Sex, Drugs, and Graduation

By Lee Espinoza

1

Introduction
For the past 5 or so years I have wanted to write a book and inspire the youth. I believe that during the teenage years a lot of decisions are made that have an effect on the outcome of that person’s entire life. I also believe that many teens, including myself at that age, do not understand the life long effect a bad choice may have. Hopefully my words will reach a few of you. For the first part of this book I will describe my actions, thoughts, and feelings during my juvenile years. It may seem like I am glorifying some events or was proud when maybe at times I should not have been, but the truth is I am telling each situation with the thoughts I had at the time that they took place. In the second part of the book I will describe how my life may have been different if I had made other choices. Finally, I will explain how I have dealt with the obstacles life has thrown me. My goal is that by reading my personal account you will be able to make good choices in your life and learn not to repeat either your or my mistakes.

2

My Youth
It is the first day of Junior High School and the year is 1991. This is the first time in my life that I realize that cliques in schools are divided by race, class, and of course the jocks and the non-jocks. I am in a weird situation as I excel in basketball, football, baseball, and am enrolled in honors classes in both English and Math. This alone means that not only do I have to be down and act bad, but that I can’t be the smart kid in class, unless of course I want to be made fun of and not be popular. I think that smart kids can only be so popular and that isn't the image I want. This year I am introduced to pot and take my first hit of the chronic. I don’t believe this was a tuff thing to do because I don’t feel high or tuff. I don’t even know why I did it. Like the cliché goes, “It seemed like the thing to do”. There is so much pressure this year. Pressure to be popular, pressure to talk to the young ladies, and pressure to be on the “A” team in all sports. I start ironing my clothes and caring about how I look when I leave my house in the morning. I need to look good so I can get a girl. After all, I hear it’s time I start learning about girls, making out, and trying to round the bases. This is also the first year that I ditch class. There is no special reason; my buddy and I just decide that we don’t want to go to school. We are so nervous walking to my house that we take back roads and even walk in a ditch because we think that either someone that we know is going to see us, or the police will see us and stop to ask us why we aren’t in school. I am also paranoid thinking my father is going to find out. I feel a sense of wicked triumph when he doesn't. I also go to parties where there is drinking and drugs, but I say no to both. Well, I did have a couple drinks but not enough to get a buzz. I see some of the “stoner” kids rolling up some weed and I just think to myself that is something I will never do regularly. They seem like real losers to me. The parties aren't too wild. A bunch of us gather at a girl’s house and hang out

3

in her basement. Her parents are usually gone every weekend so we have the whole house to ourselves. I don't have a girlfriend but I am head over heels in love with this girl named Stephanie. I can’t believe how much I love this girl. I get butterflies in my stomach every time she is in my presence or when I just think about her. She is always at the parties but I do not know how to approach her or let her know how I feel. It also would be pretty embarrassing if while I am confessing my feelings for her she cracks up laughing. I am a cool guy and have always been well liked; however, I am not very smooth when it comes to picking up women. Party after party, I never build up the courage to ever talk to her in that way. The really stupid thing is that she already knows that I like her because nothing is secret in seventh grade. Everyone knows I like her but I still play it off like I don’t. This year flies by and I pass all my classes even though I do get my first D on a report card. Although I have moments of mishap this year, I still remain somewhat focused on my overall goal to play professional baseball. In the summer I continue to excel in baseball and I make my biggest improvements over prior years. I am 13 years old and I go from Little League to Youth League. My play always stood out, but this year I am recognized as one of the top players in my age group. My team wins the championship after 22 wins and only 3 losses. At one of my games I see an older woman and I think she is beautiful. I am standing in the batter's box and staring at her in the bleachers. She catches me and flashes a smile. I later find out that the she attends the games because her uncle is one the Youth League board members. We start to talk and become friends. Next thing I know she goes to all my games. I feel tons of pressure to act mature as I am barely 14 years old and she is 19 years old. As the ball field was the place to hang out, I would spend almost every night of the summer there even if my team didn’t play. One night a few of us guys were in the box keeping score along my 19 year old girl. The guys know something is up, as soon as it gets dark out they leave the two of us alone. 4

Immediately we start kissing and touching. This pretty much continues all summer long. We never have sex but do almost everything else. I think I love this girl and tell her many times. What a fool I am. Later I find out that she is doing the same thing with a couple of my friends. If I would have found out at the time it would have really bothered me, but thinking back on it now only makes me laugh. During my hot, sexless love affair with an older girl, I also get my first dabble in gang activity. I have a few friends who don't play baseball but are always at the fields and are some real hardheads. It is a smaller town so we aren’t like the gangs in LA., but we are classified as gang members because we hang out together. If one of us has a problem with someone, then we all have a problem with that someone. They are some pretty cool guys so I figure what the hell; why not hang out with them? I know that if I have any problems with anyone they have my back. Of course, being affiliated with a group like this also increases my popularity. Then again it’s not really important what I do, bad or good, because when I get older I’m going to play professional baseball. I am now in 8th grade and this is the first time I remember being really drunk. I have sipped on something before but have not been drunk like I got this year. I have a baseball friend who has a brother in high school who takes us with him to parties and gets us alcohol. Imagine how cool it is to be in 8th grade and going to high school parties. I have a mature body for my age so I am accepted by the high school kids. Plus, as I am a top notch athlete, many of them know me already. I still have not had sex, but I am back in love with the same girl that I was into in the 7th grade. I go back to thinking about her day and night. I am still not brave enough to tell her how I feel because of the fear of rejection. I'm also too busy trying to impress the older kids that I can drink and party. I’m still passing all of my classes even if only by the slimmest margins. I’m still involved in three sports even if at times my grades don’t allow me to be eligible to play in games. For instance, during basketball practice it appears we have a pretty good team. I work 5

