TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, May 22, 2009

This holiday The Daddy misses home, sense of community

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."
--Anais Nin

"Home is the place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."
-- John Ed Pierce.
"A house is made with walls and beams. A home is built with love and dreams."
--unknown

Listen up. The Memorial Day weekend has come. It's a holiday, and all holidays remind The Daddy of home. The Daddy can't get there this holiday. Like the dead leaves and tree branches lingering on the edges of the roof of his house, there's just too much hanging. But a brotha misses home like a cub misses his momma panda or a kid misses a Georgia p
each hanging ripe, yellow, sweet and low on the vine.

Ever miss the place where you were born or the place where you were raised, or the place you call home, no matter where you live now?


Listen, this Memorial holiday, The Daddy would like to write a frivolous post that's easy on the mind, something light and in good cheer. After all, it's a holiday weekend, right? But he can't. You see, a brotha is thinking of Atlanta, his adopted home: home where his mommy gave him and his young male crew cookies when he rushed
home from school, opening the kitchen screen door with a fury, yelling almost at the top of his lungs, "Any cookies, momma?"

Home where, if he didn't like the liver momma was cooking for dinner, he could a
lways eat chicken at a friend's house a few houses down the street; Home where even the neighborhood drunk looked out for him by cursing at him when we wandered too far away from his home and by keeping him entertained telling crazy and violent, shoot-em up war stories...

Home where canning peaches, tomatoes and just about everything else was a community affair, with the women working, gossiping and singing along to James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding or Sam Cooke on the radio...

Home where talking ebonics wasn't a behavior evoking embarassment but an affirming statement of identity, a collective recognition of who we were as a people.

When The Daddy thinks of Atlanta, Georgia, he thinks of attending concerts, or hanging around a small cafe near his house and some friendly neighbor buying him a cold coca cola.

He remembers an older, fat black woman who knew his mom or his dad, feeding him chicken, red beans and rice, and telling him he couldn't leave the table until he had finished everything on his plate.

He remembers the older women, white and black, who called him "honey" with genuine affection and who sometimes pulled his head into their bosoms, stroked his head, hugged his face and called him "honey chile."

He remembers the faces of teachers who lived in his neighborhood, who walked with him to school and sometimes fed him cereal
(Kellogg Corn Flakes) in the faculty lounge.

A brotha hates to say it, but he even remembers policemen, white and black, who would yell at him and his crew for being late for school, who would threaten to haul us off to jail if we were late again. ..

The Daddy misses a period of time and place when he lived in neighborhoods where, in a myriad of ways, people lived community, where community was defined not by geographical boundaries so much as by real people who looked out for family and everyone else.

For The Daddy and for a lot of us, that community is gone, even in cities like Atlanta. Today, some people don't want to get to know their neighbors or, for that matter, the family next door. The working theory is that getting to know your neighbor could be bad for your health. It could get you robbed, raped or killed.


On the other hand, it makes the communities of the past and our fond memories of them even sweeter. And like small streams from a river, The Daddy can still see traces of those communities. He can still see people helping each other fix cars, mothers feeding kids occasionally coming into a momma's kitchen for cookies after school, an older teenager helping a lady get groceries out of a car.

And The Daddy can still hear music that speaks of his beloved Georgia, that reminds him of a time when blacks breathed community every night and everyday, when we didn't just have Georgia on our minds. We lived Georgia all the time. We smelled sweet peaches lining the boundaries of our home in the backyard, whiffed a scent of sweet Georgia pine, looked out for each other, and never went to bed at night without saying our prayers and ending with
"Amen" .

This Memorial weekend, The Daddy will have a couple of cold ones with friends at the neighborhood watering hole. He'll hang for a minute with the brothas at the coffee shop on Sunday. He may even drop into a friend's house on Monday to have some collard greens and sweet potatoes. But beneath the broad smile, he'll have a deep hole in the center of his heart that may never be filled. A brotha misses home, misses community...The Daddy has too many dreams to remember.

Ever miss home during a holiday? Ever listen to a song that bring tears to your eyes and makes you think of home?

Got dreams to remember?

13 comments:

Revvy Rev said...

As you put it, you can be far away from home even in the same town or city. We certainly have lost the beloved "community" that you talk about. It is gone. So I guess we are all away from home. i wish we could go back.

Somebodies Friend said...

I wish things were as simple as they once were, but I don't think we can ever go back.

You are in my prayers brother!

Have a great holiday weekend.

Things may not be as they once were, but we can still be thankful for family and friends, I know I am!

Amen!

MacDaddy said...

Rev: Like you, I wish we could, as Levert sang, "Bring back all those good ole days." But I know we can't. But if we can preserve some of the most precious pieces, I'll be happy. Thanks.

Somebody: You're right. We can't go back. But I'm so thankful for the memories. Happy Memorial weekend, my friend.

Corey said...

Daddy!
I came to the conclusion just the other day that the reason why I'm so stuck in the past as it relates to music and culture is because that's what I miss the most. I'm not STUCK as in NOT ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD, but stuck in the sense of TRYING TO HOLD ON BECAUSE I REMEMBER SO WELL! I'm trying to clutch the remnants of those times you write about because they were so GOOD but now they're GONE.

