Tuesday, May 23, 2006


fort weezy got a skyline for dat ass.
people can't, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life. --james baldwin, giovanni's room.
"she grew up in an indiana town, had a good lookin' mama..."

for most of my life, i've wanted to be from somewhere else. somewhere famous. some place exciting, exotic. a town that didn't require you to name the state because everyone knows where it is, or has at least heard of it. shit, i've always wanted to be from somewhere acknowledged by a hip hop emcee. i have endlessly desired to have some sort of discernable accent. but i was reared in no such place. i'm from randommidwesterntown, usa. a place--like tons of other cities of its kind in the middle of the country--still trying to find its bearings after the auto industry and other factories changed their tune. that is, essentially, the shell of my town. with the exception of a couple sports heroes and the world's first hippie, there's not a whole lot of folk who know about fort weezy. i suppose i could proffer that it's the second largest city in indiana, but one recognizes how insignificant such information is when you wonder: what's the second largest city in iowa? (cedar rapids) or even california? (san diego. followed by san jose. san fran is a distant fourth. no, i didn't need wikipedia.) not a lot of people are into seconds.

despite the fact that i live relatively close to home, i don't go there often. saying that it's because my mother and stepdad moved to cleveland really doesn't explain my absence. nor can i rationalize that my "lifestyle" precludes me from feeling comfortable in that space. you've seen the pictures. this shit was inevitable. i don't change my behavior when i'm around certain fam. besides, if i have ever felt anything consistently in my life, it's feeling like a fish out of water. liquor license or not, i've never fit in. and though i didn't grow up in my father's house, i do know most of the family. they are not strangers to me. granted, i don't have the phone numbers 95% of them niggas (we ain't got much to say anyway), but i could and would recognize a cousin in the mall. essentially, i have no viable excuse.

all that being said, i went home saturday. yep. left the city of wind and headed to the hoosier state, a land where john (cougar) mellancamp rules, the amish dwell, folks are still mad that the general moved to texas, and gas is less than 3 bux a gallon. strangely, as i drove out of northwest indiana--which might as well be northeast illinois--heading east on state road 30, much of the nervousness and fatigue i'd been feeling for the last week or so started to dissipate. right there in the car with nothing but the radio--i prefer to listen to the radio on road trips--and my thoughts, i started to reclaim my chi.

"but she grew up tall and she grew up right with them indiana boys on an indiana night..."

as much as i lament the fact that a lot of shit never changes in weezy, i think i really appreciated that same shit this weekend. i needed something familiar to orient myself, a mooring. my father, for example, will only spend the night out of town twice a year--in may and in october when he goes to las vegas. he has the same friends; he tells the same stories; he asks the same questions. (i was wondering: "so you cut your hair again?" is a euphemistic inquiry, a code phrase for "are you gay?" right?) though i've been known to abhor and negatively judge the banality that i thought/think characterized/characterizes my father's life, i was extremely grateful for such familiarity this weekend. my world is shifting; i'm changing my stroke, and it's difficult. seasons change mad things rearrange, but it all stays the same like the love doctor strange. yes, some shit does stay the same. so i was glad to see my father this weekend. he is who he is, and he does the best he can. i ran into a ton of people who have known me in the past-- my sister, my brother (who i had neither seen nor talked to in six months), the first drug dealer i ever knew, (shit,) the nigga my mama shoulda married, my boy andre. i was surrounded by folks who have known me in all of my incarnations. folks who, though they may not know or understand the life i live now, still support and encourage me in any way they can. and i dig that. i need that.

in a word full of variables and wild cards, sometimes you just need a constant.

"i feel summer creeping in and i'm tired of this town again..."

so as i drove back to the chi, for the first time in a while i felt motiviated, inspired, satisfied, lucid. i see the shifts that i need to make. i know what, who, and where i need to focus. i didn't choose my moorings, but i need them nonetheless. one can say a lot about the middle west and the folk who inhabit the space: we're clannish, boring, meat and potatoes, etc. but there's value in making it plain, simple, clear. and i (re)cognized that this weekend. for all of his faults and shortcomings, my father has been there for me in every way he knows how, as has every other person i left back in fort wayne.

it's not glamorous, but it's home. i've no stories of grandeur and exciting treasure hunts, but i have a tale to tell. a narrative that begins not in some far-off exotic place, or under a sky pierced with ridiculously tall buildings, or near the beach of a vast ocean. my story starts somewhere in media res. and i'm committed to (re)telling epic, to constantly and consistently reminding myself of home no matter where i am. (maybe it's my lorain, ohio? total stretch. but i had to go there, had to take a shot.)

besides, it's not serendipitous that i often comfort myself by singing the "johnny appleseed prayer." only in the midwest do i find such grace.

the rain ain't gone, but i can still see clear.

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison


Blogger Harold Gibson said...

Hoosiers have depth! I have always appreciated that about you. First of all you admitted long ago that you were from Ft. Wayne. Now I've been to Fort Wayne and I agree with your description of Ft. Wayne, it is clannish, boring and plain and simple, but that also makes it real. And it is good to be real because it helps us recognize that love them or hate them, our folks is our folks.

24/5/06 07:10  
Blogger summer m. said...

@harold: hoosiers do have depth. some of them are shy yet disarmingly charming. that said, you get mad love for having been to ft. wayne. god bless weezy.

in other news, where do you get off calling my birthplace "clannish, boring and plain and simple"? i will wreck you, FOOL!!!!

native daughter.

24/5/06 10:52  
Blogger nubian said...

i feel like i have become a blog-stalker. :-) i can't say it enough, but your writing is so damn powerful, eloquent, beautiful, amazing, touching and just plain honest--i appreciate that. you are a true artist (sorry if that sounds corny)

this posting in particular, resonates with me so much--even though i was not born in the midwest and i am from one of those flashy big cities, i can still go home and be accepted for who i am from my family. and like your father and the rest of my family, despite their shortcomings, they have also been there for me in the best ways that they know possible.

on another note, midwestern folks (at least the ones that i have met), are not so bad. boring yes, but interesting in their own middle-of-america ways. i have started to appreciate my time spent in the heartland, even though i am counting down the days until i graduate and hopefully get tenure at a west coast university :-)

24/5/06 12:32  
Blogger Alii said...

i second ms. nubian. And i know one day in the future, ill be drivin through Indiana and we'll reach Ft. Wayne and ill suddenly jump up and be like- THIS IS SUMMERS HOMETOWN!!! and everybody will look at me scared and confused, but ill know wassup.

25/5/06 12:54  
Blogger nubian said...

i guess my posting sounded a bit arrogrant. not all midwestern folks are boring, you obviously, are the exception.

25/5/06 15:39  
Anonymous bunny said...

This is newspaper worthy. Send this shit to somebody quick, fast and in a hurry. Freelance this piece, yo.

1/6/06 00:24  

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