MIA: Where’s Octavius?

 

His rhythmic gait tells a story of a misfit. His unmistakable side-by-side quasi wallow/swagger personifies and defines who he is and what’s he about: a harmless guy trying to get along in a world that may not have been so accommodating to him.

I’d know him anywhere because once you know him, well, he kinds of grows on you—and I’m okay with this sentiment towards him. In his own way, he’s become a welcomed and expected fixture and the neighborhood. And I guess, I wouldn’t have it any other way. His presence tells me in an odd way, that if he’s around, everything alright.

And how could you miss him? On any given day, he’s wearing his blinding white tee-shirt; his two sizes, too big jeans and worn sneakers that no longer has any emblem. Yet, his whole countenance is one of peace and contentment shown in his goofy like smile and his expressive beady eyes. While he hides behind lots of emotions, it’s quite clear that he’s purposeful and intentional.

First impressions could be misleading.

At first, I chalked up his daily walks to be a nervous condition.

“That boy know he could walk,” I heard a few neighbors remark.

“You could set your clock around him. Mark my word.”

“You think those walks amount to anything? I’ve seen him all around town just a walking and he’s happy as a lark.”

And it was true. He could be anywhere, anytime in any type of weather. Yet, what few people knew about him is that on most days, his walks consisted of getting to the bus. Why? Because, he had a bona fide job. No need to do a double take. He’s wearing a bright, bright neon yellow  jacket, the kind you see the county workers wearing when they’re working on roads.  He’s all smiles, but he’s serious about his mission: He’s going to work and proud of it too!

“Hey Octavius,” I’d say and wave enthusiastically.

“Hey, ah, Mz. Lad-ee,” he’d say with a smile spreading across his face.

“Need a ride?” I offer even though I was knew he was just going up the hill. I figure it would be one less day he’d have to walk.

“Sho, thanks, Mz. Lad-ee,” he’d respond gratefully and joyfully.

He’d thank me profusely and then he would be on his way/mission.

As much as I enjoyed him, I couldn’t help but to worry about his welfare. Octavius-bless his soul–would walk for hours alone. One thing I certain about my friend, he loved walking to the 24-hour Chevron for his Mountain Dew, be it blistering conditions or blistering hot. Yet, I always worried.

Finally, I had to say something to him.

“Be careful out there Octavius,” I’d say hoping he’d pick up on the concern I felt for him. While I thought our neighborhood was fairly safe, walking late at night, well, I couldn’t be sure what kind of chaos he might run into.

Would he become easy prey to those who would take advantage of him? Could he discern harm and/or be able to sidestep it and come out unscathed?

“What about his family?” I thought to myself many  times.

Could this be a clue they had complete confidence in Octavius despite his  “challenges?” Or was I limiting him with my own perceptions?

 

Last summer, Octavius simply disappeared.

“Hey, have you seen Octavius I remember asking my family members.

“Nope,” they said. “How long has he been gone?”

“Almost the whole summer,” I said sadly.

Inwardly, I couldn’t help but to look for my friend. Suddenly, I found myself missing and wishing for his daily/nightly walks. But more so, I wanted to know he was okay. Then one day as I was exiting my car, I heard his voice.

“Hey ah, Mz. Lad-ee.”

“Where have you been?” I asked excitedly.

“California,” he said proudly.

“What you know about California?” I teased him about my old stomping grounds.

“Got to know Callie real goud,” he said nodding his head. “I was training to drive big trucks all up and down Callie. I’m gonna get licensed.”

I couldn’t contain my array of emotions. “Well, I’m happy for you.”

Our lives turned back to normalcy. For a long while, Octavius returned to walking. And I returned to feeling that sense of security knowing he was still walking.

Maybe it was just as well to leave well enough alone.

Then it happened again. Octavius disappeared. This time, I had to know the reason. By now, he had become like a family member to me. The other day, I spotted a member of his family. Forget feeling bashful, this time I was on a mission.

“Excuse me, where’s Octavius?” I blurted out and waited anxiously for an answer.

