Update - August 22, 2017
I wrote this originally in September of 2013. Angelo and Duffy are a constant in my thoughts and prayers.
On April 5th, 2017 Duffy passed away of a heart attack.
Even now, four months later, my eyes well with tears. It was even harder for me as think about the amount of time that passed before I finally reached out to him. We shared a few letters and pictures and he spoke of being eligible for parole. We didn’t discuss an exit plan if one was granted, something I would have been an advocate for him with as much of my soul that was possible. One of the toughest issues anyone could face is how to support themselves after prison. Many are denied housing, employment and in most cases the right to vote.
That was going to be the theme of my next letter to him, sadly it was one I never had an opportunity to write.
August 22, 2017 - Facebook friend request
To be continued….
I’ve been reading, thinking, journaling and observing with more frequency. Julian day 2440851.02 provides a perfect lead into the New Year where I prefer to resolve; to do and be better rather than list resolutions. My thoughts involve a common theme, growing. Currently those thoughts involve my hometown and how it shaped me; bits and pieces of growing up fill my memory, capturing each moment with clarity.
Peer Conformity, now
I think about Dorian, Aaron, Geneva & Brian concerning style and appearance, for the most part they tend to do their own thing. Never “all in” with trends or name brands. Except for Brian and that fauxhawk they all developed their own style and defined their own value system, not conforming to the pressures of adolescence.
Peer Conformity, then
If you saw one you saw all three; in the halls of northwest elementary to the streets of northwest Roanoke. Angelo the charismatic one, folks were drawn to him and by folks I mean girls. Duffy the thinker, animated as he questioned everything, providing a constant flow of information. Bae-Bae, the analytical, reserved, critical, helpful, and conscientious one. How awesome is this narcissism. I believe they were drawn to me as I to them because we each possessed a quality or trait the other believed he did not possess.
Collectively we were all thinkers wanting to experience more than an ordinary life.
The summer between sixth and seventh grade presented an opportunity. Although we lived within a three block radius, Roanoke City Public School’s alignment of our neighborhood would send us to three different schools. I had the benefit of advancing with most of our elementary school friends while Angelo & Duffy would have to develop and create new relationships. It created space; literally and figuratively.
At this next level conformity would move to pressure; along with girls, style and appearance we graduated to risk taking; skipping school, sex, and weed. Disclaimer [my mother may read this post] I never smoked weed. I was no do-gooder and would bend the rules occasionally but a lawbreaker I was not. I readily assign meaning to what others might consider ordinary events. There were events that changed the dynamic of our friendship, they didn’t have patience for me as I didn’t respect their new friendships and I had no patience for those who take foolish risks. I would be the only one to advance from junior high and finish high school. Angelo and Duffy would go on to life in prison without parole.
Pressure works both ways, folks can be pressed towards positive behavior such as excelling in sports, the arts and/or academics, all of which we had a choice. Perhaps I could have been more passionate explaining that there was more to the world than temporal attachments and what was before their eyes.
I’ve used the word I a lot, however I Am never alone. I carry with me peace and satisfaction with God. I carry with me the fear of disappointing my parents, family and friends.
I pray that my kids will be everything God has planed for them to be. I pray that Angelo and Duffy have found peace.
Brian "Bae-Bae" TramueL