It’s been a minute. I’ve had story ideas swirl into my brain that I immediately blew out my nose for fear of who might be harmed by a truth I wanted to share. I am starting to understand why people write fiction. As a young girl, I loved to write in little journals I found at the store, or those college-ruled spiral notebooks. Those silly short stories, plays and poems were an escape into a world where I could do whatever I wanted and where the sharpest edges of hurt were merely inconveniences by reality’s standards.
The day Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts, I sat on the couch and stared at the TV in disbelief, while my partner sat next to me crying. I honestly, do not know what I was expecting, but I was neither happy nor disappointed with the outcome. It was like finding a hundred dollar bill in the pocket of a pair of jeans you hadn’t worn in years. Cool to find that extra cash, but DAMN I could’ve used that Bennie years ago. I got up from the couch and walked to the kitchen for some water. I started to feel my legs giving underneath me, but just thought I was being dramatic. I went to take another step and fell face first to the ground, catching my fall with my arm. I didn’t call out for help. Instead, I laid there responding to questions from the digital assistant on my watch. Yes, I’m OK. No medical assistance needed. I slowly rose to wobbly feet and decided to take the rest of the day off.
I struggle with ADHD and for me, this means that I have to work harder at remembering things. I don’t often recall the details of my lived experiences or conversations, unless they are poignant, or I make an effort to write them down, or use some other method to imprint them into my memory shed. My therapist helped me discover this neurodiversity, which I previously referred to as eclectic; happily rocking the moniker of Space Coquette. All of this to say that I am recognizing the trauma that lives in my body. I have seen it manifest before, in various ailments, including a week of needing a mobility device to get to class.
I’ve been reading Resmaa Menakem, Gabor Maté, and most recently a haunting and stunning essay by Sonya Renee Taylor in a new anthology called You Are Your Best Thing edited by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown. And by reading I mean listening via audiobook, except the anthology…turns out essays are the perfect length for my brain to capture. This is surely how I got through college. I digress… Every message I have received from these and other works that have marched themselves into my shopping cart over the last 12 months, percolate, then settle into the same balm — be kind to yourself.
I wanted to write another delightful snapshot from my life, drafted then edited, then edited some more, crafted with the precision of a narcissistic mixologist. But this is all I’ve got. No hallelujah, no sweet story, no thoughtful crescendo. Just the poetic and exhausted rambling of a Black Queer Femme in America, doing her best to be mindful without losing her mind. I’ve had some help this year with learning how to take a break; how to check email only at certain times of the day (WHAT?!); how to believe that my value comes from so much more than just what I look like; and how I can have more compassion for others by cultivating more of it for myself.
I turned 46 this year. In another 46 years, I will be the age my grandmother was when she passed away. She was really hard on herself and I think that made her hard on others. Everyday I wish I could laugh with her again, but I know that no one lives forever. Sometimes I talk to her like she is still here, and I can respond to myself too because I am really good at impersonating her. I’ll say, “ I think I’m just going to let it all go Grandma, all the shoulda, coulda, woulda…what do you say?” And she’ll reply, “Get free, baby. Let’s all get free.”