It was not a prerecorded CD but one a student made for me when I was working as a professor of Black and African Studies in Portland.
It was the first time I listened to the CD.
I opened the sunroof 'cause it was nice out and headed for the freeway when the cut below reached back to me and held me for more than just moments.
It was a special feeling and the vibe reached deep - even further than I expected.
Later in the evening Angela and I were celebrating her birthday in a club when this house of a dude walked up to me and said: "Professor Ridwan where have you been all these years?"
There is nothing more special to me than meeting a student you remember years down the line and hearing them like it was the other day when they were meeting deadlines for your class.
Anthony was a football player who never ceased to amaze me. He was bigger than life and his life now is working as a security consultant.
One day right before I left the US to return to South Africa in 2004 he walked into my office and removed a Bob Marley poster from my wall saying "I love this poster and will use it to remember you."
To reach the poster he had to stand on my desk and that is exactly what he did. I just looked on in quiet amazement.
Tonight in that club far from where my head should be he said: "I still have that Bob Marley poster and want you to know your classes changed the way I think about politics."
Nuff said. I am humbled and inspired to return to the classroom, soon.
That aside let me take this moment to recognize.
Happy birthday Boo Boo. You were right there through all those moments that made the struggle to press a different reality and I will always love you no matter what.
You remain beautiful as always.
In retrospect it was all worth the struggle to make more than just enough, was it not?
The other side is bigger than I thought and I am whole nonetheless and for reasons I never expected.
"I'm the type whose always catching a flight."
PS. It is always an emotional time to leave faraway places where you once lived. It is made harder by the passage of time and the threatening finality of never returning.
The good part is that you never entirely leave the past where it has definitive meaning. The struggle is not to lament the past and its passage but to balance its meaning with living right and in the moment. And to do so knowing that mostly forever never exists in any one life.
If this 'pilgrimage' back to my other country has impressed one thing on me it has to be what I said to my moms on the phone a couple of days ago: It is not where you live your life that matters. It is how you live.
And at this point in my life, and despite all the troubles that persist and the delusions that cover, I choose to live my life alongside the moms in South Africa.