James

Let me tell you about James…

About 30 years ago we used to chill in a run-down apartment complex in Northern Virginia. It was the type of place where black and white weren’t the only colors, and Route 1 ran through the center of town, like lines drawn on a school playground- daring, taunting the other side to cross.
James was this kid, 13 years old, trying so hard to hang with us, looking up to us. This scared little kid who shivered in the face of fear, but who NEVER backed down.
They called me the Little D.C. Thrasher. I flew 360 Degrees in the L.D.C. wasteland, where a banner painted on the brick proclaimed, “ALL IS ONE,” but we weren’t that close, and a bullet might come between our casual greeting.
And James? James wanted to be down. He wanted to hang, tired-eyed and bragging, through late nights and shadows, out of sight from the painful days exploring light.
I could see the dreams in his eyes, dreams of acceptance and peace, and I heard how his dreams died, when he took his own life in the face of A.I.D.S. after having sex for the first time. I think about how he looked up to us. How his blood is on our hands…the example that we set for this shivering little kid who wanted to be loved, wanted somebody to give a damn.
Now I watch close. I watch my old friends raising their kids to be little G’s in the wasteland. I watch how our liberation can enslave us, how we sow seeds of discord and deceit that we DARE call family.

And I remember James, because that is all I have of him. The memory, and the responsibility, to do more, to be better, and to pursue True Love.

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