Brooke and I became inseparable at school and at home. I couldn’t spend enough time with her. I was her first real boyfriend and I guess she was my first really serious relationship. We got along great, and her parents were cool too. Her mom was really fun to be around and she always had a happy demeanor. Her dad was quiet but didn’t like me too much just because I was his daughter’s boyfriend. The first real date that Brooke and I had was at the Roxana Homecoming. I spent a lot of money trying to win her a stuffed animal, but all I ended up winning her was a stupid puzzle. We closed the date with her and Kathy walking me to my Uncle’s house to get my bike. Underneath the light pole in the alley, Brooke and I shared our first kiss. To this day I remember that clearly. We would write notes back and forth, and spend lunch together. We shared friends also. Jeremy Lyle and Lisa Goheen. Jeremy and Lisa were a couple so the four of us were together a lot. Sixth Street Park was another favorite of ours. We would all four meet up there and hang out. Most of the time it ended up with Jeremy and Lisa going off to one end of the park and Brooke and I going to another end of the park and making out. Those make out sessions would turn into Brooke and I both experiencing our first time. We had been together about four months, and it seemed like the right time. The experts all say your first time isn’t fun or perfect, and well, they are right, it’s not perfect, but it’s a little fun. J Brooke and I would break up and make up and repeat this cycle over and over again. I started really writing songs at this point. I would write at least one new one a day, sometimes more. Anytime I thought about her, the ideas would just flow out of me, faster than I could put them down on paper. I really loved her. When we said that we loved each other, it wasn’t fake at all. We would end up breaking up over something really stupid, and were apart for the better part of a year, but fate or destiny, depending on whom you ask, was on our side and we would eventually get together again. Being with Brooke, I had a family. Her mom, acted like a mom should act, her grandma and great grandma were like grandmas should be. Since my grandma’s all died when I was young, they filled a void that had been there for so long. Her dad was also cool and all of the girls thought he was “hot”. Brooke has a brother, Matt, who was always into something. Matt was great at sports and was always in baseball. One day, Matt came down to my house and asked if I wanted to go hang out. I went with him, and we walked around the neighborhood, and then into town. Matt said he had some money, so we ended up at Taco Bell. Once we got back to his house his mom was yelling. She said that she had some money on the coffee table and that it was gone. Matt insisted he didn’t take it, which meant she thought that I did. I was asked if it was me, and I wasn’t going to let them think I stole from them, so I had to say no. Matt and I were sent down to his grandma Betty’s house to talk to his dad. When we got there, I could tell Mike was really ticked off, so I asked if I had to be there. Mike asked me if I took the money and I said I didn’t. He then told me I should go. I could hear him yelling at Matt from up the block. It was not a good day for Matt, but again, I couldn’t cover for him, because no one would want me at that house, and I couldn’t let Brooke think that I would steal from her family.
When it came close to my 16th birthday, Brooke’s mom said I could have a party in their basement. Brooke and I got invitations together, and her mom did all the decorating. We had a pretty good turn out, and we played a lot of music and danced a lot. It was cool actually having a party. It was the first big party I had had since my 10th birthday at the skating rink. One person who wasn’t on the guest list was a guy named Phil. Phil was one of those guys that you just didn’t like to have around. Phil was usually into trouble and starting fights, and we didn’t like each other, so I didn’t want him there. Phil was a friend of Matt’s and Matt felt like he should be able to have him there since the part was at his house. Phil got mad that he wasn’t allowed to be at the party, and from there we had a problem. Phil actually wanted to fight about this. The fight was supposed to be at the local park, but when I showed up, Phil was nowhere to be found. A year later, Phil tried again to fight me at a school function. A bunch of guys who were friends of mine at the time, the civil assassins (a gang in Alton, who rapped with me and a friend), wanted to fight him. Again, the fight was supposed to be at the local park, and again, Phil wasn’t there. It’s probably a good thing, because there were about ten guys ready to fight, just because he was starting trouble with me. It’s amazing how many people will stick up for someone who doesn’t start fights. To this day, Phil and I have never ironed out our differences, and it probably will never happen. I have grown way past those days, and hopefully he has too. Back to the party, the party was great. Brooke’s uncle Ricky and his girlfriend, Suzette came. Ricky didn’t dance, so Suzette danced with me on a few fast dances. I will probably remember that party for a long time, just because of Brooke’s family, and how they came together to throw me a party. They didn’t have to do it, they just did. One night, Brooke’s mom was having a get together of some sort and Brooke’s grandma showed up. Brooke hadn’t had anything for supper, so Brooke’s grandma gave her some money and offered me the keys to her car so I could drive Brooke to get some food. I didn’t have my license, but it was cool, that she just offered up the keys that quickly. Brooke’s grandma Betty wasn’t so receptive. I was only ever at her house a couple of times, but she didn’t like me because she said I “pawed” all over Brooke at her house. That is totally not true, because the one thing I had/have is respect for others. I didn’t then, or would I now “paw” all over someone at their family’s house. But Betty didn’t like me, and we weren’t over there much so it was all-good.
