Monday, February 21, 2011
I Took Off My Socks and Became an Angel...
So as I sit in my room listen to Miles Davis and watch the snow fall outside of my window, I find myself growing up and maturing very quickly. This night was suppose to have an entirely different atmosphere to it, one of alcohol, laughter, and friends to bring in my birthday with, in some bar on South Street. But things, as they often do in life, changed. And I am now by myself, no alcohol, no laughter, and no friends. I've refused to allow myself to get angry with moments like these because they are far out of my control, and when things are that far out of my hands there is no point in mustering up any kind of emotion other than that of indifference and a "shit happens" to go along with it. Instead I look to the universe (some may know her by her other aliases "God", "Allah", "The Creator of All" take your pick), and I say "Ight, what is it that you want me to do tonight? Since you obviously disagreed with my plans". And I suddenly felt the urge to tell this story. This is a story that I've long wanted to tell you guys but wasn't able to because it had yet to run it's course until just recently. So on this night before my birthday, if I had to think back on things that have most affected me this year. One sticks out above all others. So here it goes...
Some time in August (and I'm terrible when it comes to recalling time so it might not have actually been in August at all. But for the sake of this story it doesn't really matter when it was so let's just stick with August...) I was in a place of self reflecting. I get in these spells of questions and wondering what it all really means. I was going back and forth on some things, tryna find new beginnings and struggling to write endings to old happenings. So this day in "August" I was with my mentor Greg, and he and I had been running around doing shows and performing here and there. And he was driving me to the Patco train station so that I could make my way back over to Jersey. He sensed that I was going through something so at the station he and I sat in the car for about 45 minutes talking about life and what not. When I got out of the car I still felt some weight on my shoulders and didn't feel like the train was the right choice for me at that moment. Mind you it's like 2 in the morning on 8th and Market. Everything is closed except for the Burger King and 7Eleven. So I walk to the 7Eleven to buy a black&mild and started to wander. And anybody who knows me, knows that I'm a wanderer. I will just walk aimlessly for hours and be in my own universe the entire time. I can't tell you what I was thinking about because I don't know myself, but I know it had to do with my purpose in life or something along those lines. When I made it to about Broad and Walnut I sat and watched the white people stumble out of bars and drunkenly hail cabs (one of my favorite things to by the way). And then a friend of mine hit me up and asked if I wanted to come over, and having no plans for the night allowing myself to go where the universe saw fit I said "sure". And I began making my way towards North Philly. Still not in any kind of rush or hurry kinda just walking at my own pace. I get to Broad and Thompson (and anybody who knows this street or knows Philly at all, at 4 in the morning it ain't the brightest idea to be walking down dark streets alone) and I turn the corner. When I do I see a very disturbed and irate man cursing out a car with his sneaker in his hand. "Stupid muthafucka ain't gona talk to me like that!! Shit I kick yo ass say some shit like that to me!!" and then he proceeds to punch the car window in. Now in North Philadelphia, this isn't an uncommon scene. Most natives would just advise you to turn around and find another street to walk down in order to get to your destination (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, remember snitches get stitches). But for whatever reason to this day I have no idea what possessed me but as I got closer, I asked "you good king?". This man, about 6 foot and very furious looked at me with the eyes of a rabbit dog, confused, and angry that he was confused all at the same time. But a moment later those same eyes were those of a 5 year old boy who had been caught stealing from his mothers purse knowing dang on well that it was wrong. He said to me "Honestly, I just need someone to talk to..." and I said "Well I've been told that I'm a pretty good listener." And we sat on the curb right next to the car and talked for about an hour. His name is Kenny, in his younger days he was an all star athlete all around and had a lot going for him. I could see a handsome man underneath all of the pain that time had layer onto his face. Somewhere along the line he'd gotten caught up, in drugs and shit just went south. He was on the streets here and there, shacking up at this place and that. When I came across him that night he told me that he had just asked some guy who got out of his car for some change and the guy blew him off and told him to get a job. "This ain't me man, I swear I don't break into cars. Times are just so hard! I see people living so well and I think to myself, life shouldn't be this hard for anyone." I asked him what he needed, and he looked down at his feet and told me that he could really use some socks because his feet were rubbing against his sneakers and they were starting to bleed. I told him that he could have the socks off my feet if he wanted. He looked at me as if no one had ever offered him anything so beautiful in his life. And we sat there on that sidewalk and I gave him my socks. I walked with him to the gas station across the street and bought him a sandwich and gave him 15 dollars so that he could stay in this home down the street for the night. After that we parted ways, I finally made it to my friends house and I wrote a note to the owner of the car with the broken window and explained what had happened and told him the Kenny was extremely sorry about what he'd down and I assured him that he did not steal any of his belongings.
