I'm told that my daddy was afraid to hold me when I was born. This is funny because I was his 7th child. My mama says his complaint was that when you hold a baby, their head goes one way and the arms another. Too wobbly for him, too delicate. My mother fixed this by handing me over and saying she was going to the bathroom. She simply didn't entertain his antics. Amazingly, he coped and managed not to drop me.
Years later, he'd tell me that I was bought from Lawrence's Baby Store. Apparently I was the cutest lil' brown baby in the window and he knew he had to bring me home. My mother and I still joke about my beginnings and what either of us would do if we ever came across Lawrence's Baby Store. I'm hoping, they still have cute brown babies there, as I plan to purchase a few for myself in a few years.
I have never talked about my father or our relationship to anyone. It's not that its too hard or emotionally stressing. It just a part of my history that I have compartmentalized and kept for me and me alone. The fact that I'm even writing this blog is somewhat of an accomplishment. There are some things concerning him I may never tell. These are not necessarily bad but sacred to me and as a result I keep them close to the chest.
Despite having a photographic memory of everything that took place the night my father transitioned, I most often think of one of our last conversations. We were sitting on the front porch of my mama's house and I remember asking him if he'd been to college. My father was a pastor and he had indeed gone to theology school. I wanted to know if he had to write papers and if they had to be long. Only God knows why my 11 year old mind was worried already about college essays!
So I asked, "Daddy how long was your paper?"
He replied, "Too long for that teacher to be puttin' all those red marks through it!"
This still makes me laugh! I didn't really understand then but its ALL I thought about every time I wrote a paper in graduate school.
Father's Day has met me several ways. Sometimes I'm reflective, like now. Sometimes I forget entirely. I'm rarely emotional but it has happened. The way people make post and tributes to their fathers on social media always makes me feel weird. It's like they forget that some of us live only with memories. There are some who live with memories they'd rather forget. While others, operate with a fantasy of what life would have been like had they even known their father.
Some years ago, I wrote my daddy a poem. (I'm always writing to loved ones who have transitioned. Words operate in the supernatural; knowing no place or time.) Dabbing into calculus, I thought us both to be tangent lines crossing through the curve of life. Time, being infinite, would prove that our two points would cross again. And I believe it to be so. As for me and my daddy, our two points shall cross again.
I've been mentally working on a piece about white privilege. Trying to come up with a definition my soul understands. White privilege is murdering 9 black people, then getting a chance to be arrested. Right? Like actually living to be arrested is such a gift! You get a free ride to a precinct. You get your picture taken and you're finger prints archived. You get to use the bathroom. You get to ask for a lawyer. You get to cry. This is white privilege right?
My time in Accra was bittersweet for so many reasons. Lets start with the sweet.
People have asked me, "How was your trip? Tell me everything!" It's impossible. I don't know if I could ever accurately articulate everything that happened (both bitter and sweet) or every emotion I experienced. My reply is generally, "It was amazing!"
I recognize that I hold a very glamorized version of Africa in my head. This is mostly due to the quest to create and hold on to an African identity that was stolen from me. Though I have only been to Africa twice, on two very short trips, I still feel freer there. I am more relaxed and more at peace within my body. I am not thinking about all of my never-ending thoughts. No thoughts about what to eat and when, or getting to work. So many thoughts about work! I've yearned to connect with Africa so badly that it's slightly confusing for me to meet people of African descent that do not share my feelings. So being in Africa will always be sweet even when things or a particular situation is less than desirable.
Accra has a culture. Everything about it feels like another country. I often found myself feeling invisible, but in a good way. It was like I had been picked up and placed in another world and there I was standing there while this world was buzzing all around me. Everything I observed was beautiful to me and again I was amazed by the color of everything. All the colors seemed to be in high definition, saturated with life. I enjoyed hearing the language and trying to see if my sprit could translate. African people throughout the Diaspora are so expressive. Even though I did not speak Fanti or Twi, I generally understood tone and emotions of the conversations being spoken around me.
The food was also really good! I got to try several local dishes. Staples like fufu and palm nut soup, banku, and kenkey were in heavy rotation on my plate! There was very little that I just didn't like and there is nothing, nothing, as good in the states as the fresh plantain chips they sell roadside! I came home and bought some from my local grocery store only to be hugely disappointed. They tasted like cardboard!
So the culture of Accra was amazing. The people, the language, the food. I realize I could go on but this would be a very long blog post!
The bitter part of my trip, largely revolved around a severed friendship and the fact that I didn't want to leave. I cried like a baby in the airport because I just didn't want to come back. It's like a bit of depression began to creep in the Saturday before I left. I shed a few tears on the plane and managed not to have a full out breakdown but by the time I made it to New York I couldn't hold it anymore. See living abroad is one of my lifelong dreams. I've never felt so close to actualizing it and to feel so close, yet so far away can be frustrating. So I felt a deep sadness because my life is not yet doing what I want it to do. I'm learning to be patient with God's timing and to trust Spirit's design for my life. In the meantime, I'll be continuing to job search and put things in motion for this vision to manifest.
Kanika: Poet. Lover of Words. One who tells the stories of the mundane and inanimate. Bearer of Light, Water, and Sky.