My Life: The Cousin I Almost Lost

I love my cousins. All of them.

Growing up, my older brothers and I were complete opposites. They were social, fun, and rebellious while I was shy, boring, and compliant. So much in fact, that my aunts and uncles would ask me to baby sit my cousins while they went out to run errands. I didn’t mind. I was happy that someone trusted me enough to let me take care of their children. I made sure my cousins watched appropriate shows on T.V., ate enough food, and stayed out of trouble. I was only five years older, but I felt like an adult. They would tell me when they were having a bad day and I would try my best to let them know that everything would be okay. I made sure they felt protected under my watch. I was with them during the good times and the bad. They became the brothers that I never had as a child. They grew into responsible teenagers in front of my eyes, and that’s something I’m very proud of witnessing.

But this post is dedicated to a very special cousin of mine. Miguel.

Ever since I can remember, this cousin of mine has had a very difficult life. His mom passed away when he was around eight years old. I remember that day. And how everyone in my house cried. And mourned. And cried some more. I can’t imagine the feeling of losing a mother. But he continued on. He got retained from the third grade because he stayed a little longer in Mexico for his mother’s funeral. He had to make new friends and watched his other cousins celebrate school achievements a year ahead of him. Although he always struggled with school, he kept on trying. At the age of fifteen, his dad got deported back to Mexico. I can’t imagine what was going through his head when he found out, but again he kept going. He kept going after his two surgeries for his bad ankles, when he stayed in the hospital for weeks because he was malnourished, or when people constantly teased him because they never considered to be smart.

I doubt he even cares. See, my cousin has family that loves him. And I think that’s what keeps him going. During family events he shares his stories and tells jokes that make everybody in the room laugh. He is as care free as can be and everyone loves him. So we were surprised when we heard what happened a few months ago.

I was with my best friend in San Francisco when my little brother called me. I thought it was strange. My brother never called me. He asked if I was sitting down and I assured him that I was. His voice sounded different. As if he had just finished crying. He told me that he didn’t want to worry me, but that he was at the hospital with the family. I was confused, so I asked what was wrong. He didn’t say anything. He began crying. I had never heard my little brother cry so hard before. It was painful. Again, I asked what was wrong. A few seconds went by then I heard him say, “they shot Miguel.” I don’t remember much after that. I remember my best friend walking me out to the car because I couldn’t stop crying. I remember talking to my family on my phone, asking how my cousin was doing, and crying some more. I remember crying myself to sleep around three in the morning.

I went to visit him when I returned from San Francisco around midnight. There were around ten or so people in the room visiting him. My cousins said that the night before around twenty people showed up. He was lying there on his bed. He couldn’t talk and he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open. Finally, he looked up and saw me. I didn’t know what to say to him. He stared, smiled, and gave me a thumps up. I tried my best not to cry. I smiled and gave a thumps up as well.

The doctor told us the bullet hit near his spine. A few centimeters in a different direction and my cousin could have been paralyzed.

Over the next few weeks, my family visited him at the hospital. A few of my cousins slept over on their days off work. He was able to go home three weeks later, but had a hard time walking and talking. He lost fifteen pounds from all the surgeries and had to drop out of school for the semester. He stopped working also. His life completely changed, but his personality stayed the same.

A few weeks ago, I took him out to eat. He couldn’t remember getting shot, but he did remember waking up in the hospital and seeing his family. He was thankful and happy to see us. We continued talking about life and his future. And all of a sudden I saw him as the five year old kid that I used to baby sit. And just like that, I was taking care of him again. And I realized just how short our lives can really be.

Like always, he keeps telling us jokes, makes us laugh, and continues to smile through every obstacle. I really don’t know how he does it. He’s got the spirit of a champ. But I guess that’s something nobody can take away from him.

 

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The Roommate Who Saved My Life

When I was 21 years old, I moved to San Francisco by myself. At that time, I didn’t realize just how lonesome the real world could be.

This is the story of how my roommate saved my life and how I wasn’t there to save his.

