God works in mysterious ways and it’s never a good idea to try to figure out what God is up to because you’ll never find out. You just have to remain faithful that it’s all for a bigger reason. That divorce? For a reason. That girl who didn’t return the love when you slid her a note back in elementary school (her loss, not mine)? For a reason. Me going to Florida State University many moons ago? For a reason. I believe that I might’ve gained some insight into this over when I had a true homecoming experience (professionally and personally).

Let’s start in Jacksonville, where it was the first time I’ve been home in over 2 years or so. Getting to see the place I call home after all this time is a blessing. There’s so much growth happening in the city, however, this growth isn’t happening in my hood much to my dismay. I took my father to my old stomping grounds, since he wasn’t present while I lived in Duval. For him to better understand me as the man I am today, he had to see my environment. “Disheartened” is the word that came to mind when we drove around. I never realized how much of a food desert my area of town is. It’s a problem that can affect many generations if not addressed sooner rather than later. Driving around was one thing, but talking to my old neighbors was another. Hearing about the increase of gun violence and assaults hurt. Watching the now dilapidated buildings that I used to walk by back then falling apart hurt. I remember one night I was there I said that it was very quiet in the city and as soon as I said that, gun shots ringed out. “Streets still hot” is what my neighbor said. It wasn’t all gloom though because I was able to see a lot of friends which is always dope. Getting to connect with my friends from home always keeps me grounded because they remind me of who I was before the degrees and success. I appreciate them for respecting the past for what it was, the present for what it is, and the future for what it will be.

My time in Tallahassee was awesome! Shout out to the FSU Black Alumni Reunion for hosting great events and bringing so many beautiful black people together. As an undergrad, I recall thinking it would be cool to come back and enjoy the university from a different perspective. As an “oldhead” as they say. Needless to say, I did. I got lost quite a few times on the campus that changed me in a myriad of ways. There’s new buildings and walkways all over the place so I had a hard time picturing the campus that I used to walk all around back in the day. I’m in awe of the black excellence that came together for a weekend. Humbled that I was able to connect with so many dope ass alumni who are excelling in their respective arenas. One of my favorite parts about attending homecoming this year was the fact that it was just so gotdamn black. Dope Black alumni. The Moon (although I didn’t go so I could work on my dissertation). Top Flite. The new BSU house. Things felt different being back after so many years and reconnecting with all these wonderful Black ASF people I went to school with. Listen, we had henny and white grape juice just chilling in front of the BSU house!

When I look back, I’m just happy that I got to experience so much with so many people at FSU. I never would’ve thought that FSU would be such a catalyst for change in my life when I visited the campus after skipping school once in high school. To think, I would’ve never met my best friends, my bruhs, or really my wife if I never went to the home of garnet and gold. Thank you to everyone who made the weekend one to remember! Until next year! Vires, Artes, Mores.

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