Essay by Angel Hogan // Artwork by Andrea Walls
”The unusual habit arose at age five. Whenever I had a few moments alone, usually in the bathroom, I would climb from toilet to sink and gaze at myself in the mirror. I would look and look: my brown skin and freckles, my own dark eyes. Skinny limbs and frizzy curls. While there is nothing unusual in a child clamoring up to the mirror, my stare was accompanied by an odd little chant.
You are Angel Hogan, and you are alive on this earth.
I have no idea how it began. I think it was organic, the words just easing into my mind. I did this regularly for many years. While repeating the phrase and staring at my image, slowly there was a… shift in my consciousness. And here is where things got interesting. I would no longer see a reflection of myself. Looking back at me was a child, brown, freckled, frizzy, and kind-eyed. It was me, but in this self-induced trance, I was somehow larger than flesh parked on the porcelain. It was peaceful. There was a wide sense of a self as part of the air, a part of everything. I saw myself as a bit of a stranger. It was wondrous.
Sadly I lost this gift around age 11, though it remains a defining part of my sense of identity and self.
As a multiracial adoptee, identity is often on my mind. It’s a rare occasion when I’m not thinking about it in some sense or another. Though much less acceptable now, seldom would a day pass when someone was not asking me some variation of “what are you?” Where are you from? Where is your family from? What are you mixed with?
While vacationing with my mom in Florida one year, a woman next to me, poolside, asked where I was from. I said, “Pennsylvania.” She asked if I was born there. I said, “Yes.” She asked where my parents were from. I said “Pennsylvania.” Grandparents? “PA,” I said. Finally, she could not contain herself any longer and blurted out, “Are you Mexican?”
For full text and images, consider reading RQ in print, on a Sunday afternoon, sun streaming through your window, coffee in hand, and nary a phone alert within sight or in earshot… just fine words, fine design, and the opportunity to make a stitch in time. // Print is dead. Long live print. //