Birthdays (7-9)


Since I was seven years old my birthday has always served as a cruel reminder that my father shot and killed my mother, then himself, in front of me, the day before, in our living room. Now that’s some serious irony right there. My parents died in the fucking “living room” on Friday, December 1, 1989. Just looking at that date on my screen now makes me cringe. My life’s been full of irony, though I’ve learned to just gut it out. And if I ain’t got shit else, I got guts! You’ll see.

When I saw my father kneel next to my mother’s lifeless body and turn her MPD service Glock toward his head, I knew what was next. I looked away, but I didn’t run next door until I saw his body, face down, almost on top of my mother. I ran outside, and when I almost got to Benny, our next door neighbor, I looked behind me and saw my sister run back in, but by this time Benny or someone had ushered me into their house. I must’ve passed out, or fell asleep, or something, because I have no recollection of the moments after I got into Benny’s house. When I came to, standing over me, with an almost commandingly gentle presence, was a Detective; my mother’s younger brother, asking me what happened. For some reason, I’ve always vividly remembered reporting their death to him like I was one of his subordinates. I said “he shot her in the head and then he shot himself; they should both have gunshot wounds to their heads.” It was like I already knew that he required me to always address him with deference, even during this tragic moment. I was afraid of him. I’ve known it since that moment. That day. 

I’m still not quite sure why though. What had he done to make me fear him before this day? Why did I fear him now? He took us, my sister and me, to his apartment for the night. He’d just gotten married, his wife was pregnant, and it was a one-bedroom apartment uptown D.C. 

The next day was my birthday. I was seven. Seven. 

After we ate Crunch Berries I was summoned to the bathroom by my mother’s brother. He told me to sit down on the toilet, turn around with my back facing him, and then he told me that “rattails were for sissy’s” and he cut my rattail. The rattail was something my father started growing and I liked it. I’m certain this man knew that even then. But he was in charge now. He was in charge of me and what happened to me. This was his way of letting me know who had the power. He did. Because my father, who’s name I carry (with love), killed his sister (my mother), in cold blood, the day before. My seventh birthday began with my introduction into a new regime, and my mother’s brother, formerly my uncle and godfather (more fucking irony), was its leader and number one terrorist. And he couldn’t fucking stand sissies and faggots. Especially me. I’m the son of the man that killed his sister (my mother). And I’m already gay. And he already know’s it. And hate’s it. And hate’s me. 

That birthday was amazing though! We went to Chuck E. Cheese as planned and I got money from everybody. I played as many games as I wanted and everybody made an effort, albeit out of sympathy and pity, to make my 7th birthday special. I got about a hundred dollars too. I still remember. That weewkend, my sister and I moved into my maternal grandmother’s three-bedroom rambler in Capital Heights where she and my teenage aunt already occupied the two largest rooms. Now, after having our own separate rooms in the home our parents owned, we were relegated to the “den” where we slept on a decades old, ROLL out, pissy sofabed, for several months. We ended up getting and “sharing” (sorta) a day bed until 1994 when we moved into a larger home in Temple Hills. We’ll delve into that later though.

My eighth birthday I got a beating from my mother’s brother, in the living room of my grandmother’s house, while EVERYONE watched and laughed. They laughed while I cried. What had I done to get a beating, and on my birthday no less? He said after he finished hitting me that they were birthday licks while I tearfully looked at him with confusion about the unprovoked beating. There was no count though. Those “licks” were strikes. They hurt me. It was a beating. I ran into the bathroom and cried for a little while and then I finally came out and went to bed. Clearly my tears meant nothing to them. I was there for their amusement, treated like an annoying court jester, ridiculed for being sensitive, and terrorized for being gay. And my sister wasn’t even on my side. I remember feeling like she was going along to get along, keeping her head low and not making any waves until she could do her own thing. But I couldn’t. Not yet. My slip was showing. I couldn’t hide who I was yet. I didn’t know how. I just wanted them to feel sorry for me again like they had the year before, when they were nice to me, when they cared about me, and my feelings. That was the first time he beat me though, on my 8th birthday. Licks… 

Around that same time, his wife took their baby and moved to New York with her family without any notice. From what I’ve heard, she got tired of the beatings too. She had a way out. I didn’t. I wanted to go too though. I remember wishing she had taken me. She got me roller skates for that birthday. They were my first and only pair, and they were gray. He brought them though.

Somewhere between my eighth and ninth birthday’s was the first time anyone had weaponized my mother’s brother, grandmother’s son, and now my abuser, against me. 

It was my oldest aunt. I kept walking around the house after eating too much at dinner saying, “I’m cramping”, or “I feel like I’m about to come on”. 

