Maisha Z.

Johnson Another Me

I was downtown the other day when I saw myself. Or rather, I saw another version of me. I¶m sure of myself enough to know that I was me, standing on the corner, but I¶m pretty sure that was another me, sitting on the outbound 5-Fulton bus that went by. Needless to say, it was a strange experience. I don¶t even take the 5. I couldn¶t really see her very well, just the outline of her hair and her shadowed face, and I wouldn¶t have been so sure that it was me if it wasn¶t for the fact that she was facing me, staring too, seemingly equally enthralled. And there was that strangely familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I was reuniting with a long-lost soul. If you ever come across another version of you, know that it¶s not like looking in the mirror, knowing it¶s a reflection of yourself. It¶s more like watching a video of yourself that time you got blackout drunk at your cousin¶s wedding, and you don¶t remember it at all and you¶re sure you¶re incapable of such behavior, but there it is on the video, a person with your face and your voice, smashing things with strength you never thought you had, until your uncles subdues you. And you have to admit that it could¶ve only been you. Only it wasn¶t me, there on the 5. I figure that momentarily she or I crossed into some parallel universe, the Other Me existing in a universe where I take that bus. I¶ve seen it in the movies so I know it must be possible. In the movies, of course, there¶s always a good guy version and a bad guy version, and while I¶m used to thinking badly about myself, I¶m trying to change that, so I decided to think badly about the Other Me instead.

Maisha Z. Johnson She must be the bad version. I bet she didn¶t even pay for that bus ride. I bet there¶s an old lady standing there, hanging on to a pole for dear life, wishing she could sit down, but the Other Me is only sneering at her as she sits comfortably in her seat. Sitting on that bus going in that direction, I bet the Other Me lives downtown and goes to school at the local private university, instead of the public one I graduated from. I bet she affords it by selling out to some corporate place, getting on her high horse every day as assistant manager at some place like Pottery Barn, decorating her downtown apartment with the same pastel colored rugs she sells to ten customers a day. I bet she has a dog, instead of a cat. I bet it weighs 8 pounds and lives in her purse. Then I start to wonder about her writing. I can¶t imagine a version of me that doesn¶t write. She¶s bold enough that I¶m sure she¶s already gotten at least two books published, because she wasn¶t afraid to break into the business writing something like erotica. I bet she puts her writing on a self-indulgent blog. Now, of course, the lines between good and bad are beginning to blur. Nothing wrong with writing erotica, and at least she¶s gotten published. So she¶s bold. So what? I bet her boldness is good in some situations. I bet she¶s unafraid to speak her mind. I bet she doesn¶t do things like shrink away from confrontations or apologize to the guy who runs into her. I bet she¶s unapologetically out about being queer, in all situations, like making the most out of Mother¶s Day at her grandmother¶s church by taking the pastor¶s daughter home without even trying to pretend it¶s for further ³Bible study.´ I think maybe I¶m starting to get down on myself again, thinking this other me is so much bolder and more self-assured than I am. Or maybe she and I aren¶t so different after all. Maybe she just didn¶t have to wait until she saw another version of herself to realize the possibilities of

Maisha Z. Johnson who she could be. Or maybe that¶s not true at all. Maybe she was staring in awe of all that makes me, me. Maybe she didn¶t know what was possible until she saw me. I just hope that from now on she sticks to her own universe, or at least she stays away from my buses. I can only imagine what we might think possible if we put our heads together.

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