To the Bride and Groom

All right, Bails. This one’s for you.

I’d hoped to finish your story to be able to give to you today, but that didn’t happen. You’ll have to be content with this until I can present the other to you, preferably in person, but you never know.

What a whirlwind of a day, really, and I wonder if you feel any different. Some things have changed for you, but what really matters is what’s at the heart of your relationship with Ronnie, and I don’t think anything about that is different now that you’re married. You’re still in love, you’re still the same couple, and you still have just as good of a chance of making it as you ever have.

Like I told him after the ceremony, “I know I don’t have to tell you to take care of her.” The same goes for you, too, Bailey—I know I don’t have to tell you to take care of him, because I’ve watched your relationship unfold since our junior year of high school—February 8, 2011, am I right?? I believe in it because I believe in both of you.

It feels weird to me to think that you’re married, and how quickly it’s happened, while at the same time how long it’s taken to get here. It definitely feels like a lifetime since we created our friendship video in your bedroom, dancing around in ridiculous outfits and making fun of our teenage life. Ronnie, it feels like a dozen lifetimes since our days at OLQP together. So many memories with each of you, and my only regret is that I don’t have more with both of you.

I wish you the world. I’d never have made it this far in my life without either of you, honestly, and I need you to know that. The truth is, we’re in different places now in our lives—of course, and it’s not because you’re married!—but my Baikey, I’ll always be here whenever you need me. You too, Ronnie, though of course I have much lower expectations for you running to me for anything than I do for her!

We’ve grown up. Now what’s left is for all of us to grow old, and for you two to do it together. I can’t wait to watch it happen.

Forever and always,

Your Nina Belle

Authentic Power: Being Authentic and Genuine

“The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently.”

An interesting perspective from Gary Zukav—someone I’d never heard of before I Googled “quotes about springtime.” According to Wikipedia, he is an American spiritual teacher, writer, and public speaker, and by “authentic power,” he means “consciously choosing intentions that create consequences for which the chooser is willing to assume responsibility.”

I ought to be more careful about that.

Springtime, as illustrated by the quote, is typically associated with freshness, rebirth, optimism. Wakefulness after a winter hibernation—figuratively, of course, unless you’re a bear, a bee, a groundhog, etc. Spring cleaning. Spring graduations—which, I’ve just learned, my own will take place next May and not this December like I thought. That’s okay—the greater disappointment for me was learning I’m on track to graduate magna cum laude rather than summa cum laude. I know, I know—I should be proud of myself regardless, right, because I’ve come so far, done so well, blah, blah. And I am. But if I’m being totally honest, the overachieving perfectionist in me was just a bit disappointed.

And that’s something else, too—perfectionism, and, in a vein similar to “authentic power,” just…authenticity. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what I would rather be: perfect, or flawed. Let’s deepen that—perfect and fake and boring, or flawed and genuine and authentic. When you put it that way, is there even a question?

I think society kind of goes back and forth about it as well, with media portrayal of especially celebrities, after whom so many people like to model their lives. Who are you fascinated with lately? For me, it’s Kate Middleton, Amal Clooney, Taylor Swift. A sophisticated, polished princess, an admirable, worldly human rights international lawyer, and a pop superstar with the ability to poeticize the most complex emotions. But who else is there? More and more lately I see people like Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer, and Anna Kendrick being celebrated by the media for not being perfect, but for being outspoken and unafraid to be laughed at and to laugh at themselves. Unafraid to be genuineAuthentic.

I’m not saying that I want to be like these people, or that you should. I’m saying that I want to be as authentic to myself as they seem to be—which in itself might be a bad example there because, they seem to be. But think about who you seem to be to others, and how you feel about that. Are you authentically you? Do you even want to be?

During this time of year, a season of awakening and rebirth and of creating authentic power, I want to be consciously creating and being the most authentic and genuine version of myself, and, of course, to make the mistakes and the intentions for which I’ll assume responsibility (whether I’m inherently willing to or not). What about you?

