Royalty.

Halloween weekend.

I’m back in Queens. Walking an assload of blocks home on a frigid night. The bus at that hour (its about 3 am) stops NOWHERE near where I need to be. So I hopped off in LI….and voyaged my drunk ass back into Queens.

Now mind you. I’m FINISHED. I barely had the presence of mind to stop at the local 7-11 and get a huge bottle of water for my now drunk and defeated body (it was a great night though). So I’m stumbling in the dark…by myself…down Merrick in the relatively unsafe manner in which is how I usually live life.

Somewhere along the way I have a bright idea.

“I’m hungry. Let me eat some bum ass Crown Fried chicken.”

I never eat Crown. Ever. Had it once in my entire life….thanks to a woman named Lorna who I just affectionately called “gramma Lorna” in a more innocent , younger , and totally sober time.

Grandma was tough as nails. Rude , even. But she loved me in such a pure way. She had this way of telling you things you needed to hear in the most disrespectful way she could. Wasn’t that she didnt love you ; she just knew this was the only way she’d get through to you immediately. It always worked. I always listened , even when I didnt understand.

If I may be transparent , let me tell you about my upbringing. I am a silver spoon kid. Middle class black parents. Got everything I needed and 95 percent of what I wanted. That other 5% was shit I got myself eventually. Family life was spotless.

My grandma?? Flew here from Trinidad. Lived in Brooklyn. Worked at the post office. Raised my mom and my aunt by herself (split with my also dearly missed grandfather , Papa). She’s done it all. She struggled at some point. Her role in my mind was to help keep me grounded and remind me that everyone didn’t have it like me.

So yes , one day she took me and my sister to Crown Fried. In Flatbush. My fake uppity ass saw that chicken and fries and cringed. I was dreading having to eat this “hood” shit. I ate it. Thought it was average at best. Didn’t matter : any food Grandma put in front of me…I’m at least gonna give it a shot out of love and respect alone.

Now here I am , 24 years old. 15 years later or so. Tears welling up in my eyes at almost 330 am as I pull open a Crown Fried door and order through that familiar bulletproof glass. Waited for my food. Got it relatively quickly. Got the hell outta there and noticed I was sobering up quickly. The cold and memories of a loved one will do that to ya.

I’d like to say I was moved by something so random and almost “silly” because of the alcohol. Probably not. I won’t make the tired cliche “I just hope she’s proud of me” because thats not really how I think. She was proud of me when she passed and I wasnt even out of HS by then. My main concern that night was , I hope she knows I owe her so much. On top of that , I was happy she came to mind.

My grandma embodies my current demeanor. I’m friendlier than she ever was. She was only nice to family….no one else. But she was laid back. Say something crazy , prove her point , then sip her grapefruit juice and keep watching Montell. She was always the definition of cool to me. My grandma was beautiful. She knew it…she believed it…she wore that proudly. I always admired how she didn’t care what anyone thought; as long as her family was straight she was satisfied. I reach more every day to live life in such a minimalist way. I want to keep improving on my happiness and make sure my family and friends are in that same space. Everything else will fill in as it should.

That night , I got into my bedroom , bodied that greasy ass chicken , drank that Pepsi thats eventually gonna kill me if I don’t stop (but it hasnt ruined my skin….I’m still looking and feeling like this guy) and slept soundly. Knowing that……I ate that damn chicken and stopped complaining. Just like she would’ve liked.

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