By Sika J Anybody familiar with The Golden Girls knows when Sophia says, “Picture it, Sicilia, 1969,” a damn good story is to follow. Well, how bout I...
By Sika J
Anybody familiar with The Golden Girls knows when Sophia says, “Picture it, Sicilia, 1969,” a damn good story is to follow. Well, how bout I flip the script.
Picture it, 2017, West Jackson, intersectional railroad of Livingston and Ridgeway road, one block from the famous Bully’s restaurant. There is a tower that overheads the neighborhood. The entire area that houses the tower is a bit creepy. For years, I’ve passed the abandoned land, wondering two things, “What did this use to be? What happened over there and what’s in there?” but just like any other empty lot, never would I have imagined that my feet would venture through such a vacant wide open space. No limits. No boundaries. No rules. No restrictions. No safety net, whatsoever. Who knew a snapping a few photos would result into a spiritual journey? Not me and certainly not T.J.
T.J. had the clever idea of us being dropped off. I mean, who knew Fondren was one weird street from West Jackson. We probably could’ve walked to the destination from Sneaky Beans but his great friend, Jessica the greatest uber driver in all the lands, scooped us up in good ole fashion, busting a U-Turn in middle of State Street and parking it in front of Fondren Corner for our quick vehicle interest. Swerve riiiiggghhhht, swerve leeeffftttttt, Jessica should be a derby driver, she so wild with it and literally gives no fucks. At this moment, I knew I was in for an adventure. The jokes immediately began cracking on the short trip to our destination. Little did I know, this shit was about to blow my damn mind.
So, Jessica drops us off. Yes, I said dropped off. I was baffled beyond words at this point. Actually, baffled into silence. My mind was racing, “Wait! So she leaving us. We in the middle of nowhere. Its cold. My wallet and shit in her car. It will get dark soon. This West Jackson and we ain’t strapped. Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?” were all the thoughts that crossed my mind as T.J. was super amped telling me about his last journey to this place. He got stopped by some top flight security while scoping the place out and doing a test shoot. As he was telling me this story, I was halfway listening because I was freaked the fuck out. “Maaaannnnnn, black folks don’t do shit like this. We like to be safe and sheltered, not all out in the wild and shit, without a concrete plan.” while getting pulled up this concrete slab where I placed my coffee cup to mark the spot where we started the journey. Man, my ass would be so happy to see this cup towards the end.
As soon as T.J. pulled me up, I saw all kinds of shit. Ditches, trenches, bricks, streams, mud, weird animals and bugs, wires, piles of shit, rusted bars of steel, trees, and stumps, empty gravel lots. I gave T.J. the “You know you got me fucked up, right?” look and in return, he gave me the “If you don’t bring yo ass on, we racing with the sun,” look. As I looked at him, in shorts, as I am covered from head to toe and watching him jump ditches like Superman, I linger while whining, “T.J. I CANT DO THIS! COME BACK! HELP ME!” He would turn around with this slick grin and wave his hand while saying, “Come on girl, you got it.” So we finally made it to the first spot. It took me about ten minutes to make it and to stop bitching. The walk was only a couple of seconds but the reality in my head made it seem like dozens of minutes had gone by. All props are pulled out and we began. T.J. knew the concept of the EP before the shoot, so came prepared with a meal tray, plate, utensils, and fucking bat.
The first shots were met sitting on this tire. This tire was dirty as fuck. So it just made me really look at my surroundings. “Where the fuck are we are? What the fuck used to be here? This shit is eerie.” The sun was the only thing at this point keeping me sane. We moved on the smashing the plate with the bat. This particular moment symbolizes me breaking into a new era in my life. T.J. is familiar with my health struggles or whatnot and he wanted to capture some anger within me while capturing me releasing the anger. I mean, hey, when you have sickle cell like me, there are some days you actually fucking hate the feeling of FEELINGS, you get that? Sometimes, I wake up, I hate the way I feel physically and that makes me crappy mentally and then I hate feelings in two different ways at the same time. This is why I try so hard to keep my spirits high because my health can take its own toll on my mind and body, to the point where I have no control whatsoever. Ever since I decided to pay close attention to my soul and spirit, I have been able to deal better now than I did in the past. So breaking this damn plate, those were the thoughts processing through me as I smashed the fuck out of that plate. I swung so hard that cut my hands and busted blood vessels in my hands. My hands are throbbing at this moment. All of a sudden, I WAS DOWN!
“Man, come on, let’s do this shit, what’s next?” And he pulls out the smoke bombs while explaining what type of shot we were aiming for. We had two but there was only one that functioned. As I stood there, I felt warmness creeping up my leg not realizing the bomb was going up my leg. Literally, no shit, my shoe still has residue on it and reeks of the residue. As the smoke dissipated, I opened my eyes in amazement and followed directions. When the bomb was over, we turned around and pinkness was seeping into the sunset. Yes, the sun began setting at this point. THAT SHIT WAS UNBELIEVABLELY BEAUTIFUL! At this moment, I’m just amazed at the beauty created made before me. We added to the sunset, yo. Then, bloop! It hit me, “shit it is getting dark, we should head back to solid ground.” but T.J. had other plans. Moving along, he had the brick mounds set on his heart and he was gone get those shots. So imagine Super Mario Bro game and how he has to jump from lily pad to lily pad. Well, our lily pads were brick mounds and I kid you not, step on the wrong brick and your ass is grass! TALMBOUT a brick tsunami, that is what we were in the midst of wrapped in rusted bars sticking everywhere, had we fell or cut ourselves, a technical shot would have been a no-brainer.
