For those who know a good amount of my story—as told through memoir—about my struggle with drug addiction and the many things that secretly led me to drugs in the first place, this is how I believe it all began. This would be before the other excerpt about the sixth grade.
Fall of 1998—The 6ixth Grade
Middle school is an awkward, confusing time for everyone—especially coming out of the previous year’s one teacher per student structure and videos of our “changing” bodies. With all the pubescent videos and information taught within the school’s sex education, it doesn’t make much sense to punish a student for engaging in sexual activities on school ground—a student needs hands-on learning and practice, right? Not that I was getting any back then…
Besides the discovery of how disgusting our bodies truly are, along with the anomaly of how something can bleed for seven days and not die, the sixth grade also gave us a new sense of freedom. Instead of only having one or two teachers for an entire year, we had multiple and were given the responsibility to socialize while yo-yo-ing it up with the new Yomega “Sleeper,” or copy someone else’s homework in-between classes. (I still have a Kodak picture of my group and I hanging out in a high school hallway, with Owen copying my homework in the background.)
This new school year was the closest thing to the real world I’d experienced in the twelve or so years I’d been on this earth. My awareness to upcoming events came as a culture shock, forming an insidious shadow that would stick with me for a very long time. This was the year I’d become aware of the social hierarchy forming through a pathetic popularity contest.
I’d forgotten that our class was split up into two separate schools three years ago. Both halves had reunited on that first day of middle school, adding an extra sense of anxiety with the new but familiar faces. I tried to stick around the ones I had already known and considered friends. I’d later discover that these “friends” didn’t see it the way I had. It would be years later when I’d open my eyes wide enough to discover how blind I was to their fabricated friendship. Our parents had been good friends which somehow meant that we kids had to be friends. If our parents made a “play date” for us, while I genuinely looked forward to hanging out with a friend, it was a mere obligation for them.
We also had nothing in common either. But they had something I wanted: they were socializing constantly, and without any effort it seemed. At the time, I can’t explain what was going on with me. It was sort of like being lost in a crowd of people all leaving a show and you know your ride is leaving but you have no clue where they are.
I didn’t know what anxiety was, so feeling it only added to the overwhelming confusion that kept me in a mild panic, or fight-or-flight mode. With my mind shuffling numerous rapid thoughts and over-analyzing each one, focusing on a conversation in a group of my peers became something unknown and foreign, like I’d never been exposed to other kids my age. I could speak with a friend one-on-one with little issue, but if it was a girl, Hell no.
The arrival of puberty brought everyone who wasn’t already familiar with them, a basket full of new words and phrases. These would include: awkward, humiliation, body odor, bare, flat, and squeaky/cracked voice, among many others that would offend many. If things weren’t funny enough for the hidden audience that belonged to my reality tv show conspiracy, the weight of these fun new esteem killers weren’t the only gifts I’d received.
The puberty fairy had something special for me (and for a few others unknown to me, I assume).
Growing up, I spent a lot of time hanging out with the opposite sex. Back then, I wouldn’t have admitted it—only because my boyish mind wasn’t aware—that my best friends consisted of mainly girls. I don’t think anyone ever believed me when I spoke of the first girl in my life.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember her name, being that it was in Kindergarten, so for story sake, she will be Stacy. To be truthful, I don’t think we had ever spoken to each other before we’d made things official—as official as it could be for five-year-olds. Communication of our feelings for one another were expressed through eye contact, smiling, and sitting next to each other whenever possible. Until, that glorious day I will never forget.
Our mats were placed right beside each other during ‘Nap-Time,’ with a few inches of fire lane between us. After lying down, I felt Stacy’s delicate hand over mine, slowly bringing it closer to her. She held my hand in hers, fingers interlocking the youthful innocence of what love should be—an honest, wholesome bond defying anything that wishes it apart. Thus, the love between Stacy and I, revolting against the nonsensical laws of the fire lane forced upon all children, had aligned the stars of my mind. There, the love remained untouched throughout the hour of our slumber as she and I both awoke to the dawning of love.
The thrill and excitement of our rebellious love was too good to be true though and was short-lived. The world was not yet ready for such a love, so fate stepped in, stealing my Dad’s suburban. One morning, my Dad woke up to find our driveway empty, except for shattered shards of glass. That sent a scare through our growing family, even after welcoming my younger brother into this world.
My parents had already been looking around for a bigger house away from that neighborhood with its close proximity to an active railroad track. There lies a vague memory of being woken up in the dead of night by the howl of a train in the unseen distance pulling crate after crate in-and-out of the wild workings of a child’s imagination.
