I was parked by Lake Merritt just chilling, which is an enduring Oakland pastime. People drive down to the Lake, find a spot to park, then just people-watch. There also are joggers, runners and power walkers getting their exercise on. It’s a beautiful thing – some of us are exercising, others of us are watching. We Oaklanders go to the Lake to meditate and generally bliss out, especially when the weather is nice.
So I was there, sitting in the backseat of my car with my feet up, with one eye on my reading and one on my watching. A young lady pulled up in a van about three spots in front of me and deftly set up a table full of whatever it was she was selling. I figure it was jewelry or something precious by the way she was carefully arranging the items. There was a boy-child with a fat red, gold and green knit cap playing nearby her. After she set up her table, I went back to reading, making a mental note to check out what she was selling.
Then a couple walked by. They got my attention because they were talking kinda loud – not so loud as to be obnoxious, but loud enough to be easily overheard. So I looked up at them and they both made eye contact with me. I got the distinct feeling that I was being invited to listen to what they were saying, which went something like this:
Sistergirl 1. “…but you need to communicate more…”
Sistergirl 2. “…well I don’t know what more you want from me…”
Sistergirl 1. “…well, when I be talking to you, you don’t be saying isht back to me…”
I was struck by this small snippet of conversation between the young couple. They seemed to be in their mid-twenties. I have to admit that I found it strange that two sistahs would be having such a conversation. I would not imagine that women in a relationship would be struggling with issues of communication. It struck me that the little snippet sounded too much like many a conversation I’ve had with non communicative men in my own life.
Maybe I’m being naive, especially since I don’t know any young lesbian couples, but with all the hardships that they have to face in this jacked up world – with all the hatred against same sex couples, with anti black women misogyny, with all the problems of racial discrimination — with all of the issues that black women are forced to deal with, how can a lack of communication be one of them? Women in relationships are naturally communicative, right? I thought that we be communicating, and with no problems whatsoever! Obviously I’m wrong.
And since I live in my mind, this brief eye-contact encounter with these beautiful young women also reminded me of a post I read at Lesbian Brooklynite’s blog. There Sister Brooklyn declares she’s bored of all the fronting she sees in her community of women. And yes, this young couple came across to me as fronting in front of me. I realize that I may seem arrogant in saying this, but it’s not my intention.
I got the vibe that they wanted me to see them. I got the feeling that they were posing – not being really real. Or maybe it wasn’t about being fake, but more about putting their relationship issues on display for a brief payback of attention. They were a young couple. Some young people have to struggle harder to be seen and acknowledged. We live in a society of American Idol and Reality TV shows, where the more you reveal what should be kept sacred, the more attention you get. Or the more foolish you act, the more attention you get. How can our young people not be affected by this 15 minutes of infamy mentality that permeates America?
I can’t help but think that if we we would pay more loving attention to our young people and lavish more love on them, they wouldn’t go searching for attention in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. They wouldn’t have to front, they wouldn’t have to talk their business out loud in front of strangers just to be seen and acknowledged. I’ve been thinking about that young couple ever since I got that glimpse of them. In my mind I’ve visualized giving them hugs of sistergirl elder momma-love! Yes I’m weird, and strange as well. If I knew them for real, I’d give them some hugs. And some advice. I’d tell them they aint gotta talk their business out loud like they did. I’d teach them to be more honoring of their relationship.