People gave me funny looks but they ain’t really say nothing because they figured I could hold my own. And they would have been right, if a body could actually hold her own in a forced unraveling. By the time I was a gentle heap of spiraled brown flesh and bone bits on the ground of myself, done in by a Wal-Mart vegetable peeler, folks had stopped looking. Or maybe they had stopped being able to see. Time hides as much as it tells.
I was good at hiding, too. More than time, I was the reigning queen of personal obfuscation in the hide-and-seek of abuse. I had dived deep below the surface of myself to hide and had gotten lost, not realizing that I had drowned trying to find my way back. I am not even certain of when.
Certainly obfuscation was a familial and thus familiar epistemology. Quiet, the kind that made you get in your feelings and reckon with some shit, was a luxury, one that we were led to believe we couldn’t have because we were black, but it was really one we couldn’t have because we were black and in pain and afraid. Because we were black. In my childhood home, things unsaid, hurts unreconciled, piled up to the ceiling in the form of class reunion minutes that stuck together, still-new-in-the-box breadmakers, mountains of laundry, gripless screwdrivers, other things. We maneuvered around the sadness skillfully, matrixing ourselves around infrared mountains. In my room, I closed it out and vacuumed the baby-blue-carpeted border vigilantly so the worn maroon carpet on the outside and the pain it carried could not come in. And I covered the piles that visitors did/could not see (because we did not have visitors) with so much black girl excellence that all the bitches and niggas would have to bow down.