It was impossible to not see it coming. At the age of ten I was able to see it. The storm cloud that hung over my home before the dissolution of my parents marriage was thick, heavy and full of inconvenience. The majority of my classmates in elementary and middle school had parents who were happily married, or at least that’s what was evident. During those times I received comfort when the parents of my friends argued and pain when they were affectionate. I wanted every outside relationship to mimic exactly what I was dealing with.
A decade had passed since I’d seen my father. I was a freshman in college when we last occupied the same space. Now, ten years later, he tapped my shoulder in the house that no longer belonged to him.
He looked younger than I remembered, sort of rejuvenated in a way. “What was he doing now that was different from the past? Was it the way he dressed?” I asked myself. My dad wore a shirt that bore no wrinkles and pants that had seams as sharp as knives. On the right side of his blue shirt was a man with a mallet on a horse. Wearing brand name clothes was something my father never cared for. I was looking at a changed man. An individual, who mirrored my father, but was different in many ways. This man wasn’t the father that I knew growing up.
“Long time no see young man. I didn’t know you were planning to come back,” my father said with a bizarre smirk on his face. “Yeah…uh, this trip was unexpected,” I said, still unable to comprehend the moment. The background noise flowing through the house disappeared and I no longer had to yell. I cleared my voice and asked my father a simple, safe question. “How have you been dad.”
The two of us talked about everything in that quiet corner of the house against the wall. We both loved basketball and debated about the Miami Heat and their back-to-back championships. One thing my father and I agreed upon was our dislike for Lebron James. “Michael Jordan and Kobe Byrant would never team up with the guys their trying to beat,” my father said with a disappointed expression. “I just hope he doesn’t get a third ring,” I said while shaking my head.
My father tried to condense 10 years of inactivity within a single moment. He inquired about my past relationships and why they didn’t work out. “What ever happened to Michelle? I liked her” my father said. What frustrated me most about these moments was how they never seemed to transition. “Dad, Michelle and I broke up a long time ago,” I said to my father in a dispirited voice.
The plate of food I prepared was no longer in my hands. It now rested peacefully on the bookshelf to my right. Periodically, a few houseflies would buzz around the macaroni and cheese. Those annoying insects were probably looking for the perfect spot the lay eggs.
Old feelings that I felt when my life was filled with limited responsibility began to return. Standing next to my father in the old house was nice. “Who are all these people, dad? I don’t know them, but for some bizarre reason they know me.” I explained. My father turned around and took a quick surveillance of the room. “These are just friends of friends. You know, acquaintances. Even I don’t know who most of these people are,” he laughed.
My mind felt like it needed to be stretched. I wanted to proceed further and grasp a better understanding of what was happening around me, but a great deal of things still needed to be established.
“Have you seen your sister?” my father slowly asked. For some reason I needed my father to repeat what he said. I heard his question, but was unable to comprehend the meaning. If he was here and Jumoke, too, then there was a chance that my entire family was also. “Have you seen your sister?” he repeated. “She is around here somewhere.” “Jumoke is here?” I asked with a revitalized spirit. “Yeah, I saw her earlier.” I immediately pushed myself from against the wall and stood up straight. I carefully scanned the room and paused at each person. I inspected every detail that had the possibility of matching some semblance of my sister. “Are you sure you saw her?” I asked my father in a tone of voice that implied he didn’t know his own daughter. “Yes, I am sure.” he said.
The dinning room was full of people and if I was going to find my sister, it wasn’t going to be from this spot. I looked at my dad and told him that I would be back. He nodded his head and said,” I’ll be right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
If he had really seen my sister then I needed to of find her.
Attempting to keep any political dialogue free from this blog has been like trying to keep my eyes open during a boring lecture. Before long my head stops rocking up and down and left to right and then I am snatched up by sleeps inescapable hook.
