EMPIRE EATS: TRIBE TACO TUESDAYS

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What’s the one thing that can bring Brooklyn’s finest together? Tacos. Not just anyone’s tacos, mind you. Offered up by one of hip hop’s favorite sons, Jarobi (http://www.eatsrhymesandlife.net), his take on #TacoTuesdays, was not only extraordinary and tasteful, but also featured some of the best DJ’s that NY has to offer, featuring DonWill ( of Tanya Morgan lore/fame), DJ SYLK (s/o to the BarTalk Radio team), and others, not only was the food eclectic and eccentric, but so was the crowd! So, if you are a fan of food, good times, and even better people, bring yourself down to #TacoTuesdays, you won’t be disappointed! Huge shout to Bed Vyne Cocktail for housing what looks to be the beginnings of a beautiful summer time gathering for the foodie and hip hop head in us all! You can thank me later..lol

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RTH: – “Summer, Summer, Summertime

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SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMERTIME

 4:00 pm – One thing that never gets old in NY is the airports. I mean, it’s like rats cooped up in a cage then left go in search of that last piece of cheese, only to get to the next hurdle (aka Baggage Claim) to be trapped again! While standing at conveyor belt #3, RJ was damn near accosted almost every five minutes by these tourists and random others who thought that he was Ray Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens, and not only would they not taken “No” for an answer, they had to take at least 17 pictures and videos with their flip cameras! After an impromptu “autograph session”, we proceeded to exit the airport. Teresa had arranged for a car to pick us up and take us into Manhattan to stay at a hotel that her parents had reserved for the four of us. (Did I tell you I could get used to this “girlfriend” thing?) Upon arriving at the hotel, we were greeted by a lady who looked like Julie from the “Love Boat”! While we received the “star” treatment from the hotel staff (i.e. having our bags carried, given those special entry keys to certain floors of the hotel, and the pre-requisite 24/7 service and all that entails.) Teresa would later explain to me that her parents had a MASSIVE penthouse that they rarely used and it would comfortably accommodate all of us. I don’t think I had EVER been this nervous and or excited before. (There was this one time, but, BUY the memoirs, people!)

5:30 pm – After running around the penthouse, exchanging “high fives” and dropping our bags off into the rooms we had chosen, we decided to find a place to get something to eat. Oh, I almost forgot, we ALL had to make the pre-requisite calls to our parents to let them know we had arrived safely and speak to each other’s parents and promise to watch out for the others (especially the girls).

    After showering and putting on “fresh” clothes, Dawn decided that since we were in “her” city, we would go to her favorite place to eat tonight! (in case you were wondering, It was her parent’s house!) First rule of being in a relationship: “Never attempt to try and figure out women.” RJ and I learned this lesson the hard way when we began our “journey” to Dawn’s parent’s home in the Bronx. “Why do we have to ride the subway?,” quipped RJ.  “Because you can’t seem to flag down a cab!,” said Dawn. Teresa and I both laughed out loud. RJ was still confused as to why cabs in NYC didn’t feel the need to stop OR the fact that every single cab only had ONE person in it. When we finally convinced RJ that subway was our best move, we headed towards the subway station. After having to drag RJ down the stairs like B.A. Baracus from “The A-Team”, Teresa proceeded to hand all of us NYC subway maps that looked like they had been organized by someone that worked at the Pentagon! ( it had so many different colors, little stickers, and notes that it became increasingly clear that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to complete everything in the small window of time that we would be in New York! (Teresa and Dawn had planned this, remember what I said about rule number one?!)

If you’ve never been to NYC, the subway is like that mythical dragon that everybody hears about, but very few get a chance to see.  The subway system is not for lightweights, the timid, or those that get easily frightened. The NYC subway was “no punk b*tch!”  For a “native New Yorker” like Dawn, maneuvering through the subway was like watching a ballerina at Lincoln Center. She moved with precise, grace, speed, and no wasted motion. RJ, on the other hand was like a “bull in a china shop”, banging into random people and looking like a ten year old lost in a department store! Dawn grabbed his hand and was basically carrying him to the front of the subway train. Teresa and I just followed the flow and pushed our way onto the train. We found seats and prepared for the ride to Bronx to meet Dawn’s parents and get a home cooked meal.

7:30 pm – I was awaken by the sound of the automated voice telling the passengers we had arrived at our next location. As we exited the train, Dawn pulled out her cell phone to alert her parents of our arrival. She explained that we were only a few blocks away and not to act “crazy” (If you only knew.)  As we walked out of the station to the street, I could tell that RJ was nervous and a little scared. “What’s wrong, RJ?” I asked. “Nothing’s wrong. I’m fine.” You would think that a guy who got as much attention as RJ did and does would be able to handle the pressure of meeting a girl’s parents for the first time! (I’m not even going to lie; I was just as nervous when Teresa surprised me.) After watching RJ go back and forth between sanity and insanity, Dawn finally grabbed him, said something in Spanish that made him smile and then proceeded to drag him down the block like an eight year old in a department store! I just shook my head, grabbed Teresa and followed Dawn for about one more block, where we made our way into her building.

 7:45 pm – As Dawn gave us the “grand tour” of her building, which included showing us where she beat up some boy for grabbing her, the “tar beach” (the roof of her building), where she had her first kiss, and finally, where her Dad chased “her first kiss” down the block with a baseball bat! (by the end of that story, I was literally in tears!) If you’ve ever been to the “projects” in New York City you know what to expect: black/white tile floors, the steam blowing out of the laundry room, the group of people who ALWAYS stand by the door waiting to determine if they are going to let you in or not, that old lady who lives on the first floor, but never is in her apartment, and the smells that are always present (i.e. sofrito, oil that had been used to fry chicken, fish, or shrimp, curry, faint traces of marijuana, urine, and Hennessey) Upon entering the elevator, everyone seemed at ease, even R.J. Dawn pressed the number 4 for the fourth floor and we waited as the elevator pulled us to our destination. The exit from the elevator was swift. Dawn guided us down a long hallway, which for some reason still had decorations up from Halloween. She knocked on 4P and waited for someone to open the door……..

Running The Halls : Lake Lanier

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“THE HANGOVER”: LAKE LANIER

9:00 pm– Fridays at black colleges are sort of like Mardi Gras! I never experienced it first semester, because I had early classes, but now that I had a late class (class was at 3:00), I realized why people only had class from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. After RJ, Dawn, Teresa and I decided to skip our Friday class, we headed towards Teresa’s parents cabin. We piled into the Chevy Suburban that Teresa’s dad had rented for the weekend and made our way to Lake Lanier. Teresa said that everything was taken care of at the cabin, her mom and dad had fully stocked the fridges and supplied jet skis for the weekend too! As we pulled up to the compound that was “supposed” to be a little cabin in the woods, I was amazed! Teresa could’ve warned me that her parents had a 5 room cabin with an amazing kitchen, a HUGE living room with a fireplace, and a tennis court! We ran around the cabin like we were on “The Real World”, trying to decide which room to pick for the next few days! Teresa and I picked the bigger of the two rooms that were on the second floor. We threw our bags on the floor, did a quick change into our bathing suits and hit the lake!! Teresa looked like “Halle Berry in Swordfish” in her bikini! (“Wow” was the only word I could use to describe it) RJ and Dawn screamed from the kitchen, “Come on down here, lovebirds!!” We decided to make sandwiches and just chill for lunch. It was decided that the ladies would make dinner and the fellas would do dinner on the last night. RJ was commented on how he didn’t trust Dawn’s cooking. I laughed. She threw a piece of bread at me and said that she’s Puerto Rican and her mama taught her how to COOK! She then said something in Spanish and walked away from Teresa. Teresa just looked at me, laughed and walked away trailing behind Dawn. RJ and I stayed in the living room watching “300”, while the ladies were in the back sunbathing. RJ and I decided to stop watching the movie and go mess with the girls. We filled up water balloons and started throwing them from the balcony! The girls were PISSED! We laughed for the next three hours!!

      3:00 pm – RJ and I were out at the lake when were heard Dawn scream, “RJ and Khalil!!!” We took off back up the hill and into the front door. RJ looked at me and just shrugged. “Go get your girl.” He said. I ran down to the carport to find Teresa arguing with Josh. (how in the heck did he get here?) Teresa was yelling at Josh telling him that she didn’t want to be with him and she was happy for the first time in her life! Josh was pleading with her and kept asking her to come back to him. She told him “no” about 100 times and then grabbed me and walked back to the cabin. Teresa said that if Josh didn’t get off of her property, she was going to call the cops! Josh took one final glance and hopped in his Escalade and drove off. This really didn’t help MY situation/issue with him. Joshua spent the next couple of months eye balling me, trying to break Teresa and I up, and trying to fight me! (He was acting very “Gator-ish” from Jungle Fever)

        6:00 pm- After avoiding the police and starting to really enjoy ourselves, we decided to BBQ out by the lake for dinner. The ladies had dinner for the first night and they did a great job! RJ and I ate like “kangs” as my Uncle Chucky would say. The rest of the weekend went off without a hitch. We played board games, cooked for the ladies (badly), went on the jet skis and partied and watched movies, played practical jokes on each other, and had the opportunity to get away from Wayne for the weekend!

SUNDAY

       12:00pm – We packed up our bags and headed back to Wayne. Dawn was in the front seat on the way back, because she and Teresa had to talk about “girl stuff” and because we had lost a bet over the weekend. RJ and I sat in the back and talked about sports and the two lovely ladies in the front seat. (Without letting them know)

2:00p.m. – We arrived back on campus, and to our surprise it was actually still pretty quiet for the weekend back. After unloading the truck, RJ and Dawn made their way to the entrance of the dorm, while Teresa and I sat in the truck and talked for a few minutes about the events of the past couple of days and about the upcoming week. ( I think I was starting to like this “having a girlfriend” thing.)

