Thursday, February 13, 2014

Preface

If you’re not careful, you can spend nearly all of your life running away from just about anything and everything rather than being still long enough to take a really good look around at where you are and then discovering that the things you continue to search for can only be identified within you. All one needs to do is to stop long enough to formulate the right questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • When will I be free?
  • Where am I going?
  • How am I going to get to where I need to go?

For as long as I can remember, I have been continually running after or away from something. Eventually, I came to believe that what I was trying to do is to escape the unpleasant conditions and realities of an insufficient and unhappy home life.

Never being one for sitting still, behaving all that well or skilled at deferring gratification early on I became quite the handful and a bit of a recurring headache for some.

Born the second of two boys, it was my older brother Jeffrey who was my keeper most of the time. That is the role that was assigned to him by our single working mother, Velma Rose Greene. Greene was her maiden name as the daughter of both William and Elizabeth Greene who resided at 28 Melrose Place located in West Caldwell, New Jersey.

My grandmother, Nana as we fondly call her, still lives in the same ranch style home that our Grandpa purchased together back in the late 1950’s. A remarkable achievement for Negroes in the United States during that time period. My grandmother, originally from Virginia, became 103 years old on February 12th 2014. Her Father’s, father Benjamin Feggin was an Irishman. Today, I wish that I knew the actual area in Ireland from which his parents originated so that I might visit there one day and pay my due respect. Because I have come to believe that so much of who we are in life is about our connections to the past I seek to truly honor all who came before me.

Nana has always been and continues to be the real stalwart of our family. Therefore, writing this personal story is just as much a tribute to her and my grandfather as it is to many other people like my good friend Sal along with his older brother who played a very positive role in both of our lives during my preadolescence. The significance of seeing Sal being raised by a loving older brother painted an contrasting picture for me of family, love, and security. What a brother and what a son.

As a youth, I was a member of one of only four African American families living in Caldwell, New Jersey for many years. All together, we were still to few to be disturbing to anyone.

Long before I reached 12 years old, I began running away from home. Initially, to the arms of my Nana. I always felt that she could understand another person's pain no matter the circumstances, she unconditionally accepted and loved you, and would of course feed you and warmly bed you down for the night while the raging storm of a young kid’s malcontent gradually blew over.

Unfortunately, this propensity for seeking escape and not directly accepting personal responsibility for my actions is something that would plaque me for most of my young adult life. Consequently, I found it necessary to try and better understand how this has impacted upon the person that I have become.

If I were asked to define my life as a child, I guess that I would best describe myself as having been a perpetual runaway in search of the significance that I was unable to find at home.