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The Decision

Updated: Feb 18

A friend once asked, “Girl, do you even have a pulse?” 

I wear my calm stillness as a badge of honor, chest poked out and everything, but looking back, I’m not sure she meant it as a compliment. I’ve always been a quiet lake on a perfect summer day. Underneath the surface, there’s a lot going on, but the chaos is invisible to casual watchers. So yes, I have a pulse and you’ll never know how fast it races.

I am a woman in America. I can buy an expensive gift or two without batting an eye. Yet, there’s still the deep inhale and exhale of relief once my credit card goes through without being declined and I am able to exit the store without being stopped. 

I am a Black woman, in America, who cannot afford the luxury of a lost temper, a raising of my voice, an Applecare moment in a public setting. I cannot afford emotion. So, I remain outwardly unflappable and unfeeling, calm and still. 

But inside, there’s an unrooted restless. A me who blows from side to side, who’s aggressive, challenging, endlessly curious. A me who needs constant motion. It’s my spirit that makes my rootless self want to settle somewhere else and experience something different when I’ve simply had enough.

And I have had enough!

I don’t talk about this restlessness. Most days, it’s a quiet hum but like trauma, it remains quiet for only so long before making its presence known. Then, something shifts inside. It whispers and nudges; screams and cries. The trauma, my trauma in this instance is election night, 2016. 

The muscles in my face, naturally upturned for most of my life, are heavy with stress and worry and...fear. What is this country? Who are these people? How did we get here?

I am Black. I am a woman. I was born in America. Three strands of the same rope inextricably intertwined--hated for my gender, hunted for my color, privileged when traveling abroad because of my nationality. Here, I worry about whether I or someone I love will be killed by the police? Are we one election cycle away from Gilead? 

My imagination drifts toward darker territory, weaving together threads of history, science fiction, politics and bigotry, and what can happen in a country where guns are everywhere and it’s allowed--if you are white.

My imagination drifts toward brighter territory too. To a place filled with possibilities, a place where I can experience true freedom. Nina had to leave. Baldwin too. I was probably thinking of them when I blurted out, “We need to leave this country,” while talking to my Mom while I was walking to buy wheatgrass. Maybe she’s had enough too because she told me to do the research.  

It was my suggestion but you know how you say something just to talk? Then you’re all messed up because you didn’t expect them to agree but it’s too late to back out? So, yeah, that’s where we are. What about healthcare? What about food? How will we assimilate? I erected barriers because, frankly, I’m afraid but living in America, being Black, being a woman, is dangerous. 

I’ve finally decided danger > fear. 

So, I’ve started planning for my future, running numbers, researching--all the usual things one does when they’re preparing for a life-changing action. 

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