I really can’t ignore it anymore. Whether it is through emails, texts, calls or videos, I need to start documenting my experience. Videos. Capturing a picture (but also ALWAYS maintaining a level of caution so I don’t get jumped for my iPhone.) This an awesome time in my life and I think it’s because I am scared of my own thoughts as one friend once shared on my instagram, I don’t want to seem vulnerable which seems to be plaguing me all the time, and I’m just flat out making excuses. But excuses no more!
***This is a post that I wrote about 3 weeks ago on Word but I just had to share because I feel like it just encapsulates the randomness of my life here.***
It’s been about 2 months since I’ve been here and writing about my transition and my past experiences is kind of pointless to me so I’ll just start from today. (I know I know this is from several weeks ago, but I just had to share this one specific entry. Welcome to the confusing mind of Tynisha…I’m consolidating my thoughts y’all! ) I went to my Zumba class (which I am loving by the way) and every time I go there, I know the women know of me, but they barely talk to me. It’s a lot of fake smiling and half smiles when we mess up the dances together but today I actually got conversation from them! It’s been over a month since I started attending this class regularly and this is the first time since I’ve been attending that the women (except for my girl Kleidy who is the receptionist) talk to me. They were in awe of my crochet braids. (It’s a form of protective styling specifically for Black women) They were all talking in Portuguese and exclaimed when I walked in “Wow! All this time she had her short Afro, look how long her hair is!” I was thrilled that they were finally acknowledging me, but I also had to set them straight. My limited language skills inhibit me from expanding on society and asking them questions on why do they think I look ‘prettier’ with longer hair. I wanted to delve into the sociological aspect but I guess that’ll have to wait for another day. Ladies, this is not my real hair! I have always found it difficult to explain the process of protective styling to non-women-of-color. The smartass in me always wanted to respond: “Well you see, yesterday I had short hair and since I have this little thing called versatility, I can wake up the next day with hair down to my butt AND in braids!” But I always checked myself. Not offering a legitimate response would just continue the cycle of ignorance and it doesn’t do any good. We can all learn from each other and our different ways of life. I had to tell them that I added synthetic hair to my actual hair and I did this on Segunda-feira. (Monday) they thought I looked great, and I was excited that they were finally talking to me.This was the first time I was having a conversation with them in Portuguese AND both parties could understand one another!
I really do love these Zumba classes. I started attending Zumba classes back home and I was so into it. Not only because I don’t care how I look for one, but also because learning new dances is fun! And what better way to shake, salsa, twerk, and roll while listening to good music and exercising? Zumba is the answer to my life. Sometimes I go to the class (both in the states and in Natal) and I’m lost and confused. It seems like there is a dance for every Brazilian song, and everyone in the class already knows the dance, and I’m just smiling and moving my arms around hoping no one notices that I don’t know what I am doing half of the time. Today, Carlos with his raspy smoker’s voice told us that we’re going to learn a new dance. (Yassss!!) He plays “Work” by Rihanna and I almost roll over from excitement. I don’t know what it is about this song, but it just makes me want to shake ass and tap into my inner islandness. There is nothing I want more than to think I can be in the next Carnival or J’ouvert Caribana in Toronto and these Caribbean songs hype me up. Anyhow, he starts with this new choreography and it’s very island influenced and a lot of rolling of the body, leg shaking and hip winding. The women are lost and laughing just like I am. And for some reason, (LOL, some strange reason) everyone turns to me and asks if they are doing it right. I know I am the only black woman there but it’s interesting to think that everyone thought I was from Angola, despite the fact that I never formally introduced myself to everyone. See how far assumptions can take you? There was one woman who remembered that I was from the states and she pointed and said: “ela é de Nova York!” I nodded at her and in my head I was like “yes girl, set them straight.” I am from NY! Where you can find Caribbean girls everywhere and where we whine, shake ass and roll our bodies. I told them that yes, this is definitely Caribbean influenced and yes, I do have Caribbean blood coursing through me, and yes, Haiti was the first Black Republic in the world. (I didn’t say all of that. History and sociology lessons all in one day…too much, too much!) However I am not the spokesperson on all things Caribbean; let’s ask Carlos how to actually do it. It was great, because although they were asking me questions and I barely had any answers I was just relishing in the fact that I was finally acknowledged and they were talking to me! Small victories my friends, small victories.