Craig and Scythe were not in the photos of our first national team practice because they weren’t at the practice. To give some background, Craig and Scythe were both taken away from their families because of their fathers' drug addictions. Craig had not seen his mother in 6 years when he was 13 years old. Scythe hadn’t seen his mother in nearly 3 years. Scythe had talked about meeting up with his brother since he found out he was on the national team a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t until the plane ride to new york that Craig turned to me, “hey yo lawrence, is alright if I spend the night with my mother?” I gulped. What mother? I wondered what new family history I was about to hear. Craig had not talked to his mother at all, he just said he was going to go find her. I looked at him, trying to gather some clue from his face as to what was going on. Craig had on a hard stare. But unlike the other stare that Craig used to wear so often, the one meant to intimidate, the gangsta stare, this one was different. The face and eyes were deathly still, the eyebrows lowered, the chin tucked—nothing materially different. I can only say that his gaze was not outward, but rather inward. I just looked back and without a moment’s thought, I said, yes Craig, of course. I tried to convey a tone of seriousness, that I understood what he was conveying about the importance of his search, but at the sametime, it was more a reaction, or a decision that came from somewhere lower in my body, not my head. And unlike any decsion I have ever made with my head, I harbored no anxiety or stress about it. C-white told me I was crazy,”Do you know what Brooklyn is like at night? Do you know Craig? Did you really let him go?” Craig spent two nights in New York with his mom and his sister. He said he had been told lies. His mom is very ill, but she was not on her deathbed. He had told me he worried he might find out she had passed, and in that case, he didn't know if he could go to South Africa. We asked Craig that he return around 6 am in the morning the day of our flight. The truth his we prefered he slept with us that night, but his mother got on the phone and insisted to Rob that she would get him up and send him on the way if he could please stay. Craig called me at 5:30 to say he was heading our way. I said, that’s fine, how long will it take. 45 minutes, he responded. You’ve got plenty of time, but go ahead and getting moving so we won’t have to rush and everything will be relaxed. Craig, I added, I am proud of you. I don’t know what right I had to say that. But for all he struggles with still, he has done some amazing things. He returned with the demeanor of an adult,; he seemed to have aged 10 years. He says he’d really like to move back to new york some day soon to live near his mom and his sister. Can you believe it, he said, all these years they’ve been lying to me, saying my mom didn’t want me, was too sick to have me around. Why do people want to do you like that?” He protested rhetorically in a calm, even tone and tranisitioned into the next subject.
Scythe’s reunion was less dramatic. Actually from my perspective it was a sneak attack. In the lobby of the hostel I saw Scythe talking to two older people, who looked, in the context of the hostel, like some older european travelers from hungary or austria that he had befriended. Then two peole came up from the basement. Scythe said, hey, this is my brother and my sister in law. I chatted them up for a while and asked how dinner went with Scythe. They said they were so exctied for him and happy he was doing so well for himself. I didn’t make the connection that the hungarian looking women with crippled knees was Scythe’s mother and that the man with her was her fiancee. Scythe, how come you didn’t introduce me when they where here? I complained to him. I though I did, he said back and smiled blankly. Scythe was a quesiton mark for this trip based on his attitude during the national tournament, but has been an absolute delight and ease to date. Being able to reconnect with his family with such a positive report of how he is doing has had no small part in his demeanor. He is the same Sycthe only relieved of the anger, paranoia, and tension I have to so strongly associated with his character, but which so obviously obfuscate rather than define his true self.
Here is Scythe the morning of our departure helping strangers load up their Van. The first grouped thanked his so geuinely that he hung around and helped other travelers load up their loads. He had time to do it too since he woke up at 6 and was packed and had eaten breakfast by 7, 3 and a half hourse before our shuttle was scheduled to come pick us up.