Friday, August 15, 2014
We both sat patiently. Waiting...
Both of our cars were being serviced. Like me, he was waiting in this auto shop as they were outside changing the tires on both of our cars.
When I walked in, we had initially made eye contact and gave each other the proverbial "head nod". But as we were sitting...not looking at each other...he blurted out in frustration...
"I hope they get my tires fixed right this time. I can't make this trip on bad tires."
I looked up from playing with my iPhone. I looked at him and broke the ice.
"Where are you headed?" I could hear in his voice that he wasn't from Atlanta.
"Chi-caaaago." he replied. I knew by the way that he said it that he was from there (i have a habit of listening to people who I don't know and I guess where they are from...most of the time I am right."
I confirmed it. "Is that where you from?" He said yes.
Meet Devin. He's a 27 yr old young man. He's married with a 5 yr old son and a 2 yr old daughter. Although he is from Chicago, he's been living in Atlanta for the past 2 yrs. I told Devin that he was in a better place considering how violent Chicago is right now. He agreed. He told me about how his brother was murdered a few years ago in the Wild 100s - one of the roughest, gang infested sections on the South Side of Chicago. Devin and his wife Kenya, whose name was tattooed on his forearm, moved to Atlanta from Chicago for a better life. They had agreed that they would try living in Atlanta for 3 years. If they didn't like it, they would leave. Devin fell in love with the ATL. He found the slower pace living to bring him peace. He felt at peace knowing his kids could play outside in their neighborhood without hearing gunshots ring out. Unfortunately, Kenya didn't feel the same. She didn't like Atlanta. She was homesick. She wanted to go back. The plan was to wait 3 years but she didn't want to wait that long. This past September, Kenya decided to take the kids back to Chicago. She had given up on Atlanta...and she had given up on Devin and their marriage. At 25, Kenya preferred the fast life of Chicago but Devin didn't.
"I'm not going back to live in Chicago. I can't go back. I'm 27 years old. I did a lot of shit when I was younger. I ran in the streets and lived a different life. But I've never been to jail and I made it out of one of the worst ghettos...ALIVE. Why would I go back? To do what??? Stand on the corner with my homies. I've lost 10 friends to the streets AND my brother. My mom has moved here to Atlanta and she lives with me. Why in the hell would I go back. She's selfish. Our marriage is all but done. She can have Chicago. I'm here. I have a good job and I have my education. I'm not looking over my shoulder when I walk on these streets. If I lived in Chicago, I might not make it to see the age of 30. I'm only going back tomorrow to take the kids back and I'll be back here on Sunday. They've been with me all summer. They had a ball. She had the nerve to tell me that I should live there so I can see my kids. You can't use my kids as pawns. If this means that I get to see my kids only during the summer and the holidays...I guess that's what it's going to be."
I could see the pain is his eyes and the hurt in his voice. I told him that I respected his decision because I know it was a tough one. I explained to him that Kenya is at an age where some women want to still "be in the world". She got married young and she's chasing a lifestyle. I also gave him a few points of direction to help him. I was then notified that my car was ready. I gave Devin my phone number and I got his. I gave him a pound and a hug and I told him to be safe. Then I left.
It's funny what you can learn about people within a 20 minute conversation. I gained a lot of respect for a young brother who is a lot stronger and smarter than a lot of people.