Friday, March 05, 2010

Me and Johnny

A couple months ago somebody wrote me an email and asked me a whole bunch of questions. One of those questions was about how Johnny and I had become friends because ever since my “ass kicking Johnny” post people have always been a little curious to learn how we became buds. Now that I am spending the next 3 weeks here in Las Vegas with him, and I can't seem to fall asleep, I think I can spare the time to tell that story.

Johnny and I have known each other since we were 7, but we didn't become friends until well after I turned 13. Johnny is actually one of the very few friends that I have that is my age. We never really had much interaction with each other in school because we were in separate grades, but we did see a lot of each other in martial arts classes. So beside his name, and the fact that he was a very good fighter, I never really took the time to learn anything else about him. That all changed the summer of 1998.

The year preceding 98 I was getting into a lot of trouble. I was a very angry kid acting out against my parents by staying out all night, defacing public property, and drinking on a regular basis. By the time that summer came along I had been arrested 6 times for a plethora of reasons all of which I was extremely guilty of, but due to my stellar scholastic achievements as well as my Varsity extracurriculars, not to mention my very rich dad, I kept getting passes.

Finally all parties involved had had enough and they decided that I needed a reality check. So the juvenile court judge sentenced me to 6 months of incarceration at a juvenile detention facility that was to be reduced to 2 months with one year of probation so I could conveniently be incarcerated in the summer months where it wouldn't effect my schooling or my sports schedule. Looking back it's almost comical the way they basically bent backwards to accommodate me and make sure there were no real inconveniences to me or my life. From sealing my records so it wouldn't effect my varsity status, to letting me out in time for my academic decathlon summer training session the week before school started.

I noticed Johnny the very first day in “juvenile detention”. I walked right up to him and started a conversation, I don't even remember what it was about, but from that moment on we were best friends. That summer bonded us in such a deep and uniquely personal way that I will never be able to fully express with words of how grateful I am for the experience. In general, I look back at juvenile detention with fondness and view it as a very positive time. We went to group therapy sessions together where we learned each other's life stories and we discovered that we both came from a very similar fucked up family life. We cried, grew, and learned together, and by the end we weren't even close to the people we came into this situation being.

The one thing about my summer incarceration that I remember even more than Johnny was how Tyler and Mrs. Tyler visited me more than my own parents. I remember before I left to serve my time, Tyler was practically in tears because he was so scared something bad was going to happen to me. My entire life he was the guy that had my back in any and every difficult or socially awkward situation I had ever been in, but now he couldn't help me. He swore to me he'd be there every visiting day no matter what, and he was. After he found out that I'd found somebody that I have known for years there with me and we were now good friends, our visits even took on a fun and lighthearted mood that had been lacking the first few weeks.

Johnny finished serving his time a week before I did, and that last week without him was the first time during my entire incarceration where I actually felt like I was being punished. To this day, that was probably one of the longest weeks in my life. After I got out, Johnny and I got together a few times and we had problems clicking like we had before. We were in different grades, at different schools, and we lived in different cities, so we really had to struggle at first to maintain our friendship.

I can't really remember the point where it stopped being awkward and everything just fell into place, but eventually it did happen. And I know that I am luckier than any other man on the planet because of our friendship. More than Tyler, or even Bradley, Johnny and I can relate to each other like nobody else can, and it has nothing to do with being incarcerated together. Johnny knows what it's like to come from a home with an abusive parent, he knows what it feels like to be the oldest sibling doing everything he could to protect the ones he loves. He knows what it feels like to break under all that pressure and just want to die for not being able to be strong enough. I love him as much as I love Tyler, and I love them both as much as I love my 2 blood related brothers.

Matt, I just had an epiphany that I am now sharing with you as well as all my readers. I am not going to lie, your last post made me really sad for more reasons than I really even understood after first reading it. Whether you are talking about friendships or relationships, you can't expect to ever be everything to any one single person. Like parfaits, onions, and ogres, we all have layers. The goal in life isn't to find a person that can't live without you, but to find people that YOU could never live without! If Brad, Tyler, or Johnny ever asked me to choose just one of them over the rest, I'd probably die because I can't imagine my life without all of them in it. I have never been jealous or worried about them replacing me with somebody else because at the end of the day just knowing that I would be there for them when they needed me has always been enough. When I was in jail Tyler wasn't jealous for a second that I had made a friend that in essence had replaced him, he was happy I wasn't alone, and to me that's what friendship is. That's why your opening statement really bothers me so much! Anybody who tries to marginalize you as a person isn't really your friend, but at the same time investing in a friendship only to see what you can get out of it isn't a real friendship either. I don't know if I am anybody's favorite person, and I don't know if I am the one guy any of my friends would choose if forced to make that decision (because these are not questions I have ever really asked myself); but what I do know is I need them, and that's enough for me.


Anonymous said...

I don't think prison is supposed to be something you are supposed to remember fondly. It's there to punish. This has to be atipical of a regular experience.

dean said...

Even when you are at your worst you always find the silver lining. I love the way you choose to look at your life and your positive way of thinking. I am sure Johnny feels just as lucky to be your friend as you feel being his friend.

John said...

Do you ever feel like you are wasting all your potential living your life the way you do? You are obviously extremely intelligent and you don't do anything with that intelligence. It's shameful wasting all of your natural talents the way you do! You need to stop being a self indulgent child and grow into the man you are supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Juvenile detention is designed to show young adults a different way to live and give them the chance to change. It is supposed to be a learning experience and it seems like you left a better person than when you entered. It's good to see the system working the way it's supposed to. Sometimes kids like you and your friend only need to be nudged in the right direction so they can continue on a road to becoming good people. Glad to see you found your way!

Trevor said...

I always thought you time in juvie is what put you over the top in your coolness. You learned all your swag from the junior gangstas in the slammer and you brought it to the masses ;)! You have this innate ability to make any bad situation something fun and memorable. Which is probably why you are one of the best camp directors on the face of this planet! I will be the first to admit, nobody forgets a summer with RGB!

chris said...

I have never had. A friendship like all the ones that you have. I have also never been through the kind of extreme situations you have in your life. If that is what it takes to have those kinds of friendships I don't know if I am willing to do it. But I can still be envious of yours!

eric said...

People are seldom as selfless as you seem to be with your friends. It might be easy for you to not look for self serving motivations in your friendships but the rest of us who live here on planet earth are a lot more realistic about these things. IMO it's reasonable to expect others to give the same kind of effort into a friendship that you put into it. I don't believe you are being honest with yourself in this scenario.

rich said...

i've made a few friends at the rest house. but they were really unreliable. they never kept in touch. one works in a shoe store. but don't know what happen to the rest. never been to prison though.

Jason said...

You think you are cool because you went to kid's jail but you ain't got nothing on me cuz I've been to disneyland jail! So suck it!