hard in practice and have a good pre-season. Good enough for the coach to name me as the starting point guard. Things are going great until it’s about time to play in our first game and it turns out that I am failing honors English. I remain on the team but it isn't until the seventh game of the season that I finally get to play. I play well but I never get to start a game and never really get into it this year. So what though, I’m more popular than ever and I am still one of the top two players for my age in baseball. Baseball players make a lot of money, so why do I need to pass English? As for this summer of baseball, it may be one of the top two years for me. I am 14 and playing in a league of 14 and 15 year olds. I am one of the younger players but I’m still one of the top three players in the league. The other two are brothers and they are both on my team. Needless to say we had an outstanding record and again were league champions. The memory that stands out the most is a game that takes place during the yearly 4th of July tournament. It is one game before the championship and we are playing a Denver All-Star team. From the beginning they prove to be too much for us to handle as they gain an 8 run lead. The game seems to be over as we do not have a defensive answer to their scoring. All of the sudden we manage to keep them scoreless for a couple of innings and even manage to score a couple runs ourselves. It’s late at night now yet the bleachers are still filled with fans. The Youth League fields are the place to hang out for kids my age in the summer and a lot of my friends are here. At the bottom of the 6th inning they have a 2 run lead as we come to bat. The first two guys ground out and our tournament seems to be coming to an end with a 3rd place trophy. The next guy draws a walk and I am now on deck. This is an All-Star team so everyone is good but I know the next guy and I figure he is going to make the last out. He was on the team mainly for his defense and hasn’t had a hit in two games. The game gets really interesting when he sends the 0-2 pitch between the short stop and 3rd baseman for a single. That brings up yours truly with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd base. By the time I step in the batter's box the crowd is so loud I can barely 6

hear the umpire yell “play ball.” All the players are on their feet standing against the fence shaking it as if they were caged animals. Just as the pitcher steps on the mound the opposing coach calls timeout and walks to the mound. Immediately the crowd and the dugouts begin to silence back to a soft roar. The coach has a long discussion with his pitcher and decides to take him out and bring in a fresh pitcher to face me. I am standing off to the side of the batter's box while the new pitcher warms up. I am totally focused and I do not talk to anyone. He throws seven fast balls and appears to be in the zone and ready to end this game. He is now finished with his warm up pitches and ready to sit me down and move onto the championship. As I step into the box the subtle roar returns to shaking fences and bleacher stomping. I dig in and get ready for the first pitch, and the umpire yells “time limit.” This will be the last inning unless there is a tie. The pitcher begins his wind up and the first pitch is on its way. Time seems to stand still for a moment and the loud sounds of the stomping and shaking disappear. The ball seems to be coming in slow motion. The next thing I remember is looking towards the outfield lights, because that is where it was headed. The ball seems to disappear into the night and with my three-run homerun we win the game. By the time I am rounding 2nd base our opponents have cleared the field and I am on the field all alone. I am not much of a show off so I run the bases as if it were supposed to happen this way. I remain calm and barely smile, yet my insides are running wild. I have never felt this type of emotion before and this feeling is unbelievable. If you have ever experienced anything similar to this then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven’t, the best way I can describe it is to imagine that someone is running their fingers down your back softly and you get the chills. Now multiply that by a thousand. I step on home plate and immediately I’m mobbed by my teammates. It doesn’t stop there though as after I exit the dugout I am congratulated by each and every parent. The chills are still running through my body and they are like that for the rest of the night. Every single parent actually waited around in 7

line to shake my hand or congratulate me in person. I feel as if I have celebrity status. My father was there and witnessed the entire thing, so I know that he was feeling similar to how I was feeling. I didn’t sleep at all that night, and to this day when I relive the memory in my mind I get chills. The next year my life proceeds in a downward path. I change schools for athletic reasons. At my new school I am welcomed with open arms by many yet hated by a few others. The open arms are from the females, and the hate is from a few of the guys. They weren’t too fond of me because the females were so welcoming. I do better this year in school and am eligible for every basketball game. I don’t have an attendance problem. I build a good relationship with most of my teachers. I have a new girlfriend whom I get pregnant. Yes, you read that correctly; I’m in 9th grade and am expecting my first child. What a shock. But, hey, we will only have to struggle for a few years until I turn 18 years old and then I can play professional baseball. Notice I said "we" because I do have every intention of spending my life with her. But I still want to sleep with other women. I become very sexually active this year and try to have as many willing participants as possible. What my girlfriend doesn’t know won’t hurt her right? That’s what being a playa is all about. My sophomore year is a very busy year indeed. I don’t spend it playing sports. Football camp starts two weeks before school starts and that will cut into my party time. I’m also not busy playing basketball because I quit after the 3rd week because it doesn't allow me enough time to hang out. This leaves me more time for school right? Nah…I am dropped from all my classes for not showing up to any of them for two weeks. I get up every morning and go to school, at least to the parking lot, then I immediately leave and go get drunk or high. This year is not a complete loss as I agree to attend two classes a day, study hall and be a janitor assistant. My girlfriend and I welcome our daughter into the world and I proceed to get caught breaking into cars for which I receive one year of probation. It is a boring night and I am hanging 8