Waking up to another alert on my iPhone about a shooting in Nairobi, Kenya was disheartening to say the least. I hadn’t planned on waking up this way and I’m sure the mall, which is frequented by Kenyan elites and foreign expatriates also didn’t expect their day to unfold this gruesomely.
Thirty people have been reportedly killed and dozens injured. Sadly, those numbers are likely to rise. The New York Times displayed two men helping a woman climb out of a ventilation shaft inside a restaurant. Reportedly she hid inside until the gunfire had ceased. I wonder what’s written in Kenya’s constitution in regards to bearing arms? The country seems to be perpetually involved in conflict that I’m sure they will not be engaging in similar conversation like we do over here in America. While several American officials are viewing this as a terrorist attack, a lost life can only be viewed one way.
Why this is happening, is a question that many of us are asking ourselves while we watch breaking news and developing stories. What led the gunmen on this ravenous killing spree? And what could have been done to prevent this?
Last week, a man opened fire on a Naval Yard in Washington, killing 12 people including himself. On December 14, 2012, 25 young children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. July 20, 2012, a man opens fire in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado killing 12 people. In 2009, a man opens fire killing 13 people at a Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Fort Hood, Texas. Had enough? Unfortunately the list goes on and gets tragically worst.
Why is all this happening? It’s the guns, blame the guns everyone says. Down with the NRA and create tougher regulations on gun usage is common rhetoric that is heard nowadays. However, we all know what the problem is regarding the barrage of shootings here on American soil. Society and the lack of alternatives.
Now, let me jump to another tangent for a second. I promise I will get back on route shortly. About 2 hours and 15 minutes ago I read a study conducted by Dr. Carl Hart, which was titled ‘The Rational Choice of Crack Addicts’. Dr. Hart’s study focused on how crack addition is a societal problem and that with alternatives to crack, people are able to make rational economic decisions. Most crack addicts come from compromised environments which makes crack cocaine more enticing. At the start of each day a nurse would place a certain amount of crack in a pipe. The doses varied daily. While smoking, the participants were blindfolded and were not able to see the amount. Shortly after, the participant would be offered more opportunities to smoke throughout the day. However, each time a new offer was made, the participants had the choice of collecting $5 in cash or a voucher to a certain store. Dr. Hart noticed that when the dose of crack was fairly high, the subject would typically choose to keep smoking. But when the does was smaller, he or she would pass on smoking and take the cash or voucher instead. Very interesting. I thought crack reigned supreme no matter how small the amount?
Now back to the original route. Told you I would get back on track eventually.
Why are we so hesitant to turn on the news? Because we know another tragic human outrage from societal pressures and lack of alternatives is waiting to greet us on TV. Dr. David Nutt, a British expert on drug abuse asked the question of, ‘Why do we keep focusing so much on specific drugs? He answered his own question by saying, “It’s much simpler for politicians and journalist to focus on the evils of a drug than to grapple with the underlying social problems.” Well said doctor. Do you think the same can be said about the incessant shootings in America and overseas like the one today in Nairobi? Probably.
Is ALL human pent up aggression released by tragic shooting sprees in elementary schools and high schools? Are ALL shootings based on a lack of alternatives or societal problems? Are BANNING firearms and breaking down the scientific makeup of a drug the way to abate these catastrophes? Of course not.
Some individuals chose to take their own lives instead of others when despair reaches mountainous heights. Even though the Georgia school clerk, Antoinetter Tuff was able to talk down a gunman from opening fire at McNair Discovery Learning Center, not every gunman has reached his or her limits with society. Some are just mentally unstable and thus wreak havoc. And finally, while toughening regulations on firearms has the possibility to deter these ugly instances, banning firearms certainly will not. We humans are quick to adaptation; we will find other ways to create disaster.
“Eighty to 90% of people who use crack and methamphetamine don’t get addicted,” says Dr. Hart. “And the small number who do become addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures.” When will we set aside the objects present in these disasters and tragedies as the sole impetus and start focusing on the environment? Or the lack thereof. People need alternatives from the hell that they are living in.
