In Broken Places

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You left me, you tore me up Didn't know a man can hurt that much For a while I was all broke up But I found I could take it And I'm stronger now In broken places I found out that time can heal Takes me to a place way more real In the pain that I had to feel Didn't know I could take it And I'm stronger now In broken places I guess you can't understand All you put me through Took all the strength I had For me to forgive you I look back now How much you laid me low The lessons of love that I was shown Whenever hurt comes my way I know I found a way to free it And 'cause I'm stronger now In broken places Yes I'm stronger now In broken places.

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Community content is available under Copyright unless otherwise noted. The air was warm, it was sunny, and the strong wind danced wildly. I had all the time in the world. I stood facing the water, strong but always somewhat unsteady.

TODAY Show: ‘Beauty in the Broken Places’ and How Life Was Changed by a Stroke

My toes had to work hard to grasp and feel the sand. The undersides of my feet tingled softly, as if I were eternally walking on a bed of AstroTurf.

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The area from my ankles to my knees always felt not quite there, vague and elemental. My thighs were strong, the most vibrant part of my legs. My strange curved back was forever pushing me a bit forward. I avoid crowds because standing among many people is like standing in the ocean when the water is whirling around me; I lose my sense of place. When I step onstage in front of large audiences, adrenaline blends with my poor proprioception and this robs me of my balance.

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The same phenomenon causes me to lose track of my legs while standing. The wind blew against my back and I stumbled forward. Toward the water. It happens at the point just before the ability to walk stops mattering and the ability to swim begins to matter. The hypnotic ripples on the surface of the water, the swirling of the air, and the sinking and suction of the sand beneath my feet take my balance away.

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  4. Before I can get to the point where I am swimming, I have to fall. I stood there in the nourishing sunshine, thinking about my legs and science fiction. I had recently written about a superheroine for Marvel, a wheelchair-bound girl in Nigeria named Ngozi. She physically and mentally bonds with an alien symbiotic organism named Venom and is thus able to stand up and kick ass. Ngozi made me consider my own proprioceptively challenged body, how it could be augmented with technology and allow me to move about the world with ease and agility. Not as I used to in the first half of my life, but as a cyborg.

    My legs would be caged with an exoskeletal machine made of a fine webwork of magnesium alloy. My spine would be replaced with a strong yet flexible organic substance that would allow me to turn my head all the way around like an owl, support my body, and allow me to do epic backbends. Before the incident, I moved about the world with a sense of ease and entitlement.

    I was the kid in gym class who everyone always chose first for their team because I was the fastest, could jump the highest, could throw the farthest and hardest, could aim the most accurately. To myself, I was the athlete and the budding scientist.

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    Praying mantises, too. Creatures with strong legs and unique wings. In second grade, I built a giant butterfly out of various colors of construction paper.

    Then I sat on it and waited. And waited. I was an imaginative child. Pop-up books were portals to other planets and dimensions, even if they were nonfiction books about human anatomy or the world of birds. I read the Moomin books by Tove Jansson and my imagination exploded even more. As a teen, I consumed horror and fantasy novels as if they were nonfiction. For me, the dark has never been uninhabited. The wind has always brought things.

    Masquerades are real and the ancestors can be guides. My journey to writing science fiction did not start with reading it. Le Guin until I was already writing about strange planets and advanced societies that use flora-based biotech. Growing up, most science fiction novels and films presented boldly white male—dominated worlds where I knew I could never exist on my own terms.


    I also resisted the themes of exploration with the intent to colonize that ran so strong in these narratives. They never felt right to me especially being the child of immigrants from an African country colonized by Europeans or interesting. Ultimately, I lost my faith in science after an operation left me mysteriously paralyzed from the waist down.

    It took years, but battling through my paralysis was the very thing that ignited my passion for storytelling and the transformative power of the imagination. And returning to Nigeria brought me back around to the sciences through science fiction, for those family trips to Nigeria were where and why I started wondering and then dreaming about the effects of technology and where it could take us in the future.

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