When my parents first told me we were moving, the first thing I thought of was the park. Anderson Park has been in my life since I was 3, when we moved into our house across the street; where my family took me to play when I was little.
Where I learned to ride a bike at the age of 5.
Where my friend and I had playdates and would run around and chase each other till we were tired. Laughing the whole time, cause that’s what kids do!
Where I walked with my grandma, holding her hand, as we gossiped about the church ladies, and compared our favorite teas. We would do three loops around before we realized, and I always wished she would live closer.
Where I would sit down with a book, reading till the sun went down.
Where I collected leaves with my sister, saying we would make a collage with them, but never did.
Where I hid under a tree and cried because a kid a grade higher than me had made fun of my fizzy, curly, afro hair and called it a bushy tree. “Have you ever heard of a comb!!” she had screamed in my face, as she yanked my hair.
Where my mom sat me down and called my hair beautiful and said that the world wasn’t always accepting of this type of beauty. “Lift your chin up, my love,for you are stronger than them, and you will tell the world of your and many others’ beauty.”
Where, as time went on, I went with my older friends, walking to get ice cream from the shop around the corner, and then chatting at the park.
Where I sat my parents down, and explained to them that I was not like them. That the people I loved were different then the people they loved. Where I waited with bated breath to see how this one response would change my life. And where they told me they loved me no matter what, and that they didn’t care who I dated.
Where my theater group performed, laughing and yelling. Smiling the whole time. Our parents clapping! Us wanting to freeze this moment forever, ’cause everything was just right! But then it was over.
Where my mom dragged me to walk every day during the pandemic. “One day, you will look back and envy our walks!” she would say.
Where I sat on a picnic blanket with my dad, eating Cuban Pete’s and talking about life, the sound of the train tracks in the background, a reminder of yet another journey. Explaining that I wasn’t sure what to do with my life. “Z, if there is one thing I know, it’s that you will do great things in your lifetime.”
Where my sister and I wrestled and laughed until we had grass stains on our pants and our hair in our face.
Where I marched with my friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. The rage and sadness bursting to escape as I screamed, “No justice, No peace!! Black Lives Matter!!” With a chorus of voices echoing mine, our feet marching to the rhythm of the beat like African drums and pounding dancers. Our bodies were swarming one another; it was time to show the world our beauty!
Where on a hot June day I laughed and yelled as my friends and I ran through the crowd of rainbow flags. People of all shapes and sizes, of all genders and sexuality, and colors and races. Here, we were a huge family. As I weaved through the crowd, with my pink, purple, and blue flag perched on my shoulders like a cape. The colors swarming around us as one! We were one!
Where I went on my first date. Butterflies danced in my stomach the way my mom did when she heard her samba. Happiness echoing inside me!
When my parents said we were moving, I ran to MY park.
And I went through the memories.