Until then, I believe we will continue to hesitate about turning the news on for fear of seeing similar instances like the one today.
“Excuse me! Can I have everyone’s attention?” the stranger asked while holding his glass in the air. “This is Ade. He has been gone for a while, but now he is back! Please make him feel welcomed.”
As the stranger removed his arm from my shoulder he stressed that his home was also my home. “Make yourself comfortable. The bathroom is down the hall on the right and there is food in the kitchen if you are hungry,” he says like any good party host would and walks away.
The conversations and random chatter immediately decreased after the stranger introduced me. A gentleman standing next to the television nodded his head and raised his glass in my direction. Our eyes met and I returned the gesture. Two women holding plates full of food next to the Spider plants and Peace Lilies turned their vision toward me. Their charcoal eyes inspected my entire body as if I was passing through immigration at the airport. After acknowledging my presence they returned their vision towards each other.
The space in the house was completely filled with odd people whom I knew nothing about. Up until this point, so much had happened in such a short time. I was mentally on overload and beginning to break down physically. I had no desire left, or energy for that matter to meet anyone else. However, as I made my way to the kitchen, random guests continued to introduce themselves. “Welcome back, Ade,” a man with a thick mustache said. “I know it must feel strange being home again,” he said with a big smile on his face. Hearing the same language from people I’d never seen before was beginning to annoy me. If this was my home, why didn’t I recognize anyone? And why did everyone recognize me? I smiled at the man and cordially responded, ” Yeah, it does feel different, but hopefully it will feel like home again soon.”
After accidentally disrupting several conversations, I arrived at the kitchen. Inside were two plastic folding tables with a myriad of different foods and beverages laid out neatly on top. On one table there was roast beef with delicately sliced pieces of succulent ham surrounding a big golden brown turkey. The other table had several different kinds of rice, macaroni, greens and salads. My eyes were surely bigger than my appetite, but I wanted to take full advantage of all the delicious food. I loaded my plate with a little bit of everything. Foods that I didn’t eat in the past were some of my new favorites. Things like cauliflower and kale took up more space on my plate than meat. Maybe things were different. My choice of food sure was.
Stuffing was the last dish at the end of the table. “Why would someone remove it from the turkey and placed it here?” I asked myself. In my opinion, stuffing tasted better from inside the turkey. With my plate nearly out of space, I found the last remaining free spot for the dish I loved. I heaped a large spoon full onto my plate. A few grains of rice fell to the ground in the process, but no one saw. After all, this was a party with tons of people that meant nothing to me. Why would they show any concern over a few grains of rice I scattered across the floor?
With my plate fully loaded I embarked on my next mission: looking for a place to sit.
People continued to flow into the house and subsequently to the dinning room and kitchen. At this point there was standing room only. The two women who I exchanged glances with earlier entered the kitchen. They sure knew how to eat for being as thin as they were. At this party food was unlimited and there was no rule against ‘seconds’ and ‘thirds’. “Eat up!” I said to them as we passed by each other. Both ladies smiled, which was comforting compared to their earlier antics.
I walked through crowds of people, peeking through open spaces hoping to find a seat. The dinning room table had coats and jackets piled up on top and its chairs were stacked up tightly in the corner. Although, I was hoping to stay in the minority, the majority of people were standing up while eating. Fitting as many people in the house was priority. Already convinced that I too, would have to stand up and eat my food, I looked for a comfortable spot against the wall. I found an open space and quickly headed toward it. Against the wall I could see the entire dinning room and part of the kitchen. I don’t know why, but it felt safe having my back against the wall. I guess that’s the carnal side of people. Content with my spot; I crossed my legs, pressed my back to the wall and brought the fork up to my mouth. The gastric acids in my stomach were ready for whatever was coming down the digestive tract. If I waited any longer, they would surely eat through my stomach. I closed my eyes and prepared to gobble down everything on the fork when suddenly someone taps me on my shoulder. “Another random guest I thought to myself. “Yeah yeah, it does feel strange being back after all these years,” I said with my eyes closed and a fork full of food in front of my face. I regretted what I said as soon as it left my mouth. Up until now there was no variation in what people said to me and I was just hoping to avoid frustration by beating them to their question. I simply knew what they were going to say. “Deep sigh…Ade, just open your eyes and be nice,” I said in an agitated voice. As I put the fork full of food back down on the plate I slowly opened my eyes and saw that the random person who tapped me on my shoulder was my father.
