Home School & Life, Love, Loss

This piece combines two stories—”Home School” by Blaize and “This is a story about Life, this is a story about Love and this is a story about Loss” by Demetrius “Meat” Molina. Since both pieces were about family and growing up, it was decided to perform in tandem. An Indeterminate Life was devised over a period of six months.  Pieces emerged from various training exercises and discussions among the men.

{Blaize enters to stage right and begins.}

Home School

Part One

BLAIZE:  Waking up to the smell of homemade buckwheat pancakes, the sound of my two little brothers, Franky and Bobby bickering in their room over some game.  An engine sputters to life.  Zac, my older brother, is outside starting up the motor of his latest project, a throwaway weed-wacker he’s fixing. 

{sitting up}

It’s Saturday at the Hall house.  We have chores in the morning, but later we will all go outside, sit on a blanket on the grass with our dogs, and have a book discussion about Little House on The Prairie.  We are home schooled. 

What exactly this entails varies greatly from home to home.  For some, it may be a complete nightmare, for others, total bliss.  For me, it was both.  Let me explain.

{Meat enters and extends arm to Sandra who hands baseball cap to David–David takes chair and cap to background while Leroy exits and Nate takes chair away.  Meat strolls center–hand on Sandra’s shoulder.  He glances at her several times as he gets to stage left.  She looks straight out, obviously not happy.}

This is a story about Life.  This is a story about Love and this is a story about Loss

Part One

MEAT: As an older brother I was always taught to watch over my younger sisters.  From a very young age it was imbedded in me that I’m their protector, a person who is never supposed to allow ANY harm come their way!  Not because this is what my mother and father taught me, but because this is what I saw growing up.  Well to be honest . . .my father was never truly a part of my life, so maybe that’s where it all started. {Sandra removes Meat’s hand and exits to background.}

{Others assigned to Meat–enter and sit/lie on floor}

As I look back on things now, I realize I was forced to assume his role as a protector simply because we had no father.  But when I say “force,” I don’t mean that my mom sat me down one day and said:   Boy listen up!! Your Dad isn’t here to help me raise you and your sisters, so I need you to be a man and take care of his responsibilities. {Laughs!}  No . . .that’s not how it happened. When I say, “forced,” I mean it just instinctively became my duty. The problem was . . .here I am , a young boy with no father, trying to play a Father’s role.  Silly me!!! I started out by walking them to school and helping them cross the streets. 

At school I made sure the bigger older kids didn’t pick on them or hit them . . . especially boys.  One day in school during recess, I remember this big girl named Crystal did something to my sister.  As soon as I heard about it, I came to her defense.  I guess I didn’t put any fear into her because now Crystal wanted to fight me.  This was when the girls were growing faster than the boys so she was a lot bigger than me.  In fact, Crystal was the BIGGEST kid in the entire school.  I remember being mad at my sister for causing me problems with the BIG, ANGRY 6th grader. 

Being the improviser that I am, I told Crystal she’s lucky she’s a girl because I don’t fight girls.  Which was true…but I really was just trying to take the easy way out.  But my approach didn’t work because on the walk home from school, Crystal and her friends were following me. The fight happened so fast.  I remember one minute Crystal was walking behind me calling me names, and the next minute I was on the ground getting jumped by seven girls.  Well…at least that’s the story I told everyone who saw my eye.

Anyway, things like the incident with Crystal continued on through Junior High and carried over to High School. 

Home School

Part Two

BLAIZE: Here’s The Bliss:

Home school is freeing! 

Lazy days doing homework (well, its all homework) sprawled out on the living room floor.

Studying at my own pace, breezing through self-taught language and history assignments, and getting one-on-one tutoring through painful math problems with my Mom.

Designing my own projects; special reports on Shakespeare, and Julie Andrews.  Conducting science projects of breeding gerbils, and bunnies, documenting every part of the process of new life. 

Hours upon hours spent in the woods with my brothers, building tree forts, creating make-believe worlds where we were nomadic children, lost, separated from society but searching for our way home while making a life for ourselves in the wild.   

I remember having so much time. It seemed anything was possible when I could be finished with  my schoolwork by 11 am!   

This is a story about Life.  This is a story about Love and this is a story about Loss

Part Two

MEAT: During High School, as I got older, I became extremely over protective with my sister Margarita.  I didn’t want her hanging with certain girls if I thought they were a bad influence, and she definitely couldn’t have a boyfriend.  That was just out of the question!!!  She couldn’t even speak to any boys around me. 

Over time this drove a wedge between us, and we became distant.  We did not have a close relationship at all.  In fact, I used to think she hated me for not allowing her to live her teenage life.  As I look back on things now . . .I realized it was all my fault!!  I took the protection thing way too far.  I treated her as if she was my property instead of my sister. 

