by Sundai Johnson

Street light, yelling at me through split blinds, lighting up car wash across the street like amusement park. Purple haze dancing over freeway. It is hilarity with it's bossy red sign and free vacuums that don't suction--that do not truly clean. Tires crank on black street without sleep. I remember that I am here, and scratch months and moments off a calendar I never look at. I spend most time alone because settling into a new place requires that. I rejected this solitude for a long time. I did not want to confront the ridges in my own soul. I am leaning into them now—and pruning and seeding and blooming. So much of this “soul-scaping” is me discovering who I am in relation to new space and new folks. It is a spiritual outbursting and I am pouring outside of myself.

What it means to claim myself as artist, as writer, as educator, in this time, is a daily consumption in which I latch these titles to my skin. A tumultuous marriage of advocacy and self-preservation, I am cutting loose the formalities of “what I should be doing right now”. I am being guided by my deep down and reveling in my newly formed malleability. I have prior been consumed with pushing my work, allowing it’s nature as public to be a validation of its value. In this season, my core is pulling me inward to grapple in both my stillness and movement. This too is where my “work”, my writing, my craft, will live.

When I launched my work through a digital medium, it was intended as a catch-all to display how I navigate through my world. While it continues to exist in this way to some extent, it now operates primarily as a portfolio of sorts.

My outward and daily existence functions as active resistance. And thus, right now, I need for my writing to be my catharsis as I build, not only a body of work, but a body of a deepened understanding of my own thrivings. As an a artist, a writer, the purpose of my work can sometimes get lost in it’s nature as public, and guarding space for that rediscovery and realignment is an ever-present necessity.

I live my life in stories and am preparing them for the telling.