All my life, I have known that I don't fit in. There was a time when I wanted to fit in and wished that I was the same as everyone else, but a few pivotal moments in my life changed all that. Over the next few days, I am going to do a 4 part blog about the most memorable events in my life that influenced me to transition into being the way I am now... a complicated, counter-culture, reckless individual. I posted Part 1 yesterday, this is Part 2.
(I just found out my younger brother is gonna be deployed to Afghanistan within the next several months, my so I am pretty out of it right now. If my writing isn't as mind-blowingly awesome as it normal is, please bear with me.)
Part 2: The second shelter
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, when my mom left my dad we went to live in a battered women's shelter. My big sister didn't come initially, she stayed with some family members. The whole time we were in the shelter, we were hiding from my dad. He was an extremely well connected man, partially because he was a firefighter but mostly because he had made a name for himself on the streets. It wasn't long before my dad found out where we were. At that point, my mom quit her job and packed up my sister, my brother, and I and moved us all to a second battered women's shelter in Peoria, Illinois. We had never been to Peoria before, it is a small city that is about a 3 hour drive away from Chicago. This was the first time in my life that I experienced culture shock. The new shelter was huge, and there were women there from all over Illinois. And they were predominantly white. I was the only black kid in my age group in this shelter, there was only one other black family and both of the children in that family were much younger than me. My older sister has always been an extremely social person so she made friends with the other teens right away, bonding over music videos and Yo! MTV Raps. I was pretty lonely. I didn't have any of my toys, and the fact that I was a tomboy further hindered me from bonding with the other girls in my age group.
When I started the new school, the culture shock continued. In this class, they had already learned cursive. The teacher wrote on the chalkboard in cursive and we even got worksheets where all of the text was in cursive. I had no idea what the hell was going on. Had I remained in my advanced classes before coming to this school, I surely would have known cursive already. However, the time I spent at the school on the West side had slowed me down a bit, they were literally covering material that I'd learned the prior year. Now I was in Peoria, the only black kid in the class, and for the first time in my life I was being treated like the stupid kid in school. The shelter soon got me a tutor so that I could get up to speed on my curriculum. My life sort of began to suck. Everybody was doing their best to help me, but nobody noticed that my life had begun to revolve around me learning cursive. I spent the whole day struggling at school then spent my evenings going over worksheets, tracing the alphabet in cursive over and over. I was lonely and extremely unhappy.
One day, I was leaving our room to go to breakfast and I heard a boy say "What's the matter with you?" I turned around and said "Nothing." A slim, blonde haired, blue eyed boy stepped forward and said "If nothing is wrong with you then stop looking like something is wrong." I laughed. That began my friendship with Tommie. I don't remember where Tommie was from, he was from one of those Midwestern cities where they pronounce the word "soda" as "sodey" (I still don't get it.) He was a year older than me and was, without a doubt, the whitest person I had ever seen in my life. He was super pale and his hair was so blonde it was almost white. Tommie didn't seem to care about much. He got into trouble at the shelter a lot. We went to the same school, and he often got in trouble there, too. One day he inquired about who I eat lunch with, & I told him I ate alone because nobody wanted to be my friend. So Tommie started ditching class every once in a while just to hang out with me during my lunch period. I would see his friends whispering things to him about me, their eyes staring at me from over his shoulder while they leaned close to his ear to say whatever the hell they were saying. No matter what they said, Tommie never stopped being a friend. Since he was such a bad ass he quickly got a reputation for being "cool" and soon some of the kids who had whispered about me started trying to be my friend. I refused. I didn't trust them. The day his family left the shelter, I was really upset. At that point I'd learned cursive and was up to speed on the curriculum, so I had more free time. Instead of trying to make new friends, I started smuggling construction paper and pencils out of the activities room at the shelter & took up drawing. I soon discovered that time would melt away when I was making art. I decided it was a better idea to focus my energy on art than on people, because at least when everything is over and done with you still have a piece of art to show for the time you spent. As I type these words, I realize now that it might have been a bit odd for a kid to be thinking like that. LoL! I cite this moment as the origin of my "I don't give no f*ck attitude" that has been the cornerstone of my existence for years.
I'll be back with part 3 of this blog tomorrow. Oh... and I never stopped drawing, for the record. Here is what my drawing style looks like now:
I got skills right? LoL. Yeahhhh. Tune in tomorrow.
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