out with three guys that I normally don’t hang out with. We are sitting around another guy’s house that is a little older and we do not have any money to drink or a car to get anywhere. I’m not sure who comes up with the idea but the plan is to wait until about one in the morning and walk around to look for cars with unlocked doors and take anything of value from them. It doesn’t even feel real. It feels more like we are getting dressed in black so we can go play hide and seek in the dark. I don’t really want to do it but I don’t want these guys to think I’m a punk and I go along with it. We don’t take much at first, just a tent and other small items. What we are waiting for though is the big hit. It is a car right across the street from where we are staying and it has a nice CD player, an amplifier, and a pair of 12’s in the back. It’s now three in the morning and we have already done a lot of damage around the neighborhood and it’s time for the big score. We have this entire thing planned out. The first guy is going to run across the street and break the driver’s side window with a screw driver and then we are going to lay back for a few to see if the sound wakes anyone up. After 20 minutes we all agree that it is now safe to proceed with the theft. One guy runs up and opens the door, pops the hatch back so that the other guy and I can take out the subs in the box and remove them. While we are running across the street with the subs, he yanks out the CD player and amplifier. We return to the house and have the sense of achievement as if we had just pulled off a multi-million dollar heist. When we left the guy that lives in the house was the only person there. When we return there is a girl that I know there. I think nothing of it at the time but it later proves to be very important. I do not take any of the items for my own use as I was only doing it for fun. The guy whose house we are at takes the CD player. During a routine traffic stop the cop notices it in his backseat. The cop discovers that the CD player is stolen and not wanting to go down, the guy gives us up telling the cop that he bought the CD player from us not knowing it was stolen. The cop finds out that there was a girl there and brings her in for questioning. She knew everyone 9

who was there and names each of us. I deny it to the interrogator for as long as I could until he starts to tell me what happened play by play. I give in and finally admit I was there. For this I receive one year of probation, community service, and a nice fine. This doesn't really slow me down in my quest for fun. I continue to do the same things I did when I wasn’t on probation. I stay out all weekend, drink, and ditch class. Sometimes I ditch class to drink, get high, or both. On the weekends I go to my house right after school to get clothes, leave before my father gets off work, and don't return home until Sunday night. When I first start doing this my father is furious and calls all my friend's parents looking for me. When this doesn't work he finally gives up and accepts the situation. I still have to hear him yell at me and deal with him always being pissed off at me. This summer is no different than any other. I play baseball and have my best year ever. Baseball is slowly turning into the only positive thing in my life. I am 16 years old playing on a team of 18 year olds and I lead the team in batting average and wins as a pitcher. After practice sometimes I have to check in with my probation officer. This lady is a piece of work. She thinks I am the scum of the earth. She treats me like I have committed murder. I wonder if she knows how much I am loved in my athletic world. I wonder if she knows I am going to be a professional baseball player. I don’t think she knows and I don’t think she really cares. This is why I don’t feel like I need to attend our scheduled meetings. I don’t even call and tell her I am not going to be there. I don’t really get into too much trouble in the summer time because we have practice everyday. I don’t really go out much, and if I drink it’s only a couple of beers every now and again. Summertime for me was a totally different scene. I feel like a totally different person. During the summer months I am loved by many and feel like I am on my way to stardom. Just imagine, a few months ago I was being questioned by investigators for a breaking into cars.

10

Now baseball is over and there is 2 weeks left of summer until school starts. I figure I might as well have fun and I go back to hanging out with my friends. One night we are all hanging out at our friend Lauren’s house and his cousins are there from Las Cruces. We get drunk and they start talking to my friend Brian and I about their hometown. They tell us that we need to go there and check it out because there are a lot of fine women there. We both know this is drunken talk so we blow it off and say “Yeah, we’ll go.” A few more beers get pounded down and all of the sudden the trip that we are planning for next summer turns into a trip being made tomorrow. Brian and I are agreeing with it and this little joke turns very real. The night ends and we are supposed to meet them at Lauren's house at noon tomorrow and drive to Las Cruces. I stay at Brian’s house and early in the morning we go to my house. I knew my dad won’t be there because he is at the golf course. I grab a bag and load up as many clothes that will fit. We go to Brian's house and he does the same. We are both broke so he asks his girl for $200 and I ask my grandma for $200 and tell her I am going to go shopping for clothes. Everything is going very smoothly even though I will miss yet another appointment with my probation officer. Who cares? My conscious level at this period in my life is pretty low yet I still feel bad for what I am about to do. I leave my father a note in the mailbox explaining that I need a vacation and that I will be back in about a week. The four of us are now off on our adventure with a case of beer. It is about a 12 hour drive and we drink all the way. After about six days, my father manages to track me down. I really feel bad when I am talking to him yet to my surprise he is not mad. His anger is probably overshadowed by the fact that I am safe. After being there for another four days we return home just in time to start my Junior year. It is a short way into my 11th grade year that the neglect for my probation officer finally catches up with me. Yes sometimes I don’t show and other times when I do I may be drunk or high. I feel like I can talk my way out of any situation; however she is out to prove that she is in control of my life not me. She moves to have me put in a boy’s home. Around the same time my 11

