It all started in June of 1981. I was born in Lubbock, Texas and I haven’t been back since.
I don’t remember much about my early childhood. I remember we lived in Tonopah, Nevada, and that we lived in a house on a hill. I remember chasing away a cat with a firecracker, and that my sister was almost buried in snow when she stepped on a soft spot. Other than that, my Tonopah experience is pretty vague. I remember almost everyday asking my dad, "Did you get fired yet?" And he would always say no. I don’t know why I asked him that, but I did. And one day, I asked him if he got fired and he said yeah. I don’t know if he was really fired, but soon after we moved to the Philippines. I was about six at the time.
I only have negative feelings towards the Philippines. For one thing, my brother and I were white Americans. Every Filipino boy hated us because we had it all. We had a house, a car, a good school…. Even the girls liked us. Why not get jealous? Over that jealousy, my brother and I got in a lot of fights with the neighboring Filipino boys. We would have rock wars, or we would grab firecrackers and throw them at each other.
School really sucked too. I was a slow learner in elementary school because of a rough kindergarten start. However, once I got into second grade, I started learning things pretty well. The kids, however, would constantly make fun of my teeth (next paragraph). I was always picked last at sports, and was always the last kid in line. I hated school there. None of the girls liked me because of my teeth. School just sucked for me.
Now you’re probably wondering what the hell happened to my teeth. Some theories go that I talked too much crap and got a baseball bat to the face. Or somebody thinks I just took myself and ran into a wall. None of that is true. Two instances caused my teeth to permanently twist and turn and scar my existence for 20 years. I was crawling up a water slide one day from the bottom and my brother decided that would be a convenient time to come down. So he came down and tripped me and I fell face first onto the cement water slide and slid all the way down to the bottom. Another instance was when I was jumping backwards into a pool and hit my mouth on the rail. Needless to say, both incidents hurt, and both ruined my self esteem. I was called every name conceivable by man. I was made fun of all through elementary school, junior high, high school… And people wonder why I don’t like to smile?
So needless to say, I hated the Philippines. I hated the people, the community…. And that damn volcano.
The Philippines is also where my parents decided to split up. See, it’s illegal to get a divorce in the Philippines. So for the last couple of years in the country, my parents were literally at each other’s throats. I witnessed a countless amount of arguments, and I also witnessed one incident where my mother actually caught my dad with another woman. A divorce was inevitable. Both of my parents have different views of what went wrong, but I’m not the one to judge. I was only ten years old.
So after the volcano erupted and we were all forced to evacuate the Philippines, my mother and siblings all went to Las
Vegas, Nevada. My dad was to stay behind because his job still needed him. So in the matter of a few weeks, we went from having a house with practically everything to being homeless in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The first thing I remember about Vegas was the size of the city. This was by far the biggest city that I had ever lived in. The second thing I remember is my brother, sister, mother, and I being cramped into a one bedroom apartment with my mom’s friend for a month. We actually called my mom’s friend our Uncle, because he was so good to us.
After a month, we moved into an apartment complex close by, and we soon started school. I hated going to elementary school there because my brother and I had old clothes and we didn’t really fit in. I mean, we’ve been out of the states for almost five years and we didn’t really know how to behave. I remember for the longest time not having any furniture or entertainment in our apartment because all of our stuff was still in the Philippines.
Soon I went on to junior high, and I got picked on practically everyday. If it wasn’t my teeth, it was the clothes I was wearing, or the nerdy-ness that was becoming of me. I got so bad, I decided I didn’t want to be a nerd anymore. I was just gonna be dumb so I could fit in more. If only I knew then what I know now.
So basically I would get my self-esteem kicked in every time I went to school. My brother would always help cheer me up. We got into all kinds of trouble when we were younger. At first we got in the wrong crowd and started stealing stuff, but we quickly got out of that. Then we would just cause ruckus around our apartment complex, or avoid getting jumped by eighth graders.
