It was 11:43, October 3, 2037. That day proved to be the major turning point for my century, our defining moment, so to speak. I remember that day also because it was so glorious.
I had walked the beach for hours, the first time I had done so in months. Those days, just as now, it was impossible to predict the weather. It could be hot. It could be cold. It could snow in June, or be 100 in October! There was chaos all over the globe.
In America, a seemly permanent shift in the jet stream had parked a cloud over all of the West Coast, and Southern California, where you and Mother first met, and where I was born, was now one of the coolest, wettest places on earth. The Southeast, on the other hand, was slowly turning into a desert. The ice caps had increased, which dismayed many, and there were now big, unmending, scary holes all over the ozone.
Everyone knew why. We had long known what we were doing to the earth. Even you, my own father, was one of those “warners” I was so disdainful of. I read your books of essays; I knew what you were warning us about.
But America had beaten the Russians, and brought you and mother together; and beat the living shit out of the Radical Muslins—those sneaky bastards. We were the mightiest power ever, and this had brought us prosperity. Who the hell needed warners, Father?
I first saw the bright light, Father, followed by an awesome explosion. Then my DYE suddenly went dead. I didn’t panic. I knew instantly what had happened. But why here? Why now? Was it isolated? Was the sky all at once going to be filled with bright lights and awesome explosions?
I ran to the DYE hanging on my white walls and tried everything, but nothing. I suddenly felt a wave of warm energy sweep over me. Not a heavy wave, but a small, gentle, caressing, barely noticeable one.
The blast that caused it was either very small, or so far away that it had little affect on where I was living in Brighton Beach.
That surprise you, don’t it, Father?
No, not the blast. That shouldn’t have surprised you. You knew that was coming.
No, the fact that I was living in Brighton Beach, a young man in the last years of his thirties, still unmarried, still without children. This was Mother’s apartment. But she had died three years before the Big Bang, so it was my apartment.
Excuse me for a few moments, Father. Your youngest grandson, Nicholas, just let himself in. He will be 22 in a few weeks, a born Scorpio. You should see him! What a fine specimen of a human being! He is 6’4 and has a charismatic, towering presence, and an adorable baby face. I just love him!
I didn’t do to bad for an old man, did I! All is not bad in this Century. If you got the right stuff, you can live forever, especially now that we have gotten rid of most of that electronic bullshit that had poisoned us, poisoned the earth and imprisoned our minds.
It seems that you left me the greatest gift of all: precious melanin. Melanin is now worth all the gold in the world, and is earth’s only real hope for a human presence.
Imagine that, Father. Imagine that! And our handsome Nicky is full of melanin.
“Hi dad, how are you feeling? You ok?” he asked the last time he visited, with almost youthful indifference.
“Oh, I’m alright, Nicky,” I answered. I shyly looked away from him and sighed slightly, with a taste of fake melancholy I had learned from Mother; as if to say if he really cared, he would look in on me more often.
Now that he is old enough, he lives in a group home with his three official wives. He can only drop in on me two or three times a month, if I’m lucky.
“Are you sure dad?” I could see real concern on his handsome young face. He had my color; in fact, he was a little darker, and he is large, and well built like I once was, but he looked a lot more like his mother.
She was also Russian, just like my mother. She died of skin cancer just two years ago at only 58. She was as blond and beautiful as your Sasha was.
But Lucy, as darling as she was, just did not have the same magic as my mother, the magic of the Muse. In fact, she had few muse-like qualities. All she had was raw nerves of steel. She was one badass bitch!
Your two other grandsons now live in Florida, the great desert. Unfortunately, my two boys are both fair skinned and I have long warned them to beware the sun, and stay as far north as they could.
Why take chances? Everyone with white skin, and any sense, never ventured further south than South Carolina, and have especially fled places like Florida; but some, like my two boys, take it almost as a dare.
“Melanin, dad,” Varsia, the oldest, the one with the blond hair, said to me just before they left. “That sun can’t get us.”
I only laughed at his foolishness. But what could I say? In many ways, I had failed them. I was not able to impart to them fully the great gift I was able to give to Nicky. They had to go, however. I knew that. But I also knew, despite my brave front, that I didn’t want my two boys out there facing that dreadful, deadly sun.
I mean, it was bad enough here in Brooklyn, Father! But I also knew that there was land, and a black bride, the grandest prize of all, if you could just deal with the sun.