“He moved to Florida.”

At that moment, I felt an array of emotions. That night, I remembered something profound Octavius said and I just cried. It was one of those times when my fears/concerns had gotten the best of me.

“Aren’t you scared? I asked trying to control my once again emotions.

“Scared? Nope. He’s been too good to me,” he said pointing towards the sky. “And I know, He’s got me.”

Not a day goes by when I don’t miss my friend. Yet, I hear his unmistakable voice and I hear that he’s unshakeable, confident and wise.

Yes, I know God’s got him and knowing that, I know my special friend is in good hands.

 

 

 

Stuff it: Get over yourself!

 

Maybe there is some truth in the old adage “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing Baby,” at least when it comes to stuff.

Stuff as in our own personal belongings. Don’t believe me?

Try in our personal or professional lives to get by one day without a computer, cell phone, or let’s say a car.

Truthfully and yes sadly, these days we are so accustomed to having our stuff, that we “think” we don’t know what do if, we for instance do not have our stuff.

As a writer, I cannot imagine being without my computer. But stuff happens.

I get up each morning with the expectation that my trusty computer is going to work.  And I have major ATTITUDE when it doesn’t.

“It’s only a few years old,” I hearing myself whining to the computer technician.

He will patiently explain the causes which is like speaking Chinese. In my mind and my world, I don’t care about explanations.

Ultimately, my main concern is “You can get it fixed when?”

One thing I don’t like is when my “stuff” breaks down, well, I’m not into sharing—I kind of learned that about myself about my stuff and other things—but that’s a whole different blog.

HATE It!

I so dislike being one someone else’s time clock when you have their stuff.

Then, I detest the thought, should something happens to their stuff, I’m responsible.

Bummer!

Yet, when our stuff breaks down, we all have to make some concessions.

Right now, I am at a work center, typing my head off.

I can stay as long as I want, yet, I feel a bit “under the gun” to get my writing blog done—for my own purposes—since I haven’t posted in a while.

Why?

Two reasons:  My personal life always take top priority and then as I said at the beginning of the blog: stuff happens.

But where there’s a will; there’s a way. I guess I am using the “way” now and for that I am grateful.

In these trials when our “comfort or comfortable life” gets temporarily interrupted, it forces us to become resourceful—at least that happens to me.

When my cell phone not working, it’ll force me to have real conversations—even with my family in the house.

Oftentimes, what occurs in my house is that we’re all texting one another to the point of exhaustion, instead of just stopping to talk.

Text: Mom, can I see you for a minute.

Response: Can it wait? I’m busy now!

Text: Not really. I have to talk to you about school information.

Response: What specifically?

Text: I received this e-mail from the school and it says……

Rewind: This is a conversation that requires real conversation. Most times, after so many texts—which may be a ploy in the first place—I will stop and address my family member in person.

And then I think to myself: Wow! How did we even survive before without cell phones? Or multiple cars? Or the convenience computers?

All these things makes me and those around me feel crippled if we don’t have access.

Recently, I read an article online where parents actually banned the use of technology devices and no television including games and Netflix for two whole weeks—that included the parents also participating in this “experiment.”

For the first few days, there was a lot of tension in the house. Naturally, the two children ages 11 and 15 were grumbling and feeling like their parents were being “unreasonable.”

However, the parents never wavered. They showed their children the meaning of other forms of entertainment such as reading, playing board games, walking the family dog, sitting down and having “uninterrupted” family conversations and engaging in family projects.

The mother said “It gave me an opportunity to really connect with my children on so-many levels instead of my children using their cellphones to avoid conversation or hiding behind the computer.”

And it made the family realize how they could function—and function—quite well without their stuff.

I sometimes feel out of sorts when my car is being repaired and then I think: “Okay, this is an opportunity for me to stay put and get some things done around the house or the fact, that I can still function because I can—and do-walk to the store.”

So, I asked friends to “check me” the next time I get to complaining about my stuff and really think about my blessings: I truly CAN function–with or without– my “perceived” stuff.

What was I thinking?