Not Going Back: Notes on Deconstruction

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso from Burst

God, I love this place. It was both a declaration and a prayer of gratitude.

I love everything about how I feel here. The buzz of the city; the way the energy of too many people fills up all the spaces inside of me. I love how trains might actually be the place NYC robots go to power down and reboot as soon as we step back onto the platform and re-emerge into the world. I love that this city is too much and not enough all at the same time; holding contradictions with ease.

That resonates with me: too much and not enough.

In this moment, I think I am supposed to be upset, sad, remorseful even. I think I am supposed to apologize. I broke rank. I broke the code. I was at fault. I am supposed to be repentant…

…but I am not, not even close.

I am standing on the Brooklyn Bridge and everything feels right. My happy extends out onto the very tips of my eyelashes and burrows down into my toes. This is liberation; I have found it. I have found me. Far in the distance in front of me, Lady Liberty stands tall, smirking, welcoming. She is symbolically the goddess divine of liberation. We are sisters.

I don’t really know what to say to them: these women who have historically been my people. They have known me better than anyone. My mother, who I am most obviously carved from and my grandmother who has always bore the title of “my most favorite human.” They have always known me, yet in this moment not one of us can deny the very real confusion and misunderstanding that lies between us as they try to figure out this new person standing in front of them.

“I’m not wrong and I won’t apologize!” I want to scream, but I do not.

Instead, I smile. The sign of a recovering perfectionist: smiling when you are uncomfortable or when you have made others uncomfortable. I smile and hold my grandmother’s hand.

I am trying to find words as I listen to her express how “disturbed” she is at something I have recently written on the inaugural day of our 45th president. Yes, “disturbed” is the word she uses to describe my 1200 words of confusion, outrage and pain that included no less than four “scandalous” f-bombs.

The rebel in me that has only recently discovered a mind of her own wants to roll my eyes, tell her to deal and keep moving. We have bridges to cross and sights to see — a metaphor not lost on me. But I respect these women. They are my blood. I love them. Writing them off is not an option; conversations must prevail even if understanding does not.

A part of me might believe I owe them an apology. A part of me wants to make them understand. In the moment, I cannot break down the growth, the revolution, the things I cannot un-know. I cannot explain how I have seen too much, my world growing too large, my heart cracking open, stretching beyond its limits and being put together bigger and fuller still.

I don’t know how to assure them that instead of feeling lost, I finally feel like myself, as if my skin belongs to me, like freedom is real, like love for who I was designed to be is possible. I have finally set aside all of the bull shit, the lies, the pain, and the masks that I had gathered and shackled onto myself over the years.

But they are not there yet. They cannot even conceptualize the understanding…this is okay too. It has to be.

We stand on the Brooklyn Bridge and silently mourn together; them for the loss of who I had always been and me for relationships and depths of understanding that I do not know will ever be present again.

I need them to understand something, partially for their sake, but also for mine too: “I guess I should probably just tell you that I am going to keep disappointing you a lot more in the future.”

“Why do you keep saying that?” My mom sounds and looks worried.

I squeeze my mom’s hand this time, nudge them both to continue across the bridge, and gently explain:

“Because, Mom, I can’t go back.”

Written by

counterculture writer at the intersections of spirituality, race, gender + shame

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