Deeply Rooted in the Past

Deeply Rooted in the Past

"Reflecting on my youth, I often neglected my hair due to my passions, like dreaming of becoming the next OJ Simpson. Hours of football meant messy hair. Curious about my journey? Dive in."

Looking back on my life, I realize I never wanted to deal with my hair because of my interest in other things.  For instance, at age thirteen, I was bent on hell as becoming the next OJ Simpson, like every boy my age.  We played at least two to three hours of football every chance.  That meant a lot of dirty nappy hair.

Thirty families, including us, lived in identical three-bedroom homes in our neighborhood. The average family had five to eight members under one roof. Being the middle child, I had two parents, two sisters, and two brothers.

The three rows of ten houses resembled an upside-down horseshoe going uphill on ten acres. Only one-fourth of an acre, each had small sides but larger front and back yards. Dirt gravel made up the main road and driveways. No fences or sidewalks separated the homes.

Looking up the hill from my house, I could see the top of the farthest four homes. Immediately behind those is Crowley's Ridge. It was about two hundred and fifty feet of elevated land about eighty acres wide. On top, you could see a lush forest of trees.

Behind the house facing us and in front of the house behind us were farm fields. The seven acres, on both sides, were either hard-dried dirt in the fall, muddy in springtime, or had some crop growing in the summer. Farmers tilled the land and raised cotton, corn, and soybeans.

During summers, the corn stalks would grow to ten feet high. It was great for kids playing hide and seek. However, we'd encounter stinging bees, green garden snakes, gopher rats, and giant cockroaches. Sometimes we'd get lost and come out farther from where we went into the field than expected.

Both my parents worked a forty-hour week in manufacturing factories.  I never knew what they did because they have yet to discuss it. Our weekends were busy and festive. My father, brothers, and I washed cars, cut yards, and repaired things. The girls, with my mother, cleaned, cooked, shopped, and did the laundry. My older brother and sister plotted ways to sneak out to party when the sun went down.

Our neighbors approached the weekends somewhat differently than us. We'd hear loud music by mid-evening, people screaming and laughing. Weather permitting, it was time for barbequing, drinking liquor, and smoking marijuana. The smell of burnt meat engulfed the neighborhood.

My devout Christian father did not allow us to participate in these fun-filled gatherings. Once a heavy drinker, he'd converted from a life of drunkenness and all its problems. Until about nine years old, I remembered my parents' terrible fights and arguments. Now cleaned, he was hell-bent on making sure his kids avoided the regrettable mistakes of his past.

During the summers, my friends and I spent days exploring Crowley's Ridge. We caught frogs, turtles, baby birds, rabbits, snakes, and insects to be unwilling pets. Wild berries, pecans, plums, apples, pears, and peaches fueled our day-long explorations.

Both my parents came from large families. Yet, uncles, aunts, and cousins seldom visited. They feared the long, drawn-out religious arguments. I remember the word "nondenominational" being the center of most debates. I never understood why it caused so much anger. Friends in the community became closer than blood relatives.

My simple strict home life forced me to create my unique world. Though our family's values and guidelines could have been better, I defined myself by them as best I could. Lyrics in songs, television characters, or magazine gossip columns seldom affected me.  Witnessing nature was much more exciting and fulfilling.

It did not matter how neighbors lived or what they thought of us. My appearance, ideas, and actions did not need a stamp of societal approval, including my hair. Most importantly, I did not compare myself to other races or cultures. I determined my worth based on how I succeeded in many adventures.

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