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Here Am I

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She had a friend.

this is how I got to where I am from the beginning to now.

My Name is James, and I have sinned. I find myself sinning a lot less than I used to but the conviction still stands. I do not really know what drove me to write this but as I was outside walking my dog pondering on what I had done the idea of just getting it all written down just entered my heart. This is not me trying to prove anything or have some grand scheme of things metaphor but just what happened as best as I could remember of how I got to where I am today.

       To be honest if I ever were to start A tale of who I am and what drove me to where I am it would probably begin with my very first thoughts. I remember waking up in bed at my Childhood home 2 towns away, Thermal California to be exact. I woke up and crawled out of bed and remember walking down the hall way into the large living room where I found my entire family residing. To be honest that is all I could remember of that, everything beyond exactly that is blank. But it was not the moment or the events but rather what went through my head, for as long as I could remember I always knew there was A God and even than as I crawled out of bed a 3 or 4 year old by I felt the presence of a higher power. Through my life looking back now it is hard for me to really think any different.
       My time spent there at my childhood home I recall many moments of myself all by myself calling and even talking to My Lord, I was often laughed at even my my parents as the kid who spoke to himself. Even I at later ages would question my own sanity over that matter per say. But as time went on that lovely childhood home which to this day I still miss was left behind as my Mother and Father split up after 10 plus years of marriage my parents split up. But conveniently my Mother, and my Brothers, and I moved a lot closer to the small Town Elementary School we were already attending. At that time I was in third grade by that time the School had already realized my, "strange" Behavior. In the prior years of education I often found myself spending time alone just sitting under the play ground as other students ran around simply thinking about, well everything. I kept mostly to myself but was social enough to make friends.
       That reminds me of a single thought where I met my first Best Friend, I was still in Kindergarten and as all the children were playing with every toy imaginable in the mid 90's. I remember seeing a small cabinet hallow dresser covered by a red curtain. I stepped forward and moved the curtain and stepped in. To my surprise there was another boy there, I at the time was extremely shy and as much as I wanted to turn away I instead introduced myself. "Hi, i'm James." He replied, "I'm Robert." Before another word could be spoken I heard the number of teachers call for us Students to return to our designated classes. Little did I know that one year later Robert and I would be Best Friends.
       Indeed that is what we were, A couple days after School had officially started I was placed in a basic First Grade Class. I entered the class a few minutes after the Bell rang with my Mother holding my hand, she exchanged words for a moment before handing me off to my First Grade Teacher who was informed that at the time I was bilingual. She picked up a Red folder and took me to the end of the class room, I still remember the eyes of every other Student following me across the seemingly large class. there she sat me down in front of a young girl wearing the usual school attire, hate to say it but even at that age I was attracted to girls. But seconds later the Teacher came back and placed me on the opposite side of the class room and there I was sat in front of Robert.
       Through that year as many do I found myself in a small group of friends that I would rarely if ever socialize outside of. For the most part it was pretty good, there were six of us but in an almost tribal nature some were considered more so respected than other friends. Robert was our proclaimed leader so to say. Basically anything he wanted to do we would do, Hector was my second best friend when Robert was not there it was me and Hector, Amber I cannot really remember much of her other than she was nice to everyone she ever met, Carlos not a single day that year he ever spoke. We would often tease him and offer him rewards for speaking but all he did was ponder the thought than shake his head with a smile across his face and we would all laugh. Finally there was Angie I had a small crush on her when I was a boy but she was the lesser of the group, if there were anyone who would be considered expendable it would be her. Often Robert would ditch her and all others would follow for a good laugh, of course I being Roberts best friend was obliged to follow no matter how wrong it felt.
       When I look it seems every day we were tested for our friendship, so many times before class was released to the playground I remember Robert constantly asking everyone in our small group to choose a side between him and some girl I never met. Little did I know this often lead to fights between two groups of small kids, but of course no one would tell. It was a pretty harsh environment for A playground, but near the end of the year the whole choose a side thing picked up again but this time Robert thought it would be interesting to put Angie in the spotlight and told her she could not hang out with us. So when he asked us to choose a side it was between him and Angie, of course everyone chose him and as we were once again released on the playground we went over to tease her everyday for laughs. We did this for at least a week and everyday he would ask us to choose a side. Everyday she was abandoned by her so called friends, that was until one day I was asked, "who's side are you one?"
       Now being Roberts best friend I was the first to be asked around our little table and as I was asked something compelled me to say it, "Angie's." It was an almost group gasp moment, everyone including myself was shocked. But sure enough I made my decision and as always everyone was with Robert. It seemed the entire time in class after that moment Robert glared at me with spite and of course being such a young boy I myself simply hated him for making me choose, as he hated me as well for probably less of my choice. But soon enough we were on the playground and I followed Angie to her usual places of solitude in the yard, I could always find her next to the basketball courts under the big tree sitting on the bench. There I pondered telling her how I had a crush on her but we had little to say although she was sincerely grateful for someone finally being on her side.
       For the first time in my life I felt like I was doing something right of my own choice. But that did not last long, like clockwork Robert and the gang came for the usual teasing of the outcast. But of course this time I was on the opposite side of the spectrum. He quickly made the usual remarks of how stupid Angie was than I being the big hero of the day stepped forward before he could continue to tease her. I remember stepping  up with my hands crossed and of course threatened him to shut up or I would hit him. Of course the mighty first grader continued to tease and throw in a threat or two of how he was going to beat me up, and of course I went ahead and threw a punch right on his left eye. I expected him to come at me after that one but instead he grabbed his eye and struggled not to cry. He looked up at me and told me that he was going to tell the playground Monitor. He called me some foul names that one would not think a first grader in the 90's would spew out of his mouth. Soon after his rant he turned to Angie and beckoned her to rejoin the group for their was a new outcast.
       Before I knew it I was the outsider, I felt betrayed for I did not think she was do such a thing. But I do not think I would have chosen differently if I were in her shoes. Once she ran passed her great defender she rejoined the group than they ran off to tell the Playground Monitor, they all one by one yapped at me as they ran off and of course Angie was the last to give out a good laugh, well almost all of them Carlos still did not speak at all. After A couple of days the hatred wore off and I was let back in the group and Angie once again placed at the bottom. It was almost as if that never happened we continued on as usual with less picking on Angie. Its an interesting way to think of the ways of a playground but it happened and it ended almost instantly.
       All went back to usual childhood business, eating hot candy seeing who had the guts to eat all, play games in the field, in fact I believe it was I who taught them the game of tag one boring day. But as much fun and trouble that happened on the playground there was an unknown assessment of myself by the teacher inside the classroom. Many times she would hold be after class to have a conversation of why I did specific things. I cannot remember what exactly but I always remembered my response, it was always the same. I would shrug my shoulders and make the I don't know mumble. Every time she would shrug her shoulders and ask, "What's this?" More often than not I would sit there quiet without any further answers. Little did I know where those meetings would place me for the rest of my schooling from Elementary, to Middle, and even High School. The first grade was my first and final year in regular education classes. Apparently those little meetings mixed with a few assessments shed some light on my so called problems, apparently I was Dyslexic and at the start of the second grade I was was placed in a Special Education class, there I met my largest supporter slash Teacher who also was new to the scene of special education as much as I was. Apparently students of various grades were placed in one class, this for sure was going to be an interesting experience...