We had no choice but to move slow in this area. I carefully watched each step I took and I felt like I was in some obstacle course that I could not fail, so I became focused until we found our spot. It was almost dark now, which is what he needed to start doing light shots. I didn’t know what was going on, all I know is, I could not move as he maneuvered around me. We did this for another 20 minutes or so. A feeling of relief overcame me because I thought we were done. He shoots Jessica a text and she responds that she is running behind so another idea popped in his head and we moved to another spot. Once again, the bitch in me began coming out. For some reason, it feels like T.J. knows how to work with different variety of people because he handled me so easy. I know how bad of a bitch I can be but it did not phase him. We crept through the land and made it to our last spot.
This shit was freaking. Men In Black scary. There was an area of land that appeared to be blown up by a bomb of some sort, so there was a huge hole. Had we been walking and not paying any attention, we would have fell into that massive hole. The hole was probably a mile wide and half a mile deep. There were sections that had dark areas that just felt like some zombie or something would walk out and look up at us and come after us. It was so so so freaky. Had it not been so dark, we would have taken photos. Never in my life, have I seen an area so scary. After gawking at this discovery, we started back shooting. Jessica finally heads back in our direction and we decided to head back to our starting point. I’m fucking scared at this moment, mainly because it is dark, so I’m thinking about snakes and all kinds of weird shit happening to us. I bitched all the way back and got stuck on the very last leg because I was too terrified to jump a ditch in the dark. “What if I fall? What will happen? I don’t want to find out.” T.J. left me at this point so I had to pull my granny panties up and figure that shit out. When I saw my coffee cup, I could’ve shouted. I was so happy. Then, another bump in the road.
Jessica ends up on Livingston Road in Madison, Ms and not Jackson. Her battery was dying. She had no charger and she was spazzing and needing to get home because her cat was attacked. T.J. calmed her down and talked her to our destination, but this was another 30 mintues of waiting. It was getting colder and colder, darker and darker. A white boy and little black girl with camera equipment standing in a vacant lot looking dumb. I was scared. No lie. When she made it, the good Lawd knows I thanked the shit out of him for closing this journey, safely. As we ride back to our vehicle, I listen to T.J. explain the shoot to her. He was stoked. It made me smile in this weird way because I did not think he enjoyed it, considering all my bitching, but I was wrong. As I sit in the back, so many thoughts started rushing to me. T.J. mentions the words, ‘spiritual journey,’ and it hit me. That is exactly what we just experienced, an unexpected journey, and a spiritual one, at that.
So check this out. There are things in life that look us straight forward in the face. As we look right back at those things, we try to convince those things, that we are not “the one” they are looking for because of several reasons, fear, laziness, or whatever your reason may be. Thing is…. when SOMETHING or SOMEONE is presented on your path of life, its directly for you. No matter how you feel about it and no matter how bad you don’t want it. I stalled jumping ditches and trenches that would normally take 2 seconds to jump. It took me five to ten minutes to cross every spot like this. It made me realize that fear only exist because that is a crutch we are comfortable with leaning on, in order to escape the unknown. Crossing over those ditches WAS NOT A BIG FUCKING DEAL AT ALL but I made it one. Wandering through that land, I realized after the fact, that I was amongst unmarked territory. Something used to be an establishment where we stood. We stood on top of demolition and decayed memories. We browsed through a once life filled place in order to create art. We traveled by foot to express that I am indeed going through a life journey that requires me to get myself together in order to do what I am meant to do. I was meant to convey messages with T.J. on this day and instead, messages came to me, in all forms and are still traveling my way. Standing on a hilltop of bricks was empowering. To look out from me and see unending land represented a never ending journey that awaits. The terror I experienced was not even terror, it was a test.
Listen, if we would pause and not focus on what we do not want or what we do not want to do, we would not miss so much shit in life. Had I not been worried about the “what ifs” I could have gotten so much more from this experience. Although I got plenty, there was more to be got and I missed out on it because of my humanistic selfish ways. The Universe “sets us up” everyday. We walk blindly. We walk with our feelings instead of our souls and spirits. I got home and could not stop texting Malcolm. Something had been stirred inside of me and I needed to breakdown this experience, in order to understand it. So much stood out to me. Everything about me, recently, has been a spiritual journey. Whether it be my health, my spirit, my artistry, or life in general, things have been adjusting and changing in a way that is stepping me up for such a prosperous future. If I can let go of fear and the unknown, I can go anywhere and I can do any fucking thing imaginable. This UnExpected Journey is the essence of what my EP artwork represents. It’s a clusterfuck of things going on in my art work, but there stands a substantial message in it. Me breaking into this artistry on the solo tip has been a spiritual journey as well. I can safely say, this thing has came around full circle and everything about it is divine. All I had to do was pay attention to the SIGNS! The Meal Plan is on the way. And little does T.J. knows, not only did we bond and form a strong friendship, he has became one of my spiritual guides. We were lead to each other and I see us parting no time soon. Be thankful for who you are, that’s all I can say. I’m so thankful to have this life.