One of the guys who was ‘Lookin for Me’, well, his name is Raymond. We met freshman year of highschool and clicked immediately. He was tall and skinny and goofy with a cute smile. When he found my info on the internet and gave me a call last week I was happy to hear from him.
I am so glad we were able to chat a bit. His clique often hung out with my clique. (I hate using that word in reference to myself and my friends, it sounds so exclusive and we were NOT like that at all, but it gives a good idea of how we rolled.)
We couldn’t help but discuss the death of one of his crew, a guy I had known since middle school, Willie J. Willie was even my 7th grade boyfriend for six whole weeks. But he died a few years ago. Rumor is he died during a bad drug deal. No one knows for sure. All we know is that Willie started into drugs heavily while in highschool.
“There was a lot of shit going on when we were in school Tee.” Raymond said.
“You know, I must have been so self absorbed I had no idea.”
“You didn’t notice it when he just started looking crazy? He was on that shit back then.”
“I didn’t notice. And no one told me. I sometimes felt like my friends hid stuff from me. Like when BOTH of my bestfriends lost their virginity I didn’t find out until years later. Years! I still don’t know why they hid stuff from me.”
“There was a lot of shit going down but you, you were different. We all knew how sensitive you were. Man, we were all smoking weed in highschool, me, my boys and YOUR girls too. But we didn’t tell you because, you know how you were. We just didn’t want you to have to be involved in anything like that. We knew it was wrong and if some shit went down with a teacher or something we didn’t want you to have to take the wrap and get in trouble over some stupid shit.”
“What? I thought that time we all smoked out at the Metrorail, I thought that was ALL of our first time smoking. Why does everyone feel like they have to protect me all the time? Do I look that soft?”
“Tee, come on. You sensitive man and you always wanna do the right thing. We wasn’t gonna try change that. We just kept the dirty shit away from you, so you wouldn’t have to see that.”
There I was this hot highschool chick with my head in the clouds. I had created this fantasy world which consisted of being popular, talking on the phone with my friends and getting as many phone numbers from cute boys as I could. I had so much fun dreaming about being a celebrity and getting my hair done that I never noticed that all around me, kids my age were dealing with some grown up shit.
Drugs? Yeah right. No one I knew did drugs. Or so I thought. Sex? Not me and my girls. We’re too good for that. Or so I thought. Pregnancy? Sorry, it didn’t happen in Sweet Valley High, I surely thought it would never happen to anyone that I hung out with.
I wanted my life to be like those books. And I sorta managed to create that in my reality.
I always wanted to be like Elizabeth. She was smart, fun and nice to everyone she came across. She was level headed and always did the right thing. She was popular and had a bright future. It was easy to see that Jessica was the wild twin and that would get her into trouble sometimes. I didn’t want to get in trouble. I wanted to succeed in life.
If you study the main characters in those books we loved as young teens you will notice that the characters had the same traits. You were either an Elizabeth or a Jessica. Betty or Veronica. I chose Betty.
Sure, she was always one step behind Veronica in clothes, popularity and winning Archie’s heart, but she was sincere and smart and hard working and I believed that in the end Archie would wake up and see all that he was overlooking in the equally beautiful but understated Betty.
Elizabeth didn’t grow up in the projects like I did but that didn’t stop me from dreaming as big as she did. I didn’t see my surroundings as a barrier or a pit, I didn’t see them as anything but the backdrop to my success story. Because of these books and characters like Elizabeth I was able to see myself doing great things. And even though I had never met anyone who went to college, I knew that I was going. I knew that I was going to be somebody special.
And maybe, just maybe this literary fantasy world I lived in made me a bit naive. But it also gave me a vision for a better life. A life outside of inner city Miami. And an attitude that nothing could stop my flow. The propensity to believe I could change the world and the courage to go out and try to do it.