Welcome to the Family

May 5, 2011
Three years it had been since I had seen him. I was seven now. I had forgotten what he had looked like. I had forgotten the big brown eyes that everyone thought we shared. I had forgotten the little black afro that sat upon his head. I had forgotten the stubby hair that stuck out of his cheeks and chin. Everything had been forgotten.
Three years is a long time for a child.
He had missed me graduating from preschool. He missed my sixth birthday party at McDonalds. He missed my first day of school.
She saw me when I graduated preschool. She was there for my sixth birthday party. She watched me get on the bus the first day of school.
And here I am, holding my mother’s hand, my tiny hand engulfed hers. We’re across the street that separates the old, beautiful church from the newly reconstructed playground.
There he is sitting nonchalantly, waiting. He’s waiting for me. He’s sitting on a long wooden bench. The bench looks likes it been there for over thirty years, while the rest of the playground looks fairly new. His head is down, facing the ground. I can’t see his eyes, all I can see is the wavy, dark brown hair that only a black man could have. He lifts his head and I finally see those big brown eyes scope the playground looking for me. Those same big brown eyes remind me of mine.
A huge grin spreads across his face. He doesn’t have that odd little gap between his two front teeth like I do, they are perfectly aligned. But I do have his mouth. His smile is the kind of smile that makes everything better. For me it’s like the earth stops spinning and time halts and it’s just us, me and him.
He stands up and starts to walk towards me and my mom. He’s thirty two, but doesn’t walk like a thirty two year old. He walks with the eagerness of a teenage boy going to the store to get the new video game for the PSP. I run to him and wrap my little arms around his body. I am instantly engulfed in his big, black baggy Nike shirt. He wraps his big arms around my little body and hugs me tight. He bends his head down to kiss my cheek. He has little prickles coming out of his cheeks and they scratch my face, but I don’t care because that is what reassures me that he is real and in my arms.
“Hi Daddy”
“Hi princess, how’s my little girl?”
“I’m good Daddy”
“Well that’s good to . . .” His voice was cut off by my mother’s approach. She walks with hast, not really completely trusting my father to take complete care of me. After all I was only seven.
I wrap my arms around my mother’s waist, hoping that she won’t leave me. All I know is my mother, nothing more nothing less. She gives me a big hug back, mumbling words to my father that went along the lines of “take care of her” or “don’t let her get hurt”. Tears began to form in my eyes; I always had a hard time parting with my mother, even if it was parting to be with my father. I release my grasp and she bends down telling me how she loved me and that she would miss me, and will pick me up in a couple hours at this same exact spot. Her pale fingers cross my cheek wiping away my tears before she gives me a kiss and said goodbye to me and my father. I watch her walk away and get in her new black Malibu LS, wishing that we were getting in that car with her and she wasn’t leaving.
Total silence came when her car pulled away. The only things that I could hear were the horns blaring on Main Street in Manyunk, my father wasn’t speaking and neither was I. I waltz over to the swings, hopping on them and pushing off the ground with all the might that my little body had. He comes and sits on the swing next to me; the seat creaked a little under his weight. I continue to swing not noticing his presence till he asked what I wanted to do.
“PLAY”, all seven year olds are gonna respond to a question like that.
“Alright we will play”
I jump off the swing from where I am, not noticing that I was half way in the air. I plummet down and my body meets the wood chips, but this doesn’t faze me a bit; I get up and dart to the slide.
I get on all fours and start to climb up it from the bottom. I pull myself to the platform when I get to the top and then spin around sit on my bottom and then push off. I’m on my descent down the slide, but this time it’s much faster. I reach the bottom of the slide I fling off, landing into the wood chips.
This definitely hurts but I handle it and get up and brush myself off. My dad comes up behind me and wraps his big arms around my little body, picking me up and spinning me around.
I giggle uncontrollably. “PUT ME DOWN!” my little arms and legs flail.
He finally puts me down and he begins to walk away.
I run up and ask him where he’s going. He tells me he’s going to the store and grabs my hand. I follow along side of him, crossing the streets of Philadelphia, not sure of my surroundings.
We get to the store. Next to the door there was one of those old fashioned ice-cream coolers that was oddly shaped, it was from like the 70’s but had made it all the way to ’99, who would have guessed.
“Pick whatever you want!”
I shoved my head in the cooler and looked around, my arm extended and then dropped into the cooler to grasp a snow cone that had a gumball at the button of it (they don’t sell these any longer, but if you’re from the 90’s you probably know what I mean). He bought me my snow cone and we exited the shop.
Little did I know that this was going to be a new ritual for every weekend for the next 3 years.

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