This past weekend my wife and I were in Baltimore for my friend’s wedding reception. Devin is one of the few people I still communicate with from undergrad. He was one of my groomsmen for our wedding. He and his wife did a destination wedding in Jamaica last December. Though it would have been a great time traveling to the Caribbean, Monica and I weren’t able to go. The stateside celebration was a great opportunity to come show our love and support for their new union.
Monica and I planned to arrive a little early to take a look at the campus; an impromptu reunion if you will. Although it was night, we could see drastic changes. The new student center, Engineering buildings, and off-campus housing made me a tad envious of the current students. But much of the old charm remained. Like Soper Library. I’m guessing it’s abandoned now, or at least being used for a different purpose. One of the peculiar features of this building was while the elevator buttons allowed you to select floors B-10, the building only had 4 floors. Soper Library is special because this is where Monica and I had our first “date” 15 years ago (wow; can’t believe I just typed that). And then there was the Refectory. Many a meal was had here, as well as heated debates on topics ranging from who had the better diss track?: Nas or Jay-Z, to Operation Iraqi Freedom. As we drove through campus, all these forgotten memories came rushing back. I constantly amazed at how the mind just stores these things for what seems like forever, only to recall them at a moments notice.
The reception was pleasant; glad to welcome Devin as his bride into the fellowship of the ring.
I want to introduce you to someone: his name is Clay Jenkinson. He’s the guy in the revolutionary attire participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Mr. Jenkinson is also, among many other things, historian who host a weekly syndicated public radio program called the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
Each week, Thomas Jefferson (Jenkinson) and his co-host talks about events and happenings from Jefferson’s life and time as one of The United States’ founding fathers. Later in the program, Jenkinson jumps out of character to discuss what he spoke about earlier, while in character. I have caught the program on a number of occasions, and I can’t help but laugh to myself whilst shaking my head.
I didn’t have high expectations for the show. I have listened to discourse on the weather in Paris while Jefferson visited, to the quality of that season’s tomatoes from the garden at Monticello. I will assume that the subject matter has been more substantial on other occasions, but I’ve not had the privilege of experiencing it. What I would like to point out is the manner in which the show sets itself up. The premise is a leisurely conversation with one of the greatest human beings ever- Thomas Jefferson. The 3rd President of the United States, Jefferson is portrayed as a warm, kind, fatherly, almost angelic being of the highest moral standard. The listeners are made to feel a sense of gratitude, awe, and wonder as you listen to the sage words of this infallible man. The Jenkinson gathers a great deal of pleasure portraying the Jefferson character. It comes across in the way he roars his oratory and monologues across the airways. This man is proud of his President, so much so that we went to great lengths to become Jefferson.
It makes me realize how powerful (and dangerous) it is to re-write history. Even the most staunch Jefferson supporters should blush at the way his legacy has been delicately preserved. But preservation has turned to cleansing, as not so endearing facts about his life are vehemently criticized.
Mr. Wiencek states that none of the information presented in his text is in fact new, but one wouldn’t know this based upon to reaction to his, and other less than flattering works about Jefferson. The problem is that over time, some have decided to dismiss the baser aspects of the man, whilst maintaining the Legend and Prestige. This is disingenuous at best, and at it’s worst nearly criminal. The goal of history is for present and future generations to look at events from the past, and learn from them what we can, in an attempt to repeat the good while being vigilant to prevent the bad. But if we are unwilling to acknowledge that which we are not proud of, can we say an honest attempt at self-reflection and learning has been made? I would like to see more movement in this direction.
As you can see, I never mastered the Vulcan Salute. Nevertheless, I do consider myself to be an alien. It’s the inspiration for this blog’s subtitle (also, I should disclose that iamanalien was already taken). What planet am I from? Why Earth of course. When I say alien, I mean in the sense of not fitting in.
Growing up, I used to think it was because I had a funny name (my parents are of Yoruba descent, from Nigeria). When I reached High school and College, I assumed something was wrong with me because I didn’t understand why the expectation was to memorize and regurgitate facts. On my first job, I shrunk a little each day as we wasted our energy on mindless tasks. But it all makes sense now.
I was not created to live this way; no one was. Somewhere along the line this became “normal” behavior. There is nothing “normal” about spending one’s time doing things they don’t want to do, with people they don’t like. Every person has a unique purpose. The challenge is finding out what that purpose is in one’s lifetime. The goal is obvious, yet the path escapes all but the few most determined individuals.
I selected AquaticBarefoot as the primary moniker because it’s an idea I have held in my mind for the better part of a decade. I’m not ready to speak in detail about it at this time, but this is my way of keeping that dream alive.
I’ve been debating for a while what the next step will be. That has been one of my Achilles heels; indecisiveness. But this morning I woke up, had my quiet time, connected with my wife, greeted my 4 year-old son, and headed out the door for a walk. It was around 8am on a Saturday morning. The time you don’t find many people leisurely strolling the streets but those who are deep in thought, or letting the dog out.
After a while walking, I parked on a bench outside of the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Courts building on City Hall Avenue in downtown Norfolk:
I’m originally from NYC, but have lived in Virginia for the past 9 years: 8 in Richmond, and one in Hampton Roads. Nothing can close to living in NYC, but Virginia has a lot to offer as well.
That’s it for now. The first step on a much needed journey has been taken.