“Fuck it, got me thinking like I’m 7-5. Damn, nigga ain’t even seen 30.” – French Montana
The last time I wrote on this blog was five days before it was negotiated between my parents that my brother, mother, and myself were to be excommunicated from our home in Little Ferry, New Jersey. It was the most polite way to get kicked out of a house than I could’ve ever imagined. This of course happened after an all-night conversation where I called members of the family together to have a pow wow. When my parents arrived, my dad immediately got violent. He confessed that he had been sexually abused as a child. He shoved my grandma. He nearly ran over my grandpa. That was the last I would see my father for nearly three months. We packed our belongings on a Sunday. The Raiders were playing the Chiefs. It was my five month anniversary with my girlfriend.
Due to living space restrictions, my brother, mom, and I were forced to split up and live with each set of grandparents. This was the first time in seventeen years I would not be sharing a room with my brother. In time, my mom returned with my father. As much as we tried to make it normal, it is hard to maintain a normal relationship with someone who associates with someone who wants nothing to do with you and has turned his back on anyone who has given two shits about him. That would be my dad for those scoring at home.
My brother and I for awhile made things work. Eventually, without a strong nucleus, this new family system was doomed for failure. I once again moved residences and decided to live with a friend of my grandma’s, rather than at my grandma’s. This is where I currently live, and will live until I scrounge up enough money to find my own place, which should come at some point in the summer. I had to prepare myself for what was on the horizon.
On January 20, my brother was in a single car crash. Another car cut him off and he swerved, hitting a tree, and wrapping my grandpa’s car around it. To say this was a life-altering event in my life would be an understatement. The next few weeks I would spend at Hackensack Hospital talking to my brother while he was in a coma, having him squeeze my hand when he was scared, later on lifting him and helping him go to the bathroom were moments that my brain tries to suppress but my heart forces myself to remember.
I no longer speak with anyone in my family other than my brother.
This is the healthiest decision I have ever made in my life.
That shouldn’t make sense, but maybe it does. Regardless, I’m not here to explain to you my reasoning. What I do know is that I had a panic attack while driving after eating my birthday dinner alone on February 16. The two people I texted immediately were my girlfriend and my brother. On February 1st, I went to my ninth Tool show with my brother and my girlfriend.
In late December, I went to my first Oakland Raiders game. I have waited for this for close to twenty years, my first trip to the Bay Area. By some miracle the week before, the game I was going to was actually going to mean something. I remember watching the game before my trip with my brother. When Carson Palmer threw the deep bomb to DHB to put the team in field goal range, we hugged and I started crying. We both kinda did. As inconsequential as it was, this was our happiest moment in our lives since October 23. I told my mom to leave the room, I wanted to share this moment with my brother.
We remembered our times at Buffalo Wild Wings the year prior. The people we had met. Why we started going there in the first place. How we formed our own traditions. The games we had watched at our house in Little Ferry weeks before being kicked out with me and my friends. And how we started watching football at my grandparents’ house, like how it used to be many, many years ago when things were better.
I went to the Week 17 matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers not with my dad, but with one of my best friends, one of the many friends I have kept from high school. It was an experience that I would never forget. Again, an understatement. It reinvigorated me. I knew now what was important.
Upon returning to this mess after the trip, that was when I remembered all the ballgames my dad and I never went to. How he stopped watching football with us. How I called him when his Steelers had won the Super Bowl against the Cardinals from a party I was at and how he was furious at their effort. Yeah, you read that right. How four years ago he threatened to kick the shit out of my brother for leaving dirty plates in the sink. And I told him to pick on someone his own size.
I realized that my family had no part in my future. None of them.
I still can’t help but shake the image I had in my head when I first stepped foot inside the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum (that’s still what I call it, sponsors be damned). It was me, with my future wife, and a child, smiling with the field as my backdrop though their faces remain blurry. That is my happiness. That is how my father will live on.
You see, I did learn to love football because of him. When his relationship with football deteriorated, so did ours.
I currently work at another chain restaurant. One even more chainy than my last. It was the quickest thing I can get and be guaranteed to make good money as quickly as possible. I just need to start my life. I mean REALLY start it.
I don’t know what the future brings. But I do know that I’m making money now and the next step is to get my own place. A place I can finally call HOME and not have that taken away from me. I had applied to graduate school based on the premise that my grandparents would help out with the funding. That is no longer on the table and neither is graduate school. Until I get my own place at least.
From now on, I will be making decisions independent of others. This sounds like such an elementary and basic presumption, but as a (former) member of a dysfunctional family, it is really hard to put into practice. And I do mean nearly every decision I have ever made.
My family will live on by me learning from their mistakes. The cycle ends with me.
It is almost five in the morning as I sit here typing this and I have work in about seven hours after working nearly forty-five in the last five days straight. I work for the next three days as well. This post has had no structure and this was intentional. I wanted to write straight from the heart. No editing. Because even with little sleep, I know this would do me good. This is me OFFICIALLY turning the page on this chapter and starting another.
This blog, as amateurish as it is, was a big part of me keeping my sanity through life in my former home before the schism. It was a chance for me to make something that was my own, where I made the rules. I had also began writing for Bleacher Report, which like this blog, had been thrown in the back burner.
I am not going to promise constant updates like I have in the past. I will do what I can with my schedule as it is. What I do know is that my mind is ready to be shared with all, unfiltered. I want to share myself.
You’ll probably see me digging up old series in this blog that I had started (The Server’s Manifesto comes to mind) as well as other projects I have had bouncing around in my mind for awhile. Maybe another site in addition to this one. Maybe making music. Podcasts? The possibilities are endless. Anyone wanting to be a part of this, any ideas are welcome. Collaborations will be embraced. I am not doing this for money or fame. I simply want to have a record of my creative process. The Strong Move can be considered my rough draft.
This was not written to get any sympathy. Like I said, I just needed this off my chest and out in the OPEN so we’re all on a level playing field. In fact, with this off my chest, everything put forth will be lighter and much more authentic. There are no big secrets. You are all caught up.
Browse some of the old posts and make yourself at home. I look forward to sharing myself with all of you.
– Arrrrrmando (Roll that ‘r’ baby)