirties. I spent my late teens and early twenties stacking them up like morbid firewood. Broken noses, burned bridges, and hearts torn asunder are a few in a very long list of my crimes from this period of my life.

Looking back, I am most ashamed at the lack of love I had for my own kind. I was steeped in such insecurity and easily flammable anger that I made other women my enemy. They were not to be trusted under any circumstances. I know that there is a primal aspect to fearing your own sex at this time in your life. We are, after all, competing for mates. There is something within us that whispers that the simplest course of elevating our own status is to knock down anyone around us. It’s a coming of age form of survival of the fittest. I took many a woman down with my harpoon of malice. I took refuge in the company of men and enjoyed taking center stage. When a woman I knew achieved something commendable, I was not happy for her. I felt envious that it hadn’t happened to me. If a woman I met was attractive, I immediately distrusted her. At parties, when I saw a woman throw back her head in laughter, clearly succumbing to earnest joy, I felt a wrenching pain in my breast. I wanted to be her. Why wasn’t I happy like that? Why wasn’t I beautiful in some way that would make it all easier to bear?

All of a sudden, something wonderful began its course. I started to truly like who I was. I understood the necessity of cutting myself a break and worked towards that end. I was kinder with myself and reminded myself that I was not alone in anything; that I would never be; that there were others out there going through such agonies and despair. I began to give of myself honestly. I started to accept women into my life and into my heart and to be gladdened by it. It has been one of the most meaningful ways in which I have been able to open my heart and allow it to heal.

I have cheered women on. I have been proud of them. I have cried alongside them. I have talked with them well into the night. I can count many of them to be my true sisters. But none of this compares to what they have done for me. They have held me when my heart was breaking. They have rushed through the dark streets to care for me in a time of great sickness. They have sheltered me when I most needed safe keeping. They have shared stories of great intimacy; entrusted me with secrets and hopes. They have taken me into their lives and been gladdened by it. The kinship that I now feel with my own sex has been one of the greatest gifts that this life has given me. I did not come into the world with it. I came into it a tom boy who eschewed anything remotely girly and briefly became a bully who broke, not one, but two female noses.

Women are especially talented at tearing one another down. We seem to have a preternatural instinct for it. It is a most unfortunate aspect of who we are, and yet, it is not insurmountable. It is something that can be dismantled with education, perspective and a whole lot of self love. Insecurity is such a dangerous weapon. If allowed to continue unbridled, it can put a stranglehold on our quality of human experience. Try to love yourself a little more today. That’s step one. Then see if you don’t find yourself giving others the opportunity to build on that love. Imagine a chain reaction of positivity such as this. Imagine it! Then go out and be a part of it.

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Dar Williams – ‘As Cool As I Am’

written by Tara Noble. not Aric. Tara Noble. she wrote this. thus… tuesdays with tara. cause it’s… oh, never mind. 

(for Emily, and Kelly, and Cindy, and Laura, and Jelly, and Claire, and April, and Monique, and on and on and on)

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty-three

I’ve read between the lines. I have been wrong every time. Been burned up on the altar, but I am fine.”

Every now and again, I say your name. It’s been twenty three years since I learned it. It will go with me to my grave. Sometimes I say it just because I didn’t when I should have. Sometimes I say it to curse you, wherever you might be. Do you know that I wish you dead? Do you know that when I say your name, my blood burns? Do you know that if I could hurt you, I would?

You can’t know any of this. I was nothing to you. I was, quite possibly, just an after-thought; just a temporary cure for boredom. I was a wanton mouse in a field, brazen and exposed. You were a skillful hawk looking for an easy meal.

I had no business being there that night, anyway. I assigned an older friend to keep an eye on me. I knew that if I began to drink, I would be vulnerable. I would be a target in stripy tights.

I was clearly the youngest person there. I didn’t even like beer at the time, but I drank it to make the anxiety go away. It got louder and smokier and with my heart in my stomach, I made my way out on to the roof through the open window.

I still remember looking out at the city skyline in the dusk. The only thing I wanted in that moment was to be home, safe in my bed, falling asleep with familiar sounds all around me. The smile slid off my face as it occurred to me: I wasn’t going home that night. You made sure I didn’t.

I don’t remember how you approached me. I do remember that you were serenading me. In beautiful French, none the less. You were a music major and an aspiring opera singer. You were also twenty five and should have known better. I was but fifteen and clearly did not.

