“Happy Father’s Day!” Most of us spent our lives fortunate enough to shout that to our father figures the first time we saw them for the day, but fewer of us are lucky enough to have that said to us. Luckily for me, I have that fortune. I’m a little over a week shy of my twenty-fourth birthday, and while I never plan to have any kids of my own, I have already been granted the responsibility of three amazing girls.
All of my grandmother’s three children had kids. My mom is the oldest and I’m her only child. My uncle has four, but his middle-most lives with us. My late-aunt, the baby girl, had two, and because of unfortunate circumstances within our family, all three girls—Shy’Air, age 13, Dy’Nia, age 8, and Derielle, age 3—are in our custody. The passing of my aunt in October 2010 rocked the entire family, and we all knew that things wouldn’t be the same.
My mom, her then boyfriend and I were all living in the Atlanta area at the time, and this event caused us to move back to Baton Rouge. I was at a place where I was seeking my own independence. For many reasons, I also had a very bad misconception of what Baton Rouge was about, all of which has done a complete 180 since then. Nonetheless, the mere thought of moving back here sent me into a panic, and I was able to move back to Atlanta on my own in January 2011.
I moved in with someone I had only met twice, someone who ended up having what I’ll call a “vested interest in me.” Long story short, this person wanted to be, in their words, “…a part of my family.” I was twenty-one and naïve, so I selectively ignored that, thinking it’ll pass. They admitted to not having any sort of family life, and that they longed to not only have a closer relationship to their family, especially the kids, but they wanted one of their own more than anything! I was aware that the overt closeness that I have with mine bothered them, so much that the loudness over the phone seemed to make them shut down a bit. In the aftermath, I wasn’t surprised that they lied to me as a way to get me out of their space exactly one month later. For that and many other reasons, I no longer speak to this person.
Similarly, I have someone else here in Baton Rouge of whom I was a friend with since we first met the day of my high school graduation, May 21, 2007. It had been a series of ups and downs, mostly downs, as I had the strongest of doubts about them, their values, their intentions and everything else. It was a five-year friendship, but we probably spent less than three actually speaking. They too had a limited family life and also wanted their own; their ways and situations were almost identical to Atlanta’s, so much that I still get their names mixed up.
Yes, they had a tendency to downplay my situations at home, especially with my girls. One time, they were talking about how they want to be closer to their younger sister, and since my three are both cared for as sisters and daughters, I fully understood. As a friend, I saw nothing wrong with sharing, I guess, ‘advice.’ “You’re talking about your goddaughters. I’m talking about my sister.” Excuse me? I definitely got a little loud after that smart-ass response, and from there, it made things clear. I mean, why downplay it when you’re the one who frequently enough asks about them?
This person also had a B.F. (“bitch fit,” if you like White Chicks) over the family clamor that was going in the background over the phone during a later instance, and I let them know that that’s how we do it here, and that they’re going to have to get used to it. Yes, that was probably a very crass and arrogant response, but an amalgamation of other things made me not care anymore. They called me. We are loud, we talk big, we love big—all of that. Can’t take it? Get off the phone, and I was not about to go in another room just to talk on the about people who I don’t care about. For too many reasons to name, I’m no longer friends with this person, nor the people they were gossiping about.
I’m not writing this blog to bash these people, but to make a point. It took a lot of rookie mistakes for me to realize what matters in my life, the reasons why I’m here. It took all of this to realize that while I’m not in Atlanta, subconsciously hating myself so much that I’m getting involved with every ill-intentioned trick that crosses my path, I’m here at home with the people that raised me and the three kids who need me. My first Father’s Day was last year, to which Paw Paw and I both got our own cakes and presents. While still reeling from Atlanta in 2011 and a massive end of friendships pending later in the current year, this show of appreciation gave…me…life.
I’m more than just “cousin.” I have a responsibility that many people my age either don’t handle, don’t have or wish they had, and it took a lot for me to finally wake my ass up and realize it. Yes, I have become cocky, and if you were in my shoes, experiencing exactly what I have over the past few years, you’d be cocky too. Last year, I kept my Father’s Day low-key. Fuck that. I’m shouting it from the top of the Capital: I’M RIGHT WHERE I NEED TO BE.
I hope that you’ll continue to follow me and my work here, as well as on Twitter, YouTube and Soundcloud. Also, stay tuned for my fourth Shuttle launch, a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” and my next blog about Quarters here in Baton Rouge. Toodaloo.