Friday, July 02, 2004

Friday July 2, 2004 - 2:30PM

I am 36 years old. My name is roger. My great-great-grandfather is Nicodemus Smith. i have found this out five minutes ago. It's a long story. I am at my uncle's house in New Hampshire. We've known each other for a little less than four years now. That too is a long story and i do not know if i'll tell it here, in my journal, but i must tell this.

We (Africans of the diaspora) speak intellectually all the time about the way in which slavery has untethered us from an understanding of our histories, our families, our heritage. We know we have been wronged somehow, somewhere and we can explain it (we have voice and language for it) even to one another, but then we go on. We forge ahead because that's what we've always done. With no other options, what else to do, but survive.

Then the day comes when a door is opened and for the first time one of us has the slightest glimpse of any of the ancestry of the spirits that watch over us, that enable us across the passage (Middle or otherwise) and all we can do is wonder at the riches that have been denied us, wonder at the several levels of chaos wrought in our lives by the economic, social, political facs of history that have ruled us for the last 400 years or so, and then we cannot respond, or we do; and we find some expression, some word, some song of joy for it. It happened for Alex Haley and "Roots".

So we (or i) just cry. Nicodemus is in a picture on my uncle's wall in black and white, dulled by age and technology. In the picture, which belonged to my grandmother (who i never met), he is probably already a man in his fifties (even sixties) and he is in a grove of what looks like sugar cane trees, sporting the hat, the workshirt open to the waist and the boots, of a laborer, a proud man who roks the land for his family. He is thin and sun-brown. Perhaps he is also a drinker, perhaps not. Perhaps he is a philanderer; perhaps not. Perhaps he is shrewd and full of laughter and loves children. Perhaps he is none of these. Perhaps he has never hoped for anything...
...Perhaps he is a poet.

It is Friday Afternoon at 3:00. The weekend has just begun. It's already this deep. i don't know whether to laugh or cry.

(Friday 8PM)
We've been to a pool party and hung out on the deck with my 3-yr old cousin, Ayanbi. Every time i come here, she has more to say, more complete sentences, more well-formed opinions, more visions of her world. Sometimes i feel like she is my very own child; and i know it is because this is a connection to blood family that i dare not lose, that i hold fast to like a raft. We (Salome and I) drove up here today and i've been up since 5AM. I need a nap, as much because of the hourse i've been up and the swimming i've done as the stimulus i've had. Tuesday is my uncle Wole's 42nd birthday. the party is tomorrow. I'll nap now...


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