One of my favorite books of all time is The Alchemist. In this story a boy named Santiago left everything he knew behind in pursuit of his dreams. Along the way he gets robbed, had to deal with several setbacks, and wanted to give up many times. Some of the setbacks were beyond his control but some were because of choices he had made or something he had directly caused. His initial plan for reaching his goal was a direct path that didn’t take very long. But his actual path took years and years, with him having to endure and overcome obstacles again and again. I wish I had read that book as a kid, perhaps then I could have realized that staying with my dad and Kim was just one of life’s tests, just one stop on the path, and that while it was difficult it was only for a couple of years. Staying would have been the easiest and most direct path to what I wanted in life, but from the perspective of an angry sixteen-year-old me I had to leave.

I don’t remember what the final straw was, I just know that Kim and I got into it over something and I left. My first stop was my Aunt Josie’s house with my cousin Lil Floyd and Tonya, my Uncle Floyd (big Floyd) would ask me questions trying to get me to understand that as a kid, I had to jut deal with it, that they were probably doing what was best, and that I just didn’t understand. I was respectful and listened, but I was too hurt and angry for any of that to soak in. It was cool living with them, but I knew I would not stay. They never made me feel unwelcome, but my self-worth was shot, and I was afraid that if I stayed they too would feel like I was a burden. I just decided that I would just stay for a while and move on to someplace else.

Uncle Floyd was hilarious! He also had things he wanted us to do around the house that we thought were crazy but the way he talked to us was totally different than how Kim spoke to me, even when he was mad or if we messed up when he got on us it didn’t feel like we were unloved, just that we messed up. I have to take a moment to mention that it was nearly impossible for me to be mad at my uncle because he would always say the most ridiculous old school Mississippi stuff and we would laugh! He made us wash the rocks in the planting beds out front (yes WASH the rocks lmao!), we washed windows, and all kinds of yard work and of course the regular house stuff. I honestly had no problem doing any of it and me, Lil Floyd, and Tonya would usually crack jokes or just laugh at something he had said while we were working. I honestly wish I had written down some of his Floydisms. I just remember a few but whenever I think of him it feels like him bossing us around, silly words, laughter, and love. This one-time Tonya and I tried to do laundry on New Years day and he caught us and went off! We didn’t know it at the time but apparently it was bad luck to do laundry on the first day of the year I mean he was big mad and could not believe we would do such a thing. Our favorite quote from that day was “I can’t believe y’all up I here doing laundry! Niggahs in this house is crazy!!” To this day we call every New Years day to make sure that no one in our house does laundry, we laugh, and the story is retold again and again.

This was also when I met this guy Mike, well not really. I had met him back when I was like twelve or thirteen at the park, but I hadn’t seen him since then. Apparently, he had met my cousin Lil Floyd and they had become friends, so when he just walked in to his room I was like what are you doing here? We struck up a conversation and that was it, we were together. The crazy way my memory works I don’t remember our first-time having sex at all, even though he was my first time actually going all the way. I remember some of the times after but not the first. So crazy. He came into my life at a time when I was really vulnerable and I really wanting someone to care about me. I would hold onto the idea of him and us for a long time.

No one asked me to leave no one said I was a problem but I could feel it, I probably made it all up in my mind of course, but I had to go. Its crazy but I ended up back with my mom. She and the kids had moved a couple of times and now lived on the North Side on Walton Ave. about a half a block from Page ave. (the hood). They lived in a two-family flat. I was happy to see my sister and brother. They were happy too, but I could tell things had changed between us. I could tell that my sister had taken my spot and was running the house, I am sure she had a lot of resentment towards me, but she never said anything.

My mom had not changed, at all. She was actually worse. She was always drunk or high and she was rarely at the house. We had no phone and the water or electric was always getting cut off. The only positives were that I got to be with the kids. I got to stay in my same school, and Mike’s aunt lived down the street. I was beginning my senior year of high school, this was just another stop, I was almost done. My junior year of high school felt like it lasted four years, so much had happened in such a small amount of time. My life was all over the place. It seemed as if it was always in flux ever changing with no stability no structure. I was holding on to the idea of doing the best I could, to endure what I had to. The things my uncle told me never even crossed my mind. Even in the moments when I was struggling the worst the idea of staying with my dad was not even a consideration. Not even once did it cross my mind to go back. Staying with them would have been so much easier and would probably have changed the direction of my life entirely. The teenage skull is thick, and it is only through consistently being beaten over the head with knowledge is it possible for it to break the dense barrier.  unfortunately, I didn’t stick around long enough for the Floydisms to break through.

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