Today, I got on the 2 train with hundreds of other passengers, one of which happened to be D.L. Hughley. I ran through a quick story in my head about how he had probably just finished taping at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and so that means he had probably discussed the possibility of doing his show when they were on The View a couple months back. I thought to ask him if he had any Netflix specials in the works, because I really enjoyed Chappelle’s, and I’ve been hearing about Chris Rock having one on the way, and Hughley is my third favorite comedian (Bill Cosby being knocked to position number 4 for obvious reasons), and perhaps the conversation would segue to my latest video review of Noah’s Born A Crime.
This week was already a big networking week for me, so one of my justifications for getting so stuck in my head and not actually saying something was that I’d already met too many people this week to attempt to introduce myself to someone else. Especially not an entertainer who both my dad and I agreed on enjoying. From my days volunteering at The Artist Co-op and meeting other awesome artists, to the Multicultural Summit at HBO, to last night’s screening of Vanessa Hill’s film, Mutant Menu, I have done a month’s worth of ice-breaker introductions, business card sharing, and first-impression-making, that not meeting DL Hughley whilst standing directly in front of him on a rocky train ride was a risk I was willing to take. As for my dad, when I told him that I rode the train with DL Hughley, who btw was preoccupied with his phone (probably on Instagram), my dad said I should have been like, “You’re on your phone with this lovely, young lady standing right in front of you?” The levels to African Dads.
But this isn’t about which celebrities I run into on the train, it’s about the stories that go on in my head at risk of never being shared in the world. At the Mutant Menu afterparty, I was asked the question that is all too expected at this point, “Are you a writer too?” I’m always inclined at first to say no, because truth be told, writing is hard. I love writers, but whenever I think of myself as one, I feel like an imposter because for years I wrote and published sans editor and sans audience, so I started to believe that my work, and my worth, as a writer was nothing. It’s the weirdest thing because sometimes when I think back on the things I’ve written, it’s almost as if I have craft amnesia; it’s not that I didn’t enjoy creating work just from words, but it’s the part where it doesn’t turn into something tangible or visual for others that takes me out of my element. It’s like an athlete neglecting the inclinations of her body because her opponent didn’t show or because the stadium seats were empty.
I think there are books inside of me, but right next to them is also my toughest critic, and my most fervent fan. And perhaps it was never about whether or not I could write, it was always about whether or not I would silence or celebrate the words in my head.