My #BeReal guest today is Ra Avis.
But they’d also tell you, for all my whimsicality, I am real.
I take responsibility for the footsteps and people I’ve left behind.
To be real in present tense is to take ownership of your past tense, and stake claim in your future.
To be real is to accept your journey.
To be real is to be your own light, and not let someone else color your path. Not the one you’ve walked or crawled, not the patch where you have made your stands, and not the possibility of what comes after that next mountain.
I color myself. I light my own way…
and sometimes that means I run into dark, and sometimes that means I run out of rainbows…
but when you are real to yourself, then you know that being lost is just part of finding the best way forward.
When people see me, I’d like them to see the whimsicality, but there’d be no reason to. I am very ordinary, on the outside. I smile a lot, and I’d like people to see what a victory that is, but I don’t think that shows either.
I went to prison, you know. I served 438 days. Exactly one year in, my husband died. I’ve been sick, in hospitals for days. I’ve lost people close to me. I have anxiety attacks that lock me into form. I don’t know to drive, and the ignorance of that sits comfortably with my education. All of it surprises people…
none of it left scars on my face.
None of the fairy tales I saw die left an imprint on my skin, none of the wishes I lost wrote themselves into the braids of my hair.
So few people write a destiny that can be read at a glance, so I’ve learned to look closer, to listen more carefully. For most people, life happens so fast that it barely leaves a mark. In this one way, I am like most people.
Life happened to me, and I happened to life.
The girls inside would say, I was down 438 days, and maybe that’s true. I’ve been left, right, up, down, inside, outside. I’ve been ignorant, educated, beautiful, plain, rich, poor, remembered, forgotten. I hardly know the difference anymore, if there ever was a difference. It doesn’t matter. Wherever I’m standing is a place I own.
I own my reality– my past and my present.
I am making my future.
It’s the gift of being real.
Ra lives and loves in Los Angeles and the internet, where frightfully wondrous things happen. She is a once-upon-a-time inmate, a reluctantly-optimistic widow, an exponential storyteller, and also basically a dinosaur. Her own story is a long one, but the short version is she (probably) loves you.