Passing by

If you’re reading this, awesome! This is the book I’ve always wanted to write but never got the chance. I’ve always wanted to write but never got the chance. I always wrote with a voice inside my head, always did, and it wasn’t until these last moments that I realized it was never my voice. It was always an English dude. Think Hugh Grant or Hugh Laurie. (coincidence, and props for a dope name) Pretty regal.  That inner voice sat well with me because it made the words I penned sound much more sophisticated. But alas, it ain’t, babe.

When I was growing up, that is, in my nascence, I was an adult. I really was. My parents emigrated here from some other place. Non-natives of this land, some may say. You could tell because we didn’t look like you do. My folks spoke a different language, their skin was a different color, they ate weird shit. But, here, in America, your parents’ parents’ parents’ spoke a different language, had different coloured colored skins, and ate weird shit too. America proudly gloated her oiled and nubile body to the rest of the planet about how she was the land of the free and home of the brave. Well, she was just young and just could not be rude to strangers and yall’z took that as an invite(-ations). Can’t a girl just be nice without those frothing mouths? Just take, take, take and loot, loot, loot of whence thou camest, when ye wanteth! Geezeth louiseth! I digress. (I love using that one, makes me feel as though literature is still alive and isn’t evolving.)

Back to my youth turned young manhood. (The only good album by those lion boys, imo. I forget their name as my fingers are a-flamin’.) My father was taken away. I was about 5 years old then and my baby brother was 2. So there we were, an immigrant family from the ice and snow with the midnight sun and the blah blah blah- sans a padre in a place that divided us all like genres in the library. You know, as in the one you’re probably thinking about closing down due to funding? The one where my only friends (that showed patience with my dyslexia, by never saying a word), babysat me before my mom could get off her second job to pick me up on the (hel)LA metro.

My poor mother, of whom spoke less than barely a lick of English, had to work two jobs while making sure I went to school to sire some semblance of a prime American education and having to ask my diabetic grandmother to watch my baby brother, David, and walk me to school and back (when she could remember things) ; as she woke before the sun at 5 in the flippin’ morning to get to her first job a little early to make an extra 5 dollars. For ten hours straight because people called her an illegal alien. She looked like mom to me. BTW, that’s just her first job. Her boss from her second job was a straight up creep, and I looked like a chubby Asian kid adorned with all the stereotypes we’re all secretly thinking. Myself included. It’s okay. (It’s the egg shells beneath us that drives those situation south, I forgive your colorblindness if you can first.) Anyway, that guy was a creep, and he paid my mom dirt. I always thought she was stupid for finding some way to smile. I’d have given him a solid gold bitch-slap if I was tall enough. But it’s okay, I’m the man o’ the house! Ladies and gentlemen don’t gotta pull that sheeet! As I wrote that down, I just realized I could have been less of a little bastard to her if I had known why she smiled to that creature. She was only 23 at the time.

I understood later, in my 20’s, why she had pushed me to go to school as relentlessly, tyrannically as she had. Some stereotypes are true, I’ll admit, she wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor, but that doesn’t stem from some innate sliver of elitism. It came from a place much darker than the sunshine she always showed me. If the flood were to happen, she’d push my up on that ark so fast I’d be into next Tuesday. Oh like I was Jack and she was Rose!! That’s funny! You’ll find out in a bit! See, she said she never went to school.

As she said that, I thought to myself, “oh, rub it in, you lucky… expl.” Only, I realized she had meant to say was that she wanted to go, as punctuated by that rare site of her watery eyes, but was denied the opportunity. I hardly ever saw her cry… but the noises in her room late at night behind the just behind the door, made sense. Right this moment, it clicked. I could’ve been less of a brat! …digress… Her father was a classic mysogynist of the old ways. She was the fifth daughter out of three girls and four boys. (My pops also came from a family of six and as I found out towards my late 20’s wasn’t blood related to them. Grams found him on the street when he was a wee lad, because she saw something in him. Don’t see his side of the famz at all, but that’s another tale.)   

We’re all practically estranged now except for an obligatory holiday phone call now and then, and that’s okay. We’d taken flight and foraged for ourselves, solo as cramped, caged and clever crows could only do in this country. No one seemed to know if there were better ways, if they had, I suppose the message got lost amidst the shouting. We all just sort of hatched into a nest, and had to hop outta the nest right away with open wings not fully comprehending what self doubt was yet. (They put a pamphlet on your windshield later!)

So, my mom’s pop’s isn’t my pappi because not only did he treat my mother like she was subhuman, he didn’t see why he should pay for her, then went ahead and paid for her younger brothers to go. He’s lucky because knowing my mom, she’d have forgiven him. Blood or not, it’s what you do and how you treat others that matters. I didn’t even know grade school cost money and that she had paid a price for me to learn the things I had.

As a lil’ bastard, I was the man o’ da house! What I learned in school in the US, I shared with mom. I didn’t realize she was silently learning too. She still smiled as she watched her lil’ man get a lil’ white washed. I don’t know what she thought as she witnessed me orbit farther and farther away from my native tongue. (I speak it with an accent, but the spark is still there, and I still look the part! but I who’m I kiddin’?) I was still a lil’ bastard because I still had this intemperate urge to huff and puff at the slightest agitation. And the slightest exaggeration can spill the kettle of love. The worst was when the government letters came in.

She couldn’t read a squiggle of that judicial jargon that came at her from the page like a thousand annoying mosquitoes. (She could barely read in her own language!) Of course the brat o’ the house came in. Quite reluctantly, I dictated and wrote her please for that bit of financial assistance for us to just get by. 5 years old, ungratefully in school and my first bed time stories were legal government documents I could barely read, let alone fathom, to ‘X’ an assload of boxes signifying how much money we didn’t have. (sometimes, how much money we’d never have, but at least my English is capable.) Baby brother, D, fast asleep beside us by the glow of the snow on the t.v. set.

I feel at this point I will interject with why I keep regarding myself as a lil’ what… sourpuss. Not only was being the man o’ the house at a tender 5 such a taxing duty, being a student wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either.

You get special treatment! Professional courtesy! …when you don’t look like everyone else. (Imagine going through one of the most impressionable stages of your childhood with the mantra, “why can’t I just be like everyone else…” You learn that when you get your first job foldin’ sandwiches and scoopin’ ice cream, forgetting how hungry you are.) And kids can be the cruelest little creatures of the entire animal kingdom. It’s because empathy isn’t something you just know how to use. (listen up yallz, take a knee Empathy is a weapon of mass inclusion. (Yeah yeah, I know.) -and it’s harnessed at birth. Look up from your apples and androids before you take another click, girls and boys! You see any jerk babies? Boom! Do u c ne?! 😀 Of course not. Prejudices are taught and learned. Only. I’m not the smartest cat, I admit it. I wiggled through highschool, and maybe had a semester of community college. (I studied what I wanted, I googled the junk I didn’t, learned that trick from some dude.) But the fact I learned that much, makes it time well spent in the institution. Of course, it must be told that I did not learn empathy simply by being bullied, teased, threatened, ridiculed and so forth; I finally learned what empathy was when the opportunity to lay down my own sweet vengeance (upon some fools that burned me sick!). I learned the hate dies with me, and only me.  

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