Brave, 20 year old Varsia, and his younger brother Nikita, were already dressed in the long, white, loose flowing robes with hoods, that many whites around the world had adopted before they ventured outdoors.
Nikita, who had inherited my bold flamboyance, his Grandmother’s theatrical flair, and perhaps your intellectual daring, dramatically pulled out a pair of dark, wide sunglasses, and put them on, and poked out his full lips at his brothers and me.
“Am I wracked, Mr. Major, or what!”
I laughed again. “Nikita, don’t fuck with me boy! You’re wracked alright. If I were still in the Army, I would have your dumb ass arrested, and thrown under the jail! You guys look ridiculous! You look like damn Aussies. I’m damn glad Nicky ain’t old enough to be running after you two fools!” I said, laughing again at my two young boy’s getup.
Still, my laughter was tinged with much pride. I loved their youthful bravado. Thirteen-year-old Nicky just looked on enviously. As I glanced over at him, I could see that he would have liked for nothing better than to join his two foolish older bothers.
I didn’t know if they had enough melanin to protect them. But they were adventurous young men, seeking their black brides, so they had to go where there was still hope of finding one.
Still, they are so fair that some folks used to ask if I had adopted them; that they were just two more white orphans.
“Listen my young Nicky,” I said in a fit of old man grouchiness, “who do you think I am? One of those weak-ass white sissies who drop at the age of 50! I’m an African! We live forever!”
I gave my son the best-wrinkled wink I could muster. His innocent, young face lit up with delight, and he started laughing loudly and I saw once again his mother, and my mother.
“Yeah, dad. You are some African! All these years I thought you were Russian!”
“Now, now Nicky,” I said, feeling a little disappointed in him.
“Ok, dad, you’re African,” he said, giving in slowly. “But dad, I want you to resign from that damn re-education committee. I know you’re still a big hero, after you and mother saved the world, but you’re too old to be running to meetings and listening to all that bullshit! If folks ain’t re-educated by now, when will they be?”
Oh, here we go with that again! I especially loved the remark about how Lucy and I saved the world! We kicked some serious ass alright, but it wasn’t just us. But I wasn’t up for a fight with my favorite person in the world.
“We’ll see,” I said, mainly because I wanted to see his handsome face happy, the face that so much reminded me of my precious Lucy. And although he might not see it as clearly as I, I also see the mighty African written all over his face.
“Listen to me, dad,” he said impatiently. With that, he headed straight to the kitchen, his favorite place to be.
“I cooked some collar greens, Nicky. We have to return to our African roots you know! By the way, I heard from Nikita and Varsia!” I yelled after him.
Dear, Father, I’m back. I know that young innocent Nicky thinks I’m a little crazy. The way this letter to you is going, you probable think the same thing. Now that I have started writing, I now clearly remember an essay you wrote about how blacks were non-linear thinkers. As writers, we Russians are more famous for the long, linear narrative, just the opposite of you blacks.
By the way, I guess you noticed by now that I say we when I speak of Russians, or Russia. It is because mother raised me that way, and because I have always felt the tug of Mother’s homeland calling to me, more than I ever felt the pull of this place we call America.
Although I have never stepped foot on its sacred soil, I know we have a rich culture in Mother Russia, heavily influenced by my namesake. It is a culture based on more than money and material things.
I also knew in the deepest recesses of my mind that I was playing a game; that I was trying to have it both ways, Father. As much as I said I hated the based, consumer culture that had once again come to dominate America after the fear of terror following Sept. 11, and the years of endless war—with me delighting my friends in our fancy clubs in Manhattan with my clever put downs, and calling myself a black Russians, much to loud laughter.
“We Russians have something you dodo birds don’t have—it’s called culture, duh! You basketball playing, movie watching mothers.”
“Oh, please, P, give it up!” my friend David would soon say, laughing, and waving away my nonsense with a decided wave of his hand, and everyone would join in.
My friends knew, and I knew, that in the end, I was one with them, even as I called myself a Russian. I thoughtlessly consumed as much as everyone else, and was more than ready to go to war to protect my right to consume even more, just like everyone else.
It was just that I was the one with the communist Russian mother, Father: an actress, a dancer, a romantic; and the brilliant, thoughtful, concerned African-American writer, who was my father, but who also left behind all of those questions for future generations to ponder--questions that went to the very heart of who I had really become.
So, now as I try to write, I hope you can see just how wired my internal self is to both the Russian and the African-American. So, you know that this letter to you will jump all over the place, because not only am I black, but an old black.
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