The Past (Part 3)
I started making real, genuine friends in high school, which is ironic because that was when I began caring about it less. Finding my peace within myself, I was learning to be self-sufficient from square 1, and no longer put my self-worth in the hands of others whose opinions didn’t matter.
They all lived in my neighborhood and we’d wait together by the bus stops and share our stories and the things that made us laugh, get angry, or just chat for the sake of chatting. Our human got uncomfortably dark most of the time.
Upon now being a few years in to my youth group, I got involved with my church. Chair-mover Sundays, car wash fundraisers, missions youth auctions, and soon enough, I went on mission trips myself to Pottstown, Pennsylvania or Chattanooga, Tennessee.
There I met incredible people, including a missions leader named Ken who was part of an international missions team. He was also jacked as shit and was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.
But what really changed the game was going to Guatemala twice when I was 16 and 17. I was with a team with about 15 or so other kids as young as I was experiencing a side to the world they’ve never seen before.
We stayed with a mission family known as the Rodriguezes. Their mission compound was a beautiful two story hotel with a rose garden and front yard for their 3 dogs to play in.
We traveled from Guatemala City to San Lucas to San Alegra, and even went to the black sand beaches of Guatemala a couple times too, which were mesmerizing.
The children were lovable and joyful, so full of energy and innocent smiles that bring out the best in a person. Carrying them on my shoulders, hugging them, dancing with them, playing soccer with them, it felt so surreal that I had such an impact on them despite the cultural barriers between us. We’re all human and we’re all the same.
A woman named Jodi had driven us across the countryside of Guatemala where through the window of her van I saw acres of farmlands and damaged homes without flooring or roofs and filthy (but lovable) animals roaming around the vacant spaces. I saw a lot of poverty, a lot of it still etched in my mind every day to remind me of how grateful I should be for the things that I have.
When we drove around, Jodi told me something I’ve always carried with me wherever I’ve gone. “About 4/5s of the world lives like this, in these impoverished towns, while only 1/5 lives like how America lives.”
I’ve heard stats like that before, and it’s more than factual to say that only a minority of the world was developed while the majority had still been underdeveloped.
But it only hit me then, when surrounded by the actual, physical weight of poverty and the reality that while I would experience these things for a week, the people living here would experience that their whole lives.
A few guys from my Guatemala trip were also part of the worship team like I was and had really impressive musical skill. When we were painting the inside of an orphanage one day, the kids bundled up inside a shack outside the orphanage just up the hill after we finished playing soccer. Our team went in there with some guitar and egg shakers and started playing the song “One Day” by Matisyahu and, even though many of the kids didn’t even understand the words, they danced as if nobody was watching, and absolutely exploded out the gates towards us and their screaming cheers were deafening.
Since then, I’ve fallen in love with helping others.
In court, the lawyers were discussing where the inheritance of the Wilbur family should belong. Because I lived with grandpa Wilbur in his final days, of course I was the top candidate. But that’s when Patrick Harpy and his gang came along, claiming they were distant kin.
That’s where things got messy. I was constantly interrogated about my origins, everything explaining how I had no birth records, no social security. I had no where I belonged. There was no proof I existed. I tried to explain over and over that I was an orphan that Wilbur took in.
Because grandpa never wrote a will, there was no way to determine that he wanted the money to go to me.
Usually family is always the first ballot for where an inheritance should go. By fabricating some documents, a trick they learned from several fraudulent activities they did in the past, they convinced the judge Patrick was Wilbur’s distant relative, and named him heir to his inheritance and estate.
That’s where everything went wrong. They were completely different men than Wilbur. Wilbur was a good man who went out of his way to carry groceries for neighbors, looked after plants, and took care of Jaggy, the dog we used to own before he died shortly before Wilbur passed. These men were different. They ignored the neighbors entirely, they constantly came home drunk and broke Wilbur’s old precious belongings, and would swear constantly.
I was innocent. I was never exposed to evil because I was always with Wilbur. I had never experienced this sort of lifestyle ever before they came.
