T-tops off, wind blowing, locs flowing, Marley playing, herb burning—I was flying. The thing about my family is we weren’t religious, meaning we didn’t subscribe to any dogma. I’m sure this has a lot to do with my mother being the person she has always been. A strong willed woman who was raised in a very religious, country household in the Jim Crow south; Zuni, Virginia to be specific. After living through segregation, integration, and being a so-called “black” wombman (as she often spelled woman), in this “land of our foremothers” (as she often called America), she at some point decided to unsubscribe to the traditions that had been blindly handed down for generations. It was probably some time during her enrollment at one of the local HBCU’s where the seed of curiosity began to sprout into the fully blossomed thirst for research. I mean, dad is smart, but mom is constantly learning in an attempt to find the universal truth that connects all, at least that’s my interpretation of how she tries to define her affinity. The best part is that she also instilled it in me, it’s even rubbed off on dad. For example, since my mom has been attesting to the power of words and etymology, and learning new languages like Hebrew, Arabic, and Kiswahili, dad did his due diligence and informed everyone that in Kiswahili, zuni is the root word for sad. Most people would see this as mere coincidence, however we don’t believe in such a thing. Everything is connected, we call it synchronicity. Now, I’m not saying that my mom had a sad childhood or that Zuni was a sad place. As dad puts it, “you don’t know you’re missing something if don’t first know that it exists.”
My train of thought was derailed by the squealing of tires and the piercing sound of a panicked horn being laid on by my father who was warning me of the upcoming light that had just switched to yellow. I abruptly slammed on my brakes, slowing down in time to stop at the intersection. Of course, my dad pulled up beside me to give me that scolding glare, and in my head I could hear his voice telling me, “driving is a privilege, not a right.”
Just then the light turned green my mother gestured to us both to go, me still slightly frozen from the embarrassment of not paying attention was slower to react than my dad, who was half way through the intersection when apparently intoxicated driver blew through the red light and t-boned the family car. Again, I was frozen, now in fear as I watched my mom and my dad begin to flip into oncoming traffic. Maybe it was the paralyzation or maybe it was the realization of what had happened, but it felt like the accident last for an eternity as I helplessly witnessed tragedy. Luckily, some good samaritans who narrowly missed being apart of this catastrophe stopped to rush to my parents when the car finally stopped somersaulting.
“Hey kid, are you ok?” An older gentleman who was directly behind me asked as he made his way towards the accident while on the phone with the police. Finally, I snapped out of my stupor, “Mom! Dad!” I yelled as I became unhinged and rushed over to see the bloody, lifeless bodies of my king and queen being pulled out of an overturned, unrecognizably smashed version of what use to be the family car.