It is now 4 a.m. and I just woke up from a dream.
In my dream, it was eight years ago and I was walking through Cincinnati with my old friend Jessica. Now, the thing was, I knew the year was 2003, but I also knew that I had come from 2011. So she and I were talking, and we go into my girl Tammy’s clothing store, TrueBlue. (Note to Readers: TrueBlue is the Graffiti’d up spot you see sitting next to the back of Bogart’s in Corryville; we all used to hang out there every afternoon.)
So anyway, Jess and I are talking and we see Mr. Dibbs. We all chop it up for a minute. He leaves. Jess and I continue talking and I tell her, “Hey, this is gonna sound crazy, but did you know Dibbs is gonna end up taking over Daniel’s Pub, then move over to the Sub Gallery and start up a restaurant?”
She looks at me funny and very disbelievingly. “What are you talking about?”
“No, no, seriously. I’m from 2011. Trust me. It’s gonna be crazy. Dibbs is going to fall back on DJing and move into slanging food. It’s actually really awesome. Trust me, I’m from 2011. I know what’s going to happen.”
As we laugh about Dibbs’ menu names for his hot dog specials, I’m reveling in the idea that I get to share with her what the next eight years of the future hold. Instantly I feel a knot in my stomach, as I begin to really grasp the burden of this knowledge.
Then I look at Jess. And she’s still laughing. And I look around at everyone hanging out in the store. And they’re all so young and naïve. We’re all so stupid. We’re all just kids.
And then I look over at her and I tell her, “This place won’t be here much longer. “
And she stops laughing a little bit. She chuckles out a few remaining words:
“What?” The last bits of laughter seep out of her words.
“What are you talking about?”
“This place won’t be here much longer. Tammy’s leaving. She’s moving to Indiana.”
The knot in my stomach pulls tighter as if I’m watching those eight years in between us all come raging through like a freight train.
“Oooooh shit. That’s nothing! Dibbs …“
“I know I know — he buys a restaurant.”
“No, no! Fuck the restaurant. Dibbs has liver disease. He’s going to get really, really sick. He won’t have insurance. It’s going to be really shitty. You guys have to do something about it now. Tell him or something. Just do something now!”
I tell her this like she has the sole power to stop it that instant.
And she’s not laughing any more. And now she looks at me with her disbelieving eyes. Not that she doesn’t believe — more that she doesn’t want to believe me.
And then it all comes crashing down. I begin to realize it. And I let the names spill out of my mouth for her to realize as well. I lose our innocence together:
“BJ? Unseen? Gone”
“Bobby? From Top Cats? Gone”
“Top Cats? Gone.”
“Damon? SoWhat? From Columbus? Gone.”
“DJ Przm from Columbus? Gone.”
She doesn’t talk anymore.
“Skandal — he’s in Chemo right now. He’s doing good. I’m about to go visit him and Dibbs when I get back to 2011.”
Now the tears are forming on both our faces.
I can feel myself crying in my dream. That doesn’t happen often. So I wake up.
I wake up and it hits me even harder.
This isn’t a column about a Hip Hop scene. This isn’t even a scene. This is a family. It’s a set of memories that you share with people from every walk of life who you would’ve ever met. Some of us find our future partners and create families from these scenes. During really hard times, when one of us has no family to fall back on, it’s the people in the scene who take us in and put roofs over our heads. It’s the people in the scene who cook us breakfast. And we do the same in return. It’s unspoken. We look out for each other.
It doesn’t matter who the best producer is. It doesn’t matter who got on the radio. It doesn’t matter who’s name is the “biggest.” Trust me, you’ll never remember dumb shit like that. When you look back on it all, you remember the faces. The conversations. The adventures. The connections. The stories. You remember the creativity. The excitement of not giving a shit about anything except that moment with everyone.
It’s an indescribable moment of time; an indescribable group of people. We’ve all had our fights. But at the end of the day, we love each other. Our common interests bond us more than any petty squabble could ever tear us apart.
We lost a lot of amazing people this past decade, one of whom gave this column its title. We’ll lose more. We’ll gain more. Death is certain. Life is optional. This is the cycle God gives us. And really, it’s the greatest gift anyone could ever ask for. These memories last forever. Long live the scene. I love you.
Help Mr. Dibbs with his medical bills by donating through www.paypal.com (click “send money” to firstname.lastname@example.org.