My parents never found the right house for us, so like everything one might wish to have in our world, they had to create it themselves by Thought Manifestation through the Law of Attraction—but mostly by hired builders, contractors, and days of hard paid labor.
As we waited for our house, we lived in the same suburban neighborhood we would be living in, but in a small community of identical grey condos. The community was broken up into many pods of either eight or twelve condos surrounding one or two tennis courts, and all were owned by a large faction with a strange fixation for tennis. The house was complete after a few months and right on time for me to start the first grade.
By the time school began, my Mom had already infiltrated the working system that secretly controlled the town we now live. By joining and becoming a member of the tennis club/team, she met the Queen Bees of L*****y, who ran the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and anything relative to children.
It was only a matter of my Mother stepping outside for her to meet someone new and become friends. She has that way about her, the type of natural energy that other women kill for—among her many friends, there were also some really jealous bitches. My Dad, on the other hand, has another kind of energy entirely. He’s the epitome of an introvert, while my Mom can be a serious extrovert at times. Both my brother and I grew up as both types, but in opposite phases—if my brother was going through a wild, social phase, you’d find me in my room, sulking or playing guitar, and vice verse. Today, I’m still classified as an INFP, but have the ability to turn on the extrovert within me. Thank you, alcohol!
I’d like to speak more about my intelligent, loving parents and the talented artist that is my younger-but-seemingly-older brother, but I really couldn’t without telling their own stories, which are not any of my business to tell, and because this is my story.
I have a feeling my Mom knew what she was doing by joining the tennis club; I’d never heard the word ‘tennis’ ever exit her mouth before. It was a clever move which really worked out since each one had two kids as well—the same ages!
They were a good group of women, who only wanted the best for their kids back then. By the time us kids were in a Hell of our own—middle school—we, or at least I, had been informed of a few lies, among the hundreds, that was the glue holding together the sinful adultery that went on behind closed Jaguar and Lexus doors. That’s all I can say. Their illegal and immoral ways have only strengthened with the city’s rapid growth, and continue to think they run things. Thankfully, my parents had a falling out with them and were banned from their coven-like circle. That isn’t to say that one of them had never succumb to their selfish ways. But that’s not for me to say.
However, in the beginning it was nothing but girls and parties. I didn’t have to be the ‘new kid’ and suffer that humiliation since my Mom pretty much already made friends for me. There were other boys I would hang with, but it was a particular group of girls that I enjoyed being with the most.
For the first few times, each of us honestly were obligated to be around each other while our parents did their thing—getting strangely louder but nicer with each hour. Obligated or not, the friendship between these girls and I came natural, rather than forced. Yes, most of the time I was the sole boy among five or six little ladies. Among our families and friends’ kids, there were two groups, the oldest and youngest. These two groups were separated by a good four-year difference in age.
Although I did enjoy having a fellow older male monkey by my side, I cannot recall ever complaining being the only guy. As I look back, I should’ve felt like the biggest pimp in the world. But that word was and would remain unknown to me for a few more years. Even if I knew the meaning of the word ‘pimp’ from some 90s MTV show, I would’ve never related it to my situation.
These girls became the sisters I never wanted, but in time, learned to love. I was a goofball back then. There weren’t any self-esteem issues, insecurities, or lack of confidence. Those words were unknown to me. I spoke my mind whenever and wherever, always comfortable with being myself. But once I entered the doors of my middle school beginning the sixth grade, the unexpected happened—Not only could I not speak my mind, I couldn’t even say a word to a girl without becoming the caricature of a sweaty, nervous wreck.
Each day I’d be followed by an invisible cat who’d nab my tongue if I had anything to say. I couldn’t even speak to the secret club I was in, consisting of my special girls. I would hang around the kids I know, especially a kid I had become pretty close with the previous year, when he was the new kid. But something tragic happened that year. It’s what I believe to be the first of many to come—since I can’t remember anything affecting me like this in my childhood.
Although I had experienced a good amount of physical trauma in the eleven or twelve years I’d been alive—immediate surgery on both eardrums after being born, a double hernia not too far behind that, skateboard injuries, and being on my six-foot-tall grandpa’s shoulders on a diving board and falling back, my head colliding with the coarse, aluminum, diving board.
Yes, the head injury could explain a lot, I’m aware. But none of that was as painful as the emotional trauma I’d experienced, finding out who my true friends were in the shittiest, humiliating way…