That was nearly half my life ago

seer is seventeen

This is a photograph of me half my life ago. My nose has changed since then, of its own accord. It's gotten longer. People don't know I'm Black anymore. They think I'm latina. I think it has a lot to do with my nose.

My birthday is Monday. I’ll be thirty-four. (Right? Let me do the math. I always forget. Yup.) There’s going to be a dinner for me, for me–can you believe it? It’s hard to accept. I am that loved. I am no longer the broken friend, the one who is the plot arc of the after school special. My people no longer avoid my calls. That hasn’t been happening for so many years now. They don’t worry about me. It’s not drama anymore. I never thought this would happen. Sorry, on occasion I am still amazed by my life–organized by Sparrow tomorrow night. Guest list is Sparrow, Kea, Zorro Smitty, Miss DeLoop, and the elusive Fiesta Cat (who I really ought to have called Tiger Shorty, but it’s too late for that now. Another little failing. I will try to brush it off like a crumb but I fear it will leave behind a stain that won’t come out in the wash).

Zorro Smitty sent a little excited pre-game email today that sparked a memory for me. A memory from my first year of college. That’s when I met Fiesta Cat–she lived across the hall from me. Neither of us graduated from that school. But I realized that was nearly half my life ago. I was eighteen then. A little thing who thought she was so big and bad.

(As a side note, old people who date eighteen-year-olds–what the fuck? What would you want with them? They practically look like another species. And when they talk, it’s all over. The only ones that are attractive to me are the ones that look like they’re in their twenties, and it’s iffy then. It seems like it’s so much about power to me. I just can’t wrap my head around it. If you have a thing for the spring chickens and you’re a bit older, please shoot me an email or leave a comment, because I really would like to know from an anthropological standpoint. I’m not judging, I’m just fiercely curious. Hey, I’ve mentioned my bizarre thing for old stringy Brits. I would jump present day David Bowie and ride his arthritic bones like the Pony Express. Everyone wants Major Tom, but who wants to fight Iman for him? I do, that’s who.)

Things were mostly simple then. Except for the crash. The two weeks straight spent in bed. Missing a midterm. Failing the classes. Being diagnosed. Starting the struggle with the chemical straight jacket. Oh, but I had no bills then. And no real responsibilities that I clearly understood. And it was like summer camp with really good drugs. I didn’t realize my mistakes might be on my permanent record. I was too busy laying down friendships and memories, sopping up as much experience as I dared to with my little life.

Why are some years so much heavier than others? And why are most of them younger years? When I talk to people and tell them about my life, they’re always interested in the moving. I’ve been a few places now. The Los Angeles-Washington DC-Brooklyn movement is always exciting to them. But there are parts of those years that have just peeled off now, fallen to the floor like flakes of old paint. All I can see is the stuff before them coming through, holding everything up, being my real life.

Will I have heavy, thick years again? Ugh, this last one was a heavy year. All sick and shit. I don’t know if I want to remember it. This time last year I was on disability. We went out for my birthday anyways. But I remember I was on leave from work because I wasn’t there for the cake day. Right now I could go either way. Remembering what I am and where I come from keeps me grateful and it gives me perspective, but man alive I hate thinking of myself as a weak, suffering being.

No, what I want next is a sweet, syrupy year. One full of love and friendship and excitement and picnics and big hats and toothy smiles and pleasant surprises and joy. One with photos and memories. Lunches and kisses.

That’s what I want for my birthday. I want a really, really good year. I’m going to do my part; we’ll see how the world chooses to show up.


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