My stomach was hurting. I couldn’t shit, so I knew it wasn’t that. It felt like I had bad fucking cramps. So, I said what I had heard all of the women in the house and in my life say when they had FUCKING cramps. She called her brother, my grandmother’s son, and my abuser on the telephone and he was there within the hour to “straighten me out”. I was terrified. I thought I should have just suffered in silence rather than have him come over to terrorize me yet again. It was bad enough that everything I did or said was used against me. I didn’t know how to act because I was constantly told that how I was acting wasn’t right. By this time I was used to the micro-aggressions from my family, and teachers, and peers, but she was actually calling in reinforcements this time to scold me and “straighten me out”. I turned my feelings inward and went to my (shared) bedroom for solace before my impending doom arrived. He came over and gave me a stern tongue lashing about how little boys shouldn’t say what I said, but he never told me why. He then told me that I would get in trouble if I repeated those things in the future. So, for repeating some harmless statement about cramps that I had taken out of context, I was now being threatened with physical harm. Because I definitely knew “trouble” was code for “ass whooping”. I couldn’t understand why or how my words caused them so much distress that my body was now being threatened. I was eight.

I have no recollection of my ninth birthday. None. Maybe because of my eighth, but who knows.

I think a big part of me has been chasing the high of my 7th birthday, hoping that I could feel seen the way I thought I had then. I realize now that they didn’t see me. Pity isn’t adoration or love. It’s condescending sadness. I don’t want that from anyone. Not anymore.

Different Choices


I lost my family 32 years ago and never got another one. I realize now the latter is mostly because of my choices. I’m gonna start making different choices now, because I do want a love and family of my own. I’m choosing to start working toward that goal immediately. I know now that a family is the thing that I want more than anything. A part of me thought admitting that would somehow weaken me. It doesn’t. I feel more empowered now. I know I can survive alone, but I don’t want to anymore. I want to share my love and life and future with family. My own family.

I guess Imma just let the universe send me a new one when the time comes.

Still Friends


See! The stars say we’re winning together even if you don’t believe in them. ❤️

I remember when you first hit me up after we left that place we met. I was intrigued and slightly surprised that you reached out. We caught up for a few then you mentioned wanting to interview me for a project. I was definitely with it and had fond memories of our tumultuous working relationship. It was friendly though. We were friends. We’re still friends.

Conversation flowed and we caught up some more. You knew about me and at that stage in my life it was definitely no secret. And we were friends. We’re still friends.

We started talking regularly, sometimes even daily. We got to know each other better on a deeper level. Platonic, but deep. You asked questions that people never asked me, and you genuinely wanted the answers. You wanted to be my friend. And I wanted to be your friend too. And we’re still friends.

I was in your city often and we hung out a few times, but that first time was when I really saw you. I mean… I think I see you. I hope I do. I want to. You treated me like we were on a date. You treated me like I was your girlfriend and I even told you that some years later. It was weird, cause I’m a dude. Gay, but a boy, a male, A MAN. But it felt right. Comfortable. Familiar even. I dreamed about you that night. I dreamed about us. It wasn’t necessarily your words, but your actions. Your gestures. Your facial expressions. Your body language. You were leading me. Showing me your city, but letting me decide where to go and handling the rest. Protecting me too, and I was the police at the time. And I had my gun. And I was ready and down for whatever. But you had it. You had me. I knew I was safe with you. And nigga you paid for EVERYTHING that day. That was hot! And we were friends. We’re still friends.

You even did that thing with me and I got the picture to prove it. And you held on to me. Just for a moment. I did too. I’m still holding on. Cause you were my friend. We’re still friends.

I knew when you asked me not to show it that it meant something special to you. But you couldn’t tell me that because I was your friend. We’re still friends.

We argued 40% of that day and reminisced about the old days when I used to cuss you out like a bitch on the street and you used to take it. You had to though. You know why.

I remember that time back in the day when I told you to leave after I cussed you out, and you did. But then when I saw you after we got back to where we were staying, I told you to come back the next day. I knew even then that you took my shit because you felt something deeper. You weren’t afraid of all of that rage on the surface. You would laugh at me most of the time I cussed you out. It made me laugh too. And you were my friend. We’re still friends.

I don’t remember the end of the night that night in Brooklyn, but I remember I loved you that day; even if you do have feet like my great grandmother. I’m not sorry that it took me this long to tell you though. I had to tuck that feeling away like I knew I could, because you were off limits. And I was your friend. We’re still friends.

So we both cultivated our friendship. Diving deeper into an emotional connection that neither of us could deny. I wanted you to be real for me a long time ago, but I wasn’t ready. I thought I was. I thought I could handle the type of love and relationship that my heart yearned for, but I wasn’t ready. The universe knew. And you were my friend. We’re still friends.

