I find myself thinking about my neighborhood a lot lately. I’ve been making special efforts to hang out with people from home. I’ve been having a lot of dreams about my old house and people I grew up with. Maybe its because it’s summer and everyone’s getting away from college life. Maybe now that college is over, I’m looking at my life as a whole.
Last Saturday my girl Natalia asked me to bartend in Bed-Stuy. It was soooo much fun, just a great, typical backyard house party with a bunch of west indian folk, it really reminded me of home. There’s just a certain level of comfort, one that I hadn’t felt in a long time and that I had almost forgot about, that I had at the party, it reminded me so much of home and my friends’ families that i grew up with. I am Filipino, and college has been great spending so much time with Filipinos, there definitely is an unparalleled level of comfort there too…but I also feel like I grew up so different from most other Filipinos, especially the ones at nyu. I dunno, it’s like hanging with Filipinos is exploring a part of myself i always longed and strove for, i guess we’re all in that boat together, but hanging with the west indian crowd is what i know and and comfortable with. yeah ok, overthinking stuff, but yeah, it was fun. i miss my neighborhood.
Unfortunately, last Thursday I had to go to Mr. Williams’ funeral. Well, of course I didn’t have to go, but I really needed to. It was so strange, there were just so many people I haven’t seen in a long time – I even saw Loyce at the train station! But, what was really amazing was how many people showed up to uncle denis’ funeral – the funeral home couldn’t hold us all. And there were soo many people that I knew that I didn’t know knew Uncle Denis. It was nice to see Tarik and he was really supportive. I mostly spent time with rita and danny and anna and christine, which was great cause they really were like my second family. actually, my family, rita’s and denis’s…we all grew up together, in that little house triangle.
What a shame that it takes an event like that for us all to get together. I can’t believe Darnell is all grown up and even graduated from high school. And Denis III is already running around on his own. wow. but more than anything I, of course, was thikning about Denis Sr. I didn’t know all hte stuff he did – all the youth groups and community orgs he started and everything.
I was just thinking about all of my memories of him…which i haven’t thought about in sooooo long. I thought about that block party in 1990 which was amazing, him and my dad sitting on cardboard in our front yard and eating seaweed and squid salads, taking me to the park to play sports (i never went to that ghetto ass park with anyone else), walking me home that time i wanted to sleep over but got scared, playing running bases, coming to their house before school while my parents went to work, the tree house in their backyard, always singing a random song! haha the song that comes to mind most is Can’t Touch This..that’s how long ago it was…., when my father had open heart surgery and he came over to make sure my mom and i were doing ok and to offer help, buying me ice cream from the ice cream truck because my parents refused to. my parents didn’t understand the connection between children and the ice cream truck, they would just tell me to get ice cream from the freezer but it’s not the same!
But what i kept thinking of most, what always returned to my head, was that he was the one who taught me to tie my shoes. When your kid learns to tie their shoes, it’s a big deal. there’s an episode of bernie mac where wanda teached baby girl to tie her shoes and freaks out because she taught her something that would stay with her for the rest of her life. yeah…i remember it vividly. i had been trying for a long time to tie my shoes and i couldn’t get it and my parents were frustrated with trying to teach me. i remember sitting at the top of our steps waiting for the bus and mr. williams taught me to tie 2 loops in a knot. haha i was soooooo excited. wow. he taught me to tie my shoes. i do miss him. i miss those times and that neighborhood and our family. God bless, uncle d.