Just a few days ago, I had flashbacks of when we were kids carrying our records from house to house so we could dance. The OLDER teenagers (boys) would be listening to Billy Cobham or Herbie Hancock and they'd tell us to get lost UNLESS we had some weed or some Ohio Players, you know. We were hot with FIRE, but they were like "let us turn you on to PAIN, PLEASURE and ECSTASY".

Those times, that period swirls around in my head so much, too much.

Anonymous said...

I try not to think about my home and where I grew up, because it simply makes me blind to the acts of kindness of the friends and family who *are* now my life. It's just my way -- I think home is a state of mind.
Verna

MacDaddy said...

"
Those times, that period swirls around in my head so much, too much."
Corey, you state it as well as it can be stated. Those times, those songs and dances, those moments in community, "swirl" in my head too. No, they won't let me go. Hope you're out having fun this holiday. Blessings.

judy said...

I think this may be my favorite Daddy post ever. It gave me chills reading it - the good kind of goosebumps that come from so much emotion bubbling up inside that it ripples on out across your skin. Yes, I miss home, the way we all played outside until the street lights came on and our parents never once worried that we wouldn't come home.

AND, I miss your home, too, Daddy, because this was so beautiful it made me wish I'd lived it. I'm so grateful you take the time to share.

Max Reddick said...

Yeah, every now and then I get a little nostalgic about home. I'm from Memphis and I left home when I was about seventeen. I though I'd always return, but life's journey took me elsewhere.

I really enjoy my life now, but sometimes I really miss the sights, sounds and accents of my childhood. And, like you, I especially miss the sense of community. But as Somebodies Friend says, we can't ever go back. Even when I visit, I find the place I fell in love with is no longer there.

Do you remember the refrain from Lou Rawls' Tobacco Road: "I despise you because you are filthy, but I love you cause you're home."?

MacDaddy said...

"Do you remember the refrain from Lou Rawls' Tobacco Road: "I despise you because you are filthy, but I love you cause you're home."?
Max: I remember it well. I think it was Lew Rawl's best. His hit "Lady Love" was a good R&B song. But Tobacco Road was a universal story about home and a people. Hope you're having a great holiday.

Judy: Thanks for the kind and well-written words. But you know, I have friends who have a hard time talking about the home they once knew. The loss is too painful. So, in writing about my lost home, I hope I'm saying what it hurts them too much to say. Happy Memorial Holiday.

Nun in the Hood said...

Thanks for the memories....I believe that memories are also the stuff of dreams for the future. I attended a backyard party last evening with 100 other folks in North Minneapolis....We released 100 butterflies around the theme that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE., and we were on the internet talking to a dude in India whose dream is to erase poverty in his country in the next 15 years...He even quit his job to pursue this dream in hopes that neighborhoods like the one you described in Atlanta, can be a reality for the children of India...When this guy saw the suffering of the children in India, HE DECIDED TO DEVOTE HIS LIFE to this DREAM he has. It was an inspiring evening...DON SAMUELS our city council person was there, and he believes that just as this Indian man's dream was born out of the suffering of his people, OUR DREAM OF THE REMAKING OF AMERICA will be born out of the suffering of North Minneapolis. and that North MPLS has much to teach the world about HOME even in the midst of adversity.....So let's gather up those memories and learn from them how to build for the future!

MacDaddy said...

Nun: Welcome. It's nice to hear of 100 people getting together and a person from India who quit his job to go home and make community the type of which I spoke in the post. And I certainly agree that we should "gather up those memories" and make a better tomorrow.

Speaking of gathering up memories, I wish I had heard more about your experiences in St. Paul when you were growing up: what it is was like for an Irish person growing up in St. Paul; what you saw occur that made that Irish neighborhood live community.

The reason I say this is because neither The Daddy nor the black community have a lock on living community in the late 60's and 70's. Other people did too. That's how they survived, even thrived. But what we have failed to do-- for the most part-- is translate this to our children and to the next generation. A few of us did, but, for the most part, we go so caught up in the rat-race of survival or careers or education that we failed to translate to our kids and neighbors those things that enabled us to get to where we are then and where we are now.

We failed to tell our stories to our children, to the ones coming behind us. And we still fail at this today. Today, we are so quick to talk about a failing economy, celebrities who want to adopt kids from Africa, or who are still having difficulties moving on after a traumatic breakup or the fallout from some American Idol contest.

We failed to get those coming after us to understand in specif ways how we our generation was provided a financial and spiritual "safety net" an incubator as it were, to make us feel we could "reach for the stars," to be "the best that we can be."

One of the ways that we failed is by skipping our stories, by moving on to other things: other "issues," other "struggles." But the real struggle for us now is to bring back the best of all our behaviors that made us a community and, out of it, creating a new America. But that's not going to happen until we tell our individual stories and keep telling those stories, until the ones coming behind us know that we were guiding by the best of intentions: to hold onto the best of who they are, and to make life even better for them.



One day, I would like to hear your story. My bet is that your story will be as compelling as mine. Projecting here, one people see through these stories that they have more in common than they have that's different, they will have a more solid foundation for community action for change; and to depend on themselves to create change, rather than the oft-times ambitious, self-centered politician. Blessings.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

You describe home exactly the way it used to be for me too. sadly, that home doesn't exist anymore, but I've found one that's almost as good.
Today I'm feeling a little sad that my son has decided to get married and settle in Chicago. . . sure, he's 5 blocks from White Sox sadium, but I know it won't be anything like "home."

MacDaddy said...

Sagacious: I knew you would understand. Wishing your son the best.