"O dinheiro que lhe dei pro tamborim/ não vai gastar depois jogar a culpa em mim/ o dinheiro que lhe dei não é meu, não/ é da escola, por favor não mete a mão..." - "Mancada," Gilberto Gil
That money that I gave you for the tambourine/ don't go and spend it and throw the blame on me/ the money that I gave you is not mine/ it's of the [samba] school, please keep your hands off of it...
This song is a samba song by Gilberto Gil. Although I started out samba-ing in my living room, looking at my reflection in the window against the black of night outside, once I reached the window I stopped dancing and gazed out at the Charles River. It was glistening in the light from the nearby baseball field in the park where I sometimes take walks, just to be near the river. Gazing out at the river from my apartment, which affords me a panoramic view, is just as good sometimes, especially on dark nights like these when there's no one to take that trip with me.
No longer samba-ing, I began singing the ballad version of "Mancada," nice, slow, sultry, leaning over the windowsill and looking at the red necklace of back lights that is Charles Street traffic, sultry like someone's watching. No one's watching. For 24 glorious hours, I've had the apartment to myself, which is why I'm dancing around my living room now only wearing a t-shirt.
It's one of those band t-shirts from high school, from band camp in 2000, so the beginning of my sophomore year. I've no use for those shirts anymore but occasionally wear them to bed. It's not sexy, but I don't need to be sexy to sleep by myself.
Sometime around 2005 or so, after the summer of 2004 where I fell in love and the school year of 2004-05 when I discovered that nothing was going to come of it, I started to refer to myself, in my mind, as "Free Woman." I'm always of the school that you should start pronouncing something, saying it aloud, even when I don't believe it. That's how free woman came about.
I didn't feel free at the time, like, at all. I would have felt free if I could have been in a relationship with that guy, but I wasn't. I didn't want to feel free, actually. If I actually had the choice between being free and being in a relationship with someone that I loved, I would choose the latter...I preferred the latter. But I was single, very single, indefinitely.
I mean, five years later, I'm still as single as I was then. That's proof. Five years is a long time.
In five years, that guy who I liked met a woman, they got engaged, they are now married.
In those same five years, nothing close to that has happened for me.
It took me a long time to feel like the free woman I was calling myself. That time came after I read Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan. I recommend it for everyone--it is a heart breaker, though, but it's humbling like nothing I've ever read before. I nearly cried at the end, because the last story was of a mixed Hutu-Tutsi family torn apart by that conflict--and that will always be the first terrible thing I knew about as a child, had nightmares about from seeing news coverage. If I think about the nightmare I had at the time, man, I can still cry...
Anyway, I read that, and I made a realization I should have long ago...I am a free woman!
I am in about the best situation that any female in the world could hope to be in right now, more than any time in my life. Because of the career path that I've chosen, I basically will always be able to support myself and will not have to depend on anyone, not even my father, for money.
Neither of my parents are pressuring me to settle down or marry. They actually thing it was abnormal of me to be worrying about it!
I have the choice of who I end up with, the choice of how long I want to be single, the choice of whether or not I want children.
And alhamdulillah, He's protected me for all of these years...from the maliciousness and violence of the world.
When it comes to the women of the world, I am sitting on top of the world. I run this. No man is out there controlling what I should or should not say, how I should or should not dress, how I travel, whether I travel, who I travel with. No one is forcing me to marry young, no one is taking my babies away, no one is spiting my baby girls, letting my baby girls die, taking away my baby girls in favor of my baby boys, threatening me until I bear them those baby boys. No one is raping me for sport because I am the wrong ethnicity. I don't have to marry for support, for life, for status...
I am really, really free...freer than others in my own country may be because of a series of choices I've made in life and really, the grace of God.
So from here on out (actually, since maybe about two days ago), I'm not complaining about single any more... I'm serious! I am single by choice.
I've been out with guys before...if I don't like them, I feel like I'm degrading myself. Allah (swt) will provide, the time will come...not because someone will drop out of the sky, but because it will be of my choosing.
In the meantime, I'm going to work on myself. I've always wanted to be a renaissance woman, so let me be a good doctor. Let me be a good writer. I'm going to work out at the gym and be pure hotness and work on singing this ballad-style samba. Why? Because I'm free!
...I can at least be sexy in the comfort of my own home, right?