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FUN A DAY 2019#11: Sonrisa

[CW: parent death, references to racism/anti-blackness, alcohol, drugs, sex, and food] // There was something dazzling, eye-catching about her, and even she wasn’t really sure what it was, though s more...

[CW: parent death, references to racism/anti-blackness, alcohol, drugs, sex, and food]
//
There was something dazzling, eye-catching about her, and even she wasn’t really sure what it was, though she enthusiastically accepted the attention she drew. She both understood that she was not a ‘classic beauty’ and that she more than deserved the adoration and interest she inspired. She was small, 5’5”, slender but not skinny or thin; ‘thick’. Her breasts were large, sometimes inconveniently so, and her hips and belly and thighs were soft and big, and she shamelessly emphasized them with leggings and tight skirts when she wasn’t teaching or on campus. She had almost black doe eyes framed by long lashes, and plump brown lips that she liked to ‘underline’ and fill in with a deep brick lipliner. She had long, black, curly hair that both required a fair amount of upkeep and provoked white women’s jealousy. She had lighter skin, a smaller nose, and straighter hair than her mother, and frequently was not read as Black, but had still grown up hearing racial slurs, usually directed at her mother, by both Anglos and Puerto Ricans who were lighter than they were, as they walked down the street together. By herself, she suffered less hate and resentment, and more often experienced a kind of voyeurism, a sometimes vulgar fascination with her hair and lips and body. She’d learned how to avoid the whitest and most aggressive of the these social rubberneckers, how to ally with the other gay brown girls at the shows and bars and parties she went to, how to enjoy being noticed and wanted.
//
A Leo and an extrovert, she enjoyed going out and meeting and talking to new people, and people generally enjoyed meeting and talking to her. She was quick witted and giggled loudly and unabashedly, trading puns and jokes and references to 90s pop culture and funny voices with people almost immediately. Keeping up with her could be a little challenging, but it always felt like it was worth it: she was fun, but she was sensitive, and tended to be thoughtful even when buzzed. She purposefully went out to take a break from her work and from her anxieties, and she when you were out with her, she gently pulled you into this ritual, and tried to give you a break, too.
//
None of this really changed when her mother died unexpectedly. She’d just finished her M.F.A., which she’d started right after her completing B.A., and suddenly, the only person who really knew her, her only close family, the only witness to her entire life, was gone. How exactly was one supposed to react to a loss like that? She didn’t really know, so she went about her life, her writing and her partying, began traveling, and then did more partying and traveling and drinking and smoking and ‘promiscuity’. Nothing assuaged the ache, or changed the fact that she didn’t have any real friends who she could be herself in front of, who she could grieve in front of, except for one close ex-girlfriend who’d moved to Puerto Rico after their break up. She eventually stopped partying, stopped traveling, stopped drinking, stopped having casual sex. She learned how to hide her grief, how to conjure up a very convincing hologram of the vibrant, carefree young woman she used to be, how to keep entertaining people, and how to continuously arouse young women’s affections.
//
She could only power the hologram for so long though. For a couple of years, she saved her energy for her nighttime outings, and spent her days by herself, mostly working from home, where she’d retreated into her mother’s small but mighty bookshelf. She re-read her mother’s favorite books, Beloved, In the Time of the Butterflies, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Like Water for Chocolate, The Joy Luck Club. She eventually started writing again, and then she went to her own cardboard box of books she’d kept from her undergraduate courses. She re-read all of her Audre Lorde texts, all of the ‘second wave’ feminist lit from the 300 level feminist theory course she’d taken, and when she was done, she applied to women’s studies programs in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, DC.
//
This was after a chance encounter with an old internet friend, whose band was touring again, Sonrisa had missed her last show in Brooklyn because she’d been in San Juan. Her friend had recently cut off all her hair and come out to her mother, but not to anyone else in her life. Her face lit up when she saw Sonrisa, with equal parts ‘I haven’t talked to her ages’ excitement and ‘but I also have a crush on her’ panic, but Sonrisa could still see on her face and hear in her voice that she was quietly terrified and exhausted. So, after her band’s set, Sonrisa took her for a short walk to the park by the Williamsburg waterfront, and asked her, “How are you doing, like, really?” She’d started to respond, to reluctantly recount tour, so far, and then nervously talk about her hair, a breakup (with a young man) and a mild injury incurred during their last sexual encounter that had precipitated the haircut, and Sonrisa looked at her, at her chapped lips and strong cheekbones and the greyish purple under her eyes, and remembered just how mutual their crush had always been. She was tempted to lean in and kiss the side of her face, but when she finished what she was saying by abruptly announcing, “I’m just, I’m scared, like, really scared, and I don’t now why but also I do?”
//
Sonrisa responded by pushing an unruly strand of hair behind the young woman’s ear and saying, “Yeah, I know. Because it’s scary, in an inexplicable, overwhelming way. But you’re gonna be alright. I promise.” When the young woman looked at her sideways, skeptical of this claim, Sonrisa insisted, “It will probably take a while, and it won’t be easy. It will be a lot of work. But you’ll be okay.” Sonrisa wished that she could take her up to the Bronx, to her mother’s apartment. No, she wished that she could take her to her mother. Her mother would have embraced her friend, lectured her on getting an adequate amount of sleep, and made tostones and arroz con pollo and a cafecito for them.
//
And just like that, Sonrisa realized: she isn’t really gone, and neither am I. I’m still here, and as long as I’m still here, she’s still here too, sort of. We’re still here. What had she just said to her friend, ‘it will be a lot of work’? ‘But you’ll be okay’? It was what Sonrisa had needed to hear. And now that she’d heard it, and was sitting with an old friend, everything felt different. Not necessarily better, but, at the very least, bearable, and like something she could and wanted to succeed at.
//
IMAGE VIA: https://www.google.com/search?biw=1387&bih=733&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=edk6XLfIMIeOggfbl7eIDA&q=%27beyonce%27+flawless&oq=%27beyonce%27+flawless&gs_l=img.3..0i30l10.25495.29078..29553...2.0..0.120.1198.19j1......1....1..gws-wiz-img.......0i67j0j0i10i24.0SiJC9Vr-Bs#imgrc=nRi6Pe5aVMWcuM: ...less

A playlist by
livelyandcolorful
9 tracks
  • 37min
  • 18
  • 10 months ago