Five Things

Back Home Again

Who knew you could miss the smell of a rogue skunk?

Five Things is a weekly essay of five short thoughts inspired by my own life and observances now that I’m preparing to move back home to Indiana after years of living in New York.


I’ve spent the last month preparing for the move from Brooklyn to Indianapolis, but didn’t stop thinking we wouldn’t make it there until the second we pulled into my in-law’s driveway. As I’ve mentioned before, this move is something I’ve wanted for a long time. Nothing against Brooklyn. I just know where I belong, and I couldn’t lie to myself about that anymore. That’s not fair. I was never lying to myself about where I wanted to be, I just wasn’t living like I wanted to be on my own side. Now, I am. On the way here, just before it got dark on the east end of Ohio, Kelly asked me why I was smiling, and I didn’t know I had been. I know how much work I’ve put into healing myself, but sometimes, I forget it’s working.


Do you know I’m a huge horror fan? When I signed on to co-host the companion podcast for HBO’s Lovecraft Country (Lovecraft Country Radio), it felt like a dream come true. Nobody ever asks me to talk, write, or even comment on horror. Now, I get invited on podcasts to talk about all the shows and films I love that used to keep me up at night. One of my favorite (Eh, no, she’s my favorite) horror scholars is Tananarive Due, and while we were lucky enough to have her has a guest on the show, there would have never been enough time to say or ask all I wanted to. She understands so much about little Black girls who love spooky shit, and I never stopped being that little creep. I wanted to share this essay of hers with you.

As fans defended the honor of horror in general, I saw echoes of what I believe is also the power of Black Horror — to visualize trauma. To fight back. To try to heal. To seek out survival behaviors in crisis. To face the worst and be able to walk away unscathed… because, unlike the demons in our real lives, it isn’t real. By comparison, in fact, sometimes the real-life demons don’t seem quite as bad. Or sometimes, horror is the only way to help others understand.


People keep asking me if I’m afraid to live in Indiana right now because of the increased instances of racist attacks on Black people in the United States of America, and I hate to break it to some of you, but racism is everywhere. Everywhere. I’ve been called a nigger in big liberal cities on both coasts, and been followed around shops all over Europe (not Edinburgh, though, they were legit). People who want to believe I’m in more danger in Indiana probably need to believe that’s true. And that’s fine for them. I’ve liberated myself from the call to manage anybody else’s delusions.


The last time I lived in Indianapolis, I lived in a neighborhood called Irvington. Part of the reason I love this area so much is its seasonal obsession with Halloween. Named for the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving, every spooky season the yards get decorated, the windows of shops are painted by children, and in years prior, there’s even been a parade. When I lived there, I could sit on my porch and watch the parade gatherer’s mingling, in costume, with their friends and neighbors. The last time I watched the parade was only a few days after having a small necessary surgery on my ovaries, and all I remember about that is that I didn’t ask anybody to help me recover. I don’t think I even asked anybody to bring me a glass water. I felt ashamed of having and needing the surgery, and burdensome for existing in an imperfect body. I used to hate myself so much for being a human. But now, I’m back.


On the drive to Indiana, I realized Kelly and I have been together for seven years this month. It’s been seven years since he crashed my life, and helped me turn it into the one I actually wanted. When I think of how we came together that October, how a medium (!!!) told me he was coming, and how even though I didn’t believe her I hoped she was right, I’m reminded of how much I never saw coming. I’ve said this before, tweeted it, and probably mentioned it on somebody’s podcast, but my life is a complete surprise to me. Nobody ever told me to expect to get what I wanted, and so I taught myself to want as little as possible. Over the years I’ve been shocked time and time again by what other people see as reasonable responses or compensation for my work, and I see as miracles. I’m trying not to do that anymore. I’m trying not to bind myself with the low standards and expectations placed on me as young person. Seven years ago, I didn’t think love would find me. Today, I know love was always here, and I can want it all. I can need people and they will still love me. Letting them love me well is integral to being on my own side. I can do that.

Writer. Editor. Host. AshleyCFord.Com

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