Earlier today I was at work and saw a student sitting in the corner of the hallway almost hidden behind a white board that had been placed against the wall, eating her lunch. I observed that she was a bit overweight, but looked at her meal and noticed her eating a salad.
You ever feel like God just pulls you towards certain people sometimes?
“Aren’t you almost getting squished by that board?”
Her response was that she didn’t really have any friends and that was a comfortable place to eat.
At that point, the school officer came around and told her that she shouldn’t be eating in the hallway, so I told her to come sit in my office and eat (something that I never let students do).
I started talking to her and eventually found out that she’s a senior who just transferred into the school where I work due to bullying. She had been bullied because of her weight and for not wearing any makeup her 9th and 10th grade year so badly that she felt that she could not return to that particular school. She transferred to another school her junior year then eventually came to my school for her senior year.
Believe it or not, I saw so much of myself in her.
She said she liked being alone now and having her music. I loved being alone growing up with my sketches and my poetry.
Speaking to her made me think back on how we all have these little portions of ourselves that we only reveal at certain times.
It’s as if we are buildings and our personality, character traits, and ideas are all little rooms.
Hence, my new poem: Hotel Innward.
I met a mall full of Me’s today
A large shop full of Shelby’s
The hair shop held a high top hell storm of all the smiles
I had thrown about over the years
Freely casting sun rays upon broken fixtures of darkness
A vitamin shop of vagina monologues
A diet pill of body dysmorphia
A protein shake of unprotected women’s rights
Don’t forget your lifetime supply of lies and daily dose of a broken heart
I drifted slowly into the fragrance shop of memories
A quick whiff of the smell her makeup used to leave on her sweater, the stench in his shirts from his 5am hooping sessions, the fragrance of fufu encapsulated in the gifts of dashikis and head wraps, the sweet smell of organic oils dripping from his dreads
The summation and accumulation of life’s events, but
It was painful, but
it was beautiful
I broke free and found me
Standing in the doorway at a little boutique
The lights were off, the walls were dark, but
the store was full
It was full of clothes. Full of me.
I gathered a hand full of shirts to try on in
the unforgiving blackness, using nothing but the flashlight on my phone as a guide
Each shirt labeled with only one word
I stood there for hours in that shirt
In the darkness. In that store.
Feet planted in blocks of cement surrounded by more words of similar stance
The clothes were cheap, yet overpriced
The material was raggedy
The customer service sucked, but
that was my favorite store
I wore that shirt that deflected love as I continued to bounce around throughout the other stores
Other eyes of myself looking upon me
Judging myself for allowing others to create these shirts, but
the I that is me, the one that is supposedly “free”,
put it on so willingly
I paid for these shirts with someone else’s label
Right then and there, as I rubbed my afro hair,
I decided it was better to leave the store naked and exposed
vs what they told me I should be
I am raw
I am a blank canvas
I am starting over
Stay blessed, my people.