They Have To Kill My Brother, Don’t They?

IMG_0415

I have a brother who doesn’t doesn’t speak as loud as I speak about injustices and inequality. His neighbors do their best to help him forget those words. His mother isn’t my mother, his father isn’t my father. We share fraternity founders, and he works for a government I don’t quite trust, and barely respect. He loves his job, and asks that I don’t speak foul of it when we’re together. I respect his wishes, assuming he hides my updates on social media; filtered me out.

My brother’s oldest son in six-years-old, plays tee-ball, and wakes up early on Sundays because he’s excited about church. His wife is beautiful, and so is their five-year-old daughter. Their youngest kid is 2, hilarious, but hates being lifted up and tossed across a room onto pillows like most kids I know her age.

He lives by the rules. He questions the victims before questioning the suspects. He has a house with six bedrooms, a garage big enough for 3 cars and 5 bicycles, and a lake close by to sit near in summers and grill the meat marinated in the sauce his father passed down. His father calls every Sunday to make a wager on the game, and his mother calls Saturdays to make sure he’ll be in church in the morning. His folks are still married, and his father still opens doors and pulls out seats.

My brother works hard, doesn’t play as hard, and is thrilled to use vacation time to do nothing but play in the backyard with the family. The life without flaws, it seems.

He has to to be killed. He must be killed during a routine traffic stop to make them understand. There are no photos of him in a durag and loose clothes, and no videos of him drinking beer in college, and no women who’ll come forward saying he drugged them then ran his dick across the back of their hands. He must be shot at point blank range by a white officer for the people who currently can’t fathom that some white boys do join the police for to kill black boys. My brother must be mistaken for a burglar, then dragged from his beautifully painted porch by two white officers and beaten to death in his front yard in front of those neighbors who “don’t see color” to get them to see.

I feel bad because I sometimes, especially lately, think about doing to him what Koba did to Caesar. It can’t be me who is killed by the white officer. They’ll rip me to shreds me within minutes on World News, finding the photo of me in my underwear with a BB Gun, staring through the blinds of my SouthEast DC apartment. It must be him.

Because if <em>he</em> is killed, they’ll care. There will be no plausible excuses accepted by those neighbors who will now comfort and feed his wife and children. These neighbors may think it, but they won’t admit they believe his life is worth more than those people they’ve told him he’s nothing like. They will They’ll care because they let him in their house, and people like him. He reminds them of their sons, fathers, brothers, and uncles.

Then I remember July 30, 2009 when Obama gave Sgt. James Crowley a beer at the White House after arresting Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for entering his own home in Cambridge, Mass. A beer. I don’t want my brother to be killed if all he’ll get in return is a wife who gets to say she shared a bottle of Don Julio with the President and Vice President and the man who killed her husband.

So who has to be killed?

8:34pm – 9:34pm : The Verdict

Photo on 2014-11-24 at 21.44 #2

Before The Verdict @ 8:34pm EST:

I’m afraid and I’m torn. I’m feeling like a child watching his parents divorce over something as simple as an affair. I’m scared. This is as much, now, about Michael as 1995 was about Orenthal. I’m so scared. I want him to be guilty, but I want revolution, too.

I have no groceries this time, and there are no people waiting for me outside my place to get in to begin cooking. I’m home early because I know how it feels to be driving and having to listen to people who don’t me tell me my life means nothing. Nothing. They said nothing beyond that. That was a year ago.

I’m starting to hate Novembers. November is that amazing grandfather of one of your closest friends. He takes her for frozen yogurt, and tells the greatest stories of her first days on earth. He goes out at night in a white hood and hangs the father of your other close friend. Mehserle is still breathing. He still shops at Whole Foods and dreams of having sons who will grow to wipe his chin dribble.

Poplar trees are rapid-growing but relatively short-lived trees. Did Abel Meeropol know? I hear voices around me asking questions they feel I can answer. I can’t right now. I know nothing. I don’t know the law. Lauren and Shannon know it, but I can’t ask them right now. I can’t face what I know is going to happen before I hear it happening. I’m a punk that way. There’s a fear I can offer.

In Amsterdam a cop touched me on the shoulder. He had a gentle smile, and told me “move aside, a bus is coming.” A seemingly small thing that lasted only 4 seconds. The first time in 16 years I haven’t been afraid of police.

6 minutes left. 6 minutes until. Until. One minute until. Until. 8:01. Those who’ve watched executions, men tied to tables, giving up on pride, must have known such Monday nights.

He reads. Explains. My jaw is clenched. My heart is heavy. My eyes are ready. Who’s outside on W. Florissant tonight? This man reading had a father killed by a black man once. His father was an officer once. Well-deserved death? Sorrow.

