Getting to know yourself is a process that seems to take a lifetime. Sometimes we know more about the world around us than the palms of our hands, or the texture of our skin, or our tastes. There were times where I could swear it was easier to understand the reasons why the sky looked blue and what lay in between the lines of my DNA that made my hair frizzy than to understand why I am who I am and why I feel the way I feel.
The passage of time presented me with the demystification that things did not fit into boxes and could not be contained within fences either. I began to see that my existence was like a dancer dancing, almost floating, fluidly over an abstract art panel, where you couldn’t tell where one color started and the other ended, and all the mixtures along the way made a unique and eccentric image. The notion of ephemerality embraced me and allowed me to see that, contrary to what they taught me, we are just being and as we grow, we move through the infinite possibilities of being. We are dancers and our permanence on earth is surrounded by the constant of an impermanence.
Before I was twelve, I already thought there was something different about me, subtleties that clashed with the way I looked at the world and felt about it. The shades of brown that adorn me, that I was born with and I still carry today and I try to contemplate whenever I look in the mirror, before I was something I didn’t see in the movies, I missed seeing on TV, and it seemed to be almost non-existent in the descriptions of characters from the books I read.
Not seeing me there carried with it the pain of death, an erasure that planted the evil question in my mind: “If I don’t see myself here, should I exist here?” A pain so silent and intrinsic that so recently I didn’t understand and it was almost impossible to hear. My inaudible screams echoed throughout my life.
Insecurity was built and reinforced with every step I took, and keep taking, into the future. It was fortified at every moment in such a way that they created progressively deeper roots that even today are difficult to pull out without putting down the entire structure of the building that I have decorated and named “my essence”.
The years progressed so that I doubted my ability to achieve my goals, to occupy some spaces and frequent some places. The ticking of the clock was accompanied by an immense difficulty in feeling able to be loved, and making me almost incapable of exerting myself for the daily practices of self-love.
A dense mist built up in front of my eyes, making it difficult for the faculties of my being to flower beneficial and positive feelings in relation to my person. Questions sprang up without even waiting for spring, and there they were, a garden of rampant weeds that if they were a song, they’d have a chorus that would lodge peacefully in the midst of my thoughts. Will I ever be loved? Will my feelings ever be reciprocated? Will there be someone that will want to touch my skin, kiss my thick lips and caress the curls of my hair? And why would they want to? If I’m not so beautiful? If my body doesn’t have the shape I see in magazines? Would they ever feel the true desire to come, and stay?
Vast is the list of names of those who come and go, without worrying in the least about the marks they leave behind, or the fears they fortify when they only use us as an instrument or a bridge to reach what they mean by pleasure. The false certainties arrive with the promise that they would make everything easier, so they leave the suitcase on the floor, move the furniture around, and start painting the inside walls with thoughts and ideas that will hurt us later. They just want our bodies. The same ones that were formerly said to be not-beautiful enough, neither enough to motivate anyone to stay a little longer, accept a cup of tea, or invite us to dinner.
What came out of our mouths was not interesting. It didn’t cause effervescence or curiosity. No. We aren’t. Made. TO SPEAK. We were told, and believing in it was as easy as lying in bed, tired and exhausted after a long day of work. And we stayed there, silent, our eyes watering, talking about more than what we ever dreamed would come true. The tears that fell on the sheets telling our stories. I’m not like them. I’ll never be. Neither do I, or do I want to be?
We got used to being tossed around, the shadow of the painful trauma of our ancestors chained in the holds of ships, and everything had to be fast, as if our presence there were expendable. It was just sex. Only that. And the voice that spiraled down until it became intrinsic said, “don’t you get it?”
And for those of us who don’t want, don’t like and see sex as something violent, painful, stressful, uninteresting? And for those who do not feel any desire to take off our clothes, to be touched, but still wet our feet and dive into the sea of hope that one day we will be loved?
The street that leads to the light of the final destination becomes narrower and in this dark alley dies the dream of living what we read in books, saw in soap opera and what was projected in our minds when we closed our eyes before falling asleep. A samba resonates between the lines singing about those invisible souls that dance, float, from one side to another in the spectrum of attractions that so little is said about. From the center of cities and beyond the suburbs, how many people feel that way? An embroidery of experiences and pluralities that extends and covers the world. Lives connected by an inexplicable network of wires and bigger than anything else. Under the glow of our crowns, the sun’s godson kings and queens.
Black. Asexual. And flowing, going back and forth, knowing me as strange territory. Constantly exploring myself and cultivating forgiveness for every time I pushed myself beyond my limits, and crossed the threshold of my well-being to try to be what I was expected for and wanted to be. Today I scream calmly and clearly so that other people find in me a passage, a way to the surface, to feel that they can breathe being who they are.
There are constant moments, where I need to stop and rest, for the burden we carry is heavy, and the ghosts of the past tend to weigh too much. There are those who still dare to ask me who I am, what I am. I just smile. Perhaps, in this lifetime some of us can answer these questions.
Arthur Araujo is a Brazilian, Black, ace, non-binary writer. Their pronouns are he/they. They love sci-fi and LGBTQ+ novels. Their Instagram and twitter are @arthurszerba.