“What was he doing here?” I asked myself.
anonymous picture of a locker room
Characters: Jesse, Ade (myself) and the random (interested) guy in the locker room.
Note: This story in no way, shape or form represents the way I feel towards homosexuality. I’m neutral to the subject. Some people say that it’s a sin and according to the Bible it very well may be, however, who am I to judge? I love people, homosexuals included. The forthcoming words are simply describing what took place at the gym on Tuesday night, nothing more.
“Jesse, I haven’t showered all day today. Do you mind if I rinse off real fast?” I ask my friend. “Sure, go ahead. Just hand me my wallet and phone from your bag,” he says. “Sweet, gimme one second,” I say to Jesse. “Yup, I’ll be right here,” he says and takes a seat on a plastic chair next to the water fountains.
The sweat was pouring down my face from the minute I hopped on the treadmill. Maybe all the perspiration was from the large amounts of water I consumed earlier. My shirt and shorts were soaked and beginning to smell. Jesse finished his workout and met me in the gymnasium for a quick lesson on how to put the ball in the basketball. He didn’t stand a chance and found himself walking off the court having lost two games of horse.
“I’ll be real fast,” I say as I walk down the hall toward the men’s locker room. It was about 10:30 P.M when we finished our workout and the gym usually shuts its doors at midnight. I’m still unable to comprehend why they just don’t stay open 24 hours. Anyway, I turn the corner, walk down the hall and enter the men’s locker room. Apart from an old man talking to his wife on the phone and the janitor refilling the soap dispenser, the locker room appeared to be empty.
There are three sections in the men’s locker room and each section has a bench and plenty of lockers where you can safely secure your items. I forgot to bring my lock today, so I passed the first two sections and progressed to the last section in the back. I spotted my locker and noticed that it was still open. Number 191 is the locker that I routinely use. It’s a little beat up around the edges, which has a greater likelihood of deterring theft.
“How are you doing?” I asked the gentlemen who was sitting on the bench. The young man was on the opposite side of the bench changing into his clothes. “I’m doing great and yourself?” he asked. “I’m doing well,” I responded back. That was the only exchange that took place between us on the bench. Simple everyday conversation was how I saw it.
With the sweaty clothes removed from my body and tucked away in locker 191, I wrapped my towel around my body, grabbed my shampoo and headed into the shower.
Out of the 8 showers in the locker room, 7 were available. Since the day I registered, shower stall number 8 had been ‘out of order’ with no sign of being repaired any time soon. “When are they going to fix that,” I murmured to myself. Having seen enough of the decommission shower stall; I moved to a different stall, pulled back the curtains and set my shampoo and conditioner down on the ground. I then pulled the shower curtain closed and turned on the water.
I love the initial feeling of contact with water, especially after a sweaty day like this. The way a constant stream of water produces Goosebumps on your skin is pure euphoria. My head was directly under the shower head enjoying every bit of water the high-pressured nozzle was releasing. I imagined falling asleep under this steady flow of water until the curtains I closed, opened!
I raised my head from the shower and saw the exact same individual from the bench starring at my lower body. He was just standing there; admiring whatever it was attached to my body that he liked.
