Sup everyone... My names Dave, and a long time hobby of mine has always been writing. Ever since I was a kid I've enjoyed writing short stories and poems and I've recently decided to take on a more ambitious project and write a memoir of my life. Over the last day or so I wrote what will be the first chapter, chronicling from when I was born until just before my 9th birthday, and I could really use some feedback. I realize the subject matter is a bit narcissistic... I wanted to stick with something I knew for my first big undertaking.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read it and any constructive criticism would be appreciated!
So as it stands, I have warrants in three states, roughly $5,000 in legal fines over my head with more on the way, my private debts are almost triple my legal ones, I might be going to jail for up to a year this Tuesday, and if I don't almost definitely am this Friday . I was declared delinquent by the state of Maryland at the age of 14, I dropped out at 16, and have spent the 12 years since then causing havoc all up and down the east coast. I've spent half my adult life on probation, including multiple stints in multiple county jails and have done just about any drug you could think of. I should probably slow down a bit though. Hi, I'm Dave, and as you can probably tell, I'm a total fucking loser.
I'm gonna start this off by letting you know that if it weren't for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I wouldn't be here typing this right now; No, I'm not in recovery...My parents met in the rooms of AA on a cold winter evening in early 1986 somewhere outside Washington D.C.. After some romancing mixed with some wining and dining and the likes they held a pants off dance off and thus, 9 months later in a capital area hospital in early 1987 I was born.
My mom is short italian woman, about 5'5. Back then she had very long flowing hair and a healthy build. Looking at old photos of her, she was actually quite universally beautiful; You know like in a child or a puppy or a kitten in front of some flowers or something sorta way... Easy on the eyes. She was a stay at home mom and she was actually quite good at it. She had a very traditional upbringing and her own mother was a home-ec teacher. She knew how to sew, cook, clean, and everything like 1950's American dream mom, though she admittedly avoided doing that stuff as much as possible. She is the sweetest lady on earth, but she messed up in college, falling into the partying lifestyle over going to class and eventually dropping out. She was only a few months sober when she met my father when at age 26.
My father was a car salesman who dropped out of college after breaking his back and neck all in one down playing football after getting caught between 2 defensive linesman. He was an offensive linesman, which is how he was in that position, and as you can probably gather from that he was a mountain of a man at 6'3 300 lbs. He was actually quite the all-star with an easy ticket to the NFL before he got injured from what he used to tell me. I know he had a lot of trophies that said offensive player of the year for the D.C. metro area but I don't know what his college performance was like or how long he even played. I do know he had some trouble with the law involving a few ounces of marijuana and a sizeable amount of barbituates which forced him to go to a smaller school instead of his dream school, the University of Maryland. He was 32 and about five years sober when he met my mom.
My extremely early memories really all feel happy I suppose. Me playing with my mom, dad and brothers, I used to be the best of all of us at nintendo, Learning to ride a bike. You know... Childhood stuff. Looking back now, things weren't as pleasant as they felt. My parents argued a lot. I remember vidily seeing my dad throw a paper plate of pees, mac n' cheese, and some sort of like mashed potatoes or applesauce from one side of our house to the other and it literally stuck to the wall. There's fragments of things like my dad chasing my mom around with a bat. Lots of yelling matches. More like a yelling massacre carried out by papadukes.
Our house was a small town home with a very open floor plan. There weren't any full walls except for around the kitchen amd bathroom. The other 2 rooms and hallway were divided up buy waist high rails. All very plain... White with brown trim and popcorn ceilings. There was a tiny little 2-steps down into the living room that made it so the rail there was chest high instead, and a sliding glass door in the back. Upstairs was 2 identical bedrooms which belonged to me and my older brother Dominic, a master bedroom the size of both put together, and a bathroom in between the three of them.
I'm assuming the furniture was all hand-me down going off the shape a lot of it was in but I can't say for sure. We did have a very nice grand piano my mom inherited which looked out of place next to our beat up brown and yellow couch and love seat. The family room, which was smallest of the downstairs room, rested in between the middle of everything at the top of the "living room 2-step" I told you about earlier, and was basically just an 8x8 square with no furniture and waist high railings where my parents kept their old records and other odds and ends. The kitchen was somewhat cramped; In addition to our fridge, dish washer, stove, and microwave it also held our washer and dryer. The washer and dryer were one of those vertical stack combos and the dryer would make the whole house sing with a strangely hypnotic rhythym whenever my mom washed clothes. We had a table tucked in there as well but to get to one side of it required sucking in my stomach and squeezing, even when I was a young child.
I lived, like I said earlier, in a town home complex. My court consisted of 3 big cul-de-sacs each with their own little grassy hill in the middle and each with about 4 to 6 blocks of houses, with each block containing 7 houses each (My house was house number 7 on our block and it was the end, thats how I'll always remember the exact number) Now when I was extremely young, when my parents first bought our house, our neighborhood was actually fairly nice for our "income bracket" from what my parents tell me. I distinctly remember water gun fights with neighborhood kids, having bike races around the hill in front of my house, and climbing trees. You know... Little boy stuff.
