Embodied

I ain’t never had the juice like this.

Mic check. Is this still on? Does my mic still sound nice?

Let’s hope so.

I had the cosmic insight to set a few things in motion post Who Heals the Healer that I’m deeply grateful for. Intentional play dates, being outside, sitting down to eat and not running as much; but the biggest investment in replenishing my well was a full body massage.

The friend and collaborator was able to hold space for me, but also held me accountable to what my body was communicating. The muscles of my legs and thighs spoke of my 125 beats per minute pace in all aspects of my life. My shoulders, upper back and neck groaned and crunched up from carrying so many projects and initiatives. But we all eased into the tensions and came out better for it with regards to all the ways in which I show up in movement culture in the city.

The intimacy that I’m rediscovering in my physical form is allowing me to do a similar scan of the scene and I’ve noticed something across the board. In the lead up to the Full Moon in my Sun sign, Sagittarius, I was spotted in the Bronx. In the parties I feel the safest at, I’m almost always in the cut making sure my folks are good, especially the folks who are casting the spell. This is my spiritual default. My bag was full of palo santo, a barbecue lighter because I still don’t know how to use a normal one, affirmation cards, and homemade aromatherapy sprays (agua florida). At this particular gathering, I felt and witnessed a shift when one of the casters asked someone who had been identified as crossing dancer’s boundaries, to cool it. Said person was so disconnected from their body that they bumped the caster hard. I looked up to the sky and wondered how folks get to that point, but quickly took myself out of it and saw the dance floor as sacred space being activated, as palo santo burned near me and dug into my bag of tricks for something, anything, to shift the vibe.

Not too long after that, when I stepped out on the floor again, the same disembodied person tried to grab my hand to dance, and I, having just checked my own frequency, quickly said no to that person’s intention. Firmly, and kindly. This was met with “none of you girls wanna dance but y’all are still fine as hell anyways.”

The wind blew and I remembered who I was. I checked in with folks and made sure that I cleanse myself of that person. I carried on about my business and stayed until it was time for the Brooklyn crew to trek back down to our neck of the urban jungle. My noticing was and continues to be, that we all have a lot of work to do when it comes to knowing ourselves, how we show up in spaces, and how we communicate in intimate spaces; verbally and non-verbally.

This wasn’t, and unfortunately won’t be the first or last time that I’ll experience something like this. The irony is that, when I was twenty, I probably would have felt so grateful for the attention. A sliver of recognition from a foreigner to my being. But that was eight years ago, several lifetimes away. In this current form, I get reminders of how far I’ve traveled within my own body and presentation with the “On This Day” Feature on Facebook. I call this era the “straight hair files,” a nod to The X Files because at times, that’s how strange those parts of my life feel to me.

Strange because I did not remember the two curl patterns on my head. Confusing because I was constantly teased about how big my lips were, unless they being hypersexualized. Dysmorphic expectations because my low self-esteem thought that if I were to grow into my body, or fill out, whatever temporary ass person I was worried about would want me. Not realizing, in any of these streams of consciousness, that I was still unfolding, and that I was allowed to be in that process without anyone attempting to take away that act of becoming from me.

So when the comments around my hips spreading were heard on my block a couple of years later, around 23, I shrunk. I would wear looser clothes or layer up as a means to hide. I dove into books and teaching around the historical implications of the desire for access to Black bodies without the consequences, and connected the dots to the present expressions of this in a hyper-capitalist, heteronormative, patriarchal society through culture vultures like the Kardashian clan. But I also lost my own sexual agency in the theories of how I should be expressing myself, especially on the dance floor and how I expressed my sexuality. I wouldn’t let my inner child out to play because I felt as if there wasn’t an answer to feeling sexy, playful powerful without it coming with some invasive consequences. Ain’t that some shit.

The cycle of wanting to feel fully embodied seemingly came at the cost of my peace of mind when grooving at my 120 bpm cadence. My body politic shifted and gave me the language and awareness to do the body scan of the crowd that I now do unconsciously. In that Full Moon bloom, I fully shapeshifted into someone who was ready to hold space within herself that allowed for these external contradictions and white noise to stay outside. Vulnerable enough to name that those ghosts are still there, but practicing enthusiastic consent in as many forms as possible.

Embodied intimacy as a body politic is realizing that I had gotten everything that I prayed for as a younger girl when I stopped paying attention to the scales and prayed for serenity and grace while moving the way that I do. When I stopped being so critical of my body and thanked it for its strength and celebrated it from a less self-serving love.  Embodied intimacy is finding comfort of the seemingly contradictory nature of wanting to adorn myself in a way that flaunts my curves, but doesn't necessarily equate to me wanting my picture taken in said outfit. Karma chameleon indeed. This is a work in progress, as I’ve been trying to catch myself when I want to shrink. Small enough to not feel like I’m taking up too much space and simultaneously vast enough to make it clear that I have arrived.   

The beat’s dropped and I’ve (re)membered who I am. I am striving to continue to take up space and being brave in community through expressing how I feel, saying no to dances with folks who don’t understand that I’m never there for their consumption. That I’m there to take my place in the corner and sweat it all out. But I don't always have to do this at 125 bpm, and some times a sweet sway or two step will be just as potent. 

Heart check. I’ve been had the juice apparently. Now it’s just about bringing it to the right market.

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