 COOLEY HIGH

 9:00 pm – It’s been a few months since I’ve had the opportunity to actually write in this journal. Here’s a quick re-cap of what has been going on. RJ and Dawn are still together. They have had some rough spots, but they always work out their issues and end up “hugged up” in RJ’s bed or in the common area of the dorm, looking like newlyweds. They really are a cute couple minus the times when Dawn starts cursing RJ out in Spanish and RJ withholds BBQ from her when his mom sends a CARE package. I just sat back and laugh at them and told them that I wanted an invite to the wedding! RJ told me on multiple occasions that I’m the best man and to not plan anything for 2017! (I just shrugged and looked at my calendar when he said it). Dawn had started working with Dean Soto on a project trying to get Justice Sotomayor to come to Wayne, but it wasn’t coming fast enough for her and so every day like clockwork she would send a letter to the White House and the Supreme Court pleading with President Obama and her to try and get them to venture to Wayne. One thing about Dawn, she was persistent.

       RJ was still focused on making “power moves” in regards to getting himself away from being a superstar athlete; he wanted to be known for something more substantial. He was making so many strides in order to be a lawyer that football was the LAST thing on his mind! He was still being harassed by the Athletic Director to attend Spring practice. RJ’s mind wasn’t on football. Maybe his mind would change maybe not. We would all have to wait and see. I already knew the answer and I wasn’t telling anybody anything!

   Teresa and I are still doing quite well. Our relationship had gotten to the point where my mom didn’t call to speak to me anymore, she called to speak to Teresa and I was a secondary thought. I was no longer ducking and dodging Joshua. He had gotten over himself and was no longer trying to “Sho-Nuff” me. Teresa and I were doing great.

    Oh, I almost forgot about “The Dragon Lady”. She had toned down her “rants and raves” due to the fact that no one had spoken to her in about 3 weeks. She was still slightly pissed at Dawn for “stealing” RJ, even though RJ made it clear that he would slit his own throat if he EVER dated her! (again, I laughed when we talked about this stuff all the time.) She was still just as annoying, but she was a little more tolerable now than she was before!

    We had gotten to the end of second semester and I felt pretty good about what had happened during my first year at Wayne! RJ and I had been holed up in our dorm room along with our “girlfriends” (it no longer sounds weird to say) studying for finals. Surprisingly, the girls kept us focused on studying (as hard as that may have seemed)

     RJ and I had one last final before we were officially no longer freshman at Wayne. We took that final and raced to our room in order to catch our 1 o’clock flight to NY to begin our summer vacation.

   1:15 pm –  As I looked out the window of the airplane watching Atlanta get smaller, I realized that I had grown up a lot this year. I mean, I developed a lifelong friendship, I conquered being away from my parents,  I met the love of my life (seriously) and I no longer was scared to walk around campus in fear for my life! I really have to stop writing in this journal.

RTH : Spring Semester

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    I was so happy to be back for second semester. (Insert Michael Buffer fight intro here)

“RUBBERBAND MAN”

      Spring semester is NEVER like the fall semester because you already know what to expect. The upperclassmen don’t bother you as much and you get to mess with the incoming freshman that decided to defer enrollment until the Spring semester. As I strolled around campus, reacquainting myself with Wayne U and Atlanta, I realized that not a lot of people were on campus. It was like a “ghost town”, but I knew that by tomorrow it was going to be packed like a grocery bag! I walked over to my dorm to get my keys and check in (like I was staying at the W Hotel) and throw my bags into the room and start setting up my side of the “inner sanctum”.  Upon doing minimal set-up, I changed into some shorts and went to go shoot some hoops. As I was crossing over to the basketball courts, I heard T.I.’s “Rubberband Man” blaring out of a Cadillac Escalade. “Aw, dayum!” I tried to turn around and head back into my dorm, but it was already too late! Out of the Escalade hopped Joshua. He ran up on me at the courts and looked at me like I stole his winning lottery ticket. “I hear you been talking to MY girl?” he asked. “We are just friends.” I quipped. He would proceed to tell me that if I didn’t stay away from her, he was going to make my second semester TERRIBLE!! Joshua then said that regardless of what Teresa had told me, she would always be his and she wasn’t going to leave him! (stalker much?) While I tried to hold back laughter, Joshua (while being flanked by the “Box”) did a James Brown-esque spin move and returned to his car! As he pulled away, I fell to the ground with laughter! I was ready to make my move with Teresa and hoped that she was going to feel the same way in regards to “said move”. I shot around for a few more minutes and went back to the room, took a shower and decided to catch up on some reading.

7:00 pm – I must’ve dozed off while reading because the next thing I knew I was awoken by my cell phone going off. “What are you doing?” Teresa asked. “I’m lying in my bed.” I said. “Get dressed, because I’m coming over!” Teresa said. I had to admit I was excited about the prospect of having one of the most gorgeous women on this campus in my room with no roommate! I threw on some heather grey Wayne sweats, a white t-shirt accompanied by my flip flops and waited for Teresa to arrive.

9:00 pm – I heard a knock at the door. I got up from my desk to answer the door. “Who is it?” (I yelled in my best “Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood voice”) “It’s Teresa. Open the door, boy!”  I open the door and in she came. I was still stuck by her beauty. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she had on a blue sweater and black tights. “Damn.” I said out loud. She laughed. We greeted each other with hugs and then exchanged war stories from our trips home. I explained to her that Joshua had cornered me in the basketball courts and told me to stay away from her or he was going to rip my arms off! (or something to that effect) She explained that Joshua was harmless and that he was just trying to act tough in front of his friends. She stated that he actually cried at the part in the Transformers movie when Optimus Prime died! (I laughed to the point of tears!) We talked for a few more minutes then we decided to order dinner. She wanted pizza and wings, so we got pizza and wings! After we had finished eating, I put on a movie (Coming To America) and we laid in my bed and watched it. The fear of having someone walk in on us was a non factor as RJ wasn’t scheduled to come back in until 3 o’clock the next afternoon. I took this opportunity to make my move. I told her that I really enjoyed her company and I wanted to be more than friends! I leaned down and I kissed her softly on her neck. She looked up at me and smile. “Khalil…” (Whenever a girl says your name before being spontaneous, it’s normally trouble.) Teresa sat up and looked me in my eyes. “I enjoy your company, I love how you look at me, how you make me feel, and I was waiting for you to do that.” *insert “Brown Skin” by India Arie* 

     4:00 AM – Needless to say, we woke up in each others arms. (fully clothed) We didn’t want to rush anything. (we had one HELL of a makeout session though!) Teresa put her shoes on and grabbed me by the hand so I could walk her to the door. “Thank you for a wonderful evening and I look forward to many more.” She leaned over and kissed me as she walked down the back staircase to her car. I really hated to see her leave and wished she would’ve stayed. I watched from my window as she made it safely to her car and as she sped off into the early morning.

  9:00 am – “Wake up, sleeping beauty!” RJ said as he proceeded to pour cold water on me. “What the hell?” as I jumped out of the bed, “I thought you weren’t coming in until 3 this afternoon?” I exclaimed.  RJ said he had caught an earlier flight and that he was tired of being home. He told me about everything that happened while he was home and that he and Dawn were still together. I asked him where Dawn was. He said she was upstairs, but should be down in a minute. RJ remarked about it smelling like DKNY perfume. “Who was in here last night?” RJ asked. “Teresa.” I said. RJ looked at me with a sly smile. “You might want to get a Navy SWAT team to protect your ass from Josh.” I told RJ I wasn’t afraid of “bighead Josh” and that I was a new man!! ( as I did the George Jefferson dance) Dawn strolled through the door and greeted me with a hug and kiss on the cheek. (RJ looked at me funny after she did this.) “How was Dallas?” I asked. “Dallas was GREAT!” Dawn went on to tell me that she LOVED the BBQ, the fact that they had so many sports teams and RJ was there. I told both of them about my adventures in Connecticut. (yea, I included my Uncle singing and my cousins asking about strip joints) RJ, Dawn, and I left the door and went to go get something to eat at the Café. The first day of classes were upon us and we all had a few little things that needed to be done. RJ had to start preparing his speeches for his impending campaign and I was trying to avoid Josh at any and all cost! “Dawn, have you seen Vane, uh, Ms. Grayson?” I questioned. Dawn replied, “No.”  I explained to RJ and Dawn that she was on the same flight with me back to Atlanta, and she was doing some REALLY strange things! She wasn’t as on point as she was last semester. She looked like she was really down on her luck. 

“SPEAK OF THE DRAGON”

12:00 – Almost as if on cue, “The Dragon Lady” and her “entourage” appeared out of thin air. “Good afternoon, all” she proclaimed. I gave her a head nod, RJ said something under his breath and Dawn waved. Ms. Grayson had on the Spring Collection of Dolce and Gabana. She looked quite a bit different from when she was at the airport in Stamford. I took this as a sign. I really needed to do a better job of being a detective! After walking away from Mr. Grayson, RJ let me in a little secret about her. “She’s adopted.” What? I remarked. RJ explained that she was adopted by one of the most affluent families in Texas when she was a baby. RJ explained that her birthparents were in NY and she spent her breaks with them. “So, she was lying to me about going on a shopping on Madison Avenue?” RJ said that she did go to NY to shop, but that her main reason for visiting was to see her parents and try to get to know her parents more due to the fact that she never saw them because she lived in Dallas! RJ said that her birth parents were from the Bronx and couldn’t afford to raise her. I asked RJ how did he know all of this?  He replied with a simple “Duh! We went to school together.” It seemed like a pretty sad story and maybe this explained why she always traveled with her “group” and acted the way she did. RJ told me she was always trying to keep her family history “under wraps” because she was all about “appearances” and “making an entrance”. This, I found out, was one of the reasons that RJ disliked Vanessa.