So fast forward over the next couple of months I was frequenting the area because I work at The New Freedom Theatre which is only one block up the street from where the incident happened. And I was running into Kenny here and there, and I'd stop and talk to him give him a few dollars. He asked me for my phone number and he wrote it down in his bible that he was now carrying everywhere with him. He told me that I saved his life that night, and he knew that god had crossed our paths for a reason. I always helped him when I could because he seemed like he genuinely wanted to change. But the thought always lingers in the back of your mind, what if he's taking this 20 dollars and going round the corner and spending it on drugs. But I continued to give anyway. He came to me one day and told me that he'd found a job and he was starting soon and he was real excited, and I was happy for him. He told me that he wanted me to hold his Access Card (for those of you unfamiliar, its pretty much food stamps on a credit card), he said that he didn't trust himself with that much money yet and that I was the only one he knew would keep it safe for him. So I held onto it for him and he was gona call me whenever he needed it. Some time passed and he never called. I always kept the card in my wallet in case on some random moment I ran into him on the street I could give it back to him. Months later we crossed paths again in the same general area, he looked bad again. He told me that he relapsed and got locked up for a couple of months, but he was getting back on his feet again. By this time I didn't know how to feel, I didn't want to just brush him off like everyone else in his life but at the same time I didn't know what I could do for him. Later I realized that just being there for him was all that I needed to do. We had a few more encounters where I helped him out with a few things and then, nothing. He disappeared again. This time I felt like I'd done all I could do and whatever was meant to happen was gona happen.
Fast forward to a couple of days ago. I'm in Freedom Theatre (we host different events and one of my jobs is to directs folks to the appropriate rooms and kick out and unwanted guest), and this particular night there happens to be an event called "Mind of Men" where they are giving all kinds of help to folks, job hunting, legal advice, and so on. So all night I'm on my Iphone watching Lord of the Rings on Netflix looking up occasionally to point someone in the right direction. So along come two brothers standing in front of me, inquiring about the event. I glance up and see a light skinned brother and a dark skinned brother in a jeff hat. The light skinned one ask me what time it ended and I told him and went back to looking at my phone. Then I glanced back up to take another look at the other brother. And as sure as I'm writing these words I could not believe that it was Kenny standing in front of me. When I tell you this brother was sharp, he was sharp!! All clean clothes, some fly ass reading glasses, freshly shaven, and looking healthy. I got up and hugged him so fast, I couldn't believe it. Apparently he'd crossed paths with this ministry up in Germantown who'd taken him in and help him get his life back in order. He was a completely different man than I'd ever see him before. Even the way he spoke, with such purpose I was honestly impressed. We stood there and talk for a few minutes then he had to go back to the event. When he was heading out he pulled me aside and told me that he had to thank me because I was the reason he was standing where he was today. He finally knew for a fact that this is why god had put me in his life. I never felt so much energy in my insides as I did in that moment. It was like my child had graduated college or something, but here I am 21 and this 40 year old man considers me to be his mentor.
And this is where I am tonight, no longer the night before my birthday. 12 o'clock has come and gone I spent it writing a story about a man who just needed someone to talk to. Last year this time I was in Atlantic City white-boy wasted outa my mind up to no good. Today I'm feeling like I've rearranged my priorities slightly and can see more clearly having done so. I've learned from all of this that we never know what we are being used for, stop looking for your purpose and just allow yourself to be your purpose. I'm looking at life through the same lenses as always but just at a different angle now...
Remember to pay it forward, signing off
till next time
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