They didn’t know what to do with me. They didn’t want me out of the equation. They knew I’d expose them if they just threw me out on the street. They couldn’t kill me because none of them were experienced with hiding a body. In the end, they just kept me around as an added tool. They’d make me cook for them, clean for them, they’d pin the blame on me when things went wrong, or take our their insecurities on me, or when they were feeling horny would always use my body for their satisfaction.
I lost faith in the life I knew and considered my life as it was before gone forever, as if I had died once. I never fought back, I never bothered to. I didn’t know I could escape my situation. I only accepted the punches as they came, thinking “this was the way things were supposed to be”.
I never stood up for myself. Not even once.
I began thinking about revolution once I learned of Anonymous. I started having talks with my colleagues about if they’d be interested in joining Anonymous? A lot of them nodded, but still felt Anonymous was lacking any real power.
I considered what they had said, and decided to join Anonymous, but create my own group within that group. We were without a name or a mission, but we were all men who thought alike, and from that formed the foundation of a secret society. Mr. Charmagne suggested I used his retired office in the dregs of Maryland to coordinate our team.
I bought the original version of Common Sense from legendary American writer Thomas Paine around that time. It soon became clear that revolution in the United States was just that. Common sense.
Jeremiah was my absolute best friend in high school. No one else got me like he did. My sense of humor, my complete and utter disdain for schoolwork, my mindset on life.
I started building more things too. I learned how to build a book shelf with my uncle and later make wooden trophy boxes and added roof tiles to people's houses as a summer gig.
My mom recommended I check out work unions and tech schools after I graduate because she was explaining that without my father around she hasn't been able to have enough savings for a full 4-year college, which was perfectly fine by me because I hate school.
Jeremiah and I managed to strum up our own mini-information network using an incognito internet proxy along with real life tag-team information. It exhilarated me to be part of something with so much more worth and purpose than my schoolwork or even my workshop and music hobbies.
But while being so focused on that, I was caught off guard when a certain girl managed to break down all my walls at once.
That was when Amanda came. The most reserved, independent, yet driven girl I've ever met for teens my age. As sophomores in high school, no, I couldn’t have hoped to meet someone so self-sufficient without much effort at all. I fell head over heels. I found her overwhelmingly attractive. She felt likewise for me, and even went out of her way to meet me and Jeremiah at our meet-ups, since she caught wind of our activity.
I hung out with Amanda almost all the time, going for a smoke out by the fences or just chilling in my basement watching horror flicks. Amanda was much more of a darker, cynical type of person, and those types of people were the ones I found the most mature. I guess that’s all I was looking for: maturity.
Everything about her rocked my world, and we made love...a lot.
Feeling some kind of something, Amanda became my world, and almost my god. It took me away from the network I created with Jeremiah in which he had to pull me back into.
“Get a grip, Mike. You and this girl, just...you need to focus, okay?” Jeremiah tried to reason with me.
“Aw what’s the matter Jeremiah? Upset you’re not the one getting laid?” Mike teased. It made Jeremiah’s blood boil though.
Things went on like that until senior year. I would choose a one-year tech school going into next year while Jeremiah went to UNC in North Carolina.
Short things short, we’d be separate for a while, and wondered how we would keep this nifty system of ours operational.
“We gotta keep our connections ’til we meet again. Sound like a deal?” Jeremiah requested. Deep down, I just wanted to end the whole ordeal, realizing I had other goals and perhaps this little network of ours wasn’t doing much in the grand scheme of things.
Gaiya walked out by the snow banks that were piling up in front of the forest that sat near Fairmount Park. He stared out into the wide open gray sky and reflected on his life after a while.
As he was lost in thought, a husky came up and bit him on the leg, making cry out in a yelp! and jump up and down on his good leg. The dog owner apologized over and over again. Gaiya told her it was okay before vanishing from the area altogether.
He escaped by a local tavern that he occasionally stopped by for some beer. Usually Samuel Adams because, well, Sam Adams was a revolutionary and Gaiya enjoyed dropping little hints here and there about his true intent.