You ever felt impending doom? Not the anxiety-based one that isn’t connected to anything, but I mean, real, actual, I’m-going-to-die-and-it-may-really-happen kinda shit. Being in a pandemic and you know, staying in the house and being very choosy with where I decide to take risks (I’m no gambler), gives you a lot of time to think. This COVID shit has been horrifying, and I am thankful me, my direct family and my friends have survived it, although I have lost some loved ones. But, I’m always close to dying. I’ve been there so many times in my life, that one would think it would change my outlook, maybe make me less abrasive, maybe value my days better, but no, not really. I know this life shit is fickle and fragile, and it makes me laugh to myself in confusion, every time I think about it.
Way back in late 2009/ early 2010, my college (yall know where I went) was having REAL issues with the neighborhood we were in. A lot was going on: Students were getting robbed and assaulted by local residents(and really, thats a product of a big ass school buying up your culture-filled neighborhood and pushing the people out), my friends were getting into beefs that turned very serious, one of which directly included me, someone got stabbed up in a fight right outside of my apartment window, we had become numb to hearing gunfire when we went to parties. Things were, in all reality, very fucked up. I say this after nearly being killed by campus police just 3 years earlier; this was as bad as things had ever been down there. And I really did think I was going to get killed before I graduated, because my understanding of the universe was based in “chances.”
You are going to have brushes with danger; I had been lucky over, and over, and over, and I knew that shit was gonna run out one day. You can lie to and play with everyone on this Earth; you cannot bullshit the universe. If you know in your heart of hearts, that just being out and about when things are so tense, can raise the chance of you being harmed, you are either bullshitting, the way you operate needs to change. So I laid low, but even with that me and my boy, who I love to this day, had to dip out of a party and sneak back to my apartment because someone in there wanted to shoot it up, because he saw us in there (over a money beef I inherited, just because I was present). Literally looked at us, then told the party he was gonna clap the shit up. Then we had to watch for him circling the block, after we dipped. That’s what I was doing in 2009 and 2010; trying to not die. After just barely not dying in 2006. Before I was walking around the Bronx in the dark in 20111, regularly, trying to get to my GF’s house in a hood where no one knew me but her, knowing I was pushing it every time I did this shit. Then wanting to die in 2015, while in the pits of depression. Then ACTUALLY having to rush my parents out of a house fire in 2020, while trying to also not get killed by COVID. I’m always dodging death; I never stopped.
I had been distracted enough to believe trying to get through COVID was something that was beyond me, but it wasn’t, I’m always trying to outrun some shit. The way I feel between vaccine shots (I already got my first) makes me feel the same way I did when I was running through the dark in Norfolk, hoping we weren’t being followed. The way I felt staring out of my bedroom window, not knowing someone was going to get stabbed in the middle of the giant mob. The way I felt when my homegirl hit us up hysterical, because there was a dead body in front of her college crib, on a back block. The same way I felt watching my childhood home, with smoke coming out of all its windows as the basement got reduced to cinders, hoping the house wouldn’t explode. Some foul shit is always around the corner, but I haven’t known it any other way, for a very long time. The fact that something as joyous as getting vaccinated could remind me of how close to the edge I’ve been, says a lot about how I see things. I got the first shot, I was happy for about an hour, then I got sad, thinking about how paranoid I’d be until my second, and how taxing all of this has been to live through. I also got wrapped up in how weird this whole experience has been, but I’m just…surviving. I don’t think it’s particularly brave, or valiant; I’m just alive, and I appreciate that.
I will be fine, because I know I will be. But, I know the reality of things. I know how shit can go wrong. Me understanding how things play out, and how poorly they can go, is why I think so well on my feet. That’s all I ever had; being in situations where I had to make the right choice or die, be it literally or metaphorically. People who love you can say whatever they want, you can put on whatever facade you feel like showing off, none of that shit matters. In the moment of truth, I’m going to do what I have to do, because I need to, and you better do the same. I’ve done so, many a time, and I know that a lot of things in this life are predicated on split second decisions. I take solace in that, but living in the pandemic has shortened my fuse; I’m not patient, I don’t like wasting time on bullshit anymore, I find it frustrating when someone’s head is in the clouds, I can’t stand when people don’t say what they mean. Our time is limited, and my hourglass nearly emptied one too many times to play. I can’t stand indecisiveness in big moments, and that’s partially because of jealousy; I didn’t get to bullshit in those moments, because I would have died, that innocence was stolen from me a long time ago. Thankfully, I did survive all this shit, and I get to give life another go with each new day, as I try to give more than I take.