I grew up in the top-floor apartment in a building off Myrtle Avenue. I can tell you I only appreciated this location exactly once a year: July Fourth, when I had front row seats to Macy’s fireworks display. Otherwise I didn’t think about it. I didn’t have any of the adult heaviness I now carry in my shoulders and lower back, the kind that a pleasant view helps alleviate. When I was 12 and out of school, I wanted to be down below in the courtyard, with the kids from my block.
Summertime unfortunately didn’t much ease my grandma’s strict rules. If she didn’t personally know your family you were probably just another fast ass girl or drug dealer; she was an all or nothing kind of woman, and that extended to the types of friends I was allowed to make. If I wasn’t at day camp or if sleep away camp wasn’t in that year’s budget, I found myself alone at home, creating my own worlds from books, journals, comics, and model plastic.
I was getting curious about (real) music around this time, seventh or eighth grade, and I owed much of that of my cousin Tate, five years my senior. Just as troubled kids were sent down south for the summer, the reverse was also common, and his mom had booted him from Newport News directly after school let out that year. He was everything I wasn’t: good-looking, charming, popular. (Perhaps too popular, as I later learned he was sent north to “save him” from a baby he’d fathered at age 15.) He arrived on our doorstep to spend a week with his paternal grandmother, all lanky and southern twang. He never left.
Continue reading “Boom Boxes in the Sky: Summer Memory”
About a week after I talked about my recent adventures abroad and plans to continue my winding, air-supported cross-country trip, a friend asked me out for drinks. I had cancelled on her so many times I couldn’t say no and feel good about myself, despite my mood. That night, dead sober, I wound up in the ER with a broken bone in my foot. F*ck.
yeah, ER ASAP
The things I said to God, the sun lord Horus, sentient trees, and everybody else listening during my trip to the hospital were not respectful. Florida. San Francisco. Seattle. Possibly Vancouver. I immediately and obsessively calculated every flight dollar spent that I might lose.
Some friends theorize that this is a forced slowdown, that my body needs the rest. Except my daily life is rest because my health demands it. I live at 50%, 90% of the time. When I’m charged to 100%, I don’t squander that energy. I fairly bolt out the door, soaking in my surroundings, all the while monitoring my body’s battery life. There were two exhibits I missed in Portland because I needed to abruptly return to my hotel room to sleep. I lost almost $100 on a Paris tour because I was too sore to rouse myself by the 9 AM meeting time. I budget for a lot of cabs, because if I start to crash physically, I’m disinclined to wait for a bus, slumped over and feeling shitty.
I suppose it might seem manic to an outsider, but my actions are simply a reaction to the absence of pain. I know all about managing rest. I didn’t need to relearn this lesson.
I’ve got as many jokes for Florida as the next kid, but as long as I avoid a tourist trap I’m OK. I’m also convinced the humidity is to blame for half the meth and bath salt-fueled CVS rages that pop up at the end of every buzzfeed article–and my hair is natural. Me no llamo shrinkage.
Luckily, it’s long enough for a sloppy puff, cause I’m headed out again. I’ll be with family, with nephews, and I love rough and tumble boys. No big plans, no major sightseeing, just a pool and a beach and floaties and a grill. No alarm clocks. No deadlines, except the fake ones I make up for myself to write. I may turn off those as well. Ambrosia.
Florida wasn’t meant to be part of the travelogue, but not many of these destinations were. Call it happenstance, good timing, serendipity… but I’m taking every break from life I’m offered. Let those sky miles do what they do and get me outta Brooklyn.
The New Yorker in me wants to note an upcoming instagram full of strip malls, plastic surgery clinics, and swamp ass. But I’m working on me, so I’ll discount all those things. Today I believe it’ll be melanin blessed, water kissed, and sand polished.
I’m black, I’m solo, and my next stop is the wackadoo Sunshine State. See ya there.