Sunday, December 12, 2010

We SHALL be free!

(Just pretend like you see an image of a brown woman instead.  Trust me, it'll be ooooo-kaaayyyyy)  See, there it goes again.  Rude and unapologetic cynicism.  I really don't even care if I just offended anyone with my tone, either.  Aint THAT sumthin?????
It's my birthday.  And thanks to some EVIL do-gooder I didn't get what I wanted.  So, I gave myself a haircut, instead.  Four inches. Gone.  Just like that.  But the pain?  Hah! THAT shit is still stickin around.  ON MY BIRTHDAY, TOO!!!
The BFF and I were happily on our way down the Brown Paved Road to Steward about 40 minutes outside of Atlanta cuando entro una llamada de la mai de Ali.  She told me some woman from an advocacy organization had already been there to see him and that he was sending word that this quack job had probably already used up his ONE visit a week he is allowed.  We pulled off the road as I called the center to check, and sure enough the idiota on the other end of the line helped my apparently illiterate ass understand what WAS NOT written nor sufficiently implied that "each detainee can only receive ONE visit every seven days, NOT several different visits on one day."
respiro profundo
We turn around and head back....... a bit relieved that we were spared the remaining 2 hours of the drive that would have resulted in just being turned away, but with increasing resolve with every inch of ground gained on the retreat to hacer algo about what we were finding out as we got the details from Ali's mom was really a total and complete violation of basic human dignity and rights...................
Apparently a detainee can be MADE to receive a visitor even though he or she makes it CLEAR a particular visitor is not desired.  Please tell me how this is in any way RIGHT, FAIR, or even SAFE???  As the BFF pointed out, what if a visitor came with untoward intentions toward a detainee?  The detainee would have to sit there and feel threatened?  I fail to understand the humanity in obliging a detainee to receive an unwanted visit after he has made it CLEAR that he not only did not want to entertain that person, but that he, in fact, WAS WAITING for a specific visit from someone ELSE.  This is a 19-year old KID who is not able to see his immediate family and who COUNTS on seeing the next closest thing-ME-keeping my word to visit him regularly.  We are talking about alimentando espiritus, here.  And not just Ali's, but my own, and that of the BFF, as well.
We don't go to see this boy out of some insatiable need to quiet any voices from the past blaring messages of insufficiency at us.  We do not go to bed early on Saturday nights in order to be refreshed for our Sunday journeys as bleeding heart, guilt-ridden Americanitas who unbenounced to them, are really just patronizing with our presence the victim of a system of Western Hemispheric imperialism, domination, and economic decimation by this great land we happened to be born in and to where he happen to be brought as a child.  We go out of love.  That's it...........................

Tonight my boy will go to sleep on a hard slab of a mattress in a cruel, love-less cell.  I will sleep on an expensive mattress, after having been showered all the live-long day with love.  Mi muchacho may not have seen the snow falling all over Georgia tonight, but he will feel the frigid cold that made those flurries possible as he sleeps IN A MERE THIN COTTON SHIRT AND PANTS (because we can't bring him any warm clothes, nor do they issue the detainees any!) on what will surely be a COLD hard slab of a mattress in that cruel, love-less cell in a detention center he probably never thought he would ever be sent to.  I, on the other hand already have my snug nighties on, and the heat is pumpin just fine-I am warm.  And he is not.
If he is uncomfortable, then I, too, shall be...........  If he is humiliated, then so will I be.............. If he has to do without, then so must I.
So, even though I loved my long, lovely locks, away they went.  My hair will represent my solidarity with my muchacho.  If he must struggle to be free, and that freedom is what he wants, then I will struggle symbolically in some way (even though the suffering in my heart is VERY real and struggle ENOUGH when one has at least ONE GOOD CRY A DAY) to regain the vanity and beauty that I want.  I think it's a fair enough exchange........ Besides, I WANT people to look at me and see something so different they have to ask me why I did it.

Then I can tell them about my Ali.  And hope that one more person cares..................................