It was important to me to never cross the line. To never take advantage of your friendship by making ANY advances. So I did what I had done best, I lied to myself and tucked my unrequited romantic love away until I couldn’t anymore. I’m sorry for how I told you that I love you differently now. I took you for granted. I assumed you’d love me differently back, and I selfishly failed to give you the time and space to process. I AM SORRY! I’m sorry because I pushed you into a conversation that you clearly weren’t ready for. Because I was ready for it. Finally. And that was wrong. I do love you though. Differently. I couldn’t move forward in our friendship without being honest and shooting my shot. I still want all of the things we talked about to happen. I still want you near. Whether you’re my friend or my… whatever you wanna be. You’ve been trying to get me out of this writers block for at least the last 3 years. You know me. The real me. You helped me get over this block in my writing. Maybe that’s why you blocked me. Cause you knew I’d eventually pour my heart out if it was real. It’s real nigga! Damn! I’m ready when you are. If you are.

I Hope You’re Reading This One Too. You used to read everything I posted. You pushed me to get here. Thank you!

I still love you though. Imma keep doing that.

I was your friend. You were my friend. I’m still your friend. I hope we’re still friends.

I Hope You’re Reading This


I used to dream a lot. Dreams have revealed things to me that I didn’t even know existed; in me, in the world, or anywhere else. I learned about two weeks before my parents died in December of ’89 that I needed to tuck away something that was only me and only for me. My mother told me that as she filled out her insurance forms increasing them to the maximum amount should something happen to her in the future. Future. She knew then that she didn’t have much of a future left. She sensed it. She dreamt it. She knew. She probably also knew that there was or would be nothing she could do to shake the fact or feeling that she was about to die. So she trusted her gut and protected her children the best way she possibly could. Motherfuckin insurance. And she did good. She was a D.C. Cop at the height of the crack epidemic. And her husband was a crackhead. Yes, my father, a marine corps veteran, construction business owner, 33 year old married man was smoking crack in ’89. He was smoking crack and bringing crack whores home while my sister and I were asleep and my mother was at work. What he needed was therapy after his upbringing and the military. That’s not something that black men or most men did back in ’89 anyway. Anyway, then in 88’ his mother, the woman who birthed and raised him, the woman who saw him in a way no other person had, died. An aneurysm. So he graduated from being an amazingly loving father and moderately controlling, loving husband, to a Motherfuckin crackhead that did crackhead shit. Then when he smoked his life into a shambles and my mother’s and my sister’s and my life (even though we ain’t really know it yet) into another shambles he climbed through my upstairs bedroom window like a fucking crackhead and was in the house when we got home that day before my birthday back in ’89. My mother had a migraine that day so we got food from McDonald’s on New York Avenue, and after all these years that spot is still there. People didn’t understand or respect how debilitating that kind of headache could be back then either. I get botox for my migraines now and I still suffer through at least 10-15 headache days a month, and on those days I have to take another medication just to manage them. I recently had a dream that helped me understand more fully what mother was feeling. She was only 31. Her name was Cynthia. And she was the only person that ever really saw me. I’m 39 now and I’ve only just in the last year begun to see myself for who I really am. I spent so much of my life after that day back in ’89 tucking pieces of myself away, that I couldn’t see me. And I had to do it. I had to tuck away the original me so that I could survive this life. And two weeks before my father, the loving, crackhead, womanizer, grief stricken, marine corps veteran, who needed some fucking therapy, shot and killed my mother in front of my sister and me in our living room and then killed himself a few seconds later, MY MOTHER WARNED ME. She told me to “keep something for me”, because she had given her whole life to everyone else and still felt lonely. She felt like there was nowhere to turn, no one to talk to, and no one to actually help that day. She knew that her death was inevitable. And that’s been the hardest shit to swallow. Because I want to help her. But I can’t, and I couldn’t. And that shit is so damn hard to swallow all these years later. And what I now realize I did for most of my life was tuck away the the thing that was most sacred to me. ME!

