This blog post was written by mentee Shanai Williams. A version of this piece was published in our 20th anniversary anthology, Girls Write Now: Two Decades of True Stories from Young Female Voices (Tin House).
Home of seven to a house of two
Once a place a of love and joy
They’ve all moved on and left you
My head was dizzy with anticipation as I approached the blue double doors. It was my first day of freshman year, and I stared at my high school with so much hope. A sense of independence washed over me as well as an undeniable determination to succeed where I had failed before. This was my chance. I longed for herd of people to call my own. I ascended the steps sure that I’d find at least one person, the person whom I’d imagined would click together with me like lego pieces.
The previous four years had been riddled with the loss of myself. My parents had split, which meant my brother and sisters did too. I was no longer the happy kid in a home of seven. The people who had given me my original sense of where I Belonged in the world slowly went their separate ways. I craved the guidance and security I suddenly lacked. What better place to look than a high school full of hormonal teenagers?
When I entered homeroom, my smile bright, teeth reflecting all my ambitions in life, I was met with quiet, blank stares from the white faces staring back. My smile dissolved as I took the nearest seat. I attempted small talk with the three people at my shared table to no avail. I was ignored. I got the message, and kept to myself.
But at this
of being a Black, Bisexual, Girl
I am unsure
The wrinkled nose, the scrunched up face. Here we go again. “What’s ‘chopped’ mean?” I’d made friends, but I couldn’t carry a conversation without having to explain the slang I was using. I longed for my Bronx peers. The boisterous, confident, care-free mix of Black and Hispanic kids. The kids that understood me and kept me laughing, the ones who made me feel at home. Without them I was lost.
“Stop crying!” My mother yelled at me.
How? I couldn’t understand how she could possibly think it was that easy. I wasn’t angry at her for leaving without putting up a fight. I wasn’t angry at my father for making her go. It was the slow progression of the only home I’ve ever known being broken apart that hurt. My father barely picked up my younger sister anymore, and visits from my older sisters became rare. MY older brother moved entirely, not seeing any reason to stay since our mom left. My Daddy’s job consumed his time but for his two hobbies: sleep and hunting for women. I was shoved into a house full of strangers. And she wanted me to “stop crying”.
Do I fit?
Must I create it for
“You’re too nice,” my close friend told me after telling her about another ex who had taken advantage of me. I agreed, but I didn’t see how that was really possible. Isn’t being nice apart of being a good person? Aren’t I a good person? So why don’t people stay? Is this what I deserve?
“Uni meaning one. Verse meaning song, you have a part to play in this song so grab that microphone and be brave sing your heart out on life’s stage. You cannot go back and make a brand new beginning. But you can start now and make a brand new…ending.”
There, in the words of Prince Ea’s motivational video, I’d almost passed scrolling through Facebook, I had found the lego piece I needed. Something clicked in me that night and the tears would not stop falling. My family would never reunite in a single household again. No matter how much my friends tried they would never be able to provide me with the security I seeked. My joy wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility. But just because no one else could give me the things I sought, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t have them. I still had Myself.
I decided then I will no longer be imprisoned by the impulse to find an “easy solution” so that I can return to life as usual. I will no longer look to other people to fill the voids in my life. I will no longer base my worth on how other people treat me.
I may never have all the answers and I know I’m going to make mistakes. My pain won’t completely dissipate but it will subside as long as I am actively striving to better myself. I will experience disappointment and pain but I will get through it, because that’s how life is. Good times will come, along with the right people who will treat me the way I deserve because I know better than to allow anyone to give me any less.
Home of seven to a home of one
This isn’t what you expected
But it’s a just platform
To use the knowledge you’ve collected.
Read more about our 20th anniversary anthology, Girls Write Now: Two Decades of True Stories from Young Female Voices (Tin House), and buy the book!