Brooke’s great-grandma, Mattie, was a great woman. Mattie was known to all as Grandma Rowland. Grandma Rowland was welcoming anytime you would go to her house. She was happy to have someone stop by and see her, as she wasn’t able to get around much. Grandma Rowland lived with Brooke’s grandma Marye or grandma mom as she is affectionately called. Their house was on the corner of 4th and Cherry in Alton. The neighborhood the house was in wasn’t so good, it was right in the middle of the “hoe stroll”. You could sit on the porch and watch “johns” picking up hookers all night. The house was also haunted. If you ever ask Marye about the house, she and Brooke’s mom can tell you tons of stories that will make your hairs stand on end. Alton is a very “haunted” town and that house was one of the most “haunted” that I have heard of. One night while at the house, we were outside and heard a loud crash. We all ran up the street to see a motorcycle had had an accident. George, Marye’s boyfriend, told us all exactly how it happened. George is a good guy, and knows a lot. George probably knows more than a lot of people have forgotten, and sometimes it proves to be fruitful, and other times it’s quite annoying. George and Marye would go out on Sundays and watch the airplanes take off from the airport. One Sunday, Brooke and I were invited to go. Before we got to the airport, we went to Grafton to eat. We ate at a place called Brainerds. Brainerds had a dessert called “toll-house pie”. The pie was made out of cookie dough and a piecrust. It was the best pie I ever had. I never forgot that pie, and now we make it all the time. Marye is also the best cake maker ever. When I say the best, I am saying the best! There is no one on the planet that can make a cake like her. Everyone wants Marye to make birthday and wedding cakes for them. When you have a piece of Marye’s cake, you won’t be able to stop at just one. If she had ever opened a bakery, she would be a millionaire.
Brooke was always on the “go”. She was in girl scouts and they had meetings every week or two. The meetings they had at her house were more like the girls getting together and talking about guys and New Kids on the Block. I was really jealous and immature at that stage, and I really hated not being the center of attention for Brooke. Her friends were always into drama and would try to get her to talk to and go out with other guys. One night we planned to go to a movie, “Boyz in the Hood” and her mom and dad didn’t want her to go because there had been some gang problems in other cities. We were determined to go, and so was Brooke’s friend, Amy. Amy was in the middle of trying to get Brooke to meet this guy she knew, so she had that guy to the movie too. Brooke and I went and because Amy didn’t get her way, she “accidentally” said something to Brooke’s mom about us being at the movie. Brooke was grounded for a week and told not to see me, but we still saw each other at school, still walked to and from school together, so it didn’t last too long. One Saturday night Brooke and all of her friends stayed at one of the girls’ houses. My parents were leaving Sunday to go to see my uncle who lived an hour or so away and were planning on being gone all day. Brooke and I planned to spend the whole day together at my house, when she got home. I called her house around noon and she wasn’t home. I called again and she wasn’t home. Like an ass, I began calling the house she was staying at, begging her to come home, but the more I called, the longer she stayed. I think that I finally did something else with my day, but I think I could have handled that differently, but I wanted to get my way. And when I didn’t get my way, I was a jerk. I said it, and I’ll admit it because, hey, if you’re gonna tell it, tell it right, right? Sex, like marijuana and cocaine, is a drug. It’s addictive once you are getting it, and you want it all the time. When I had spent the better part of my life getting molested and finding out the bad things about sex, I didn’t know how to act when I started getting the good out of it. 99% of the time, I was protected. There were a couple times when I wasn’t. I wanted it every second of every minute of every hour of every day. I thought about it all day at school, I wrote songs about it, I listened to songs about it, I watched every “porno” I could get my hands on and it really was the best few minutes in life at the time. When I thought I was going to have it, and it didn’t materialize, I would throw a fit. Plain and simple it was a fit, and if I was the one dating me, I would have thrown in the towel. I don’t know how Brooke put up with me, but she did. We dated through the rest of freshman year and through the summer before our sophomore year in high school. During our sophomore year we went through some silly changes. Brooke thought everyone was laughing at her for being with me so she wanted to break up with me because I wasn’t considered one of the “cool people” or the popular people. So we broke