      I did not know what to expect from this or even what any of it meant, it seemed strange being there but as the years continued I would later find it would be harder to leave. At that age I had no idea what other people would view me as, or what they would even view Special Ed as. It seemed most kids there were all Dyslexic, all but one anyways. One of the children was A boy my age, I had no idea what disease he had but his he was extremely pale and had trouble walking as well as speaking. His name was Ismael, The kid had heart and I had the pleasure of calling him my friend, besides him the only other student with a defect of any kind was Elvis, he had an under developed arm which only went as fast as his elbow with his fingers being small pockets of flesh at the end of a stump, but even with one arm more than a single time Elvis was caught beating up other children in the playground.
       At the start of my interesting school experience in Special Ed there must have been at least 30 or so students in the class. Many of them I would grow with and a few to this day I have no idea where they went. It's an interesting attachment to have but throughout the years I always found myself missing my friends even from way back than. I believe I spent the next 3 or so years in that class room. It is hard to remember much other than small highlights. Such as when I found out how to spell Robot for the first time over a light projector that would project what ever I wrote on to a wall. Or even the multiple times we had a magician/substitute come in to take over class every few months.
       But being in Special Ed meant special requirements, such as something they called,
"main stream." Where for 15 minutes we were to go to another class room with 2 or 3 other students and spend time there around, "Regular Students." I guess it was so we could slowly get used to the transition of rejoining the Regular Education population, try saying that ten times. We as students though found it very awkward as did a majority of the classes we ended up in but it provided its perks. There were times when I would be paired up with another student names, Fabian. Fabian had an interesting way of making Main Stream fun and that simply not going. The whole process meant us going to A class for 15 minutes than returning to our class with no notes from the teacher simply word of mouth. So naturally we exploited it. We would end up on the Playground, behind the mobile classrooms, or just walk around. It was fun to say the least but soon enough a tragedy struck the Nation. Around that time the events that happened at 2001 September 11th.
       We all knew the significance of these attacks and because of them weeks later security guards were issued to patrol all school campuses. At that age the distant attack was just as distant in my mentality as well as my heart. It was on the radio and every news channel and even at my school we were to have a moment of silence for the victims of the attack. But being children when the hour came we all stood in place in what ever pose we were making at the time simply to joke around. I am sure if we knew better we would have acted better but regardless life went on, and so did Main Stream. Fabian and I continued to ditch but as we made our way to the playground one of the new Security Guards came up to us on his bike asking what we were up to. We panicked pretty bad but as we approached him to come up with an excuse I grabbed one of my Monsters Inc. Pog's out of my pocket and threw it on the ground so by the time we faced him I stated that I dropped something during lunch and I came to pick it up. I walked back even without his command and picked up my Pog off the ground but at that moment in fear of him taking it away I presented him with my pencil as evidence for my searching. I am pretty sure he did not buy it but none the less he let us go and straight from there I went to our Main Stream class without the thought of ever ditching again.
       I do not think a single student in our class liked the idea of leaving class simply to spend 15 minutes in a foreign environment especially with the interactions given, more than once I was presented before someone of my past including my Kindergarten Teacher as well as ex best friend Robert. both equally awkward but as a child almost everything confronted was. But as the years progressed and the events of the world transpired an interesting dilemma came to play with my older brother, Ramon. It came to light that he to had inherited Dyslexia and before I knew it he was in my classroom regardless of the fact he was two grades above me. He being a bit more brutish than I was angry at the idea of being in the same class as I and clearly stated we were not to hang out. But of course me being in here for years prior I was not the one friendless in the situation.
       At that time I had a new Best friend named Tony, he lived down the street from us and was also in our class. I remember the first time I approached Tony, I was doing my usual morning meditation in the greenest part of the field of dead grass and saw him passing by me. That was his second day in our class and I was bored simply scanning the area for someone I knew to call over and hang and. When he was first introduced he seemed peculiar and was introduced as Antonio. So from across the yard I spotted him and called out, "Antonio." He was looking down at his trading cards walking by and as I called him his head jumped up and his eyes met mine. I waved my hand over signaling him to come to where I was. He slowly but surely made his way over. I, still sitting with my legs crossed only stood up when he was too close for myself to look upward. Than I introduced myself to him and had a short conversation before he awkwardly walked off. But soon after I introduced him to the regulars of the year, or so I called the students. Every year some would filter in and others would filter out or some like myself would simply stick around.