    After gaining all of this new information about “The Dragon Lady”, I kind of felt sorry for her. She presented this “front” like she was born into money and didn’t owe anyone an explanation for her actions or behaviors because of it. I couldn’t wait for her to slip up and to let her know about herself! (I had grown a slight mean streak) We (RJ, Dawn, and I) talked outside in the Quad for a few more hours about some of our struggles, the upcoming semester, Teresa, RJ’s campaign strategy and what we had planned after our time at Wayne was over.

FAST TIMES AT WAYNE

       The second semester had started off with a BANG! I mean from the revelation of “The Dragon Lady” being adopted, to “the kiss heard ‘round the world”, and finally the semester actually starting, we were going at lightspeed! RJ and I had a few classes together and between him getting ready for the campaign and studying for classes, we rarely got a chance to hang out since being back at Wayne. Teresa and I had gotten closer over the last few weeks and we were ready to take our “relationship” public! (I was just trying not to die in the process!) Being at a historically black college or university was like playing the world’s “biggest game of telephone”, messages got confused, signals got crossed, and people got knocked out for delivering messages in error! (trust me) It was determined that Teresa and I no longer cared about what Josh thought. Teresa had broken up with Josh after the night we spent together and Joshua had been on the warpath ever since! Josh was looking for me like I was Osama Bin Laden! He was acting all types of crazy! He hated to lose and to top it all off, he had lost to me!  Teresa and I knew he was going to get like this but we kept a cool head about the situation and tried to be as discreet as possible, especially on or around campus, considering he was on the verge of jumping out of the bushes like DragonFly Jones from “Martin”!  The four of us (Dawn, RJ, Teresa, and I) had gone out as “couples” a few times, but we had to constantly look over our shoulders like we were Secret Service Agents guarding the POTUS!

         The semester was flying by. RJ became the President of the Freshman/Freshwomen class by giving a great speech about “Taking Wayne to the Future” (it was actually a pretty good speech, he got my vote) Dawn and I assisted him by passing out flyers, making T-shirts, buttons, and making posters to be hung up around campus prior to the election. Dawn’s ability to speak to people and promote got her the position of Vice President after RJ had been elected. I told RJ  I didn’t want a position, however RJ gave me the position of Chief of Staff and would include me on the meetings pertaining to the decisions about Wayne and how we could make it better.

           Classes had begun in earnest and I had A LOT more work with the election, a girlfriend, a Psych class that was kicking my butt, and assisting my friend in running the government with the interests of the freshman class at Wayne in mind! My Psych professor was nicknamed, “The Butcher” (and for good reason), he enjoyed cutting people down to size and making them work hard! (my Dad told me this was the beginning of the mystique that everyone had told me about) He had given us 2 papers, a take home exam, and an internet research assignment all in the first 3 weeks of class! (crazy, right?) I was a master at procrastination, but I still managed to put all this stuff together and I still got an “A” on almost all of these projects (except for one of the papers)

      After sleepwalking through the weekend, Teresa called me and asked if I wanted to go to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Normally, if I heard dinner out with a girl, I IMMEDIATELY checked my bank account to make sure I had enough to cover dinner, not just appetizers! (hey, I’m a college student) 

MEET THE PARENTS

      8:00 pm – Teresa came and picked me up at the dorm and we headed to dinner. We talked about how classes were going and other current events around campus. “Why are we going to Cheesecake Factory?” I asked. “It’s a surprise.” She said.  (I just hoped it wasn’t a bad surprise) As, we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, Teresa looked over at me. “Khalil, I brought you here so that you could meet my parents.” “What?” I was slightly upset because I would’ve dressed a little more appropriately for the occasion. Teresa was apologizing and telling me that her parents couldn’t wait to meet me and she had been telling them good things and they were EXTREMELY excited to meet.  As we made our way into the restaurant, Teresa noticed her parents and we walked over to the table. Teresa’s parents were both two beautiful people. Her father was a tall, black dude with a moustache and the demeanor of a Wall Street businessman. Her mom was redbone, “brickhouse” type who worked for the State Department. (I could see why he married her!) I shook hands with her parents and we sat down and had appetizers, dinner, and dessert. Teresa’s parents didn’t grill me, they welcomed me with open arms into their family and our whole conversation was very natural and organic. We laughed, joked, told stories, and shared our college experiences (even though mine were brief). After what turned out to be a great surprise, Teresa and I said “Goodnight” to her parents (not after they had invited me to the family reunion in North Carolina and to the house next year for Christmas!) Teresa asked me if I wanted to come back to her apartment since it was pretty late. I said that I didn’t have clothes and had an early class. She said that she would take me back to campus to let me get clothes and that she had an early class as well, so she needed to be up just as early. I agreed and we headed back over to campus.

        “Where are you going?” RJ asked. I told RJ I was headed to Teresa’s for the night in case anybody called and asked for me. RJ just looked at me, smirked, and called Dawn to tell her that he had a “free room” tonight! (Nasty, bastard) RJ said he was headed to Harrison’s and he would see me tomorrow.  I ran out into the night, hopped in Teresa’s car and headed to her place.

          Teresa stared at me as we exited the car. “What?” I said. “You are too damn cute.” She said. Teresa took her keys out of her purse and opened the front door to what looked like a palace. I walked in to find hardwood floors, fish tanks, and original artwork adorning the walls. (“Membership has its privileges”) She told me to put my bag on the couch and to come upstairs. She went over to the stereo system and turned on “Beauty is her name” by Dru Hill and grabbed me by my hand and led me to the loft that overlooked her living room. (I could get used to this) Teresa led me to the bedroom where she had candles lit and had it prepped for something “special” getting ready to take place. (just to make it clear, I didn’t write anything down about what happened, in case anybody finds this….) 

The next morning–

      7:15 am- After a “great” night (you do the math), I woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking. I walked down the stairs and saw Teresa standing over the stove in some boy shorts and a Hawks jersey ( she had grabbed it out of my bag) putting some turkey bacon, biscuits, fruit salad and a bagel on a plate for me. “Good morning.” I remarked. “Hey, you.”  She said, as she walked over and kissed me on the lips. Teresa then told me to eat while she got ready because we both had an 8:30 and we were running late.

          10:00 am- After sitting in what felt like the longest political theory course EVER, I met up with RJ and Dawn to go over our plans for the weekend. What started as a conversation about our weekend turned into an inquisition about MY night. I swore myself to silence. (a gentlemen never tells) We decided that we would head over to Lake Lanier to enjoy this warm weather we had been having. I called Teresa and she cleared it with her parents so that we could use their cabin near Lake Lanier for the weekend. 

Running The Halls : Chapter 7 & 8

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Chapter 7 : “F.I.L.A. and heading home”

 

  I journeyed to the cafe (alone) and come to find out that the ENTIRE football team was in there!! (damn) As I was going to sit down, “Box” grabbed my shoulder,” I told you, you were dead.” “why do you keep messing around with my business?” “I didn’t know we were still in the business of trading people like cattle?” Joshua smirked. “Oh a smart ass,huh?” “I told you I was going to ruin your career here at my school.”  “Are you serious?” I said. “Wayne is my school…you don’t and won’t like it here. I will make sure of that!” (damn, just kill me!) After my run in with the “Grim Reaper and his henchman”, I thanked God that I was going home in a few days….if Joshua Christion doesn’t kill me first!

        As we approached midterms, I, like most freshman and women grew more nervous with each passing test. I knew I had done well in Sarge’s class and I knew I was headed to at least a 3.2 GPA ( quick word of advice: NEVER take philosophy!) Midterms are also the time where you need to be the most focused, so at Wayne they institute “quiet hours” (which by the way is an oxymoron) because they are giving you the opportunity to achieve “maximum study levels” (ha!) either way, I knew  I had done well.

   A few weeks later, as I was packing to head home for Thanksgiving/winter break, I realized that Wayne was beginning to change me. Gone was the immature kid that showed up on her doorstep, here stood a young man who was more self confident than ever before!

   Sitting in the airport, I laughed as I thought about everything that had transpired this first semester. From fights, to the ladies, to crazy professors, to new relationships, to homecomings, to roommate wars, to the Underground Railroad, I had experienced quite a bit so far! And this was only the beginning!! As RJ and Dawn boarded a plane to Texas, (yes, she was going to meet the parents!) I heard the boarding call for Flight 2253 to Connecticut. “Alright, party people. Y’all be good.” RJ and Dawn waved back. As I handed my boarding pass to the agent, I thought about home, my OWN bed, and Thanksgiving morning! Going home is cool, but I honestly can’t wait to get back to the “A” for the second semester to start! “Wait til they get a load of me!” I hope that y’all don’t decide to transfer! (lol) Plane is about to take off, peace ( I’ve really gotta stop writing in this book..)

 

       Second semester

 

 you know what it’s like going home for the first time since leaving for college? (I’m sure you do) you wish that you were back in SCHOOL!! I felt the same way! I mean, yeah you get to sleep in your own bed, don’t have to share a room, and there are no strange noises or neckties on the door keeping you out of your room until 4 a.m. (all the freaks know what I’m

talking about) After arriving at the airport and patiently waiting for my mom, she finally arrived and looked at me like Celie looked at Nettie in the final scene of the Color Purple! (my mom was very dramatic!) While I loaded my bags into the car, I listened to my mom tell me that I was getting fat, ask me how much money I had , and  ask me who had I met this semester! (my mom was a bit of a busybody!) As we drove away from the airport, I started to think about everything that I could expect from being HOME for the Holidays!

