When I was a child, I had this purple-blue lump on my stomach. It was right below the my rib-cage, slightly left of center. I played with it often, much in the same way I will rub scar tissue, or elbow skin today. They called it my blueberry, and I loved it.

Legend (also my doc) says that when I was born, I was so small that my veins didn’t have enough space to spread out, so some of them bundled up together in that spot. This was the explanation given to the single digit me. They added on that it would not go away unless I stopped playing with it, almost like a threat, but I liked it, it was mine.

I don’t recall who it was, but, one day someone pointed out this strange thing on my body that was wrong. It possibly was some parent of a friend at a pool or something. What I do recall is suddenly wanting it to “melt away”, so I stopped playing with it. It took a couple years, but it did fade away almost completely.

Now, I’m left with what can only be described as a slight shadow in that spot. If you look closely, which you won’t be able to do, you can see random bits of veins on my stomach. I can see them, I know that they’re there. The bits of my blueberry spread out like little spots of dirt pounded into a carpet. Now I wonder, if I begin to play with it again, will it come back?

NOT MY STOMACH

Why share this? Well, because if I were brave, I would have submitted this to Nas for #ProjectBrave and let her photograph me. The moment she first posted for submissions, I knew her project was a great idea. So much so, that I refused to consider it for the possibility that it would one day become a book. Something for coffee tables, bathroom reads, library shelves, and research papers. My fear of exposure betrayed me whenever I thought of it.

She has published two installments of the series so far. I think you should read it, see the beauty of the photographs, the bravery of the individuals, and be inspired by their bravery. Then, when it sits on your soul and drenches you with all the pointless why’s and why not’s of your own shame, write her and volunteer to be brave too.

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