*Yet to be Written*
1: Blues of Bibb County Part 1 (1990-2000)
Blues of Bibb County Part 2 (2001-2003)
2: Chance Encounters (2003-2004)
3: Haunting Memories (2005-2007)
4: Breaking Point (2008)
Blues of Bibb County
On December 8th, 2008 a world came to an end. An ironclad paradigm was penetrated, ravaged, and torn to pieces. What took seven years to build took only 7 days to destroy. Dazed and disenchanted, I pondered the transformation of all I saw before me. Both hope and cynicism where exposed as false prophets. The blackest blacks and the whitest whites degenerated into a sterile, amorphous gray. The sun shone brighter than it ever had, only to fizzle and die. How could one person have warped and bended reality to it's present state? This world was the fruit of a lifetime of farming. Of all the ideologies I tended, this was the only one worth harvesting. The only perspective I could believe in. Though ripened in 2001, the seed was planted one year prior.
It was freshmen year at Central High School, a pubic school in Macon, Georgia. As with most public schools, many classes where taught outside in trailers. One of such classes was a Social Studies class taught by Greg Dougherty, otherwise known as "Mr. D." His wry sense of humor made him a favorite among students, but at times took he it too far. By 2005, It had costed him his job. According to the papers, he'd gotten the bright idea to dawn a giant afro and brown makeup to entertain at a pep rally. I suppose modern-day blackface was bit too avant-garde for the school board. At any rate, this isn't about Mr. D, this is about a girl named Jennifer. Jennifer Wilson.
Jennifer Wilson sat two desks to the right of me in the first desk of the third to last row. Say that three times fast. I wasn't exactly sure what ethnicity she was. She seemed to be Hispanic, or Latina. I'm sure I heard her mention once that she was part Puerto Rican and part African American. I suppose this is was initially intrigued me about her. At my previous school, St. Peter Claver, the student body was primarily Caucasian and African American. High school, on the other hand, was a microcosm of college in terms of diversity. I got first hand experience with races I had rarely encountered before. Among these was another girl I noticed in Mr. D's class. She sat in the last desk to the right in the second to last row. I wasn't quite sure was ethnicity she was either. To be honest, I actually found her to be a bit odd looking. As an artist, I was always fascinated by individuals with unique facial architecture. I must say that public school was a great resource for this. A gold mine really. In this case, I found myself most fascinated with Jennifer.
Fascination swiftly developed into a crush. This had only happened twice in my life before, but by the time I met Jennifer, I already had baggage. Funny enough, my first crush was in the 1st grade. She was a long-haired blonde named Sarah. My mother thoroughly enjoys hanging that detail over my head to this day. Luckily, that was the only crush she ever knew of. My next was in 3rd grade. She was a curly-haired red-head named Kylie Green. She was yet another whose race I couldn't place. That rhymed quite nicely. I always saw her as a light-skinned black girl, but I could've been wrong. This leads me to believe that my affinity for mixed race women began long before high school. So far, Sarah was the only one of my crushes that wasn't multi-racial. For all I know she could've had mixed European ancestry, but this is all besides the point. The formation of these crushes was similar, but the manner in which I dealt with them changed with each girl.
With Sarah, I was very open. I was quite vocal of admiration for her. This lead to conflict, specifically with this kid named Geoffrey. I think I even got into a fight with him on a few occasions, but nothing serious. I wasn't emotionally invested enough in the situation to carry the antagonism too far. At that time, girls took no more precedent in my life than anything else I liked. They where about on the same level of importance as a favorite tv show, a cool new action figure, or a neat bug I found somewhere. There really wasn't even enough time to form much of an attachment. She was gone by the time 2nd grade rolled around. There was no sense of loss, or unfulfillment. I had been as honest and forthright as I could. I was also a 1st grader. Most at that age haven't lived long enough to have regrets.
Kylie brought a different dynamic to the table. She was an upper classman. She was only one grade above me, but through the eyes of a 3rd grader, 4th graders where light-years older. It marked the first time that I had truly felt apprehensive about expressing myself to someone. Never before had someone seemed so "out of reach." She existed in this whole other world behind a barrier that I couldn't cross. This elusiveness fostered a sense of mystique and wonderment. I speculated as to what kind of person she was, what was she like, and what would happen if I spoke to her. Maybe she would see past my age and we would hit it off. These thoughts entertained me for as long as reality would allow. 3rd and 4th grades where two very different worlds. Pursuing someone older, whose interests lie far beyond what I could ever be, didn't seem feasible. Kylie left within a year or so anyway, but unlike Sarah, her departure bit harder. She was far less accessible. She wasn't just someone I couldn't have, but a height I couldn't ascend to, a social class that I could never be a part of. I was introduced to a whole new concept of limits. A concept further ingrained into me as the years passed.
Feeling inadequate because of age was one thing, but soon I was blitzed on all fronts. I learned far more from students than any teacher in middle school. My time at St. Peter Claver taught me of my failure to meet the conventional standards of any and all applicable areas of life: my appearance, gender, race, speech, habits, interests, and wardrobe. I didn't have the build of person twice my age. Never had I an interest in sports, or anything requiring athletic prowess. Watching sports bored the hell out of me( the current exception being UFC). I wasn't an amoral skirt-chaser who went after anything that moved. Ebonics, or any type of street vernacular where absent from my vocabulary. Early 90's rap was the only rap I ever listened to and even then I wasn't exactly a connoisseur. Most rap, especially gangsta rap, was garbage to me. The fact that so many rappers are idolized as heroes always mystified me. I never embraced the concept of television channel supposedly tailored to "black" tastes (*cough* BET *cough* ). I lived in a society that misunderstood me and a culture that rejected me. I was criticized for all I was and I that I wasn't. Of all things, I was even criticized for the length of my pants.
Being a private school, St. Peter Claver required all students to be in uniform. That meant that my clothes had to be bought and received through mail. Often times, the pants was come late, or we simply couldn't afford to buy them yet. Until the new pants came, I was forced wear old ones which had gotten to small. It was then that I was introduced to the term "highjacking". This describes any and all pairs of pants who unforgivably fail to drag the floor. There came a point where I would rip the hem from my pants to extend them. This trivial type of ridicule was par for the course. The attacks never turned physical. Perhaps if they did they wouldn't have clinged so firmly in my memory. By the time I'd served my last year, I'd learned the double-edged art of hatred.
High School was a brand new environment, but within it I found the archetypes of old. Swarming the halls where the cackling crows spewing their poisonous rhetoric in my ear. At one side where the few friends that gave some hope for mankind. At the other where the friends whom cursed me in secret. The offices teemd with authorites whom acknowledged the injustices around them and did nothing. In the classrooms where the untouchables. I hear the laughter, I catch looks of pity, and I feel the indifference. In Mr. D's class sat the untouchable undefined. Jenifer Wilson. The fundamental structure of the world was revealing itself to me. I'd acquired the necessary framework to begin laying the foundation of my core beliefs. My absolute truths.
My greatest truth. Art and art alone is my rock in the mire of life's sewers. It is my primary source of stability, self respect, dignity, or any slivers of happiness.
Approaching Jennifer was inconceivable. To do so would've been a direct violation of the class system set forth by the masses. The masses, dense as they are, are the composers and conductors of the staus quo. What good was there in fighting the system. I simply didn't have the time, or energy to bark up tress whose yards themselves are forbidden. My focus remained on work. I had my future to consider. Outward observation was to be my pastime. Observing. Analyzing. Recording. If I couldn't have her, then at least I wanted to understand her. Perhaps I could calculate the exact odds that where stacked against me.
Blues of Bibb County