“Writing for Change: Frisco Fam Choppin It Up with Lots of Love”
Hitting sets of push-ups and body squats while movement-walking all along Frisco’s grand Embarcadero. After my fourth cycle, I give out a grunt, get up, and smile forward into the fourth dimension.
“Sup,” I say.
Our smiles meet, and we both melt. In the overcast drizzly San Fran Summer air, we know each other, but we do not know from where or when, some magical place called memory.
“Where I know you from?” She asks.
“Amor. All Amor,” I answer.
Two strangers’ smiles turn into laughter and joy, and we both hop a lil stomp and do a street shuffle that only we could know and share, yet we do not know each other because we can’t remember.
I recognize her first: “Burton High, yep, Burton.”
Together we take a step back and both exclaim a giant, “WHOA!”
We dance a street-dance and embrace with Amor Eterno.
We catch-up. We share.
While I was hitting my last set of push-ups, she says she knew she recognized me from somewhere.
“It’s your energy.”
We haven’t seen each other since 1999, 23 years ago. I was her 9th grade World Literature teacher. She was in my first class I ever taught on my own.
It is a blessing, a miracle to share Amor with a long-lost loved one.
She reminds me that her name is Leticia, which she pronounces with a varrio Spanish accent.
We smile and laugh loud.
We are on the San Fran Frisco streets, and she is literally a San Francisco Ambassador. After high school, for a long time, she says she lived all along the East Coast, New York, D.C., Baltimore.
“Coates,” I say, “I teach Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me. He’s from Baltimore.”
“I remember you,” she declares.
We first met back in 98 when I was in the teaching credential program after I graduated from Cal Berkeley.
“Leticia, you were part of the first class I ever taught. Shit, I don’t know if you know this, but I got booted out of Wilson High, which later became Burton High—OUR school. On purpose I chose to teach my first class at the school I got kicked out of a dozen years earlier. You were there. We were there together.”
“Ha Ha! I didn’t remember that.” She chuckles.
Woodrow Wilson High School, which was located in the South-east area of Frisco, was considered the most sick-with-it school in the City. Leticia was from H.P. before it became popularly known as Bayview-Hunter’s Point. It is forgotten radioactive land that is never highlighted in mainstream movies or postcards.
She tells me that she is also a sous-chef now, but because of Covid, things got rough for the restaurant industry.
“Are you still teaching?”
I tell her I’ve been teaching at City College now for the past 21 years.
“We used to kick it in your class.”
And I start to remember.
We are standing on the Embarcadero. In the background is the Bay Bridge and behind us is the Transamerica pyramid building. The world passes us by. The tourists see us and all of a sudden are smiling and feeling Frisco. Maca Lowride, my good Brother, is standing there listening to history.
“Do you remember we had to read All Quiet on the Western Front, the World War One novel?” I ask.
“I had to choose from the school’s book list, and that’s the one I chose about trench warfare during World War One. Erich Maria Remarque.”
“I kind of remember it.” She reminisces.
“Leticia, for the final project I had everyone, me included, act out the scene in the book where the main character has to carry his injured Loved One to the field hospital.” I am excited, intense on a public street.
“I remember,” she says and the smile smooths out. “While he’s carrying him, he’s talking to him and telling him he’s lucky cause now he’s gonna get good food and be able to sleep in a real bed, but when they finally get to the hospital, the doctors tell him that his Homey is dead.”
I grab Maca and pull him in, “Bro, I had everyone partner up and put their arms around each other and act out that scene while every one of them carry-walked their friend around the classroom.” I turn to Leticia. “It was your job to take care of each other no matter what.” I am looking inside her eyes. “I knew the streets, I knew war as a Marine, I understood we were all supposed to go to prison or get killed.”
“Yeah,” Leticia understands.
“I hoped for us to stay Reddy and to always help each other and give Amor.”
She smiles again, and I smile, too, and now Maca Lowride is laughing with us.
“My good Brother here has cancer, and it’s been a hard fight.” I tell her.
“My father recently died from cancer,” she shares and offers Amor. “The main thing you gotta do is change the way you eat. My father beat the cancer by eating less and eating only goodness, but he got too confident and started eating junk again. Then within two weeks, he died. The hospitals don’t care.”
I agree: “Our educational institutions don’t teach us even the most basic logic and love of drinking water and eating Amor.” It is a fact. “But you did it,” I say. “I see and feel it. Always in all ways all Amor Eterno.”
“Love,” she says. “It’s hella good to see you.” Her teeth shine.
“Let’s take a pic.” My teeth shine.
“Yeah,” Leticia puts her arm around me, and I put my arm around her.
We have flash-backed to 1999 and are carrying each other in the classroom. But we are no longer at Wilson/Burton High School.
We are now in our 2022 present-moment fourth dimension Embarcadero Street classroom. We are San Francisco Ambassadors of Amor.
We stay smiling 🙂