A thousand red roses kiss the pavement floor. Positioned in perfect alignment on the cobblestone corners of the street. Vibrant and strong like an army ready to receive its commander. The sun peeks from behind a hiding place of clouds, beaming its rays down on the bodies of red roses: they glow like fire, as an alarm, a call to attention for your arrival. Doves dance high above the firmament in eager expectation. Hundreds of faces await you, colored with the range of manifestation that love, joy, and happiness bring: emotions. Emotions converging in differentiated uniformity to the simplicity of eager expectation. And there you appear. As if you were God Himself, taking the breaths away from the lungs whose eyes watched you whilst simultaneously breathing back into those very lungs, filling their bodies with your strength and beauty. There you stand, taking my breath away, and I find it hard to breathe, desperately trying to recollect myself at the thought of you choosing me, it is a gift from the highest place in Heaven. Every step you take down the aisle brings me closer to bliss. Makes saying “I do”, one less moment away, that much more real...And I am beside myself at the thought.
Writing The 4 Train
125th Street. So I wanted to write. And here we are. I'm writing. About what? Not sure really, but I know I wanted to write. I needed to write something. Now I am not a "writer" in any sense of the word, or how someone who is a writer is understood to be one. I'm just a guy. A black guy. Yes. That matters. (Race always applies you know that). I'm just a black guy who needed to get these thoughts out. The thoughts I'm thinking, right now. The things I'm feeling, right now. And I’m hoping as I type, the thoughts will materialize into words that are clearly laid out, ultimately serving a purpose for me, and whoever's eyes happen to find their way to them. So here I am, I’m typing on my iPhone in my notes app, train surfing. The “safer” version. Not the one where you’re riding outside of the train, but when you're standing inside on a moving train, risking it all, doing anything and everything but holding onto the pole. That train surfing. Still, it requires immense skill, body alignment, and developed long twitch stabilizer muscles. I’ve been doing it for years. Body rocking back and forth as you squeeze your thigh and ass muscles, balancing yourself as the train carries onward, violently, and not with urgency of course, because in New York City, you never get anywhere quickly, or on time. The trains here live in this dimension where they’re doing a lot but going nowhere fast. But I digress. Train surfing. That's what I'm doing right now, as I write in this notepad. Anyway, ever have a feeling of expectancy. I don't know if that's the right word, but this feeling that, you need to be doing something or going somewhere because there is something out there for you? Anticipation. Yea that’s better. This intrinsic sensation that you’ve got something dope AF (I’m a millennial, deal) you want to do, say, and be. You can't quite place your finger on what it is. There aren’t many examples in life that quite fit what you're feeling or thinking, but you know it's there, and there is a sense of urgency (not like the train though), a real sense of urgency to be that thing you want to be, to find out what you need to do to get there.
86th Street. “Stand clear of the closing doors please.” 15 seconds of sweet relief. It’s funny to watch, people. As my legs exhale, reveling in the unclenching and relaxing of my muscle fibers, I watch as people rush frantically onto the train (as though if they don’t clear the closing doors, life will be over as they know it). This is their one and only opportunity, they have to act now. Doesn’t matter if there is a woman with a baby in a carriage, or an elderly person with reduced movement ability making their way onto the train, they will climb over, and push past anyone in their way for the sweet victory of claiming that slither of space that barely exists on the train. They force their way through, augmenting the over-looming cloud of anxiety that covers the train car. Claustrophobia intensifies here. It’s a sight to behold. Even though the 4 train runs every few minutes, they have to get on this train. No other train will do. I often wonder, where are these people going? What the rush is? They must be doing or going to the most amazing thing or place, yet at the same time, as I gaze upon their faces, there is a spirit of misery. An undercurrent of tiredness and exasperation for the mundane. And then the feeling hits me like a jolt of lightning, electrifying my entire nervous system. The feeling makes you sick, while simultaneously calling you to action. It's 2019, and I told myself that this year I am doing things differently. Not going to, doing (sick of all the resolution bullshit that gets you nowhere). And I know you probably rolled your eyes (if you even made it this far down). I'm sure I lost ninety percent of you guys (I said guys, ugh my ingrained cis-male patriarchal conditioning). I'm sure many of you...people? quit reading after the first few sentences of my mentioning, I have no idea what I'm writing about. But I'm riding the train, feeling urgent to do what it is, I need to do for me...OH SHIT! (I nearly reached for the pole as the train threw my body forward. Look at that, I'm risking my life to share with you my innermost thoughts and ideas. Maybe I really am a writer).
