It's funny, have you ever noticed how we forget our childhoods for whatever reason. Maybe its me be but my memories of being a child is spotty at most. However, my mother can remember the smell of hot apple cider on a cold wintry night in Charleston, S.C. To me you're at your wisest state as a child, as you move into puberty all knowledge of what was vital to know in this life you forget, you no longer see your guardian angel. Why do we forget everything? I don't know- I'm grown now, I walk amongst those of the Unlearned. Ask me again in 50 years. For right now I would say in a 26 year-old cynic's tone, God has a FUCKED UP sense of humor.
We are forced to trudge through this lifetime aimlessly with no sort of guidance, guessing our next moves, and pray that you make the right one. Don't gimme that find Jesus, dogmatic spirituality will show you the way crap either. And your Mamma can only give you her opinion on matters. Ultimately it's all up to you. I've never been a believer in the spirit and the ghetto aphorism "God willmakeawaysomehow." If you are "lucky" enough to live a full life- whatever that is - you regain some wisdom back, but by then its too late. Kids already know everything you know, so you're no good to them either; they're in the process of unlearning it.
As you get older you eventually start to relearn the whole complex mess, which is essentially everything you forgot as a child, but by then your wisdom is viewed as rhetoric, as nonsense, just an old fogy's gibberish. Thus, becoming no good to the "Unlearned". So you die frustrated, because you know a lot of answers to perpetual life queries but no one wants to listen. God is definitely a prankster, a joker. He or she or it uses us primarily for amusement.
Everything hit me at once, flurry of Roy Jones like low blows disguised as thoughts. I examined the whole shebang that is my life simultaneously within the time frame of 30 seconds. All that's happened to me since I could remember.
I couldn't stop thinking one afternoon on my way home during a "normal" New York rush hour. Thoughts continued to race through my mind like a motor cross. Images in my head became as dingy as one of the imaginary contestants racing uniforms in my illusive dirt bike meet.
I could hear people on the train talking deafeningly loud, but at the same time I could detect others whispering in the car. It was an disturbing opus of utterance. The murmurs were as clear as if the sender were inches from my ear, even over the clamor of the train's iron wheels screeching across the tracks.
I supposed this is the withdrawal from the final bisect from the wise to the Unlearned. When nothing makes sense and reality has the tenacity of a neon green Lava Lamp. The train appeared to be moving backwards but with a forward momentum. I realized I was experiencing such a strange vertiginous state because I was looking into the reflective chrome like alloy sheets that lines the interior of the electrically powered metal mammoth.
A fat white dude sat in the seat in front of me, and a smaller black guy sat in the seat adjacent to me. At each stop people poured into the train like locust at a grasshopper eating competition, I couldn't breath. Locust, like one of the signs of The Apocalypse. I couldn't sit still, I felt sharp pains from my groin to the temple of my head, I pushed passed the rotund man next to me to stand up against the cold alloy of the train conductor's cabin. About three square feet and closing. An empty seat on a crowded train, a straphanger's dream. They swarmed, but a very attractive Hispanic woman beat her friend and when the buzzer sounded she had won a brand new shiny orange seat.
She sat down, her friend and former racing competitor stood directly in front of me. 2 square feet and closing. The large breasted woman standing next to me was talking loud to her seated companion. She was short and I glanced down at her low cut blouse and from my 6 foot 1 inch angle, her bosom seemed even bigger. The more she talked the more animated she got. Arms flailing, red lips moving at incredible speeds. The topic of the conversation was JFK, Jr.'s death. "59th STREET!" The conductor yelled through the intercom in banshee fashion.
"You know what the Kennedy's missed most about Martha's Vineyard?" Said the amply endowed woman standing over the other. I said in my mind, "The runway." Drum-Base-Symbol sound. I heard the same joke on some cable show the night before. I don't give a fuck about any of the Kennedy's, but that shit wasn't funny last night and it wasn't funny now. I wanted to tell Charo to shut the fuck up. But then I would have to engage in a confrontation with a hot-blooded Boriqua Bimbo. She laughed hysterically, red lips spreading across her face like the blood in the Nile. "Oh God! Another sign." I panicked.
Sweat started pouring down my face, for every bead of sweat, another thought, another decision, and another problem racing through my mind like those speeding pods in movie TRON. And the exhaust was afterthoughts, decisions, contemplation, questions, and very few answers. My breathing got heavy, uneasy. "Why won't this fuckin' train move!" I yelled inside or did I? I question that fact because the two Spanish women looked at me, wide eyed. I could see them, but it was like my eyes were wide shut, like that pretensions Tom Cruise movie. I winced at their leers the train filled up even more, it was like two of everybody. One foot and closing. I felt nauseous, had to throw up. I was pinned to the corner, Bugs Bunny saying, "trapped like a rap in a trap!" in his best Irish accent came to mind. It's so hot! But my flesh was cold, and rightfully so, the train was air-conditioned. Implementing logic wasn't working.
