On Sept. 7 I turned 29 years old. This is the last year of my 20s, and I thank the good Lord for allowing me to see one more year.
My 20s have been a pain in my narrow ass, yet I have learned a lot. I finally feel that this is the prime of my life. I now feel I can actually live my life. Wisdom cannot be taught, nor learned in a textbook. One acquires it through many successes and failures. This past summer I have truly learned, for my benefit, that I can never look at people the same.
The man I see on my Sunday morning coffee run, digging in the garbage for something to eat, has a story. Will someone listen to him?
The bag lady resting her head, her soul, in Garfield Park with her entire life packed up in plastic public library bags: How did she get to this point? The young kids I've been running into lately who seem to think I am a walking cigarette dispensary. So young, with all these needle marks in their neck and arms. Their eyes tell the story of someone lost, torn, wondering where their next hit will come from.
I see the real pretty girl with beautiful big eyes. I used to see her at a bar I patronized, but now I see her holding up the corner. Can't nobody tell me men have dogged her throughout her life. She stays to herself, waiting for her next moneymaking opportunity; and I, like the singer Dionne Warwick, just walk on by. I could be any one of these people. I lift my hand and say, "Lord, have mercy." But in the same breath I say, "Bless your heart." I would hope, if I fell on hard times, that someone would be so kind and buy me a cup of coffee, give me some change or give me a word of encouragement. I love to greet the morning before everyone else interrupts us. It's then I see Hamilton County's despair up close and personal. I'm such a crybaby. Another thing I have learned is that I'm OK. I like being different, in my thinking, style and all that describes me. I no longer want to fit into anything indicative of Cincinnati.
Excuse me for tucking in my shirt. I so apologize for not being able to rock the urban labels (Sean John, Enyce, Phat Farm) and the like. I am the unofficial, African-American spokesmodel for Gap. It fits me; and if you don't like what I have on, turn your damn head. And I always get complements on how I smell. I pride myself in smelling good when I can. I had a guy tell me this past summer as I walked by the library, "I hate sweet smelling sissies." Fuck you! If I want to smell like Polo, a plum, a pear, a peach, a pot roast, or a Pontiac Grand Prix, it's my business.
Usually, people who make comments like this to me need to be placed in a lobster pot with Clorox and Lemon Joy for one hour. If you think for one minute I will walk around town looking like I need to walk through a car wash — dingy, dusty, with white lips and Nautica boxers that everyone can see are so dirty the ship has sank — you can kiss my ass. I have learned to let people be who they are. I hope to practice to kick ass for what I really want in life. I have 30 travel guides to different places I want to visit, and the only thing standing in my way is me.
I will drink a cup of coffee early in the morning on Navy Pier in Chicago. I will smell the salty air on my ferry ride to Bainbridge Island from Seattle. I will throw back a couple of beers in Prague. I will take a picture of Jesus Christ high on top of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Brazil.
I can't stay in Cincinnati. I want more. I see too many people here who are complacent, and that scares me. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to later be comfortable. Remember: There are 49 other states, seven continents, and you think Cincinnati will be the beginning and the end. Get the hell out of here! Fall is here. I wish all those who read this the best the season has to offer. My heart has thawed out; and if I can say something to someone that will give them life, I will try my best. I have been murdered numerous times by the words of others, but from my ashes, I rise.
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