I catch myself staring at things longer: deformed pigeon feet stepping into rainbow puddles, the pronounced veins on my weed dealer’s hands, the fading green of a bench in Marcus Garvey Park, the thick painted bolts and beans that elevate the Metro North train tracks.
“Damn son, that shit looks heavy. They gonna let you take that on the plane?” Ezrah said standing on his porch chuckling. Ezrah’s a struggling rapper from the Bronx.
“The thing about the early 90’s is that it felt like there was possibility and opportunity. All that shit is gone now.”
He grew up spitting rhymes in front of Fat Beats Record store, kicking it with breakers, writers, and future figures that later make bank off their gifts. As an unsung hero, Ezrah’s worked with a lot of transformative artists. His ex-girlfriend was Wu-Tang’s first manager. Driving cross-country, she got busted with a suitcase of cocaine. Always grinding his latest mixtape, he continues to hone his craft. His mother is a New York Post reporter. He’s a doorman.
“This is what I do for hours, sit here in my room, smoke, write rhymes and bug out naw mean,” he said passing me the blunt. Ezrah was a dread. To pay respects to his father’s recent passing, he cut off his dreadlocks. They’re growing back.
“In Oakland make sure you mindful of your colors…you street smart…you know all that, you’ll be alright man,” he said.
I tell myself that I’m going on an adventure. This is what all the greats did. My closest friends are doing lots of drugs and getting lost in their own maze of contaminated reasoning. I’m buying pot on 125th Street and Lexington in broad daylight. I didn’t have a reason to be here. The city won, losers walk.
JFK airport, still high and about to step on a plane. With my hoodie over my head, paranoid, I stagger through the airport with my duffle bag wondering what random eyes can look at me and tell that I’m high. With my murky brain sloshing around in my skull I successfully find my window seat and pass out. I awake to “bong.”
“We are experiencing turbulence. Please buckle your seatbelt,” the captain said over the intercom.
The mountains’ hatred over us buzzing their slumber is measured by a man’s head hitting an open door to a luggage compartment. There was blood.
“We will be landing in 15 minutes,” said the captain. In Angels In America they say that heaven looks a lot like San Francisco. It’s 11am. The sky is orange, purple and light blue. Between the clouds and the snow capped mountains I can’t differentiate one from the other.
SFO airport, I get my duffle bag. Karolin called me the night before I left New York and offered me a place to stay. She said she’d call me back with directions to her house, but I still haven’t heard from her. I sit outside the airport and people watch while smoking a cigarette. On a bus to downtown San Francisco an obese white lady talks on the phone about her neighbor’s son. He got shot with a sawed off shotgun. I get off at Third Street and Market and my phone rings.