I was twelve years old the first time I met him. Or maybe I was thirteen, I can’t remember. But one thing I do remember and that I’ll never forget is that I hated him from the very start. From the first moment we ever shared, negativity filled the atmosphere between us and the stars misaligned against us.
“Hello” he said.
All I could do was only glare. Who was this skinny little boy who dared to speak to me? How dare he! So I said nothing. Maybe he will go away.
“My name is Jay.” He said as he sat down across from me on the bench. We were in the back yard of my grandparent’s house in Moreno Valley. My cousin Henry brought him over with him. I suppose it was just to bug me because here he was taking up space in a backyard that was nearly 1/2 acre. No matter how big that yard was, it wasn’t big enough to move this Jay out of the way. Why did he have to pick me to talk to?
“Go away.” I replied rudely, “Henry, come get your friend.” I yelled towards the white screen door that led into the dinning room. I was trying to be melancholy by myself before this stupid kid starting bothering me. I think I was listening to Nirvana or some other kind of grunge band on the radio. We used to record music from the radio stations back then and so I was listening to a tape I made. When you made a tape, you had to time it just right so that you could get the whole song minus the DJ’s voice. Sometimes they came out good and other times the stupid DJ messed up the beginning or the ending of the song with their voice so you would have to rewind the tape and try again. There were no internet music streaming in those days, only tapes and music that played thirty times a day but you had to catch the right time to record them so you could make a “mix tape” of all your favorite bands. It was a tedious process but it was one that I liked and did often because we were poor and I didn’t have money to actually buy any of the songs. Besides, music was my outlet as it is for youth, year after year.
He got up when Henry came outside, “come on dude.” Henry said to Jay and they both went back inside the house. I didn’t like my cousin’s friends for some reason. I’m not sure why I instantly didn’t like any of them but of all the friends he had over the years, there was something about this Jay character that I hated most of all. There was something about him that made me want to push away from him or run away if I could.
They say a first impression lasts a lifetime or something like that. This first impression is the only one that I’ve never forgotten. Maybe because he never let me forget or maybe I didn’t want to forget either.
Jay didn’t seem to bother anyone else as much as he bothered me. It wasn’t that he was constantly pestering me or trying to talk to me or doing stupid little kid things to make me mad. No, the mere presence of him made me mad and knowing it made me madder. In fact, the same day I met him, my aunt Velia told me to be nice to him because he was Henry’s friend. All I could do was scowl at the idea but I knew I had to leave him alone so I did jus that but his eyes made me uncomfortable and I hated knowing when he was looking at me. My grandparents liked him. Whenever he came over their house with Henry he would sweep the floors or take out the trash for my grandmother. What an ass! I thought he was always trying to kiss ass for some reason. I didn’t know why but apparently he was raised to “help out” whenever he saw an opportunity to do so.
You could say that I was a troubled young girl. In fact, you would say just that. It was the early 90’s and I wore things like chains, black boots, and polo shirts (before they got all fancy and expensive). I couldn’t afford Doc Martins but I always wanted a pair. We were poor and I grew up on the system. What does that mean? That means I grew up on the “government handout” welfare program. I hated it. I hated a lot of “facts” when I was young. I hated knowing that we were poor and couldn’t afford to even have yogurt in the house. I hated the fact that my parents were divorced. I hated living in a small 2 bedroom apartment with my three younger sisters and that I had to play “mom” when our real mother was at work. I hated having to get after them to do their homework and their chores. I hated the thought that my mom had done nothing in her life and that I was destined to do the same because that’s how statistics work and they were against me. I hated the fact that she loved a man that cheated on her and that she was now raising the four of us on her own while he remarried and lived in a home and supported his new family. I hated that they probably got to have yogurt and fruit snacks while I could only dream about having the same. I hated that my mom always cooked chicken. I got so burned out on chicken that when I was a teenager, I stopped eating it for years. Most of all I hated my life and tried to escape it in every way that I could.
So when this dreaded Jay came into my life it was like he unknowingly uprooted a bunch of feelings and things I didn’t like. He created a ripple in my timeline that didn’t correspond with the world around me or the one that I was creating. He invaded my space without actually invading it and just became someone I could hate in the sea of things I already hated. In fact, every time he was around it was as if a disruption in the Force just occurred. He didn’t have to look at me, he didn’t have to say “hi” to me to disrupt the Force. He just had to be there to make it go chaotic with his stupid boy haircut that was almost like a Beatles bowl haircut but not as cool because the sides of his head were shaved so his brown hair just lay stupid on top of his head. He was skinny and I thought his boyish face was ugly when in reality it wasn’t.
And so it was the beginning of a lifetime of crashing with someone that I learned to love, hate, admire, and cherish.