14th Street. Wow writing this really makes the time fly. Didn't even notice the 59th or 42nd avenue stops. Anyway. It's 2019. And if anything, I am writing this article, is it an article? This diary entry? Blog post? (I don't have a blog though). But I am putting this symphony of words together into a formidable weapon, serving as a reminder to myself that I have to do what I know I need to do for me. And I don't need to tell you what is. When I read these words, I know what it is. When you read these words, I hope that thing you want jumps into the forefront of your mind. Did your heart skip a beat? Whoa, that's how badly you want it. But what's stopping you, or what's keeping you from doing it, from getting there? Go ahead I’m listening....no really I am. I want to hear it. What is it? The train is headed to Brooklyn Bridge City Hall, next stop, we have time still. What's the problem? ……Ahhh I see. Yes, I can see how those things can be annoying. And yes, I'm sure they are valid stumbling blocks and hurdles in your way. But it's funny, I didn’t hear you mention any of the self-sabotaging you've done all these years. Yes, I went there. You're triggered. I know. I was too when I realized I spent a lot of time in my own way, being my own worst enemy. Succumbing to the subconscious and covert manifestations of thought and behavior that stalled me from living a purpose-driven life. Have you come to the realization of yours?
Fulton Street. By the way, I'm not belittling your experience, or making light of how obstacles and constructs can truly impede us from making headway, but it is important to acknowledge, our crippling behaviors that keep us stagnated and regressed. Challenge them.
Wall Street. Do that much this year. If you do nothing else. Purge then from your system. Free yourself from their poison. They are walls that need to be knocked down so you can walk a clearer path (see what I did there). That's what I'm working on, but I'm doubling up. Being advantageous. There's some shit I'm chasing, and I am taking the actionable steps to achieve it. And I'm proud of myself. In all my blackness and queerness (because the understanding of all of who I am, is integral to me being able to freely exercise my gifts). That is why the intersections are important to talk about and discuss! I realize watching those frantic train riders risk it all to get on the train is a part of why I wrote this. We give so much, and at times, all of ourselves, to the machine. To things that don’t fulfill us or make us whole. And living a broken life, is one not worth living. We all deserve the opportunity to be made whole. That is something to chase fervently after. And it requires us to exercise our social intelligence, being aware of our internal stumbling blocks (again our covert and subconscious self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors) and the external poisons (people, places, things) that keep us broken, and keep us from doing and living how we envision. So go. Go live your best life. Start every day by doing something you’ve had an interest in, and practicing ways to stop and free yourself from, the things, people included, that don’t support your being whole.
Borough Hall. This is my stop. I’m getting off and going to the gym. It's leg day, and these gains won’t make themselves.
My imagination runs wild now. Again, like before. It’s a feeling of being born again. A renewal. My body transported back to: everything being possible. In my innocence, I dreamed endlessly, believed in the fantasy of magic, revelled in the terror of the mythical, thrived in the suspense of my dreamspace; every thought after the last, an unknown, yet I created the unknown brightly and passionately. A feeling I welcomed with open arms. I felt that for a moment, at 29, and I found myself before this magnificent version of me. He was creativity personified. He stood free, because he believed. He smiled with the light of the sun, because his imagination was unsoiled, untarnished with the harsh realities I knew one day would succeed at extinguishing his fire. My heart shattered, shards ripping apart my very being, because I knew I could not save him. If only I could tell him that what he would experience on his journey would be worth it. That the tears would fill a basin that would one day serve as his ocean of endless possibilities, to draw deep from their waters and create rivers of life that would satiate every magical fantasy radiating his imagination. I embraced him fiercely. I desire to escape back to him, when I was more alive and free, unburdened to imagine, to create, to believe.
