My novel, the one I’ve been working-on-not- working-on for more years than I will say, is a love story.
I want to write about love, but I don’t want to write about love.
Here’s what I mean: Through fiction, I can take love and bend and stretch it to meet my needs, to speak in my tongue, to move at my pace. In my life, however, I have no possession over love to do with it what I choose. Love, in fact, does me.
What my man and I share is a constantly unraveling ball of yarn, sometimes tangled and directionless. Some couples need form in order to function, but ours is a love that cannot be contained. It’s a big love. A thing that can only be lived through, walked in. I surrendered to this understanding when we first met, some 18 years ago. When you encounter a force of nature, you know.
But here I go, doing what I promised myself I wouldn’t: writing about love. Not that you’d believe the real-life love stories that reside in me; the stories inside the stories, neatly stacked like those little Russian dolls. I often wonder, when strangers see me hustling to the office, perched just so in heels that defy endless NYC subway stairwells, if they see a woman who has lived the lives I have. I’ve surmounted love’s Mount Everest many times over, given of myself and been a fool. It’s true that I, too, have been used and (quite literally) abused.
One day, I’m going to write my novel. Then I will be able to paint this picture about what one Black woman has learned from—and about—love. And that fictional love will be free to be its raw and ugly, sweet and divine self; a kaleidoscope of experiences and dueling realities. It will take the form of beautiful people with too much going on, codependent entities like a filament and bulb. It’ll be deep, deep, deep.
BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT IS. Black love. So confounding, so poetic, so metaphoric—and true.
Alas, I do not know how to write about the details of my real love life. I cannot do it, not here, not now. But if you care, here’s the bit I can reveal: Something happened when we met. Something in me was set free. I was always a genie—always—and I was always in a bottle, but I am encased no more.
Not since him.
My husband and I have travailed and triumphed. Think of us as long-distance runners; our knees suffer but the lungs are good. He’s a deft love journeyman—on the way to mastery—co-piloting, conducting . . . carrying a miner’s light and always illuminating a path for me. He is ever my *Tea Cake in the storm. (*Second Their Eyes Were Watching God reference in this column. Apologies now for the next 10+.)
I wish for every Black person a taste of this kind of love.
A lover’s love has the ability to anchor all the others. We know there are so many types. Please read “Black Love Is . . .” (pg. 108). EBONY gets expansive about the subject, moving beyond our collective celebrity relationship projections—what we covet and what we think we know. We go beyond romantic, heteronormative tales because we want to witness every kind of love tucked in the nooks and crannies of Black life.
On the topic of Black life—Hey! I smell a theme here!—it’s February: Black History Month. We believe that every day harkens a moment in our history, and that each day the world is shaped by a living Black history. Yet, we desperately need our past framed correctly—and taught consistently—to our children.
“Our Kids; Whose History?” (pg. 102) is an eye-opener about the amount (spoiler alert: lack) of Black history taught in most American classrooms. Every parent should read it. Then take the “Official EBONY Black History Month Quiz” (pg. 48). Finally, brush up on your #WeDidThat facts (starting in The Radar, pg. 22), too.
I really think you’ll enjoy this issue. When I texted my husband seeking secret inspiration for I, Too, I asked, What about me did you first fall in love with?
“Passion, smarts,” he shot back. (My  translation: You were the finest woman I’d ever seen, guhrl.) I like that.
Welcome to the Black Love + Black History issue. It’s so about passion and smarts.
Read more compelling content and essays examining different facets of Black love in the February issue of EBONY. On newsstands now! Click here to subscribe.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside,
Kierna Mayo