One night in the fall of 91, when I was 4 1/2 years old, my parents woke me and my older brother Dominic in the middle of the night. "You're going to Aunt Liz's... the baby is on the way" my dad whispered as he threw my jacket on and carried me to the car. That's right... I'm trying to tell you that in addition to Dominic I had a twist ending surprise younger brother this whole time. His name is Patrick and he's a pretty cool guy ,though for a long time he was the third member of a non-stop 3 way battle between me and my other war; The wildcard that upset the balance of power and always decided who the winner would be if you would. You're gonna be hearing all about these people soon enough though.
Going into kindergarten I was an average sized italian kid, brown hair brown eyes with a bowl cut, hand-me down clothes and very a happy-go lucky attitude. I was a bit clueless as all kids are and walked around with my head in the clouds. My family used to make fun of how much I would go on and on about my various daydreams saying I had diarrhea of the mouth, and I remember one time I went to school with my shorts on backwards all day long. I liked to play video games and walked around with my head in the clouds. My thoughts were mostly focused on Mario, the Ninja turtles, and basically just doing whatever it is kids do. My mom had actually home schooled me a bit using hooked on phonics and hooked on math before my younger brother was born, and despite all the jokes people make about the commercials from the 90's, it gave me quite the leg up. From the very start my teachers could tell I was just a step ahead of all the other kids in my class for every lesson. My only downfalls were that my handwriting was absolutely awful and I absolutely never did homework. In my head homework was for kids that didn't understand it during class, and I understood it during class so I get to go play.
There were was a family a few doors down from us who would end up being my familiy's best friends that consisted of two girls named Elizabeth and Stephanie who were me and Dominic's ages, their mother Tina, and their father Mike. What I didn't realize as a kid was that the property value of my neighborhood was slowly declining, which was how stay-at-home Tina and semi-employed, chronically alcohol and drug addicted Mike were able to get their home through HUD's subsidized housing program. See unlike my parents who took out a loan and bought our house, more and more people in my court were getting their houses through section 8. This brought a bit of an undesirable element around.
That isn't to say Tina and her family were or are bad people (I'm still friends with them today,though we don't talk much anymore)but like my family, they certainly didn't have much money. Mike was an alcoholic and could barely hold a job. He wasn't particularly mean or anything,, but the man was always drunk. I remember once he was babysitting us and I asked for a drink. He told me he had soda and water, so I asked for soda; Turns out that soda was beer. I didn't know it at the time but I remember taking one sip and hating the bitter taste. He tried convincing me to drink more, but I insisted on water and eventually he chugged it himself and finally got me a glass with ice from the tap.
Other families in the neighborhood however, were much less friendly and lets say law abiding. Two guys in particular, one a white guy 6 years my elder named Chad and the other a black dude 3 years younger than him named Stephen, ended up taking the role of antagonists and token bullies for this portion of my life. Once when I was about 6, Chad rode up to us on a bike and talked us into buying a crossbow from him for 5 dollars. We obviously had no clue what it was and thought it was just a cool toy so we grabbed the allowance we had saved up and bought it. Thankfully he didn't sell us any bolts or we could have seriously accidentally injured ourselves. Our parents took it from us immediately after we showed it to them, they gave it to our uncle, and he brought it to the police. Chad didn't get in trouble but the police questioned him about it so he knew we had told on him. He didn't like that much and it made us his, and as he was the oldest of the juvenile hoodlums and therefore the leader, fucking everybody else's favorite target.
Mom and Dad did the best they could with what they had, but we weren't the most affluent family you're ever gonna hear of. All the money my dad made was tied up in the mortgage and it really wasn't much. He was working a commission based job in the middle of the first Bush era recession and eventually he got laid off. He went to an intensive technical school and got a certification in computer networking. This turned out to be both a blessing and a curse, While he was in school, he lived off unemployment and money was tight, and once he finished he worked long hours and was rarely around. The times he was around there was a lot of arguing and the likes. My mom spent a lot of nights sleeping on the couch and the became more and more frequent as time went on.
When I was about 6 my grandfather on my father's side died, and my dad became very depressed.This was the beginning of the final chapter in my parents marriage.Here's an anecdote that makes a good microcosm for the next year or so: When we were driving to my grandfathers wake my father was understandably heartbroken and therefore much more irritable than usual. He began screaming at my mom and before long demanded to be let out of the car so he could just walk the rest of the way. The rest of the family arrived to the wake well before him, which I can only assume was super awkward for my mom considering it was his family she was explaining this argument to. When my dad came in he was back to being calm, apologized and grieved like you would expect.
The fighting became more frequent and more unpredictable. My father would have an outburst, my mom would either go over to Tina's or my dad would hop in the car and drive, then when they saw each other later that day my dad would apologize and be extra placating until bedtime. That sort of poor anger managment behavior my father displayed obviously carried on to me and my brothers and we were swinging fists at each other and kids in the neighborhood on almost a daily basis. Looking at other families now I can see how this is all pretty dysfunctional behavior, but to me, back then, everything seemed like it was perfect.
