I turn thirty later this week, and though it's been a rough road, I somehow made it here. I've lived in this city my entire life, grew up in the Germantown neighborhood, but now live in the Highlands. So many memories of mine were ones encountered behind glassy eyes, with a brown bag pushed down around the neck of a beer bottle, or smoked out on skunk weed, riding high behind limo tint.
I made a name for myself as an early teenager by selling weed, coke, crack, and acid. Whatever I could get my hands on, and take down for the best price that day was what I was slanging. Just after my seventeenth birthday my best friend was murdered over a drug deal gone bad that he and I both had our hands in. He was stabbed to death over the equivalent of a hundred dollars worth of acid, and since that day I've never been right. Meaning, that moment woke me up, made me realize how mortal we all are as humans, and how short life can be if you're always standing at the cammode day in, day out pissing it away. Since then, the summer of 1997, we from Germantown have seen so much death, experienced pains that we should have never had to take on, and watched so many of our young men fall victim to overdoses, suicide, and murder. It's made me take on a new life, walk away from my older one, but remember who I've always been, and what I went thru to get here.
I had to re-acclimate myself back into society after the death of my best friend, learn again what it meant to walk amongst the people of the day, and not the creatures of the night. I went to college, finished my undergrad, and was given a full ride to do my masters. I completed both with a combined GPA of 3.8 or better. I've been a teacher, a regional manager for one of the largest Parcel services in the world, and have self-published two books, all the while remembering where I'd come from, and how far my journey had brought me.
These days I write for a living, and live a simple life. I drink a little too much from time to time, and get into the occasional fight when someone needs to get their ass kicked for saying the wrong thing to wrong person. That's the Germantown in me, they're my roots, and who I'll be until the day I pass. All of the death we've seen around these parts makes us who we are. It makes us hard like the earth that seldom sees rain, though our roots stay strong, so some will live on, while others perish along the way. It's the way of the world, the harshness and the reality of life, and the reason I wake up each morning and rub the sleep from my eyes. Every bit of death teaches me something more about life, and though I hate to have seen so many take that step, I thank each and everyone of them for opening my eyes up that much further. I thank them all as draw that much closer to another landmark in my life.
Photo courtesy of Damian Gerlach