  To those of you that have never been in a black family, had any black friends, or been to a black function, then you might want to stop reading now…(please don’t…lol) Pulling into my parents driveway felt different this time. I felt a little more mature, more at ease, and more ready to tackle what I knew was SURE to be an interesting visit “home” as  I got my bags from the trunk and moved past the front door, I heard it. The “it” I’m referring to was “family reunion” by the Ojays. This could only mean one thing: Uncle Charles. Uncle Charles was that Uncle that is in everybody’s family: Loud, obnoxious, know-it-all, Chef, and music impresario! (my uncle was waaaaay off the chain!) My Uncle Charles or “chucky” as my mom called him, was a “singing drunk”…every Thanksgiving/holiday, he would get so sloppy that he would sing old Ray Charles songs…( boy, i missed him…) “Look at what the wind blew in?!” Uncle Chucky exclaimed as he saw me walk into the living room ( drink in hand, mind you.) I knew that he was holding my Dad “hostage” by virtue of how fast my Dad ran over to me! “hey, son! How was your first semester at Wayne?” “it was cool.” (the typical answer from any college kid home for the first time in a while) After “moving” back into my room, it was time to eat! *sidebar* I always referred to Thanksgivings as “Humble experiments in Negro operations”, but this one would truly take the cake!!!! If you’ve ever been to a black family ANYTHING you know that first thing we ask for is dominoes, cards, and or fried chicken! This day was no different.

    Nothing is like a black family gathering. My first Thanksgiving since coming home was “special”. For starters, my Connecticut family was all over my mom’s house like roaches!! (my mom neglected to mention that it was going to be “Madea’s Family Reunion”) I started to feel like I didn’t even know some of these people and just so you know there were at least 5 HUGE tables for all of these people that had invaded my moms house!

  I always enjoyed being home. I found it therapeutic. I was an escape from “college life”. (sike, who am I kidding?) I missed Wayne, RJ, Dawn, “the Dragon Lady”, and most importantly, Teresa. But I was “home” and this was where I would be for the next few weeks until I got to go back for second semester!

    Ok, so upon entering the dining room for Thanksgiving dinner, I was serenaded by Uncle Chucky with his drunken rendition of “Rainy Night in Georgia” (and it was only 4:30 in the afternoon) and to add to the chaos, my mother had invited half the church and my cousins from White Plains, New York that were hell bent on trying to figure out where the good strip clubs were at!! ( I could only say I have never been. They proceeded to look at me strange for the rest of dinner.) Like I said, my mother’s house was like Grand Central during the regular days, but on holidays you had to multiply that by one thousand! We had a ton of people over and it wasn’t until I sat down at the table, not only did I realize that black people cook a WHOLE lot of food, I also realized that eating in this scenario was going to be crazy as hell!! You can’t have fried chicken and “momma’s” mac and cheese and not have an “all out war” for that first corner piece! After the longest “saying grace” EVER by my momma’s favorite pastor, everything proceeded like a whirlwind! I mean, there was fried chicken, potato salad, and greens flying around like the “Swedish chef” was cooking it! ( I was just trying to find a quiet place to hide with my plate , so I could make my Thanksgiving day phone calls) After allowing myself to be poked, prodded, and inspected like I was cattle, I finally had the opportunity to make these calls. (between my momma yelling at what seemed like my uncle for what seemed like 45 mins about him spitting on the turkey, I thought I would never be able to move past the walkway from the kitchen to the sunroom in my parent’s house!) After I nudged my way past the throng of people shovelling food on their plates and down their throats, I reached my destination: my mom’s leather couch…and with cellphone in hand, I began dialing numbers…….

    “Dialing numbers”

   I touched the last digit and breathed deeply as the phone rang. “Hello?” Teresa said…” Hi. This is Khalil from Wayne” “Hey, how are you?” Teresa said excitedly…” I’m doing ok, how does it feel to be home?” I asked. “I should be asking you that…,” Teresa said. She explained that she was at her aunt’s house for the holidays and would be there because her parents were in St. Tropez..(Well, damn) We sat on the phone and spoke for another 45 minutes about everything under the sun (Wayne, food, movies, first(s), and what happens in the second semester that I should be worried about.) We were really becoming good friends and I hoped that we could further it in the second semester! After my conversation with Teresa, I was on Cloud 9! (then I remembered I was on the ‘Island of Misfit Toys’, it just so happened that there was turkey on the table!) As I re-entered the kitchen, I was cornered by my already tipsy Uncle Chucky asking me to borrow money then told me about how he used to be on the road with James Brown.( I just said I don’t have any money and that’s great Unc!)

    My mother was in the process of “herding”, I mean “saying goodbye” to all the family  and moving what was left of the food into Tupperware and into the fridge, I decided that two more things were very pressing with black people…1. They don’t know how to leave as long as food is present and 2. The O’Jays are like the 3 Wisemen at a black family gathering! (say something bad about Eddie Levert and you might get cut messing with my family!)

  11:00 pm– I was beginning to hate being home! back at Wayne, I would be on my way to Harrison’s to get some wings, onion rings, and a strawberry soda, now all I have to look forward to is cold cuts and orange juice. (for some reason, my mom and dad decided that they no longer wanted to have soda in the house, and I was going through withdrawals like Jamie Foxx in “Ray”)  I’ll see y’all in a few….

8:00 AM—

The more I think about it, the more I realized that being home was a lot like being at Wayne (even though I didn’t want to admit it!) I mean, in my mother’s house, you had people that couldn’t figure out when to leave (sort of like those dudes from the 1st floor that knew R.J.) OR those people that wake you up doing the CRAZIEST things early in the morning!! This is where my Uncle Chucky comes in AGAIN…I’m resting comfortably in my bed when all of a sudden…..”Before I Let Go” by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly comes blaring out of the speakers from the living room! (damn, Uncle Chucky!! Ugh) I rose from the bed, watched my steps as I moved down the stairs, and walked into the living room and silently watched my Uncle doing what appeared to be the “stanky leg”, while listening to this soul/R&B classic! I just stood there, shook my head and grabbed the remote that controlled the stereo system. (my Uncle never used technology, he thought it was too “new school” for him.) As I turned the stereo off, my Uncle looked at me like I was a “runaway slave” and was staying with “Massa”! “What are you doing?” he asked. “I was TRYING to sleep, up until you decided you wanted to have a concert.” “Your ‘posed to be used to this much noise! You in college, ain’t you?”

“Yes, I am. That doesn’t mean I wanna go deaf in the process.” My Uncle did nonsense like this all the DAYUM time! (my momma warned me about this…) Where in the hell were my parents any way? My uncle walked out of the room and into the kitchen (where the liquor cabinet was (surprise, surprise) He poured himself a glass of Hennessey Privilege and then asked me did I want any. “Nope…it’s only 8:30, you know that right?” He responded with, “it’s 5:00 somewhere! Aw, hell) While I was trying get myself some breakfast, my parents walked through the front door arguing over if they were going to the casino that night with my Aunt Rhonda. “Hell, no!” my dad said. “Why not?” said my mom, I don’t want to go anywhere with your crazy ass sister! Wait? Wasn’t she over here just yesterday eating all my food and drinking all my juice? I don’t want to be spending money on somebody that already OWES me money! (needless to say, they went to the casino that night!) My mom called Aunt Rhonda or “Rho – Rho” as she was called by my family and told her that they would be there. My dad didn’t take that too well. He just muttered about “trifling, shiftless negroes”, my dad had a tendency to do that sometimes. He even though he was college educated and a successful businessman, he did get “ghetto” on occasion. (My mom said that’s where I get it from…I just shrug ) I wondered what I was going to do when my parents went to the casino. *Insert 80’s segway music now*

           NIGHT AT THE CASINO/ FRIED CHICKEN TESTIMONIALS

      Among the two things that anybody reading this should know, Black people love two things: gambling at the casino and church dinners. I always enjoyed being home, but after being there for about 2 weeks, I was SO looking forward to being back at Wayne! I had been through Thanksgiving, heard my Uncle sing so many 60-70’s soul classics I could do all the steps in my sleep, I had heard my father curse more than an a rapper on a Lil Wayne record, and was about to experience the two incidents that would push me ALL the way back to the “A”!

