“God, what the fuck am I doing here?” the voice in my head, out of breath and accusatory as I stood in an alley, sweat rolling down my back, body scuffed and limping on an ankle that was twisted from a jump off a 2nd story balcony. Fourteen years old and thinking there was nothing quite as cool as breaking into a vacant apartment with three “friends” to drink icy cold forties, fool around and act like we were hard. Mario, it was Mario that enticed me to slip out the bedroom window that night. My bedroom next to my mother’s but my life, the one I was determined to stuff myself into…a world away from anything she could even begin to comprehend. The whisper from a gorgeous boy; long lean body, dark skin, big brown eyes, full sexy lips, big loopy curls that begged for my fingers to slip inside them. The tap on my window that I suspected was coming and me flipping the covers off my fully clothed body and wiggling myself out the window that never fully opened for the shitty paint job of the low rent management company that ran our complex….the semi-permanent scrapes that marred the little patch of skin right above my ass for years.
One in the morning I was on a bus with people that I was sure were cool as hell and for an adventure that would rescue me from the milky white world that made my skin feel slippery and foreign to me no matter how long I marinated in it. As the nearly vacant bus rumbled along MLK Blvd my heart started pounding, the tips of my fingers tracing the hard plastic of the seat beneath me….Mario’s fifteen year old sexuality thick and clumsy but utterly irresistible to a girl that was trying so hard to find a little slice of cool. A piece of vibrant, a way to feel or understand the conflict between trying to be a good daughter, a rock for her mother but still ached for a life that was hers and hers alone. The wee morning hours, this was where I found part of me, the me that loathed sleep, the me that longed to be touched so badly that when I was it was almost as if I could hear my skin moan….the me that would do things that haunt me to this day just to push back the sadness, the flaccid life that I observed, felt, and vowed never to let myself succumb to.
“Open the goddamn door!” the police pounding and screaming, making me jump up off the newly carpeted floor that felt soft against my shirtless skin as Mario fumbled at my bits and sent me running for the bedroom where my girlfriend was doing her thang. “Cops are here, get dressed. We need to get out of here” I snarled between my clinched teeth. My friend and her dude of the day pulling on their clothes and with panicked faces looking at me of all people as to what to do. These cool ass bastards that were so craveable, so cool and unflappable that I slipped out my bedroom window and was now here, in the worst part of town, topless, drunk and terrified. I tossed my shirt over my head, (left my bra nestled on the floor) and said, “This is the only way out that won’t end with us going to jail” as I slid open the sliding door to the balcony. I stretched my neck and looked at the drop as the pounding on the door was echoing in my ears. “Fuck. What do you guys want to do?” I asked, nothing….not one voice was willing to make the call. I found the beginning of mine, “Whatever assholes, I’m jumping” I said as I slipped one leg and then the other over the bars and tried my best to lower myself as much as I could before just letting go and plummeting to the ground.
I heard two thumps land beside me before, “Hey! Stop!” and that was when I started running. No idea where I was, where I was going and as I passed the piss smelling drunks that lined the streets, their ammonia stank filling my lungs causing my eyes to water even more than they already were from fear, I slipped down an alley and heard my own voice in my head, “What the fuck are you doing here?”
I would love to say that was the end of my scuffles with the police and friends that would urge me to misbehave, wasn’t…not even close but I learned that cold night that no one; not my friend, not Mario, not even the fear of displeasing my mother was going to stop me from seeking a life that lit me up, made me vibrate, made me find my voice and no one was coming to rescue me…
“Sam come try this” Randy once again making me taste a wine. I wore my discomfort on my sleeve as I slowly made my way to the tasting room where Randy stood….beaming and extending his arm, glass of golden wine being waved in my direction.
As I slowly walked into the tasting room I felt that same fear that I felt as I dangled from that balcony, I don’t get this, I don’t belong here and no one is coming to rescue me. I shot Randy one of my looks, the ones that let one know that I am pissed, annoyed and you are threatening me. His big beautiful grin, his hope that I might catch on, his belief in me shone back at me and I took the glass…begrudgingly. I shifted my weight from one foot to the next, felt the heat gathering in my cheeks as I stuck my nose in the glass….peaches and spice.
I let my eyes briefly rest upon Randy but my head was spinning. This, this thing that was slipping into my body, making me dizzy and feeling like a tap on my window…the draw was as powerful as those full lips, big loopy curls. I would scrape my backside, ride a bus, run past ammonia smelling lumps of life’s lessons to have, smell and taste more of this. My voice was silent but my heart….wide open. This was what I was seeking, what I needed, what those self punishing women that raised me could never do, would never allow themselves to do….my nose, my palate, my ache and the me that was just waiting came alive that day and I have never looked back.
“Where can I purchase a bottle of wine?” the first of two nights alone in Alsace, the region whose wines flipped me, awoken this fire, spoke to me loud enough to pull my misfit head out of my ass. I was there two days before the rest of my group….alone to wander, smell, taste…live in the cuddle of a tiny town and the people that shuffled past me. The wonder, the cold air, the giggle of a tiny child running from the butcher to the baker. Again so far removed from the life that had been offered me before that deep soul tapping sniff that would forever change my life, legs dangling off whatever story…me willing to let go.