I hate riding the NYC subway. Not because I think it’s a dirty, crime infested mess (it’s not). I mainly hate it because you never know who you’re going to see. Sure, there may be the occasional homeless person funking up the train. But I’m not talking about that guy – he doesn’t bother me. It’s the person from my past that I dread seeing. The person that recognizes you from high school 11 years ago. The person who was a client at the mental health clinic you worked at. The person who’s name you can’t and don’t want to remember. Most of all I dread seeing the old homie from back in the day that you lost contact with.
While some of my people from HS became lawyers and other types of successful professionals, others became not much at all. Of course I’m not looking down on those that are still trying to find their calling while working at Starbucks. That’s OK. Heck, I think I’m a writer trapped in an administrator’s body, but I gladly do both. I’m as lost as anyone else. I’m referring to the guys who are still on the block hustling. The guys who never grew up and moved on. And by “moved on” I don’t mean leaving the ‘hood. I mean deciding that legitimate business pursuits are best for your long term interests. (You can stay in where you are and still be successful.)
But I digress.
Earlier this week on the subway I ran into, no, ran away from an old associate of mine from high school. I saw him and said “Oh sh*t! I hope he didn’t see me!” I averted my eyes, rumaged through my man bag, and found found a magazine (Black Enterprise with Obama on the cover). I became really focused on the article, praying that I wasn’t noticed. He got off a few stops later and I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t seen him since he was kicked out of school 13 years ago. We were cool then, but I’m a non-profit married daddy now. And the stuff we were into then, if he’s still into it, wouldn’t mesh with my mellow lifestyle.
The reason I even bothered to mention this is that he was one of the ringleaders in the crime syndicate that I was on the, um, planning committee for back in the early ’90s. It didn’t get off the ground thank God (our funder was kicked out of school). Then it all fell apart after the guy I avoided on the train held his father hostage, or something, and went into the system. Again I thank God for the demise of our group.
My point is that even I was dumb when I was young and I was always known as the smart one from my crew. No matter what I was into though I went to class and actually learned. Sadly my involvement in certain things was about survival, not much else. I didn’t care about being cool then and I can care even less now. These day you take me and my scruffy beard as I am, or not. I am who I am.
This week, after recalling this snippet of my past, I had an epiphany: my son is going to have a dumb adolescent stage to struggle through starting in about ten years. My job is to make sure that even through the hormonal, clique joining, clothes and girls focused years that he makes good decisions. Life is all about the decisions you make and the consequences of those decisions. He absolutely has to be able to know right from wrong, and be able to act on that knowledge appropriately, well before the dumbness kicks in. I have several years to plan a strategy, but seeing the old friend on the train reminded me that Dev won’t be cute and four forever. Us parents are molding futures here and now. No pressure.
I think I’m going to puke.