"Emotion (Ain't Nobody)" (2014), "Runnin'" (1995), 616, 616 East Lincoln Avenue, Dreams, Envy, Family Responsibilities, Fleetwood, Lliy-White, Loneliness, Making Plans, Maurice Eugene Washington, Maurice Washington, Maverick Sabre, MVHS, Pharcyde, Single-Minded, Spin Moves, Visions, Whiteness
Today’s date marks three decades since I took on my idiot stepfather Maurice Washington, and actually won, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I’ve written about the incident and my twenty-three-hour trek through Mount Vernon, my dreams, prayers, and wishes, and my confrontation before, here and in Boy @ The Window. (Even now, the baseline to Pharcyde’s “Runnin'” (1995) is running in my head, temporarily replacing my writing theme song for the past week, Maverick Sabre’s “Emotion (Ain’t Nobody)” (2011), but that’s how my mind works). So I won’t go over all of the details again. Still, there are a few important takeaways that puts Sunday, August 25, 1985 in my lifetime victory column.
1. Physical advantages. It never occurred to me until Maurice tried to blindside me in the apartment hallway with a punch that I had much faster reflexes than the idiot. It also never occurred to me that I had a better sense of balance. I managed to avoid the punch and spin around him by using his 350-400 pounds of bulk against him (I really hated having to touch the unwashed, greasy fat frog of a man), and in only a foot of space between the two of us. That’s how I escaped Maurice’s punch and grasp, and got out of the apartment to begin my trek. Knowing what I know now, I should’ve tried out for basketball instead of baseball in eleventh grade.
2. Not finding my father. I kind of wished I had, just to have a few hours that day not to think about my present and future. But my alcoholic dad was a significant part of my present, and his absence gave me real time to think about how jacked up my family life was. I knew, if nothing else, that Maurice, Mom, and Jimme couldn’t pin that on me.
3. Walking up Gramatan Avenue and into Fleetwood. It was partly a walk that reminded me about how the other half of Mount Vernon — affluent and predominantly White — lived. I knew that I’d never be a part of that Mount Vernon, and not just because most of them would run me over with a car sooner than say “Hello.” It was the sense of exclusively, the ability to check in and out of progressive issues, like Humanities and magnet programs, that made me see. These folks I could never befriend.
4. MVHS overnight dreams and Catholic church prayers. Both reminded me that if I played my cards right, I could be on my way to college in two years, twenty-four months, 730 days. I could cope with 616, Maurice, my older brother Darren and my younger siblings and high school and Humanities for that much longer, I thought. But I also knew I needed to make a conscious, almost single-minded effort to do so. Even then, I was tired of burying my thoughts and emotions and playing the role of enigmatic weirdo, though. I realized this was going to be a battle with myself.
Yet what I didn’t learn from my ordeal would also be two more reasons to leave Mount Vernon. I wouldn’t learn those reasons and lessons until the spring and summer of ’87, when the respectability police, the good middle class folk of Black Mount Vernon, would give me just the push I needed…