That illusion was pretty abrubtly shattered when I was about 7 years old. One day after school, my dad came in my room where the tv and nintendo were and sat down on the bed next to me and my older brother looking sadder than I'd ever seen a man in my life. He said, "Boys can you pause for a second I need to tell you something". I could tell he had been crying, and to put into context how rare that was, at the time I didn't know crying was something daddies did. I thought mommyies cried when they were sad and daddies yelled and thats just how it was. He explained to us that he was leaving because mommy didn't want him there anymore. We asked him when he would be home. Thats when he painfully choked out the best explanation for a divorce he could muster at the time.
The next year and really the next 21 years are pure, absolute,uninterrupted chaos. Mommies cry and daddies yell remember? Well we stayed with mommy who was doing a lot of crying, and the only times we saw daddy there was a lot of yelling and some other things people do when they're "daddy sad" too. Remember, both my parents were recovering alcoholics. Now neither of them relapsed during this time, but as anyone in the program will tell you, the drink is only half the problem. My dad had extreme anger issues. My mom wasn't qualified to work more than a minimum wage job. My older brother, who was 3 years older than me, was born while my mother was still actively drinking and as such had FAS. His father disappeared and refused to support him, so my father adopted him.The situation was not ideal
As a result of his FAS my older brother was starting to fall behind his class in reading, so my mother took him to an after-school tutoring center called Sylvan. One day when we were going to pick up my brother, my mom said "Your daddy is going to be here but don't get in the car with him okay?"
"How do you know daddy is going to be here?!?!? I wanna see daddy!!!"
"I just know... But you can't go say hi to him you have to stay with me."
Of course, when we we pulled up my dad was indeed waiting and he called me over to the car. Overjoyed to see his dad like any boy would be, I forgot my moms warning and hopped in the car with him. My mom went inside to sign my brother out and I sat with him. He didn't say much as he circled the car around the parking lot to position it as far from Sylvan as he could, so I asked him what he was doing:
"Waiting for your mom to come back out"
"Why are you parking so far then stupid....?"
Before he could answer though, I found out first hand. As my mom walked across the parking lot with my older brother, he gunned the engine. I watched in frenzied disbelief as the car accelerated towards my mother, who was frozen in terror in the middle of parking lot. She put herself in front of Dominic and held her arm in front of her face as if to shield herself rom the metal collosus barreling towards her. I cried and pleaded with my father, screaming at the top of my lungs but certain it wasn't working. At the last minute he stopped, told me to get out, and then drove away. This would be a recurring theme in my life for the forseeable future.
It all came to a head in January of 96'. I remember because a massive nor'easter had shut down the beltway area and I didn't have school for almost a week. Towards the beginning of my surprise snow vacation, I asked my mom if I could spend my day off at daddy's house. My father had actually moved in with his mother about 20 minutes away and since they were still early on in the seperation my parents were playing fairly fast and losse with visitation. She said yes, on one conditon: "You can't tell your daddy about mommy's new friend, Joe, okay?"
It was a good day from what I remember. My dad was happy to see me and my brothers as he always was. It was my first blizzard and I had never seen so much snow in my life. We played outside building snow forts and drank hot chocolate. I was stunned because we actually had enough snow for me to make one I could actually climb inside if I used the snow banks left by plows as a starting point.As we were leaving my dad took an unusually friendly tone, "So what's your mom been up to lately?"
Had I fully understood the amount of raw emotion involved in love, or the fact that mommy's new friend Joe also happened to be daddy's best friend, I might have remembered what my mom told me early. "She goes to AA meetings with her new friend Joe... They like to have sleepovers!" I said...
He kept the same deceptively friendly tone as he asked what Joe looked like, and I readily described a medium sized man in his mid 40's with greying combed back hair, a salt and pepper beard, and glasses. Obviously my dad knew who Joe was but nothing in his body language told me he was upset at the time. He was perfectly calm and peaceful as my mom came picked us up. He told her we were on our best behavior and we had a great time. After my mom finished buckling in Patrick as she was getting into the car my dad in an almost movie super villianish way,"Tell Joe I said 'Hi"".
I remember mom driving home in an absolute panic. I had accidentally pushed the button on an ICBM and the missile defense system was down. As soon as we got there, she hurried me and my brothers upstairs while simultaneously trynig to explain to Joe what was happening. I remember she kept telling him dad would be there any second, and I kept running from my room going "I WANNA SEE DADDY!!!" which only served to rile up her already flustered state. She finally got me to stay in the room, and it wasn't a second too soon. I heard a lot of crashing coming from downstairs along with some screams from my mom. Eventually I heard everything move outside and get silent so I slowly crept downstairs.
My mom was in the kitchen dialing 911; I don't even think she noticed as I walked past her and went outside to see if my dad was around. I didn't see my father and I couldn't see his car anywhere. What I saw was a man curled in a ball, half his body in the snow the other half face down on the freshly shoveled sidewalk with a pool of blood quickly growing from his forehead. I saw a side of my father that day that I've seen only one time since... A murderous rage so intense I didn't know it could exist in the hearts of any person. The ambulances arrived and took Joe away. That night my mom told us to pack our bags because we were leaving in the morning.
"Where are we going?"
"Hiding from what?"