His son was a follower, always afoot, restless, mobile but stagnant. He was a follower and he had no understanding. He had no understanding because he chose to keep running away without a vision. He had no vision because he chose to be stagnant, despite all efforts to make him desire a purpose that frees. His son left when he awoke and he came back home when he’d had enough spirits in him to put him right to sleep.
He did work. Getting work was easy for him because he was smart and he talked good. He talked good because his father trained him to rise above his surroundings, and not mimic the ways of the lost in the hood. Being a handsome black man with an excellent command of the English language could work well for him in most settings but often it made him unrelatable. That feeling of alienation was a handicap for him all throughout his life and he never learned how to stand strong and lead. No amount of intelligence seemed to allow for an understanding. Followers are masters at fleeing. A follower is always afoot, restless, mobile but stagnant. And since his father was a natural-born leader, it created a rift in them understanding each other.
It’s 2 AM and he still isn’t back home. He lives at home. His dark brown pupils have always harbored specs of rose, and when things aren’t rosy, he goes. Always afoot. Never at home long, never alone but I’m sure he gets lonely. That feeling of alienation must still be a handicap for him and followers are masters at fleeing. Sometimes I think its anger that drives him. He’s angry at his misunderstanding. He can’t comprehend his father. He has no idea what it’s like to graduate top of your class, having to beg for a check from racists, being overworked and underpaid and having to find creative ways to feed your family, all the while, never being on the wrong side of the law.
He can’t begin to comprehend what its like for a man’s dream to vanish into thin air, to be faced with the most unexpected life circumstances, and choose to own a townhouse on a corner in a less desirable area than to never be at home, renting time, trying to keep up with the Joneses. He cannot fathom in ten lifetimes what it’s like to have your intelligence taken for granted when you open your mouth and the Ignorants blind and deaf by ignorance, can only see black and hear an alien accent. He would think it out of this world to have to wake up at the crack of dawn to work your own business despite the struggle, instead of working for a man as a college graduate making barely above minimum wage. He has no earthly inkling of the struggles of someone who came off the boat to the promised land only to be incapacitated while striving to be emancipated from the expectation of failure.
He has no idea because these are things his father tried his best to protect him from. And now that life has just about unraveled his father to the point of being completely undone, and now that his father couldn’t will it enough to be able to keep working and be physically strong, he really has gone. If he didn’t get it before, he surely won’t get it now. Because many times one’s mentality begins to break down when one’s physical body is barely hanging on.
Any relationship that would have been should have been established long ago. Maybe some semblance of a relationship would have kept his son from being an alienated follower. But sometimes men who never had it just don’t know how. That is what enables the cycle. Looking from the outside in as a woman looking at two men, generations apart, worlds apart in their own eyes, I realize something. A man can work so hard to protect and shelter their own, and put all their hopes and faith in their own having a better life than their own, that they lose their own in this relentlessly hopeful and deceptively progressive mode of tunnel vision.
I realize that hope can sometimes sink if there is no buoyancy of effort to match it. But sometimes men who never had it just don’t know how. This is what my personal observations, knowledge from reading about different journeys in this world, life experiences and my travels have allowed me to understand. It was a cold day today and the rain relentlessly fell from the time his son left home the morning before. He wants to reach out but doesn’t know how. He feels like a tortured soul desperately wanting to escape from the limitations of their physical self. He’s never known how to talk to him. His son is a following alien and no amount of intelligence he has seems to allow for an understanding. Its 4 AM and his son still isn’t back at home. Sadly, I have a feeling that his son will continue to run forever at night until his lights come on. A follower is always afoot, restless, mobile but stagnant. His son may continue to run, an alien with impaired vision in this realm, aimless and alone, following his own tail like a dizzy stray, until the day his father goes Home.