Friday, December 10, 2010

"She's Simple!"

Grey’s Anatomy. A sentence in itself. Even Microsoft Word identifies it as such, as it fails to give me the green squiggly line beneath, yet does so for the “sentence fragment” following it. Those words are strong enough to stand alone, I guess. And as I watch an episode each week I wonder if I am. You know, strong enough to stand alone. The show is strong. It articulates the realities of life, heartache, love, joy, pain, sacrifice and does so heartbreakingly. Sometimes it does—you know, really break my heart. It is my excuse every week to become a little somber, a little reflective. For an hour, more like forty-five minutes, I watch the art created by the writers of the hit series. True, I find art in most facets of life, however, I label this as such because it’s like the writers sit before a captivating painting that speaks all the frailties of life. Then they later go back and recreate those frailties through the lives of their characters. The acting—it is flawless. There are moments when the characters surrender themselves in ways that are Oscar-worthy. There are three times that I vividly remember being deeply affected by scenes from the show. Recently, it was when Yang, a young Asian doctor that possesses a myriad of complexities, expressed that she sometimes wished she was easier in spirit, not so complicated, a simple girl. “A simple girl.” Those were here exact words. I connected to that. I realized she verbalized what I have wondered for most of my life. You know, why I can’t be one of those girls. Simple.

I almost threw up in my mouth. I seethed. For almost two years I had prayed this man would say one favorable thing about me. Two years. I didn’t seek reciprocity; I just wanted a kind word. Just one. Instead, he gushed over someone else. Why was it so easy for him to see positive attributes in her? If she was the sweetest person he knew then what did that make me? (que: Alanis Morissette “One”) That’s all I ever wanted—that kind of appreciation for the attributes I possessed. There I was, right in front of him, yet he was giving what I wanted so badly freely to her, leaving me on the other side of the phone devoid of anything resembling favor. If he found her wonderful then there was no way he could ever see me as anything but an array of unnecessary complexities. I was floored. “She’s simple!” It tumbled out of my mouth without warning. My subconscious heaved through my throat. It sounded abrasive, even to my own ears. I wanted to undo it, take it back, but the proclamation seemed to linger in the silence. It was like a trail of smoke, sauntering through the air making sure to take its time to dissipate. It looked like I cared—like I was still vying to be his favorite girl (que: Kate Nash “Nicest Thing”). It looked like what it was, I guess. You know, that although I had accepted not being the only girl I still wanted to be the favorite one. I was still holding out hope that such an intelligent man would appreciate defiance over conformity, reality over falsities, difficult truths over easy niceties, a genuine friend over a genuine acquaintance, someone that still smiled remembering the mole below his mouth over someone that made it clear she usually preferred men more attractive, a complex woman over a simple one. And while I make it a mission not to wish to be something I’m not—for words from him like that, for a second I wished I was. You know, simple.

Many of the friends I truly adore tend to be complex. Those friends who are both women and complex are on an entirely different level. They are the figurative shit. I am blessed to know each of them. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my simpler friends, it’s just with the ones that are a little more aligned with my spirit, we connect metaphysically. When I had the above-mentioned conversation, I went to one of these complicated friends and discussed the trouble men might have loving a complicated woman. You know, like ourselves. She understood. She had abandoned simple men for that very reason. Fast forward: several weeks ago, I sat in a room with one of the supreme complicated women I know—she’s the matriarch of complexities—and while I walked in that room feeling rather lost—when I left I felt reconnected, re-energized. I was wandering around almost aimlessly, looking for something. When I found her I exhaled. I realized she was the one I was looking for the entire time. We talked about everything from our dreams, our fears, our current situations, our fascination with other countries. And all in less than thirty minutes. What draws me to these two women, and women alike is not only their introspective ability to understand they are not like most but also their sensitivity in understanding they have been gifted a curse. You know, the curse of being intricate.

How easy it must be for them--to take things as they come, not to have the impulse to challenge what’s put before them. How calm these simple girls must be. I don’t say this condescendingly, I am genuinely mystified. I can’t understand because for as long as I have had breath in my lungs and thought in my head I have been inquisitive, constantly wanting to have a better understanding of the world and everything around me. I have always been in my head—since a little girl. So, I look at these women and while often their simplicity makes me have a gag reflex—there are other times that I, like Yang, sit perched on my pedestal of complex and wish to just have one passing day where I too don’t have the impulse to go against the grain, where I don’t find myself wanting to name my daughter Jezebel while the other girls worship Mary. You know, days where I can just be easy.

Lauryn Hill. Amy Winehouse. Marilyn Monroe. Anna Wintour. All complicated women. All women I adore. And while they all are notoriously successful and talented it’s so easy for me to see in each of them the cost, the toll, of being complicated women. Often the world takes a functional complicated woman and pegs her “troubled”. I don’t know how it feels to be pegged "troubled" but I do know how it feels to feel that way in comparison to the other girls. You know, the simple girls.

* Please, Please check out this clip from Grey's Anatomy. You can find it here


  1. Erica, I recently found your blog.... keep up the great work.

  2. Wow is all I can say. Reading this made me rethink my position because this speaks to my life. I have experienced heartbreak because he picked "her" and not me because she was easy and not a challenge, she was simple. I've toyed with the idea of being simple and whether or not I could be just that, simple. The answer was the same time and time again, no. If I tried I would be miserable and lose myself and be left with some contorted version of myself and would be disappointed and heart-broken AT MYSELF. It's not easy especially if it sometimes means relinquishing a relationship with men that just don't understand and sometimes women (platonic) as well. I think it is possible to remain complex and intricate and still have a successful relationships with men specifically. However, it means finding that someone that understands and thirsts for the same freedom and knowledge that you do. Although they (men) may be few and far between, I truly believe that they exist.