Part 2: The Change
I am not a psychiatrist. I have never studied the human brain, nor have I ever done research on it. I don’t know the different kinds or levels of “Mental Health”. In the past, to me, you play with your shit in the toilet, you’re crazy. That’s it. I would hear about people taking their own lives and never think as to why a person would do that, what that person is going through. In my mind, you kill yourself, you’re weak… But I was so very wrong. It had never affected me, never been close to home. I never knew anyone who attempted to take their own life, let alone, anyone who actually committed the act. But that all changed last Dec.
Jaquan remained my best friend. When we first got to Park East, at orientation, the assistant principal gave a speech in the library to all the new incoming freshman. Jaquan obviously was the only person I knew so we sat together, checking out the girls, laughing and joking. The assistant principal saw Jaquan and I sitting together, laughing, and decided to stop his speech. He walked over to me, asked me to get up and moved me about five seats down. On the very first day of high school I was in trouble, go figure. He then continued his speech, “The person you are sitting next to now will probably not be here in four years when you walk across that stage. Use your time here to make new friends, learn all you can, and take advantage of the resources we provide you.” Then he looked over at me, and walked off. I took it as this man doesn’t think I’ll make it through high school, he must not know my mother will commit murder if I dropout this motherfucker. Sorry, I plan on seeing this all the way through. And make new friends, no need. I had Jaquan.
Our first year in Park East was Awesome. Jaquan and I were both actually doing really well in school and with the females. I even started dating this one girl who reminded me of myself for about a month named Nefertiti. All that Vanity stuff was well behind us. But even with a new girlfriend, Jaquan was still who I chilled with the most. We were the only kids in our freshman class who lived in the Bronx, so we would travel to and from school every day. Besides females, Jaquan and I also discovered what attracted them, nice clothes. Name brand gear and Jordans. Jaquans mom kept him in the nicest clothes. I remember this Phat Pharm outfit he wore with these blue Jordans and matching hat. He seemed on top of the world. The girls, the teachers, Mr.Giambalvo who taught History, Mr. Sugrim who taught Science, everyone was a Jaquan fan. He was doing awesome, we both were. Then right before the end of our first year, just before the summer. Jaquans mother died…
This was not something I had found out from Jaquan himself. I actually was told this by another teacher Ms Jackson. To this day, I still have no idea how she passed. I never felt it was right or ok to ask. My best friend didn’t or couldn’t tell me the news himself, so the details were always a mystery to me. The last few days of the school year, I traveled to and from Park East alone. People would ask me about Jaquan but I couldn’t answer. I didn’t see him for days myself. When I went to his house, his sister would tell me he wasn’t home. My best friend had basically disappeared. The whole summer went by and no sign of Jaquan. Sophomore year, as I walked up to Park East, I saw a familiar face. In front of the building, with a cigarette in hand, there stood Jaquan. The entire time I knew him, neither of us had EVER smoked. Dressed in all black with what seemed to be size 44 gothic pants and a silver chain draped around his neck, my best friend was unrecognizable to me. All I could do was wonder to myself, who in the hell is that?