Today, as I was walking down the street, I came to pass one young man who was watching me as he let out this crazy type laugh. (Insane type.) He was light brown African American featured with a medium stature. As I passed him his laugh resounded louder. I wondered what was going on. There were two men not far in front of me giving each other daps. One tall white man continued to walk away, as the other turned and walked toward me. I recognized the young Somali man (if I recall, just shy my age) from downtown over the years. We’d talk on and off, here or there, when we’d see each other, as neighbors. So, today I said, “Hey! Peace, Ali! How you doing? How’s your family?” He was smoking a square so I stood where the wind would pull the carcinogens in an alternate direction. He replied with a great smile, “Hey! I’m doing alright. I just came here to get my medication.” I said, “Oh, is that what the place is?”
I’d often wondered what it was when I passed by the back of this historic brick building. My hands were cold from the wind chill beneath my miss-matched mint green and grey dollar mittens. “What do they have you on?” I asked, ever concerned bout the poisons administered to those who know not or choose not for better. The type that he named now escapes me, though I recall it started with the letter “D”. He said, “They put me on this for anxiety, you know, so I come down here so I can get it.” “Oh,” I started, “how does it affect you?” Thinking maybe I’d plant a seed as I’d set before to spark a higher path. But then he asked with his big smile, “Do you still smoke weed?” Though I don’t recall we’d ever been in any place with people smoking. But it seemed I’m enough from around the way that in his mind I’s a smoker. “Na, man, I gave that up. I mean, maybe I’d try a vaporizer for medicinal use, though I never have. But smoke? Na, I lost interest in that ages ago”
My train of positive-peer-support was soon jumping tracks. He asked me, “Do you have kids?” I said, “Na, not yet. I’d like to, but I don’t, yet.” Well then he asked, “Do you want to be my wife? You got to be Muslim though.” He said with a smile so easily. “It doesn’t matter if you light, black, whatever. Only thing is you got to be Muslim.” I’m sure I could have taken the time to get to the root issue of dependency. But oft times it seems as I’m making my way through the bitter cold from point A to point B, I simply must truncate my lessons. I said, “Yo, I got to get it together. You, too. Neither of us are prepared for kids in these situations. We got to step up. You know?” He said, “Yeah.” The wind was blowing. Was time for me to move. I asked, “How do I find you?” He said, “I still don’t have a phone, but you can find me at the library.” I said, “alright then”, as I leaned in to give him a quick hug. “Take care, willing I’ll see you soon.” And there’s a possibility I will. I have a book to return. I may see him. With no plans to marry him (HA!) but perhaps some copied literature to pass along, or maybe we’d look for a relevant book. Something to inspire.
I decided to write this entry because these small incidents and moments carry meaning and feeling in my life. Just now, who comes to mind is a man who used to dance in the market place when I was home on St. T. in 2001. He was a beautiful, amazing, stunning dancer! He would move with his own etiquette all around the market place, from one street to the other side of the street. He was an elder brown Caribbean man with less than shoulder length locks. A grand smile and an incredible at times ballet-esque free performance. Sometimes I’d be playing live music, bass and vocals, outside the holistic center that he would dance to. At other times it would just be the sound systems clashing. I never once saw him talk, nor did he talk with me, but we did on some occasions make eye contact. All I could do was smile with my hand to my heart to show and to give my love to the man.
Julie, an herbalist and the owner of the center, who I worked for and with, she and I conspired to find our man a tuxedo so to leave it somewhere where he’d find it when he’d wake in the street. We’d imagined how handsome he’d look if he were showered and sharply dressed dancing there at the edge of Savan. A contrast to his dirty clothes and bare feet that would move with such precision that even Mr. Jackson would have stopped there in awe.
Flattened or partially inflated empty soda bottles he would strewn beneath his shirt, pants or belt. Later, he would squat to the ground to fill his bottles with the dirty downtown puddles. Aching as we witnessed him quench his thirst to what must have been run off from cars or who knows what drugs or excrement. We’d at least leave out fresh or tap water in bottles that he might pick up. He’d been too swift as yet to get next to. Some time later I called Julie when I was back in the states. She told me that our man was no longer with us. Now I still don’t know his name. I only retain his eyes and those memories.