      If you have never been in a black family then you know that “casino night” is every week or if you get paid weekly then it’s every week. Anyway, you get my drift. My family was NO different. On the days that the “Sisters Committee” decided to head to the casino, they got on the phone and planned strategy like they were the Joint Chiefs of Staff! This night was no different, except the fact that my dad was in tow! They mapped out which slots they were going to hit, how they were going to eat, if they had enough “points” to stay overnight if necessary, how many cars they planned to take and who was driving what car. The funniest thing was watching it. I sat and watched in amazement as in a matter of moments my mom jotted all of this miscellaneous information down like it was scripture!! As my mom and dad prepared to leave the house for their “casino adventure”, I grabbed my keys to hit the Whole Foods about 10 minutes away because they had the best macaroni and cheese EVER! (and to get out of the house since Uncle Chucky was at the house, singing old Temptations hits, plus he had eaten most of the leftovers since he was there since 8 o’clock this morning!)  I got in my car and put the Bluetooth in my ear (don’t wanna catch a ticket in Connecticut) and began to pull out of the driveway. As I honked “goodbye” to my parents, my phone started ringing in my ear. “Hello, who’s this?” I asked. “Don’t act like you don’t know my voice!” Teresa responded. “What’s going on? How are you?”. “I’m doing well. I was just thinking about you and thought I would give you a call.” * I remained silent due to the fact that I was going to start screaming like a school girl if I was forced to speak!*   I tried to play it cool, like Billy Dee in “Mahogany”. “ Oh really? I was just thinking about you as well”, I said calmly. Teresa and I spoke about the holidays, getting back to Wayne and when we were going to hang out when we got back. Every time I spoke to Teresa I was taken away from the “craziness” of my home life and was on some deserted island, where we were the only two people. I was living a fantasy whenever I spoke to her. (that’s a different story for a different time) As, I pulled in to the Whole Foods parking lot, I realized that 1. No one ever expects black people to shop there and 2.white people are SLOOOOW as all HELL!) as I maneuvered through the aisles, watching every pair of eyes on me, I grabbed some chips, a few green juices that I knew no one in my house would drink, and made my way to the “Hot Foods” corner in this mega-mart! It always surprised me that no matter how many times people had been to this counter, they always acted like it was their first time!! ( don’t worry, I feel the same way when I go to McDonald’s too…) what I assumed would take me 15 minutes ended up taking me 45 minutes because of this elderly white lady who repeatedly asked for thin sliced roast beef and paper thin provolone cheese. I just gave the lady a blank stare and shared a disgusted look with the attendant at the counter. After paying for my dinner and some late night snacks, I ran to my car and put on “A-Town” by The Dream featuring Shawty Lo and Ludacris and sped off into the night as white people watched scared for their collective lives!

      If you’ve ever been to the casino with my family then you know exactly what to expect: DRAMA! As I was sitting in the living room reading through the course book for the Spring semester at Wayne, I hear my dad at the front door. “I told you they were out of their minds!” he exclaimed. “It wasn’t that bad” my mom proclaimed. “So, you think somebody winning $2,500 and losing it ALL in one night is the act of a sane person?” my dad quipped. My mom just shrugged, laughed, and then asked me what I had been up to all night…I told her that I just went to Whole Foods, got dinner, and received a phone call from a friend from school. “Oh, R.J.?” she asked. “No mom.” I responded. “It must be a girl then!,” my dad yelled from the bathroom! “Hush!!” I screamed. My mom would proceed to ask me questions about Teresa until I was tired of hearing her questions! She came to the conclusion that she liked Teresa without even meeting her! (“Any young lady that has you grinning like you just won the lotto when she calls has got to be SPECIAL!”) After listening to my mom tell me about how Aunt “Rho – Rho” put all of her winnings back into the casino and almost getting into a fight over a seafood buffet table, which to hear my mom tell it, included a group of those “holy rollers” , the ladies with the glittery hats and walkers, and a shrimp cocktail. (trust me, LOOONG story, very funny, but LONG.) After hearing about the craziness that occurred at the casino over a damn shrimp cocktail and $40 dollars, all I wanted to do was go to bed. So, as I made my way to way room to crawl into bed, I realized two more things: 1. tomorrow was Sunday and 2. Uncle Chucky was starting to invade my dreams!! (Damn… “and I wish it would rain….”) 

9:30 AM-Sunday mornings were always great when I was home. Mom woke up early and cooked a great breakfast before we had to be at the 11 o’clock service. This was honestly the ONLY thing I missed while at Wayne, nothing topped Mom’s homemade pancakes, fresh fruit salad and drop biscuits with cheese! We finished getting dressed after breakfast and headed off to church. I could tell, just from the way that we took off from the driveway, today was going to be an interesting day!

             What do you think about when you think about a “black” church? Is it the “fire and brimstone” preaching, the “falling out”, the singing, or does it remind you of that scene from the “Color Purple” when everyone is leaving the juke joint headed to the church with “Shug” Avery fighting for her soul?! Or is it the slick haired preacher stealing money from the collection plate talking about the “building fund”? The church that my mom belongs to has all of these things AND more, trust me! My mother’s church was OFF the HOOK!! I never had a problem going to church with her because I knew that they would always give me something to talk about during the week! (baby Jesus was working on me! Don’t judge me!) I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a “black” church, but let me be the first to tell you that it’s like a Broadway musical before you even walk in the front door! People are bustling everywhere, old folks are moving to their seats, children are begging to try and stay upstairs instead of going to “children’s church”, teens are trying waste as much time as possible on their smartphones before doing the same thing that they will be doing during service and then you have the “tweens”, running to the store to go on “breakfast/ candy runs” and smell like bacon, eggs, and cheese and sour patch kids for the duration of the service! (that is NOT a pleasant smell.) I almost forgot about the overabundance of “choirs” that dominate the black church (especially old black churches, like my momma’s) It just so happened that today was my last Sunday before going back to Wayne. (so, I knew that I was in for it.)

       This church experience was the stuff of legend. Where should I begin? Should I start when the “Who so ever will” choir decided that they would do their rendition of “Peace Be Still” by James Cleveland with no piano and only 7 people! (blank stare) or the part of service where the youth choir decided to rap along with Lil Wayne…..(yup, my mom actually hit me when I started laughing) I really have to stop writing in this journal. My mom asked me what I was doing and she said put that damn book away! (this is in church by the way. LOL ) After putting the book away, I proceeded to do what every black kid did in churches across the country: wrote on the ‘notes’ section of the bulletin!) While I snuck and wrote notes about this “fried chicken testimonial” moment, Rev. Drake came to the pulpit and spoke on the subject, “Where are we going?” and the craziest thing about the entire sermon was that he referenced hip hop artists (i.e. Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Young Jeezy, and Jay-Z) and I could’ve sworn he cursed at least three times! Anyways, at the end of the sermon, which had the entire church on their feet (ala The Blues Brothers), and singing in unison like the Muppets in “The Muppets Take Manhattan” during Miss Piggy and Kermit’s wedding! This is where it got really crazy. “Brother Khalil?” Rev. Drake said. “Yes?” I responded. “Could you come join me at the altar?” I moved past Sister Jones at the end of the pew and moved to the altar, followed by my mom. “Brother Khalil, we are so proud of you here.” ( tell me something I don’t hear ALL the time!) “We just wanted to say that we will be praying for you and hoping that the second semester is better than the first!(which was followed by a few ‘Amens’ and ‘Hallejuaers’) I looked at my mom and saw that she was crying and grabbing at my shoulders like she was never going to see me again. Rev. Drake commenced to say a prayer and then gave the Benediction. I really hadn’t been at my momma’s church in a looong time, almost forget they have “fried chicken testimonials” Sunday dinners! I named them “fried chicken testimonials” because the chicken was good, it made you want to tell anybody and EVERYBODY you saw how GOOD is was! I was tired and so I decided to get a plate to go. Sister Jones (every black church has one) made me a “supersize” plate and gave me a sweet tea and a slice of pound cake. As I made my way through the “sea” of church folks looking to get a plate, I spotted my mom and told her that I was heading back to the house because I had a lot of packing to do. She kissed me on my head and said be safe. While moving towards the door, I shook more hands and kissed more old ladies than a politician! Got to love church folk! I put my plate in the trunk, hopped in my car and turned up “The Food” by Common featuring Kanye West and proceeded to the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

  4:00 PM – “What’s up, Dad?” I asked. “What’s in the plate?” he asked. “You already know.” “Oh, they had dinners at the church huh?”  “YUP.”, just as I began to place the plate on the table, my Dad grabbed the foil off the plate and grabbed one of the pieces of bbq chicken and ran! * I was too tired to chase him, I was just waiting to tell him that 90 year old Sister James made that chicken and she didn’t use enough seasoning! * I just waited to see him running around trying to get into the bathroom!

                       After secretly laughing at my Dad, I went upstairs to finalize my course selection, start putting my things into boxes, and washing my clothes. I really needed to go shopping, but I decided to wait until I got back to Wayne. (I knew it was going to be HOT by the time I got back, so I knew that I wouldn’t need a whole lot.)  I finished my plate and finished inputting my courses into the system and was prepped for this semester, class wise. As I was moving to my closet, my cell phone rang. “Hello?” I said. “What’s up, KT?” R.J. yelled. “What’s going on, Tex?” I asked. R.J. said he and Dawn were doing well. (I almost forgot Dawn had decided to go with RJ) “That’s cool…” “When are you heading back?” I asked. “I should be back by Wednesday, day before classes start back.”  RJ proceeded to tell me ALL about his trip home. He told me that his family LOVED Dawn and that she was getting accustomed to the Texas lifestyle. He told me the classes that he had chosen (we had 2 classes together this semester) and told me that he had decided to run for Student Government this semester. We had already decided that the room we would share would have a different vibe. More political, more polished, less twelfth grade! We wanted to be “grown and sexy”, even though we were still freshman! Our conversation lasted a few more minutes and went from the silly (jokes from New Jack City and Coming To America) to professors ( Dean Soto and Professor Chambers, I’ll tell y’all about him later) and then the most important topic of the night: girls! RJ told me that he and Dawn had been cool ever since that “little” incident that almost caused RJ to “run north” to avoid Dawn’s “wrath”! We said our goodbyes and said we’d see each other in a few days. As I rung up the phone, I heard my mom screaming from the kitchen, “KHALIL TRUE!” I jumped up and ran downstairs to try and figure out what my mom was screaming for.

“Boy, when are you leaving?” she asked.

“On Tuesday” I said.

“I thought you told me you were leaving on Wednesday?” she responded

“No. I need to get all my stuff into the room before RJ gets back.”  I quipped

“Are you taking your car down to school?” she asked again.

