Sometimes it is the sound of an object that draws you to a moment. Rubber, wrapped in leather, bouncing against a typically polished hard wood floor, but not always – sometimes it is cement – is a round of applause that welcomes me to the game: basketball.
This object is made of raw materials found on earth, and infused by a pressurized atmospheric element that allows me to breathe, as if in meditation, whenever I hold it. Hard work has feelings, and they reside here between the raised bumps of leather that grip my fingers and imprint them with a sense of accomplishment. You’ve earned this – whether this was finishing my homework so I could go outside and play in the street or this was getting a college scholarship – it was my academics that have enabled me to hoop. And it is the academics that have encouraged me to write. I need to breathe a new bounce into my pounds per square inch (psi).
Truth be told, it has been years since I’ve picked up a ball. The memories evoked are complicated, and even though the sound always remains inviting, it is an RSVP I mark with regret. I lost so much of myself to this game, in equally wonderful and disheartening ways. It is not my actions I wish to survey, but the ideology I consumed on my journey to be great – a hegemonic masculinity inherently designed to disenfranchise women under the guise of false empowerment.
It is only in the absence of such reinforcement that I have become aware of a great heart presence burning within my cage. This feminine awakening is an executioner igniting fires to illuminate what has been erased. I am learning, it is not the same as never having been. For the better part of a decade, I have enjoyed the discovery of seeing myself as a woman for the first time, many times, while others, particularly men, coincidentally like me less for questioning an experience that has “given” me so much. Men who suddenly are confused to see me so clearly as a woman, rather than say, their “little sister” or “only daughter” or “just friends.” What exactly, is preventing men from evolving past these optics?
So much of my writing is an act of remembering all the things I was told to forget. The stakes are high because I need those things, things that I didn’t need to earn nor show. But certainly have.