March 2, 12
The power of a photograph should never be underestimated. I was on facebook today when I was tagged in a collection of pictures posted by a close friend. There were 3 photographs all taken around the time we were 19-years-old. In one of the photographs I was sitting on the top of a mustang with the nappy beginnings of dreadlocks in my head. I was surrounded by friends; a couple of them were looking away, and at least one of them was throwing up his hood. It’s a very nostalgic shot. It’s really tender and it’s hella East Oakland.
But it was another picture that overwhelmed me. It was the one of my cousin and another dude taken during lunchtime. We were seniors and the photograph depicts my cousin being his normal goofy self with his braided leather belt hanging down in between his legs touching the concrete like an elongated penis. Behind him is a row of our potnas standing on a bench. Everything was so chill. Everyone was so oblivious, and life was so fresh.
This was about a year or so before my cousin had his first child, and before he caught his first case. It was before he lost his first athletic scholarship and his second. It was before schizophrenia and before the penitentiary. It was, in essence, before we were old enough to truly fail.
When I saw the photograph I turned by computer off and I let a few tears flow. He was such a kid back then. We were children. He was a star athlete, a goofy dude, and one of the realist, most genuine people I have ever known.
His father used to get drunk and tell stories about when he himself was little and some of his other siblings were mean to him and kicked him out in the cold because he used to pee in the bed and my mother would come pick him up out of the snow and put him in the bed with her.
He is my cousin therefore I cannot recall the first time we met. For all intents and purposes he has been around since the beginning of time, as I know it. But now he’s become unraveled and it hurts. It hurts him and it hurts me as well.
That picture brought something back that is gone forever. Even though it’s lost I guess I’m glad someone took the time to capture it. It’s such a powerful photograph.