“No.” I retorted

(This “blank stare” conversation would go on for the next twenty minutes. My mom and I decided that she would take me to the airport and I begged my mom not to make a scene, AGAIN!) Crisis averted. It was a very weird long drawn out conversation about NOTHING. (sort of the way ALL conversations went your first time home) 

“HOUSE OF PINK ROSES”

   7:00 AM – Being home, I almost forgot what it was like to get dressed in the dark. I REALLY hated not being able to see what I was doing. After forcing myself to get out of the bed, I pulled on my shorts, sneakers, Ipod and ran out the door to start my “new” workout. RJ had convinced me that I needed to increase my stamina because he needed a workout partner. He convinced me to begin running and then he had me do this thing called the “300” workout. It was after doing this workout that realized how much I truly hated RJ! (laugh) Upon returning from my “workout” (which only lasted about 30 minutes), I washed up and then went to finish my packing.

    9:00 AM – Labeling boxes is hard damn work! I never really knew how much stuff I had until I had to re-box and repack everything. Realizing that I only had a day left to get all my stuff boxed and into the finished basement. After packing my bag and placing my boxes in the basement, due to the fact that my day was turning “my” room into a “man cave”, I had to move everything!!

     12:00 PM – Right around lunch is when my mom started getting all “old slave” on me. She started trying to make sure I had food (C’mon here, baby…eat something), she’d say stuff like “Kizzie” from Roots and I think she told me not to run because they were going to chop off my foot like they did “Toby”. I just stood there in stunned silence. After traveling forward in time, I made a sandwich and went out to the porch. My mom mentioned to me that in honor of my last day, we were going to have a fried chicken/margarita/fried fish party. (Oh, shoot!)

      7:00 P.M. – “SHOWTIME!” shouted my Uncle Chucky. (He always did this whenever he knew there was going to be food and drinks!) My family came in droves; like this was the LAST time they were going to see me! (I thought it was the free chicken, you know about black people and chicken!!) The party went well. Nobody was hurt, Uncle Chucky stayed upright (for once), and everybody left at a decent hour. (if you call after 12:30 am decent.) I really have to get some sleep and I need to stop writing in this journal. One day, someone’s going to find this and have a lot of dirt on me! Good night.

    Tuesday

       5:30 AM – “Khalil, let’s go.” My mom said. “I’m up” I replied. I really disliked early morning flights. My parents however found it beneficial to get me on the plane/train/or houseboat EARLY, so they could get me out of their hair! After exchanging good byes with Dad and Uncle Chucky (yea, he was there that early….ugh)

       6:45 AM – After my mom dropped me off at the airport quicker than the Roadrunner being chased by Wil E. Coyote, I heard it.

      “Kareem?”,I know that voice. (Please, God, no) as I did the slow motion “Matrix” turn, I saw her. It was Ms. Grayson. She looked a bit different from the other times I had seen her in the dorm. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I was going to figure out what it was before we left each others sight. “Where’d you come from?” I asked. “I was on vacation in New York City and decided that I didn’t want the hustle/bustle of JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark, so I came here.” She responded. “Ok” (I looked at her confused). “Where’s the rest of your team?” I questioned. “Here they come now…” I always had to prepare myself for Ms. Grayson’s entourage, but this was totally unexpected. They (all 3 of them) came around the corner dressed in all pink t-shirts that read “TEAM GRAYSON” on the front and “HOUSE OF PINK ROSES” on the back. What’s with the “House of Pink Roses” thing? I asked. “It’s the name of the new social organization I’m starting this semester.” Aww, hell!(now I had to hear about this BS for the entire flight!) While trying to unsuccessfully avoid and dodge the “black-tourage”, I realized that Ms. Grayson and I were seat mates. This day just went from weird to surreal. After boarding the plane and take my seat, I was bombarded with so many useless facts from Ms. Grayson about this “House of Pink Roses” thing that I was actually considering helping her out! (by the end of the two and a half hour flight, I had reconsidered.) So, while Ms. Grayson or “the Dragon Lady” was speaking about her social organization, I was trying to determine how and when I was going to make my exit from this crazy conversation! I decided to make an “executive decision”… “Have you spoken to Dawn?” (I knew she hadn’t spoken to her because of the fact that they spent an entire semester trying NOT to KILL each other!) I knew that would get her to stop talking to me about this “House of Pink Roses” nonsense.

      After arriving in the “A”, I grabbed my bags and damn near ran out of the airport. I hopped in one of those “ATL cabs” (in case you’ve never seen an “ATL cab” those are the dudes that hang outside of the airport, put you in their Cadillac and drive you to SouthWest Atlanta for $40!) As we were leaving the airport, I could’ve sworn I saw Ms. Grayson and her “black-tourage” heading towards the MARTA station.(I could tell that this was going to be a mystery I was going to have to solve.) 

Running The Halls : Chapters 5&6

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Chapter 5– Day Damn One

 

6 a.m. – I’m not too sure what anybody else has told you, but HBCU’s  are really “A Different World”. I woke up way too early to start my first day of classes at Wayne, I realized that extreme nervous energy had taken over my entire body just like when I started high school! I was up trying to coordinate my outfits, making sure I had enough supplies, and even tried to perfect a “cool” way to say that I was in class, just in case the professor asked us! (corny, huh?) Still groggy, I shook myself awake and prepared myself to enter the communal shower. Nothing ever prepares you for the first time you enter what I like to refer to as “project bathroom”! I thought I had it bad at home with only two bathrooms but this was crazy!! You honestly had to be in there for 15 minutes to achieve the “typical” hot shower…after going through the coldest experience ever, I went back to my room to get dressed and to see if RJ wanted to hit up breakfast before we had to go to class. “Close that door, I’m trying to sleep! ,” RJ screamed. “Aight,” I replied. Obviously, the silence of the halls and the scuffling of feet were making RJ very cranky! “Get up, punk! I’m leaving for class, did you wanna go to breakfast?” RJ groaned and babbled some more non coherent stuff then nodded that he was going to get up and go to breakfast but he didn’t have class until 9. RJ proceeded to pull on his sweats as I was looking at myself in the mirror in my new Polo shirt and khaki shorts. RJ began laughing. “What?” I said. “Don’t nobody be looking at nobody on the first day….”  I’ve heard different from friends of mine back home that have gone to HBCU’s and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake of not being coordinated on the first day, I didn’t want to repeat what happened on the first day of high school (long story, thanks mom!) So, RJ and I dragged ourselves to the café before I had to be in class. In case I forgot tp mention what goes on in the café at HBCU’s: here’s a quick reminder, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE is NOT your friend!! Between piles of bacon, sausage, eggs, fried apples, pancakes, waffles, and “orange drink”, I began to think that I was tricked on the first few days of being campus! Anyways, after eating a “healthy” breakfast ( fruit, toast, apple juice, and oatmeal) I made my way to first official class at Wayne University, sweating like a stripper in church!

As I scrambled to find my seat in this class, I realized three things: 1. RJ was right (Damn!) 2. Having an eight o’ clock English class is not going to be cool! and 3. the women at Wayne are off the chain! (I think that it’s going to be really hard to concentrate when it gets WARMER!) even in ponytails and sweats these ladies look GOOD. I overheard some upperclassmen talking about the professor who were had been waiting for. They were calling him “Sarge”. I would soon find out that “Sarge” was a very fitting name for this man. “Sarge” or Professor Jones on the course syllabi, walked in and wrote three words on the blackboard (yea, they still had those!): 1. Loyalty, 2. Respect and 3.Honesty. Sarge turned to the 15 “brave souls” that had decided to be in this class and said, “Expect the Unexpected”. We all looked at each other like what the heck is he talking about? Sarge proceeded to get in MY face and say, “What is your malfunction, boy?” (Why me??)  Um, yea! Sooo….(by this time, everyone was watching me, waiting) “Nothing, sir”. (This would go on all semester….trust me)  Sarge then gave out copies of the syllabi which read like “War and Peace” complete with footnotes and all. Sarge explained that this was English 109, and this was his battlefield!! ( what the hell?) After we left the first class a few of the upperclassmen told me why they called him “Sarge”. He used to be a Navy Seal and was currently the head of the ROTC program. Ooh, I almost forgot. “Sarge” told us that he didn’t grade on a curve and there would be a test every week! talk about torture, waterboarding was better than this!)  After I basically “sleepwalked” through my few classes (don’t judge me!) My first day was pretty uneventful. As a freshman, you were only allowed to take 12 credits your first semester. This was a way for you to “get your feet wet” and get acclimated to the rigors of college and college life. I had chosen my courses very carefully, I did not want anything interfering with my Friday afternoons, especially when the second semester got started! The first day of classes was actually pretty boring. I didn’t really expect it to be filled with a ton of pageantry, but I did expect it to be more action-packed! (I was wrong) So, after I had wrapped up my classes and was just looking for my bed, I ran into Vanessa (who happened to be in my 10 am math class. Did I mention that she was FINE?) “Hey, Ms. Grayson” (remember, she asked to be called that) “Hello, Khaleed”, she said. “Khalil”, I responded. “Whatever. I just wanted to know how you enjoyed our math class today?” (this was rare for her, considering she NEVER had spoken to me before!)  I guess being thousands of miles away from home does strange things to people! I told Ms. Grayson that I had enjoyed myself and that I was looking forward to what this semester had to offer. She proclaimed that she can’t believe that she had a 10 a.m. class and she was really dreading having to get up and “actually think”! (who the hell did this girl think she was?! Queen Diana??) Half the time, I just looked at her and heard “white noise” because she would just babble about “rich people stuff” and I really had no time for that nonsense. Upon finishing my conversation with the “Dragon Lady”, I realized that she was crazy as HELL! (the only reason I kept talking to her was because she was FINE!) I don’t know what they are feeding the young ladies down in Texas, but I definitely needed to start bringing these “supplements” up to Connecticut!! (lol) I’m on my way to the café to meet up with “Dread Man”, one of RJ’s friends from Texas who went to Clark Atlanta. After finally finding RJ and “D”, we decided to go hang out at the Morris Gym. (I honestly, would have some GREAT moments in this building…)  Anyways, as we walked to the gym, I asked RJ how his first day went. RJ stared at me. “How the heck you think it went?”  “Ummm, if it was anything like mine, you should be exhausted”. “How in the heck did your outfit go over?” RJ quipped. “Shut up.” I said. “D” just laughed at our conversation. “Both of y’all are dumb, so both of you need Jesus!”  As we prepared to walk into the gym, RJ began looking over his shoulder like a crackhead who just robbed a dealer! “What the heck are you doing?!”,   D and I both remarked. “I’m trying to AVOID the Athletic Director, he keeps trying to get me to play football, but I don’t want to play anymore!” (Now, I know what you are thinking: how could a potential #1 NFL draft pick not wanna play anymore?)  “Wait?, what? Are you losing your mind?” I said. “Nope, I just don’t want to put my body through the pain anymore and for what?” (he did have a point) “I want to study law and go to law school.” My only question was then why in the hell did you bring us to the damn gym if you didn’t want to get harassed? (freshman mistakes)  We ventured into the gym and realized that we had walked right into a intramural basketball game! (one of many mistakes we would make freshman year!) So, as we sat there and watched all these “wannabe” Jordans and Kobes try and fulfill their hoops dreams in front of girls they barely even knew, I half laughed and kept messing with RJ about the Athletic Director walking through the door. (hey, you would’ve laughed if you saw him jumping behind chairs and risers!) After the game, we headed over to Harrison’s to avoid going back to the cafe to take part in “Mo’ Chicken” night! D had to go back to Clark, because he had a test to study for. Once again, it was RJ and I looking like “greedy animals” as we sat at Harrison’s and devoured more wings than we did previously!