“Uh…bro,” I said. In this situation, ‘Uh bro’ was all that my brain could construct. I was scared and shocked. I felt as if someone just trespassed onto private property. My private property! What should I say? I don’t want to say the wrong thing and upset him. “I’m sorry, but I…I’m not.” For some strange reason I was unable to generate a full sentence. “Oh, I was interested and thought you…” he said. It appeared that the young man wasn’t able to form a complete sentence either. “I’m so sorry. Please don’t tell anyone about this. You promise you won’t tell anyone, right?” he frantically asked me. “You’re good,” I firmly said. “You promise, right?” the man asked one more time, as if he was begging a judge to reduce his sentence. “Don’t worry about it and I promise I won’t tell anyone,” I assured him.
The man left the room and I followed shortly after. As I turned the corner towards my locker I checked to see if the coast was clear. To be honest I was still a little raveled by what just happened. Unable to see any sign of him or anyone for that matter, I quickly and quietly changed my clothes and left the locker room.
I don’t know why I shared this story. Maybe I felt sorry about the way everything unfolded. Or maybe, I just wanted to write about something. Or perhaps, I shared this story because I am interested in your opinion and how you would have handled this situation.
Was the man in the shower fearless or a tad perverted? Opinions please.
In conclusion and most importantly, whether homosexual or heterosexual, we are all people. There is no room for discrimination or ostracizing. Period.
“Everything is still the same,” I whispered to myself as my eyes circled around the room.
The strange man shut the door and dropped my duffel bag on the floor. Judging by his expression and the beads of sweat building up on his nose, he seemed to be struggling. “What do you have in here?” he asked emphatically. I turned around and told him that I actually packed light.
Feelings of nostalgia were much stronger inside than outside. Every detail was remarkably similar with how I remembered. The Spider plants and Peace Lilies that my mom placed along side the windowsills were still there. Our black, rickety entrainment unit housed the same ‘Sharp’ television that I watched cartoons on fifteen years ago. Surprisingly, the picture looked clear as ever. Even the reclining sofa with the pink, yellow and green flower prints was against the wall just like it had always been. Before my parents tragic divorce, thoughts of when my father would turn on the television and recline back in the sofa pierced my subconsciousness. One minute my father would ask for a glass of water and the next he would be asleep snoring with his mouth open.
I shook my head several times from side to side in disbelief. I was unable to formulate a reasonable explanation as to why everything looked spot on like it did in the 1990’s.
“Is everything okay?” the stranger asks as he put my black duffel bag into the closet and closed the door. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied.
“Ha-ha, feels weird doesn’t it?” the stranger chuckled. “Huh?” I mumble, distracted as my eyes gazed into a scene that had been cryogenically preserved. “You know, being away for so long and then coming back to a familiar place,” he continued to say. “Oh that…yeah, it’s a little weird,” I say as I trip over my words.
Who was I kidding? He nailed it on the head. It felt awfully strange looking at the house that I grew up in and seeing everything virtually unchanged. Ostensibly, time rolled back to when I was sixteen again. Everything outside appeared to be untouched and so far the environment inside was following the same pattern.
The front door leads straight into the living room. When I walked in the house the television was muted and ‘Sade’ was playing from a vinyl on an old turntable. I grew up listening to ‘Sade’. She was my mothers’ favorite singer. On school days I can remember exiting the bus and being able to hear ‘Sade’ and smell burning incense coming from the house. Hearing her sad, but angelic voice flow into my ears brought back memories that I didn’t know existed.
“Hey Ade, come over this way. I want to introduce you to everyone.” he says with excitement. I shook my head out of the spell that Sade’s graceful voice so easily captured me in. Still knowing nothing about this man, I walked toward him following the path of his extended arm into his personal space. The stranger put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me in. “It feels really good to have you back,” he quietly said.
“Well, it wasn’t a good dream that’s for sure. I came home after a long time away and you weren’t there,” I hesitantly say to my mom. “What do you mean I wasn’t there? Where was I?” she asks. “I don’t know,” I replied.
