Written by: Alessia Petrolito
Since I can remember, I’ve been my parents’ favorite subject, a black woman, who used to be their baby girl, someone they no longer understand.
The last picture is from a present past, a time in which doubts emerge from certainty; this is what I use to build and mine the future ahead.
There is no place, just a chaotic inner self, no more past-simple on these last few words.
Felice. Scarred for happiness. Lei’s head is spinning, losing is unbearable. She feels frightened, trapped. How did she get there again? Every three years, she needs to ask for help. She holds to the years spent in and out of therapy and everything else while trying to maintain her gains. Self-confidence is the first to go; even in good times, it takes just a second to slip away. One mistake, one word said wrong, can alter an equilibrium and set off an avalanche that has no plain to slough.
Attenti. Careful, they all complain to the necessity to be heedful, to stay attentive in her presence, to her moods, because they start swinging at any change of breeze. Lei likes to express with poetry, and rhythm helps to dispel her fears. And she writes about faults, calls out those she missed to face, makes amends or argues the few fights she didn’t get to have. Poetry is cathartic; she has written about her mothers, fathers, man, sister and brother, herself…
The shared feeling is that she’s paranoid, anxious, exhausted and exhausting: she never stops querying about herself and her surrounding.
Is that all she has, hers to own?
Ostile. At some point, paranoia becomes neurosis. Lei used to be conversant, now has become difficult to sit with. No dinner can go without a debate. She is policing her own family, boyfriend, and friends. Intransigent, she is no longer holding back, at least not with the people she knows. She hisses about episodes, behaviors, words that don’t sit right with her. The phone doesn’t ring like before; it might be life or maybe not. She knows how to be fair and inimical. She draws lines that leave her out and her boyfriend consciously alone.
Her anger digs the grave to their social life. Now and then, her boyfriend remarks on her so-called liking ‘victimhood’. He even points to her books, the more she reads them the more she frets. And again, she is there at the same point, no corner, no upgraded state. Is he the one? Do I love him? Another three years have passed and she hasn’t got too far; she can’t go back, nor stop and envision a different world. Is this wrong? To get a grasp of who you are, to own it with sobbing fierceness, and then crawl from home to work and nothing more for months.
Difficile. Lei would like to be freed: consumed like a candle or breaking off her black wings. Like the crow blinded by the truth.
She has always envied her best friend for knowing her blood and where she comes from; and now that Lei knows too, she can say how she will be at sixty; she’s scared as hell.
She doesn’t sleep well, feels time slipping from her days. Stoves and laundry pile, the room is tiny but fills in a day. Clothes on chairs on the floor, on the couch. She stares at them, slides them to the side then lays next to the heap.
She misses meals. She drinks teas and sometimes wine.
Her cat can sense there is something wrong, jumps on her heart and cowers with all her warmth. Her boyfriend calls to check on her mood until he gets a smile and permission to come.
A year and a half ago, she got her blood to find her, and since the unknown never gave her peace, convinced herself that knowing would have granted her a normal yield, that labor and therapy would have melted her anger away. Lei was so proud of the person she had forged for herself. She felt resolved and then found it wasn’t enough to forget or forgive. Abide by, even if it proves weakness, that would be her.
Not knowing how to move on, Lei wants more but doesn’t know how or what. She has difficulties picturing herself in the future and has run out of long-run plans. Lei wanted a man, then a community, a leadership that doesn’t know how to maintain; she has no patience, quite a temper and no desire for progeny. She can’t stand the pain, and the work that is feeding and raising someone else must take. To her, that kind of love still screeches. She rides solo, can’t stand slowness; can’t stand crowded places, she can’t even stand herself.
Her knack seems to create, grow, and turn away from the established break. Often the only comfort zone is her displaced sense of self. There, locked in her room, she forgets how to function in society until the next shift.
Pesci. Her texts attempt to share a photograph of a moment, and what she has felt. She loves metaphors, she uses her words to set fire to the ground around her. Man, friends, and family get hurt on the way still, her burns scar in a manner that, except for her sister, they cannot feel nor take away. It doesn’t stop; it doesn’t stop! It comes and goes; Lei has no remedy and follows.
In the horoscope, Fishes and Taurus signs call for love, but Lei’s anger flows. The fishes of her life are born the same day and are the ones Lei fights the most. She pushes, shoves them, underlines their failures; she pours all her discontent and pokes them by weighting their losses. They don’t wear her same skin. When she tries to explain to them, what she senses, experienced, their lack of complete understanding loads much like betrayal. It’s just the way it is.
Adulta. Lei’s thirty-one and doesn’t get old. She has one nicely hidden grey hair. Nobody gives her cheeks the age they have. Her face seems stuck at twenty-tree every time people shrill – You must be so young – and then blink when she reveals the actual number. She has no wrinkle around her eyes, but everybody agrees that she is way too young to be so maniac.
She freaks for time.
She freaks on words.
She freaks about people and beloved.
Fronteggiare. In pictures, she poses for the lens pouting and smiling. She looks at herself or the person in front of her glasses; it is challenging to tell what is boiling inside her. Lei’s mind is sharp, she makes a living, and between dawns and lines, she bares herself; she creates art. She vents to windmills for missing ideals and the struggle itself; call me black, call me child, call me woman. The inability to overcome that fragility, to find a way to prove and refine a solid coping strategy, is what makes me a maker. Before, there was drawing, then coloring images, concepts, words and even fibers to contrast that layered aftermath, with no specified name, that agitates her, gets creative looking for new ways to evolve and capsizing her.
Lei has traveled afar pursuing her needs, which are now taking her alive. She still has allies, aged but gold, who learned her drill and to bump over relative hurt. Sometimes, she has regrets. Everybody is free to leave or stay; she has tested them enough and hopes to be prepared.
So, at night, when her boyfriend sleeps, Lei leans an ear on his heart till that sound fills her up, and drowsiness wins her psyche.
Turin, Piedmont – Cefalù, Sicily.
Nìvura. I’m tired of losing sanity, escaping reality and myself. In these last five years, I felt like an expressionist painter. Every now and then, I’m enlightened and form theories that give me the right to be me: reasons and patterns that explain why I am who am I and why I feel what I feel.
In Sicilian, nìvuro means nero, like the color black; I don’t know if the language and the dialect, that Camilleri and Montalbano have contributed to spread, are just a detour to pencil and crayon or the product of my last name heritage; still, there’s something about this word that attracts me - I can’t fully understand it myself - yet I feel nìvura, a dark soul inhabiting my white world–making noise, pushing those who love me either miles or close. I choose Lei to tell you my story because I’ve needed distance to analyze my thoughts: very few people have my own blood, even less have my same skin-story. I am not alone in this, there are many adoptees that share more or less the same sentiments; though I am bloody far from any conclusion or resolution.
With that said, at 31 y/o and counting, no doubt that Lei is getting heavier than lead.
This diary is closed.