His name was Justin, a sailor who had recently moved from Maine to San Francisco in order to attend the local community college. He was white, short, and skinny. He often wore tight t-shirts, tight cut-off shorts, and too much makeup that made him look feminine. He fit my stereotypical image of a gay man, so I knew he was gay when I first saw him. He was flamboyant when he wanted to be and usually spoke whatever was on his mind, no matter how inappropriate his comments were at times.

We were the complete opposites, but we got along quite well. We shared details about our lives during the first days he moved into the house, and we quickly developed a friendship. I wanted to be completely honest with him, so I decided to tell him I was gay. At first, he looked at me in shock and then, very excitedly, told me he would take me to gay clubs, bars, and show me around the city. I smiled. He was my first true friend in San Francisco.

On our first night out, Justin gave me vodka to calm my nerves, but I felt more nervous and drunk by the time we arrived at the club. Once inside, I couldn’t believe I was seeing men kiss, touch, and dance with each other. Suddenly, I became part of the gay world and I felt strange and partly scared. I wanted to go back, but Justin didn’t allow me. My world had just been changed and Justin was to thank.

While inside the club, Justin warned me that the gay world was all about sex and that I should be careful because men in these clubs prey on younger guys. I looked around and saw a room full of friendly men; his comment confused me. He advised that long-distance relationships do not work because most gay guys cheat; I assured him that my boyfriend and I were happy even if we were living far away from each other. Finally, he told me that most gay guys in the community have fucked around with each other, so a true gay platonic friendship was rare. I didn’t know what to say; I had no intentions of messing around with him.

That night an older man tried to take me to his place because he knew I was drunk. Luckily, Justin found me before my panic attack worsened and we took a taxi back home. After that incident, he told me that he would be there to protect me. And he kept his word.

I can go on and tell you about the many times Justin took care of me when we went out clubbing or how he called me a prude for being so afraid to show my sexuality. Or that one night he said I dressed too “straight” and decided to dress me in a tight flannel shirt that showed some skin. Or how we spent hours in his room talking about music, our families, our relationships, and the little friends we had. But that’s not the story I want to tell.

Justin passed away in April of 2012. He was only 22.

I had only known him for 2 months before he moved back home, but that was enough for us to consider each other friends. But soon I became busy with school and we hardly talked. I last messaged Justin a few weeks before his death to tell him that my boyfriend had cheated on me throughout our relationship. Justin was right, gay guys often cheat.

I learned of Justin’s death later that month. It was ruled as an accidental fall.

Truth of the matter, Justin had been going through some hard times. He didn’t have many true gay friends he could talk with about his problems, so he often took trips by himself when he wanted to clear his head. I often wonder what would have happened if I was there to talk with him during the night he fell off the tower. Truth is, I often think about him.

You see, Justin tried to teach me about the gay community, but he taught me about life. Older, more experienced, individuals can take advantage of younger, less experienced, people. Sometimes relationships just end or people cheat while being in one. More importantly, he taught me that true friends are rare.

I needed Justin during that time in my life. The gay world for a newly “out” individual can be dangerously lonely.

On the night he moved out, we were avoiding that awkward goodbye hug. Finally, after constantly checking his room for any missing belongings, he approached me. He gave me a hug and said that I was one of the good guys. He said that I shouldn’t be afraid of being myself, my gay self, and to take care of myself. I told him I would try to be more gay and for him to take care of himself too.

If I knew that would be the last time we would see each other, I would have hugged him longer and tighter. I would have thanked him for being there to teach me about the world and for protecting me from the bad guys. I would have told him that I loved him for being himself. I would have told him that he could always talk to me whenever he wanted to cry. But I didn’t say any of that.

As he drove off, I waved goodbye. I then went to his empty room and cried.

My Life And The Bloggers In It

To tell you the truth, I never really expected anyone to care about what I wrote on my blog or to get many positive comments. I really didn’t. I wrote because I knew I would have the option to click on my posts, read them, and go back to a period of time in my life. Times where I was happy and times were I was sad. I’ve been doing that lately. I know later in my life I will see certain events differently or completely forget certain memories because memories really do fade away. So I’m glad that you’re here with me because you’re giving me a new reason to share. I write because I want you to know my story and I appreciate you reading my blog. No joke.

