Grey

Today I am grey
My skin is pepper specks
My heart is concrete
It’s not beating as strongly as it has before
My fingernails are river beds and my hands are mucky water stirred up by my own two feet
Today I am grey
My hair falls like a spider’s web
My knees are ash
They aren’t as sturdy as they have been before
My eyes are an etch-e-sketch and my vision is a child’s frustration as they shake me clean
Today I am grey
I am between blinding light and blinding darkness
I am between clouds and the ocean floor
I am between tanning beds and basements
My elbows bend like wire hangers
My thighs shake like chalk dust
I must not be as strong as I have been before
My shoulders roll like avalanches and my mind is the mountain top just trying to let me down gently
Today I am grey

Tea Leaf

Nostalgia was her favorite word-
So wishful of a past in order to protect her burnt heart from crumbling.
Her stories hold her together.
So sweet,
Today, I smelled her.
Months after she left I realized she lingers in my tea cup.
She swirls around my feet, sifting gently through my teeth.
She dances like the steam and would never screamed like the tea pot.
She was my soft spot.
Soft spoken but needing to be heard
        So reactive,
                   Word-conscious,
                           A deep-hearted tear welcomer.
Beneath the darkness of my eye lids, I see her.
Golden brown and glistening.
Sweaty brow and morning-breathed.
Her breath rose with her chest and I rested,
Bare bodied,
And barely aware of our end.
She was my tea leaf.
Although she remains only as a ring around what we both used to sip,
Her smell will always hit my nose with grace as I lace my fingers around my mug
Like I used to do her waste…
And breathe her in,
Enjoying how sweet my past tastes.

Individuality

Growing up; it’s an awkward time, a time of figuring everything out, and deciding how to act, dress, talk, what music to listen to and what meal you could eat everyday for the rest of your life. Growing up is full of paths, yes or no’s, and “wrong” decisions. Growing up, everybody tells you to be yourself. Forget the bullies, the kid who talks down to you doesn’t know what they’re talking about and the clique of girls at school don’t know how to have any fun anyway.

Be yourself.

We’re encouraged to create some being that hasn’t become anything yet. We are told to disregard judgment and stay true to ourselves no matter what because we are important. We are individuals who deserve the opportunity to grow into our own person. We’ve always been taught to acknowledge and respect individuality. I’ve always liked that.

Now, it’s something I struggle with. Not that I don’t accept others or that I don’t acknowledge and respect others for who they are, in actuality I love people for their differences. I fully embrace them. Uniqueness is key in my life. It’s just that now, I find myself going into a profession that deals with individuals in the most incredible way all while trying to fit into a norm. Special Education requires determination to adapt everything this child needs in order to make their life that much more worth living. I look at those students and see so many strengths, regardless of whether or not others agree.

I will always teach my students and colleagues to embrace their individuality. I hope to show them they are great with so many things and they may have some weird quirks, but everyone does and that is what’s so beautiful about the human race.

We are all different.

In so many ways, our lives fluctuate and fold in on themselves. Our personalities comes with experience (unless you are only on the “nature” part of that debate…). We are all living separate lives and we all appreciate differently.

I will always teach my students and colleagues to appreciate others.

I say this mostly with my future colleagues in mind. Throughout my experience working with a population of people who have special needs, I have found that overall, they are the most loving and accepting humans. They smile more often than not and are entertaining beyond belief. Yeah, they have their quirks and their behaviors and their self-stims but mostly, they love before they hate.

I wouldn’t call myself a professional, but that’s what I will soon be. I’ve been told to act professionally and I plan on trying my best but it’s hard for me when my “best-dressed” means something else. Cut-off pants and flannel shirts would be my ideal uniform, but I’ve realized that public schools seem to think differently, which is fine but I struggle when my individuality seems to be put on hold.

Tie your hair up.

Put on a nicer sweater.

Cover your tattoos.

Take those big earrings out.

Iron your pants.

Not that ironing my pants has anything to do with my individuality…it has most everything to do with my laziness and lack of iron…moving on.

All my life I’ve been told to be myself. And all my life I’ve been told I seem to have a pretty good idea of who I am. I would have to agree. I know who I am, what I like, what I choose to ignore, and where I want to go in the future. I know I love my dreaded hair, gauged ears, and casual style. I’m all about comfort and creativity. All this time I was being told to create my sense of self and now that I’ve finally found it I’m asked to modify it.

It’s a good thing I’m used to adaptations and modifications because I have enough sense to do as they say and appease the higher ups for now. I understand it’s all about the business, but when does the business of creating individuals turn into stifling individuality in order to form a cohesive group of teachers?

