By: Roconia Price
There’s nothing revolutionary about making a cup of tea. Unless, of course, the tea is your own.
I stirred my cup of tea and started a typhoon.
Step 1: Fill a kettle with fresh, cold water and bring to a boil.
You never forget the moment the music stops. When life stops being a party and you stop being a princess. You never forget the moment you’re dropped from the clouds of exemption into a pile of real life shit. At that very moment, you begin to cherish every move of your last naïve dance.
I cherished my ride to New York that morning, the first trip when my sister and I rode up separately. I cherished giddily making plans to stay in Clinton Hill Saturday night and split Sunday morning between East New York and Flatbush. I cherished every step down Clinton Ave, maneuvering through the crowd of the block party, ignorant of the fact that I’d just been kissed by Judas. I cherished every second, every frozen image in my mind up until the moment my sister spoke: Aunt Margie smiling and waving in her light blue visor, the DJ bumping to his own creation, LL as we called him, licking his lips for the millionth time as I walked by, Eric flipping ribs on the grill, the black trash bag hanging from the gate, the music, the trees the sun, my sister, her shorts, her phone—her face.
She burst. She opened her mouth and spoke, and the music stopped forever.
My life came to a rolling boil on August 8, 2009 in the midst of a block party in downtown Brooklyn. And during the four subsequent years, the pallbearers of life guided me deep into a downward spiral.
“Lower…lower…lower,” they said. “Lower…lower… lower.”
Step 2: Steep.
He could be sleepy… or, even better, he could be drunk, I thought. At any rate, he could’ve given me what I wanted. He was a truck driver, and for about three miles we rode alongside each other. I wanted him to smack me. I wanted him to take his 18-wheeler and knock my car into oblivion. I wanted to choke on a final meal of blood, glass, and gravel, courtesy of this man’s carelessness. I wanted it to be accident. I wanted to be dead. I wanted to be blameless.
Step 3: Sweeten to taste.
Some days I didn’t desire blood and glass, or a lungful of saltwater, or a hefty heaping of carbon monoxide. Some days, like this one, I stuffed my face with sweet nothings. I squeezed a handful of my fat, blackened knees, poked my surgically altered bellybutton, pinched the bacon on my back, palmed both the Eastern and Western hemispheres of my ass, and lathered on thick layers of the self-love ointment I’d bought at the local bullshit bloggery.
“You are beautiful!!!” I would say, palms to elbows in a self-hug. “I love you, self!!!!!”
Other days I pounded my fist against my thighs, damning them to hell as I went the extra mile on a merciless fitness regimen.
In my self-studies— the pounding, the pinching, the palming— I found strained self-love to be too sweet and seething self-loathe too bitter. I found that just a teaspoon of truth tasted just right.
Step 4: Stir.
“Take my life or I will.” The first plea was soft and pitiful, whispered from sweaty lips directly into the pillow top mattress.
“You take my life OR I WILL!!” This one was fueled by fury, straight from my mouth to the ears of God and every listening being in between. I brought my fist down hard on the bed and dared God not to save me.
I don’t remember how I got there. Just moments before, I lay under my comforter, barely breathing in the stifling heat. The sweat running from my forehead to my ears was a combined effort of the broken air conditioner, the summer sun, and the back and forth mental debate of whether or not it was worth the two days and 40,000 labored breaths it would take to make it to age 22.
And then I was there, on my knees, shaking, crying, and pleading to God for something in my soul to stir. “You take my life or I will!”
My life was taken that day. In that very moment I relinquished my rights to harm, hate, or desecrate that which no longer belonged to me.
Step 5: Serve.
God said “let there be light” and the light was me and it was pretty dope. Then sayeth The Lord: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; Roco, girl, get your shine on.” Thus a revolutionary was born.
My revolution is best served raw. It’s sharing my bitter moments and serving them with no sugar and no shame.
My revolution is having a comfortable situationship with death, but choosing to chase life instead.
My revolution is passing on the platitudes of robust self-love and opting to brew a more delicate blend. It’s admitting that I don’t know what it feels like to truly live for or deeply love myself. It’s screaming that you should love your entire being, but whispering that if I were left alone to my own devices, with no one else to live for, I’d be dead.
My revolution is embracing the contradictions. It’s accepting that the revolution gave birth to me just as much as I gave birth to it. It’s allowing myself a break in the middle of the battle, because even Rosa Parks had to sit down to take her stand. It’s constantly fighting myself for peace, using the same mouth that deemed me stupid, worthless, and damaged beyond repair, to claim beauty and victory over each day.
My revolution is having a grasp on the natural ebb and flow of life. It’s living through hell and knowing that things will be okay, then they won’t, then they will, then they won’t, then they will again. It’s accepting that I may always feel as simultaneously empty and heavy as a cloud, but, as long as I’m serving up my story, there will always be someone cleansing, growing, and dancing in my rainstorm.
My revolution is being enthused about the work and the response that working on myself creates and continuously living and dying for that purpose over and over and over again.
I am the light, I am the tea, I am the revolution.