Sometimes I wish I was back in California. Not for the reasons most would think, though. Yes, the weather is nice almost all year around. There are the beaches, deserts, mountains, streams, lakes, national parks to explore, and so much more. None of those are what I am thinking of today. I could wax poetically for hours about flowers, cacti blossoms, Joshua trees, or cliffs overlooking rocky beaches and beautiful water. Especially catching horned toad lizards in the desert, OH how I loved playing with them. All that is for another day.
A white guy at least 3 times my size bumped slam into me, almost knocked me flat on my ass. He looked down at me like some kind of ogre, grabbed the blue Nike hat off of my head and threw it in the trashcan. I was shocked, for a couple of seconds I couldn't even move. Then my mouth opened and what came out was of pure stupidity on my part. I bowed up and yelled, "DUDE! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!" I stepped over to the trashcan, reached in grabbed my hat and put it back on my head. When I turned around I saw about 10 guys standing directly around me and half the damn school was standing behind them. The big guy said "You're new here aren't you, bitch?" I swallowed my pride and tried not to act scared, never act afraid even in the worst OH SHIT moment you ever have. I stepped toward him and said "No, I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana and my father is stationed at Camp Pendleton."
He smirked, and started to laugh. I thought it was over, I was in the clear and would not be getting my ass beat today. He tried to punk me and I stood up to him. I was partially right. In this weird Spanglish he said "Welcome to Fallbrook little guppie. You ever walk down our hallway wearing BLUE colors again, you won't be walking out." He grabbed my hat again and threw it in the trashcan, then he grabbed me and pushed me face first into the trashcan. The trashcan fell over and I just stayed there kneeling, staring at him. He said some shit in Spanish and he and his boys turned around and walked away. The crowd dispersed and I turned around and walked away in the opposite direction.
I had unknowingly gained some respect in that moment, even though I was almost shitting in my pants. Later that day I was approached by another group of people........ the all had blue bandannas hanging out of their back pockets. I moved around in California 4 or 5 more times with my parents. I learned that a color could make you an adopted family member to people you may have never even met before. Colors, races and territories became families, and family is the most protected thing in gang life.
Strength, honor and respect are cherished and applauded. Lying, cheating, and stealing, are all sings of weakness. I do not remember anytime in California that I had to wonder who my friends were. No one lied to me or stole something that was not his/hers. No one would dare to rat on you about drugs or illegal activity, even when they faced jail time. If you fucked your homie's lady you better move or you would get beat down, maybe even killed. When someone fucked up, they were taught a lesson. If they did it again they were made an example of.
I was always kinda on the outside looking in. I moved so much I could never really be "in" the inner circles of the gang life. I was like the Jedi apprentice learning the basics of the force. I know one thing, several of them fought with me and for me on different occasions and they barely even knew me. Some of them treated me as a little brother just kinda to keep me out of trouble. I respected them, and I tried to honor them every chance I got. I know without some of their help I would have been stabbed or shot, just another statistic. Well, I was stabbed.... just a cut though.
Do I miss the shootings, stabbings, beatings, drugs, weapons, police harassment, or being kicked out of high school? FUCK NO! It was terrible, so painful in body and spirit. What I do miss is that I never had to question any one's loyalty. No one ever pretended to be my friend while talking shit about me to anyone that would listen. Here there is almost no one I can trust, no one to believe in. Just when they gain your trust you realize there is something sharp poking you in the back. Even better is when someone comes to you in confidence to tell you the horrible things your "friend" has been saying about you or another "friend." How can you say someone is your "friend" while you tell everyone lies about them, behind their backs?
Friends don't call each other names behind their backs. Friends don't tell other people about secret things you told them in confidence. Friends do not tell other people that you area a horrible parent. Friends do not try to get you to do immoral or illegal things. Friends do not steal from you. Friends do not try to manipulate you. Friends do not try to interfere in your marriage. Friends do not try to get you fired from your job. Friends do not tell you about other friends problems. Friends do not tell everyone that they are a victim, and try to make you look like a terrible person.
I guess you have never really been anyone's "friend."