February 27, 2017
Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:21:57
Open Letter to My 80-year-old self,
Well, over 30 years have passed and lots of stuff has happened, some things you can remember, some things you have strategically forgotten. 2017 was an interesting year and one that stands out most of all. Not one to beat around the bush, my question to you is, did you do enough? Did you teach enough? Did you read enough? Did you love enough?
You came of age in a time of halcyon or your own personal yesteryear. A time where no one could reach you until you got back. There were no beepers, pagers or whatever and there certainly were no cell phones. This was a time when to “play” meant you go OUTSIDE until the street lights came on. There were no handheld games, no tablets.
Your yesteryear was a time where there was dinner time and no one ate fast food, McDonald’s was just making it on the scene. You remember eating hot dogs that folks would cringe at now while fried shrimp was a delicacy. Summers were spent eating water ice on those thick limestone rowhome steps that we cleaned with Ajax every other day. This was a time were we innocently had no appreciation for the fact that when we put crab shells in the zooey-hole we were really providing food for mice and roaches.
Alas, this was a time of summer block parties but not before we cleaned the lot on the corner left from the city’s decision to tear down abandoned homes with no plan to rebuild. You survived and that is awesome. But did you do enough? You were blessed enough to see the first black president elected into office only to be followed by a president that brought us back to a time way before your yesteryear. You know, those times that you read about in the history books. You always said that you would have been a freedom fighter if you were of age in the 60s.
Was 2018 not your time to embrace your natural hair and sport an afro and fight the power? Did you do that? Or did you do like most people were doing? Sitting on social media airing the worst of our community, a community that people tended to expect the worse of. Social media really did a mean job of spotlighting the extreme juxtaposition between creativity and ratchetness. Some things are better left hidden; how is it possible to embrace images that are both funny and sad at the same time; that is what social media was.
Now that you are old, do you feel like you missed your moment? You always said that the reason why old people turn cranky is that they missed their moment, still claiming acuity, their old minds may be ready to get moving but the body puts on the breaks. Well, I hope you are cheerful and have lived a life with no regrets. Full of funny sayings, I recall you sharing one of your grandmother’s favorite remarks when she was asked about troubling facets of her life. She would say, “Whatever I did, I did but I did not kill nobody.” How fitting? If at the end of a long life you can say that you lived it without regret and let others live too, then I guess you did what was expected of you, no more and no less. Ponder that…
Peace in the struggle.
~Aurelia Mitchell Durant