I liked Tony but my Mother and his Mother really did not get along so to say. When they moved in and Tony was enrolled in class his mother took it upon herself to inspect the school, it being what it was, was extremely exceptionable for us students. It was mainly concrete old as the town itself and there were no gates keeping us out on the weekends so we could use the school as our own personal park, base ball field and all. But she must have had a lot to say because of her complaints she got our long standing Principle who my entire family looked up to booted out the door. This put some friction between our mothers and it kinda sucked as a student to see the old wooden jungle gym torn down as well as them fencing off the base ball field as well as ever open gate entering the school. But those were not the only changes afoot.
       My brother soon found himself moving to another Special Ed class that was set up for the older students. He missed out Teacher, she was a special lady in almost every students heart. She was kind and motherly to all of us and knew exactly how to deal with us for we were a rowdy bunch to say the least. She was such a good teacher that one year she won a local teachers award by one of the local new stations called , The Golden Apple. In fact the news team took a half hour of our time to introduce us to their viewers. They came in to class talking with our teacher and trying to get some words out of our class mates. I remember them asking one of the boys what our teacher had taught us, of course he was the shy type. But none the less we got to see ourselves on TV that night as they lined us up for a group shot, I felt rather proud of myself.
       She was so nice that for her students cycling out of her class she invited them over to her house for a pool party, including the school staff of course. Since my Brother was changing classes of course was invited, and because I was not I wasn't invited. That did not sit too well with me. All day as we continued with out usual routine the feeling that he got to go swimming and I didn't stuck with me. All the way up until class was dismissed. When I would take my usual route home I decided to stick around outside the classroom thinking of some way to invite myself to this pool party and actually being able to go. But when the door opened and everyone my Brother, Teach, and other Students came pouring out I stood up completely startled and came up with a half ass story of how my even older Brother was suppose to meet me. Soon after I ran home and later that night wanted nothing to do with my elder Brother and his pool party. It would not be another two years before I officially had my time for a pool party.

