Written by 傑森龍 GS Jackson Taken from soulparking.com/blogs/2010/03/2
How It Was Supposed To Be Sometime in the early 1970s, a sexy, young, blonde, blue eyed Alabama woman named Cathy from Alabama sold everything that she had and bought a single plane ticket from Atlanta to Los Angeles. She fell in love with a man named Stephen who spent six months in her small town of Roanoke setting up the town’s first cable television system. Stephen merely saw it as a fling and hadn’t intended her to follow him to Los Angeles. But she did. She followed her heart. They began to live together. Then everything changed. Cathy wasn’t also supposed to have children, but she got pregnant. Stephen married her out of obligation. Before the baby was born, she suffered verbal and physical abuse. After it was born, there was more verbal and physical abuse. I don’t remember the abuse or maybe I have blocked it out. I just didn’t understand why two people who had loved each other – now didn’t – and why neither of them wanted me. Cathy’s brother, Gary, became concerned for his sister. He made a trip out to California to rescue his sister. He threatened Stephen to not touch his sister. Gary begged his sister to return with him to Alabama. She refused. Then Gary returned to his wife. Stephen and Cathy moved to Atlanta, Georgia. The abuse became worse. And suddenly Gary was contacted by the Dekalb Police and Family Services that the little boy had been removed from the home and put into foster care. Family Services deemed that it was unsafe for the child to be returned to the care of his natural parents. Other family members got the first option to adopt. Gary consulted with his wife and they offered to adopt the little boy. And that’s when I was placed into my first real home. -In March 2002, I sat in third floor attic office of the first house I ever purchased with my wife. But I was frustrated with the way my marriage was going. I didn’t like the boring straight path my life was going. I missed writing. I was tired of only doing Powerpoint presentations and troubleshooting software code. And strangely, I took an unhealthy interest in re-watching the Twin Towers collapsing over and over on cnn.com.
I wondered if that day came – on the day of my death – would I regret my life? Would I regret that I didn’t see the world? Would I regret that I didn’t write my stories, my poetry, my life down? My wife didn’t like me writing because it meant less time with her – even though she preferred us to sit on the couch or in bed and watch television. I hated television. I preferred to live life and not watch a fake version of it. My wife didn’t want to live too far away from her mother and sister. Forcing her to move to North Carolina from Atlanta, Georgia nearly destroyed her. It caused undue stress on our marriage. But I wanted to live everywhere and go everywhere. While teaching a class I caught one of my students building a website instead of the doing the class exercises. I didn’t say anything but I would walk past behind her to watch her progress. During a break, I asked her about it. She told me, “I am building a website so I get my voice out there.” And that’s when I realized I wanted the same thing. Then on the evening of March 24, 2002, while browsing through images on a picture gallery website – I came across a simple picture of a neon R&B club sign in Washington, DC that read: Soul Parking. That night I built SoulParking.com – working on it all night and wrote my first blog “Tombstone”. My wife was incensed when she woke up and found I had been upstairs in the office all night. She later would tell me as we were going through our divorce – that was the night that she felt our marriage begin to disintegrate. -I was walking back to my flat in Sheung Wan and suddenly I thought I saw her. And just when I thought I recognized her, she quickly entered into the Japan Home Store. I walked up to the entrance and glanced inside – and there was nobody. Nobody in the aisles – the store was empty except for the cashier. I nodded at the cashier, smiled sheepishly and went out. I walked home slowly and wondered if I was seeing things. Or worse yet, what if she was hiding from me? Was she that ashamed of me? I felt ashamed of myself. And days later, after one of my comedy shows, I met Isra at Zinc for a couple of drinks. She already had a couple of glasses of wine and was smiling when she saw me. The waitress recognized me and brought me my Red Bull and Vodka right away. I talked and laughed with Isra’s friends. Then Isra turned to me, “I saw her earlier.”
“Who?” I asked. Her face looked serious. “You know.” I nodded. “She came in with a friend. And then she left. I don’t think she saw me.” I said nothing. “Didn’t she say she was moving to Australia?” I said nothing. “Do you still love her?” Isra asked going serious. I said nothing. That’s when the people sitting beside us – who were drunk – stood and one wobbled backward and knocked over Isra’s red wine glass. “Hey!” she yelled. And then the waitress came over quickly with a broom to clean it up and replaced her wine glass. But then she said later, when she looked around, I was gone. -I packed my luggage for the last time and prepared for my last taxi trip to Aberdeen Marina. It was sad that my life now could be packed into four pieces of luggage and two computer bags. I went outside my flat and waited for an available taxi. Because the Rugby 7s were on, there were very few taxis for hire. But after ten minutes of waiting, one turned the corner and I was able to wave it down. I sat in the back as the sun was setting around Hong Kong – and seeing the ships anchored around the island – peeking out from around the skyscrapers and large apartment complexes as the taxi trudged around the side of the mountain island. I told the taxi driver as we approached the Aberdeen Marina, “You can let me out around the Jumbo Restaurant drop off.” He let me out in front of the line of taxis waiting to pickup people who just disembarked from the shuttle boat that took them from the large floating restaurant. After I paid him, he hurried to the back and helped me dislodge my large piece of luggage.