mother moves back from Guam and rescues me. She makes a deal with the judge to move me out of state and have me attend weekly counseling sessions. If it wasn't for this move by my mother, I may still be in the legal system. The judge agrees to this arrangement even though my probation officer does not take to it kindly. Now that I am on my way out of state I will not have to deal with her anymore. She does make a point to tell me that I’ll never get out of the system and that I am going to end up in prison. Living in another state, I go from being out all weekend getting drunk and high to staying at home with my mother on Friday nights. A part of my restriction is that I have to be at home by 8pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends. This time in my life is no fun at all and I hate it very much. I’m 17 years old, why should I be at home? Shouldn’t I be going out and having fun? I really hate the group classes that I have to attend twice a week. I know I have done some bad things but the kids I attend with are really screwed up. This is the year I straightened out, but it isn’t without a couple mishaps. I manage to convince my mother to allow me to take a trip to my old town for a birthday party. Little does she know that I have plans of getting drunk and hanging out with old friends. I call her up about 10pm and ask her if I can just stay the night and promise her to stay indoors. Everything went south in more ways than one after about my tenth shot of Tequila. My friend Jason and I spoke of going to Texas. So into my step father’s car we jump and off to Texas we are. We stop downtown at a bank so he can get some money. A cop pulls up behind me while I’m parked and comes to the car to speak to me. He asks me to go back to his car and proceeds to give me a drinking ticket. Jason is next and he also gets one. The next event is strange; he then lets us drive away! Discouraged by our unfortunate luck but still determined to make it to Texas we get back on the highway and head south. Jason passes out in the passenger seat after traveling about 30 miles. I start to realize that this may not be the best idea. I decide that at the next rest stop I am 12

going to park and we will sleep off this dumb idea. The next stop does not come soon enough because I remember opening my eyes when the car is in the median and we are running over mile markers. I briefly lose control of the car but am able to pull it out of the median and onto the highway. Now on the highway, facing in the opposite direction, is when Jason wakes up. We get out and inspect the car and notice that back tire is flat. We change it, get ready to leave, and as Jason opens his door he makes an interesting discovery. The front passenger side tire is also flat! We are now in serious trouble because we only have one spare tire. Jason tells me that we only have to drive about 10 miles to the next town to where his cousin lives and we can crash there. He says in the morning we’ll get new tires which he will pay for. Now here we are driving on one rim and Jason has the music blasting, dancing away, without a care in the world. I’m nervous as hell looking all over for cops. All the looking around did nothing because we are now being pulled over for the second time! We both got our second drinking ticket for the night but this cop calls my mom. She has to come and pick us up and isn't very happy with me. We take Jason home the next day and needless to say my trips to my old town are eliminated. After this adventure I slow down for a while and I do everything I am supposed to do. I am in every night by curfew and I attend every one of my probation meetings and counseling sessions. It isn’t until the last week of school that I get into more trouble. I am caught ditching school and have been drinking. My mother contacts my counselor and tells him what is going on. I return home with a beer in my hand and my mother and stepfather are waiting for me. My parents are not there to talk to me, but they are there to drive me to detox. For those of you who do not know what detox is…it’s hell! I was admitted for seven days. In detox you have a room that you share with someone. The days start at 5am with a vitals check. They wake you up to make sure your heart is beating and you are breathing. This is followed by shower time and then the rest of the day is taken up by meetings. We talk about our lives and why we drink or do drugs. I learn a lot by going to the classes but I still hate being here. I am in here with lifelong 13