We started this fight in shorts, ripped jeans, and tanks. They had tanks too. It’s cold. We’re bundled, still fighting.

After The Verdict @ 9:34pm EST:

They’ve been practicing racism so long, it’s perfect.

Finished Baldwin. Coming Home.

IMG_4967

I’m leaving London in a few hours. I’m going to cut my hair in a day or so. Most likely back to the low ceasar. Marian Mereba, Burnell Taylor, and Paolo Nutini are on repeat in the Beats by Dre I purchased at the market in Marrakech for $15, and I’m unsure if they actually sound the way they should sound in Beats by Dre, but I won’t pay a dime more to find out.

DeMarcus, my insane but amazing educator friend, loaned me Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin for my travels, and I said I wouldn’t return until I finished the book. Tonight, sadly, headed back to Clapham Junction, I finished it. Before finishing, I had amazing conversation at Ritzy about selfishness, language, universities, age, and youth with a beautiful woman from Ireland, listened to an amazing jazz performer in Brixton at The Effra, and had what is undoubtedly the most fantastic savory crepe I’ve ever had from a place in Brixton Market called Senzala. The owner, Claudia, sat and we spoke about her home country, Brazil, her desire to visit a warm place soon and New York.

I sat on a terrace in Marrakech, Morocco drinking a lemon milkshake thinking how ignorant it’d be to say “life is a struggle” at that moment. Life is good. Life is this amazing thing I’ve shaped, fashioned, and attempted to capture through so many lenses; this thing I’ve begged others to give a shot. They don’t listen. They become obsessed with the lives of others, mostly celebrities, not knowing they’ll wake up one day wondering what they’ve done with their own. I’ll know. I’ll always know.

“I wish I could do what you do and just go,” they’ll say.

“I wish you would,” I’ll reply.

Ahh well. I’m just washing clothes, packing, looking at these gifts I’m bringing back, and feeling some kind of pre-depression about leaving this place. I’ll be fine when I lay eyes on the kid just days before he’s 10.

People Are Good At Heart.

IMG_4555

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank.

I watched Whoopi Goldberg take over a Broadway stage and play out one of the most amazing characters I’ve ever seen; Fontaine, the career dope smoker. Fontaine, high and mellow, took us through his trip to Amsterdam, and through the preserved Frank Hideout where Anne and her family sat quiet from July 6, 1942 until August 4, 1944. Fontaine read the Anne Frank quote from a plaque on the wall in the Amsterdam hideout, and I held tight to them, carrying them with me everywhere, including in my pocket when I travel.

I travel often and share plates with others who do the same. I host many gatherings, and I talk to strangers daily. I believe people are good. The problem with growing up in a community that doesn’t trust easily is the shifty side-eyeing and constant questioning will stunt growth.

Several times I’ve driven across the U.S. with folks I met just hours or days before. I’ve picked up hitchhikers for conversation, and I don’t regret a bit of it. These trips led to a hundreds of new songs on my playlists, cheap tickets to Coachella, hours of valuable sleep, and lifelong friendships with a great amount of trust and respect at the foundation.

IMG_3937

In Amsterdam I toured the canals with a then stranger, now friend, got drunk at a bar tourists would never find, talked about tattoos, life, and why I had no coat, and found myself waking up on a couch 12 hours later in an unfamiliar house many miles from the Amsterdam I knew with a a note that read “eat anything in the fridge, it’s all good. We’ve gone to work. Good morning. Leave key behind the painting on the hall. Great times.” Another stranger, now friend, cooked traditional dutch food to break my seemingly daily McDonald’s binge, and translated current news and music in his living room after telling me just about everything the Netherlands has to offer.

Prior to arriving in Marrakech, Morocco I was slightly nervous, unsure of what to expect with language barriers and religious beliefs of the natives against convictions of my own. I posted in a Couchsurfing forum, and Sigel responded. He met me at the cafe then we walked for hours we walked through the Medina, learning customs, cultural differences, pieces of the languages, and laughing about Marrakech prostitutes, thick women, and who’s really the boss. He took me and my new hostel mates/friends to his home where his brother and friends watched youtube and played local instruments, and we sat on the floor enjoying the laughs, and tunes. In a city where kids wait in dark corners to show you to a place just 2 feet away in exchange for 100DH, I was honored (for lack of better word) when Sigel walked away after a brotherly handshake and said, “hit me tomorrow, my man. I show you the girls, and help you find the things you want in the shops!”

