It was a very interesting summer in 2002, I had just finished my Junior year of high school, continued to work, and have fun. By this point I was seventeen still partnered up(but on the decline) and unsuspecting of the changes that would come over the next three years. Starting with my Senior year back at the high school where I first started, my re-introduction to the campus came as a surprise to many. It was Ironic that I needed an elective and the elective that I just so happen to have picked, I forget the name, but it was the class that managed the morning TV announcements. You know, the morning announcements where I participated in the launch of the Student Alliance For Equality? Well, this time I sat in as anchor of the very first broadcast on the first day of school. Now if that isn't Ironic, then I don't know what to tell you.
Over the years I maintained many of the friendships from each point and transition and began to nurture old connections as well. I have to say that one of those connections that will never die is a friend named Jessika, we had our days, but she will always be my chosen sister. Aside from the tidbit about friends, Fall 2002 and all of 2003 brought about many changes, turmoil and triumph. Everything got off to a great start, but by October of 2002 I was transitioning from partnered to single and dealing with the depression that it caused. In that same month, I enlisted into the Army for the fact that I was still reeling from 9/11/2001(which I will not talk about) and in protest of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. My enlistment was done via some coercion, I was still seventeen and I told my mother to either sign or that I would be eighteen in a month and I would go either way. She went ahead and signed to give consent for my enlistment. The year progressed on and I went to my reserve drills once a month, I transitioned from depression back to some form of normalcy again.
When 2003 came around, I began to deal with major Gains and losses, starting with the fact that my senior year was tumultuous coupled with missing credits on my transcript due to transitions from school to school. Of course, had some preventable shortfalls on my end that I fixed or attempted to fix to my benefit, but when the eleventh hour hit, I did not graduate because I was missing a half unit of geometry (no fails just that the class was only worth half a credit). Leading up to graduation I and those who supported me on the academic level to attempted to fix the issue, by going as far as enrolling to take the class at a night school, which only satisfied the half that I did get and couldn't afford the other half. In the midst of that issue, I sustained a major loss to my support system, the hit and run death of David. Remember that David, Willie, and Galen were my support system and somehow it slowly began to disintegrate.
David was on his way home headphones in his ear listening to his music & a drunk white lady name Gwendolyn Blanchard ran him down @ 85 miles an hour, she told the police that she thought she hit a big black dog. She drove back & forth to shake David from up under her car & the police didn't stop her until she made it to her house in St. Bernard Parish. This sent me into a dark place for quite a while, but my remaining friends helped me through it, David was not much older than I was when he died. Taking on that loss, coupled with the fact that I couldn't go to summer school to fix my graduation issue and having to deploy to basic training was a total disaster. I went through basic, being stubborn because I wanted that damn diploma that I worked my ass off for, the diploma would somehow honor David and his willingness to look out for me.
I deployed and as basic progressed I came to a point when I decided to protest the fact that someone used some racial and anti gay slurs toward me and a couple of other people, I went to my drill sergeant and ran down the fact that I wanted to leave that hostile environment, that I was protesting the DADT policy and that I wanted to finish school. In my infinite stubbornness, I pushed forward with a General Discharge instead of just getting that damn GED at the time, I only really saw one way forward and that was my way. I can say now that the lesson was learned and that things happen for a reason. In a nutshell, I did great in the Army and decided to fore go a career before it even started. I left basic and returned home to New Orleans and immediately enrolled in school and they wanted me to take all of these different classes that I did not need, so I found a distance learning program at LSU. In the next post you will find out that it wasn't all bad, that these events shaped me into the fighter that I am today. Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for taking the time to read it.