Shaping Sheem: A Mini Series

Part 1: Friends

I looked around at my wedding and realized, I fit in. I can literally go anywhere, hang with anyone, and be just fine. Most people would say it’s because I adapt well. This I would disagree with. I am exactly who I am at all times and it just so happens that who I am seems like 3 (or maybe even more) different people. If that doesn’t make sense, I understand. It’s confusing and I probably sound like someone with Multiple Personality Disorder. I assure you that is not the case. To prove such, I want to highlight my friends. The people who seem to know one version of me best. The version that they each see when I’m around them. I’m going to highlight three groups of friends that I have: My Hood Friends, the ones I grew up around and have known me the longest. My Geek Friends, the ones who I talk about Star Wars, Pokémon, and videogames with on a daily basis. And my Work Friends who are all younger than I am but I find myself constantly going to THEM for advice. All of these groups of friends are very dear to me and I care about them very much. It was also wild to me that they all showed up at my wedding and blended in so well together. Because on a normal day, my Hood Friends would terrify my Geek Friends. Or vice versa lol.

My Hood Friends. I grew up in The Bronx. I mention this all the time. But when I moved, I left a lot behind. Mostly my Hood Friends. Growing up, they influenced me the most and sometimes, not always for the best. The first time I ever shot a gun, it was given to me in the middle of a park and I was told to “Just Aim Up”. As Hood and Ronnie would tell you, I was so nervous about shooting this old and rusty pistol, (I had no idea where it came from or whose blood was on it), that I wore an oven mitt. I fired the pistol and my arm jerked so much that I could feel my shoulder pop. My friends laughed. When I tried to join a gang (a subpar version of DMX’s Ruff Riders), I was told to fight a kid named Richie. Now I didn’t want to fight but my friends were around and I didn’t want to seem afraid. The fight started and I punched the kid directly in the eye. He stopped mid fight, bent over and held his eye in pain. My friends who were all watching immediately yelled at me to “Fuck Him Up!”. I literally remember Shawn and Kannon’s face while telling me to do so. Basically: Whoop his ass or we’re going to whoop yours. I began to pummel this kid until the 32 seconds (gang initiation fight time) was over. These were my friends. MY BEST FRIENDS. Over the years while growing up I fought people for them and beside them and they’ve done the same for me. This was just life in the BX. Being older now I realize how dumb this was, how stupid. Scheming people out of money with UNICEF boxes, hustling drugs (only weed HP), and just doing whatever my friends were doing because I loved them and I wanted to be apart of whatever they were apart of. They protected me. Watched over me. Looked out for me. I still very much love them and when I’m home, I stand on that corner and I fit right in beside them. I may not do the things I used to anymore, and to be honest neither do they, but they know me. They trust me. And them showing up at my wedding let me know that they love me too..

My Geek Friends. If there was one thing my Hood Friends never had time for, it was sci-fi movies and video games. I mean sure they would play 2k and GTA, but trying to get Hood or Pharm to care about Star Wars or Pokémon Yellow would be a battle for the ages. Enter the nerds I love. The ones who teach me something new almost every day. I never want to be the smartest person in the room, because if I am, I’m not learning anything. Blary, Mat, Felix, Jeremy, Frank, Vince, Adam, John… I didn’t know any of them growing up so I’m not going to assume that this group of people weren’t popular in HS. But if you can picture in your mind the group or table of guys who probably weren’t popular in HS, you’d probably be picturing them. And honestly, you could sit me right at that table with them. Fashion doesn’t matter, other people’s opinions doesn’t matter, Jordan’s, expensive clothes, jewelry, fancy cars.. All that shit is materialistic in their world. They would rather spend $200 dollars on a rare Magic The Gathering Card or a PC Graphics card to improve their computer rather than new sneakers. Their old sneakers in their mind work just fine. Every day I chat with them, mostly online. The majority are introverts and prefer to avoid the outside world or humans in general. And I’m ok with that. Because whenever I have a question about something video game related I know I can message Frank. Mat is full of random facts and knows movies like he’s the manager of a blockbuster. Blary has hacked systems for me on a regular basis. Adam has taught me to understand MTG. Felix knows more about Pokémon than anyone on the planet. Vince is literally a music god and tells the best stories. Jeremy can fix anything. And John?! He showed me the freaking wonders and uses of a Fanny Pack which is literally the greatest thing a person can own! So when I said “I Do” and turned to see them all there at my wedding, it meant a lot that these people, who usually avoid everyone, were there for me. And that in their eyes, I’m just as big a geek as any of them.

Lastly, My Work Friends. When I started my job, I didn’t expect to care about anyone. I mean I was the new kid in a new city and no one knew me nor did I need to know anyone. But over time, much like your first days of school, you begin to click with people. You joke and you laugh, and eat with, and hangout. These are my work friends. Who ALL happen to be younger than I am. Corey (who sadly no longer works at my job), Dimitrius, and Meg. Every day They listen to my stories of all the wild shit I got myself into growing up and in return, they keep me youthful. I ask Dimitrius all the time about clothing and styles. Him being younger and more into fashion prevents me from falling behind on the latest trends. Meg has been my go to on relationship advice. A man can’t understand a woman better than a woman. And who better to give advice on women than a woman interested in women. And Corey, when he was there, I treated him like a little brother. Corey much like me fits in wherever he goes and around whoever he’s with. He never has to change who he is to do so, he’s just himself. This is the group of friends who I see as the future. I’m the old one. The one whose time has probably passed. But they never make me feel like the old one lol. They listen to my stories, get my crude humor and rude jokes, lend me their eyes and ears and opinions, and again, when I got married, they were there.

The point being is, I am not 3 different people. I am the same person all the time. Sure I may use more slang in one situation or not worry about how I dress as much in another, but that’s just who I really am. These people would have all rejected me if I wasn’t genuine or honest. If I came off as fake or a fraud. The fact is that I have friends who will rob you and I have friends that want to collect Pokémon cards. My wedding was proof that I am simply a person able to fit in well with different people and surroundings. And there are times when I do feel awkward and out of place as no one is perfect. I can’t please everyone even though sometimes I do my best to try. But for now, these are the people who have accepted me as Sheem. At least the Sheem they know. And for that, this being the month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for them all.

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