up for a minute and then got back together. Then, Amy started getting into Brooke’s head. Amy had been trying to convince Brooke that a senior liked her and wanted to date her. The problem was, this guy had been dating the same girl throughout most of his high school years. Amy told her that this guy said Brooke was cute and some other stuff, and got her all excited that this guy liked her. Brooke would go so far as to have me drive by this guy’s house after school just to see if she could catch a glimpse of him. It was pathetic, but even more so because I would actually drive by his house for her. Our chorus was taking a trip to Kansas City, Missouri to World of Fun. We were taking a charter bus, and Brooke said she would sit with me. The whole way there was bad, because though she was sitting with me, her mind was somewhere else. Once we got there, I went with one of my friends and she went her way. I had $30 for the entire day for food, drink and whatever. Brooke had some but probably not that much. I bumped into her and she said that she wanted a sweatshirt that was $30. I gave her my money and she got the shirt. I was starving, and partially dehydrated, but she got the shirt. I couldn’t tell her no, I wanted to be with her so badly, I would have given her the shirt right off my back if she would have asked for it. One of my friends, Tracy, had spotted me a couple drinks and threw a few nachos my way, so it wasn’t terrible. On the ride home, Brooke sat with her friends and I got stuck in the back of the bus. It was the longest 3-hour ride ever. Once we got back, I made it my mission to do whatever I needed to do to get her back. Our chorus had met with the senior choir for something or another, and I went up to the guy in question and asked him if what Amy had said was true. He laughed and said no. He said he was with his girlfriend and was staying there. I told Brooke, and eventually we got back together. We were together for a while, and then broke up again. My mom had told me we were going to move, and since I wanted to see Minneapolis, we would go there. I spent what I thought was my last night with Brooke, and it was horrid. She wasn’t my girlfriend and while it was killing me, it wasn’t even fazing her. But once I got up the next morning, we didn’t go anywhere and I felt like a fool. I actually broke up with her one time. I was in science class with a girl who was new and she was giving me lots of positive attention. It was new and it was exciting that she was all over me. I broke up with Brooke to date her, and while it was fun to be with this girl, I wanted Brooke from the minute I broke up. Brooke and I were together whenever I wasn’t with this girl and eventually we got caught by the girl’s mom seeing us together, and me and the other girl broke up and Brooke and I were right back together. We finally broke up for good the summer after our sophomore year. It was then; that I decided to try and change completely the way I had been for so long. I started hanging out at the mall with one of my friends and we ran into a girl that he had known for a while. Robin told him that she thought I was cute and she wanted to talk to me. Robin lived in Jerseyville, about 30 minutes outside of Alton, and didn’t know anything about me. I thought I would use this time to see if I could really change. Robin was hypersexual and wanted it all the time. She wanted it more than I ever did. We would be at a movie theater and she would be all up on me, and I would try and tell her that I didn’t want to do it yet. I tried putting her off as much as possible, but eventually she dumped me because I wouldn’t put out. Once the school year started, I was back at Roxana. Roxana high school was great. It really was like coming home. Though there were preppies and stoners, everyone got along for the most part. The people, who had liked me before I switched schools, liked me still. The people, who didn’t, still didn’t. I was chastised in the beginning for being that “Forever Love” guy. The story behind this is pretty silly. I wrote songs all the time and I showed them to my friends and anyone else who wanted to read them. When I had an opportunity to sell lyrics, I did. Now, depending on whom you ask, you’ll hear a different tale. I didn’t go around bragging to anyone that I sold those lyrics. I actually had a friend or 3 call me on the phone when they heard the song on the radio and they were excited to hear it. They said they remembered reading the song from my notebook a year before. Those friends told some of their other friends and the story went from there. I was happy that I was able to get something out there, but I didn’t feel the need to brag about it. So the first few weeks at Roxana were trying to live that down for the guys, and be humble about it with the girls. I never denied that it was my lyrics, or that I sold them. The guys thought it was too mushy and the girls thought it was sweet. It did help me meet girls though. The first girl I met was Amber.