Just as I thought things were getting good, my mom informed all of us that she was having another kid. At first she was gonna give him up, but she changed her mind as soon as he was born. My mom named him Evan. At first, I really didn’t like Evan. Talk about a middle child syndrome. I convinced myself that things were fine the way they were, and now a little baby had to go and screw everything up. Unfortunately, I took this hatred out on my baby brother. I didn’t hit him or anything, but I just didn’t make an effort to get along with him. Soon, tensions between me and my mom grew and I couldn’t stand being in Vegas anymore. I called up my dad and asked him if I could live with him in Fairbanks, Alaska. So in the summer of 97, I took off for Alaska. I was fourteen at the time.
Now imagine this: A new beginning. Not only was this a new beginning for me, it was a new me. I could reinvent myself. Nobody knew who I was, and I actually had decent clothes for once. My dad practically gave me everything I could dream of.
I remember the first night in Fairbanks. It was late August, and the air was fairly chilly. The only thing open was Taco Bell, my favorite fast-food restaurant. My dad offered me some, and we went to his cozy apartment. Did I mention my dad remarried? Well my step-mom was there to meet me too. Well, we got some Taco Bell and my dad sat me down at the table and offered me a coke. These are things I was just not used to. I didn’t know how to react. I hadn’t seen my dad in like four years and I didn’t know him anymore. I always pictured him as a monster the way my mom described him, but he was actually turning out to be a nice guy.
Too bad I wasn’t a nice kid. Unfortunately in my new me, I started to do certain things I should’ve have. My first year in Alaska I was fine. I started chatting on the internet a little too much, and my dad got really frustrated. It started to affect my grades, and he made me get off until school was over. Once school was over, it was back on the internet to chat. Where do you think I learned how to type so well? Once my sophomore year started again, my dad told me I couldn’t chat anymore. So I had to find something to do, right?
That year I started smoking cigarettes. This was probably the worse thing I could’ve done, but it was my only way to find new friends. I also started smoking weed, and ditching school. My dad eventually gave up on me and who could blame him. I basically dropped out of my second half of my sophomore year because I had better things to do than school. But eventually it all caught up from me.
The first night I drank, I got jumped. I got caught helping some dude run away from his parents. I got caught stealing from a local supermarket. I was blacklisted from entering many establishments because they knew I was trying to steal cigarettes. I got fired from my job for smoking a cigarette (I guess they didn’t like underage smoking). All of these happenings made me tell my dad to send me back to Vegas. I didn’t want to go, but I knew I was becoming a bad person. And to top it all off, the last day I was in Alaska I was forced so steal cigarettes or get jumped. I was pretty glad I left.
Las Vegas… Again
The first thing I remember about coming back to Vegas was my brother. He was sitting outside waiting to spray me with silly string. My had he grown. I kinda wished I never went because I missed out on the good times my brother and I could’ve had. He had new friends besides me now, and I felt like an outsider. His friends would make fun of me, which is the same kind of people my brother used to defend me against. But it was okay, because I was back and gonna start a new me all over again.
I attempted to clean up my act. But I quickly resumed smoking cigarettes and pot. I landed a job at a grocery store, and it was a decent job, but it wasn’t helping clean up my cigarette habit. Fortunately, their smoking policy differed from my job in Alaska and they didn’t care if I smoked.
I started ditching school again, and started hanging out by this one dude’s house by my high school. I was doing nothing but getting into trouble all over again. So I basically didn’t go to school for a lot of my first Junior semester either. So if you wanna get technical, I dropped out of high school for a year because I was dumb and stupid and had nothing better to do than smoke cigarettes and get high.
My mom was going through tough times financially, but my brother and I didn’t really mind. We were old enough to have jobs and supported ourselves now. That’s all my brother and I did was work. My mom provided us with a roof over our heads and food, and we did the rest. But my mom was really struggling, and she decided to move back to Springfield, Colorado where her mom lived.
Now if we could’ve vetoed that decision, my brother and I would have. My sister had already gone off to college in Phoenix, and we were left alone with the decision. We would have to go to this small town in the middle of nowhere. So right as my second semester of school started, we moved to a totally new city. We even took one of my brother’s friends along for the ride. My brother’s friend became one of our extended family.
Springfield, Colorado. Land of the free, home of the boredom.
THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO! So naturally when school started, I couldn’t do all the bad things that I wanted to. It was easy to find cigarettes there, but I didn’t really get into weed that much. And I had to go to school. If we were late even ten minutes, the principal’s secretary would be calling us telling us to get our butts out of bed and into class. So for a while, I was forced into going to school.
