But I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Jose Vilson Jose

Frida Kahlo's "Le Due Frida"

Frida Kahlo's "Le Due Frida"

I walked into the Acentos Poetry Workshop at Hostos Community College, weary from a series of events including incurring a nasty virus and having to teach teachers how to affirm their voices in front of children (something I’m struggling with), but also resolved to make become the master of my metaphorical Starship Enterprise without getting my ass whooped through a quarter of the whole movie. (Seriously, the new James Kirk got his butt whooped through that whole thing.)

More than anything, I hoped to go in there not as The Jose Vilson, website extraordinaire / blogger / writer / teacher / etc, but Jose, the newbie at this thing. While it’s easy for me to give into my 202+ readers on Twitter, and all the other people who tend to follow my life without actually responding much except in “likes” and “that was hot”‘s, it was good to come into a situation where I didn’t know most of the people in the room, thus leaving me a bit exposed and vulnerable. An advantage I haven’t had in quite a while.

There’s this idea that Aracelis Girmay presented today about multiple I’s, and what we consider to be just that one I when it’s really multiple identities. I’ve moved past simple recognition and now use those multiple identities to my advantage, and hopefully in the process, make them that one I, going back to that idea of oneness and peace we all seek, right? Right? Yet, today only proved that I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

For one, in one of Girmay’s prompts, she asks us to write a piece using the words, “I was never a …” The first thought that popped into my head was, “I was never an alien,” but honestly, I think I am. Pretty damn sure of it actually. I was about to write an element I never materialized into, but as with everything, I’ve been every element depending on the circumstances and the person. I’ve seen myself as fire, water, earth, and air, and in every instance, I knew I could find my way back to the other three with the right conduit.

Then, as we all spoke to each other at the end, and I asked Girmay about her tastes in books (“all over the place,” which I should have known), Tara Betts, probably one of my favorite poets particularly because of her command of her art and her delivery, tells Araceli, “Oh he’s a sweetheart and he’s got a blog, too, and it’s really good. You should read it.”

At the moment, I was definitely shy about the situation: after all, Tara Betts just said my blog was hot. I’d heard it before from her, but for her to rec’ it to someone else? Even hotter. Yet, I was Jose, not The Jose Vilson, so I kinda gave a “Thanks, Tara. All blowing up my spot,” jokingly. After all, no one needed to know The Jose Vilson just yet, because Jose would suffice. Tara herself didn’t need to apologize because, unlike many humans I’ve met, she’s found a oneness in her image other young, aspiring writers (besides me) want in their aura. Thus, those sorts of compliments are second-nature to her. For me, there’s too much of a duality still: is it Jose receiving the compliment or The Jose Vilson? It’s weird.

And it got me to thinking: Jose and The Jose Vilson are separate beings encapsulated in the same life vessel. I also have Mr. Vilson (who people have familiarized themselves with quite often), Luis, and … well, I’ll leave it at that. The reason why, despite all my best efforts, is because every persona knows exactly what the others are doing, and those entities can’t really do much to intercept the other, but when they try, interesting things happen. I get a chance to be anew and prove myself all over again, or a chance to have conversation without bias to having read my work and / or know where I’ve been or what I do besides a very ambiguous “teach math.”

Then again, I don’t think I’ll ever find a place where all those roads intersect onto one crossroad. Thus, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for …

Jose, who’s glad he didn’t have to get ready for school …