Thank you. Two of the best words ever put together. They attach to my heart and ride hard like a bachelorette on the Nashville Party Bus. The bus you have to pedal with your friends. Has anyone seen a Black woman on those yet? I do not judge, I observe. Regardless, those words warm me up.

‘Thank you’ must be one of the purest expressions of validation, pouring love into that night of debauchery, party-sized cup, in the very of best ways. All while asking you to self-reflect and evaluate it’s efficacy to the wall against intimacy you have constructed.

Yet, ‘thank you’ is eerily similar to the gentleman in Chicago that liked your pictures and boom, six months later, you’re in a phone sex ring trying to escape from the narcissist you magnetized in your life. ‘Thank you’ generates a most complex emotion.

Though I do not believe narcissism is the same as a heartfelt ‘thank you’, both do feel good in your body. Hugs feel even better. Especially the hugs I give myself. It’s even a ritual now; hugs and naps. Yet, that “ATTA girl!” feeling from ‘thank you’ is natural crack if you’re an 80's kid and oxytocin for the rest of you. Unless of course, “Girl” is not how you identify. Then the point of my internal joy with ‘thank you’ is lost. Damn labels.

Listen, labels aren’t good or bad. They are valid ways to create how others see us and establish boundaries. I still find them difficult, wanting everyone to feel seen but I get label fatigue like a motha. It’s too much. Mental exhaustion is my default from remembering to stand up straight, pronouns, AEIOU and sometimes why and labels to identify you in ways I’m not supposed to mention anyway to avoid offense.

Plus, they have the added benefit of prevention from calling you an ass when it ain’t because you identify as they/them. Staying home with my dog and husband is preferable to social label interaction. Give us free beyond the label gate. Not only am I an advocate for self-love, I’m also a client of delight delivered through a ‘thank you’ vs. label masturbation.

Still, a true, heartfelt expression of ‘thank you’ is my own special Christmas Eve of Love Language. It is not the main event that people wore furs to on my little black and white tv, shout out Sugar Ray, but it is a damn fine crowd pleaser.

Consider me the “you get one gift to open on Christmas Eve” kid. It felt much like ‘thank you’ but the one opened gift was PJ’s with the feet and for a few years worn, ironically in the projects.

Christmas jammies were fun but stopped just short of the utter satisfaction of wrapping paper everywhere, 10 minutes after you rushed to your version of tree, Christmas morning. I say version because this kid had Hannukah too, mixed-kid privilege. Though if you think not knowing how to spell Channukah is privilege, go off.

Yeah, ‘thank you’ feels pretty good. Unless, of course it’s Christmas 1980 and that ‘thank you’ joy was Jean Nate with the body powder bath kit as the main event. Receiving caused me to pause in my tracks with unimaginable gratitude.

Imagine the sheer excitement about this recognition, this verbal manifestation of being seen in service to another human but dammit, all I can think is “wow, someone actually appreciated me out loud.” I’m instead grateful for people treating me the way they should treat me; giving credit for what you’re s’posed to do. What a thief of joy. S’posed to.

I miss the onslaught of manners training, real world mom, protocols. James and I had to say ‘thank you’ for every damn thing but so did mom.

“The tv is acting up James, bring me the tin foil.” “thank you.”

“Grab the remote for me Rachel.”

“thank you.”

Excuse my back of the head eye roll when my brother filled the hole in our bathroom door with a towel from a parental kick for me. “Thank you.”

Oh, then other children always hit us with the one-two punch: “Please” and “thank you.” Fuck them kids. The pining is real though because I really want to push people for not appreciating me holding the door open.

Moderately rude but I have no real thoughts on the change of ‘thank you’ over time. What do I know about manners anyway? I’m as confused as everyone else. Say ‘thank you’ to the wrong person on the wrong day and you’re fighting with a hair stylist in East Nashville because you hate masks. Including the one I cannot see. Who made these rules? Who determined how and when they are applied? Who knows but what I do know is a ‘thank you’ feels pretty damn good over here. So if I should pause to respond with “you’re welcome”, understand the full weight of your ‘thank you.’

Your ‘thank you’ is validation and avoidance. It’s opium and tin foil antenna and gratitude for absolute proof that my daily self-hug practice feels just as good.

It’s hearing an entire, internal narrative of “Girl, you didn’t do shit.” Or “They’re only being nice to you.” Then I snap back to the moment. I want more. Not more ‘thank you’ but the feeling of meaningful impact.

That’s my protocol when I don’t understand the rules anymore. While others debate, I live the very best I can with the healed parts of me screaming back “Thank you.”

Stories of people & perspectives that inspire me. With moments of black & white and the good gray in between.