This story is part of Image issue 7, “Survival,” a collective vision for the L.A. of our dreams. See the full package here.
Dear 20-years-in-the-future self,
Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhdamn! You’re 56 now. That sounds so crazy to me, your 36-year-old self. You actually made it to 56. I mean, I always knew you would, but the thought of you, Marque, reading this at 56 blows my 36-year-old mind.
I know you dangerous at 56 — in the best way. I know you fly AF, too. Black people get better with time, and Black men … just look at the old interviews of Denzel, Sam Jackson or your granddad. They’re like honey badgers — they don’t care. I love it. I love us.
So how you doin’? Are you happy? Your 36-year-old self is doin’ OK. I’m at the beginning of a new chapter, a chapter that pushed me to survive and eventually thrive. Dramatic, I know — but it’s true. I have my ups, downs, rounds and rounds; but I’ve learned that there’s a stillness within, a home I can retreat to during the storms. I’m juggling a few storms at the moment. But guess what? God is still good. I’ve leaned into the suffering and found salvation in the self.
I never thought I was immune to the ebbs and flows of life — I had gone through things, many things — but this season hit different: loss, deaths, grief, depression, joy, successes, dreams realized. I have sometimes felt like my brain was broken, and I’ve wondered where my light went, wondered whether it was still on. Right now, as I write this letter to you, know that I am in a place of peace and love. Love. Of. Self. The kind that you know is unconditional. It takes a lot of work to build a love like this and to keep it at the forefront of your heart.
Bruh, you made it to 56! Do you still live in L.A.? Do you or anyone else still live on Earth? Or did Mother Nature have enough and say, “Eff all that, y’all gotta go.” If so, I can’t blame her. Humans have been literal trash, so I hope she gets the Mary J. Blige glow-up she deserves — sooner than later. With or without us. (Side note: Remember that one time, at that Netflix party, when you met her? You bowed and walked away, excited, only to walk back a minute later and tell her to her face, “Yo, I just met muthaf— Mary J. Blige!” And then she scurried away? That was fun, but I digress.)
Los Angeles has always been your home. You stayed for the weather. You needed the sun, the constant 70-sum’n-degree temps, and Carolyn’s Kitchen, that dope soul food, shoot-’em-up joint in South Central that closed down years ago and reopened in California City about 1.5 hours away. The dressing and gravy on Tuesdays … future self, did you go?? But seriously, efffffffffff this L.A. traffic, this L.A. smog and the LAPD if they still killin’ us. I hope these things is gone by now.
Anyway, I hope you thrivin’. I know you shinin’. I hope you livin’ in your truth, and you only doin’ things that make you happy. I hope you don’t care about anyone’s approval. I hope you remember to love and be loved, to accept things as they are, and to take action from that place. I hope you judge nothing and keep doing YOU — whatever that is, because life is an experiment and nobody got the answers that are specific to you and only you.
I love you,
P.S. “Make that money … don’t let it make you.” — Diamond, “The Players Club”
Marque Richardson is an actor. Most recently he starred as Reggie on “Dear White People.”