A few bloggers have told me that they like my style of writing (that’s the first time I’ve been told I have style). I have also been thanked for sharing stories that are so personal. Honestly, I didn’t know how personal my stories were until I was told they were very personal and I don’t think I will ever change that about my blog. All my posts (except for this one) have taken me days to write because I really do want you to understand how I felt during that moment in my life. A few bloggers have shared similar experiences that remind me that sometimes we go through the same things.

I get happy when I see a notification and see that it’s a comment from a blogger that has something nice to say about my post. Those are the best. So what I want to do is ask you all a question (well a few questions actually).

Which is your favorite post of mine and why? What is it about my blog that you like the most? What would you like to know more about?

As for me, my favorite posts would have to be:

“The first relationship of my life” because I’m still recovering from the emotional effects and it takes me back to a time were I was so naive and in love at 21 years old.

“My life in blog” because it’s my first post and I have a thing about “firsts.” Also, the positive feedback I received from that post gave me the motivation to continue writing more.

And

“The brother who left my life” because I never expected to publish that story on this blog. I was literally scared of exposing that side of myself. You were the first people to hear about that event in my life. Two days later, I told my best friend and I remember crying in the car. It was something special really.

Those are three of my favorite. I hope I hear more from all of you. I’m really curious to know what makes people click on the like button. I really have no clue. I think my posts are too simple to be considered well-written or engaging. They are just simple posts from a simple guy.

The Brother Who Left My Life

This is the one of the most honest and sensitive topics I will write about. I hope you read until the end before you judge. It will mean a lot to me. Thank you.

I want to tell you about my older brother. He was the second child in the family and only three years older than myself. I looked up to him as a kid because he took care of me, plain and simple. I remember how he used to come up with these crazy funny jokes that made everybody in the room laugh and he had a laugh that would make us laugh some more. He introduced me to new music, hairstyles, fashion trends, graffiti, cigarettes, youth gangs, and the way drugs worked. He was amazing.

But as much as I hate to think about him as a person with great potential who let drugs take over his life, I know that’s the truth. He started drinking and smoking weed in junior high and soon upgraded to doing heroin and cocaine while in high school. During his senior year, the drugs took over and he started to act paranoid. He stayed up during most nights, checked the windows, and insisted people were coming to harm the family. In his head, he was only trying protecting us just like he did when I was younger. But as a teen, I didn’t want any protection.

One night I was frustrated with the way he was behaving that I started yelling at him to act normal and stop pretending to be mentally ill (I will never assume someone is faking ever again). I don’t know how it happened, but I remember that suddenly my brother was on top of me and he started choking me. I couldn’t move. All I could do was stare at his face. He looked so  terrified. From there one, I just remember how cold his hands felt around my neck. That was the first and last time he ever laid his hands on me. My oldest brother came rushing downstairs, pulled my brother off, threw him to the ground, started hitting him, and told him to never hit me again. He kept his word.

After that incident, I convinced myself to never talk to my brother again. I gave him the silent treatment which did a lot more damage than I had ever anticipated. I ignored his jokes and pretended he wasn’t my brother. I would leave the room when he wanted to talk. He would beg for me to listen, but I looked the other way. Ignoring him was the easy part, but noticing the real problem was the hardest.

He soon starting behaving more psychotic. He stayed in the room for hours and laughed hysterically when he was by himself. He refused to eat and lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. He refused to take showers or clean himself after going to the bathroom. He would make stories up and believed there were people who wanted to harm the family. He was suffering, but I didn’t care. I always thought he was pretending. My cousins suggested that I talk to him because that is what he really wanted. I’m not sure if talking to him would have prevented or prolonged his condition. I really don’t know.

He soon got arrested for being in a gang neighborhood that his probation terms prohibited him from entering. That was his third strike, so he got deported back to Mexico. He remained there while I graduated high school, received my AA degree, and moved to San Francisco. He called home on his birthdays, December 31st, and my family would take turns talking to him on the phone. They would wish him a happy birthday and say that they loved and missed him. I would get skipped whenever it would be my turn; my family knew that I didn’t want to talk to him. I now wished that I had.

