Why Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ is Even Sweeter and More Refreshing
A year later
When Beyonce dropped Lemonade a year ago, I was more than ready to receive it — despite not being emotionally prepared for how it would thrash me around like a roller coaster that takes off without warning.
The ride can be exhilarating and even mesmerizing — especially when you leave your eyes wide open and allow the passing wind in your ears to echo the sentiment that comes with the joy of release.
On a warm Sunday morning that resembles the one I’m currently swaying in — I wrote about how Lemonade — which had been released the day before — made me swoon into action.
I didn’t want to love it.
Beyonce was always an iffy implication mainly because I never felt comfortable taking her seriously. But then she exposed provocative layers with her self-titled album back in 2013.
As I succumbed to the challenges of a stormy winter and a heart that was as cold as ice — the one agent that gave me permission to dissolve into a puddle of emotions — that made my tears warmer and the sex hotter was listening to Beyonce.
I wrote about that experience and meant ever word. That year was strenuously rewarding but also mentally dangerous.
I celebrated a milestone birthday without the assistance of family and friends — because it seemed that there was really no point exaggerating the fact that I had failed to achieve the pinnacle of success — that is required when you’re life is almost halfway over.
I turned in my badge and skipped away from a role that had me serving as a corporate slave — all in the name of an Upper East Side postal code. I thought working at The New York Public Library would revive my necessity to be closer to books and the institutions that make such a thing possible.
I only ended up being sucked under by the very currents that threatened my sanity and forced me into a life vest that was almost too small to save me.
Death was all around — as if I didn’t have enough fear to keep me under the covers at night as the cold air in my apartment persisted through pertinent openings.
She died because she was sick and nobody knew it until Facebook made the call. She passed away and nobody knew the cause because Nigerians prefer to wallow in the unknown until it kills us. He was killed because speed is a demon that can’t be reasoned with — even when hearts are at stake.
I spent the winter writing, fucking and punishing the ones who deserved it.
I wrote about what it means to choose to live as opposed to just existing. I wrote about the ill-fated affair and the one-sided repercussions. I shared the freedom of finally being in charge — and not giving a fuck how high the price tag can be when you refute the need to be robotically responsible. I even plunged into the details of a one-stand in South Beach, which my cousin discovered after the link was posted on Facebook.
She also read other stuff that served as my earliest attempt at being naked with words.
I didn’t want to hold back because my career as a full-time writer demanded the same amount of courage it takes to walk through Grand Central Station with only your hairy vagina as a shield.
My cousin outed me — and I was ostracized by my family and forced to demolish the website I had created for the purpose of sharing the experiences I hoped would resonate in a life-affirming way.
During this time, I was leaning heavily on the counsel and loving embrace of friends that never once doubted, questioned or even mocked my need to be abandoned in a field of dreams — alone and prepped — to take flight.
They say we have the power to do all we should to ensure that we are our best selves. We are told that life won’t ever be worth living if we don’t jump in and risk it all. We have to be brave in the face of great danger. It’s so damn easy to be complacent and continue on as usual — even though we are sick to our stomach each time we swipe the card that opens the gates of hell.
A million and one listicles are conceived as notices to remind us of how much we are losing when we pretend to be content — while we sign in our credentials for a days work.
Do better! Get better! Be better!
I made the decision to lose everything I had worked so hard for — in order to finally fulfill the desire to be able to own what I do with the evidence to support my claims and the paycheck to boot.
Almost four years later, I can proudly announce that I achieved the goal I dreamt of when I was downing glasses of red wine — and quarreling with my mother over the logistics of being unemployed and reckless.
It took a whole lot of shit to get me here. The mission of saving your ass and your dignity while also lining up your pursuits in a straight line is not for the faint of heart.
You go through a lot in the process and most of the time, you are completely alone and scared beyond belief. You most likely will end up in debt and there might be a period when you are on the cusp of being homeless.
All of those things happened to me, and through it all — I was lucky enough to have the gorgeous strength of my sisters — championing my cause and listening to my cries for help with action and advice.
That is why a year later — Beyonce’s Lemonade resonates with me as much as it did when I swam in it for the first time — and even more so when I look back and track how the tenacity of the Black women in my life never faltered.
I love Black women. I love being a Black woman. And I love that Beyonce detailed our complexities, spirituality, intensity, wholesomeness, sensuality, beauty, and fierceness in a bible of verses and visuals that can’t be replicated.
The perfection of Lemonade lies in the journey.
As a Black woman trying to navigate the uncertainties of life without the loving aid of a man who loves me beyond comprehension, I am automatically blamed for my predicament. I must have done something wrong to be so miserable. We are a special breed because no matter how bad things get — we can effortlessly weather the storm.
Throw your insults and watch them not stick. We can persevere through unbearable pain and grind our teeth at the thought of a nice cold glass of sweet tasting Lemonade.
Well, I’m holding the glass filled to the brim with the same solution from a year ago, and it’s actually a lot more refreshing than I remember. I’m toasting the Black women who consume my life. The ones who know it and the ones I will reveal myself to when the time is right.
I’m toasting to the Black women who do all they can for us without the accolades or the distinguished invites to places where they are hailed and bloodied with praise.
I’m toasting to Beyonce. I’m toasting to Serena. I’m toasting to Black women who incite articles that try to make us larger-than-life or superhuman when we are just women without the parade that White woman garner for doing not very much at all.
I’m sipping Lemonade and toasting my victories.
I’m recognizing a journey that has come full circle with the ammunition and loyalty of Black women. Y’all never quench your thirst for the sacrifice of the ones you truly love.
And that’s why my thirst will continue for the ones that need me.