Part 3: The Departure
Music can help you in a lot of situations. Break up with a girl and your heart hurts, Adele’s “Someone Like You”. Want to lose weight but can’t find motivation? Kanye West’s “Stronger”. Met the right guy and it’s time to get down? “Bed” by J.Holiday. Feeling depressed and all alone, Greenday’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”… I have always relied on music. It helps me, motivates me, and says the things I sometimes can’t find the words to say. There would’ve been no song in the world to help me get over the death of my best friend. Sure there are songs that can described how I would’ve felt. But the tragedy of losing someone to suicide, the horror of it, the sadness. You can listen to Blink 182’s “Adams Song”, or The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” all you want to, that person is gone forever.
Jaquan was a completely different person when he returned for sophomore year. This new “Gothic” Jaquan was not the guy I knew. The expensive Jordan’s he once wore were replaced by solid black boots. The name brand outfits replaced by solid black shirts, huge black pants, and a leather biker jacket. One cigarette after the other, the whiteness of his eyes now a hazy yellow which suggested he was smoking more than tobacco. When I first seen this new Jaquan, he acted as if he didn’t know me. I was so happy to see him even if I didn’t recognize this new person at all. I wanted to ask where he had been, what had happened to his mom, why didn’t he contact me, why didn’t he come get me in the morning so we could travel to school together? Instead, The first thing I said to him was “What’s up?”. He nodded and said “What’s up?”, in return but it was so weird. He didn’t even look at me when he said it, I’ll never forget. He looked right past me into the distance like I wasn’t even there. I kept all my questions to myself. I figured he’d open up to me eventually and would want to talk and tell me everything. It’s 2019 and I still don’t know how Jaquan’s mother, my best friends mother, had died.
The beginning of the new school year was weird. Jaquan and myself had barely hung out, and if we did, it was mostly me trying to hang around him. I felt like an abandoned puppy. Jaquan had new friends, friends with similar interest in clothing and music. Ivan and Christian were his friends now. When I would try to hang around them after school at Ivan’s house, they would mostly watch videos of heavy metal bands. It was how I was introduced to bands like Godsmack, Disturbed, Slipknot, System of the Down, and Metallica. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of this music was good, really good. But Ivan and Christian were white kids from Manhattan. Jaquan and myself were black and from the Bronx. So while this music wasn’t that bad, I just don’t think it was for us. At least that’s how I felt then. Go through my iPhone now and it’s half of my playlist. I could tell Jaquan and his new friends were in a completely different place than I was and were headed to a place I didn’t want to be. It was time for me to make new friends. I had to say goodbye to Jaquan. Maybe not out loud, but mentally.
I had joined the basketball team. I made new friends, Dave, Derek, Marlon, Noel, and Reese. Harlem kids into basketball, Smack DVDs (hip hop dvds that showcased battle rappers), and clothes. I felt I always had to match their style of clothing because these kids could dress their ass off and I didn’t want to come off as broke. These were my new friends and teammates, I snuck my way into the “Cool Crowd”. I wasn’t concerned about Jaquan anymore. He barely showed up to school anyway. He ditched classes, smoked in front of the building, his grades had slipped, even more than they already had. I wasn’t even sure if he was enrolled anymore. On the other hand, I was doing good. My grades were good, the team was winning, I dated a freshman for a bit, Anita. (My current love HP pre reads these blogs, she stops here and says to me “Another girlfriend!?”). Then one day while at home, my doorbell had rung. It was late and snowing out so I had no idea who it could be. When I answered the door, it was Jaquan. He was standing there crying. I asked him what was wrong. He replied to me, “My father just died…”