I knew you when I was too young to make sense of anything, and the truth is I’m just now figuring things out. Like how you are the only man who has ever seen me and believed in what I can do. Who has been on my team?
You were the personification of a lake at dawn. I walked all over you with your joyous permission, creating tides, and ripples in your stillness. You weren’t scared of the fire I exuded.
Standing no more than 4 feet, I sparked and spewed demands. Flashing a spell ridden grin, I mustered up some delicious reason for why I didn’t need to do the class assignment. You peered down at your mini antagonist, astounded by your unexpected defeat. How could you say no?
I am still convinced I was your favorite student.
“Parisia…” you always left your sentences blank, allowing me to fill in the rest.
“…is working,” my attention was focused on the computer ahead of me.
It was like watching a genius in their becoming.
“But not on what I have assigned for class…”
You never argued with me, that was asking for demise. You see, you and I, we reasoned.
I reasoned, “I’m writing a novel, Mr. Man.”
I continued on, and you walked away because who would dare force a genius to practice typing when she was conducting.
I have yet to finish that novel, I type like a chicken, but I’ll finish.
Dear Mr. Man in the modular, if I closed my eyes now, I can see you perfectly. You stand tall as a scaling tree, beard as white as the lines on a pavement, hands as common as the average working man, hunched over my shoulders as a guiding umbrella, and even when I was rebellious (your words, not mine); eyes shining as unequivocally as your nature.
This was the time in my life where being a “black girl” was the worst thing I could ever be. You watched how they mistreated me, not lethargically, but with uncertainty.
You didn’t understand how they could treat such a special little girl with cruelty.
So you created a space where I felt beautiful.
That modular, that classroom they confined you in, became my safe haven. It’s capacity always expanding, you still existing in it, my joy only surviving because of it.
After recess, I’d barge into class during your preparation time and rambunctiously (your words) demand attention. You always sitting back with a grin on your face, quiet, and so excited by such a vivacious, intelligent, valuable, and admirable girl (your words, not mine).
Even when I matured, becoming testy, bossy and insecure, your vision of me didn’t waver.
You have seen and loved me in every state I have found myself in.
Nine years later I would have graduated to become a know it all with every insecurity in the world. We would have little to no interactions.
But you were always there:
Liking the latest track photos my dad posted.
Leaving comments beneath the self-discovering epics, I composed.
I still haven’t found a way to grieve you.
It feels much better holding on. The moments when I’m conscious of your loss leaves deterioration upon my cheeks; tears bearing down, carving canals, leading to nowhere.
Sometimes I just want to go nowhere. Sometimes I want to run to your modular.
Thank you for cultivating my defiance instead of punishing me for it. You cheered me on, taking a spot on my team.
Thank you for not stripping my black girl identity but admiring it.
Every day I read the last words you said to me
I admire you Mr. Man for how you quietly set my heart on fire.
There are times when I lose sight of my own self. Trying so hard to forget the pain I lose grasp of any lasting memory.
But I always reach back and pull you in. Your memory encourages me and so I keep conducting, testing societies limits, and rebelling against authority. You taught me some great lessons Mr.Man.
Miss. Parisia B.