All the places you will go

In a moment of restlessness at 3 this morning, I picked up my memorabilia box. The box is a timberland shoe box I have had since high school. In it, are my journals from middle school, birthday cards, keepsakes, awards, and notes to and from my friends. It seems like very early in life, at 10 or 11 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. My journals from 6th grade read, "I can't wait to write my first book this year. People may say it is impossible but you can do it".

I never knew I had such intentions. Until this past summer, I thought that I had always wanted to be a lawyer. Since maybe time eternity.

I think what is dawning on me is how magically things fall into place; how we already know who we are meant to be. And really part of this experience is discovering and rediscovering this again and again.

When I graduated college, I left spiritually and emotionally drained. In retrospect, my college career dimmed my light...but then forced me to kindle it anew with my own oil - new vigor, deeper understanding. In many ways, from 18 to 22, I was told, explicitly and indirectly, that I should care about the boys and marriage, sex, having a good time, getting getting good grades but not deeper awareness and consciousness, social mobility, meeting people so that they can bring my social standing up. More succinctly, I was told to "not be so serious, not to take things so seriously, so personally".

Starting this blog was in response to that experience, wanting a place to be completely me, as serious, radical, loving, angry, as I want to be. And to not worry about social status or mobility. To go back to my hood.

Initially, I wrote anonymously. I was honestly scared. I did not think that people would want to hear this narrative, this story, about wanting to explore ideas, things, people, music, love, sex, life. To be honest and vulnerable about complexity, contradiction, nuance. "To want to save the world on Thursday but then on Friday, hit the club."

So many forces and people were telling me that this would not gain any traction. I told myself this too. People told me that young people do not read anymore. "They don't care about like this", "this is lame", "this is too serious". Yet Jasmine's story and the views it has received and because it has resonated with people is why this blog means a lot to me. Jasmine's story has put fire under my belly; that my story and the stories I want to tell and have told are important.

I will end with a short poem I found in my memorabilia box. In my high school yearbook, I found a poem I wrote when I was 14. I entered the poem in a poetry contest my middle school principal told me about. She was so excited that I would win. I believed her, I still believe her.

But that day, after reading the poem, the judges just looked at me with disgust in their eyes. They told me to explain certain parts and then took turns telling me that I was too angry and my poem was too personal, too angry, it was about race, it was not good. I cried. I do not remember if I told my principal what happened. But I cried for a long time.

This poem was the last poem I wrote and shared until my sophomore year in college and that was not intentional. This is the first time in recent years I have been deliberate and intentional about my writing, perhaps the first time I am seriously being a writer, so-to-speak. But even now, when I write and/or share my writing, I still hear their voices. It's funny how pain sits with us at every table, every turn. But my consolation is this: "you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches".

As the year ends and a new one starts, I keep telling myself to be what I have always known that I want to be. Love when and where there's love to be had. Go everywhere. Question everything. "Be afraid, but live anyway".

My Invented Truth

It is unknown to me
Why defiance seems so powerful
Why pain is comfort in search of safety
Why I would choose death over life in space

It infuriates my curiousity
Why black angels seem more demonic
Why nature is not a "being"
Why "I" is egotistic
Why my skin baked in fire is but only burnt
Why you fall in their animosity

It makes my fingers tremble
Why my mistakes result in crises
Why yours are sins though to be forgiven
Why your love is a curse
Why there is a second world if I hardly live in the first
Why it is through cheap labor that your pot of riches will burst

It strains my heart and lungs
Why the war on education is fought at home
Why my survivial is graded on a curve
Why today's light may be brighter than tomorrow allows us to see
Why luck exists
Why I often miss

It swells my tongue
Why his lie is my truth unveiled
Why we bore but one poor fruit
Why we as a race still refuse to be "you"
Why our moment of grace is past

It is unknown to me
And it infuriates my curiousity
It makes my fingers tremble
And it strains my heart and lungs
It swells my tongue
That these words duplicate far beyond my realm
Though only as invention of my truth

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