Writing The Wrongs Of My Father
He stood there. In the kitchen. Their kitchen. And in that moment, like light illuminating a dark room, I came aware. Clear that I was a stranger. A stranger witnessing moments so foreign, and interactions so unknown, but something out of movies and TV, I understood and recognized all too well. The kitchen smelled of baked goods and fresh vanilla ice cream. He was baking these loaf cakes. I watched him from the living room. Their living room. The open concept kitchen gave access to him. Access I never quite had growing up, but life made it so that at 22 years old, trauma would reassure me that it’s been a companion all along, deep seeded in the bedrock of my being, waiting for this moment to rear its ugly head, and abdicate me from my throne and claim supremacy. I sat there on the lazy boy opposite the couch and love seat. I must’ve been sitting in his chair. It was my first time in this house. Their house. Escaping doubt, I knew I was sitting in his chair. The man of the house’s chair. I sat there, intrigued and perplexed by what I was witnessing. The warm aroma of cakes conquered air space and filled the living room, dancing above our heads. I watched how my siblings, scattered across the room, some laughing while playing board games, others in deep conversation, and I, sitting in his chair, became enveloped in the security blanket of love the aroma produced...in their living room. I mean, I had a living room too, back home in Valley Stream, but this living room was, different. I turned back to the kitchen. I watched him gleefully spring loaf after loaf from the oven, standing there like a proud lion, established and dominant over his pack as he proclaimed, “alright guys, what flavor of ice cream are you having with your cake”?
In that moment, my heart raged with beating like drums of war as my mind came to revelations that sickened me with simultaneous sadness and unrelenting pride. Don’t get me wrong. I was all in it at first, the laughter and joy of communing with my other siblings. We stood an army of twelve. This must’ve been our second or third interaction, I can’t quite resolve the timing of it all, but I was drunk off of our reunions and opportunities to build relationship. And the aroma fueled my intoxication. But as with all drunkenness, one is often stricken with a moment of clarity. And the clarity of what I was experiencing and feeling rocked the foundation of all that I believed myself to be: someone who grew up unblemished by the sins of his father. But this moment, revealed how red with his sins I was, how dirtied and muddied my path had been as a result of his own. Trauma was now crowned king of my person, and I felt all of its wrath.
This moment, with my siblings and my father did produce happiness. I was happy being in their presence, communing with them and building memories, yet couldn’t help but feel shrunken and small. The shame that came upon me to realize how he was their father. And whether or not he was a good father, was neither here nor there. He lived in this house. They, my siblings, the three who lived here with him, got to see him everyday. And even if they didn’t, the unspoken security that came with knowing he would be there, at arm’s reach, or that he would return home, is stabilizing. I despised him in that moment. In a sort of sick and jealous way, I asked myself: Why them? Why now? What’s changed? Should I applaud you for sticking around to raise, support, nurture, love, teach, and provide security for the final three? Even if time and experience taught you and you grew a better man, there were nine lives in your wake, during your growth process that you created, and left. What of their upbringing, support, nurturing, love, teaching, and security? I sat there immobilized. Wanting to ask you these questions, but you simply asked me what flavor of ice cream I wanted with my cake. And it’s also impolite to answer a question with a question, so I looked at you, and realized how much I cared to not hurt your feelings or cause you sadness. I figured you must feel embarrassed enough and regretful enough, and that these cakes and ice creams were your way of trying to be there for us all, all twelve, a seemingly impossible task. You couldn’t possibly raise us all right? So, I ate these words, to spare your feelings. And I resolved in that moment, “it is what it is”.
But how do I get out of this? The shame and sadness warred against a surging pride and self-love. Which will rise victorious? I had only but a moment to decide, before I had to give my answer to what flavor of ice cream I wanted. Time seemed to enter another dimension, because this war raged on for what felt like an eternity. Then pride reminded me of my mother. My mother raised me strong, independent, self-assured. Above all these things though, she raised me Christian. As if armoring me with the Word, Love, and Promises of a Heavenly Father would fill the void of the earthly one, cover his inability to father me, and my (full-blooded? main?) siblings. It worked. Or was working up until this very moment, when what I realized I needed, an invisible deity couldn’t provide. And this is where I stop. Because even at 29, I haven’t quite addressed all the parts of my experience that need healing. I just know, in that living room at 22, I was witnessing something that I didn’t know I wanted to be my normal, should’ve been my day to day, but it wasn’t. And I guess that’s okay. Above all, I am thankful for that moment because it exposed to me that I did have some type of trauma not having the old man around to raise me. I spent all my youth and young-adulthood proclaiming how his absence affected me not. But indeed there are levels of hurt here that I got to see glimpses of. I thought of this moment many times over the last seven years. Traveling over 400 miles north to battle demons I didn’t even know plagued me, who would’ve thought. I can’t right the wrongs of my father, I can only write them. Write them and hope that I can overcome them. But this is how this memory ends. I opened my mouth, and I asked for chocolate ice cream.