    As we ventured through “The strip” (it’s this long promenade that connects all the campuses) to walk off the wings, I really began to experience the feelings of “real independence”, so I decided to call home. (weird,right?) RJ and I got back to the dorm and he decided to call Dawn as I watched the news waiting for my mom to pick up the phone……what a first day!!!

 

Chapter 6 “homecoming: the next generation”

 

I know it’s been a few months since last I picked up a pen and decided to write. I’ve been extra busy dealing with  Sarge’s demands of perfection and excellence in his 8 am class, dealing with the “Dragon lady” and  her incessantly talkative ass,  as well her trying get me to assist her in math because none of her “black-tourage” can help, I’m exhausted and tired!! Oh and in case I forgot to mention it RJ and Dawn are now dating! (this is pissing off the Dragon Lady) they started dating “officially” a few weeks ago after “talking to each other” for about a month. They talked all night on the phone, went out to the mall, and walked each other to class. (they made me sick! Lol) They had a good relationship going, until “the incident” at HomeComing!

If you haven’t been to a HBCU “homecoming” then you really haven’t seen anything! ( I experienced a few of these “carnivals” in my time at Wayne)  Nothing beats the excitement of my 1st homecoming though! Homecoming was “killing” the freshman and women on campus with anticipation! It wouldn’t be strange to find large groups of students trying to find out who was performing, is the parties were free, and what time was the annual festival where all the alumni/ae came back and remembered the old days! So, needless to say the atmosphere around homecoming was very festive. Freshman had gained the opportunity to be part of “spirit teams” ( a collection of people who would join together to represent their dorm in the annual parade) Dawn and I were chosen by random to be part of this “Squad”…our first rehearsal went something like this: We sat around a table telling these dorm-mates where we are from, and all the basic about yourself. The only thing we didn’t say was,”Hi, my names Khalil and I’m an alcoholic”! Then we proceed to work on a theme and decide if we were going to make signs, chant, or do a step routine. (stepping was big then) or all three. Tasha, who was elected the “leader” ( probably cuz she was bigger than everybody else and had the biggest mouth) decided that stepping was going to be the “bomb” ( she was from Kansas) and so that’s what “we” decided to do. We had been rehearsing for  the last few days and had been hyping ourselves up (we had printed up signs telling people to come support us and had shirts made!)  It was going to be my introduction into “HomeComing”- the next generation!! On the morning of the parade, Dawn and I met up to head over to the staging area (fresh with our T-shirts that read “AND WHAT?” don’t ask) to get  a few more light practices in. It was at this moment that RJ was spotted doing on of the DUMBEST things ever!!! Dawn peered over her sunglasses and saw RJ about to hug another girl!! (let’s just say she lost her mind!) All I heard was cursing and screaming in Puerto Rican, then she decided to drag me over to RJ and this other girl…(again, why me?) I’m standing away from all the action and all I see if hands flailing and RJ pleading trying not to look retarded in this situation (too late!) about this girl and why he was hugging her! RJ proceeded to run up to me and say,”help me” ( sidebar: the hell I look like, “The Negrociator”?) I calmly walked over to the other girl (who’s name I found out was Veronica) and said “Can you please come with me? They need to talk.”  She obliged and followed me away from what was sure to be a “crime scene” the way Dawn was screaming .(I could just  envision the headlines now) After Dawn and RJ had “the conversation of all conversations”, I saw them walking hand in hand up to me right before the parade was supposed to begin. ( what the hell?) I would later find out that RJ did his best “Billy Dee from Mahoghany” speech and Dawn excused him for “HugGate”! I asked both of them if everything was cool and they both responded with a resounding “YES” (well, damn) and Dawn and I joined the rest of the team as we prepared to enjoy homecoming weekend as RJ watched like a proud father! <we did great, ya boy has skills!>

8:00 —HomeComing Night

After watching Wayne win the homecoming game against Clark and still reveling in my step performance, RJ, Dawn, and I decided to go to the victory party at Club Drama!  We proceeded to Club Drama, where we ran into alot of new faces, some old ones, and “Dragon Lady” (yeah, she was there too) I was mixing and mingling, dancing some and then I saw her….Teresa from the “DMV”! As I approached her I could tell she was not happy. “Hey, remember me?” I said trying to be cool. “Yes, Khalil right?” Teresa quipped. “what are you doing here by yourself?” “Oh, Josh said he doesn’t like clubs so he told me to come alone.” (don’t worry, I’m thinking EXACTLY the same thing) Teresa continued,” but he sent “Box” with me to make sure that no one messed with me.” I looked around trying to see where this “planet sized” man may have been trying to hide! ( he was over by the bar, so I was safe for now!) “My last wish before Box catches me is to dance with the prettiest girl in here…YOU!” Teresa laughed and then said “sure.” As we made our way to the dance floor, I was extremely excited and nervous about what was about to happen! “T” (I’ll explain) took me by the hand and we danced and laughed and talked all night. I felt like I was in “Mos Def’s Ms. Fat Booty” video!! it was in that moment that I felt a presence over my shoulder (awww, damn..I thought) “Box” grabbed me by shoulder and said,”you again?”  Teresa grabbed “Box” and said “Leave him alone!” “We were just dancing!” “Josh told me to watch out for you….” “just leave me alone…” “Tell Joshua he can kiss my butt!” I stood there dumbfounded but oddly confident. “Box” said, ” I know two things: 1. Your life is OVER and 2. I’m going to be in sooo much trouble it’s not going to be funny!

   The next morning I woke up to a knock at the door. “Who is it?” I asked. “Teresa.” (Was I dreaming?) “Please open the door.” I opened the door to find Teresa standing there looking very sad. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Ummm, I just wanted to apologize about last night.” “You must really like me to stalk me like the CIA!!” Teresa laughed. Teresa came into the room and RJ looked at me as if I was crazy or had a death wish! “What?” “You know he’s going to be looking for you now, right?”  I know, but look at her. She needs help. I’m here to help her. RJ just smiled and shook his head slowly. “Do you, man.” RJ excused himself and went upstairs to Dawn’s room. Teresa and I sat and conversed for a good 2 hours about everything:life, music, love, movies, and school. I really was already falling for this girl (regardless of the risks) but our conversation just made it that much harder to forget about her! I knew imminent “death” was coming my way and I thought “what the hell?” Teresa eventually left and I planned to hit the cafe and then head to the Homecoming block party…….

Running The Halls: Chapters 3 & 4 ..

