Sunday, September 24, 2006

Reality Bites

A week ago I had my world rocked by news that one of my childhood friends and his younger brother had been brutally murdered. It was news that I tried at first to deny, as my brother called me to alert me of a rumor in the old neighborhood. And while he was on the phone the cousin of the two brothers walked by and confirmed that the rumor was indeed true. I was in the house alone and the news slowly festered, boring a hole in my soul.

My mother was away at a wedding. My girlfriend is over 300 miles away. It was late and I didn't know what my best option was. I had already spoken to my brother. He was on the phone with my sister. So, I called my coworker and good friend. She gave me some kind words that helped me in my time at need. I later was able to reach my girlfriend. She stayed on the phone with me for awhile, because she is a sweetheart.

2xE gave me some kind words the next day as well. Almost as if she knew something was odd about my behavior, she sent me a side email just asking how I was doing. That's when I told her. My girlfriend also checked on me throughout the day.

It's funny that over the last few years this type of situation is all too familiar to me. I've had a childhood friend beaten to death by a police officer, I've had a cousin die as a result of a drunk driver, who walked six months later with a clean state--free to drive his BMW and mow down another unsuspecting pedestrian, and I've had these two deaths to deal with.

And the saddest part of all these ordeals is that my heart shields me each time, until I'm face to face with a corpse, or face to face with a headline, that breaks me down and my tough exterior. There are few stories carrying good news from the old neighborhood. I've kept my distance from it, but news travels faster than you can imagine from state to state, from neighborhood to neighborhood. It takes a bite out of my exterior each time, but like the comic book character Wolverine from the X-Men, my body/my mind heals itself each time. I'm not invincible. I'm quite vulnerable, but I posses a resilience, a sort of armor, that I learned to carry in the old neighborhood. I'll be happy if one day I can just stow it away.

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