If I Can Do It, So Can You, and Other Launch Observations from HuffPost Opinions

It was inside Boston Market that my buddy Ortiz told me how to get out of it. “Get the kids’ meal with an extra side dish,” he said. ...



It was inside Boston Market that my buddy Ortiz told me how to get out of it.

“Get the kids’ meal with an extra side dish,” he said. “It’s cheaper that way.”

I laughed – partly because we had just finished smoking a joint and weed still makes me stupid, but mostly because between us we had about $500. I remember it because we ended up at the Boston Market after missing a package. We got there late and the plug went away. It was light work, enough to make us a few bucks and have enough to smoke. It was right after high school when we didn’t really realize the power of our weight, or the danger in our faces, or the violence in our choices.

“Just because you have money,” he told me, doesn’t mean you have to spend it.”

Ortiz always did that, handing me a jewel or a gem. Once, when he saw me all upset about a breakup, he told me to stop calling him and that when she calls to answer the phone, pretend like I don’t care.

“And hang up before her,” he said. “It is important.”

We’d be jostling together, if you could call it that. Most of the time we would sell the leftover weed to our friends to have enough to replenish. That is, until I move. I didn’t hear from Ortiz for years until one day he called. He said he got my phone number from a friend of a friend and he was glad I was fine. He laughed at the idea of ​​me keeping a job. And then his voice turned serious.

“I hate to ask you this, but I’m bad,” he said. “Do you think you could let me borrow $50?” »

Fifty dollars would have been nothing to me back then, but as a driver for a copy company, I didn’t make a lot of money. But I could tell by his voice that something was wrong.

“Yeah,” I told him, then gave him my address.

His voice rose a few notes as he said, “Let me see if I can find a ride.”

When he arrived at my house, I told Ortiz something that my father had told me when people asked him for money: “Take this a gift, and if you want to give me a gift of the same amount later, so that’s cool. Otherwise, it’s a gift.

When I asked my father why he used to give money as gifts, he explained to me, “I don’t have time to hunt people for money.

I never heard from Ortiz again.

Years later, I would like hear on the news this Ortiz Ola, Weldon Mason and Staci White had been shot dead in an apartment in Capitol Heights, Maryland. The police still don’t know what happened. Their bodies were found after concerned family members went looking for them. I still see Ortiz’s face on the faces of the people I pass. I think of him every time I try to figure out how to make my money work.

It is important to understand that I was not the person I have become. I mean, I was until I wasn’t. And then life got tough, and I turned into someone I didn’t know. I started to challenge my parents, authority, myself and God. I hung out with the wrong people, I was sometimes helpless and I spoke louder than necessary because my voice had a weight that my body could not. I was a spectacle of dark audacity desperately trying to be seen. To tell the truth, I was fragile, a broken Kandinsky painting that looked like both chaos and confusion.

People who grew up like me don’t usually see their names on the pages of pristine sites like HuffPost. People like me usually end up bored, homeless, in jail or worse. I’m not supposed to be here. I am amazed at myself. Not that I haven’t worked, because I did. But I never thought my life would ever have enough meaning or influence for anyone to care. I thought I was going out like Ortiz. So because I’m here, because I succeeded, you did too.

HuffPost Opinion will always be a safe space for voices that often go unheard. It will be the voice of people who have often felt marginalized. It will be a sounding board for grievances that need to be addressed and a place where we welcome all the differences that make us unique. We won’t have the typical white, straight, male-centric editorials that often dominate opinion spaces. We will share unique voices with creative and fun stories to tell. And we won’t be bound by traditional storytelling. We will be both culturally and politically relevant. We are not bullies, but we will be direct and direct. We will be bold. We will be up to date. We will be in the late 1980s, Mike Tyson before prison and after Cus D’Amato. We will throw punches – always in place. We will fight. We will be brave.

It’s also important to note that I’m not writing for myself; I write for all those who like me have not succeeded. I write for the smart kids who sat in the back of the auditorium with the bad kids, hiding their smarts because the smart kids get beaten up. I write for Ortiz and everyone like him who didn’t live long enough to see what we could have been. And even though I’m a *grown* adult with two kids, a wife, and a mortgage, I still sometimes wonder when I’m standing in Boston Market if I should order a kid’s meal with an extra side dish.

I mean, “Just because I have money doesn’t mean I have to spend it.”

But this is my story. What is your?



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Newsrust - US Top News: If I Can Do It, So Can You, and Other Launch Observations from HuffPost Opinions
If I Can Do It, So Can You, and Other Launch Observations from HuffPost Opinions
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