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INSPIRATION CITATIONS

  • Gary Zukav” @  Wikipedia
  • “I had to learn a long time ago to not let my feelings about not being perfect stand in the way of enjoying my life.” —Actress Anne Hathaway on not being a perfect momPeople.com
  • Latin honors” @ Wikipedia

A Writer Reads: “Another Good Loving Blues”

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT for Arthur Flowers’ Another Good Loving Blues

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“I am Flowers of the delta clan Flowers and the line of O Killens—I am hoodoo, I am griot, I am a man of power. My story is a true story, my words are true words, my lie is a true lie—a fine old delta tale about a mad blues piano player and a Arkansas conjure woman on a hoodoo mission. Lucas Bodeen and Melvira Dupree. Plan to show you how they found the good thing. True love. That once-in-a-lifetime love.”

“And on that progressive note they walked hand in hand off into the wooded sunset. I’m told they made a good team, I’m told they made a good life together. Now I’m not saying they didn’t have their share of life’s little trials and tribulations, and your definition of happy may be different from mine, or theirs, but my understanding is that Melvira Dupree and Lucas Bodeen found the good thing.

“And they lived happily ever after.

“The end.”

From the first and last pages of Arthur Flowers’ Another Good Loving Blues, 1993

My Honors class, “Voices of Mississippi,” just finished Arthur Flowers’ book, and a question posed to us in class last Thursday asked about the abruptness, even almost absurdity, of an ending like that. Is the narrator reliable? Did Lucas and Melvira live happily ever after? Why wrap it up that way, why the last two lines, why?

Why, indeed.

Samantha doesn’t believe they lived happily ever after, because love is just not that simple, and throughout the book the characters’ relationship wasn’t simple. “It’s too Hollywood,” she said. I see her point.

I believe they did have their happily-ever-after because that’s what I want to believe, and that’s what the narrator implies, no matter how reliable he is or isn’t. Because sometimes a reader just wants a happy ending, and since one is given on the page, what’s wrong with that?

The rest of the class didn’t voice specific opinions, and there was a lot of back and forth, and a lot of trying to dig into the text in other places, and most of what was said wasn’t important enough to stay with me.

But…from a writer’s perspective…whywould Arthur Flowers wrap the story up in this way? What does it even mean?

On the surface level, I think Arthur Flowers believed that Bodeen and Melvira had their happily ever after. We actually briefly video-chatted with Mr. Flowers in class last week, and I just realize now, I should’ve asked him myself. But I didn’t. But…I think he ended the story that way because for him, it was true. And I think he ended the story that way because that’s how he intended to do it.

Maybe he ended the story that way to make people like me and my classmates debate about why he ended the story that way.

On a slightly-below-the-surface level, I think Mr. Flowers wrote those last three paragraphs the way he did because that was the only way he could do it, as in how I was told, “Let the story go where it wants to go.” I think he wrote it because that is how the story wanted to be written in the end, and if you don’t know what I mean by that, then, sit down at a keyboard and see what comes out of you. When you weave words together into a story with no step-by-step-detailed plot plan in mind, then that is letting the piece write itself, and that tends to be the best way to write something, to get it out on the page before you can go back to edit and revise. I don’t know whether Mr. Flowers edited and revised this story—he probably did, but even if he didn’t, to keep that ending has to mean, in some way or other, that it’s the ending the story wanted for itself, therefore, the only right ending.

But I’ll still let Mr. Flowers be the judge of that.

Personally, if I were writing the story—no, I probably wouldn’t have ended it quite the same way, and that can be attributed to my style of writing. I’ve never read anything else by Arthur Flowers, so I wonder too if this is his style. That can also be part of it.

I should’ve asked him.

It’s a good book, and I do recommend it. If you decide to read it, please, check back in with me here and let me know what you think of the ending. Do you believe it?