Remember when I was really, really into things that people hated? Types of people who were thrown away, types of subjects that were avoided, just the bottom of the barrel. I still am, to a certain degree, and I definitely still support the unsupported. But there was a point in time where I really stood behind those ideals.
When I had my mohawk with the tiny sides:
Or when I was really into showing my boobs, or just some skin in general, even if I didn’t think my body was the best body around.
Just a lot of rebellion a lot of the time. It was comfortable. I remember being obsessed with not having to apologize for being me, and being loud about it, and being loud about it for other people. Feeling like I was the savior of all the other weird boys and girls of the planet. Feeling like the worst mom on Earth, feeling like I didn’t fit into any corner or space, and absolutely rotting from the inside out.
All those things at once.
I’m not all that different now, just…evolved. I made it to where I figured I wanted to be – by myself. Just with the young sirs. Away from Atlanta. Away from disgusting older men, away from a childhood plagued with loss and change, away from teenage years full of sexual abuse, confused promiscuity, and aching loneliness. I made it around all of that, made it through a car wreck, made it to this house and these words. And I did it with a small amount of help, with a huge amount of determination, and a never ending sense of unease.
I’m not the girl with the hawk anymore, but I am. I’m not sporting a huge fro, but I could. I’m not standing around in my underwear, tits out, licking girl’s faces after they take my pictures, but I might. There’s a lot left in me and a lot of time (or maybe not – I wouldn’t know). I see these photos and I feel like the same person in them, just less sad. Less afraid. Less hopeless. Less crushed. Further away from my father’s death. Miles away from the place I hated, the people I hated. I see these pictures and I can finally soak them in, and feel great about them, without the guilt. Without the stories of the scents of those people in that apartment. I see these pics and I’m in awe of MYSELF.
There’s a lot of baggage in my memories but I’m truly learning to strip them and just see me in them. See Urijah, see Rajesh, see Mashu. I’ve learned to blur and spot those ugly things out of my mind and just leave us. Just leave midnight trips to CVS in Buckhead, of me looking at the sky. Just see me sitting outside at the bus stop, outside the Darlington at 10pm, going to work at Loveshack. See me watching busses go by, feeling sick of the city but so in love with the way the night looked. The way it smelled. The way the people jerked about.
I can look back and just see myself crying in front of that interior design store, the one on the bottom level of that skyscraper, where I stood waiting for my connecting bus (5) to work. See myself staring into that futuristic model kitchen they had there, tears of absolute want staining me. I remember feeling like, yeah, will I ever have something nice like this? Or will it always be starter stoves and roaches? Will it always be another suitcase in another hall?
Shit, do you know I didn’t listen to ONE showtune during those years? Or sing one? From 2007 to 2013 probably, I wasn’t even the same Shaquana that loved Evita, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago. I wasn’t even the same fucking person. I’d completely abandoned myself in hopes of survival and all I had left of me was a love for the weird and downtrodden. I’d adopted sexual deviants as my family and I sold toys to them and laughed with them and screamed at them and protected them.
And now, here I am. That model kitchen doesn’t seem like a far fetched idea – it almost seems silly, honestly. I miss that night sky but I’m happy to have the showtunes. I miss the freedom to walk to the CVS at night but I don’t miss the pain that soaked every step.
I don’t miss those days at that apartment that I took those pictures in, the one that was before Buckhead even. I hardly think about that unless I’m daydreaming about loving someone else in the apartment instead. What MISERY that was.
But I like being able to look at all these pictures, all these versions of Trey, all these Shaquanas, and only see myself for once.
I remember these things as they were, but I enjoy them as they should’ve been. And I’ll take more pictures, and more pictures, and they’ll be RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.