KINGS BLEED TOO

Dad has been sober from drugs for 27 years of his life. His son is 30 years old. My Superhero. My King. My idol; been imperfect, been in pain. He's been dealing with issues of loneliness, abandonment, self-worth, depression, and identity. Dad went on to have 4 sons. All 4 of them different, like the 3 different Mothers who birthed them. One of them, like his Father is, like his Mother is, was always into something. He sang in the church choir. He played the lead role in all the school plays, and always stood out whenever he had a ball in his hands.

He always kept a journal, just like his Mother. He was always writing/expressing his voice thru scribbled words only he could read. These days he still writes, as does his Mother. 30 years of pain. 30 years of joy. 30 years of tears. This is his story so far. Kings Bleed Too. Welcome to his fears.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MY DAD

PHOTO BY: NERIAH MCBAIN

You’re your Father’s son”.
— Mother

My Mother's favorite words to use whenever my actions remind her of the resentment she harbors for my Father. Their dynamic leaves me with more questions than it does answers. Nevermind her disdain for the man, I'll let God address that in his time. 

Me and my Dad are as thick as thieves while also being nothing alike. My Father is a reformed drug dealer turned NYU graduate, who once dropped an Album in a group called The Homeboys. He's charming, smooth with the kind of voice that makes people feel comfortable, no matter what his lips are saying.

My Dad, like most young men was my first superhero. Growing up, he was invincible. He could do no wrong. Simply put, he was perfect. That was until the day I came home from school to our Coney Island apartment and saw his belongings lying on the curb...

We never talked about that day. But that was the moment  our relationship began to change. It was the first time I saw my Superman bleed. 

Over the years my relationship with my Dad has shifted. I remember at one point wanting to fight him. I remember feeling as tho I never had a Father, like my Dad was just some dude in the street -- and I was simply responsible for my own life and resources. I remember the moment my Dad became my enemy. I also remember the moment in which he became my friend.

It started with a conversation.

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ME AND MY OLD MAN

SUMMER '16

I believe that lessons can be learned thru conversations. My Dad loved to talk to me about basketball and music. How he and my Uncle Donald worked with Michael Jackson. How my Uncle Jerry was nominated for Grammys. How he snuck into a James Brown concert at the Apollo theater in Harlem when he was kid. My Dad loves to talk. He's at his best when he is communicating and reflecting on his feelings.

I just wish he talked to me more about how much he loved my Mother, or any woman for that matter. 

My Dad is about to be 60 years old and we've never talked about his relationship with my Mom. To be specific, he has never had a conversation with me about how much he loves my Mother, or any woman that he has dated over the years. Sure I know he loves my Mother, but my knowledge is based off an assumption. It's based off me seeing him engage with her in certain moments. But from his mouth, to my ears, I do not know the nuances of feelings he has for my my Mother. Sure I know he's attracted to her. I don't know about his experiences over the years regarding loving my Mother or any women he has dated. All I know is the assumed love that my Father has for my Mother.

Why is this important for me? Why is this important for men? Why is this important for Black Men, both Fathers and Sons alike?

I remember when my Dad taught me how to ride a bike. Before I ever touched a pedal, he had a conversation with me about riding a bike. He went thru some of the specifics like, "hold your handlebars tight" and "grab this lever to stop the bike from moving". I come from a family of ball players who love the game of basketball, so me and my Dad would always talk about sports. He's a huge Knick fan, and he loved watching college basketball. We could talk for hours about the nuances of the game of basketball, or about his love for music and fine dining.

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But as I sit here, 30 years old and single, I wish my Father spoke to me more about the love he felt for my Mother. I wish my Dad's ambition and zeal wasn't limited to conversations about grown men playing a game. My parents were married for almost 20 years. Surely there are some stories in there. There are experiences, emotions, feelings, actions, that are all real life learning experiences that should be shared with his sons. 

I always wondered why whenever I heard a Black Man speak of or reference their wife or girlfriend, it was often done with a level of reluctancy. I was always curious to about why my Dad, my friends Fathers, and most men I grew up around, always spoke of their girlfriends, wives, etc with this hyper sense of obligation instead of genuine love and passion. 

I wish I knew what went thru my Dad's mind the moment he fell in love with my Mother. I would love to talk to him about the feelings and thoughts he had the first time he knew he let her down, or when he knew she was "the one". I would love to know the lessons learned throughout their relationship. What areas and moments he was most proud of, and which moments he wished he could have back. I wish all Fathers, especially Black Dads, talked to their sons about more than Lebron Vs Jordan. Talk to them about the love you felt for your Queen, and the moments you became her King. There is growth in that dialogue. There are lessons to be learned and feelings to be processed. Me and my Dad will continue to grow in our relationship. One day I will be a Father. I'm not certain of much, but I can guarantee you this: My children will know real love. My children will experience love first hand in both how I love them, in their observations of how I love my wife, and thru the conversations I have with them about the love I came to know upon meeting their mother. 

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Conversations With My Dad