Dreams are peculiar because certain details pertaining to location or how you arrived at that location are seldom if ever laid out. One minute you are lying down comfortably on your bed and the next minute you’re battling against evil war lords with 9 foot swords. How you came to exist on the battle field fighting along side peasants in the Middle Ages are specifics that aren’t usually explained in our dreams.
“You don’t know?” my mom asks with a concerned tone. “No, I looked for you, but I couldn’t find you,” I say to her. “That’s strange,” she says.
I stood in front of my house with a single large black duffle bag draped around my shoulder. The sky was filled with dark storm clouds that appeared to be on the verge of exploding. No doubt rain was on its way. It must have been mid September when clean dry air swoops into the city and knocks decaying leaves off of trees. The colorful pre-autumn leaves made the dirty streets of Bristol, look beautiful. September is a true month for fresh starts. Summer begins to fade and schools reopened their gates allowing students to rmake the current semester better than the previous. September is a word derived from Septum which is latin for the lucky number seven. This month is commonly regarded as a month filled with wonder.
My house looked the same as it did 15 years ago when we sold it. The deck that my grandfather built was still structurally intact after all this time. It was his final masterpiece before his death. The blacktop drive way that I remember designing with my father was without holes which suggested that it was being cared for properly. Even the basketball court in the backyard was still erect. It felt good to be home, but what was I doing here?
I walked up the three white stairs that connected the sidewalk with the front door. The last time my feet touched down on these stairs I was a boy. Now I was a man. A man full of both good and bad experiences standing in this timeless spot. With thoughts bouncing off the walls of my mind, I opened the screen door and nervously knocked on the door. “What am I doing back here? Did my family return back East without telling me? Was I really this out of the loop?” I secretly asked myself.
Time seemed to stop as I patiently waited for someone recognizable to answer the door. The longer I stood alone outside on this quiet mid September day the more I began to become pensive. “Why did I quit my job in Arizona and head overseas anyway?,” I asked myself. “What a dumb move. There is nothing in the world that can take the place of family,” I go on to say.
I shake my head and do my best to remove any negative thoughts that creep into my mental. Not regretting my decisions of the past, I think about what I accomplished in life and all the stories that I will eagerly share with my entire family. The various trips to communist countries. The countless fierce basketball games against foreign professional teams. And let’s not forget about the myriad of cultures I learned about.
“Grrr…this is ridiculous,” I say to myself, and ring the doorbell. “It’s been 15 years since I’ve been back. There should be a calvary waiting outside to welcome me,” I say in a whining voice. Any excitement left over from my arrival back on American soil was quickly fading away. “I’ve been waiting in front of this screen door for 5 minutes now. Where is everyone?” I yell out loud.
Just when a different side of myself, void of any form of respect was about to emerge, the wooden door behind the screen door quickly opens. “Hey, you must be Ade,” a stranger says to me. “Yeah, thats me,” I say with a look of bewilderment. “What’s going on here? I’ve been waiting outside for almost 5 minutes” I tell the stranger. “Oh, this is just a little get together,” he says with laughter. “You must have knocked before you rang the doorbell. It’s a little loud inside so I’m sorry we didn’t hear you. Anyway, come on in everyone’s inside. I’m sure they are dying to see you,” the stranger says.
The mystery man steps to the side and allows me to step inside. He takes my black duffle bag from my shoulder and says,” everyone is scattered around the kitchen and the dinning room. Make yourself at home!”
“This is my home,” I thought to myself.
The phone rang three times before a faint voice came through. “Hello,” quietly answered my mom. I didn’t bother to check to see what time it was in America. I should have though. On several occasions in the past I made this exact same call at this exact same time, yet for some reason I can never remember the time difference. It was 9:30 A.M. here in Seoul, and I had hoped this call wasn’t forcing my mom to walk on her arthritic knees to the middle room where the phone was. By all means what I had to tell her was a matter of life and death, however, the last thing I wanted to do was disrupt my mother and her deep slumber.
