36 years

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The life of this kid has been interesting. This is me, when I was about 6, 30 years ago. I went to 10 different schools in 8 cities from K-college. Been the new kid countless times, reinvented myself a few of them because I could. I Lived with my parents in Southern California (La Verne, San Dimas, Fontana) til I was 11 years old, when my mother, who was a dance teacher and beautiful woman, passed away of Cancer. My dad became unfit to take care of me, or himself. He wasn’t addicted to anything, he was just heartbroken, and lost, unfocused. Much like his entire family is unfocused and lost, they lack something and have a hard time Loving and understanding. A call was made to my grandparents when I walked across the city of Fontana by myself in 1989 to a family friends house after being alone for a couple days, Its the height of the crips and bloods gang period, and myself being a minority there to the Hispanic race, which dominated my school, and neighbourhood. Imagine hearing about your Jr. Highschool being held up by an Uzi, your friends dog being shot in the street, seeing fights on ball courts every day (This is why I love low riders, hip hop, and Mexican food). A couple hours after I showed up at my friends house I was on a flight to Toronto, with nothing but the Jimmy-Z  t-shirt on my back. I went to Scarborough to grandparents who lived in Empringham. It was shitty as well, but in a different way. I then went to various aunts and uncles houses in Milton, Ajax and Port Perry, new friends would take me in, and I was on student welfare, then after I graduated high school in Port Perry (I was prom king in my first year there because I marketed to the grade 10 girls to vote, reinvention remember?) I went to San Francisco with promises of college from you know who. That never came. I lived with him for 1 year, then in a crappy roach infested hotel, and shit apartments. I put myself through college (academy of art uni, SF) I didn’t graduate but have no debt. I was given a new computer and taught myself adobe design programs. I started writing graffiti, I was horrible, but it was amazing. I landed a retail job with Recon SF (Owned by Stash, Futura & Colin Miller), I learned a ton about street wear, art, graffiti, trends, forecasting, etc and met everyone I know in the arts. I struggled in SF, and felt empty, so after a vacation to Toronto to gauge the street wear scene, I decided to moved to in 2003 to bring the street wear culture to Toronto and throw art shows. Ive thrown a few, I hope you’ve been to them, and feel somewhat accomplished but worried about the longevity of anything I do. 

 

This is just a snippet of my life, I have memories, but my childhood feels like it was a dream. Theres nobody to sit at the dinner table with and say “no, this is how that happened” or “I remember that, you were…”. Its all been in my head, as a one sided memory. Recently, I was contacted by an old friend from the 80’s who lived around the corner from me in Fontana. He remembered everything, and it was the first time Ive heard someone tell me how I looked when my mom passed away. He was in my class the day I came back to school, he said I was vacant, not there. I don’t remember that, I only remember being outside the class with my dad, about to go in. It blew me away, and was the FIRST time somebody gave me a 3rd person view of my childhood. I lost it, and broke down. 

 

With my childhood, and the scenarios Ive been in, I could have taken a much different path. I’ve never done hard drugs more than once, I’m not addicted to anything other than biting my nails, I never hung around with the “ wrong crowd”, I try my hardest, take risks and make mistakes. Huge fucking mistakes sometimes. But with every infliction, self or not, I come back stronger. I was promised the world as a kid and I was loved unconditionally only once in my life, for a span of 10 years, it was the best years of my life, hands down. I received the woes instead of the promises, and the people around me lost sight of why I was in their home and thought they could “ teach me a lesson” with the various forms of discipline they gave me. I just needed to be grounded and supported, and accepted as a part of the family, not moulded.  The fire was always in me, but nobody understood it. Needless to say this has given me trust issues to an extent, but it also has allowed me to understand people, and see intent. I can break down peoples actions like a therapist, because I am an experienced one. I never gave up on myself, and never lost sight on the prize (I don’t know what the prize is yet), I still don’t give up, I still fight everyday. You shouldn’t give up on what you want, or what you don’t think you can control. Ever. 

 

The kid in this picture was full of hope and had the world ahead of him. 4 years later everything would change. I feel lucky its worked out as good as it has, but I know its not over. Lots of work to do still, and my little ones look EXACTLY like this kid. My job will be to make sure their story is a lot shorter but more exciting than this one.