Currently, I am propped up on my bed. I have a pillow on my lap to keep my chromebook from feeling like it is going to sear the flesh off my legs with it's toaster like heat after an hour or so of browsing the internet. My 12 year old black lab mix Sadie is curled up next to me on the dog bed we probably should have thrown out a few years ago after she tore the stuffing out of it. She is too tired for these kinds of play now. She likes to rest near me, my constant companion for most of her life. She was rescued from a crackhouse just like me. My old cat is a few feet ahead of me. He doesn't know it yet but he is heading for the oncologist in a few days. The last surgery for a tumor on his side was unsuccessful. He is not yet 14. I have to say, I am not ready to let him go. My daughter is rustling around in her chemistry kit in the next room. When the chemistry kit mentioned "ice cream" as an experiment, she is now all about being a junior scientist. I hope she keeps with it.
My life seems pretty normal this morning. This is in stark contrast from where I came from.
The other morning, a friend of mine were swapping stories from our past. She was telling me about a little "ho stroll" she used to know right off of MLK BLVD in Oakland. There is a tiny strip where African American Trans women like herself would work as sex workers. There was a section of road right off the highway that lead to a cheap hotel. The girls would come dressed in the male attire because the risk of being themselves in their daily life was too great. They would switch into heels, panties, and maybe some lipstick in the bushes. She described their legs as "rusty" and the johns sometimes would specifically look for a hit of whiskers to make sure the sex worker had the "equipment" they needed. Dates would be turned for $15-20. Condoms were few and the risks of violence or disease were plenty. Young "thugs" would come in from the city. They would signal out from the bushes to come closer. They were looking for some quick sex on the downlow while they project their hatred of "faggots" in when the street lights are turned off and the sun rises to hide all of the things that happen in a place like this. There is the intersection of illusion, seduction, and self hatred. There are places like this in every city. Places we pass in the daytime and never give a second glance.
I was telling her about the men who would come to the city with their briefcases and their hidden habits. "hey you, come here..." they would tell me from a few building away. They would hide their cars and their identities. Their wallets would be locked in the glovebox which was locked in a parking garage a few blocks away from the trap houses and dope spots. "Can you get me something?" they would ask "You got a place?" would be a second request. They would never want to bring dirt like myself on top of the shag carpet of their own places. They would never want me to see the pictures of their shy girlfriends of the smiling t-ball pictures of their son that hung over the table just inside the front door. He would lay his keys there before he bounded through the doorway. He wanted those tight hugs that told him he was alright after leaving a person like myself in a place like this. He needed his dope and he needed me to get it. His tie was off to the side and the sweat let me know the sickness was in full effect. "Will you help me?" Of course baby. I will help you. I will tie off your arm and cop your dope and let you use my room. I will make sure you are never soiled by my troubles. I will never let you see my junkie tears. I will take your money, get whatever is I need, and pass on the rest. Because these are the places we pass in the daytime. Never giving a thought to what is happening inside.
My past- my past is history- yet no matter how many days have elapsed people like myself are left to carry around those memories. I feel fortunate when I can get together with someone and swap stories. Not because I want to go back to that place but because there are so few people that can truly understand what I have seen. The underbelly of society is rich with sights and sounds that stay with you for a lifetime. My cat, my dog, and my cushy life don't erase that.
I get a lot of criticism- why can't you just let that part of your life go? Because, it will never leave me. It is a part of me that keep me real. And I won't be ashamed of it. Not one little bit. I can't change it. Why let it eat me alive?
I hope that you can learn to accept your past today.
I hope that you can accept yourself today.
Love XOXO tracey.