Author: Asia Reneé

The second I gain consciousness I think, “Damn. Not again.”

It’s not that I wish I had failed to wake, but more like, every night before I fall into a restless sleep, something deep inside of me gets down on its knees and prays to the ancestors and to Jesus and to whomever else it can remember by name and begs that tomorrow will be different. Easier. A payout for all the Hope lottery tickets I’ve purchased over the years.

And as I open my eyes and realized I’ve made it back to the same place, the same plane, the same bullshit of this world, of this country, I suck my teeth and get my ass up out of the bed.

I take my time in the bathroom, reading what’s happened in the world since I climbed into bed. Eventually I get tired of the news and turn on the water, trying to remember the conversation I had with a friend about meditating in the shower as the water runs over my body. And then I think about her, hope she’s okay, wondering if she’s already awake and on her long commute to work. I wonder about friends who don’t call anymore and who have nothing much to say when I call them. I realize I’ve washed everything well enough and climb out.

I find my glasses after a short search, then search for the remote and while sitting in my towel, watch the news. Someone’s shot. Someone’s stabbed. Someone’s robbed. Yall’s president done fucked up something else. I get up and start looking for clothes to wear.


 

I walk to the train station. I never take the steps because I think my knees are more tired than they should be at my age. When I get off the lift, I drop my token at the ticket booth and walk left after exiting the turnstile. For 20 years almost, I’ve walked right but about a little over a year ago, a man rushed over to me, screamed in my face and spit on me. I was 8 months pregnant and never been more scared in my life. No one helped me. No one said anything to him. I was alone. Black, pregnant and scared. I ran to the overpass and hid until the next train came, praying he got on the first one.

These days, the train is always crowded. There isn’t ever anywhere to sit. I see little old Asian ladies sipping coffee out of plain Styrofoam cups from some coffee shop at the terminal. I look over their shoulders to see what they are reading, but its rarely in English. I smile because I think little old ladies are cute, but have a small fire burning flames of envy because these ladies have retained culture, language from their motherland.

When I get off the train and walk up to the street, I pass a few people asking for money. I used to give whatever cash I had until I was pregnant with my second child. It was around that time that it started to cross my mind that these white men in dire straits might call me a nigger. In their more privileged days, they might have harassed black women, let doors slam shut in their faces, gloated in their white male privilege. So I started to just give money to black women I saw asking. I figured more people were likely to pass them by than a white guy holding a sign saying he was a veteran.

I get to work and the demands start. The microaggressions that no one else sees as problematic. Passive aggressive emails. Grown man babies having tantrums in meetings and not being checked. “That’s just how he is”, they say. But when I make a point and reiterate it once, everyone throws their hands up and I see them taking three big steps backwards, chair in one hand, whip in the other, trying to coax me back into my cage.

I keep my door shut.


 

When I return home, people need me. Dinner. Laundry. Attention. I argue with my partner about what freedom will look like for us. How I’m raising these kids up to be strong and to resist. It all conflicts with what he knows and there is a struggle. My voice gets loud, he tells me not to stress. I tell him I can’t help it and you can’t just will yourself into mental health. He doesn’t get it so I walk away. Because kids call me and cry for me. Me. Mommy. Everything. And nothing.

In the quiet of all the mess that is my life, I get about 20 minutes of time to myself to write, message friends I started conversations with earlier in the day and forgot to get back to. And in that quiet, as I take in a deep breath and try to get to the meditation I forgot to do in the shower, I start to think of the ancestors and Jesus and the names of all those who came before me who had a harder time. And I ask them to guide me up and out of this time, this plane, this world, and to something or some place where my soul is free. Where cops don’t scare me, men don’t scare me, where whiteness doesn’t make me implode.

There’s always tomorrow.


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