drug addicts and alcoholics. It is a horrible week. My friends are having fun the last few days of school hanging out, and I am waking up at 5am and going to classes all day long. Listening to people admit how they have wasted their whole lives on drugs and alcohol. I only received 1.5 credits for my sophomore year, so I really have my work cut out for me this year. I am told at the beginning of the year that I will not be able to graduate on time. This can not be. I can not stand another year of being in High School. I make a decision that whatever it takes I am going to finish school on time. To do so I have a full schedule the entire year, attend weekend college courses, and come into school an hour early to complete an independent study math course. I am no longer the triple threat in sports but I still do play baseball. It is my first year of high school baseball and I make the varsity team. My coach was so impressed with me that he has a notion, that if given the opportunity, I might be able to break the state record for batting average. It very well may have happened if it weren’t for the injury that I sustain in our second game. My elbow starts hurting and to ease the pain I start taking Ibuproferin like it's candy. I am off and on the rest of the season, but to this day I have never been able to throw a baseball like I had previous to that game. Needless to say I did not receive any scholarship offers to play anywhere, even though I had offers when I was only 16 years old. I go to Junior College the next year and leave my girlfriend behind. I make the baseball team as a walk-on even with a gimp arm. It is the worst year of my career. I go from being the star of the team to being the guy that never plays or never fully practices because of my injury. I am at every practice even though all I do is stretch and run with the team, play catch if my arm feels up to it, and shag balls during batting practice. I do well in school earning a 3.5GPA for the year and completing 21 credits when a full year is considered 12-15. I live this year like other years with a girlfriend. I act like I am single. I guess it is nice to have fun while I am away yet still have someone to go home to. She is a very good girl. She writes me frequently and is always

14

at home when I call. I know it’s wrong that I am up here messing around and she is home being faithful, but I am 18 years old and I tend to think more with the little head. The summer following my one year of Junior College is strange. My mother and I have a falling out and I end up living with my girlfriend and her parents. I don’t want to depend on anyone so instead of obeying my mothers wishes of leaving my girlfriend, I do the next best thing. I join the Army. I think the Army will help me break free from being codependent and help me feel more in control of my life. I spend three years in the US Army, none of which I regret. I make some great friends and become a man. The first year my girlfriend (same girl from back home) breaks up with me. She doesn’t do it because I am cheating on her. I am in the desert in California at the National Training Center when it happens. For the first week we have access to telephones so I call her a couple times. She promises to write me during the two weeks that we can not make calls. Everyday the mail truck comes I patiently wait; however her letters never come. I start to get worried and then my worry turns to fear. Along with the fear that she is cheating on me are the dreams I am having about her with other men. There is nothing like waking up in a tent in the middle of the desert with a dream about your girlfriend having sex with another guy. The minute we get back to camp and I am able to make a phone call I immediately call her. She has a strange tone in her voice and I sense that something isn’t right. She tells me that she is moving to Ohio and that she no longer feels the same about me. This is a horrible feeling and I want to quit the Army right now so I can fly home and make things better. Since the Army really isn’t the type of job you can quit that easy, I have to deal with it and deal with it alone. I am torn up about it but who am I to be sad about the situation. It’s not like I am a model boyfriend. I am hardly true and I get mad if she isn’t home when I call, as if the only thing in life she needs is to be there for me. She moves to Ohio and we talk occasionally.

15

I guess living on her own in a different state isn’t really working out because after three months she tells me that she is moving back. Damn, she wants to see me and I am almost completely over her. Some friends of mine are heading home for a four day weekend and I ride along. She drives there to meet me so we can spend the weekend together. The whole drive there I am nervous about seeing her because I do not want any feelings to come back. We meet at a gas station and the moment she gets out of her car my heart starts to pound. She looks amazing, even better than I remembered. We hold hands, laugh, and cuddle that night in bed. All the strength I have built up during the past three months is gone after one kiss. It isn’t long after this weekend that we are back together. It’s like we never missed a beat. We are back in love and I am using every four day weekend to visit her. On one of my many trips back home we conceive a child. Nine months later she gives birth to my son yet somewhere during her pregnancy she reverts back to the girl that doesn’t like me very much. I take a month off from the Army to spend with my girl and our newborn son. I know this is supposed to be a great time in my life and for the most part it is but my girl and I cannot stop fighting. I don’t think it is my fault as she seems easily irritated by every little thing I do. I don’t know if it is a part of post partum depression or what but nothing I do is right. The month passes by and I am back to my Army life. We are off and on for a year or so and I still take trips home to visit her and my son. After serving three years, I am honorably discharged from the Army in July of 2000. I move back home where I plan to attend college and make use of the GI Bill. My girlfriend and I are still together and our son is now 1 year old. I don’t know if we have been apart for too long, or if we never really knew each other because all we still do is fight. What happened to the loving, caring, loyal girl I remember having? She claims that she is upset because instead of living with her I move in with my cousin and an Army buddy. It is my only choice because I am working and going to school in a different town and do not have the income for us to live 16