Amber was awesome and she was pretty. She was on the volleyball team and wanted to be at every football game on Fridays. I was right there with her, although I had to meet her there. Her parents didn’t want her in a car with a guy. They were very strict on that rule and weren’t budging. One Saturday night there was a party at some kid’s house and Amber got drunk. The cops were called and everyone had to split before they got there. Amber got into a friend of mine’s car and we drove her around for a while. We stopped at the hotel my friend was staying in and let her lay down. She was very persistent in trying to get me to sleep with her. I wanted to, but couldn’t see myself doing that with someone who was drunk, and could misconstrue it later. We eventually got her back into the car and over to the girl’s house she was supposed to be at. Amber called me the next day asking if we had had sex. I told her no, and she couldn’t understand why not. She called me an hour or so later and broke up with me. I was confused and couldn’t understand how I had been dumped twice in a row because I wouldn’t have sex with a girl. It was crazy, but I was trying to show someone that I could like them without having that be a part of the equation, but I found out quickly that you can’t win for losing sometimes. The next person who would prove that true is Jodi.
Jodi was 2 years younger than me, but very mature. We were in German class together, and sat across from each other. I was really interested in Jodi, and I wanted to approach her in a way no one had ever before. I asked a mutual friend about her and she told me a lot. I knew that Jodi liked the band U2, so I wrote her a note using every U2 song I could think of. That got the ball rolling and we talked a little and eventually we started going out. Jodi’s parents knew they didn’t like me from the start. It wasn’t because I was a bad guy; it was because I wasn’t in the same social status. I would go to Jodi’s house every day after school and to foot ball games to hang out with her. She was actually the first person other than Brooke who knew about my past, except the abuse, I told no one about that. Jodi and I were doomed from the start, mostly because of my no sex rule. I wasn’t going to let sex be the major role in my life. If I liked someone, I wanted to see if we had a foundation before we did that. Well, to make a long story short, Jodi was ready, and I didn’t see the signs, so we split. After Jodi, I don’t think I cared much for my no sex policy. I was looking for someone at this point, just to get the ball rolling, because I knew trying to be abstinent wasn’t going anywhere. A few girls that I dated, wanted to do it, but they were too scared, and eventually we just broke up. The only girl I was with sexually was a great friend of mine, Kristen.
Kristen and I were in choir together and I would pick her up and take her home from practices. One night it went “there” and then it went “there” a few more times. Kristen and I weren’t compatible to date, but we were friends with benefits. It lasted a while but then grew old for both of us. I dated a few different girls between my junior year and my senior year. One girl I dated was the total opposite of me. Susanne was younger than me, but very pretty. She also was Christian. Susanne went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday. I immediately started going with her and I really enjoyed the church we went to. I enjoyed it so much so that I was baptized there. Susanne and I didn’t go progress very far sexually because she just wasn’t ready and she had promised herself that she wouldn’t do it until she got married. While dating Susanne, I had a chance encounter with Brooke.
A friend of mine went to Amy’s house and Amy went on this big shpeal that Brooke and her were just talking about me. Amy said that Brooke had wanted her to tell me if she saw me to call her. I took her number from Amy, and I went home and called her. It was great to hear her voice, but she did tell me that Amy was lying. Amy was a good liar, and this was a good lie. Brooke agreed to get together and I picked her up the next night and we went to my house. My parents were really happy to see her, and we just started talking and we hit it off like we had never ended. I was still dating Susanne, but luckily the next day at school, we broke up.
Brooke and I were once again inseparable. We would write each other these long notes during school and exchange them when I picked her up from school. We would spend every night together until I had to take her home and then repeat the next day. After graduation, Brooke spent a lot of time at my house. She would spend most nights there or I would spend them at her house. Her mom and dad had divorced and she lived with her mom. One night, I was reliving the abuse; it had come to the front of my mind and was attacking my mental. I started bawling uncontrollably and Brooke wanted desperately to know what was wrong with me. I confessed to her what had happened, and she said I should tell my parents. I didn’t want to, but she said I should. We went into my parent’s bedroom and I tried to tell them what had happened and my mom interrupted me and told me that it didn’t happen. Dumbfounded, I went back to my room and cried myself to sleep. That pain that I felt the first time I was molested, was multiplied by 1000, when my mom said those hateful words to me. I can never forgive her for those words. No matter if you want to recognize it or not, if your kid tells you that it happened, it happened. It will drive them away from you and make them despise you for denying their pain. It had been maybe 10 years since I was abused when I told my mom, but the pain felt as real as it did the first time it happened. I will never tell my kids that it didn’t happen to them, if they tell me it did. Denying them is like raping them all over again.
