Cicatrizes

unnamed-9This is it.

It’s for sale.

This time last year I released “Hunger”. What started out as an attempt to pay rent, turned into a labor of love and a secret affair. Here’s my attempt at travel writing.

“Cicatrizes” by Nia Hampton, edited by Bani Amor, designed and formatted by Maya Rodriguez, featuring a special story by Davi Nunes.
gumroad coverpics2 (1)

Cicatrizes

  
Cicatrizes is a mixed media ebook written by me and designed by Maya Rodriguez. Featuring short stories, poetry, prayers, a recipe and a spell, this is a more personal look into my time in Brazil. Available for pre-order here.

The first time I died.

And everyone I had ever knew

Or had ever had knew me died as well.

Shooting into the black hole of the universe

The ego dries away like rain on the concrete

The light of the smallness of your existence is the sun

And at first it’s horrifying

But that’s just your ego crying at its loss of self.

Once you die, the fun begins.

The second time I had gone through a lot of internal monologues

“Am I doing drugs?”

Yes. Well. Kinda.

“That’s what people who do drugs say”

But it’s helping me, it’s medicine.

“Is it?”

I think so.

Well, let’s see what happens this time.

The third time the ancestors told me to take my black ass home.

I danced around the bonfire and felt the party that is my melanin

But as the song changed I got tired.

Like really tired.

And I just wanted to hold my grandma’s hands.

Or put my nose in my mother’s hair.

So my ancestors said, take ya ass home now girl.

“Okay.” I said.

And finally bought a return ticket.

The fourth time I came all over myself.

Masturbated in front of shrines in an impeccably clean bathroom.

And when someone walked in on me

-perhaps she was coming to do the same thing

We giggled like toddlers discovering their genitalia for the first time.

The second time I saw my future kids

I saw a curly haired boy peak out to me

His eyelashes beating down like wings

“Mommy, when we come down can we-“

“Shut up” I cried.

“But Ma-“

Why do you want to come here now?

Why not come as a dinosaur or come down 1000 years from now

When we’re all in space and 4 dimensional.

He said, “What’s 4 dimensional mean mommy?”

I still don’t know son.

This last time I almost never came back.

My ego must have gotten tired of me working her out so she ran away

She was chilling in the black hole,

Now that she likes the way it feels she think she can just up and leave when she wants.

But I’ll show her.

She don’t run this show no more.

I do.

And when people ask what I was doing in Brazil

On those beaches and in those woods

Chanting with those hippies, dancing in front those flames

Drinking the tea.

Doing drugs, as some would call it.

Joining a cult as one friend thought it.

I’ll just smile and tell them to read my book

There is no shame in this particular secret.

Anymore.

“Spiritual Shit” #tbt

Last night I met a beautiful young Afro Brazilian professor who told me she could see my Orisha and she thinks it’s Iamsa. Iamsa is also known as Oya.

Oya/Iamsa is a warrior mother of nine who travels far and takes no shit. She’s the type of mom who’ll kiss her kids goodnight then ride a wave to another dimension, make some money, gain some knowledge, acquire a few lovers, shake some shit up, change everything then bounce. She is wind, hurricanes, tropical storms.  She is the guardian of the gates of death. She is the epitome of feminine power and necessary albeit sudden change. She is devastating. Something that I recently decided I wanted to be.

If Iamsa is my orisha then does that mean I should look to her for advice, direction? I think so. I feel a kinship to her story in regards to travel. It was said that she was married to Ogun before she left him for Shango. She saved his life one time by being inquisitive and since then was able to spit fire out of her mouth. She fights by her lover Shango’s side. Children of Iamsa are said to be outgoing, adventurous, spiritual and have the ability to commune with the dead.

My family has always been very spiritual, many people have dreams of the dead, know when someone is about pass etc. But my loved ones who left have never ever visited me. I was always very hurt about it. I actually prayed that my Dad would visit me in a dream at least, to no avail. I know a lot of dead people and have always felt stalked by death’s presence, like it was just always waiting on me. Technically it is, but I always felt as if it was right around the corner. It wasn’t until I was riding in a bus on a rainy night up the Ecuadorian Amazon, certain that I was going to die that I realized that being in death’s presence doesn’t have to be a bad or scary thing. I think learning more about Oya and her power with help me reconcile my feeling with the various encounters with death. I got a lot of dead people who have to cross over so that I can finally move on and begin to live. Hopefully this process isn’t too scary.