You see, my brother was living in a place where there continues to be many kidnappings and murders, and my family lost contact with him almost a year ago. My mom prays that he will one day show up and we will be a family again. She has hope. I don’t now how. I can’t imagine the pain of not knowing if your son is dead or alive. I hope I never do. I visited my mom a few months ago, walked in her room, and saw a small shrine of my older brother with a photo of him that was taken before he lost weight. I couldn’t help, but get sad.

During that trip, I kept on thinking about how he didn’t see me graduate high school or wish me good luck before moving to San Francisco. I kept on thinking about how he missed out on my life. But then again I wasn’t there when he needed my help or when he got deported. I wasn’t there to wish him a happy birthday. I wasn’t there to tell him that everything would be okay and that we will soon be together. I wasn’t there to hug him when he needed it.

Then I think think of all the things he won’t get to see. He won’t get to see me when I get married. He won’t be there to wish me good luck when I get my first professional job. He won’t be here when I adopt a child. He won’t be here to protect me anymore or to tell me that everything will be okay and that we will be together soon; that makes me cry.

I often wonder if he ever thought of me during those nights in Mexico. I was a bad person to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stopped caring. Truth is, I really miss my older brother. He was a good person that just needed help. I can’t take back what I did (or didn’t do). It’s too late for that now. All I can do is hope that he’s in a good place right now, and to tell you that I love him.

The First Relationship Of My Life

I never thought I would tell you personal stories of myself, but today I feel different. I feel a bit unhappy. I want to tell you about my summer before I moved to San Francisco. It was a summer of exploring, and man did I explore (literally and metaphorically). I was still in the closet, just turned 21, and pretty nervous about moving away from my family. I had never traveled outside of Orange County because I never had much of an excuse to venture out. I did all my traveling in my head and I was okay with that.

I was originally going to move out with three friends, but in the end all three couldn’t go and I was left to move out by myself; I got scared. I didn’t want to tell my family because I never told them that I was planning to move away. I felt lonely, but a different kind of loneliness. I was talking less to my family and friends, and more to a guy. My family never knew about him, and I doubt they ever will. I find that sad. He meant a lot to me. To tell you the truth, he still does.

I met him that summer on an online dating site. We met and hooked up that night. As much as I would like to change our first date to be on a beach under the stars hearing the waves, I know that I can’t. That doesn’t make me like him any less. I think he liked me as well because we would text all day and talk all night. We would talk about what we liked and what we wanted out of our futures. I was surprised that I could relate to all the cliche summer fling stories I heard about, and I was happy. I will never forget that summer. I was living in a movie and I didn’t want my summer to end. I was naive and in love. He was seven years older than I was, but he made me smile, a happy smile, a real smile.

Before knowing him, my only interaction with the gay community in Orange County came from sneaking out at night with men I had previously chatted with online. I was a random hook up to older gay men, a mediocre at best a lousy one at worst. I was new and would get nervous before every encounter, but soon those dark alley ways, dimly lit parks, and car seats were beginning to feel too familiar.

My ex-boyfriend changed my view of the gay world. For once, I was being taken on dates to restaurants and hanging out in public places. Being gay felt normal and something that I didn’t have to hide. I loved every moment spent with him and soon I started to love him. I didn’t want to leave Orange County; I thought he was my reason to stay and soon asked him out. Till this day I don’t know how I got enough courage to ask him if he would be my boyfriend, but I will never regret my decision.

We continued talking. I told him my fears and how scared I was of moving away (I forgot to tell him how much I feared losing him). He reassured me that San Francisco was the right move and that I should go. That made me feel good, and perhaps I used him or perhaps he used me. I still don’t know. He was there to drop me off at the train station and it felt like a scene from a movie.

And that’s how my summer ended, full of promise and hope. Soon after I would learn the full story of my first boyfriend, and the drama that followed changed me completely. That’s a different story though and for a different post. I would like to end this post telling you how I loved that train ride to San Francisco. I was excited to move away and be independent. I wanted to explore the gay scene in San Francisco and learn more about myself. I remember looking out the window and thinking that this was the best decision I ever made.

A picture of the waves I took during a random drive to the Santa Monica Pier with me ex-friend.