I took my luggage and threw my computer bag over my shoulder and went up to the closed metal gate. I unhinged the iron door and rolled into the marina – hearing the clickety-clack across the planks that made the walking platforms leading out to the yachts. I went past the first three rows and took the next to the last one – and it led out to my wooden yacht named “The Binary Star”. A couple hours earlier when I unpacked during my last moving trip – I left the lights on inside the boat and the stereo full blast. I wanted to see how much noise I would make and how much privacy I had walking past and seeing what I could see through the windows at night – although I had very few people that lived in their boats around me. Most of the boats were occupied only on the weekends. They were merely rich toys. I saw my new home – swaying slightly to the water rocking it underneath. The lights inside made a warm yellow glow on the inside. I could hear the bass barely – and the closer I got – I finally could make it out it was Ryan Leslie playing on the stereo. I climbed the white stairs leading up to the side deck of the boat dragging my luggage behind me. On the top step, I threw the heavy bag over and then shoved open the door to my living room and rolled my luggage inside. My new goldfish Sinbad in his bowl stirred when he saw me enter the room. I put the luggage down on the floor and unzipped it – and saw the contents of my life neatly organized behind mesh netting. Tomorrow I would catch an early flight to my home country – the USA. Then after that, I would drive eight hours to Alabama and return to the first home that I had ever known – after I was adopted. I was excited about getting back and being welcomed by the parents who considered me their son. I just wanted to be loved – reminded that I belonged to someone – to something. Sweet home Alabama. -I called my mom when I was in JFK and wanted to let her know that I had arrived safely within the boundaries of the United States. “I got about an hour before my flight to North Carolina and then I will be driving down to Alabama,” I told her.
“Be careful,” she said. “You know – you are not the only one coming home. You know Vick is also coming home from Afghanistan the same day you are.” I was quiet and thought for a second. “Who is Vick?” My mom let out a breath. “Vick! You know the guy who lives across the street from us?” “You mean the guy who got a divorce from his wife and now repairs air conditioners in Afghanistan?” “We never asked him what happened between him and his wife.” “Well she and I went to the same university.” “Well, he is coming home too.” She was quiet. “He also bought me a gift and shipped it. But you know I haven’t gotten it.” “That’s nice,” I said. “He is like our second son,” my mom said. “Wow, you and dad have come along way. You used to get mad at me because all my friends were black. And now you have a black son. That’s impressive.” My mom let out a sigh, “Well he is not a typical black man…” “What does that mean?” I interrupted. “That sounds more racist.” “Look, let me finish. He is a good guy. And he works hard. And he calls us his white parents.” “Okay,” and that’s when I heard my Blackberry beep to let me know the power was about to run out. “Look mom, I will see you soon. My battery is about to die.” And my mom started to say something but then my phone went dead. -When I finally got to my parents house, they weren’t there. But they had left the front door open. Yesterday, I had arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina and the jet lag had taken its toll. I couldn’t muster the energy to make the eight hour drive to Alabama. So I crashed at my friend’s Steve’s house and got up around five o’clock that morning to start the drive.
