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Another person of color was killed by a police officer
This time, it is a friend
It's an unusually beautiful summer day when I get the call
The sick juxtaposition terrifies me even more.
It's 2011 and I am consumed by shock
A friend and I make a sad attempt to celebrate your life with two buck chuck and BBQ
My studio is showing today and I can barely form a sentence
It's only been a couple hours since I found out.
He told me you had another episode
A fit of schizo-affective rage that scared your mom into calling the cops
That the sargent felt his life was threatened by the cane you brandished over his head
He panicked and shot you once in the chest
That's all it took and everything that was Brandon Brown...
The 27 year old who made sure a collapsed homeless man got the medical attention he needed
The young Japanese American who didn't let me be alone on my 20th birthday
Who would reassure me I was intelligent when I felt so dumb and beyond repair
The sweet, mentally ill man who spared me from being tempted by hard drugs and found me a place to stay when I when I had nowhere to run to...
...All of that nobility, resilience, and love floated out in front of his mother's horrified eyes.
There are no words to describe what she must have felt. Completely and utterly ineffable.
As the bright summer day disappeared into twilight...
I began to read the article on Herald Net, followed by the Bothell-Reporter and Seattle Times...
The tragedy of your death stopped there.
They were scathingly unforgiving, painting you as a mad man who deserved to put down by the law.
Meghan lived a charmed life. Her parents were warm, pleasant looking, and upper middle class. She had two older sisters who adored her and several lazy cat compatriots. Her family was beautiful in an all American way and she followed suit by personifying the girl next door. I(more) met her when I was 7 and I'd often fantasize about living the elusive luxury she was born into. The more I jealously obsessed about it, the more it seemed she had everything I had been denied. I desperately wished I could be her or at least have the privileges she soaked up like eternal sunshine.
...Why couldn't I have a radiant complexion, golden brown hair, and be conventional attractive? Why can't mom find a decent wealthy guy and get a nice career? Why do we have to live in run down apartments, while Meghan gets to live in a two story, dream house? All I ask is have as many friends as her and for my grades to be just as good. Where's my dad who plays guitar and exudes warmth and light? Where are my cool sisters who love me and why can't we vacation to Paris, Mom?
For these all too human reasons, I could never become good friends with Meghan. I felt painfully inferior and I hated her for having a loving, wealthy family and a cushy life. I resented that she was as successful as her parents. It was as if two golden children met and tiny gods flowed out of their pristine veins. I could never fully hate Meghan, however. She was far too kind and compassionate for me to stay bitter for very long. When I approached my twenties, I finally began my slow descent towards self acceptance and saw that she was human too.
Sitting atop a grassy knoll, we see the dreamer staring off whimsically into the distance. The often romanticized archetype can be found dreaming of faraway planets, using Amelie' as an identity placeholder, living vicariously through other people's lives, having multiple existential crises, quoting The Little(more) Prince like religion, and collecting unemployment. To dream is to live they say. But they never bothered to attach a warning label. (less)
When I was in fourth grade, a traumatic incident attempted to destroy me. It was the kind of tragedy that scares people away with it's taboo sheen, but my therapist kept telling me to be more open. I was nine and I just wanted to be loved. My(more) teacher warned me that I needed to become a better student in spite of 'the bad thing' that happened or else I wouldn't get far in life. The silver lining was my subconscious silence regarding 'the bad thing'. It protected me like an old friend. We moved away the following summer and I switched schools.
Bill Clinton barely had a year left in office and to humor us, our teacher asked who we would like to be elected. All the kids had predictable answers based on who was campaigning. As I began to drift off in an ADD stupor, she turned the spotlight on me. With a smug look on my face, I blurted out Bart Simpson. The entire classroom erupted in laughter. I was astonished, my peers think I'm funny, they think I'm cool even. What the fuck, this is a preteen miracle... Maybe, I have a chance here.
As if on cue, the Regina George of our class room, Mariah, went out of her way to introduce herself and made me a bonfide member of her much envied, girl gang. I couldn't believe my luck, it was as if November of 97' never happened. Must be my trusty cross covered in Lisa Frank stickers working it's charm. Praiseth be the kitschy psychedelic, capitalist gods! Girls like me aren't suppose to be popular, I'm poor, bespectacled, and embarrassingly eccentric. I guess here the Eliza Thornberry's are queen.
It seemed I could be vulnerable now, as I ran to the next school.
As I sat on the side porch, inhaling an American Spirit cigarette I couldn't afford in a short sighted effort to feel less terrible about smoking, you gazed at me sheepishly. You reminded me of an Indian Jason Schwartzman.
(more) "Hi, my name is Neil. I just moved here a couple days ago, I'm looking for some new friends. You look cool, how long have you been here?"
I didn't realize it then, but you found me attractive. I naively narrowed it down to a friendly disposition. I was relieved to make a new friend I could relate to. It helped ease my lonely nature and you had a penchant for compliments.
"You're so kind, Alisha. I wish more people were as caring as you. You are such a good hearted person. I can't believe how emotionally intuitive you are. Thanks for always listening about my depression. You have the coolest taste in music and literature! You are so insightful. Thanks for all the emotional support. You are an angel!"
"Your novel excerpt isn't that good. Please hide my gun, so I'm not tempted to kill myself. Who is number one, me or your boyfriend? Why do you spend so much time with your friends and not me? You are suppose to be my best friend. You are a terrible girlfriend! Let's run away to Iceland! You don't really know me at all! You owe me so much! You deserved to get beer poured all over you. I'm just using you as my therapist."
It's as if a homing beacon guides all the sad, lush men to my one person infirmary. Never thought 'daughter of an alcoholic' would become synonymous for hunting season. (less)
When I was a gawky pre-teen, I had a nightmare about my grandfather violently pushing my grandmother out of a window inside their humble apartment, several stories above ground. It was stark and monochromatic, like a gritty film noir. She fell into a sea of tall spikes that(more) reminded me of the ones Data narrowly avoided in The Goonies. She radiated so much innocence and beauty before she was died. I wondered how anyone could kill someone full of such pure, unconditional love. It seemed like a flashback I was a secret witness to and unrefutable in reality.
My grandmother Helen died the day my brother and I were born, with the exception of her death transpiring fifty three years ago. Matthew and I are six years apart. Yet, we've always been uncannily similar. There is great picture of us back when I was borderline starving, boyish, and had a similar hair cut, where we look eerily identical. It never failed to shock people when they learned of this extraordinary coincidence. They'd gasp and philosophize over the odds and often attribute it Helen's spirit residing with us in some vague, Christian fashion. I had no idea what the odds were, but I'd often speculate it was at least one in a million. It made me feel special in morbid, melancholic way.
When I was a kid, no one ever told me how my grandmother died. All I knew was that she was barely twenty and it made me inconsolable that her life was cut so short. I might have heard a relative in passing mention a fall, but I cannot remember. When I told my mom about the chilling nightmare, I asked if he murdered her that way. Her eyes became cold and stony and I realized I already knew. (less)