P / P Introspective: Why I Light Candles

You must understand, when you’re born and raised in Baltimore, there’s a certain type of paranoia you experience when you’re in the dark. Yes, it could be because of violence, it could be of abuse and drugs, but over in my neighborhood where middle class families, college students and 30+ artists all mingle peacefully with the homeless, my paranoia more or less has to do with invasion of my privacy.

Don’t get me wrong, a little over a year ago, five blocks down the street, my neighborhood did insight the worries of needles on the sidewalk and the safety of the prostitutes I would hear being beaten in the downstairs apartment, but yes, in my current home, during this season, I only worry about 5-0…and now that I write it, I guess no matter where you live in Baltimore, being Black and from this small, complex City, our fears are all the same.

My partner had to go back into my apartment to look for something after we’d been mingling on my porch. After a couple of minutes, I followed him in and, I saw him shining a flashlight over my desk. He found the item he was looking for on my lounge chair, after I turned the light, and when we stepped back out onto my porch to chat, I asked him accusingly, “This is the second time you were looking around my desk…” He replied, “What are you hiding on your desk?” I replied, “I think you’re five-0.”

He sat down nonchalantly, a non Black person from Chicago, and said, “My intentions are good.” I explained, that being from I’m from Baltimore and African American (which he knew and could see), and because he is not Black and not from here, a part of me is always going to think he’s a five-0. It’s not personal.

To backtrack, I have nothing suspicious on my desk, I was just suspicious of him because one night I was laying in bed and I received the request to blow out a white candle I had burning. The light interrupted his sleep. I light candles to keep my mind calm and to protect my psyche from having bad dreams. It just brings serenity to me. I did what was requested, and blew out the candle, but soon after, my imagination began to run wild. I began to make up this wild story in my head that he as an undercover. Yes, it is funny. I literally do nothing illegal…but of course, being a radical feminist in some people’s mind may be cause for intrusion, but I have to express that the fear, and the wild little bout of paranoia was simply because the dark just makes me feel a bit anxious.

While he was sound asleep, I lit the candle again and fell asleep for a few hours.

That’s why I keep candles lit.

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