“Hey mom, are you there?” I anxiously asked. The distance between Asia and America is comically far. It’s a little over ten thousand kilometers from Seoul to Phoenix. Occasionally, it takes a few seconds for my voice to travel through thousands of miles of sound waves. It’s only natural to expect a little lag before the person on the other end is able to hear and comprehend what I said.
“Mom can you hear me,” I asked again this time a little concerned by the lack of sound on the other end. “Yes, sweetie I can hear you fine,” she replied joyfully, but weary.
“How are you darling?” my mother asked. “Deep sigh, I’m doing fine. I just woke up and really needed to call you,” I said.
My aunt was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. The doctors gave her 6 months to live. When a person is diagnosed with a disease such as cancer, an entire life metamorphosis must happen. One’s diet must change. He or she now needs to incorporate exercise in their daily life if they didn’t in the past. If severe, various difficult, invasive treatments must commence. Ultimately, a strengthening of the mind, body and soul needs to take place in order to become a survivor.
My mother, or Janis as her sister says, was and still is a person who believes in spiritual energy. With a strong spirit even a doctors diagnosis can be overcome. “Speak what you want to achieve and it’s done,” she would always say. So the minute my mother found out that her sister had been given 6 months to live, she boarded a plane and headed back East. Her plane was bound for Greenville, South Carolina. Unknowingly, it was also bound for her own silent destruction.
“Can you talk right now mom?” I asked in an overwhelmed voice. “Yes, I have a few minutes. Is everything okay, Ade?” she asked.
I took another deep breath. A breath so deep that I felt the air pass through my lungs and work it’s way into my blood stream delivering fresh oxygen. I had goosebumps everywhere to the point where I thought I was experiencing an allergic reaction. I didn’t know where to start or how to deliver my message to my mom. Twenty minutes ago I woke up from a dream that still had so much clarity. I thought dream recollection was completely lost after ten minutes? Maybe Freud and the other Oneirologists were wrong. Maybe my brain wanted me to remember this traumatic experience and believed that I was emotionally equipped to handle it.
“Mom, I think you need to come home,” I said. “Huh, why do you say that?” my mom asked. “I don’t know if this is a sign from God or if I am just having a dark dream. But I believe in dreams and the messages that are transmitted through them,” I explained to my mom. “I think you’ve done all you can over there. The dream I had about you last night scared me and strangely, it’s still so fresh in my mind,” I go on to say.
“What was the dream about?” my mother asks. “Can I tell you right now?” I ask. “I’m all ears,” she says.
I left Asia because of a single dream. An incredibly deep and vivid dream about my mother. Until I dreamt that dream I didn’t know whether I should give Asia another year and then make my decision like most expats do. One year has a tendency to merge into another and then another. “This is my last year,” most people say. By the time you finally leave if ever, you could easily find yourself severely out of the loop.
The ‘Dream’ as I like to call it, was the leading impetus for my departure from Asia. I remembered every detail down to who was present and what they were drinking. The weight it carried was enormous and I couldn’t ignore it. It genuinely felt real.
Now, of course there were other reasons that contributed to my final decision to pack my bags and book my ticket. Situations pertaining to relationships with the opposite sex, emotional stability and not to mention monetary stability. However, as powerful as these other motivations were, the ‘Dream’ was the sole catalyst for why I left.
The alarm screams like it always does on weekday mornings. Last night I stayed up too late watching a movie and now my eyes were as big as lemons. My eyes were so swollen that I couldn’t make out the painting on the wall. “Is that a painting? When did that painting get there?” I mentally ask myself. Caught in between both stages of consciousness and unconsciousness, I reach around my pillow for my cell phone. It’s right where I left it last night. I press the button that says snooze and decide to sleep for another ten minutes.