Brooke and I went to both my prom and her prom our senior year. Her dress was to be made by Amy’s mom. Amy’s mom had a shop in Collinsville and she got all of the material to make the dress. Amy’s mom procrastinated though, and Brooke didn’t get her dress until a couple of hours before she had to wear it for my prom. Rushing to things has always been something I hated, and we were rushing to get the dress, to get it on her, and to get some pictures and then to the dance. It was a great night, but it wasn’t without its last minute moment. Graduation that year would also prove to be treacherous. Mine went off without a hitch, but not Brooke’s. After the main ceremony was over, everyone met in the east building to talk and have refreshments. Brooke’s mom didn’t want to wait for her to visit and she left us there. That sucked. We had to get a hold of someone to get us home, and it was Brooke’s uncle Ricky that picked us up and took us to Brooke’s house. It’s funny now, but it was hell that night.
Brooke and I would date for about a year, when I decided I wanted to marry her. You see, we had broken up, gotten back together so many times; it just felt like the right and natural thing to do. I asked her to marry me, but I didn’t have the money for a ring. I probably would have, but I spent all of my money on cd’s and clothes. Brooke and I went to the jewelry store and she picked out the ring she wanted. It wasn’t extravagant so I thought I would just get it and we would be good. The thing about it was, I kept putting off getting it. I was asked to go to camp with my job. The job I had was working with the mentally handicapped, and once a year they took them to a camp. I said I would go, because the pay was right, and the staff going was very cool to be around. While I was there, I talked a lot about getting married and spent a lot of time planning how it would be to get married and be together forever. I thought about Brooke the whole time I was gone, and I just took for granted that she was probably thinking about me also. Boy, was I all wrong?
Brooke worked at the same place I did, in a different department. There was a guy there that showed her attention when she was there, and told her what he thought she needed to hear. They started going out. While I was at camp they were seen together because they were out flaunting this new relationship while I was away, hoping I would get enough money to get her ring. When I came back, Brooke and I went out for lunch and to a movie. We got into a really stupid argument on the way back, and she dumped me. Well, she had already dumped me because she was seeing someone else; she was just dumping me to my face. She also was sleeping with this guy. Wow! Gone a week and look what I missed. I was so beside myself, I didn’t know what to do. It was a shock to her family also, because the guy was black. Her family was really against the relationship and wanted her to end it. Brooke would have none of it. Brooke was supposed to come by my house one day, and never showed up. I called her uncle’s house and left messages on the machine, and when she didn’t return my call, I went up there. To my surprise, the door was unlocked so I went in. I could tell she was in the shower, so I waited in the living room. I was under the impression that maybe she wanted me to come up and we would get this thing back on track. Wrong again, asshole! When she got out of the shower and saw me, she flipped. She was trying to get me outta there without telling me what was going on. I guessed that she had the other guy there, and it was tearing me apart. I could feel my stomach tying in knots, and my head was spinning. I began to get enraged with the pain that I was feeling, and I wanted to go into the other room and tear this guy’s head off. Problem was, I loved her too much to do that. I went into the other room, told the guy to take care of her, and then I left. I didn’t just leave I was fucking gone! I put my Mustang into drive and went to my job, I was bawling uncontrollably by this time, and I couldn’t see in front of me. I told my boss that I couldn’t come in at my scheduled time, and that I needed some time but I would be there late. My boss was really cool, and she didn’t ask too many questions. I left work, and drove to my mom’s job, and I didn’t stop at any lights, I didn’t slow down it was straight pedal to the metal all the way there. I made it to her job in 15 minutes. It should have taken me 30. I was bawling in the car, and I told my mom what happened, she didn’t try to console me, so I got back into the car and sped back to work. I was a mess. I couldn’t do my work that night. I pretty much was covered by my coworker that night. I spent most of the night in a corner crying and feeling sorry for myself. If you want to