I don’t really want to think about it too deeply but I have to write now, while the memories are fresh. This world is too big and too great and too full of good spirited people to settle for less. My dad told me to never join a gang, because then you share your gold til it’s none left. You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends, so choose wisely.
I don’t want this to come off antisocial but it is in a way. I love my gang of friends. I was born alone and I’ll die alone but by God I want my niggas there when they bury me. That said, I wonder what life would be if i would have flocked to another pack in my formative years.
I moved alot as a kid, so I developed a knack for new friendships. I was usually one of the more athletic kids in elementary school, so playing sports and kids games was common denominator enough for me to fit in, at Gale Academy or Oglesby in Chicago, and Boevers or Hamilton in Tulsa. I was accepted into a liberal, academically advanced magnet school in Tulsa and my family stopped moving, so I attended a school for more than two consecutive years for the first time since 2nd grade. Our freshman class held a little under 300 students but over the course of those four years, I rolled with the same kids, keeping in touch thru the summers, creating off season memories that kept us glued through the school year.
I didn’t drive until my second semester senior year, so I depended on my crew for rides up to a year before I bought my Ford Probe. If they didn’t pick me up I wasn’t going out. But they always picked me up, gas money or not. That builds a loyalty.
Because we lived in Tulsa, I couldn’t see the wackness engulfing us. We were treated with more respect from our peers and adults than loudmouth, vulgar, disrespectful and cocky little black kids get anywhere. In any big city in America, we were less than average to common at best. No new cars, but money to ride out . No sons of rich people, but all from good upbringing. Not extremely smart, though most finished college age. No one extremely coveted for athletics, though some played varsity sports. What separated us and what could sustain that group in any place was the spirit of the group and our closeness to one another. And just like the music we ingest in our formative years, the friends and influences become a part of us, shaping our psyche as we grow into adulthood, and so it was with me, at least into my early 20s.
Now I’m 33. I just went to Costa Rica and I met so many young kids from overseas it got me wondering why I didn’t even consider it after high school. I knew Europeans had great vacations but didn’t realize it’s pretty common for all kids to leave Europe and travel for up to a year after secondary school/high school. I imagine seeing a different side world at 17 and how it would have affected me, knowing the insights I’ve had since I began traveling abroad more regularly. They had no idea what they would do when they returned to their state appointed jobs back in Norway and Sweden and Iceland, but they didn’t care. This was the capping of one journey and the beginning of the next. And it’s quite debatable to how I’d be different if I did travel younger, or if I could even handle it, but the fact that I never even considered it, well that kind of let’s me know that I wasn’t bout shit back then. And since I can only recollect being about smoking weed with my crew, that let’s me know that WE weren’t about shit then.
I love my crew. I can’t let them go. But we didn’t leave our mark on the world when we were supposed to and now it’s too late. We Larry Holmes. Old flabby and sick, and not ready for the main event. I can try to shape their perspectives and ideas but we are grown men now set in our ways. Steel sharpens steel, but we aren’t sharp or we aren’t steel, because nobodies the knife yet. I want to be the knife. But I’ll need to get sharp first. Forever working on me. Self determination.
Cheers to the European kids putting themselves on the grinder early and sending my thoughts this way.