Friday, August 29, 2008

Grateful to be hitting 30 (2)

Into every life there’s a bit of calamity that must fall. The reason being is that if we don’t know stress and unhappiness, well then we won’t realize when we’re getting the goods. It doesn’t matter what period of your life you’re in, this applies for all of it. When you’re little, when you’re a kid, when you hit puberty and then when you’re an adult. There’s always some adversity in your life, big or small, and that’s what helps you continue to become the person you’re supposed to be.

Course that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt….


Tenth grade was amusing. It’s the year where a lot of things changed for me. I wasn’t as much of a pudge but in my own eyes of course. I had made more friends that were seniors and some that were my own age.

While the seniors were fun, my memory of them is hazy at best, they all had pirate nicknames that tickled me a bit and were overall wonderful people. Out of all of them there was one that was with me for years until we couldn’t be in contact anymore. His name was Moshe Seymour.

Named after a famous general Moshe was a total stoner. He was taller than I was, so I’d put him at 5’11 at the time, black, dreadlocks, devil may care smile and lanky. His taste in music, movies and food was completely eclectic. He would listen to Steely Dan one instant and then jam out to Led Zeppelin the next. Watch the Dukes of Hazzard and then be enthralled in the Matrix and want to talk about all of the spiritual influences that were tied into it.

The guy was a renaissance man and we were great friends. During his senior year I was a junior and we went to his prom. We took in bottle of vodka with us and got lit watching people do the electric slide over and over again like it was going out of style (I wish it would already).

But we’re still talking about my sophomore year so I won’t jump around. There are two stories that deal with Moshe.

The first was the first time that I cut class with TC, the little crew of seniors that seem to enjoy having me around, like I was their mascot. This also happened to be the day of Brandon Lee’s The Crow theatrical debut. We were all geeks and wanted to see the movie. We had heard what happened to Brandon during the making, we’d all read the comic book it was based from (Yes, it’s a comie.. James O’Barr, go get it) and just overall had the hankering to see it.

We had used most of the day to do other things. This was Miami and movies didn’t start showing at that time until after like 3 for some reason. So we had a whole day to kill before we could book it.

We were at one of the local malls, the other one was about a thirty minute drive away from us. We’re looking at show times and the first showing of the Crow isn’t until 5 pm. It’s like 2:45 when we read this. Obviously we don’t want to be hanging around that late. So we go to the nearest phone booth and ask the other theater what time their first showing is, it’s at 3:05.

Our only mode of transportation was an older van. It only had one seat in the back and the rest of it was set up for transportation of materials. So there’s about nine of us and only five can have an actual seat. So we all pack into the van and tear off into the day.

We got there in ten minutes. I don’t need to tell you just HOW fast we were going. We got there with enough time to play some arcade games. It was the scariest and most fun I’ve ever had.

The second story that I’ve got with Moshe isn’t anywhere near as fun.

During my sophomore year I fell in love. At least I thought I did at the time, with a girl named Sue. Now there’s more back story to how and why I picked Sue but I’ll leave that for another time. Right now what you need to know for sure is that Sue and I, after some ups and downs, clicked. We were both drama geeks, enjoyed the same writers and overall had a good time together. I was doing some drinking at the time and having a bad time of it at home.

I was the only man in a family with eight women. They all loved me in their own way but also tortured me in their own way as well. My mother and I never saw eye to eye.

This particular year we had already had some serious fights that had lead to electrical chords and broom sticks being used on me for punishment. I’m a tall guy and my mother felt that she no longer had the physical strength to put me in my place with just her hands. So she resorted to other means.

That day that we saw the Crow I got home late. I had been getting home late for various reasons before, school drama, hanging out with friends or whatever else I could think of to have some freedom.

My mom had gotten home before I did from watching my movie and she was waiting for me when I came in. Sue is Cuban. Many Cuban families celebrate a girl’s fifteenth birthday with a huge party, much like the American Sweet 16. It’s a gala event and she and had been dating for a while and my mother knew it.

Her punishment to me? Grounding me from going to my girl’s party.

I have to admit that I had a touch of Emo in me when I was in school because my reaction was to try and kill myself, literally. I took some medicines from the cabinet, downed it with a two liter of Coke while my mom and grandma were grocery shopping and laid down waiting for sweet bliss to just take me away.

Two hours later I woke up. My mother’s car was idling in the driveway, they were back. I got up to help bring food in. During my second run from the car to the house I collapsed. My knees finally gave way. I knew that I wasn’t doing hot, I had looked in the mirror and I was pale and sweaty. Whatever I had taken was doing the job, it just needed time.

My grandmother knelt down to help me and my mom gently pushed her aside.

“Leave him be. If you’re trying to kill yourself make sure you do it right, I don’t want to take care of a vegetable for the rest of my life.” Was all she said and continued on her way.

I went to school the next day, somehow I didn’t die, and I found Moshe. He took one look at me and knew what I had done. He took my arm and wrapped it around himself and took my shuffling husk to the Yearbook room where they also had a private office. He set up three chairs, put his jacket down and told me to stay there. He went and got Sue and Mick from wherever they were and told them what was going on. He cast on weary eye at me and said, “I have to do some things. I’ll be back to check up on you. Don’t leave.”

The next three days those three people held vigil over me during school. I didn’t go to class, it didn’t matter, I had an in and the teachers turned a blind eye. Sue would watch over me for some of it, then Moshe would come in, I’d talk him into dragging me outside to smoke a cigarette and talk for a while and Mick would be teaching the whole time in the classroom, one spoken word away from me in case I needed something.

I don’t talk to any of them anymore, life’s funny that way when you think you’ve made life long friends until something in life changes that perspective. Sue and I went our separate ways, never to speak to each other again it seems, Mick is in Florida doing whatever Mick does in Florida and Moshe lost his life being the carefree guy that he’d always been.

Still, those three made sure that I would be here for this birthday. They made sure that I understood what it was to live to make sure another survived. They probably won’t ever read this but I wanted to thank them for making sure that I realized that life was to be enjoyed, not suffered.

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