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Real Friends For Life

The last year and a half has been a journey of self-awareness, reconnecting with great friends, creating unforgettable memories and of course allowing myself to be more vulnerable and open with my friends. I introduced you to the people and friendships I hold close to me and cherish. Minus one or two people. (G.P.A was being petty lol) You have learned about my view on religion, what family means to me, how I learned to love, how being raised by a single mother shaped me, what role Golden Gate played in my childhood and many other things.

Making “ friends” in today’s society is as easy as leaving a comment on an Instagram post. Some of my relationships have taken years before they became meaningful. A prime example is my relationship with Freda. It took a year or two for me to make it on her friends list. While other people snuck their way in (Kendy). Picking your circle of friends can lead to your rise or downfall. They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I believe this hold some truth.

Freda, Rodney, Fedney, Louvis, Kendy, Nelson, Weednel, SK and Brooklyn all have characteristics or mannerisms that I possess or wish to improve on. In this blog I will highlight certain features of each person and what I appreciate most about them. It takes time to grow old friends or good friends in my case.

I started this project by interviewing Freda. She’s a loving, funny, artistic, hardworking, devoted Christian, that cares full hearted for the people she considers to be a friend. She can be naïve at times due to her big heart but has learned from her past mistakes. Being transparent with people can lead to wonderful friendships. However, transparency also gives room for people with ill intentions to manipulate you in many ways. Therefore, Freda has limited the amount of sharing/over sharing with her friends.

Freda is a person you stumble upon in life and somehow, she finds a way to stay relevant no matter how much time pass in-between. It is safe say me and Freda don’t talk on a daily basis, but our friendship remains authentic and sincere. Freda has taught me that not every friendship requires daily communication and attention to remain healthy. Learning how to sustain one friendship can be difficult when we allow everyday life to get in the way. Somehow Freda and I have found the balance that keeps our friendships afloat. As long as Freda agrees not to tell any jokes.

Being raised by a single mother sometimes make young boys more of a man than having a father in their life. I know some people would beg to differ but hold your comments and opinions. Fedney has faced life changing situations throughout his childhood due to being raised by a single mother. Fedney and I had the privilege to be raised by a single mother. As Fedney said “ I turned a bad roll into a winning hand”

Friendships tend to be strong when two people have things in common. Your best friend is probably someone you played on a sports team with when you were younger. Or you two grew up in the same neighborhood. Then there are relationships that are built through everyday struggle. Fedney is my bother from a single mother. I have watched him grow up and make many mistakes along the way. My relationship with Fedney has taught me a quote by James Baldwin ( My favorite activist) to be true “ For these are all our children, we will all profit or pay for what they become” As black boys that grew up without father figures. We are becoming men that our community can profit from.

As OUR favorite Disney character Stitch (Don’t @ me) stated “This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It's little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good” The phrase it takes a village to raise a child ultimately means it takes a family to raise a child. Having a happy, functional, and solid family foundation can’t solve all the of the problems a kid may face but it gives them a better chance to succeed in life.

Nelson aka Chi Chi took me to Cuba and showed the type of family needed to raise a child in a country that oppresses its people. They showed what the definition of “ Family is Forever”. Not every family possess the empathy, love, discipline, and drive to raise a child. Many families are dysfunctional due to being a byproduct of a dysfunctional family. If you didn’t have a loving family growing up, make sure your kids come from one.

Where’s Waldo is a phrase that I truly did not know where it originated from, but I did my googles and found out it’s a British series of children books and puzzles. So, I put my spin on it. Instead of me looking for Waldo. I told people to tell Weeble I’m looking for him. Weeble and I have been playing basketball for ten plus years. From local parks in Golden Gate to gyms in Illinois

Every time I step on the court, I think about Weeble or me making 3s for mbae. It’s an inside joke. Our relationship is one of understanding. We may not always agree with each other on a number of things but when I decide to quit my job and move to Africa. Weeble would be like that just Tony being Tony. And when you see Weeble walking home in the pouring rain and you pull over to give him a ride and he says “Naw I’m straight” with attitude (this happened). I would be like that’s Weeble he good. Being able to understand one another is a skill the world needs to learn instead of pushing our ideologies and theories on one another.

As kids we are taught that love can be sealed or found with one kiss. Princess and the Frog, Snow White, Cinderella, even Shriek got his seven minutes of heaven. Love in my opinion is one of the toughest emotions to master. Love has made a number of people do some wild things including me. As long as you learn from those love drunk moments you should be happy you experienced them. No everyone gets the privilege to be love or be loved. Also, love doesn’t last forever just like every other skill its use it or lose it.

