Survivors who love risk their sanity and faith more than anything else. Will this reverend and his beloved be able to bring love and matrimony into their relationship when his fear of God tells him he must journey alone?
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She never thought love would make a home in her life. At twelve he prayed to be the perfect husband, but he did not find perfect love until his 76th year. They come together with oddly complimentary histories of domestic violence, emotional neglect, and ostracism. Ruby is the story of how they fall in love and the wonderful magic that ensues.
NOW I UNDERSTAND THE RUBY’S FLAME
for papa, of course
I must apologize, my dear S., for biting your head off this evening. I was not angry with you, not really; I was just tired. That kind of tired that only Black women know; that kind of tired that only hits you after you've worked the fields all day, kept overseer from raping your favorite daughter of the milky skin (master's child), come home to the shack you're allowed and the pot done boiled over and your man wants to start a fight. That kind of tired makes you start begging God to let you come back, please Lord, take me home. Oh S., do I now ever understand those Black women who turn to the church because there is nowhere else to go, because they feel no earthly anyone could understand the depth of their pain.
My pain today was a Black woman's pain. A, I had balanced the bills oh so carefully within an inch of their lives and we still weren't going to be able to pay Instant Cash or the car insurance and the car insurance bill comes today and they need a double payment or the policy will be cancelled. The crash started then, a slow cave-in somewhere around my solar plexus, dismissing the now car insurance operator bitch was just a small thing. From that point on everything irritated. Everything. Rubbed against my psyche like sandpaper.
The hormone rush didn't help. First full day of my period and I'm bleeding like a proverbial stuck pig. Feeling big as a whale and incompetent as hell. Why does he trust me with the bills? I screw up?! Missed the Fractured Atlas payment and BOOM, suddenly we owe PNC a $212.12 overdraft payment--all because I forgot about a mere $7.50. I thought about writing and asking for mercy but I was too tired. I hadn't gotten to Black woman tired yet. Not then.
Finally reached Tamara after going outside because I just couldn't breathe. Not in this cell, not anymore. I needed OUT. Went out to sit under the tree, been fantasizing about that for weeks, and the bees succeeded in chasing me away. Their territory, they seemed to whizz.
So I sat on the stoop. And what happens? It rains. Gentle drops at first, quickly advancing to a torrent. I sat there anyway for awhile, with my locs I no longer fear water, but eventually I had to say SUGAR HONEY ICED TEA, get up and go inside. I said to myself, she will either be home and available or it's the strychnine. She was home, damn her.
Damn her because she didn't coddle, didn't love up on me, didn't coo and tell me it was going to be alright. She talked to me like a grown Black woman, damn her, and told me I had to pull back and decide what I was going to carry and what I wasn't. That part of assuming my leadership position (what leadership position?) meant that I had to consider what I would do in certain situations BEFORE they occur. That I had to evaluate and plan for my self care.
I'm sniffin and snortin and she talking to me about how I got to look at my world and pick and choose and prioritize because ain't nobody going to do that for me and I got to learn how to, choose how to, take care of myself in the midst of any situation. That I got to choose what to let go.
And I sniff and I snort and I tell her it was all just too much, that yea fuck I got to let some shit go. I'm dancin in too many damn directions for too many people because I think that's what they want of me and I'm not addressing what I really want. Deep in my soul, in every friggin capillary I want to be underneath Jim's bulk every night tasting heaven within his arms; I want to scream that everything in my soul tells me he's waiting in my true home, that I just need to get there, that's where he's been all along, but the truth too is that almost losing Papa Massey this past week shook me to my core. It's all been too much because underneath all the dancing I've tried so hard to do is the reality, is the real fear that I almost lost the one man who has fathered me into health, into real trust, and the shock of the possibility of losing him forced me to realize that there is nothing paternal any longer about what I feel toward him.
He went to rub my shoulders tonight after I shooed him away telling him that if he came close I was going to start crying again, but he went for my shoulders anyway and the tears started and for the second time tonight I was admitting that his being so sick scared me, I thought I was going to lose him. I didn't hide the tears and he started to back away, the man almost skipped away and as he did so he said, yea, I was afraid of that happening too; I was afraid.
And what I wanted more than anything was to just cry in his arms, I have wanted for centuries to just cry in someone's arms, but having always been a big girl there was no one within whom I fit. Well, Ramzi, but he couldn't bear to touch me. Too conflicted. And his modern manifestation won't do that to his wife.
When Rev danced away I thought, why won't he hold me? I thought, perhaps it is too risky for him too. I don't know. I do know that Tamara had me truthtellin tonight and I have to face it. As much as I love Jim, as much as he continues to haunt my consciousness, I am a woman who wants right now to crawl into bed with her found papa and let him wrap his arms around her and what happens, happens. I can no longer say that I wouldn't marry him. I can no longer say that it's just a thankful daughter's love.
Tamara in her being an adult voice was busy telling me that lessons happen again and again until we incorporate them and the good thing about my understanding that I have again caught myself in feeling that I must carry and run the whole household without help, that it is my responsibility to make everyone happy and I must do it perfectly or it is my ass, she keeps saying in my ear that it is good that I recognize this because I can re-parent that scared little girl who looked up the hallway at 5 and saw the remainder of her family falling apart and her mother unable to handle it all. Tamara is telling me that I can re-parent myself, come to my own defense, this is what this lesson is about, and all I really want is for her to make sympathetic noises and be a loving shoulder. Because I am caught in another past bad dream: I am sitting on the stand-in's lap as he tells everyone he is leaving my mother, leaving our home and as I sob uncontrollably he keeps asking me to stop, to be a big girl, is amazed that I am so grieved by his leaving, how did he end up with a Daddy's girl?
The bad dreams are all beating me about the head and I just want clarity, the clarity of warm arms there only to soothe me, but how can I ask? He's told me time and again that he is not attracted to me and I burn, oh god do I burn. I know what the Jewess means who is married to that cold, scholarly husband in the film about the ruby. I understand now why she could not even breastfeed her son, though I am an ought eight woman and I know that being turned on when you breastfeed happens, nothing to be ashamed of.
It is 4 a.m. again. I keep telling myself I will go to bed before 4 a.m. so that I can be asleep when Jim talks to me. I keep dreaming about people dying, children dying, and I seem to remember that being a sign of spiritual rebirth in dream journals. If actual childbirth is anything like this, Jesus. I now understand why the women closeted themselves during this moon time; we do go a little crazy and only another woman can understand us, can soothe our particular ills.
Up to now he and I have shared everything. This? This piece of writing? He is a poet too, a writer, and we collaborate on one another's work. We share. I proofread his for him, he tells me how wonderful mine is. But this? He will shake his head, tell me again he does not care for me in that way, and I will continue to burn until the particular Shropshire wind and the grace of my true love's kisses calm the heat in my very bones.