Sunday, March 2, 2014
This past weekend I hopped my ass on a cheap bus and traveled to Washington D.C. to support and perform at Tyece's first ever See. Speak. Feel. showcase (which was super dope). I was nervous as all Hell as it was my first time reciting a poem off the top of my head over a minute and a half long. I was even more nervous performing after the young,extremely gifted gentlemen of the D.C. Youth Poetry Slam Team. With all of the positive energy in the room, it wasn't about a competition or one-upping the previous performer, but just going up there to give your all and doing what you love.
And I fucked up.
And at the time I thought, I'll probably never forgive myself for this.
And as I sat back down, listening to others yet consumed in my own thoughts, I recited every word, word for word to perfection, wondering what happened to me when I got up in front of the packed audience. I just froze, and my brain mixed with the two cups of red wine prior to the start of the show in combination with the alliteration of some of the words and thinking about all the great talent in the room that night, got the best of me.
Yet the love and support afterwards was real and encouraging and motivating. One of my sorority sisters came to surprise me and that made me want to burst into tears right there. People I'll never see again and folks I've been following on Twitter and met for the first time, said kind words and uplifted my spirit. I'm forever grateful for that entire moment and for Tyece for allowing me to showcase my poetry. But something special happened, something that pierced my spirit and convicted my heart when I spoke to a featured artist in the showcase who told me his story as an artist. He quit his job and decided to paint and focus solely on his art.
“I have a long way to go but I've come a long way already and I know it's because I've been open to just saying yes. Yes, to opportunities that'll put me out there. Yes, to trying something new and different. Just yes to almost everything that deals with my work.”
And it was in that moment that I told myself, yes Erica, you will continue to make mistakes. You will continue to trip and fall and fuck up when no one is looking and when the world is watching. There will never be a moment where the possibility of screwing up something you've been working diligently on doesn't present its ugly face. Know why? Cause that's life and perfection is a nonexistent ass belief that causes nothing but confusion and heap of unanswered questions later on. And I said it in the last post, shit happens. Do minor errors and inevitable mishaps stop you from doing what you feel you should be doing it life? Because see, I've realized, if you were meant to do it, it's always going to find its way back to you.
You can't run from your calling. Some people walk straight into it and some fall. Others get slapped upside the head by it blindsidely while doing something else, but however you come into it, it's just always going to be there.
The days I get less than twenty views on a post, I want to give up. Honestly. But I know that's impossible because I rant too much and see and experience too much and what I can't verbalize, the words on the paper or the screen somehow will for me. I practice days and weeks on end on a spoken word piece and in the mirror, it's damn near flawless but in front of a crowd, it's a big question mark. But I know I can't give up on that either because see, I talk too damn much and I'm passionate on issues that need to be expressed out loud that a blog post can't fully convey.
So I continue.
I keep on blogging. I keep on performing. I keep on correcting and perfecting. I keep on learning from others, but most importantly, from myself. Yes to the fuck-ups – you'll help me for next time. Yes to the opportunities to perform again – they'll help me feel more confident along the way. Yes to the writing that gives me the greatest peace outside of Kae and Kam. Yes God, I'm open to anything else you'll present before me because I know it'll only make me better.
And as I sit on this bus back to New York City, I find it odd that I wrote a guest post for Twenties Unscripted on the importance of saying no and here I am, leaving a Twenties Unscripted event learning the beauty behind saying yes.
Is the Universe funny like that? Hell yeah it is...
Monday, February 24, 2014
A few weeks ago, I came home from work and spotted a young boy, no more than the age of 7, outside of my apartment building with a look in his eyes that frightened me as a a parent. With news of missing Avonte Aquendo still circulating around the city, I could not fathom, God forbid, hearing news of something happening to this child in my own neighborhood.
I was a stranger and I did not expect him to say much of anything to me but upon asking him was he okay, he told me no and that he was waiting for his father to get home. The temperature was dropping and his dad was supposed to have been home by now. I dropped my things down in my apartment and rushed back to the frightened child who now had tears in his eyes, afraid that I had just up and left him alone in the cold to wait for a parent that should've been here 15 minutes ago according to his GapKids watch. His dad was always on time and the one day where the temperature in NYC decided to drop dramatically, he was nowhere to be found.
I asked why didn't he wait inside of the building and I'll never forget the look on his face when I pushed the door that led him to the apartments upstairs. He didn't know the building door was unlocked and he would've been thirty degrees warmer had he just pushed the door. I walked him up to his apartment and stayed with him as we waited for his dad who, twenty minutes later, came rushing up the stairs to see a relieved (warmer) son and a half-asleep stranger.
That was my good deed for the day and as I trekked back down the flights of steps that reminded me how much out-of-shape I was, I thought of how many times I too found myself in the same predicament: Stuck in a situation and all I had to do was push.
We're accustomed to doing things in a certain order, following a schedule that becomes a daily routine that hardly ever gets interrupted. It's the same thing from 7am to 5pm, Monday through Friday and while we eventually get bored with the same ol', same ol', this is our life. We get used to it. We're comfortable. But when there's a minor glitch in the system that throws us off and out of loop, we panic.
We get overwhelmed with the unexpected news of a baby on the way, a loss of a family member, a new responsibility thrown on our desk or a random notice that informs us we're no longer employed. And dammit, we sulk in our feelings and cry, bitch and complain and/or go into shut-down mode until we realize we can't stay like that forever. Because see, time will continue, with or without us, no matter how hard we close our eyes and try to freeze the infinite like a superhero that'll never exist. It waits for no one. We gotta keep pushing.
I received some news last week that knocked me off of my couch. Literally – it was that real. I shared it with three people who offered me the greatest support and in that moment, I realized once again that I got to continue moving. I was not alone in this journey. I have people there for me, despite the distance, despite the amount of time we've known one another, I have people riding with me. Their support was the push.
How many of us develop feelings of defeat and go on like it's the end of the world, until we realize it'll be fine, just keep on keeping on? How many times have we felt like giving up until we acknowledged the fact that we'll forever be stuck in the mud, if we don't make an effort to get our asses up and climb out of the hole we've fallen in?
Shit happens. Don't forget to push your way through it.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
One of the funniest things to me about Facebook when I joined my freshmen year of college, was the "It's Complicated" marital status. I always said and firmly believed, you're either in it or you ain't and if it's hard to figure out where the two if you are, then well, you shouldn't be together. But if we were to fast forward from 2005 to 2014, I find myself nine years later with two children and in a – you've guessed it – complicated relationship.
My current situation is slowly becoming one of the past. We're in it but our hearts aren't. We just go with the flow as the days pass and maybe we aren't growing because we've become so comfortable with one another, complacent in being stagnant, not open to change. From time to time, I find myself slipping – instead of we were, I'm still caught up in we are and transitioning to I instead of we has been rough. I have my moments. Being in a long-term relationship and suddenly waking up and finding yourself alone in a bed that once held two people dangerously in love, is hard without a doubt. How do you start over? Where do go after almost a decade long relationship?
There are too many questions that don't seem to have answers. Too many days that go by where things don't make sense. Too many plans for a future that'll now be put on hold and all I have left are present day thoughts of him who will soon be just a thing of the past.