together. During the week I work and go to school, on weekends I spend time with her and our son. On the weekends I am a faithful boyfriend. During the weekdays however I am still the same dog I was in college and the Army. I am working at UPS and going to school. About five months into the school year I find a better job, one that that will pay me enough for us to live together. We get an apartment together and from the start I can tell that it will never last. We live together for about three months and not one day is happy. After what seems like daily fights, I move in with my friends. This is a miserable time in my life because I still have feelings for her, but she isn’t returning any of my phone calls or text messages. I go from being with my family to living in a one bedroom apartment with five other guys. After I live with them for five months and sleep on a couch, I decide that it’s time to stop hoping that my girl is going to ask me to move back and finally get my own place. The first place I went to was a score. Turns out they are doing a promotional thing where the first ten people to qualify for an apartment got it for half price for two years. My ex and my son are now living in a new apartment and I am starting to spend a lot of time there. I never totally move in but I have a big bag of clothes that I take with me because I spend almost every night there anyway. Having my clothes in a bag proves to be very convenient as our relationship still has problems and from time to time I have to pack up quickly and go to my apartment. It is a very hectic lifestyle and one I would not wish to ever relive. We never really had sex that much because she isn’t a very sexual person. Yet with one kid under our belts, I do manage to get her pregnant again. We are still only off and on during her pregnancy and after our daughter is born I am still living in my own apartment. No matter what we try, it still never seems to work between us Let me back track a little bit and add that my girl and I always seem to fight on New Years Eve. The ironic thing is we had sex for the very first time on New Years Eve. So here we are again on New Years Eve and guess what happens? Yes we get into a fight. We don't have the type of fight where you argue in public or anything, but there is obvious tension. We are with 17

her friends are at her parent’s house and she isn’t paying any attention to me. The next day it is made yet again made official that we are done. Slowly over the next couple of months we start talking more. It is at this time that I am working two jobs and the only time I see my kids is every Saturday after I get off work. I drive there and take them out to eat. Along with the child support that I was giving her from my first job I was breaking her off an extra $100 a week so they can live a little better. Everything appears to be going well and in my mind we aren’t far away from being a couple again, or so I thought. What I was about to find out let me know that getting back together was so very far from reality. It was Saturday night and I am off to take my kids and their mother out for dinner. We eat at the Texas Roadhouse and from the looks of things we appear to be a very normal young family. After dinner we go to her place so I can hang out for a little while and help put my kids to sleep. As we walk in the house my son is on his mother’s cell phone talking to his Grandma. After he is finished he hands her phone to me because she is in the bathroom. I’m sitting on the couch holding her phone and for some reason I feel like looking at her text messages. I know she’s not doing anything but I just want to be sure. It isn’t long after I begin looking that my heart sinks. There are tons of messages from some guy. I only read a couple because that is all it takes to make me almost lose control. I get up and walk to the bathroom and try to remain calm. All I can think about is wanting to break something. I confront her about the messages and she looks at me with scared eyes. She says they were dating but aren’t anymore. I then ask if they had slept together and her answer is simply, “What do you think?” This is when I start to really lose it and start yelling like a lunatic. She tries to grab her phone from me as I attempt to read the rest of the messages. She threatens to call the cops on me and I decide I better leave. I speed away and shortly after tears start coming down my face. I call her mother because I guess I didn’t want to give my mother the satisfaction of being right about her. Her mother knew about what was going on but didn’t feel it was her place to get involved. I get back to my place and I 18

have a million things running through my head Shortly after my phone rings. It’s my girl so I assume she is calling me to apologize. What she says though is a bigger shock then I can ever expect. She calls to tell me that she is pregnant with his baby. I still remember that night like it was last night. I don’t sleep for one minute and there isn’t anything that anyone can say that will make a difference to me. There is no way this can possibly be happening to me. I was so blinded by my ego that if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. Her new baby is now one and she realizes that she made a mistake and wants to be with me. Out of no where she starts texting and calling me just to talk. I try to fight off feelings because I know that it won’t work. It’s hard to say no though when she calls and tells me she is going out to dinner to at a restaurant that is two blocks from my apartment. I can’t say no she has my kids with her. I know it is wrong but the first night after we have dinner she and the kids come back to my place. It’s getting late so I tell them they can stay over if they want. I realize once again that I am still very much in love with her and we have sex. She goes home the next day and just like that this one night affair turns into an everyday thing. I feel like what I am doing might not be the right thing but it really is great spending more time with my family. She is at my apartment everyday and when I get home she is waiting with a big hug and kiss. She is now open to things that before she wasn’t open to and our communication is the best it has been since we were in high school. After a couple months of things going well I decide that this is worth the chance and I am convinced that this time it will work. If I am going to try this again it is going to be on my terms. She agrees that we can live where I want to live and that she will never leave me or break my heart again. This means it’s time to start house hunting. We come across a very good deal but it is going to be six months until the house is built. I’m truly happy and am 100 percent sure that this time we will last forever. I move from my apartment to hers while our home is being built. Slowly our perfect days turn into mild fights but our plans remain the same. This is until the 19

night of her birthday. I stay home to watch the kids while she goes out with her friends. This girl doesn’t come home until the sun comes up and doesn’t answer my phone calls. She lies about where she was and to this day I don’t know what actually happened. The next day I move out and the next week I cancel the contract on our home. So now once again another attempt at love with this woman ends in my heart being broken. I do not have an apartment to go to and do not really want to go live with my friends so I move in with my mother. It is at this time that I sink into a deep depression and my smiles are few and far in between. Once again it seems as if overnight this woman went from loving me and being all about me to never wanting to see me again. I am not too angry with her anymore about leaving but I am and will always be angry because I told my son that we would always be together in the same house. I learned that I shouldn’t make promises that take more than my word to keep.

