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Sunday Soliloquy: One Step Foward, Two Steps Black July 26, 2009

Filed under: Sunday Soliloquy — afrocity @ 6:06 PM

shitThis weekend, I have decided to give myself a much needed gift.

Rest and relaxation away from the city, and myself.

Tomorrow Monday, July 27th would have been my mother’s 71st birthday. The passing of two years since her death has not made it much easier for me to face July 27th without feeling a sense of loss and guilt.

I will call the week the trifecta. Mom’s birthday on the 27th, my dad’s on the 28th and mine on August 2nd.  If you want to throw more irony in the pot, my maternal grandmother’s 98th birthday would have been on August 6th.

As I packed my bags, I felt that leaving home would enable me to face the weekend with a more positive attitude. Birthdays commemorate life not death. She would have wanted me to be happy on July 27th but who can blame me for feeling lonely?

Normally the last week in July was like the twelve days of Christmas.  Mom and I would scrape together enough money to treat ourselves to ice cream, movies on State Street, a trip to Lincoln Park Beach.

Summer birthdays have their advantages when you are a child. They meant no school and onery Chicago weather couldn’t ruin a picnic if it tried.  I can remember our birthdays as having 98.9% perfect sundress, sandal and banana Popsicle weather. Nothing on earth could ever spoil our week.

My suitcase was packed. I sat on the bed starring at the reflection in the mirror. This was not the same girl who used to experiment with womanhood by sneaking into her mother’s underwear drawer to try on the 38 C bra she would never grow into.  In that moment it was difficult for me to easily reconcile my age with my misadventures and sorrows.  I have been homeless, hungry, beaten, left, and motherless all before reaching the  age of 40. The face in the mirror was a ghost of the girl I was was. While it showed few wrinkles, it was my heart that had aged and cracked with time.

54maidenformbraAway from the city, I woke up for the first time in two weeks without having a panic attack.  I have suffered from them for years. The place I am in now offers no chance for childhood analogies. A quiet college town with trees, hummingbirds and best of all no police sirens.

Too bad I brought along my cell phone, my father vibrated against my outer right thigh three times before I answered.

“Afrocity, where have you been?”

“I decided to leave town, my panic attacks became worse.  Perhaps it’s because of mom-.”

“Well you couldn’t tell your father?” he asked sarcastically.

I should have felt good about his concern. After 39 years, I finally know this man and he was attempting to be parental. So tell me, why did his concern annoy me?

“I needed a break,” I continued. “you know from the noise and news-“

“What news?”

“Uhhhh- Obama and the whole Gates situation, Iran, the economy.”  God please let this call be short. I am loving you dad but I need to be alone.

“Ain’t that a damn shame about that black professor being arrested? He had a PhD. I could not help thinking that it could have been you.”

Oh no not you dad. Not with this phony racial profiling crap.

“I recently saw an exhibit of lynching postcards,” I said in an irritated manner. “I could not help thinking that it could have been you. You were born in the 40’s right?”

“Yes, I knew someone who was lynched,” he answered.

“You’re lucky it wasn’t you Dad. We’ve come a long way from those days don’t you think?”

My father paused. He knew what I was trying to do. Despite our short five year relationship, he does somehow seem to “get” me.

As he went on about how bad things are in America for the black man, I looked up at a cardinal bird in an acorn tree.  My father and I were never slaves. Neither was Henry Louis Gates Jr. or President Barack Hussein Obama.  Just then I remembered a story that my mother had told me about my great great grandmother who was a slave. I wondered if she too was a Leo like us, and did she have birthday parties.

feministMy father said something that snapped me back into reality, “I will not be in town for my birthday in case you were thinking of doing something for me.”

Hmm, this was a rather great and gratuitous assumption.  Actually, I had forgotten all about his birthday being July 28th. How dumb of me, especially with it being the day after my mother’s.  Crazy like a fox, I covered up my selective memory.

“Oh, that is to bad. I was planning to make you dinner…(bites lip) I tell you what how about next Sunday you come over to my place and we celebrate our birthdays…together.”

My father was surprised.  So was I.  I could not believe that just came out of my mouth. I was planning on spending the day alone with a nice Xanax and strawberry cheesecake ice cream cocktail, wrapped up with my cats and a Firefly: The Complete Series DVD set.

I just broke a 40 year tradition of spending my birthday with my mother and only my mother. Even in death she was still there but now what have I done? I am allowing a man that gave  a bit of his sperm in order to give me life, then never saw me again for 35 years to spend our birthday together.

“Afrocity, I would love that!” he exclaimed. The old man was really happy.

“Yep between your being 63 and my being 40, we can burn the place down with our candles.”  I was committed to it at this point. Might as well make the best of it.

“It’s a date,” he said.

Autographed Letter Signed,



12 Responses to “Sunday Soliloquy: One Step Foward, Two Steps Black”

  1. johninca Says:

    Real guilt means that you deliberately wronged someone, and you recall what you did with remorse. It’s either for bad people or people who do bad things.

    There’s another kind of remorse, that of good people who ask themselves, “did I do everything I could?”

    I think that’s what you have. Having had a childhood that could rival yours for horrors, I’d like to offer sympathies and prayers.

  2. Just have to throw out there that my mom’s birthday is on August 2nd as well. Which is also the date of my wife’s parents’ anniversary.

  3. bob Says:

    Happy Birthday to you, good Lady.

    When I was your age (I’m sixty two now) I too had some panic attacks. Yes, tired, stressed out white farmers can have them too. Not knowing what they were, I went to a psychologist lady in my church, and we had some very good talks.

    One thing she asked me was, how was I with death? Well, says I, jokingly, I’m with Woody Allen, it’s not death I fear, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

    Anyway, she gave me some books to read, among them books about near death experiences, which started me on a years long quest. And it made a difference. There’s even a name for it, bibliotherapy.

    I believe as you age you will find yourself growing out of it. That was my case, and it’s in the literature.

    Anyway, you are not alone.

    Again, Happy Birthday to you, you excellent writer and wonderful thinker.

    Autographed letter signed,

    Bob 🙂

  4. poplicola Says:

    Happy Birthday.

  5. bob Says:

    And I’ve been meaning to ask, what is that light blue ball in your hand?

    It’s been driving me crazy.

    • afrocity Says:

      It is a green ball that I am about to throw to my dogs.

      My birthday is not till August 2nd, but today would have been mom’s b-day.

  6. Marianne7 Says:

    You needed to do that, for yourself, to untangle stuff inside you. Doesn’t mean anything changes with you and your Dad, just that you start moving on. Painful with parental crap. Must be done, not for their sake, as in all the guilt-trip fake shrink discussions, but for you and your personal happiness. Many of us have some parental betrayal in life to get over. At my age, I’ve done so, AND! it only took more than a half century! Ok, ignore that last remark. Start early. 🙂

  7. WMCB Says:

    Happy Birthday to you, and to your father. I didn’t meet mine til I was an adult either, so it can be….awkward.

    Peace. Hope you can find some quiet space for yourself in the midst, when you need it.

  8. joanelle Says:

    this was a big weekend – my hubby and I celebrated his birthday (7/25) and our 45th anniversary (7/26)

    We Leo’s need to stick together – my B’day is 8/5-

  9. AfricanAgainstO Says:

    Yes August is a great month for my family to – my son will turn 4, my dad 80, and my older brother 46. Happy Birthday!

  10. amazonia Says:

    Happy Birthday Afrocity!

Comments are closed.