Being forced to go to school has it’s advantages. When you’re in a classroom, it’s pretty natural for a smart guy like me to learn. So that’s what I did. I did so well, in fact, that I went from getting straight F’s to straight A’s in one semester flat.
Springfield was probably the best decision my mom had ever made for us, because it turned both me and my brother’s life around.
I got a decent job at a grocery store there in Springfield. It was cool how I got the job. I knew this guy from school who basically "squeezed" me in as a fill-in. When someone was sick, they’d call me in. As soon as one of them quit, I was offered a job. Kinda cool how that works, huh? At the store, I met some really really nice people. Some very nice lady even offered to fix my teeth. At first I was reluctant because I knew it would be pretty expensive. But she insisted that she do this nice thing for me if I do a nice thing for somebody else down the road. To this day I could never repay her kindness. Getting my teeth fixed was almost an immediate boost to my self-esteem, and it made me feel good about myself.
The only thing about getting your teeth fixed at such a late point in life is you’re not used to them. I couldn’t smile for the longest time, because it was not in my nature to smile. I had covered my mouth all my life so that other people could not see my teeth, and now I had to smile and expose the nakedness that was my mouth. It was a hard habit to break, but soon I was able to.
Because of my goof-off’s during my sophomore and junior years of high school, I had to take an extra year. It was worth it! I finally graduated! A good counselor told me to check out DeVry, and I did. It was almost fate how the DeVry I wanted to go to was in Phoenix, and my sister was in Phoenix as well. I even had a friend from Springfield who just recently moved there. So I e-mailed him, and asked if I could room with him for a while. I was now off to Phoenix for my college education at DeVry.
It was very hot the first night in Phoenix. My sister drove to Springfield all the way from Phoenix, and drove all the way back with me and my things. We crammed my stuff into a studio apartment where my friend was staying in North Phoenix. fortunately, I only lived in that studio for about a month before we decided to upgrade to a two-bedroom apartment.
Next on the agenda was starting school. I was scared to start college because I was afraid I wasn’t smart enough. I had a good mindset though. I was so scared of doing bad, that I did exceptionally good. I got only one B my first semester. From then on, it was mostly A’s.
I got a good job at Walgreens as well. I was a photo tech. I developed pictures of weird people and their animals.
However, I soon got tired of the hour-long bus rides it took to get to school and back, so I began looking for a new apartment. I found three other roommates about a fifteen minute walk from DeVry willing to take me in. So I moved in and called that place home after just eight months in Phoenix.
Living with four people in a cramped two-bedroom apartment is an adventure in itself. I have the type of personality where I’m always right, and that usually didn’t mix with three other people. We mostly got along, but sometimes we just outright didn’t. The place was exceptionally messy, however, and I couldn’t stand being so cramped. So when one of my good friends offered to rent me out a bedroom in his four bedroom house, it didn’t take much to convince me.
So here I was, moving for my fourth time in Phoenix. It was nice staying in a house for a while, but I had an opportunity to get out of Phoenix. Nothing against Phoenix or anything, but I knew I had no future there. I would’ve probably ended up at Walgreens if I had stayed in Phoenix. I finally graduated from DeVry and got a decent job out of state. I didn’t hesitate to leave Phoenix, and everything I had known for the past three years, behind.
Now you’re probably thinking, Texarkana, TX? How’d the heck did you end up over there? I mentioned that I had gotten a job. The job was as an intern, and the company was willing to pay for a Masters degree. I wasn’t even looking for this job when I got it. One of my friends gave me a heads up for the opening. I applied, got a call back, and then did a face to face in Washington DC.
After a year and a half on the job, I relocated to Huntsville, Alabama.
Huntsville, Alabama was a nice surprise. So far I love it. It’s a nice area and I live in a real nice part of town.
The future is a little unsure at the moment. A year and a half ago I would have laughed if you told me I’d be married. I just have some advice. There are a million choices that are probably thrown at you during your lifetime. As long as you have God helping you out with your choices, you will do just fine.
Last updated December 4th, 2006