20

My Daughter
I want to take some time and talk about my oldest daughter. She is 11 yrs old and has a different mother than my other two children. I previously stated that I was a horrible teenage father and I’m sorry to say that she was the recipient of this bad parenting. When I moved in with my mom, she would come over and stay the weekends. At the time I was with the mother of my future kids. I thought maybe she was too immature, but she never really accepted my daughter. My daughter used to tell my mother all the time that she liked my girlfriend, but my girlfriend never embraced her. I wasn’t expecting her to be a mother to her, only a friend. At that time my daughter’s mother wasn’t married and she was very cool to me. I know that part of her was still hoping that we’d get back together, yet I knew in my heart that it was never going to happen. While I was gone for the one year in Junior College followed by the three in the Army, I wasn’t able to see her very often. I knew that what I was doing needed to be done if I ever wanted to give her a good life. While I was in the Army, my daughter’s mother got married. When I was back home on leave I met him and there didn’t seem to be any problems. Now out of the Army I wanted to regain a relationship with my first born. She was with me for one weekend and I went to take her home on a Sunday night. Her mother wasn’t at home yet and wasn’t answering her cell phone. It was getting late and she began to get sad because she felt like her mother forgot about her. I remember when they finally got home I walked her to the door and told her husband how upset my daughter was and that they should have called me. He didn’t say anything and I went on my way. On my way home I got a phone call from him and he was talking a lot of crap saying he wanted to kill me and this and that. Since then things have never been right. I have never really seen her since on a regular basis. I am in a very difficult situation because I love her very much and I want to be a part of her life, but at the same time I don’t want her to have to go through the things that I did growing up. My mother and father split when I was very young and

21

they would fight over me all the time. It was always like a competition about which one I loved the most. I pay child support and provide my daughter with insurance but I just don’t get to see her. I recently went to a lawyer and had her mother served with papers to secure my rights to see her. That worked for two weeks during Christmas of 2004. That is when I bought her a cell phone so that I could keep in contact with her. For the first couple of months it worked perfectly as I was receiving text messages from her 4 or 5 times a week. Then all of the sudden they stopped and no one was answering the cell phone.. I had no choice but to turn it off. Here it is a year later and I have seen her two times in this year. It’s not as easy to get court ordered visitation rights enforced as I think it should be. If I could I would attempt to get full custody of her but the courts aren’t very partial to allowing the fathers to take custody from the mother. My son loves her very much also and he asks me every once in a while if she can spend the night. I just have to tell him that I can’t get a hold of her. I think he likes having her around so much because she’s older and he can look up to her, unlike at his mothers house where he is the oldest one and he is such a grown up lil man. I am hoping that I can make something happen in 2006 which would allow me to do something in order to see her more.

22

The Present
I am currently 27 years old, own my home and live what might be considered a successful life. I see two of my kids every Friday night and talk to them at least four times a week. I am single. I haven’t had a girlfriend in a while and have no plans of it anytime soon. I want to put all my energy toward my children and my goals. Just last week I was served with paperwork because the mother of my two kids is trying to get more child support. I was extremely angry about it because I already work two jobs and not only do I give her child support, but I do extra things for them. I give her extra money if she’s struggling, I buy shampoo and soap for my kids, and if you go into her apartment now most of the kid’s furniture is from me. As I told you before, she has another child from a guy who to my knowledge has never even seen his own son. I buy him stuff and he comes with me every once in a while. It’s hard for me to not do for him like I do for my two kids, but I not financially able. I’m also not his father and I don’t want to be used. My mother gets upset with me when I take him because she said that my kids get less of me because some of my time is going to him. I agree with this but it’s still hard for me. He even calls me daddy. He’s barely talking so I don’t think he knows what “Daddy” means. I think he hears my kids say it and he assumes that’s my name. Nonetheless he calls me daddy and I love that little boy very much. If things work out where I get set financially I will do more for him. Right now I only get my kids one day a week and it would be unfair to them. My mother reminds me that she never accepted my daughter who was in my life before she was. Thus being said I still accept and love her lil boy. Now when I say that my goals are to get financially set to the point where I don’t have to work two jobs and only see them one day a week you see where my motivation comes from. I want to be able to attend all of my kids’ school and athletic events and not have to work like a dog and miss out on the best years of their lives. I don’t mind working my ass off now and I don’t care what obstacles

23

stand in my way. I will get to where I am going and be successful by the time they are in high school. I was hoping to find my way in 2006 and my writing this book may just be the stepping stone I need. I have many ideas and my mind is always going.

24

Looking Back
Does anyone in Junior High remember that I was cool and if they do how does it affect them today? I asked my best friend from way back the other day if he knew that I was in Honors English in 7th grade and he just laughed at me like I was crazy. I was trying to be strong and prove I wasn’t a punk by hanging out with the more influential people in school. Yet if I was truly strong I would have attended my classes and would have not worried about what people thought. Instead I would have cared about my future. If I was so set on being a professional baseball player why didn’t I use some of the time I spent going out to get drunk and do drugs to better my skills? Is all the pain that has come upon me a result of how I treated the mother of my two younger children? My mother was major reasons for me straightening out my life so if I would have been living with her through my bad years might I have been an Ivy League student? Or was that time in my life inevitable? My father is a great man but he wasn’t able to stop me from doing what I was doing. I think that time in my life has affected the type of relationship we have today. I often think about how not to repeat this cycle with my son. Why did it take me so many attempts to realize that the mother of my children wasn’t right for me? Every time that I attempted a relationship with that woman my life not only stopped moving forward it became stagnant after each of our many splits.

