Sixth grade was a transitional year in my life. Living in Moreno Valley was a dream but being away from my father became a nightmare. The fun times with my brothers and friends just wasn’t enough to sustain the happiness to get me through the year successfully. RJ started to become more aggressive in the household. His music gigs started to slow down and he became bitter. The financial responsibility fell on my mother’s shoulders as she worked 3 jobs, took care of home, and 3 additional children that belonged to RJ’s younger brother. On top of all the stress my mother had to endure RJ started to become verbally abusive towards her. My childhood began to slip away as I watched my mother’s beautiful smile turn into frowns.
Back in the Hood
Despite all the chaos in the home my brothers and I made it clear that we wanted to be back with Dad. This was a selfish move made on our behalf but my mother loved us so much that she agreed to let us go. She knew we were unhappy and us reuniting with my father would surely uplift our spirits.
Dad had a one bedroom apartment in the city of Gardena, CA. It was definitely a downgrade from living with my mom and RJ. Nevertheless, my brothers and I didn’t care because we were back with the man who brought us into the world. The hood was nothing pretty but I adjusted. My twin brother and I enrolled into Peary Middle School to continue sixth grade. My younger brother attended an elementary school nearby. We walked to school everyday sometimes not seeing my father before we left. He still worked overnight at Federal Express and sometimes we’d miss him by minutes. Dad always made an effort to get home early to bring us breakfast donuts. Those were the good times. He loved having us back home. The only issue was his busy schedule. He too worked three jobs to support my brothers and I. Music was his passion. Daily he practiced on his piano to create new songs for the choir he directed at church. There wasn’t enough time in the day for all the things we wanted to do with him. However, watching episodes of Martin became our household tradition. No matter what, we always found time to laugh. We’d even record the episodes on VHS so that when Dad got home we could watch it together.
Peary Middle School was a disaster. Everyday I watched someone get jumped into a gang. It became normal to me after the first few weeks. The toughest gang in the school believe it or not was ran by the girls! They called themselves tweety birds but there was nothing nice about them at all. They of course wore yellow and performed their daily jumps in the morning before first period. I always had a good spot to see it all go down. It always brought confusion to my mind seeing a female get beat almost lifeless then get embraced with hugs and love afterwards. I knew then I would never become a gang member but the lifestyle always intrigued me. My curiosity attracted many gang affiliated friends but I was never forced to join. Outside of the colors they represented they were just regular kids like me.
My twin brother Ra El stayed in fights. I always had to watch his back because he had a hot temper. If someone looked at him wrong he’d say, “What you lookin at”? I knew then it was about to go down every time. My mother strongly emphasised protecting each other at all times as she was the same way with her younger brothers. She didn’t mess around when it came to that. Therefore, when my brother fought, I fought. Even though we won our fights pretty easily you can be sure one of us would jump in to assist. I hated seeing my brothers getting swung on from another person. It just made me furious and I could never hold back that fight within me. One morning my twin squared off with a dark skinned fella with curly hair. The rules were only to throw body shots. This was something we did pretty regularly in school but I didn’t know this guy. Immediately they started throwing punches and the dark skinned fella broke the rules. My instincts took over and the rest was history. Ra El clearly got the better of the exchange but I finished him off to send the message. Break the rules and suffer the consequences. My twin and I got suspended for 3 days following that incident.
The night of the fight my mother called to check on us to see how we were doing. I couldn’t lie to my mother so I told her the truth. She was outraged by the news and suggested that we move back to Moreno Valley with her. Things had gotten worst at home with her and RJ. She explained how he started to abuse her but I never told my Dad. He was already angry about the fight and he probably would have lost his mind with rage to learn what was going on with my mom. This new found information persuaded us to leave my Dad once again and move back with my Mother. Hard as it was leaving, my Dad understood and knew the best thing for us growing up would be to live with her and visit from time to time. My brothers and I knew we needed to be there for her and face this beast of a man together.
RJ’s music gigs started to pick back up. Knowing all the wrong doing he committed, money became his way of showing he was sorry. He purchased my mother all the finest clothes, shoes, jewelry, and even cars. She couldn’t resist the luxuries that he provided. He took her across the world leaving us with family sitters as we continued our education. They would leave for weeks at a time but mostly he’d be on the road alone performing with his music group. The smile I once knew had come back home. She was happy knowing we were back with her and having a beautiful home without constant turmoil. We had fun when RJ was away. My mother was like a kid around us. She always kept us laughing with her silly expressions and funny jokes. I was glad to be back with her.
This was the 3rd school in sixth grade. Vista Verde was a very strict school district. Unlike Peary, the staff actually cared about students succeeding. I quickly made friends at my new school and made sure I kept my academics up to par. I really made a strong effort to make my mother proud in every way possible. I didn’t want to let her down especially now that she was happy again. My brothers considered me a mama’s boy. I just wanted her to know I was here and willing to do whatever I could to keep her happy.
Stay tuned for Ch.6… Rancho Verde, and Murrieta
Peace to all the Light Bringers and all those who promote Peace, Love, and Harmony. This is the “Black Horseman”♞ EL RA☥