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Love That Loved Me That I Refused to See

One week from today marks a month ago that Spelman College's 2010 Homecoming festivities began.................. without me............. like they have every year since my graduation.  However, this year I was actually planning on showing up!  At least that's what I intended to do when I excitedly and proudly clicked "I'm attending" on the Facebook invitation to the opening night party.  I was READY!
But, of course, some other tantalizing alternative reared its head somewhere between the clicking and the intending and I never made it.  I failed, yet again, to don the hallowed halls of the place that nurtured for four years my truest, purest, and highest self in a way that came in second only to the care of my loving parents.  I turned my back on the love that loved me.  You could say I had forgotten...................................
But you would be wrong if you had been living inside my body when I walked it through those doors to the building I practically lived in the last two years of matriculation-Cosby.   It all came back.  In an instant I lost 15 pounds, my step turned into the leap it always was before I hit my 30's, and I was innocent, new, unspoiled by life's disappointments, and full of potential.  The word "no" lost all meaning and the Spelman Woman's expectation to never have that word uttered in her direction even ONCE settled upon my heart and mind yet again-nestling itself deep in my chest with its own intention of never being dislodged ever again.

I also in that moment became visible again................ Ah, yesssssssss.  And so enter the men.............

I didn't realize it while I was at Spelman, but several years later while gathered together with other alumnus, one of my male friends said, "Sony, you just don't realize how many of us thought you were just such a pretty young thang.  A lot of dudes wanted to date you."............................. Errr, QUE?????????  You mean to tell me that on a college campus FULL of BEAUTIFUL woman of African descent, people (in the PLURAL??) stopped to notice brown little me?  WHY?????  I thought that was the most preposterous waste of energy any member of the opposite sex could engage in at the time.  After all, I used to say at Spelman there was too much beauty to choose from, so I was happy to settle, okay, fade into the background.

Today no quiero el background de nadie.  But apparently, I was the only one who relegated my little happy ass back there in the first place.  For, as I was minding my own damned business, felizmente getting my punch and licking the peanut butter icing off my perfect mini chocolate brownie, another delicious and quite familiar sensation came over me................ that of the realization of admiration from afar.  Picking my head up, I noticed my girl's newly acquired networking contact giving me the ojo.  A lo largo de la conversacion when he whipped out his card and nearly crushed my arm to be in a picture next to me,  I suddenly got it-this dude is trying to mack old school style!  And he's trying it on ME!  
Now, that is not in and of itself much to shout about.  But it seemed right at the point when C and I decided to leave that a steady stream of fine young brothas poured into the lobby where the reception was being held for the program we attended.  And it feels MIGHTY NICE to say that I got more than a couple of second glances from those guys!!!!  And, I'm sorry, but that IS something that does make a negra feel good.......................... Why did I wait all these years to allow myself to feel worthy of feeling this good by these men?  Who said I was unnoticeable?  And WHY THE HELL did I believe that shit?????  In the most venerated haven for the healthy development of the African-descended female persona-mine took to the shadows.  Perhaps my Spelman education did not end until today.  Or perhaps it will never end because a place like that always has a lesson for its daughters when they finally decide to come home and visit.  When they finally decide to love the love that loved them all this time........... she was waiting for me and had not forgotten me.  As I really have never forgotten her..................

I say all that to say that there may be things that all of us have COMPLETELY missed out on because we convinced ourselves that there was no way we could have/partake in/enjoy those things.  I have definitely eaten the fruit of the tree of self-sabotage on more than one unhappy occasion.  And to think now that I missed out on four years of adoration from black men that I convinced myself I was supposedly too "unnoticeable" to garner is just sad and ridiculous.  I think the one interesting thing here is that in all of this, the attention today was familiar.  Which means that on some level, while outwardly rejecting it, my subconscious was registering it.  And that ultimately means that somehow the love got through!  I take comfort in this proof that even as we act as the agents of our own undermining, there are fail-safes to thwart our evil-doings!

