When I was 9 months old I started to walk. Three months after that I climbed into a bath with running hot water, slipped, slid to the bottom and sustained third degree burns on my hands, feet and torso while struggling to stand. What can I say, I’m a curious kid. I’m an explorer; I thrive on learning and I welcome extraordinary experiences.
When I was 6, I swallowed my grandfathers’ truck key because I wanted to see if I could. My grandmother gave me a slice of brown bread to eat (I don’t know why) and my aunt poured me some brooklax (laxatives). Yep, I love learning. That day I learnt about the importance of a spare key. What can I say…I’m curious and yes, sometimes curiosity will lead you astray. When this happens, then astray you must go.
When I was at school a magician came to our school to do a show which included a large python. At the end those of us brave enough went forward to stroke and/or hold the python. I went forward, looked and then bolted out the side door. Hey, I said I was curious not crazy!
Along my journey, I’m always asked “why I do strange things.” Or continuously told that: “Black people don’t do these things.”; “Women don’t travel alone.”; “People don’t study for eight years and then not use their degrees.” And my personal favourite: “why can’t you be like other people”.
Why on earth would I want to be like other people when I could be like me?
I like to travel; I like to try new food and experiences. I like knowing which experiences I want to repeat and which ones I should warn others about! I can’t be held back because of what I apparently can and cannot do because I am a black woman or because the thing is strange. So what?
Eighteen months ago I got on a plane and moved to South Korea to teach English. Believe me I there was enough strange and experience to go around. I didn’t know the language. I didn’t recognise the food and I didn’t know anybody. Soon, I learnt the language, ate and enjoyed the food (not the rice cakes) and made some really great friends. Sometimes I was alone and sometimes I was with people. Sometimes I got the joke; other times I just nodded and smiled. All the while being black, being a woman, being a person with a law degree teaching English. The world didn’t end.
I called this blog “blacks do swim” because I often find myself outside the box, living life outside stereotypes and preconceived roles based on goodness knows what. It’s a personal reflection and observation of my quirky world. At the end of the day we should challenge ourselves and live by our own rules. We decide what is normal. I find that weird things happen to me all the time. I always seem to be at the right place at the weird moment. Maybe that’s my normal.
The thing is; I should have died that day. When I fell into that bath, I could have given up and drowned. But I didn’t because I knew how to stand. Not because I am black or a woman or because I had a degree. These burns that so elegantly adorn my body didn’t happen because I fell into hot water but because I decided to stand. And if I can stand in hot water then I can stand anywhere and do anything.