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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

The Soundtrack of my 30s (so far)

Let's be honest... nobody warned us for our 30s. No one told me that the metabolism that I thought was synomous with God's unmerited favor would leave me faster than the mayor of Baltimore. I mean... the 30s are not all bad. In fact, they're not bad at all. You are the most honest you've ever been. You stop apologizing for existing. Your hormones go back to middle school. You get acne again, but now you have a minimum budget for skincare. And I DO MEAN MINIMUM. Let's just say this is the generation of neutrogena, not SK-II ($230). Your knees still allow you to dip it low and quite frankly, you're more study than the 20 somethings. This twerk has been fermented in the historic cadence of Uncle Luke Campbell, Look Back at it by the Baddest _____, Trina and I still take over for the 99 and the 2000s. EV-UR-E-TIME. I get chills just thinking about that... But on some real ish, my 30s life can be summed up by some songs and albums. Maybe you should let me know which songs/albums describe your 30s so far.

Here Goes Nothing...

1. Jhene Aiko's whole Souled Out album... real, rap, raw. W.A.Y.S. is quite literally a lifelong truth teller. Spotless Mind... I'm a wanderer, too. A few tracks in particular actually took place... I can barely listen to "remember". Still. Eternal Sunshine... I've lived well. It reminds me of my favorite human who died a few years back. Rest in peace Honey. Let's move on, because if I talk about my greatuncle too long... Next.

2. Summer Walker's Girls Need Love. The Original. It makes me wanna skate backwards, lay down extra baby hairs, pull out my big booty shorts, bamboo earrings, air force ones and high sheen lip gloss.

3. Rehab by Rihanna. Had to detox after whatchamacallit.

I'm doing my work beloved

4. Get it Together by India Arie. Lowkey, the whole Voyage to India album is my life at some point. Minus the borderline hoteptress messaging about a sun and moon, man and a woman... this album is it. Slow Down. Beautiful Surprise. The Truth. God is Real. Talk to Her. I could keep going. It's a damn good album.

5. Cranes in the Sky. I don't know what it means, but it's provocative- gets the people going. Ok for real... this song is a tribute to my avoidance of sitting still to heal. You either sit still or life will sit you still. I traveled 70 states too, Solo. I get it sis. Spent the first year of 30 running full speed. I crashed into myself.

6. Poison by Xavier Omar. I love Jesus. I really do. And I love to get the message of Jesus in unexpected places. This song is a reminder that I don't have to be in control. In fact, I'm not. The repeated lyric, "His blood has erased it for you" sends me over every time. Know it's working out for good.

7. Fall for Your Type (Jamie Foxx & Aubrey "Have y'all seen his last IG post with those shorts on" Graham. I'm always somewhere planning my forever in secrecy with someone that doesn't deserve the free butter that cheesecake factory provides for the bread. Anywho... I tend to double back... triple back. I'm working through this. At this point the only U turn, I'm willing to make better plans for forever.

8. Fool of Me by Meshell Ndegeocello. This song is humbling. Like I wonder if she had just smoked a pack of kool 100s with menthol. This song is so deeply, painfully, honest. "What kind of fool am I? You so easily set me aside." She snatches the potential edges you thought would grow in. Left you slick in the top. "Smell you in my dreams... Noooooo love..." Whoo chile. All I can see is Quincy (Love & Bball) saying, "Double or nothing".

9. I like that by Janelle Bae Monae. Love this song. It's homage to my body. It's homage to my wild hair. It's homage to my hood rich, scholar ways of living. It's the work I've done in the last few years to like myself and practice that as the first line of affirmation. "I'm the random minor note you hear in major songs." I love the fact that my laugh is loud, that I'll pay spades anywhere, that I still engage in kitchen beauticianing, that I talk about bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins for fun, that I'm a moody cook, that when I'm nervous, I listen to "Six-12s" by Webbie. I love that I love Black people. This song reminds me that I, this flawed being, am worthy of my own love.

10. Waiting to Exhale whole soundtrack. I get it now. I get it. I legit wish I didn't. I wish I still found certain scenes funny, but when you understand what it's like to date a Troy and maybe a Russell and maybe a Leon... Hell. I get it. Songs like Exhale (shoot) reminds me of how important my wonderful, beautiful, brilliant, Black women sister circle is. While I still hate Patti's delivery on My Love, Sweet Love, the lyrics have such deep meaning. A good friend of mine calls me Savanah. I'm not sure if that's an insult yet.

This is me making up lyrics

P.S. Honorable Mention goes to Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn"

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