Updated: Jun 18, 2019
Before it was a tv show, it was a movie by Spike Lee, who won an oscar this year for his film, The Black Klansman. (It's about time, right?)
The movie seemed great, but I didn't connect with it in 1986. I was only a teenager then and was not allowed to watch it. Years later, I saw the movie and thought Nola Darling and her three lovers were a bit too much. All the shameful names women are called for having more than one man in their life came to mind, slut, whore, (or "ho" as we people of color like to say), and adulteress. I felt Nola was a nymphomaniac that avoided commitment. However, when the tv series appeared on Netflix in 2017, one of my girlfriends told me I needed to watch it because the character, Nola, reminded her of me. I was taken aback at first, feeling hurt that my friend thinks I am a slut. After all, I am married with six kids and three grandchildren, so what in the world?
However, I began to watch the show, (now in season 2 on Netflix as of May 24th), and I began to see Nola Darling in a different light. (Spoiler alert!) This Nola has several layers, she is a struggling young artist who tries to balance her world, she is an activist, she speaks her mind and it didn't matter to her what others thought. She stood for what was right for herself, her family, friends and neighbors. After a run-in with a guy who oversteps his bounds by grabbing her arm while trying to "holla" at her one evening as she walked home alone. She rebuffs him and he hurts her arm, calling her out her name, spouting a slur of hurtful and hateful words which made her afraid and sent her running home in tears. Instead of pushing it out of her mind and trying to forget about it, she uses her pain and frustration to create an art campaign entitled, My Name is Not..., that put her in the spotlight as an up and coming artist. Yes, she was seeing three men casually, but they all end up meeting each other at her apartment toward the end of season 1. One of her lovers is a married man, but all three are very different from each other as if the combination of these men created the perfect man for Nola. Who are we to judge? We all make mistakes or do things we are ashamed of, right? I think the show is great and it touched on some modern issues as well.
As a writer and poet, it sparked my creative flow. There were some personal things I was dealing with during the course of my life, fidelity was one of those issues stemming from abuse that began in my teenage years, #metoo. I began to write poetry ridding myself of the pain I felt. There was one song in the first season that really hit home for me. Faithful by Meshell Ndegeocello.
The chorus says, "No one is faithful, I am weak, I go astray. Forgive me for my ways."
The second verse:
" I hear voices and I can't stand to be alone.
Cause emptiness is all I have ever known Soiled by my lust, I feel no shame No longer forsaken when they call my name Beautiful angels come to my bed I am satisfied on their flesh I have fed."
The words of this song helped me realize that I have never been faithful to anyone or any one thing in my life, including myself. I think it is amazing how an epiphany can come from the strangest of things. I suffered from low self esteem and depression for most of my life. I am not saying the character Nola Darling had any of those issues, but her attack by a stranger was a trigger for me. I began to do some soul searching and last year, I began to "do the right thing", ( I couldn't help it, it's a Spike Lee thing!), forgiving myself, and others who hurt me. Prayer and counseling helped navigate the things that haunted me. I confessed my infidelity to my husband and asked forgiveness, which he readily gave and he continues to love me and accept me for who I am. The biggest thing, I began to heal and change. After twenty some years, but I did it. It is a process, forgiveness and healing, it takes time. The important thing is that you start.
For writers, we write what we know and sometimes it is painful, we write down things we don't always want others to see or know. I once had a creative writing teacher in high school who said, "If you don't want others to read what you write, don't write it down! Someone will always find it and read it!" Writing poetry has always been therapeutic for me as well as writing down my stories. I am working on my life's story, my husband says it will be a great book to help and inspire others. For the ones who read it, I pray that is true. As for my friend, she is one of my best friends, shoots straight from the hip and I love her for that! She didn't mean that Nola reminded her of me in a bad way, but she felt that like Nola Darling, I am an artist, creative writer/novelist (I cannot paint or sculpt to save my life!) who even at my forty something age, can still be lost at times trying to balance my life, my work, my creativity and my passion. I stand up for my beliefs, family and friends, I root for the underdog, and I am a free spirit who never stops learning. Who knew watching a tv show could give you an epiphany for your life? Anyway, watch the series for yourself or don't, but I was inspired and learned a few things. Perhaps you will learn a few things too?
Blessings, Peace and Love,