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Chapter 3: “Enter the Dragon”

“He–“ , I tried to say as the door swung open violently knocking over the box that was holding up the leftover CD’s yet to be put away, I saw her. “Vanessa Grayson,” R.J. would proclaim. “RayShawn Johnson”, Vanessa said very coldly. As she quickly shuttled herself into OUR room, behind her marched three other people, who I simply referred to as the “black-tourage”! Vanessa was every bit as privileged as R.J. had explained. She had an air about her that was that of a princess in her castle! As I closed the door, Vanessa looked at Dawn like she was Superman using his heat vision! R.J. then took it upon himself to ask the question that everyone was dying to ask. “What the heck are you doing in my room?,” R.J. proposed. “I’m just here to find out what exactly Ms. Rivera has been telling you about me.”  R.J. then said, “First of all, when you come into someone’s place unannounced you INTRODUCE yourself!” Vanessa would simply wave at me and say “Ms. Grayson”. She truly was an “ice queen” at our very first meeting. After we moved past the awkward stages of our meeting, RJ, Dawn, and I watched as Vanessa told the “black-tourage” to go upstairs and finish unpacking “her belongings” before they had to be back at the Grayson family compound in Decatur, Georgia. RJ never told me that Vanessa was sooo beautiful (he said she looked like Cole from “Martin” in a dress!) It was utterly ridiculous how GOOD she looked! (I imagined this would cause a tremendous amount of problems if I had voiced this at the present time) During our “short” conversation (it lasted 3 hours), Vanessa decided that it was in her “best interest” not to involve herself in any altercations the first week of orientation! So, as a group, we decided that Dawn’s side of the room could be whatever color and design she wanted and Vanessa’s side could be whatever she wanted it to be! After avoiding “Roommate-Gate”, Vanessa would make her leave in a huff, due to the fact that she ultimately did not get the opportunity to do things HER way!! RJ would coin the phrase, “the Grayson way”! RJ, Dawn, and I decided that we needed to “decompress” from the nights events, so we decided to drown our “sorrows” in more chicken and even more soda!! ( this would happen frequently during our freshman year, I definitely understand where the term “freshman 15” comes from!) It was during our “chicken-tervention” that I began to see RJ and Dawn’s relationship blossom. They started asking all those “in depth” questions that first dates ask, like, “how many boyfriends/girlfriends have you had, what’s your favorite color, television show, sports team, type of food, etc, etc, etc…it was during this line of questioning that I came to the realization that one, I was going to be the 3rd wheel in this group unless I found someone QUICK and 2nd the image of me with all of RJ leftover girls was evaporating right in front of my eyes!! (Damn you, New York!) Fresh off of our first incident with the “dragon”, not only was I tired, but extremely intrigued by what was in front of me! *PAUSE*

 After waking up too early to even remember, R.J. and I met up with the “Hatfields and McCoys” aka Dawn and Ms. Grayson in front of the Quad   as we headed to the Watkins United Chapel to begin the process that would make us “official” Wayne University students. (along with the other 400 incoming freshmen!)  In case you missed it, I go to an HBCU, which means “expect the unexpected”! No, seriously. I learned this lesson the hard way when first entering the Chapel to begin orientation, where I mistakenly stepped inside the “mystic orange square” that supposedly would determine if you would graduate from Wayne or not! (for some strange reason, I assumed studying and hard work would do that, not some funky old square in front of a chapel!) So, after I was almost thrown out of this square, R.J. and I found seats for the four of us. Vanessa and I were forced to sit next to each other since “Bonnie and Clyde” were now becoming the hottest ticket in town! (Arggh….this further distorted my plans of total future night club domination) It was here that the “4 Horsemen” would come into contact with Dean Soto. We patiently waited as Dean Soto marched to the podium bearing the insignia of Wayne University. As she started to speak, Dawn inched up closer in her seat (this was another relationship that would surprise me). Dean Soto would invite us into the fabulous world of Wayne. She told us that the next four years of our lives would help us determine where we wanted to go with our futures! She also explained that Wayne was the best school in the country and they were part of the “Black Ivy League”. It was at Wayne however, that we would get the insight, perspective, determination, and knowledge in order to move our society further and get this generation into the highest places and positions in government, science, education, and social/public policy. After we sat through the remainder of Dean Soto’s speech, I was pretty empowered (along with the other members of the incoming class). The first day of orientation was pretty uneventful. We sat through more lectures, got introduced to “The Gate” at SellMon College, which basically was like the Berlin Wall, until we got our “golden tickets” also known as our campus ID cards!

 

Chapter 4:“The Underground Railroad”/ “Hell Week”

           A FEW DAYS LATER

8:00 A.M. – Have you ever thought you were having déjà vu? Waking up at 8 has never felt so TERRIBLE! I’m starting to realize what the farmers in the MidWest go through: waking up EARLY, working ALL day, and starting it all over again every day! I say that because RJ and I had to be up at the crack of dawn (dawn starts at 8 in ATL)  due to the fact that we had gotten to the last few days of Orientation before we actually started classes , we had approached  what the upperclassmen called “HELL WEEK” ( which was only actually 2 days!) As we approached the “Centre” to what was our 2nd to last meeting, we saw Dawn at the front of the building looking kind of perplexed. I asked her what the problem was. She was holding a piece of paper given to her by one of the upperclassmen that had been milling around the Centre. “What is the Underground Railroad?” RJ and I looked at each other and laughed. “You don’t know what the Underground Railroad is?” RJ said. “I know what is it, but that’s not what they are talking about?”  I took the paper and read it, Wayne Orientation Committee presents “BLACK LIGHT: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD!” *wear comfortable clothes and freshman/ freshwoman ONLY!* I’m sitting there holding this paper and im immediately becoming concerned. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I’m not one for anything that involves the punishment of African Americans! (This is the part where RJ slapped me in the back of my head) After handing back the paper to Dawn, we found seats for what was actually a pretty interesting meeting. We found out that we would be receiving our official I.D. cards (this meant entrance into SellMon, YESS!) We also found out that we would be having “the official welcoming party” at any HBCU…A BLOCK PARTY!! (It wouldn’t be a black college without a party…trust me, I learned this the hard way)  After leaving our meeting, RJ, Dawn, and I decided that before we had to be back on campus we would make ourselves familiar with the city of Atlanta. Sidebar: Have you ever been to a NEW city and seen stuff that you would have NEVER seen at home?  Well, this happened to me on the MARTA heading to the Lennox Square Mall. I’m on the train, and like I’ve said previously I’m from CT., so  I don’t see too much “freaky” stuff that comes directly in front my face! However, on this particular ride, I saw about 4 dudes get on the train with FINGERWAVES and skinny jeans! (not that I have anything against men that actually do that but, I’m just saying!) So, we get off at the station and walked up to the street level. As soon as we exited, I could smell Southern BBQ among other different food as we crossed the street to the massive Lennox Square Mall. Once inside, I felt that I had been transported back to CT. (well, minus the fingerwaves and baby back ribs smell wafting through the air condition climate). Well, minus the smells, we enjoyed ourselves. We found all the stores every college student needs (Foot Locker , the pre-requisite hip hop clothing stores, and the Food Court) After our “mini-tour” was over, we headed back to campus to try and figure out what “THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD” was all about! (and believe me when I tell you, we definitely weren’t ready for this!) After, getting back in the dorm, RJ and I decided we were going to start asking questions in regards to this “Underground Railroad”. There must be a code at every college in Black America, because every time a freshman asks a question around here, the upperclassmen act like your looking to escape from SLAVERY!! Anyway, I left the questioning to RJ, partially due to the fact that he knew more upperclassmen than I did, hell, the only upperclassmen I knew wanted to KILL me! and he was getting more respect from random people, so I  let R.J. play detective! After he did his best ‘CSI: Atlanta’ impersonation, he came back with the scoop on what to expect. “nothing”, RJ said casually. “What do you mean ‘nothing’?”, I said puzzled. He would explain that none of the upperclassmen would speak because it was something that was an “unwritten rule” at Wayne that these “initiations” (if you will were to be kept secret) So, as we (Dawn, RJ, and I) sat and waited, we were left to wonder what was actually going to happen. And then it did.

After beating up on RJ in Madden 10,( 63-14, 22-10 respectively), we received a knock on the door. One of our Orientation guides, Cedrick was on the other side of the door. He told us to put on the blindfolds on that he was carrying. He proceeded to march us out of our dorm, to the field adjacent to the football stadium. It was here that we would begin the “Underground Railroad”! Ced told us to take off our blindfolds and we were shocked by what we saw! Every freshman from every school was standing at the far ends of each part of the field, it was here that we would learn more about the mystery of this event!  Ced was handed a bullhorn and then motioned for all of us to quiet down. Everybody eventually brought down the noise levels and Ced began to speak. “You are the future of our great institutions and in order to understand where you’ve come from….we present to you, “the Underground Railroad” Wait. I know what you’re thinking. Black School. Black People. Football field, full out party right? wROng. The Underground Railroad was a series of events amongst the freshman classes of each institution, to build camaraderie and a sense of unity. Ok, again I was kind of  struck by two things: 1. we had to do all of these events at 10 pm at night and 2. Where in the hell did ALL those fine Clark sisters come from? (lol) As, we were given a tshirt with our schools emblazoned on them, the orientation leaders began a chant,” I’ve got a feeling, I’ve got a feeling brothers , I’ve got a feeling, somebody’s trying to get at Wayne!!” we were asked to respond as if we had been in a Baptist church! (even some of the dudes who were openly gay were chanting, yelling, and screaming like they were about to play the Patriots in the SuperBowl) The winner of this “Underground Railroad” competition would be recognized at the HomeComing celebration that Fall!! So, ALOT was riding on us doing well! Let’s be clear about one thing, I’m not athletically gifted, I mean, I’ll do just fine in a pickup game of bball and at most physically changing events, but you won’t catch me on Sundays playing in MSG or on the turf at the Georgia Dome. I just tried to avoid getting hurt and seize an opening when I could. So, imagine if you will almost 1,000 college kids running around on a football field trying to outdo each other for the sake of recognition at schools that they hadn’t even attended a semester at! (don’t worry, I thought the same thing!) To make a loong story short, Wayne University’s freshman class will be recognized during the annual Homecoming weekend festivities!  Keep in mind, I was running behind RJ the whole night, so I consider it a win, win!! After we had gained our freedom via the “underground railroad” (which turned out to be a series of puzzles, mazes, physical competitions, and the “crown jewel”, a big game of football in a HUGE mudpit!)  RJ and I dragged ourselves back to the dorm, smelling like grass, dirt, sweat, and covered in mud! Just when I thought it was over, I remembered that the first day of classes was in 5 hours! Great and me being the genius that I am picked an 8 o’clock class! Argh!!! I’ll see ya’ll in the morning!

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