I drove by the old neighborhood last night. Went down the street that held so much of my memories, when I was trying to figure myself out. Just graduating high school, I thought college would’ve been the logical choice, but I felt unprepared. And mom wasn’t ready to let me go, asking that I stay home for a year before leaving. I guess pleasing her was important back then. Like I said, I was trying to figure myself out. This was before I concluded that my mother just might not love me. And even if she did, my love language dictated I needed to hear it, and she was incapable.
Smoking Blacks on the corner with the fellas. Pretending I was cool enough to be “one of the fellas” yet hoping one of them noticed me. Not knowing how to respond when one of them actually did. Feeling out of my skin because in this moment, being cool was easier/better than being myself. Because no one had told me otherwise. Behind the curve in knowing who I was, not wanting to do the work to get it together. Scared of what I might find if I actually did.
But let’s drink these St. Ides, and smoke these beedies. Just far enough to pretend, without falling over into “actually” becoming a smoker, or a drunk. Knowing I’m on roller skates and my house is at the bottom of a hill. It’s not gonna be a good look, halfway buzzed, on roller skates. Hell, I’ll take off the skates and walk in my socks, because I’m dizzy, and I gotta get home. Hopelessly waiting for Charles to offer me a ride home, or hell, I’ll even take his brother Shawn, because they’re both cute, and not all of us knew the rule of not flirting with both brothers. Them being cute is what matters the most. I have a weakness for dreads, and I’m out of high school now, so I’m grown.
I remember my neighbors from across the street, two teenage girls and their older sister. Their mother didn’t like me because sometimes the fellas came over my house and we’d stand outside. She said I was “in that way.” Playing Super Nintendo and getting dressed up to walk to the corner store. Because at any moment, one of the guys could drive down the street, and it didn’t make sense if you didn’t look cute enough. Knowing somewhere deep within me that I didn’t like being hissed at, something left over from a middle school trauma. I’d rather be on my roller skates, not trying to walk with that special “peacock twitch.” Locking your knees when you were waiting to check out because that made your booty sit just a little bit higher. It never really worked tho, because I was too busy looking at the ground, trying to shrink just a little bit smaller. Notice me, but not for my body. Another side effect of that damn middle school trauma. I know that now.
But you couldn’t tell me anything. I had my own room with my own door! I left the house at all hours of the night. To do what, I don’t know. Because I surely could smoke these Black & Milds in the daytime. I guess it was the thrill of it all. Trying to get a special taste of what it might be like when I actually left for college.
Doing things out of spite, “cuz I don’t trust these hoes.” I became “that girl,” because my best friend said she only hung around me because her boyfriend once said I was cute. So she “wanted to keep her enemies close.” And now, I’m 17 yrs old and in that phase of “every girl I know is a hoe, don’t trust em.” Goodness, those were confusing days. I can hardly read these sentences without drawing a diagram to remember how everything connected.
“Fast” is how I would describe that phase. I’m only referring to myself. That surely wasn’t used to describe the passing of time, which seemed to go soo slowly.
“Damn, I can’t wait til I’m 21. Everything will start then.”
The sentiment seems so silly now.
I have no idea of where the guys that used to hang on the corner have gone. Getting their acceptance seemed so important back then. Getting everyone’s acceptance seemed so important. Feeling like an outsider in my own home had me wanting a place to belong. “Yes, Biggie bumps harder in the car, but I really want to listen to Hall & Oates.” Wanting to feel like it was alright to be just a little…. bit….. “left” without it being “uncool.”
It seems like a lifetime ago. I don’t often pause to think about the ways I’ve changed since then, too busy lamenting over the ways I want my life to change now. But these thoughts/memories go past my mind everytime I drive past the old neighborhood. I stare at the house and the ways it has changed since I was there. And I know that everything changes, whether we want it to or not. But I also realize how small my thinking was.
Now I know I knew nothing….