One year ago today, at 7:35 p.m. ET, I sent a DM on the bird app to the person who, unbeknownst to me then, is the love of my life. "Hey, Dani! I love that you're Gen X," I wrote in response to a comment she posted to one of my tweets. I wrote it privately so as not to offend Millennials I worked with who, by year's end, would prove themselves worthy of neither my courtesy nor respect. "I'm surrounded by Millennials in my work and it's a relief to encounter another Xer!"
It's a values thing. If I tell someone, "I really wish that you would trust me," my actions will be trustworthy. Shitty values aren't relegated to specific generations, but they certainly run rampant in my industry, with unapologetic disdain and disrespect seemingly reserved for Black women. But before all of that could play out, I would experience the best of what my industry has to offer -- a trip to see Dawn Staley's South Carolina Gamecocks pick up their first win in program history against Geno Auriemma's Connecticut Huskies. I took another trip to interview basketball icon and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley one-on-one.
Everything changed after that.
Yet, through it all, that person I'd met was by my side, though in a different city, providing support.
In October 2019, I met the woman who would become my literary agent and, with her guidance I was also working on book proposal for the book I am writing about the WNBA.
Like everyone, I also was rocked by the social climate and police violence, the political vitriol, mismanagement of the pandemic, the deaths of national icons and leaders, etc. While all of this was happening, my money was dwindling. Like many who lost work during the pandemic, I began to incur the stress of financial strain. In moments of desperation, I asked -- no, begged -- my family for help. I let them know that a book deal was in the works and that, if granted a loan, I could pay it back at the end of the year or early in 2021.
They didn't believe in me. They didn't have faith in the reality of me having a literary agent who was willing to invest her time, energy and professional reputation on me, the wayward, weirdo middle child. They didn't trust that money would be coming, that I was really realizing my lifelong dreams. So, with the pandemic still looming and the love of my life also needing to make a move to a less expensive play, we decided to get a place together -- in her city, because she was location-bound and I wasn't. My blood relatives also didn't me when I said I'd met my "person," my soul mate, the person I'd hoped existed but accepted probably didn't, the one I felt like I'd simultaneously known for eons but also couldn't wait to share new experiences with. It was all too far-fetched, too weird, too Tamryn -- and in a global pandemic, no less. But it was real, all of it: the book (ABRAMS 2022), the love.
Yet, they didn't see me off. They didn't see me off. They didn't offer to help me pack. They didn't ask to meet my love. They didn't say goodbye to Nico, my dog, whom they claimed to love. Just, nothing, from my blood ... underscoring my belief that I belong nowhere, calling back my regret for not running away from this socially-acceptable nuclear family as a teenager, triggering profound feelings of being unloved, discounted and worthless.
My love took all appropriate COVID precautions to get to me safely. She helped me pack my townhouse. We drove a U-Haul about 900 miles, like typical lesbians. We fell deeper in love and together our roots grew and still do, to this date, in spite of the majority of our relationship having been on FaceTime and us never having been on a real date out in the world, other than strolling through parks with masks on our faces or hiking in the woods. We both work from home and go nowhere because of our need to protect our health during the pandemic. Not only have we not killed each other, we have grown -- individually, together. We have seen a family bloom. And, most importantly, we have been together -- side-by-side -- through the difficulties.
Amid all this grief and difficulty, we laughed together, cried together, created together and cherished every minute of this life as if each one could be our last. And, amid all this grief over the dead, I also grieved the loss of the living -- those who never managed to see me and, therefore, never managed to love me. By letting go of them and the fantasy of reconciliation, room was made for love to move in. By allowing the wound to ooze until finished, I was able to understand something a friend told me several years ago when I told her that I feel I don't belong anywhere.
"That's because you belong everywhere," she said.
I can't say I believe those words daily, weekly or even monthly. I do believe them sometimes because sometimes that concept is all I have to keep me going and hoping that one day all of the sacrifices will be worth it.