know what dying feels like, catch the person you love with someone else. I don’t mean that you read something or someone told you something, I mean catch them right before your eyes. I wanted to puke, I wanted to spit, I wanted to fight, and I wanted to die. Brooke still played me though. When her uncle put her out, Brooke called me to help her get her stuff out of her uncle’s home. When she needed a place to stay, she stayed at my house, and slept in my bed. I was her fool, her toy, and she knew that when all of the chips were down, she could call on me and I would be right there, no matter the cost. One day, she got the notion, that she might be pregnant. I was so confused but yet so sure about what we should do and what I wanted to do. I told her that I wanted her and the baby and that I would raise the baby as mine no matter what the outcome. Brooke thought about it and then said she wanted to get back with me. Like a fool, or whatever you would want to call me, I accepted. I told her that I would marry her and raise the baby with only one condition; that if I wasn’t the father, the biological father not be in the picture. Brooke would have none of that, as she thought she should be fair to this guy. Fair? I mean, this guy honed in on my girl, and talked a good game and played her and got her away from me, and got her to sleep with him, and she wanted to be fair to him. I told her I couldn’t share her or a baby with this guy. She went to the doctor and found out that she was indeed pregnant. She called the other guy and told him the news and he totally blew her off. He had other kids by other girls he took advantage of, because he’s a playa, and a thug and he had that whole game down pat. She called me and then told me that she accepted my offer. It wasn’t the whole romantic way of getting engaged, but it was how it happened. I bought the ring, and we set a date and told everyone. Brooke’s mom and grandma kept asking me if I was sure about this. I never flinched. I wanted this baby to be mine and I wasn’t going to let Brooke or the baby down. Babies don’t get to pick their parents, and I knew all about a dad being a dad to a kid he didn’t create, and I wanted to be this baby’s dad. We picked our wedding party and got a wedding thrown together in May. On May 3, 1996 we got married. On our wedding night, we had company until 4 in the morning, so we didn’t really celebrate. A month later on June 17, my son was born. For a dad to have a son is the ultimate dream. A father will always love his kids, but the one thing that every guy wants is a son. I let Brooke’s mom go in to the room with Brooke while she was having a C-section. Jordan came out and was perfect. I was forever changed the day he came into my life. There had never been a question as to who his real father was. My dad taught me long ago, any fool with a dick can make a baby, but it takes a real man to be a father. Jordan was born the day after father’s day, which made it even more special. But as the joys of parenthood were upon us, the marriage was about to hit a rock, hard and fast. Once the baby was born, Brooke’s sex drive went way way down. The pastor who married us told us, that the 2 major factors for divorce were sex and money. We were finding out quickly about the sex factor. I have always had a hyper sex drive and Brooke knew that before she married me. Brooke was having stress issues and it was keeping her away from me. When we would talk, she would always remind me of her priorities. Those were, the baby, the bills, the money and everything else, then me. I was always at the bottom of the list. Our newlywed sex life was turning into nothing. If I got it, it always seemed like a chore. We had to fight about it, do it, then fight about it for a few more days then do it again. That cycle repeated itself over and over for almost a year. I didn’t know what to do, because I didn’t want to leave the marriage, I didn’t want to cheat, but I didn’t want to have to go without either. A man will do what he has to do for himself when he isn’t getting any together time, and I was quickly becoming too familiar with “doing it myself”. I was feeling the strain and it was tough. I couldn’t see past the fact that she could go off with someone else and do it with them, but with me I had to fight for it. I don’t really know what was going on in her head at that time, but I was back to building a wall between us. I was working midnights, coming home, getting a little sleep, getting the baby up, dressed, fed and playing with him, and then going to work again, and doing it all over again. I got to a point where I didn’t know if I was going to stay in the marriage or if I was going to leave. I got no advice from my parents when I went to them, and I didn’t know how to make this work.
