The culmination of mind, matter, and souls

I give thanks everyday for people who have walked into my life, and help shape who I am today.

Like everyone, I am the accumulation of my foremothers and forefathers both genealogically and experientially. Their choices made through time and space have directly impacted my very existence.

When I leaf through old newspapers, civil and parochial documents, census enumerations, or military personnel material, I am immediately transformed and taken on a journey that I do not always expect. Thus when I read recently that my 5’6″, stout, 3rd great-grandfather, Fulgence ROMERO, suffered from postraumatic stress syndrome and a whole host of health issues like liver and rectal disease as a result of military service, but was a sober and hardworking man, I have no choice but to imagine myself in his shoes and to think: that was 5 generations before me, but his persistence and hope characterize everyone in my direct lineage since him.

I was the lucky one. I was reared in my grandparents’ house, which was my grandfather’s own grandparents’ house. Both my grandfather and grandmother were reared by their grandparents. Six generations of experiences and people in one house! I had no choice to know about Étienne-Pierre, aka Bébé, Fulgence’s son. In fact, Bébé lived on our same street and I vividly remember his old house, where my grandmother used to send me to go pick pecans in the yard.

I would not have ever known who Bébé was, nor anything about his temperament or physique, had I not grown up in that house. Similarly, I would have no idea about my many other ancestors all of whose DNA has crystallized in my bones, teeth, hair, and elsewhere.

Had it not been for growing up there, I would never have known about those in my family before me who worked indefatiguably to make their communities a better and more just place. How could I have known about my great-uncle Victor whose political platform was for the education of all children without respect to previous condition or social class? God knows I’d never have been able to learn about Raoul, who was subject to a great many controversies because he believed in the civil union of power brokers and the powerless, equal rights to immigrants and people of color, and to protection of his, our, their beautiful and lyrical language.

These are the people whose blood flows equally through my veins, and whose legacy I had no choice in knowing or even cherishing. And yet the selectively feeble-minded tell me: pick one Christophe! Pick one out of a sea of memories and shared mindset, autosomal, nuclear, and mitochondrial DNA!

In any case, I don’t do anything I do for recognition. It is my duty I had no choice in designing or choosing. It was all determined by forces beyond my control. When I cook dishes instinctively in a certain way, day, or season, I don’t think to do so (it just happens), and it also happens that I am walking in my family’s footsteps, and reconnecting with them through the aroma of fragrant feuilles des Lauriers in my beans, among other things. I don’t use a recipe, but through senses developed over the years, cultivated in that ancient dwelling, I can inhale then exhale and say: alon manjé. And suddenly I realize that all of those brave, dutiful, protective, and generous souls are speaking to the world through me.

Not a bad way to process this thing called life. There’s always room for improvement, but for now, I am quite content with this journey I’ve been on and can share with all you fine folks. Knowing thyself is half the battle. The rest happens naturally.


4 thoughts on “The culmination of mind, matter, and souls

  1. So love this, it is truly wonderful and descriptive on so many levels. Lots of us carry old memories that we have no idea what they mean and search daily for their origins. Well, I know that I do, and in my research have discovered why my dad loved red beans and rice, or loved to cook what he called “nannie’s creole stuff”. Thanks for all that you do and all that you share of yourself. I am so thankful to be your friend.

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