Sometimes we’d sneak into and hangout in the church basement to escape the boring services and choir practices. The phone happened to ring on an occasion we were down there. I picked it up knowing I shouldn’t but something told me I needed to. The voice on the line said something strange, “free your mind or they’ll poison it”. I knew right away whose voice it was, Ellicia’s. The only problem was she had been dead for years.
I hung up and my friend Ronnie said, “It looks like you just saw a ghost”.
“Close, I think I heard one”.
Mr. George heard the phone ring and came to ask who called. I couldn’t bare to say. I knew how crazy I’d sound. He became curious, demanding I answer, but I couldn’t. Ellicia was his niece. He turned to Ronnie. I knew right away he’d fold. “Don’t tell him”, I pleaded, but it was in vain. He told Mr. George, who then just looked at me blankly and walked away. I felt terrible but was more intrigued by the caller’s message.
Back in St. C. my best friend Sam and all of his little brothers had moved to California, and Justin and I were dead to each other. With High School fast approaching I was heading straight into a new world, once again friendless.
I had no choice but to form alliances. Perhaps we had taken a collective subconscious influence from the east coast/ west coast war we saw on TV, because at school a war was brewing. It was dubbed the Prep vs. Punk war. The jocks and kids who dressed in Tommy Hilfiger were constantly getting into fights with the grimier kids who listened to Marilyn Manson. Eventually everyone was forced to pick a side. Recess was like a prison yard, with what seemed like hundreds of us split down the middle of the blacktop, ready for an all out brawl at any minute.
Tensions were high and even though I technically didn’t fit into any side of their feud, I was happy to be embraced by the Preps. I mean my clothes were hella-fresh, plus Nick C. was on the side of the Punks. Since he was my mortal enemy, I didn’t have a choice. To be honest it was fun. It gave us something to do and it felt good to be a part of something, even if we were flirting with gang mentality.
I had my first encounter with requited love at the school dance, with a black girl named Elizabeth. She didn’t attend our school but came to the dance with a friend of her’s. We danced to almost every song together and I kinda liked her. I thought no other girl in school would like me after that because the only girl they ever saw me with was black. I was afraid they would think I only liked black girls.
I’m embarrassed to admit this now but I was looked at with such disgust by the white people, I started to have that same disgust implanted in my own heart. The thing about racist propaganda that unfortunately afflicts so many white people, is that we as Black Americans have to live in the same world, and are therefor not impervious to that same brainwashing. But because we’re the victims of it, we’re forced to examine why, which can often lead to understanding – but not always.
That was the last I would see of Elizabeth. We made plans to meet up at the next dance but she didn’t show. The last I heard she’s still in St. C, with 4 kids to two guys. I’m tempted to be petty and make a joke, blaming that on her standing me up 20 years ago. But knowing how hard it is to escape the pressure that she must’ve been under then, that I’m still up against now, I think I’ll take the compassionate road. I’d rather save all the slander for the girls who did me wrong in the later chapters anyway..
With the church constantly telling me God was always watching and judging me, I began to develop a sort of OCD. I began hearing a voice in my head or a repetitive thought that said ‘I hate god’. It was the last thing I felt I should be thinking, and that’s why I thought it. For example, try as hard as you can to not think about a baby dancing on a grave…You can’t do it, can you? A baby dancing on a grave just popped in your mind, just because I told you not to. And that’s what would happen to me, off and on for years.
Perhaps it was my subconscious telling me that I should hate the watered down, anthropomorphized, oppressive version of god they invented to control us. Perhaps it was a true source of divinity telling me to break free from the manipulative, exploitative god that was fed to us at church. I mean I was literally getting otherworldly phone calls at churches telling me to free my mind.
With all of these different things swirling around in my head, I was more confused than you probably are reading this chapter.
But things were happening that fast. Religion, racism, girls, grades, gangs – it was almost too much and it really hasn’t even got started yet.
Little did we know then, but would soon find out, the feds were already watching.
All this, and I hadn’t even started High School. That’s when things really get crazy.
Season 3 coming soon.