“Drenched in Light” #tbt

Words can’t suffice what she put me through. Or better yet, what she took me out of. But this is my first attempt. If you’re reading this and it resonates, set intentions to begin the journey of finding her as she’s already called you. Mama Aya asks for nothing but submission. You have to let her ride you or you’ll drown. Once you drink her and you sit you will go some place completely new. Everyone’s experience of her is different.

I’m a young black woman from West Baltimore who thought she knew the gauntlet of human suffering. Drug addicted father dies leaving an aspiring actress of a mom single and stuck with two kids, is how the synopsis of my childhood could read, but it is beautiful despite its challenges. And I believe in the respectability politics that were spoon-fed to my generation through Cosby show reruns and Saturday morning cartoons. I go hard in high school, avoiding the cute blacks boys cause pregnancy means I’m stuck in the ghetto, doomed to live out my life like a hood novel. I apply to all out of state colleges; because there is just no way I can be who I want to be in Baltimore. But money is funny and I end up in Baltimore County, at an University of Maryland School, that is NOT College Park. I fall in love, a few times. I lose my mind, often. I take anti depressants and laugh when a good friend of mine tells me their Mom has cancer. I stop taking anti depressants. I lose my virginity and a bit of my self-esteem to someone whose life would end on a corner in Park Heights, police sirens and running feet would have been the accompanying soundtrack, I imagine.  I try to shrink myself. I cut off my dreadlocks, and mourn in a Bikram Yoga studio where sweat substitutes for tears. I continue my acupuncture treatments and my friends put me on suicide watch. I study abroad in Ecuador. This accelerates my experimentation with long-term travel into a full blown addiction. I come back home in one piece physically but I can see the scars of my time in the University system beginning to keloid.

After graduating college this May, I saved my money made at my summer job teaching literacy to elementary students, booked a cheap round trip and woke up in Salvador, Bahia, Brasil. Time has always been a hard concept for me to grasp, but here, it doesn’t seem to exist. Everything here comes and goes in waves ,like Yemaya.

Anyway, I make friends here. I sit on the beach. I smoke. I meditate. I pontificate. I sleep. “I’m doing nothing,” my ego says. As usual my ego is wrong. A month into my journey here, she finally calls me. My dear friend, a black woman studying shamanism is ready to be my guide. My midwife, if you will. She and another kind soul I know led the ceremony. We are in a soft space, in a favela, right on the beach. The ocean waves crash in and slide out. To prepare myself for this, I’ve only eaten one Brazilian white flesh sweet potato. The day before I cut out off my all my hair, again. I’ve discovered that these things are apart of my ritual. No one told me this was necessary, it just felt so. Mama Aya is like that. Nothing makes sense until it does. We sit in a circle and talk. I’ve asked a million questions by now like a good college grad. I even watched a cheesy documentary about rich white people going to Peru to get “cleansed”. Side eyes aside, I knew this was something I had to experience for myself. We sit in a circle. Meditate. Set intentions. My intentions are set to heal. Heal and release all the pain and trauma that was put on me like a birthright. I’m a dark girl, and I’m not just talking about my melanin.

We gather in a circle and pray. “Our father who art in heaven…” I think about what my Christian grandmother, daughter to a mother who built her church from the ground up would say if she knew what I was doing. “hallowed be thy name…”I think about the series of prayers I wrote to my body, my heart, my intuition, myvagina and my mind. I closed those prayers in my name. I’m surprised that I can recite the Lord’s Prayer without a second thought, forgetting that things you learn in childhood are often the hardest to forget. We say the Ava Maria in Portuguese. We cleanse ourselves in sage. There are three women, including myself and two men. We all drink from the same cup. She is brown and tastes like prune juice. She smells like patchouli and breath. We sit and wait. After what feels like an hour passes I feel nothing but tired and decide that this was all hype and nothing will happen. I won’t throw up my darkness and purge like I was told. I’ll probably just fall asleep. I do just that.

