2am In Philadelphia

I’m awake again. In my apartment. As usual. I find myself compelled to type some words at this hour, to unwind my thoughts and give it a time and location. But don’t get it twisted. This isn’t about Drake. As impressive as Aubrey has been at riding the same wave of topics through some exceptional production for at least six albums now, his Time/ Place tracks have been the standout in terms of him excellently unwrapping his real self just a bit more, and having given Certified Lover Boy the obligatory one spin, “7am On The Bridle Path,” is no exception — but still, this isn’t about Drake. This is about me, unwrapping myself, just a bit more.

You ever wonder if you’re laying too much bare? If you expose your heart so much pumping blood and too many people are walking in the puddles? I’ve taught myself that writing is honest. It’s the best lesson I’ve learned and the first one I teach. Writing is honest. And honesty is fearless in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. Which begs the question, with as much as I’ve revealed, when did I stop being honest?

The truth is that burnout sneaks up on you. It’s insidious and lonely, poised to attach itself to you at the first hint of stress and fatigue. I don’t think about being burnt out; I think about being tired. I think about being anxious. I think about being lonely. I think about my words being stuck. I think about my family leaning so heavily. But there’s more to tiredness when I’m sleeping in every random slot of hours except the ones I’m supposed to. And there’s more to anxiety if I think about leaving whenever I’m home and think about going home whenever I’ve left. And more to loneliness when all you want is protection but you know better than to trust anyone who offers it. More to writer’s block when you question every word as soon as it’s down on the paper. And still more to leaning when I want to leave this place and never return. This is burnout. But I don’t think about it.

I wrote something last month, about reentry. About returning home. And how it’s been an exposure of everything I thought I knew. How it changed me. But not what I’ve done about it. Not how I’ve fought back, not how I survived. And maybe that’s because I don’t feel like I have. I wrote something else last month about losing my chance to be a mom. But still nothing about how terrifying it’s been to have to rethink every plan I had for myself with that in mind. I bared myself, yet again, because I fully believe my best work manifests when I’m being honest. But sometimes I worry that I’ve juxtaposed ripping my own chest open against connecting through trauma and called it honesty. It’s important for me to tell the truth. And the truth is that I’ve done a piss poor job of shielding myself from the effects of telling my own story. I’ve been wanting people to understand me better, know me more, feel me deeper. But I haven’t taken a single minute to ask myself if my revelations have helped me know myself more. And the truth of that is — I’m too damn scattered to think about it.

Vomiting my angst on the pages won’t soothe anything when I can’t even acknowledge to myself that I am afraid of what the last five years means for the rest of my life. And that I haven’t even begun to figure it out. Revealing myself hasn’t made me honest; I’m lying every time I don’t say that sometimes I don’t know who I am anymore; that the world has gone from regularly scary to constantly horrifying and I’m lost without the optimism I shielded myself with before I knew the shield wasn’t real. Everything is on fire and I am no exception. I’m burnt out. And burning. I don’t know what happens when the fire’s out. I won’t give you the trope about rising from the ashes. I just hope the wind doesn’t blow them away.

Writer. Fat Girl. Whiskey Lover. Hip-Hop Head. Creator. Magical Being.

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Shameka Erby

Writer. Fat Girl. Whiskey Lover. Hip-Hop Head. Creator. Magical Being.