I remember the hostess of the party giving you the eye. At some point, she swanned into the kitchen to check up on us. Did you know that I was one of the high school kids? Did you know that my friend planned on taking me home? Had I been more mature, I would have seen that this was how you played your game. I would have seen that I was just the latest pawn. Instead, I was  a romantic young girl, inebriated beyond her senses, melting into the floor with your every gesture. You had me in the palm of your hand from the very beginning. It wasn’t enough for you. You were playing for higher stakes.

I don’t remember walking to your house. This is probably because I didn’t walk so much as get dragged along by you. I was the insect being carried back to your web. You would feast on me at your leisure, paralyzed as I was.

What I remember is this: coming to consciousness underneath you. Kicking and screaming and trying to get you off of me. You pinning my arms under my body and putting your hand over my mouth. I fell again into blackness, maybe from fear, maybe from lack of air. I will never know.

When I woke again, you were sleeping next to me. The ceiling fan was making a terrible racket. The sight of you made me nearly lose my stomach. I remember thinking to myself, “Find your clothes. Don’t wake him up. Get the hell out of here.”

But as I was putting on my sweater, you woke up. You acted like my boyfriend. You hugged me and asked me if I had fun. I knew that it was important to play along until I was someplace safe. You offered to take me to breakfast and I politely declined. You walked me back to the house where the party was and you tried to hold my hand. I said I didn’t do that, which made you laugh. I don’t know how I survived that walk, but I did.

When we got to the house, the hostess opened the door. She grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “Your friend has been so worried about you. Are you okay?” When I stepped across the threshold, she saw you behind me. All she had for you was, “You son of a bitch.” and slammed the door in your face.

I never reported what you did to me. I blamed myself instead. How many times have I wondered over the years if there were other girls? When a girl was found in a dumpster, behind your apartment, I cried for a month. You could have been the one. Maybe I was spared a worse fate than what I suffered? I will never know.

So I say your name. I say it with venom. I say it because it will never be alright.

-Tara Noble

tuesdays with tara – volume fifty two [one year!]

I don’t care if the sun don’t shine. I don’t care if nothin’ is mine.”

So it was that I went inside. I did it fastidiously. I slowly gathered my things and planned my exit carefully. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. I know you understand such a desire.

It had just begun to hurt too much. There is listening and then there is knowing and sometimes, the knowing won’t turn off. It streams endlessly, hounds you, turns up in the un-likeliest of places. And the worst of it is that the knowing is just a feeling, albeit a persistent one. It is not words. Words can be challenged. They can be stared down. They can be picked apart. But a feeling renders you helpless. A feeling enters you and stays as long as it wishes. It bangs around and robs you of sleep and turns your stomach and just for fun, takes your ability to laugh and feel genuine joy. Your guard must always be firmly in place and, because of this, you will start to doubt everyone and everything. It is insidious and exhausting and unfair and it simply is.

So it was that I went underground. I was less stealthy in this, I admit. My strength having been drawn out, tested to its limits, I was less than and it showed in the smallest of ways. Were you not so perceptive, were you not always yourself on the lookout for something amiss, I might have escaped un-noticed. As it was, you felt me go, but were possibly too afraid to ask me where.

So it was that I had a long sleep. It was necessary. It was impossible for even me to go on in that state. I had been brought to the brink. I had made my choice and the only path out was complete follow through. I would bide my time beneath the surface of things. I would gather my energy. I would emerge when the time was right. I couldn’t begin to guess when that might be. Instead, I put myself in primal mode. I subsisted on bare essentials. I did not know if I were capable of bending, of yielding, only of surviving. I felt as though I had given until I had been emptied and having felt laid bare, I rested, fallow and quiet and still.

So it was that I relinquished you. I stopped driving. I stopped hoping. There was nothing else for it but to let go and so, I did. And what started as sadness and fear became something else entirely. It became warming earth. It became unfurled buds. It became bird song. It became possibility, rebirth, a Spring to bring me back above ground.

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.”

Be Good Tanyas – ‘The Littlest Birds’

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[editor’s note]

anyone who’s read Tara over the past year’s worth of posts knows how much of a treat this has been.

so here’s to the woman who’s not afraid to laugh, to cry, to shout out… and to write it all down for the rest of us.

you got moxy, kid. thanks for having us along for the ride[s].

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