Go Straight Home
Now that I’ve moved to Arizona, the farthest distance from my hometown in Springfield Gardens, New York – a lot of stories and sayings come to me at moments. Often times, I take these mental gems as a message from my ancestors, intuition, trauma or societal brainwashing – either way, it presents an opportunity to dig deeper.
One message that has come to me continually as my pockets got lighter and my problems got heavier was “Go straight home.”
I was always the kid curious about what lived beyond the porch, the kid who valued the adventure of a detour and the spontaneity of an unexpected stop. My mother wanted no such thing.
As a youth, “go straight home” represented a usurpment of experience, the annihilation of improvisation and rigid decision-making. It meant that though there were new experiences to embark on, as evidenced by the neon signs, flashing lights and countless references I didn’t understand, that I was not privy to certain worlds. “Go straight home” felt like horse blinders when the world outside was bursting with possibilities.
“Go straight home” has since become a parable, a Pslam and a proverb – a phrase that has transmuted with me over a lifetime. Every time I think of it, it reflects a new meaning or message back to me to receive – in that way “Go straight home,” is an example of a living word.
For so long, I thought it was a flat, rigid word. I felt it was rooted in fear. I rebelled against “Go straight home” as it tried to trap me in the confines of mundanity . Like bell hooks, I’d rebelled in the “bosom of a fascist family. All my rebellions had been about small matters“. When I separated from them, I noticed my frustrations spoke to me differently.
As I start my 25th year, in a new city, in a new region, in my first home and doctoral program – “Go straight home” continues to manifest in nuanced ways.
It presents itself as a challenge to gluttony, especially when advertisements line the streets offering me microwaved satisfaction at a bargain.
It presents itself as an opportunity for me to go to a safe place, defy functional fixedness and innovate something of my own design. “Go straight home” is collecting new inspiration on the sidewalks and using familiar tools to conjure new beginnings in safe places.
It also creates dynamic moments to think about, and contextualize “home” as a place, an embodied feeling and a symbol.
Home didn’t only represent my space in Tempe, Arizona where I resided. I felt at “home” in safe (divine) places where the tallest walls were loyalty, insulated with sacred safety, sealed with requited love and understanding. My home was in me, in true love, in connections – most importantly, it was in safety.
“Going straight home” wasn’t as much of a “boring thing” as it was a peaceful experience. As I rode home I pondered the immense blessing of having the opportunity to go straight home – to not be sidetracked by disaster or an unexpected call. “Going straight home” meant I’ve prepared sufficiently for a peaceful day and have been divinely kept in world asphyxiated by ever-expansive awareness of cruelty. It evokes feelings of gratitude to go towards feelings of peace faithfully, without stop.
Going straight home has been an essential piece of generational wisdom as adults with youths navigated challenging neighborhoods or contexts. In my neighborhood, it’s uttered to protect loved ones from the trouble brought to our street by those meant to protect us. “Going straight home” saved me from the stray bullet that hit Kevin. Going straight home meant I missed the fights after middle school in “the brawl-ridden” district of NYC. Though, first, it made me feel constricted, I began to see “go straight home” as a product discerning reality not bowing to fear or succumbing to delusions.
Going straight home continues to evolve as an axiom. The lessons are numerous but the one that’s rises to the surface now is: Don’t make stops on the way to safety.
It reminds me that I am sacred and worth protecting. It helps me embrace the celestial wisdom that no stop on the journey to safety is worth risking spiritual or bodily harm.