How to Leave Home by Lorraine Avila

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tiles on subway statopm wall and sign that says up town train with arrow pointing to the right

Pretend the section 8 apartment your mother fought to put over your head is no longer enough. You grown, you gotta go. Fill the apartment you’ll always call home to the brim with memories that threaten. Like the scrapping of innocence, the belt whippings, the fist fights with your sister, the yelling of a heroin addict from his tomb. Make it impossible to stay within the walls of your childhood bedroom. Make the sight of five adults and two children under one roof make your stomach turn. Tell your nephew to go away when you have to work instead of just playing with him. Don’t feel too bad because you weren’t the one who decided to have a kid. Groan, complain, moan. Decide that as soon as you can, you’ll go.

Watch the privileged of the city on your two-hour commute from Mosholu Parkway to Park Slope. Every time the 4 train hits the other side of 125th, notice that you are not seen by them. They’re too busy with their briefcases and their venti lattes. Grow bitter at the fact that their chins never rest on their chest and that their gazes are always fixed to a reality you’ll never obtain. Believe that the 45th has handed the likes of them the full power to crawl out from the underworld to bring further havoc to the streets of New York City. Day dream of another place, far from here, where the racism is too embarrassed, too shameful to show itself, so it crawls within a shell only coming out and stretching after everyone has gone to bed. Start positively thinking. Do your research. Reach out to the connections you’ve secured through higher academia. Get the offer, sit on it.

Take note of the ways in which your city has starved its people from the inside out. Declare the Bronx a food desert although you’ve never actually starved. Say the rat race is killing you in your mid-twenties despite the fact that your rage tells you you’re alive.

Forget the ways you’ve been soothed by the pattern of friendly dabs and neighbors who can trace back your family to the Caribbean. Put to bed the times you’ve been strengthened by the concrete when you’ve found yourself in the middle of chaos. Bury the knowing that nothing will bring you out of darkness like than the raw ashes of the Bronx sprinkled upon your soul.

Consider the job offer across the country. Read an article that wires you to believe you have to go work at that school. When people say San Francisco isn’t as diverse as New York, say that at least it’s an actual sanctuary city, though you’ve done no real asking.

Rent a home in East Oakland after you find out San Francisco has exiled most of the Blacks. East Oakland will remind you of home. The neighbors are drenched in melanin, and the heat that comes to 19th and Foothill boulevard in the dark and at dawn will comfort you with it’s familiarity. Leave when the sounds of bullets keep you from sleep. Scoff because for this popping lullaby, you could’ve just stayed home.

Go to West Oakland. The space is perfect for you, except you live with white folks (the only ones on the entire block). Learn that their privilege allows them to go to bed without washing the dishes or cleaning up the white patches of dog hair that convert the wooden floors into abstract art. Step into your room and declare that at least now you’ve got a comfortable space, and after all, having your own bathroom means you don’t have to mingle with them. Appreciate the serenity loneliness brings you. Lie on those crispy, white sheets, stretch each limb, and still feel the pieces of you reach back for home.

LORRAINE.AVILALorraine Avila is a lover of sweets, platanos, and storytelling. She is an emerging, Dominican- American writer from the Bronx. At the moment, she resides in Oakland and teaches literacy in San Francisco. Her writing has been featured in La Galeria magazine and Blavity.



STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/Scott Unrein

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