I was 25 and having my first panic attack!!!
"I am 25 and having my first panic attack." I was chemically in-balanced on the crowded 6th Avenue D Train Rush Hour Express.
The two Spanish women were now staring incessantly at me. It looked like they had large question marks over their foreheads. I became light-headed, the entire car started spinning.
The train crawled over the Manhattan Bridge. I peered out of the small window in front of me and started to feel like Dorothy when she looked out the window of her airborne house. Woman on a bike turning into the wicked witch in front of my eyes, and he whole nine. My fate, however, wasn't as certain as the aerodynamic beldam cyclist. Once the house landed the bitch was toast jam. Dead Witch Flying. The parody is somewhat efficient because once the train stopped, I prayed that I retained some grasp on reality and my brain wouldn't have the consistency of a runny casserole.
The train was moving extremely fast as it usually does at rush hour, however, everything appeared to move in slow motion. I smelled the sickening mixture of day old perfume, Double Mint chewing gum and body odor, cigarette fumes attached to clothing fibers and urine permeating from seat corners. The chattering, the motion of the train, and the breathing in stereo sickened me.
The two tan women were still staring. I looked at my reflection, the metal distorted my figure grotesquely like trick mirrors in a funhouse and I suddenly realized why the two women stared at me. I was drenched in sweat. My white tank top stuck to my chest like cod webs on a dark oak tree. Sweat was dripping from my chin, and the big-breasted woman standing asked me, "What?"
"Huh?" I replied.
She frowned quizzically; "You say something?"
I shook her off. I was apparently talking to myself. "Didn't he say something?" She asked the winner of the orange seat. The sitting woman looked up and asked, "You alright?"
"Yeah, thanks." I replied, with undertones of 'leave me the hell alone, why don't ya.' Her head looked inexplicably large, like I was looking at it through an exaggerated lens. I pressed my fingers hard against my temples and in the same effort wiped my wet face.
Thoughts! Question! Decisions! Where the fuck are the answers?!! No where to go, trapped! Can't breath! Where's my daughter? How's my mother? Why am I here? How am I going to do that? How the hell am I going to do that? How the fuck am I going to do that?!! Calm down Ha. I said to myself.
Ha. A name given to me by friends during my childhood. I remember that at least. Short for Hakim. Calm down baby boy. Think something good. I thought to myself that the people on the train started to give off and ominous odor like rotting corpse. The third sign that the end of the world was at bay.
"You're right?" invaded my one-foot sanctuary.
"What?!!" I screamed.
"I said are you all right?" Said the one with the spreading red lips, in a thick Rosie Perezian South Bronx/ South American Accent.
This time I ignored her. I placed my hand in my sweaty pockets, and found the 38. Caliber copper top bullet I carry for good-luck and in remembrance of my 3 friends that died by such fiendish devices over the years. I dropped it into the puddle of lose change I had in my pocket and put my fingers in an I-Ching position that and started chanting a mantra for calming the soul that my mother taught me.
"Dekalb Avenue!" the conductor shrilled over the intercom in an obnoxiously high-pitched voice. I think he was purposely trying to deafen all of the passengers on board. Some weird terrorist attempt.
Gotta get off the train, I thought. I pushed my way passed the twins moving around in the voluptuous Hispanic woman's shirt. I exited as the two train doors slid open, everyone pile on from the platform. It was like swimming down stream against a pool of salmon.
I don't remember physically getting off the train; it was like an out of body experience. The platform was empty for the moment. I leaned up against a yellow brick pillar. "Fuck You!" was etched into the DEKALB AVE plaque. I slid down the pillar, until I was sitting against it on the dirty gum riddled platform. Breathe Ha! I said to myself. I did.
My daughter was giggling. Over 800 miles away at her grandmother's house in Tennessee, I could hear her giggling. She was there for the summer, and I missed her so. I heard her say "Daddy?" My vision cleared, my heart slowed down. Questions still unanswered, but I'm not asking them anymore. I stood up. Let it go. I was a little wiser now and the pain was leaving. I looked up at the dark roof of inter-mingled steel beams of the station as if answers were written on the ceiling, and smiled. She was still giggling, I know she was, because I could hear her.
My child knew everything. I was Unlearned now, my transition was complete.
She still giggled. "Daddy."