My Summer Rewind: An Ode to Self-Care 8- “#jetsgo”

I feel about #jetsgo the same way Chuck Noland, Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway, did about the angel wings on the FedEx package: it saved my life. It was a symbol of hope in a season where all I could do was wait.

In the summer of 2011, Timile, Cydney, and I called Buffalo home. We relocated two months earlier so Timile could be close to family as she underwent aggressive treatment for her cancer. We stayed in the extra bedroom in Timile’s grandmother’s apartment, a two-family home on the eastside, in which her aunt occupied the first floor. Our room was small and half the space was truncated by the triangular shape of the roof and our bed was a futon.

Timile had good and bad days and most of the childcare of Cyd fell on me. I changed most of the diapers, bathed, and put our newborn to sleep. To put Cydney to sleep was a chore. She only rested if I held her and paced around; the process took about 90 minutes. If I put her down too soon, she cried and I had to start all over, ducking the whole time so my head wouldn’t get hit by the low ceiling; I watched most of the NBA playoffs this way.

Eventually, I wised up and started to strap Cydney in a Baby Bjorn and bounced her around until she fell asleep while I washed and prepared bottles for the next day. When Timile and Cydney were asleep, I’d sit on the front stoop, and stare off out west, in which the only thing there was to look at was the four lights which read ECMC, an acronym for Eerie County Medical Center. I wondered how life would turn out for my brand-new family.

Once a day, I drove around the city and ended parked on the shoreline of Lake Eerie. My afternoon soundtrack consisted of Big K.R.I.T.’s ReturnOf4Eva, Wiz Khalifah’s Rolling Papers, and Pilot Talk 1 & 2 by Curren$y.

My drives came to an end once I got a job in Lancaster, NY, a town east of Buffalo’s city limits. My shift began at 3pm and ended at 11pm. The engine in Timile and my car blew out and I took two or three busses to work. My shift ended at 11pm, a time of night in which my fifteen-to-twenty minute drive became a two hour stop-and-wait for transfers.

One night, I waited for my final bus to arrive on the corner of Walden and Bailey Ave. As a spoiled New Yorker, to bide any time longer than 10 minutes for a bus-even at midnight-is painful. Twenty minutes into my hang about, the chord structure of a song I’d never heard before perked my ears. I looked at my phone and opened up Pandora to see what song this was and who made it. It was “#jetsgo,” the first single for Curren$y’s upcoming project, Weekend at Burnies.

The cover art spoke to me. Three jet planes flew upward and over a neon green silhouette of New Orleans’ skyline underneath a black backdrop. The planes looked as if they were headed towards a centered crosshair styled and truncated to create a C. I thought about the many nights I looked into Buffalo’s dark sky to ask God for a sign of hope, only for ECMC to stare back at me in the distance. I felt there was something to ascend to and one day, things would get better. I had direction and it was upward.

I walked two-mile distance home. I walked into the door to my family and proceeded with my nightly ritual. I held Cydney until she fell asleep and gave Timile some much-needed quality time and normalcy.

Our first and only summer as a family was a beautiful one. The car had a new engine a couple weeks later and I was able work from 9am-5pm and get a little overtime on Saturday mornings. My coworkers became my family and much-needed relief from a very hard time.

Our bed was yoga mats and couch cushions, laid on top of a twin-sized box spring; Cydney slept in a pack-and-play right next to us. Because of Timile’s cancer, she couldn’t always eat, so I’d buy food from four different places in hopes she could eat one of them; I’d eat the rest to not waste money. Some days, I went to work right after chemotherapy; on others, I left work and spent evenings at Roswell Park Cancer Center. It was hard to balance and manage this range of emotions at 25 years old…But we were happy.

As I wrote the previous paragraph, my mind replayed flashes of several memories of the summer of 2011. All I can do is reflect and think to myself, I’ve endured a lot. I welcome my often-uncomfortable sentiments when surfaced from the back of my mind. I acknowledge them, let myself feel whatever comes along with them, smile, and give myself a compliment. They are reminders of a life, person, and experience I take for granted because they’re in the past. Nonetheless, these times gave me purpose and made me into the man I am today.

In 2020, I’m sure it gets on everyone in my house’s nerves to hear me play #jetsgo or sit at the piano and play its opening chords ad nauseam. One day, Cydney will get older and tell her friends or husband “My dad used to play this song, “#jetsgo” all the time and I hated it as a kid.” I’m more than okay with it.

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