Beep! Beep! Beep! I jump up and suck in as much oxygen as I can from the stale air around me. Like a bear waking up from a 6 month slumber, I let out a beastly moan and taste my putrid breath. “Jesus, 10 minutes went by already,” I say to myself as I yawn. In a dream state ten minutes of sleep feels like thirty seconds. In the real world ten minutes at work feels like a life sentence at a labor camp
I take another deep breath and press the ‘OK’ button. “It’s time to get up, Ade,” I tell myself.
Oneirology, or the study of dreams says that we dream about 5 times per night. That’s about 1,825 dreams per year. Freud believes that dream content is a product of wish fulfillment. Meaning that when we don’t remember certain aspects of a dream, it’s our brain’s way of blocking out wishes or longings that we’re not emotionally equipped to handle. Wow, pretty deep stuff, Freud. Freud goes on to say that lack of dream recall signals repression as a form of self-preservation. Simply put, our brains don’t want us to remember certain content because it’s too traumatic.
Within 5 minutes of waking 50% of dream recollection is forgotten. Within 10 minutes, 90% is lost. That morning I woke up, turned my alarm off and quickly called my mother.
She had to hear this.
“You’ll be back. I’m giving you a few months until I see you in Asia again,” my friend said to me as we shook hands and parted ways.
The one constant question that I have incessantly received isn’t the one asking whether I miss living overseas or what country would I love to return to. Nor has anyone asked me if I miss the various exotic foods or unique culture. Believe it or not, not a single soul has asked me if I miss the way my life used to be on foreign soil. Kinda strange, if you ask me. Those are the typical questions that I expect to receive.
Without fail, roughly twice a day I am asked by friends and some family alike, ‘why I chose to come back home… a.k.a America’.
Just the other day I was sitting in the back seat of my friends new car. It looked and smelled like a Dodge Durango. In my opinion certain new cars have distinct smells. During my college days as a valet I was able to develop a weird ability to recognize cars by their smell. This aroma that my nose was inhaling was undoubtedly a Dodge of some sort.
We were on our way to the ‘SRC’ to play some basketball. The SRC is the student recreational center at Arizona State University and it just underwent some seriously renovating. “How long has it been since you’ve been to Tempe,” my friend asked. “Man, at least 7 years,” I reply as I realize how fast time flies. The side streets and alley ways that I used to take to class were no longer recognizable. “Remember this place?” my friend asked. “Umm, wasn’t that place…uh, I don’t know,” I said. “Haha, that used to be your dorm,” he said as he chuckled. “No way! All those memories I created in that place and now it’s a freaking parking garage,” I say in a somber voice. I was quickly realizing that things were different. The people whom which I associated with were now either married or married with children of their own. Places I ate at were no longer in familiar locations. I was gone for quite some time. It would have been foolish of me to expect life to pause and wait for my return.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you, why did you come back,” my friend asks. There had been a silence in the car for the last minute or so. Ostensibly, we were all admiring the plethora of new ASU facilities or perhaps we were preparing our minds to win some basketball games at the newly remodeled gym.
I took a deep breath simply because yet again I was confronted with this question. My spirit knows the reasons why I returned home, however, formulating this response into words was something that I did not know how to do. The SRC was coming up on our left and in a matter of seconds we would be out of the car and lacing up our shoes. My friend who was in the drivers seat looked up and peered into the rear view mirror. This time he wasn’t checking to see if any cars were behind him. He was curious to find out what was distracting me from answering the simple question that he had just asked. “Did you hear what I said?” he asked. “Yeah yeah, I’m just trying to figure out how to answer it,” I replied with a look of bewilderment.
Why I came back… (check back in later:)
Something isn’t adding up right. This is my third, positive, energetic, hopeful day in a row. Oh no, what’s in store for me in the coming future? Good things? I sure hope so. Enough with the negativity, until that time comes I am enjoying the moment. This moment!
Here’s to a great day of physical basketball and now winding down with a nice bottle of ‘yellow tail’ Moscato, left over spaghetti that yours truly prepared and a nice ‘extra cold’ bag of ice for my knees.
Be well everyone. Once Upon Ade is definitely well~