A SEASONAL GREETING AND EXCERPT FROM THE JOURNAL OF
Reprinted from December 2003
Earlier today, I was driving into the residential community where I live and I heard the music that ice cream vendors generally pipe out of their trucks to let their customers know that they are there. This particular truck was a plain gray color-no frills-no paintings of delicious ice cream sundaes and other frozen treats-this was simply a gray truck playing music. Looking inside the truck I could see white freezers that I’m sure held the treats that many would be asking their parents to buy them.
The driver of the ice cream truck appeared to be an African. All of this in and of itself is not so strange or noteworthy, but I began to think about how time passes and things change so much in terms of perspective and reality. Actually, this has been a theme of mine today as I woke up not sure of what my ‘reason’ to live today was.
We grew up in a housing project in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston there is a very clear delineation of seasons. December is clearly winter in Boston. I don’t believe an ice cream man or woman is anywhere to be seen there at this time of the year. In fact, as I came in the door earlier, I retrieved a phone message from my younger brother, Alex, who still lives in Boston, reporting that there was ‘lots of snow there’. We always were excited when the ‘ice cream man’ came around on a hot summer Boston night. In variably, the ‘ice cream man’ was of European background in our early days as kids. Most probably, since I now understand the ethno-demographics of Boston, the ice cream man was most probably Irish, or maybe Italian. I don’t know that this made any difference to us (kids or parents) at all at that time. We were simply happy if we could get a nickel or a dime to buy a treat. Most of our parents were employed workers-very few of us considered entrepreneurship beyond the occasional summer Kool-Aid® stand or the occasional eight dollar press and curl at Mrs. Overshown’s kitchen stove. I never saw an ice cream man back then who was a person of color-I never saw an ice cream woman.
What is noteworthy, again, is how things change. I moved to Houston, Texas in March of this year (2003). Previously I had made my home base in the San Francisco Bay area for about fifteen years. Clearly, both places SF Bay and Houston, present a stark contrast to Boston in climate and culture. So it may not be strange to see the ice cream man in Houston at twelve noon on a December day after it has warmed up a bit. It certainly is not strange to see a man of African decent being the ice cream man here in Houston where Africans as many others are actively involved in many kind of entrepreneurial activities in the year 2003. Actually, Houston has a large African immigrant population that rivals cities such as New York and Washington, DC. But what is strange and different is for me to contemplate the changes that I have experienced and witnessed in the context and the culture of my life.
As we move into a Season where many are celebrating their faith and cultural based traditions, I find it a good time not only to review the year, but also to review my life in certain ways. I’m not sure of as much as I used to be sure of. Who is? The important things are fewer and I plan to spend more of my thoughts, time and energy pursuing and dealing with the things that I have identified as important. Because of this focus, I may be seen less and heard more; I will always be excited to pick up my phone messages now that my youngest granddaughter, Tanayah, knows how to leave me cute, sweet and thoughtful messages. I plan on returning to Africa next year (inshallah), if only for a visit; I have finished a draft of a book of love poems and I hope to publish it shortly; my siblings and I are staying in closer touch and this is good; I plan on continuing my celebration of life and to continue seeing myself as a Queen; I may loose twenty pounds and gain fifteen; I will smile until my heart follows; I will continue to cry and be thankful that pain is temporary and transcendent; I will pray, love, work and live unceasingly until I have exhausted all of my time and all of my energy.
A good friend of mine, author Olayinka Joseph, recently quoted me a scriptural paraphrase from Ecclesiastes, “Die Empty”. I will seek to keep myself empty in a good way at all times, just in case.
Following the foregoing prescription, I intend to continue to write to my journal and to write books and poetry that I can leave on this earth as contributions and accomplishments. I intend to continue my storytelling and poetry performances to all who will hear. I intend to continue to work in whatever community I find myself towards the good ends and the improvement of life in that community. I will continue to learn and to educate at every opportunity.
If you are reading this narrative and have received a copy of this journal entry from me, it is because I remember you, I care about you; you have touched me in some way this year or in this lifetime. I hope we remain in contact-I hope that we continue to help and inspire each other through all the changes in perspective and reality that life affords us. And by the way, have an ice cream-it’s December!
I’d like to wish you the Best of the Season and the Best in the New Year.
Peace and Good Will.