By Triniti Wade
Being 18 and wanting to run away from all that you know.
I’ve never lived in the suburbs, nor have I ever lived in the narrowly defined “hoods” often broadcasted on television. Being so young it never dawned on me to explore outside of my community for it seemed as if my neighborhood was the only place that mattered: there was the corner store where I fell in love to the tune of old men popping their jaws as they played cards for the millionth time; there was the laundromat where I stood every Sunday morning and watched my mother load mounds of clothes when we couldn’t afford a new washing machine; and there were the abandoned apartment units that my childhood friends and I isolated ourselves in as an attempt to recreate the stories we’d seen portrayed on television. In that neighborhood I formed numerous daydreams and personas to fill my days. My fantasies became sublime depictions of the “ghetto” I soon tried so desperately to escape. The only problem was that I couldn’t actually picture myself anywhere else yet. If I didn’t live confined to the limits of my familiar communities, then where could I escape? Furthermore, why did I want to escape?
The common rhetoric in the Miami ghetto seemed to be an endless chant of “Don’t go where you ain’t s’posed to.” How would I know where I didn’t belong if I never even bothered to walk beyond my front porch? I spent years pondering the possible answers to questions like these until I realized they were never meant to be answered. Nights spent wrestling between attitude and angst prompted me to ask questions that were often met with unease and annoyance. No one wanted to hear the awkward ramblings of another poor black kid. Thus my quietude became a shield for me to run behind whenever the weight of my small world seemed to crumble upon my shoulders. My choice to remain silent became a comforter for me to wrap myself with. It became a prayer. It became a plea. It became a daily reminder of my own ambivalence toward life.
It wasn’t long before my heart began to burst with myriad possibilities. Before the word “escape” even grazed my tongue, I dreamt of a city in which I existed as a whole being, free from the consequences of my past. I still tip-toed around the topic of exploration during after-school conversations with my parents, no matter how dedicated they were to my well-being. Growing up, I remember hearing that living in the hood was “survival of the fittest.” I remember hearing how the innocence of little girls with strawberry tongues was often stripped away before they could even comprehend what the phrase meant. I remember looking up at the sky and thinking about what color I would paint my neighborhood if red didn’t already cover the bodies laid out in parking lots, if red were only a color and not the blood of a child who never learned to ride a bike. If guns were only a myth and not the weapons that killed my brother’s childhood friends. If the hood was only a place and not the reason I heard my mom cry at 3 a.m. If angels could talk, would they sit outside my window and ask me about my day, or would they want to hear about the dead bodies that chased me as a kid? If hood politics existed in real life, would my teachers still look at me the same? If I listened hard enough, could I hear what angels sound like?
This piece was drafted during an industry workshop I attended as part of the Writing Works program. During this workshop, we were encouraged to think of specific aspects of our lives that make us unique and use this as a means to draft an essay chronicling it. I thought back to the period of when I was a high school senior applying to college, and how I often felt the need to use college as a means of escaping the community in which I was so accustomed to.
Triniti Wade is a 21-year-old filmmaker and writer from Miami, Florida. She has been a recipient of awards from both the National YoungArts Foundation and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her writing has previously been published in online magazine Rookie Mag and The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards’ "Best Teen Writing of 2018." Her collaborative short film projects have been recognized by the 2018 "Do It Your Damn Self!! National Youth Film Festival," as well as the 2018 Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival. She’s currently studying creative writing at Florida International University.