Inspiration can come from the strangest of things: some as vast as the neckline on something strapless, others as tiny as T.I.’s lady in wait. The spark for this piece is the latter, a single line from rapper Crooked-I’s verse on “Hammer Dance”, the new single from the acclaimed all-star quartet known as Slaughterhouse.
The line: “In these LA times, I wake up on one/ house shoes and coffee/knowin’ the paper gon’ come”
While I didn’t grow up in a “coffee” household, the Sunday paper was an institution, whereever I was. I remember clearly seeing (at different times) my mother and both my father and grandfathers: stripped down to their boxers, nightgown or raggedy t-shirt and sweatpants, as they sat perched on something comfy, slippers or bare feet as crucial accessory for the scene, indulging in this family ritual.
Combined with the added aroma of something brewed with real beans (or herbal bag) and you’ve got the moment most men and women take just before the week begins, to get their heads in order.
I think it’s because I worked in publishing that the newspaper part was quickly switched out for something else: novel or memoir, movie or DVD, a food project of some kind made of one or two. I remember walks to the corner bodega the Brooklyn of Spring in flip-flops, sweatpants and my old Morehouse gym shirt in search of OJ, the occasional French(or Italian) baguette, some fish to broil and, if I was lucky, a ripe mango or cantaloupe to make it all go down sweet.
While most of the world squeezes out a quiet Sunday every once in a while, I’ve been deprived of mine for a minute. It doesn’t work the same in hotels, or other people’s houses. It doesn’t feel just right when you do it in sneakers and jeans. It doesn’t satisfy the same way when it’s not your beverage or choice, or when she’s talking about nothing but herself and blowing your morning high in the process.
It doesn’t work when the cyclones are rearranging your work in both lives sleeping and awake. I’ve gotten used to the restlessness. And maybe that’s why Crooked I’s line struck the highest of chords with me.
Am I waiting for certain creative ventures to bear fruit so I can get off this island? Of course I am. Am I missing such Sundays of past, walking through their already written scripts in search of residue to fill my pipe because the earth of my new world is still finding stability? Yes. Do I know for certain that the past is a rather brilliant prologue for the opus to come? Check. But….
I still miss the ignorant rantings from my neighbor beneath me. I miss the scent of a woman on hand-stitched yarn. I miss the taste of Veuve and Pulp-Free naranja chasing down baguette french toast sprinkled with roasted shallots and lamb bits. I miss the chill coming in through the screen door from the ocean, the dried flecks of salt on my skin from the morning ‘swim’, and Stevie proclaiming “Visions” on the Imix.
Each morning, at eight, I spend thirty minutes in this private Idaho of mine, before its off to the grind of saving myself (and the world as an unexpected benefit). It doesn’t always come with croissants or croquettes. But it’s nice enough when the bus driver says ‘Good Morning’, or when the solo shrimp and grits comes out just right. Ain’t no houseshoes on the front lines of covert (r)evolution. But I make do, until I can leave phaser and saber in the drawer for a while, and take my Sunday mornings off the sacrificial altar…as they are most definitely worthy of the long wait.