None of my friends were married, so it didn’t help talking to them, because they would quickly say get out of the marriage while I was still young. I had nowhere to turn, and the walls were closing in and fast. To top that all off, we kept having trouble with cars. It seemed like the more we put into them, the less they ran. We were having trouble making ends meet, and keeping our cars running, and after a lengthy battle, we lost our house and a car. I was back at the point where I wanted to end it all. I was a failure at life as a child, as a boyfriend, as a husband and as a provider. I would have given anything for something to have happen to me. My best friend Jason and I had gotten a rap group off the ground called “da phamilee”. We were performing on the landing in St. Louis a lot. It was a little break from the norm of day-to-day life, but it didn’t pan out. You could put the blame on him, or on me but who cares really it didn’t work. I wanted so badly to escape this private hell I was in. I am sure Brooke was dealing with some things too, but I don’t know what was in her head. I was sure she loved our son, but I was also sure that she hated me. No matter what she said, I couldn’t shake it. I knew that if you loved someone you wouldn’t make them beg you for attention only to give it to them begrudgingly. I knew that if you loved someone you would be by their side and try to get things better, and I wasn’t getting that. Brooke knew it too. It wasn’t some big secret thing I was going through, she knew things weren’t going in the direction that we wanted, but what could we do? Neither one of us was going to get a divorce, that was for quitters. We just needed to get away. One year with our income tax, we went away for a weekend just to Grafton, but it was a getaway. We spent 2 days there and it was fun, but it didn’t spark any new flames. We went the next year to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and we had a good time there too. I got to drive her into Green Forest and to Harrison and show her my old homes and the places where things went bad. One year, we even spent most of our tax money on a trip to Florida, but that was after Mackenzie was born. Yes, when we lost our house, we moved into my parents’ home. We slept on a mattress on the floor, and Brooke was pregnant again. It must have been one of those “off nights” that we had some kind of relation, be it begrudgingly or not. We knew we were having a girl and we were both excited, although I think Brooke was excited about the baby, but not having another baby with me. I am sure even today that a pretty large part of her hates me with the same amount of passion that she used to love me with. Let’s see you go through your day-to-day life knowing what I know and going through what I have been through. You wouldn’t last 5 minutes. But I have managed to be a little strong, if not a lot stubborn and I can’t get out because I’m also not a quitter. Mackenzie quickly became a part of the family on October 6, 1999. Three years into a rocky marriage and an even rockier relationship, these 2 kids were the glue holding it all together. Mackenzie looked like me from the start. She had a big head and light hair. We would sit together with Jordan watching wrestling every week and playing, and Kenzie would try all of the foods that I ate. But there is a bigger part of this story that I have skipped, so I am going to backtrack just a bit, to fill in a gap or 2. Grandma Rowland had been very ill for a while and had needed to be taken to the doctor once a month or once a week. Everyone in the family that she asked to take her, came up with different excuses as to why they couldn’t do it. I call it an excuse, because if you want to do something for someone, you just do it, your boss will understand why you need to leave work. I know this because Brooke and I were the last people asked to take her to her appointments. We were last because her grandmas knew we didn’t have a lot of money and we couldn’t afford to leave work. My boss was totally understanding and let me leave early when we needed to take her. We would get there and get her into her wheelchair and into the car. We talked to Grandma Rowland the whole way there and as we waited in the waiting room. After her appointments, Grandma Rowland would usually take us out to eat. This was her way of getting out of the house for a little longer and thanking us for taking her. I bonded with her during these times and it was our pleasure to have had that extra time with her. She soon fell ill enough to have to be in the hospital. Grandma Rowland went in for a check up and ended up being admitted. She was in the hospital for a couple days that turned into a couple weeks that turned into a month or so. She was fading in and out of consciousness and always asking if Brooke and the kids had everything they needed. It was amazing to me, that this woman who was dying, still had others on her mind, and it was even more special that it was my family she was worried about. Brooke and I decided we were going to name our baby after Grandma Rowland. We couldn’t put Mattie together with anything we liked, so we gave our baby, her middle name, Elizabeth. When we told Marye our decision, she cried and thanked us. This was too, our pleasure, as we wanted Grandma Rowland to be a part of our baby’s life forever. Marye had went back to the hospital to see Grandma Rowland, and while she was there she told her about our baby’s name and that Brooke had everything she needed and that the baby was all right. She gathered the strength to tell her it was okay to let go, and with that, Grandma Rowland passed away. The very next week, Mackenzie Elizabeth Arnel was here. The thing that made me mad about it all was that I was asked to be one of the pallbearers and then I was edged out at the last minute. I was hurt because the ones how edged me out, were the same people who wouldn’t take her to the doctor, who didn’t spend that time with her, and they asked me to do this last thing for her, and then took it away. The other thing that still makes me mad to this day is those same people saying that they