Moments later, I wake up to feel the formation of tears in my eyes. I can literally feel iodine traveling to my tear ducts. Tears stretch across my eyelashes; they feel hot and sticky but fall so gently onto my face. I am not sad. I search inside my mind for some reason to cry. I know a reason exists, but I cannot find any. This makes me cry even more. I realize I don’t know who I am and that freaks me the fuck out. You could have told me my whole life story right there and I would have stared blankly. My ability to think logically and linearly is totally gone. I am a ball of sensation. I can feel everything. And it’s terrifying. I feel nausea. I want to stand up and go puke in the toilet, but I lose myself along the way. I look up and I’m kneeling in front of a toilet, dry heaving, whatever it is that’s in me, is not ready to let go. I cry and plead, but to no avail. I sit on the steps that lead into the bathroom and cry. I’m confused and in pain. I feel the depths of my solitude, like the entire universe has swallowed me up and I never even existed. I cry more hot tears. I look up to see a black figure reaching for me, it looks like death. I cry, “No!” But what looks like death turns out to be my friend. She holds my hand and leads me back to the peaceful circle. Embarrassed, but a little more grounded in reality, I realize that I am in a safe space experiencing what I wanted so badly. I laugh at my own naivety. I actually looked forward to this. There is music playing and with each song I am in a new space physically. Some songs make me nauseous and I dry heavy and belch, vomiting spirits that have been inhabiting my body for far too long. Some songs are too harsh for my skin and I cringe as my pores open wide and swallow notes. The third woman in the circle, a youngish person of Indigenous Argentinean descent is good at coaxing out my darkness. She lures them out with a whistle and cleanses me with sage once they’re gone. I run my hands down my face and body, it grounds me as the spirits escape through my mouth and skull. As they leave, I feel…lighter.

“Eu sou Indigena…” a new song begins to play. I feel my legs and hands become roots and soil and then matter. Eventually I can feel every molecule in my body and I am no longer afraid of the vastness of this fact. I accept my body. It feels amazing. I am heavy and strong. I see stardust in my shoulders and the sun in my irises. I look at myself in the mirror and smile, running my hands over my head, relishing in the sensation of my palms on my hair and scalp. I laugh and twirl and dance and sway and cry and sing. Realizing that everything is okay. Life is death like pain is joy and all apart of me like I’m all apart of it. It being the experience of life, because life is nothing more than an experience. The intergenerational trauma that I inherited has been thrown back into the universe who I trust to take care of it. It’s smaller than a period in the story that I am writing right now. The sun began to rise over the ocean. I had to lean on the window sill to keep from being pushed over with the revelation that me and my perception of this experience (some people would call them problems) are so small, they cease to exist in the blink of an eye. I blink my eyes.

Hippy Life, no really.

Capão is a very special place where time doesn’t exist and the internet is so slow it might as well not exist. It is the perfect place to go and decompress, grow your hair out, not shave, not wash, be one with nature. I found myself almost falling over at times because I was star gazing and it’s possible to see other galaxies in Capão. The town is small and hard to get to. You have to take a bus from Salvador to Palmeires then a van or car to Capão. It’s all very dusty and cowboy-ishFullSizeRender (1).

The town of Capão consists of normal black/indigenous Brazilians with clean houses and ipods, hippies and tourists passing through for the vibes, weed, energy, mountain trails and general lax atmosphere. Within the first day of Capão I was naked in two different rivers. I had an insightful conversation with a black Colombian woman. She was the only black hippies I encountered in my time there. Her son was blond and white, she was brown.  She told me how his dad was Argentinean and how they travel a lot. They lead a nomadic life. She told me she thought I was Brasilian or maybe even Colombian. She was surprised that I was from the states, (which will be the topic of a much longer post in the future). She kept trying to get her son to come to me, she would say, “ella e sua Tia, mira mira a ella.” He cried. I guess he didn’t see family in me.

Later in the day I found myself sitting in the town square at the super market reflecting on how a place like Capão could even exist. FullSizeRender (3) The locals seemed like they weren’t interested in the lifestyle that many came from all over to get a piece of. Many of the hippies were musicians,  Cagıl the friend I was staying with is a bad ass singer and flute player. She took me to a sauna and drum circle and I was coaxed into singing praises to Jah all night. It was as strange as it was exhilarating. I was in the woods with a bunch of different types of white people, my black American distrust kicked in, but then I looked up at the stars and remembered that I was safe. These were good white people. Seriously. But I also remembered how the woods or nature can be seen as refuge. When people are looking for freedom they run to the woods. In the game of “Tag” base is usually a tree. I don’t think I’ve ever been safer than I was that night in the woods.  Although I may have came of as stand offish to the people I met because I was extremely high and I’m usually quiet in new environments, eventually I warmed up. I plan on going back to there for a few weeks before I leave Brazil in August. There are things I need to discover.