Rodney’s passion for the things and people he loves is unbelievable. At times we make mistakes or decisions that second guess our love for people. We choose drugs, money or even other people for a few moments of satisfaction that will last as fast as it started. Unless it’s Minute Maid juice. Love can be tough and damn near impossible to keep alive and thriving. Deciding to love after you have loved and lost can be traumatizing due to trust issues and amazing imaginations. Somehow Rod and I have learned to enjoy the process of falling in love and loving people close to us.

It been over 10 thousand days since SK and I became friends. I guess it was by default since our mothers were close friends when they were pregnant with us. Compliments to a weekend in Miami I assume. It takes a long time to make old friends. Finding ways to keep friendships strong through this unpredictable thing we call life is challenging. People change or grow apart and that’s fine. Sometimes it can be difficult to cope with close friends growing distance and making new friends. Some advice I can pass on to you is to be happy if your friends are happy. With or without you in their life.

SK and I used to be called husband and wife in high school. It was almost impossible for you not to see us together. I even went on missions with him just to play in PlayStation in the living room. Let just say we both completed our mission. Nobody can take Shun’s place and vice versa but other people have taken the place of the people we talk to on a daily basis and share our everyday struggles. My relationship with SK has showed me that people change for the better or worse and you have to be happy for them even if your relationship is not as strong as it used to be.

“Why are men great until they gotta be great” is the only lyric I know from Lizzo but it’s perfect representation of today. Our society, better yet, the world has allowed men to destroy the world, make laws that benefit them and their beliefs. Becoming a man takes a lifetime in my opinion. Yes you will make mistakes along the way but as long as you accept the consequences that come with it. I believe you’re on the right path.

I don’t know how but Kendy snuck his way in my close circle of friends. I guess you can say persistence pays off. Kendy and I have had conversations about how he wants to do great things for himself and his family. Being great requires sacrifices that many people are not willing to make. But through our friendship I have learned that sometimes the sacrifices are not worth missing your little brother’s birthday or spending all summer fishing with your grandpa.

Having faith in a particular religion is sometimes the foundation of how people identify themselves. Some Catholics won’t attend Baptist churches even though there are both sects of Christianity. In my blog about religion I states “ Religion is for the faithless” I still stand by that statement. Being spiritually or religious does not require you follow certain doctrines and scriptures that sometimes are not logical or hold no conviction in the present world. It is said to be a Christian you have to be a god-fearing man, that where they lose me because I’ll never fear a white man.

Fifty Tyson and I. I mean Brooklyn and I have had an interesting friendship. From trips to the cemetery, to him getting high and listening to gospel music. Brooklyn has made his own definition of what it means to be religious for him. The same goes for me. I am very spiritual person I believe everything effects everything in life. I believe me have the power to make anything possible. As James Baldwin said, “ Impossible is the least you can ask for”.

Being labeled a problem child is saying you will be a felon or a menace to society in the future. Placing those thoughts into a child’s head is dangerous. Over time the child believes they are a problem child and embrace it. Majority of the kids that are in the criminal system just needed someone to love and appreciate them. However, there are some kids that earned their way into the criminal system after countless chances.

Louvis was a bad ass kid growing up and so was I. I got into countless fights. I lied, cheated in school, stole things. You name it and there’s a chance me or Louvis have done it once or twice. We have learned from each other that we don’t have to live the same lifestyle as adult. There were a number of nights in college were our lives could’ve changed for the worst. Fortunately, we made the right decisions and didn’t resort back to our old habits.

This last person is the reason why I started this project. One day I was sitting in my office right before lunch and my college crush came in. We had been friends for a while, and we would always have great conversations about everything under the sun. We started talking then the conversation took a turn that I didn’t expect. She said “ I want to get to know you more. You have some many walls up. There are layers. You allow your friends to be close, but you don’t let them all the way in.”

This picture was taken in the same office were we would have endless conversations

The conversation took place in 2015. But it would be something I would always thing about from time to time. She had planted a seed in me that took four years to grow into this project. I call her Brown and Gorgeous, but her real name is Tripti Bisen. We have promised to meet up this year. I am sure it will be a day of great conversation, with no walls to interfere.

I would like to thank you for coming along with me on this journey of opening up to my close friends and allowing them to get know to me more. I hope through these blogs you have learned new things about yourself as well as your friendships.

Being vulnerable and completely honest with yourself in not an easy task but a needed one in my opinion. This project has only scratched the surface of who I am, and why I tick. I hope it has opened the floor for my friends and I to share our struggles and failures with one another. Until next time stay in school and don’t do drugs.

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