Amazonian Woman Rememberings
It’s a Saturday night that feels like a Sunday. No matter the actual day or the one I’m identifying with, I know for certain that I am exhausted. This day is full with emotion and I’m realizing that parts of me, today at least, have retreated to other times in my life where things that happened on this day or occurred around this time live in my mind or my heart.
New Orleans is near and dear to me and I am deeply aware of the lingering anger and sadness over the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on my city. New Orleans is where I began laying my girlhood to rest and started learning about who I was away from the drawings of my parents designed to instruct my becoming. I went to New Orleans with a blank sketch-pad and an unused set of charcoals. I returned home as a rough draft for what would turn into several more drafts before getting to the version I am now; a rough draft of who is still to come. Very little of this happened in the New Orleans that lives in the fantasies of tourists past and present. I always knew New Orleans was a Third World country where Black people have been herded into modern day concentration camps and convinced that they’re OK as long as Mardis Gras keeps showing up annually like clock work. Though only for a short time, I danced to the songs that depicted the shortsightedness of the average city dweller. I cried inside as those beats Southern drawled their way through my spine and made me dance to their native oppression with only the double sided acceptance of youth. After Hurricane Katrina hit, with her Russian slash Hood name, the N.O. received a bath that unfortunately washed away many people from their homes and many lives, but I must admit that I wasn’t sad to see the remnants of matchbox homes on bowed and leaning stilts go. I hoped that a new day would be forced in and people who’ve never strayed from their block might find sunshine in the rebuilding—my thoughts before ever seeing confirmation that we would be ignored completely--but no such thing.
When Katrina hit my heart was wide open off the beginnings of new love. This day reminds me of another era gone by, one that was starting in the throes of more negative Black History being made. There was nothing negative about what I was feeling in this state of new love. I had a new resolve, was embarking on a new journey, and building a new life. I was also 2/3 of the way through a goal I’d set for myself years before and close to completing my degree. I was a part of a 2-person construction crew and we were building a mansion of brick formed in trust, communication, respect, partnership, and love. We were handcrafting a dream, that no one else thought possible, one day at a time. A crowd gathered around us to watch in awe of what we were putting down and christened us the 2nd coming of Black Love. The time was ripe, the energy electric. Like many of the inhabitants of the city of New Orleans, and many of the couples that watched us, those days are gone. Most days, I don’t dwell on the loss, but focus on the experience and the magic we made together. I was given great personal gifts as a result, exiting that meeting of hearts and minds bigger in both areas than when I entered.
This time of year 2 years ago I began yet another journey, one that continues to reward and test me. It has been mostly good, with the rough spots being rough enough to really make me reconsider the decision to even walk this path. At the same time, "I ain’t no punk, no bitch, no shit like that," and so I don’t walk away from too much without proving myself. I’m discovering that I got up for work one Wednesday and I’m still living aspects of that day, despite the months that have gone by since. It’s hard to battle demons you can’t see, you can only smell their rancorous scent when you’re standing downwind. Every warrioress worth her leather loincloth knows you don’t stand down simply because your enemy hasn’t stepped visibly onto the battlefield. Even in the face of turmoil, I know that I am where I am for a reason and the gifts bestowed upon me as a result of surviving this experience will be what I use to guide me onto my next slightly unknown path.
Right now, my iTunes DJ is channeling my mood and playing just the right songs to mellow me out. No random Hip Hop or Dancehall has crept through to disrupt the aural ambience, leaving me to trip down this memory lane at the pace of my resting heart rate. My thoughts are not of regrets, are not laced with bitterness, I am simply remembering and oddly thankful to have such colorful memories even of times that can’t be fully classified as good. My life is good and my iTunes is confirmation that like the songs playing randomly to weave a mood, my experiences are a beautiful tapestry of necessary events lined up to keep adding to this ever evolving self portrait.
I’m not skilled enough to draw you, but I’m getting good at drawing me.
Watch me move.