Weeks later I would encounter a depression as dark as the night fall that terribly haunted and consumed my life like a black hole devoid of sunlight. I felt like I was drowning so deep in water, with waves constantly crashing against me that I couldn't climb out. I felt trapped and the Ferguson verdict, announced a few days after the start of this depression, shook me even more—pushing my body back under water. I protested, screamed, cried and even raged on a few folks in real life and on the web. Doing so allowed me the opportunity to insert my body into a concerted effort of madness in public space. It was needed. It was healing; but, it was also frustrating, taxing on the body, and extremely ableist at times making clear to me my place in movement making: artist, thinker, creative, healer, and nurturer. These thoughts came to me after much introspection, and I realized that I thrive best in hybrid spaces that look and feel like many things and not one that prioritizes one thing over the next.
A week later, I'm on a bus headed home to Atlanta. The bus is jerking, shaking and moving very fast, much like my life, again. I’m anxious and worried. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and opened my offline reading list on my phone in search of something to read. I found and begin re-reading Ashon Crawley's “Otherwise, Ferguson” and his words and writing deeply resonated with my current thoughts and gently held me in warmth. He writes:
“To begin with the otherwise as word, as concept, is to presume that whatever we have is not all that is possible. Otherwise. It is a concept of internal difference, internal multiplicity. The otherwise is the disbelief in what is current and a movement towards, and an affirmation of, imagining other modes of social organization, other ways for us to be with each other. Otherwise as plentitude. Otherwise is the enunciation and concept of irreducible possibility, irreducible capacity, to create change, to be something else, to explore, to imagine, to live fully, freely, vibrantly. Otherwise Ferguson. Otherwise Gaza. Otherwise Detroit. Otherwise Worlds. Otherwise expresses an unrest and discontent, a seeking to conceive dreams that allow us to wake laughing, tears of joy in our eyes, dreams that have us saying, I hope this comes true.”
I’m in my seat, at this point, and I am having church all by myself – snapping my fingers, stomping my feet, and crying. As tears fell from my face, I was reassured and reminded of my own strength, the obstacles I've overcome in my lifetime, and the life ahead of me. Imagining an otherwise world and possibility for living has saved my life and helped me to reimagine my purpose, which has transformed my life in overwhelming ways and helped me to heal. It has relieved the guilt I felt (and, feel) for abandoning my family to pursue my own dreams and selfish wants for my life. It is what saved (and, saves) me from myself. It is a light, in dark times, at the end of the tunnel. It is what I think about when I’m asked, “what I do.” The party, guilt, and depression are all separate things but they’re not isolated. Who I am and what I do is a result of so many things, people, places, and much struggle; and it is also connected to the guilt I often feel, the depression, and my desire to celebrate living, in party spaces and elsewhere, during a time where black lives are constantly taken. All of these things sit at the front of my consciousness, day to day, as I perform self, and go out into the world. So, imagining otherwise worlds and possibilites, for myself, demand that I ask the following: Who am I performing for and what will I gain from it? What will I lose?