I hid underneath the impressions, reactions, and other learned behaviors and practices of my peers, and mostly my family. I became my interpretation of who I thought they wanted me to be. I gradually tucked away my identity and became this other person because I thought that if I could be who they wanted me to be then they would love me. They would finally hold me and support me and SEE me the way that I have so freely and meticulously loved, supported, and seen them. All of THEM. It didn’t work. One by one I pimped my kindness and generosity out like MPD pimped me out when I was working undercover back in the day. Except I didn’t get my fair shake in return. Almost never. So I settled for 75 percenters. People that mostly loved me back but were either incapable or unwilling to love me at the level I loved them or was willing to. As I got older I began to settle for even less, particularly in romantic partners. And I wasn’t the best catch either with all of my repressed emotional baggage. But I took care of them. Every last one of those boyfriends and girlfriends that I had. I looked out and I was ride or die. Hoping that they’d see my devotion and want to really see me. But I couldn’t see me. So it was impossible for me to love someone fully or for them to love me fully until I could actually see who the fuck I was, absent anybody else’s opinion or feelings or love. I’ve always felt like something was missing with ALL of my loved ones. Family, friends, pets, all of THEM. I realized that I needed to do some research on me. I needed to investigate my behaviors, and choices, and beliefs. I needed to impeach my own character and dissect the Rodney that I actually am and not the character I’ve been playing since my father made the singular crackhead decision to orphan my sister and me. I guess misery does love company. An aneurysm orphaned him a year and half before and his mother was the only person that ever really saw him and while my mother was surely a close 2nd, the death of my grandmother rocked him and the ripples are still rippling. So my crackhead father put a bullet in my mother’s skull and then one in his own skull while his nine year old daughter and (ALMOST) seven year old son watched, and while his niece stood on the front porch. And because I didn’t want to make my father the villain (and apparently no one else did either), I made him the hero. And that shit is hard to fucking swallow too, because if he’s the hero in a story where his crack induced rage caused him to murder my mother in cold blood, in front of his own children and then cowardly take his own life, then that means that my MOTHER, who couldn’t defend herself because of his crackhead strength and her debilitating migraine, was the villain. And that shit is so fucking hard to swallow, because I did that part, with a little help from my family. I made my mother the villain for not protecting us better by protecting her own life, until I had that fucking dream. That dream that made me feel what it would be like to have someone murder me in cold blood in front of my children and I couldn’t defend myself OR THEM. That was 6 moths ago. I see my mother now too. I see the woman she was and the struggles she faced and how strong she was to be able to give so much love to everyone in her life knowing that when she needed someone to love her and protect her, to SEE her and defend her that no one would be there. So she gave her last breath to my sister and to me. She made arrangements as best she could and she trusted that surely someone that she had given so much of her life and love to, surely someone who she had opened her home to or sacrificed her own needs for would be there to protect her children should she die. Sadly she was wrong. My mother and I are the same in more ways than I ever knew until that dream. We both just wanted to be loved back. Not even first. Like no bullshit we would give our love freely and first. And all THEY had to do was be grateful and love us back when we need it. I wish my mother had loved herself more than she loved me. I use to wish that she had lost her memory and abandoned us and would come back one day. I wanted that for her. I wanted that for me. Because I know that whatever she had done, wherever she had gone, she saw me and she loved me, so I could forgive Anything. I just couldn’t forgive her for dying. Even if she did die for me. And this keyboard might have water damage, but Imma get through this. I didn’t realize until I was 38 that she knew that her death would prepare me for everything that life would throw at me. She knew that I would hold on to me, some fucking how, and make it through the storms of life. And she’s been in my heart and in my voice and in my head the whole time. She’s been preparing me for each obstacle by making me remember that whatever this life has for me, I am prepared, and the worst day of my life has already happened. If I could survive that day and the aftermath, I will be prepared to survive and thrive after any loss or devastation, and even if nobody ever loves me back. I am strong, agile, and fortified. I have been tested, and know that I will be tested more as I maneuver the storms that life brings, because I love the me that I actually am. I am also vulnerable, sensitive, and easily hurt. I am loyal, dedicated, and relentless in pursuit of a goal. I am capable of loving my mate/partner/spouse and family with no equivocations, and I want to. I want to share my life with someone who likes and loves the me that I actually am, and I love them for exactly who they are. I want to build a life and home and raise a family and have a successful career. I want to be inordinately wealthy and change the world in a positive way for everyone, and to be recognized for my work. I want to travel the world and universe and live long enough to see the technological and humanitarian advances of the next millennium. I want to PERFORM. I want to share my story and the things that I’ve learned with the world. And I don’t want to be lonely or alone. I want a deep love that shakes my foundation for the better and outperforms any of my expectations. Someone who considers my feelings and reassures me of his love. And I want peace and harmony for everyone. I’ve spent a lifetime hiding myself, and other things. I’m tired of hiding and fighting and focusing on what I have lost. I’m ready to embrace the me that I actually am and I can and will continue to love myself first and the most. After all, my mother sacrificed her own life for the me that she always saw and loved. I’m just glad I can see and love me now too. I gonna take some time getting settled in to the real me.

Look at that joy. I miss it. I miss her. But I’m so grateful for her sacrifice.
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