      But time went on and before I knew it I to left the class but instead of getting my pool party I was told to wait for the end of the year, which at the time seemed forever but there was little I could ever do about that. Besides I had other things to worry about. At home we had a small TV and at night all my Brothers and I would pile in to one of the two rooms we had in our home to watch the few things that came on TV those days, The Simpsons, and Law and Order Special Victims Unit. Naturally this kind of television would not be exposed to a child of my age but more often than not my mother would work long hours and it was either this or a dark room and bed, we chose this.
       Thanks to the extreme nature of some of those shows I found myself drawing less than exceptionable things in class, at the time I considered myself some what of a to be artist. I ended up drawing such things as all the Power Rangers Dead, and stick figure people fighting with broken stick limbs bleeding out. This lead to a long cycle of me vising the the school therapist to talk about random things. Personally if they simply asked me why I drew them I would probably say its because of my extreme exposure to violent media from Law and Order to Saving Private Ryan Opening night in the movie theaters. But it was a beat around the bush segment, every time.

      I guess the proper people contacted my mother about the situation and before I knew it I was constantly being watched at both home and school alike. Heck even once I was presented with a huge folder full of art work at least an inch thick. Personally I did not think I drew that much but was proven otherwise. From then on I was on thin Ice for the rest of the year. But what A most interesting year indeed, our school had gone through much changes from the locking of the gates to fencing up half of everything to the constant change of Principles. I believe we went through at least 3 Principles before the school finally settled with one. It would have been 2 Principles if the last did not get drunk grab someone on the faculty inappropriately and hid in the bushes a block outside the school right across the street where I live. But yeah, what ever...

      The Good news though was that I finally got to attend the pool party. Although I had to spend a year away from my favorite teacher the end of that year was looking good. I felt great finally getting to go swimming but if I knew what the next year would provide I probably would not. Although it was a fun day months down the line the new school year began and with it came a new teacher who in my stubborn opinion at the time was one of the worse people I ever met. Once again my Brother found himself joining the same class as myself there we formed a strong alliance of this teacher is wrong we are right. Little did we know though that all this hate for our new teacher would ultimately end up with us leaving our beloved school behind and in search for a new one. But there it was one town over and a totally new atmosphere we were placed in an extremely blue school called, Oasis Elementary.
       With all the small changes through the years this is where it got rather interesting. Through the years I found myself always as a bit of a teachers pet and at a constant intellectual battle with others. But I would say their Special education program was a bit less...Developed. Although I would never consider myself a smart student compared to the masses I was placed in a class that well for the most part was at least 2 steps or grades behind me. While others would consider this sub-par for myself it was simply a chance to be head of the pack for once. Sad to say but even back then the idea on the playground from way back when was a constant. Band up with friends, some above others, and your expendables. Over the years up to that point I was always second or third in the food chain but at the same time the one most likely to bite back and harsh to say my plan from the beginning was to be top dog, what ever that was worth as A child.