wished they had spent more time with her. You could have, but you were too busy to take her to the doctor, you were too preoccupied with your own lives. We did it out of love and out of respect for her, and if others would have done the same, they would have gotten the time with her that they now miss. A tree was planted in her memory at Marye’s house. It grows and grows each year and everyone tries to decorate it at Christmas. Life without Grandma Rowland wouldn’t get any easier either. Every family has a patriarch and Grandma Rowland was all of ours. Once she was gone, people stopped coming around just to drop in. Now everyone only gets together on the “have to holidays”, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. And every year those same folks say how they miss her, and though I believe they do, I think to myself how much more time they could have gotten if all they would have done was take an hour or two out of their schedules to help her. Grandma Rowland didn’t ask for much so when she did, I felt it was everyone’s duty to comply. She helped raise almost everyone in the family, it would have been the least they could have done. Marye and Vicki are really the only ones who have done more than a person is required to do. They were there for it all, good and bad, and Marye took care of her every single day. Marye and Vicki both have had bad luck in the male department, and I know that they both wanted better than me for Brooke. I understand this, because I wanted so much more for our lives than the hand that we’ve been dealt. Vicki has always accepted me, right or wrong and has never let a negative word about me slip in my presence. Marye, has always been good to me, but she has never minced her words. I know that she wishes Brooke had gotten a better life. I can say with almost 100% certainty that no one will ever love Brooke the way I do, except for her mom, dad and grandma. The reason I don’t go out of my mind and the reason I am still able to function has everything to do with Brooke and her love for me. She has really been the one to accept me. I still to this day have issues with love. I don’t think I am worth the time or trouble for someone to love me. The past isn’t my fault, but it’s a lot of baggage that always gets opened and it’s hard to deal with. Brooke deals with it, and helps me deal with it, with integrity and grace. So to her, I am eternally grateful. The next few years are pretty uneventful, and then we found out that we were pregnant again and we had a baby boy in October of 2005 named Chase Michael. Chase is taken from my dad’s name, Charles. Michael is Brooke’s dad’s name. Brooke didn’t like Charles, so we compromised with Chase. Chase is a spitting image of me as a toddler. And, with that, you are pretty much up to date on my life. Some of the stories and things I did were left out simply because they aren’t relevant to the point. As you have read things that I have been through will probably have you thinking that it’s partially made up. I can assure you that no one who has ever been through the type of life that I have could make this up. I wrote this record of my life not in vein, but so that my kids will always know where I came from. I pulled no punches and kept nothing back, because if you’re going to tell it, you might as well tell it. And with that, I am getting closer to closing a major point of my life, the past. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you now have a better understanding of who I am, and why I am the person that I am today.
I have learned some valuable lessons in my years. I have learned that you should do unto others as they do unto you. In this day and age, perhaps you should do unto others before they do unto you. Trust yourself before you trust anyone else. Some people have your best interests at heart, but most people in this world are out for self. People will take advantage of you if you let them. They will do it again and again until you put a stop to it. You should never be dishonest. Nobody likes a liar. You should only get the things in life that you can afford to get. You shouldn’t ever steal. If there is one thing that I want to see is the Arnel name get back the dignity that it was given to my dad with. I have learned that other people will say bad things about you with no merit, no provocation, and expect you to bite your tongue. No one wants to be the first one to say anything, but if you do not say what you have to say, your wishes will go unaccomplished. A person I know said it best, “A closed mouth never gets fed”. You should follow your own heart and your own instincts. Never be a follower. Be the one being followed, and lead others in the right direction. If you see a wrong, and you have the power to change it, make it right. Love the people in your life who have given you love. There is nothing wrong with saying you love someone. If the world ever gets on your shoulders and is too heavy to carry, you always have someone to talk to because GOD doesn’t have caller ID. Some people, even a mom or a dad, will take advantage of a situation and turn your life upside down. They will imply that they did it for you. They may even try to make you feel like it was your fault. You have NO control is the actions of anyone but yourself. You make the decisions and have to live with the consequences of those actions. If you do the crime, do the time. Do not try to drag others into the same trouble that you are in. If you did it alone, take the punishment. If others were involved, it’s your responsibility to let someone know. No one will take the fall for you, and in turn, you should never take the fall for anyone else. If you’re lucky, you will meet your soul mate and spend the rest of your life with them. Once you have that someone in your life be faithful to them. It’s always easier to give up, but a real winner will stay the course. To speak without thinking, is to shoot without aiming. And lastly, someone said summed it up best when they said, “To live is to suffer, but to survive is to find meaning behind the suffering”. Thank you for reading the memoirs of this retarded dis-figured clown.