We are not all the same. Why do we teach but not display? We believe differently. We have different philosophies and I will welcome new ones while trying to improve used ones. That is my job as a special educator and I will always teach my students and colleagues to embrace the differences.

We were always told to be ourselves.

Now let us.

A Foreign Home

How scared I was surprised me. I didn’t expect to fall into fear. I wasn’t in my part of town, but I’ve never been worried about my presence. I was alone, empty gas tank and empty stomach except for the pit that seemed to fit so perfectly in my gut. Being scared surprised me.

Somewhere between Detroit and Grosse Pointe I stopped at a gas station. It wasn’t a Valero or Mobile. It wasn’t anything that I’ve seen before but it was on a convenient corner. So I stopped.

As I stepped out of my mom’s new minivan I felt a sense of urgency. Some man was hollering at me. I couldn’t understand him. He kept waving his arms and my debit card wasn’t working. The gas pump told me to pay inside and on my way some man called me beautiful. But it wasn’t the beautiful that made me feel like a queen it was that type of beautiful that made me want to scream.

I searched the shelves for the perfect snack. I scanned the fridge for a tasty drink. The cashier was on the phone. Talking in another language, angrily hitting keys on the computer. I knew that he saw me but I wasn’t sure if he was ringing up my purchase. A woman took over. Another man stood next to me. He was missing fingers and mumbling. He had a grin on his face. Told me the cookies in his hand were the best in all the land and I should try them. Some sort of shortbread. I finally paid. Slid my money through the bullet proof window and went outside. Hoping the mumbling man was gone.

The man who called me beautiful was outside. Standing by his car. Which was full of people, arms hanging out the windows. It was hot out. Had been raining. My skin was muggy, sweaty feeling even though the wind gave me chills.

The man who was hollering at me came closer. Still mumbling. Said something about money. Something about how everyone there knows him. They call him “Doc”. I wanted to ask why Doc? But I didn’t. He offered to pump my gas. He told me he wanted to pump my gas. He begged me to let him pump my gas.

I politely declined. Said, I’ll get it this time. Thanks, Doc. He asked me if I could spare some change. My pockets were empty. So I didn’t lie. But I did say no. He walked away with little hassle.

The man who called me beautiful winked my way.

The door to the van opened. I climbed in and started the engine. I drove away. Through the rain. Confused as to why I felt so insecure there. Wondering why I felt the need to be on the defense.

I used to handle those situations with ease. I used to tell people, “All you need is the confidence. Just act like you belong there and people will think you do.” But the truth is, I didn’t belong there. With my chaco sandals, rolled jeans, and dreaded hair. I didn’t belong there. My skin showed I wasn’t from around there. I didn’t quite blend in. I stuck out. I felt foreign, even and my shaking hands showed it.

I dated a boy from Detroit once. Felt comfortable in his hood. Wasn’t nervous about driving there myself, I talked to people on the streets. Went to school with kids from Southfield and Detroit. Best friends were from a harder part of town than I was, but I still felt like I belonged. I moved away from the city a few years back. I’ve spent most of my time surrounded by corn fields and farm children since then. Going back makes me anxious. Like I’m now nervous to be around the culture I used to drown myself in.

It makes me wonder. Can my understanding and my acceptance of diversity disappear with the city skyline? Can I go back in time and recreate the feeling of comfort? Or will I always now feel out of place? When did these ideas and stereotypes plant themselves in my head long enough to be rooted in my shaking hands as I fumbled with my keys? I just wanted to leave. I didn’t like it there and I usually can trust my gut.

But all he did was call me beautiful.

And all he did was ask to pump my gas.

How scared I was surprised me.

 

curiosity

Curiosity is a child throwing food off a table because they haven’t yet discovered the splatter of applesauce colliding with floor.
They don’t know yet how bad falling can hurt.
And they don’t seem care about the mess because they haven’t had to clean it up yet.
They’re stuck in their high chair.
Throwing food onto the floor because they are eager to learn that grapes bounce and mashed potatoes don’t.

Curiosity is a teenager folding tin foil over an empty water bottle.
Poking holes.
Breaking up bud and lighting it quick.
They don’t know yet how high they can be without it.
But they do know the best way to make a home made bong.
They’re not stuck.
They are just melting into couch cushions hoping to discover comfortability.

Curiosity is college hearts, lingering, desperately wondering if the past could have lasted long enough to be present day.
They don’t know yet how hard they need to beat.
Or when they should stop to breathe.
But they do know veins are important and blood flows blue within them.
They’re not broken.
They are just dispersed throughout lost loved ones.

Curiosity is questioning.
It is drive.
Desire.
It is the search for new.
The want for reason.
And the rhythm within.