• Lani V

Writing Black Daze: Water

before BD was Black Daze, it was actually Black Days. meant to be a compilation of poems all synonymously titled "black days"—each one was written to describe a kind of destruction of a world. to tie back to an overarching rapture. the rapture was my life. and black days came to me because literally, my days were black. in July of 2019, i’d just moved to nj to work as a teacher artist in nyc. new york city, the city where dreams are made of… or say they say. maybe since my decision to pack up a huge suitcase and drive all the way down from ohio was a little premature, shit got real, real QUICK. i remember the day i arrived quite vividly and gazing at the city's skyline from across the river. a deep churning swallowed my gut. i remember thinking, i dont know anyone here. how the hell am i going to survive in this place? and then in quick succession, trying to reassure myself that i'd lived in major cities like london and chicago and somehow navigated those. but if i was being honest with myself (which i wasn't), this move felt different. even if it was supposed to be temporary.

i began writing black daze with no idea on how it was going to end. or when it was going to end.

then, my six weeks of being a teacher artist commenced. and my living situation was less than ideal: i was sleeping on a thin cot in a tiny, musty livingroom. it was always dark due to one lone window that faced a brick wall and was also covered by heavy drapes. there wasn’t any ac, or privacy, and very rarely, only cracks of natural light managed to slip in. because the only people i knew in the city were the high school youth i was working with and my two colleagues, i was always in that livingroom. time was merely a construct in that dark place. and i counted the days until i return back home. i began writing black daze with no idea on how it was going to end. or when it was going to end. i was writing for the times i was in. the words came out of me to catch me from falling deeper into a spiral. when I look back at the person who started writing, i see an unsure girl. unsure about a lot of things. but she was sure of one thing and that was the pain she was experiencing in July of 2019, which was far too great to ignore. if anything, black days was a cry for help. and if there was one place where I didn’t need to suppress my cries, it was in poetry. honestly, i don’t know where i would be right now if I hadn’t written my first “black days” poem.

i cried a lot from july to october. i think I cried more in that period of time than in my whole life. i made the decision to stay in nyc/nj and i was living with it. my decision to stay was based purely off the last two weeks of my six week contract. because I had a great time. met some dope people, went to a few cool events, ate good food--enjoyed what nyc had to offer. and i finally didn’t get lost using the subway system. suddenly I was convincing myself that if i stayed and found my own place, built a community, and challenged myself to go outside of my comfort zone, contentment would surely be waiting for me on the other side. mind you—i was watching a lot of tv shows and movies. some took place in nyc. i saw on the screen what a good life in the big apple looked like. and though none of the characters looked like me, my thoughts were that I just had to work for it. i was naive. but im not too hard on myself about that anymore. i was 22, fresh out of college, and didn’t know a whole lot. so to circle back, I cried a lot.

nevertheless, music was my saving grace. you’ll see a lot of it in BD, particularly in water. there was something about songs that i found solace in. the lyrics constructed a safe haven. the melodious phrases echoed my sentiments. the humming assured me that another day was coming. and new days promised changes soon to come. possibly silver nights. music was that glimmer of light during my black days. i remember writing “down the (sink)hole” and all i can say is that poetry saved me.

the humming assured me that another day was coming. and new days promised changes soon to come.

i soon saw that even though I had everything i thought i wanted—my own four walls (with an abundance of natural light), a new job, friends to go out with, the black days wasn’t over. it hadn’t magically disappeared like it was supposed to. the whole idea that I was writing for the times turned out to be… false. because black days wasn’t a time. it was merely a stage of the black daze. raptures don’t come all at once. it’s gradual. and the daze doesn’t leave until you’ve weathered all the elements.

thanks for reading the first post of my "writing black daze" series. feel free to leave comments, ask questions, and subscribe to know when the next post drops.

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