Such a blessed closet. So much black. So much beauty. Today calls for something different. A white short sleeve button-down collared shirt. White loose-fitting slacks. White socks. White sneakers. White laces. White baseball cap, no logo. Laid out on my bed. Attire so fitting for a viewing.
You are assuming that my mother is an angel, so the attire is appropriate. That is incorrect. White is depression. White is the prison-industrial complex. White is the school-to-prison pipeline. White is the destruction of human rights. White is oppression. White is slavery. White is racism. White is death. Are you shocked? Are you surprised? How could I place white in such light? Imagine how black must feel.
This shirt fits perfectly. One sleeve at a time. Five buttons. So do these slacks. One leg at a time. Zipper. One button. Comfortable socks. One foot at a time. Sneakers snug. One foot a time. Laces clean. Double knots. Both sides. Baseball cap fitted. Perfect imagery.
My soul is splintered into thousands of pieces and not even the best surgeon with the most steady of hands and a surgical team of the best in all of their select fields could put it back together again not without the voice of my mother guiding them putting them in the right position to properly assemble a soul only she knows up close…
Run on sentence, run on…
Sentenced to an earthly existence sans my mother. Dressed in exactly the message I want to portray. I just hope people can understand my word choice, my style choice. Not trying to make some grand statement. People only question you when you go against the Eurocentric norm. Baldwin would be so proud of me in this moment.
“What are you wearing?”
My father wears tradition on his back like his slave first and last name were tailored for his lips. Black suit. Grey tie. Black shoes. Grey socks. Perfectly shaven. A crisp gentleman. Baldwin would put my father in such a properly structured sentence, dropping him to his knees in Uncle Tom anguish. Oh, the whole armor of God is on me today and she is just as fed up as I am.
“She would want you to be appropriate at this time. We are about to bury her. You look silly. You do not look like my son.”
I stare at this oddity of a man. This traitor of gene pools. What does his son look like? I look like my mother’s son, possibly the greatest visual representation I could foster. His approval is not necessary in this moment. Neither is his presence. Neither is mine. My feet start moving. Somehow I end up out the door. Walking up the hill from our house. Someone calls my name.
Sounds like my father. Does not sound like my dad. My legs make my decision for me. One step at a time. No need for directions, this is natural progression. I am supposed to go this way, in this way. Time to walk in my truth. I will be saying goodbye to my mother’s body soon. There is no way to prepare yourself for such an occasion, only time.
Footsteps behind me. Louder. Running – with a purpose. I do not want to turn my head around. I do not want to see my father in his house slave’s Sunday’s best. The footsteps slow, replaced by heavy breathing.
I hope it is my father…
“Look at me.”
I know this voice. It is one of friendship, of knowing when to show up, of being there, of providing a shoulder, of walking in my truth. I turn around to engage.
“My dear friend.”
“You walk too damn fast.”
“You’re just out of shape, sir.”
“You need to learn slang.”
“Why you ruin everything?”
I smile. This burst of youthful exuberance comes at a time when my thoughts only surround that of the adult realm. I am dealing with things beyond my emotional scope. Am I intelligent enough to understand? Absolutely. But despite my academic prowess, I still cannot add more years of experience to my current 14. No book can substitute experience. I have experienced other worlds through my favorite writers’ viewpoints but that is all that I can claim. To be a kid, on occasion, is a necessary reminder to slow down.
“You thinking about something overly deep, ain’t you?”
This white boy makes me laugh.
“How can you tell?”
“You make facial expressions the rest of us don’t know how to. Like you’ve been here before or something. When it happens, I have to fight the urge to slap the hell out of you.”
“Fight the good fight.”
“I hate you.”
“I miss you too, Walter.”
He wears a beat up white T-shirt, dirty blue jeans, busted sneakers and battle scars. He looks like he auditioned for The Sandlot or Stand By Me. A stereotypical rugged white boy, attractive to some, a threat to others. His experiences differ from mine. It is written in his outfit, on his skin. In his eyes. His tongue paints a different picture but his eyes, pain’s locale.
“Where are you headed?”
Drop my eyes. Raise them again. Slightly smile. But I would not call it a smile. That would be disrespectful to happiness. Walter puts his arm around me.
“I’m going, too.”
“I am now.”
We walk. Nobody talks. Only about a mile remains in this trek. A car has not pulled up yet to reveal my father. It is a detail of this trip I thought would be added. He let me leave his house, on the way to his deceased wife’s viewing, by myself. I may not be dressed like his son, but he is not dressed like my dad. He is forever my father. Biological necessity. Financial security. He fills a need, but does not satisfy mine.