Part 4: Different Paths
My mother, my sister, and I are the kind of people you can call at 3am as if it were 3pm. We always answer the phone, emergency or not. Sometimes people can’t sleep and just want someone to talk to. Sometimes people are lost in the middle of the night and need directions, how to get from 28th street in Lower Manhattan to the Bronx (I was young and coming from a party and my mother knows the city well). And sometimes, tragedy strikes, death happens whenever it happens, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
It was just before midnight when Jaquan had rung my bell to let me know his father had passed away. Jaquan had never mentioned his dad to me as long as I had known him. I wasn’t aware of their relationship and to be honest, I doubted if they even had one. But to see Jaquan at my door, this late with tears in his eyes, I knew he was hurt. I sat in the hall with Jaquan outside of my apartment door. I didn’t want my mother or my siblings to hear us talking. I figured this would be a rough conversation because even if Jaquan wasn’t close to his father, losing both parents in the same year would be difficult to deal with for anyone. Oddly, the conversation that was about to take place wasn’t about Jaquan’s father at all. To this day, I still don’t know how his father had passed away. Instead, Jaquan was here to confront me, not physically, but to let me know what was on his mind. He was upset with me, had been upset with me. In all his time away, he had been doing some thinking. He came to the conclusion that I had never really been a good friend. The tears in his eyes weren’t just for his father, they were for me.
Jaquan never got over what I did to him regarding Vanity. Even though I had apologized and he forgave me, we never really talked about it so he never really let it go. It felt like years ago to me, but to him it was fresh in his mind, as if it happened yesterday. Again I apologized and explained how stupid I was for doing what I did, but there was more to his hurt. Jaquan also felt that I abandoned him. If you asked anyone who knew us growing up, which of the two of us was more likely to get into trouble, ditch school, smoke, basically fuck up in high school, the consensus would’ve been me. I was always the “Bad One”. I got arrested in junior high school for fighting, I was suspended almost every other week for talking or disrespecting teachers, EVERYONE knows I have no filter and the sharpest tongue there is. Rude? Lusheem. Rebellious? Lusheem. Disrespectful? Lusheem. So when Jaquan turned over this new leaf, when he changed into this new person who didn’t care about much anymore, he figured I would be there with him. But I wasn’t. In high school, I was at times still rude, still disrespectful, and HP will tell you all, my tongue and filter is probably as bad now as it ever was! But the difference between me and Jaquan, the reason I couldn’t follow him and the reason I couldn’t go down his path was simple: Fear. I was afraid to fail. I was afraid of my mother. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was afraid of Pourcher and July (my siblings) following in my footsteps. I was afraid of teachers like Ms.Edmonds, Ms.Thomas, Mr.Giambalvo, letting them down, letting everyone down. Jaquan was fearless, I simply wasn’t.
That night me and Jaquan talked for about 2 hours. I listened and apologized as much as I could but my friend, my best friend, he was too far gone. I felt like this was a break up, more than any break up I had ever had. And in a way, it was. Jaquan had left, and we were done. As they say, “Life goes on”. I had graduated high school, went to college, and was living my life without my best friend. It had been three years since the last time I saw him. There was no Facebook or Instagram and he didn’t have a Myspace page. If he did, I wasn’t on his top ten. During a break from school, I decided to go pay Jaquan a visit. I went to his old apartment where he had stayed all his life. When his sister answered the door, she let me know where he was. “Jaquan was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for depression.” Thats right, this recent attempt was NOT the first time my best friend had tried to kill himself.