It was March 2021, and in my mind, the hardest part was over.
One year after the murder of Breonna Taylor.
One year after my Louisville (LOO-uh-vull) burned.
One year after writing a radio drama about it to prove that a post-graduate Dramatic Writing degree is worth the 98,000 dollar investment.
For a second there, it was.
The Kennedy Center looked my way.
MacDowell made me a fellow.
Page 73 (1) gave me a wink and a gun I was more than ready to fire.
It was March 2022.
One year after burning a four-inch stack of rejected cover letters in my parents' fire pit. One year after breaking up with my best friend in a New Orleans Airbnb.
Now, the hardest part is over.
My father didn't go into kidney failure. I didn't throw all my money at the first theatre festival spotted post-pandemic, fall for a shady street vendor, and return home to discover he was already back with his ex.
I didn't create a Bumble Account between crying jags and then meet up with a train conductor from Dallas at a coffee shop down the street from my photographer friend's studio.
I didn't get in his car.
He didn't take me to a hotel.
He didn’t assault me.
I didn't spend the last bit of money in my account on a Walmart Delivery for a Plan B Pill.
It was July 2023 / Ten years after the hardest part was over.
Ten years after dating a boy in high school who would assault me in his parents' basement.
Ten years after speaking with the County Sheriff, who'd doanything to keep an innocent man from going to jail.
Ten years after the senior prom, where a rapist's younger sister would pull me off the dance floor to threaten violence if she saw me again. I saw her again / at graduation.
And life / kinda sucked after that.
Or, 11 Reasons I’m a SoundCloud Rapper
Reason #1: I had nothing to lose (but a mask).
I've spent most of my life in predominately white institutions. Code-switching is as much an art form as it is a survival tactic. My family and I lived in West Louisville for the first eleven years of my life. My sixth grade year, I was bussed from West Louisville to a predominately white magnet school across town.
There wasn't a day my friends from the East End didn't remind me how lucky I was to be transplanted from "the ghetto.” After all, this / was the land of milk and honey.
Here's the warning I wish someone had given me at the gates of Token Nigga Hell:
Shoutout to the work I put in with my therapist several months before that second assault. Apparently, if you invest, therapy compounds with interest. I observed my thoughts as I vacillated between self-blame and blaming “God”:
Maybe God has abandoned me.
Perhaps The Devil is on some fervent quest to destroy me.
Which begs the question: Why should anyone work this hard to destroy someone as theoretically “worthless” as I am?
Maybe / Just maybe I am that nigga.
And / Or
Reason #3: Lexapro was getting me there, but not all the way. Especially on days like this one:
Reason #4: My friends deserved better.
Friends like Shaina, whom I’ve never had to perform for.
My ADHD diagnosis provided relief, then rage. My therapist said it was because I had to forgive lots of people at the same time who just didn't understand who I was.
Not too long after receiving my diagnosis, I had a conversation with a former co-worker and friend, LaNia. She spoke about her challenges with ADHD, and for a second there, I didn't feel so alone. I'm inspired to continue my quest for peace / if nowhere else than within myself.
Reason #11: A nigga finally found some peace on a trip to San Diego
*where I attended a Leon Bridges concert.
It was my first concert / ever.
It was the week after my birthday.
I had one of those airline gift cards because I was bumped from another flight earlier that year.
I came home / changed / though nothing in my reality had changed.
I still live with my parents.
I don’t have a job.
And love isn’t something I can bring myself to imagine at this point.
But somehow, my childhood bedroom is no longer a place to wait for the hardest part to be over.
That’s the power of music / and silence:
1: The theatre company responsible for the Pultizer-Prize winning musical, A Strange Loop.