THIS time when I smell, sense, hear, taste, feel that delicious FAMILIAR sensation of adoration, I'm TAKING it and running with it.  Why?  Because no one ever sees well or is seen well from the back.  EVER.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

La Juana Vive en MI

Well, I finally did it.  I finally did it.  What took me so long to get started; I finally did it.  And it happened exactly as we said last night.................
Last night I attended a flamenco show with a group of friends.  And it was there at the performance that I met a older woman, a white woman, an American woman.  And we began to talk.  We talked about a mutual admiration, appreciation, and love for flamenco.  We talked about my possible desire to move to another country.  And during that part of our chat the theme of my family came up.  The conversation soon snowballed and I ended up telling her of my most assured desire to write a novel about my family.  She listened to me tell a few anecdotes and ended up sharing with me that she, herself is a writer.  (If you are thinking LOA at this juncture, so was I.)  And as a writer, she began to give me "writerly" advice-the most important of which was, "Sonya, if you want to write, then you have to WRITE.  Every day you have to take some time.  But you have to write.  And you need to do it daily."
To this admonition, my knee-jerk reaction was quite the opposite of what I expected it to be (hah, telling me I had to do anything-not even getting to the "daily" party would have been enough to turn my ears OFF under any other circumstances).  I looked at my new friend and told her, "You know.  You are really talking about discipline.  Life keeps throwing the theme of discipline up in my face everywhere I turn these days."  Interestingly enough she commiserated with me that even at her age she is feeling "led" to revisit how much of her life is given over to the discipline the goals she has for it require.  I shook my head up and down up and down and just told her with a sigh of resign that yes, once I started writing I would do it daily.
After the show my new friend introduced me to her friend, whom I had actually previously met-another older woman, however Latina.  And the three of us got to talking about our projects and as if in unison the three of our voices joined in the same exact oration; "We should all get together and write in a collective sitting." (mas o menos, you get the gist)  The very feminine energy we were talking about as the agent of heightened collective creativity was sneakily manifesting itself in the very conversation the more we talked.  By the time we literally HAD to break away from our entrancement, we had all agreed that we would sit and write together.
That was last night.
However, this moooooooorniiiiiiiiing, I wake up, turn on the computer, and see that one of my Facebook friends in NYC was convening one of her Latina Writers Group meetings.  TO-DAY.  Chacho, I shot her an inquiry so quickly asking if I could participate via skype.  And as rapidly as I asked, she answered in the affirmative.  By 1:40 this afternoon I was looking at my new sisters on the screen of my computer.  And, my God-I experience an emotion so strong and if I had entered another happy, ethereal, joyful dimension-like a Fantasy Land of spiritual sorts.
We introduced ourselves.  Then we got down to the business.  I, for one, said that my intention was to just go ahead and start writing my family's story, but that my worries were that I had facts, but not details (how did person A feel when person B said X to her?).  And very calmly my new sisters told me, "Just write it.  It's all already there."  What happens?  I entered that space of creativity-a space of utter and complete other-worldliness from whence I absolutely could not wrench myself.  And it was there that I lost myself.
It's been an hour since I left the online meeting and my characters are still with me.  I still feel the galleta one of my characters got on my own cheek.  I am the one who is scared for her as she goes down that mountain alone.  In this moment I yet and still find myself captivated and under the spell of these people who once lived, who gave me life, and for whom I am breathing their own life back into all with the stroke of my pen.  Last night I couldn't sleep in pura anticipacion of just how I would get it all off the ground.  Now tonight I probably won't sleep wondering about my Juana.  Where will she go?  What will she eat?  Will she be safe?  I really want to call her and ask her, "BISABUELAAAA!!!!  ORIENTAME a contar tu historia.  DIME como tu quieres q yo relate los hechos de tu vida.  Ayudame a ayudarte a renacer en MI."  
Just as Anacaona lives, so does La Juana-y ella vive en MI.

La Juana Vive en Mi (audio en espanol)

Recorded on iPhone and posted with VR+ Lite.