25

Looking Ahead
Of coarse hindsight is always 20/20 but I am not the first person to do these things or live this type of life. How would a person have gotten through to me during the critical times and made me realize what I was doing and where it would lead me? Even more so how do I get this across to you or to my kids so that none of you have to make the same mistakes I did to learn these lessons? I believe that each of us needs to live and learn for ourselves but you can learn by listening and believing what those before you experience. We tend to live our parents lives instead of learning from it. If we were able to learn even a little from their mistakes and move onto new and better lessons we could progress as a human race more rapidly. I’m sure that I can just coast through life and end up having a normal life. I make ok money now and own my own home but this is not good enough for me. I know I have more potential than that and if I were to settle I would not only be letting myself down but also my kids and of course you. We need to realize that there is more to life than a nice car with shiny rims. Not all of us can be professional athletes or rappers. I think everyday what my life could have been if I would have made some better choices. I might have been a doctor or a professional ball player with a mansion and cars galore. That is something I will never know. I do know one thing that would not be; I would not be writing this book attempting to reach you. I would not be sharing my inner most thoughts and private memories hoping to relate to you. I only hope that I reach just one of you enough to think about some of the consequences your choices today have for your tomorrow.

26

Final Thought
I often hear people of all ages complaining about life and the way things are. Topics range from poor health care, cost of living, education, and jobs being exported overseas. The only problem is that many that are complaining are not in a position to do anything other than discuss it over dinner. What we need is to provide those who have the good ideas the opportunity to be in a position to make changes. Yes I know it’s difficult to get ahead in a country that is filled with ways to place you into debt and force you to work a 9-5 the rest of your life. I can drive around and find ten check cashing places before I see even one community center or homeless shelter. If we spend 50 billion dollars or more on a war then there should be very little problems with homelessness and educating the poor. There have been poor people in this country since the beginning of time. Some say that it is essential to balance the economy. We have invented technologies such as the Ipod, Super Computers, and other technologies that some of us take for granted. I believe that those same brains can be used to figure out how no one has to go hungry, or how to ensure that every child gets a good education. The problem is that we are motivated by money and our society is set up so an individual who designs a video game is paid a substantial amount more than a teacher, someone who is responsible for molding a life. How is it that big corporations are allowed to send jobs overseas in order to make the yearly salary of the CEO 10 million instead of 5 million? We are so against immigration but it is ok for us to send our jobs out of the country to make more money. Does it make you mad when you are discriminated against because of your race or how you dress? Did it make you mad to see how the United States reacted to the devastation in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? I feel for every victim of it and anyone who has ever been a victim of racism or stereotyping. What is upsetting though is that we aren’t doing anything more than talking about it. We need to put ourselves and our children in a position to

27

actually do something. I believe we need to start taking responsibility for problems instead of complaining about and accepting them. We need it to start with you the youth. I know not all of you will be world leaders or change the world but what you can do is start the trend for your children. Treat your life as if it is a stepping stone for your children’s lives. This will allow your children to lessen the struggle and before long those with the ideas and desire to change our country will be better equipped to do so. It seems natural to have big ambitions in our younger days and through the years the ambition transforms into a comfort level and we stop our progress. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however the problem occurs in the fact that we force our children to have to start from the same place in life as we did. We do not teach them how to build from the foundation that we have laid. This appears to be an attack on parents it is not intended to be. The reason we do not have the time to teach our children better is because our children are either being raised by one parent because a father or mother is failing them or dual working parents in which case the child is being raised by themselves or by the television. The fact is we are stuck in a trap that keeps us down. When I say us I’m not talking about minorities I’m talking about every family who does not have the time to spend with their children that they would like. I’m talking about those of us who have to work 80 hours a week and sacrifice time with our children in order to pay for our way of life. This is a vicious cycle and sadly enough this country has been built to keep it going. How do we fix this? Is it possible that I can have a nice home, nice car, food on my table, and still have the time to spend with my children without being the inventor of a multi-million dollar idea? I do not know the answer to either of these questions however someone out there does. I just hope that they will have the opportunity to place them into action. I hope that their parents will instill some values and teach them a good ethic for hard work. Now I speak of this mysterious person as it is one individual. When has there been a single person in history who was able to change this many things alone? Never! We need to do this collectively. Along with thousands of strong leaders, we need doctors, lawyers, politicians, 28

CEO’s, teachers, etc. We need to band together and take responsibility for our own future. This should be motivation enough to make you want to change. If not you can go on and ditch class, not pay attention, get mixed up with drugs, waste your time worrying about being cool, and grow up having to work 60 hours a week at minimum wage just to feed the family that you don’t get to spend time with. It can all change, but it has to start now, and it has to start with you.

29