Now it was noon – Alabama time – and I knew that my parents were having their monthly doctor appointments. I unpacked my luggage in my old room that had been my room when I had been in high school. The room seemed so small now. I wandered into the living room and on the oak television cabinet was pictures of our family – but noticed all the pictures of me were from years and years ago. No recent pictures. Most of the picture frames held images of my cousins, my uncle and his kids, and my uncle’s grand kids. I went to the kitchen and looked out the window in the back door – looking out at our neighbor’s barn – and the cows that stood nearly motionless - chewing on grass – dotting the rolling pasture. I went to the guest bedroom and unpacked my laptop and set it up on the desk against the wall. I found a wireless signal from my dad’s Linksys router and checked my work email – and began to work remotely. My parents showed up two hours later. I heard them come through the garage door. I went to greet them. My mother looked nearly the same – except maybe with more gray hair. But my father had gained weight – more weight than I had ever remembered him ever having. I hugged them both. They had their hands full of Wal-Mart bags and I took one or two and helped them to the kitchen. I put them down on the bar and my father asked my mom where to put his. My mom snapped at him, “I told you to put it down on the kitchen table.” “No you didn’t. I just asked you where to put it down.” “And I told you.” My mom looked at me and shook her head. My dad said under his breath, “I am going downstairs to smoke my pipe.” And he pushed the folding wooden door open, went into the doorway, closed the folding doors behind him, and descended the steps to the basement. And suddenly, I wondered if all couples who have been married for more than thirtyseven years descend to this – snapping and bickering at each other as a way to show the other one that they love each other. --
My parents didn’t ask me about my job. They didn’t ask me about my travels. They didn’t ask me about my comedy. But most importantly, they didn’t ask me if I was dating anyone. They stopped asking me about my relationships when I broke up with Jasmin when I left South Africa and moved to Hong Kong. However, I invited them to come to Atlanta to watch one of my two stand up comedy shows – I would even get them a hotel room in order for them to be relaxed. My mom shook her head first, “I don’t like Atlanta.” “But its your son. I am going to have a show there and I would be honored to have my parents there.” “I need to take my pills,” my mom offered. “I can’t just take time out to go to Atlanta.” My dad then said, “I don’t like the traffic in Atlanta.” “Okay,” I said relented. Then I went back to the guest bedroom to check my work email. My parents started watching Fox news. -“Gary!’ my mom said loudly. “Come in here! Guess who’s here?” my mom said excitedly. I had heard someone come into the house but didn’t go out to see who it was. So I got up from my laptop and went into the living room. There sitting on the couch was a very good looking, black guy – and he was huge – looked like a linebacker. “You must be Vick,” I said. He smiled a big smile, stood up, and we shook hands. Then we sat on the couch together. My dad started, “So what’s it like over there?” Vick even though he was a big guy was very soft spoken. “Well, it’s very different.” And he started explaining what life was like being an air conditioner repairman in Afghanistan for the US Military. I even joined in, “What are the people like over there?”
“Well I don’t go off base. It’s too dangerous. But we have lots of nationalities. On base - Australians, British. We even have Asian looking British troops.” “Do they have swords attached to their uniforms?” “Yeah, small machetes, but I never talk to them.” “They are the Gurkhas.” I said trying to seem knowledgeable. “They are from Nepal.” “Let Vick finish his story,” my mom said. I went quiet. “They protect higher ups. They do the security for the generals and high profile visitors.” “How about Obama when he was there?” I asked. My mom let out a breath. Vick laughed. “Well when he showed up – they locked down the whole city and the base. No one could move – get in or get out. And nobody knew he was coming.” “You know what we should do?” my dad said. “Let’s go to Auburn and take you out to dinner to celebrate you coming home.” I sat in silence. Vick suddenly stirred on the couch seeing something through the open front door. “Hey, somebody just pulled up in my drive way.” He stood up and looked out. “Oh, that’s my parents.” “Oh,” my dad said. “Maybe next time?” “I would like that a lot,” Vick said. My dad stood up and my dad and Vick hugged. Then my mom stood up and they hugged. I shook Vick’s hand and he went out. My mom and dad watched him walk across their yard, across the road, and go up to his house. “That Vick is a good guy,” my dad said. “Yeah, he is not like a typical black man,” my mom added.
I felt like I wasn’t there. I stood there and then my parents turned around – my mom went to the kitchen and my dad went to smoke his pipe down in the basement. I went to pack my things. -It was a beautiful drive – going through North Alabama up to Nashville, Tennessee where I was offered the opportunity to do a standup comedy show at a place called Spanky’s. I had thought coming home – would remind me of my roots. Bring me back in focus. But instead I felt more lost. Home wasn’t even my parent’s house anymore. Hell, I didn’t even feel like I was their son anymore. Vick, the black neighbor from across the street, was more their son than I was. I had tried to talk to my father while watching television – but it broke down into an argument of how Obama was making the USA communist with his healthcare reform. Instead of continuing to argue, I just went to bed. But being in my rented Dodge Charger tearing up the interstate, I for some reason felt like I belonged. I had to keep moving. I had to keep searching. I doubted that I would ever find a place to park my soul. I looked over at the empty passenger seat. And it was true. Home is not a place it is a person. That’s how it was supposed to be.
Written by GS Jackson, © 2010 LOL Entertainment Group, LLC (USA) Limited (HKG)