Today I am 46.
This is the number of chromosomes it takes to make another human being. Yet I am in perimenopause and will soon no longer be capable of committing such an act.
It is bittersweet and full of complicated feelings, exacerbated by the hormonal fluctuations from reverse puberty and the lack of open discussion about what really happens when a cis-woman’s body relinquishes the biological factors that the patriarchy deems the definition of “womanhood” [even the word “perimenopause” has the red underline on my screen as I type this, further invisiblizing the concept].
Yet I feel exponentially more sexy, attractive and confident than I ever did when I was still in physiological full-bloom Spring. But thanks to having a period 10 days earlier than scheduled and two days shorter than my typical cycle, I also woke up so miserable last week that I swear I looked like Donald Trump. It is overdue time to #decolonizethecrone.
Now I understand why when still in my 20’s I asked my daddy if I was beautiful and he said “no” — that I was cute at best because a woman does not become beautiful until she is at least in her 30’s.
Ok, Daddy. I totally get it NOW.
Last weekend I was reunited with two plastic trunks full of my belongings. They were placed in the care of a friend in 2009, a dress rehearsal for the current economy. I was put into active fugitivity as a result and moved three times within six months because the media industry only wanted to offer me unpaid internships as a “favor.”
These 11-year-old archives are especially poignant after finding a CD full of files dating from 1997-2001. It’s really longer and deeper than that timeframe as it includes all of my high school poetry, journals from jobs, modeling portfolio images, projects I created and events I curated over the course of my 20 years in San Antonio, Texas–where “Dragonfly” was born as the inter-dimensional / multi-intentional artist I was and have become.
I have always made art to save my own life.
Now I am old enough to parent myself. The 23-year-old half-life me is an ancestor because all of the skin and cells of that young woman are no longer in this body. She exists through memory, story and archive. I am a life artist and I am a palimpsest of my former selves. Without flesh heirs I deem my ART as my legacy.
I was almost not born.
I almost drowned in my mother’s womb. At 34 in 1974, it was a high-risk pregnancy. One could argue that any Black pregnancy is high-risk in this country thanks to #medicalapartheid. I nearly drowned inside, umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, my mother kept in labor too long. They cut me out of her womb. I have seen the scar that runs straight up and down her belly like a gutted fish, before the medical establishment cared enough to do a bikini cut as well as make sure that the nerves that cause sexual pleasure were not severed in the process.
Like my own life, it is overdue time for me to cut loose the archives of work that have gestated far too long. For me to shed the concept of perfection for the sake of saving my own life and release to the world those words and images and stories that have been inside me far too long and need breath and water and sunlight simply because they were created to do so.
I am here, y’all.
And soon come my archives–as silly and sloppy and puerile and imperfect as they all are–in honor of my own artistic legacy which prepared me for the things to come.