      Up to that point though, in every class there was at least 20 or 30 students this class though, being a dark damp black walled nightmare of A room only housed around 5 students. None of which really caught my attention except for one girl who I would spend the next year arguing with. But ultimately the process of school continued years came and went it was a new setting but the same old song and dance. I spent A single year in that school and there were very few things to highlight other than new friends new substitute family and a new system to get used to. Truth be told it seems every moment in my adolescent life was so up until High School. While finishing up Elementary in Oasis, I was for the first time detached from my Brothers Ramon and my elder Brother. I would spend the next three years in a brand new middle school called Toro canyon.
       In middle school there was an interesting mix, it seemed all my friends from my original Elementary school and my previous Elementary school all mixed up in to one middle school.It was A site to see and I did enjoy meeting old friends but in that there was conflict, it was almost like two tribes forced in to one. But there I saw some old sparks, less than flames run in to some older sparks. Well more like woman I was infatuated with but did not have the guts to ask out. To be honest the idea of dating was something that constantly crossed my mind, big whoop. But mainly the idea of what is an appropriate age to date. I was always the one to focus on the details their of rather than the actual thing. It did come up with some entertaining events. Old friend Tony ended up at this school as well and as I saw him he beckoned me to follow. Apparently he to had some feelings for a girl in school. Although his approach was interesting, we at the time had zero experience expressing our emotions so naturally he and his to be girl friend gathered five or six friends each to sit there and watch...I guess the goal was emotional comfort.

      Little did I know I to would have some issues communicating with someone I'd like. In fact it was the girl from the past, the one I would argue with every other day in Oasis school. Her name was Maria and after a year of myself being in Middle School her being a year younger finally caught up. It was a surprise to see her there to say the least. I felt that old infatuation return almost instantly. Of course I was going to do the same thing I did every time I liked a girl, completely ignore her and stumble on my words every time I would engage in conversation. I did so quite well actually, but even than I was given confirmation that the feelings might have been mutual. At our school at the end of every month there would be an event where the entire school would enter the gym and pretty much segregate themselves based on T shirt Color for some friendly competition. There although the entire school was there every time her and I would lock eyes. On top of that I over heard her while moving from class to class speaking of me giving me 100 percent confirmation that she liked me as well. Although most would consider this an awesome time to be alive as a boy going through puberty myself, well I always had a bit of a Crush on a girl here and there but never have I had one like me back so, I had no idea how to react.

      That was simply the beginning of the second year of middle school and it did not get better. Soon after Ismael, my old friend from Elementary School found himself in one of my classes as well as a few others. Ismael, he was pale and had a hard time talking but he had heart. Now he was Pale had a hard time talking could not walk and had to wear a helmet. He was the same age as me. We must have been 13 years old I had not seen him in years but he was always a friend. It was hard to see him like that. But I was never afraid to approach him and have a good conversation with him. Once a friend always a friend.
       A few months in to the school year though, Angie came walking through the doors of my Special Ed Classroom. I have not seen her in years but there she was. In fact I do not think I seen her since the first grade but I guess she was Dyslexic as well or else she would not be there. I recognized her right away and as I was asked to walk her to a classroom next door I knew she recognized me as well. As soon as I stood up she had a big smile across her face, I walked her over and as I did she instantly engaged in conversation foiling my plan of complete silence but in the end, it was good to see her again although we would never speak again after that exact moment.

      That year was probably the most memorable year prior to High School. First time a girl liked me, first time I told off a teacher haha, first time I stood up for myself that was fun! And the first time I was informed someone I knew as dying, hopefully the last. Ismael, his organs were giving out on him. I knew him my entire life and when our Science teacher broke the news to the class it was devastating. Everyone gasped and everyone asked why of course. We were informed to keep it under wraps, now that I think of it. The only person that probably did not know was Ismael himself.
       I soon broke the news to my mother who also knew him, she took it harder than I which to this day I feel ashamed of for I spent everyday speaking to him and she had not seen him in years. But through that tragedy my mother said it would be the Godly thing to do to make his life easier. We soon found out he lived in a trailer in the middle of know where and they had to leave his wheelchair outside so when it rained he had to go to school in a soaking wheel chair. It was something to see, but for a while we went to visit him every other week. He would always be sitting on the floor and when we came through the rood he would stand to sit down, I can still hear my mother telling him its okay to sit down on the floor. We would go over and play video games with him for an hour or two it was quite fun for us all. Over we helped them build A wheelchair ramp so he could place his chair indoors so did not have to worry about anymore rainy days. But months down the road we lost contact and stopped visiting. To this day though I wonder if I would ever be able to see my friend again, Or if his disease had already taken him away from us. Heck, I wonder if I would ever visited him if he weren't dying, that was the only time I ever met him outside of school in all the years of knowing him.

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