IMG_4544

Tawa, my Zimbabwean friend who makes me tea and porridge and offers me housing at no cost in London is a product of an amazing trust system that has yet to fail me. It’s a beautiful thing, I swear. Today, in the shower, I loudly said “I am so grateful,” as I’ve been saying since Montreal. I mean it each time. I get chills each time.

Though Anne Frank was dealing with a situation very much unlike any I’ve dealt in terms of travel, I find her words fit into all the holes. Believing people are good at heart allows me to approach almost anyone with a naivete, and they respond openly and amazingly most of the time. They smile when they hadn’t quite planned the smile, and say yes when they thought they’d say no.

I have more than one thousand of these stories. Perhaps I put something out there, and because the universe decided to be consistently decent with me, I get that something back. I’m good at heart, no matter what foolishness I’ve posted, and who it was about. My heart is pure, and though there are no selfless acts, I come as close to that as possible. Humbly, I say that.

I stopped trusting people who don’t trust people. Sounds strange, I know, but it makes perfect sense. There’s no room on the plane, in the car, on the boat for them. The hostels I love won’t fit their luggage and ignorance. The dark alleys won’t be as fun with them as they are alone.

Stunted we’ve become thanks to those parents who scare us into staying close to home because they haven’t dealt with their own insecurities perhaps. We miss out on the amazing and disgusting foods of the world, and our own neighborhoods even. The road trips to see the leaves change in Vermont, or to do shrooms and see God in a field in Montreal will never happen. You will look up at 75 and try to figure out what happened with your life, and why all your friends are dead, and why you aren’t.

People are good at heart. Trust them, be trustworthy, and live happily. Accept the wrongdoers as exceptions, and move on.

Are You Coming? Dating A Traveler Like Me.

IMG_3654

I’ve reached that age where my peers are getting pregnant on purpose, and married because of real love. We’ve put an end to remaining in bullshit relationships because we think love should sometimes be a struggle, or at least we believe we have. Because of where I believe I am in life, it freaks me out every so often when I hear “what’s gonna happen when you find that one who won’t want you to travel so much, and is ready to settle down and be still for a bit.”

What happened to the first, second, and third date being the parts where I open my veins and bleed on the table, grass or all over the mattress? Where we share who we are before any lasting emotions are invested, and we can decide to continue. With that blood, I’m free from finding that “one” who will be opposed to the life I love.

As an aquarius, a writer, a free thinker, and a traveler, I’d imagine I’m difficult to love, but extremely amazing and fun to do so as well. I come with no instructions, but with fresh perspectives, ideas, and thoughts. What will happen when I meet the one who doesn’t want to travel is we’ll part ways after date three, or date four we’ll be sharing peanuts and Biscoff cookies on a Delta flight to South Africa, wondering why this hadn’t happened sooner.

I joke, though, and probably have written numerous things about my search for a Kim Porter if I’m unable to find the one who will occupy window, middle or aisle seats. Kim Porter is fine kicking it at home, tending to her hobbies, loving the life she’s built while I’m doing the same, knowing we’ll be together in a few days, and there will be gifts, and new fragrances, and more stories to share, and remember when we get older. Of course we know what happened with Kim Porter in the end, but like a Choose Your Adventure book, we can change that.

IMG_3974

“Come, let’s smoke pure haze in a coffee shop on De Clercqstraat and hate ourselves after, or eat some salt fish and ackee in Brixton,” I’ll say. “Hop a bus with me to Montreal, or a train to Oakland. I found a guy on craigslist who will do our tattoos for $100.” Laugh, pack and come. Or be home so I can kiss you when I get back.

A Legitimate Fear.


IMG_3645

I fear that one day I’ll die, and if the creek don’t rise, I’ll be walking my way to Heaven or some strange earth-like version of an afterlife, and I’ll sit and talk with God, and he’ll sneeze. Shit, what am I supposed to say?

This past week, by a river, I reflected on that question every friend, lover, relative, former professor asked: “What fears do you have? There must be some.” And I found it, and I may have found one theory to their other question, “Why do you travel and move so much?”

With all the friends I have, and all the people who appreciate me and what I do, and my contributions (and I appreciate them equally), I fear I’ll die and the timing of it will be inconvenient and no one will show. Trickle that down. I read a post a few weeks about a guy who was diagnosed with a condition that will probably limit the life he imagined before the diagnoses. Because of this, he began being incredibly nice to people, even when they were undeserving, because he just wanted them around to see that he may be worthy of such politeness in return, even when he didn’t believe it.

Perhaps I travel and move because I have the mentality of a party promoter, or the guy at the club who hits on every woman there: if I meet a million people this year and share a plate and a pint, one of them will show up at the end. I’ve been working on a novel for the last four years about this very thing.

If only one person in your life could be invited to your funeral, who would you invite?