Here Comes the Sun is Nia Simone’s first piece for Cult of Americana
The mirror was my sworn enemy. I gave it the evil eyes as I noticed my kinky curls were growing like weeds from my scalp. The contrast between my thick unruly kinks and my thin relaxed ends made me sick to my stomach. This was not what I wanted to be.
I was six weeks out from chemically strengthening my hair. My aunt told me to “make it work” until the end of the month, until the direct deposit hit and I could return to the land of the beautiful people (a.k.a The Dominican Hair Salon).
I wore a grey beanie in the unforgiving heat of July for a week straight.
I wanted to be like her. I sat in front of the television criss-cross applesauce as Beyonce performed Single Ladies at the 2009 VMAs. She glittered like a Soul Train disco ball and captivated audiences with her presence alone. Her hair ran like a lion’s mane down her back and her skin was like caramel.
It was like God poured a little bit more sunshine into her than he did me.
That night I took the sink sponge to my skin like peeler to fruit, and hoped to step away from the shade once and for all. I sat for hours and scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed until I bled.
Then I smiled.
Feeding off of instant gratification is a dangerous game to play. I started to frequent ChatRoulette, a video chatting site with a horrendous reputation.
I was digging to find a rose in a minefield. It was a necessary evil, having such unfettered positivity lying beneath my skin.
The twist of sexualization and belittlement that I was often confronted with on the site confused me.
But, I adapted.
I began to grow comfortable with people taking pieces of me and not saying thank you. I chose the life of the less gratified because I didn’t see a place for me out there in the sun.
One boy my age talked to me for thirty minutes straight. His smile was like a warm cup of chamomile tea. His comforting words intoxicated me, but as time went on he began to push me into being someone I wasn’t.
At exactly the thirty minute mark, his demeanor changed. He called me a “dark ugly monkey bitch” and hung up as fast as he possibly could. I felt the blood rush from my face.
That night, I scrubbed again. It felt like home.
Pain brings company, and I was never opposed to that.
Freshman year, I made a friend who’d do my makeup every once in a while. I’d sit in her six by eight foot dorm on a raggedy desk chair as she transformed me into a modern day Mona Lisa; the glass ceiling of my beauty.
She’d always let me play Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange through her speakers while I was being transformed. The melody melted like molasses down my throat:
“Keeping it surreal, not sugar-free, my TV ain’t HD, that’s too real…”
Once she was finished and I got to look into the mirror; I felt closer to the sun.
My first and last out of body experience was at 19. I was in a brown high-waisted bikini. My Brazilian sew-in tickled my shoulders. My bronzed highlight rivaled the sparkle of crystals. I had mastered the art of fitting in the world’s jewelry box.
I was laid out at the neighborhood pool when I heard an elderly black lady tell her rambunctious child, “Don’t spend too much time in the sun, you’ll get too dark like her.”
Too dark. Was this a limbo of sorts? Somewhere between a lively black consciousness and the Sunken Place?
I began to float. I watched myself laid onto the white lounge chair, eyes subconsciously rolled over into the oblivion of the “too dark”.
I gravitated up until I hit the glass ceiling. I didn’t know where I was, but it filled me with a fire that I had given up searching for years ago. I was more than motivated to keep searching for the source. I started to run into golden vines and followed them until they intertwined into some type of momentous gate.
I flew; I flew; I flew until I found someone that looked familiar.
He said, “I made you like bark. I made you like mud. You come from Mother Nature so your light will shine forever.”
I never doubted Him after that. Soon after that, I began dipping my roots into the soil and I grew.
Slowly, but I grew.
Until the ceiling shattered.