Eventually . . .things got so bad that she moved out and went to live with Grandma.    I guess she felt she needed to escape the overprotective barriers I created in her life.   There she had a little more freedom.  My grandma allowed her to do the things a normal 16 year old does, like go stay at a friend’s house and have a boyfriend.  I hated the fact that my sister could now have a boyfriend but “grandma don’t play” so I had no choice but to accept it.  But I did make it my business to have a little talk with her boyfriend or whatever you want to call him.

Home School

Part Three

BLAIZE: Here’s The Nightmare:

Home school is strict.  Bible class every morning at 6:30 sharp.  Your parents are everywhere.  In my home, everything was taught from a Christian perspective. Evolution is a lie.  The world will lie to you your entire life. Gay is a sin, abortion is evil, nail polish is seductive even if you’re 6 years old, playing with barbies will make you a bratty anorexic, modesty first, save yourself for marriage, don’t even think of dating till you’re 30, not a joke.   And worst, home schooled kids don’t get the luxury of escaping for eight hours a day, if home isn’t a great place to be. 

Watching my Mom cry of shame coming home from the local food shelf, Hours of listening to my parents fight about everything from electricity cut-off notices, to their lack of, uh, passion in their marriage, enduring the backlash of a broken woman with no place to take out her suffering but on her children, all takes its toll on education.  Things got worse and worse until we could barely even call it school anymore. 

When my parents separated and I went to 8th grade for public school, I was a pretty strange kid.  Sheltered to naiveté extreme, I rode an emotional roller coaster that wouldn’t stop until I was able to break free from my family  and learn to create stability for myself. 

When I tell people I was home schooled, they are always curious.  Did you like it?  How are you normal?  And here’s the thing.  When I first got out, I thought I was a freak.  Since then I’ve learned that there is no normal, and that anyone is capable of playing whatever role makes them “normal” according to who they are with.

This is a story about Life.  This is a story about Love and this is a story about Loss

Part Three

MEAT: After about a year of my sister being in a relationship with this boy, the worst thing happened.  I came home to find out her boyfriend put his hands on her.  I found out from my uncle Rico.  When I came home he told me to go look at Margarita’s face.  So I immediately ran in the house looking for my sister.  My mom told me she wasn’t home.  I guess she was trying to prevent me from seeing my sister’s face because she knew how I was going to react.

I knew she was lying so I ran up the stairs to my sister’s room.  Her door was locked so I knew something was wrong.  I knocked on the door telling her to open up.  She wouldn’t open and told me to leave.  After the third knock I just kicked her door in without a second thought and broke the lock.  As soon as I saw her face, anger and rage overwhelmed me. 

I completely lost it.  My sister had a swollen lip and a blackened eye that was fully closed.  I couldn’t believe someone did this to MY sister.  I asked her what happened?? Who did this??  She just sat there with her head down, crying.  I remember yelling at her asking, “why would you try to hide this shit from me?” But I never once considered her feelings or even asked her if she was okay.  All that mattered to me was my feelings.  I felt disrespected and I wanted to hurt this person who disrespected me by putting his hands on my sister.

I ran out of the house on a mission to find him—Margarita’s “boyfriend.” I went to a few places I thought he might be, but I had no luck.  Later that day I was given his cell phone number.  I called him and as soon as he said “hello” I asked him:  “Why the hell did you put your hands on my sister?  He laughed like it was a joke and said:  “Because I did, why??”  His arrogance came as a surprise and only increased my fury!  I told him he just made the worst mistake of his life and when we see each other, it’s “on sight.” Then I hung up the phone.

Home School

Part Four

BLAIZE: Home school created many beautiful opportunities for me, a closeness with my brothers, a childhood with little social pressure and the chance to embrace each day for whatever adventure it offered. Of course I liked being home schooled. 

I also have scars from my family. But they’re really just lessons, learned in my life at home.  They are as much a part of my home schooling as reading Little House on The Prairie. I learned that the people you trust the most will give you the deepest wounds.  I learned that knowing the truth is a far more complicated process than believing what you are taught in a sterilized environment.  I found that deciding what I wanted could be up to me, but making it happen was also up to me alone.

These lessons make me who I am now:  Someone with an insatiable appetite for new experiences, who won’t take anyone else’s word for anything, with an independence and resilience that make me unstoppable, but roots that keep me humble.  While my past is where I’ve been, it never defines where I’m going.

{Blaize Kneels;  all focus on Meat as he finishes his story.}

This is a story about Life.  This is a story about Love and this is a story about Loss

Part Four

MEAT: We crossed paths almost a year later inside the Arnot Mall on Xmas eve.  Fought right there in front of the last minute shoppers.  Now we had “beef” meaning anytime or anywhere we met we’re trying to hurt each other.  Meanwhile he and my sister patched things up.  Two years later she was pregnant with his child—my nephew, and out “Beef” went to the next level.  Now I was carrying weapons.  My attitude was shoot or get shot.  Scary shit when I think about it.  I felt in my heart that things would take a turn for the worse…and they did!

It started at my girlfriend’s house when 4 men surrounded my car.  This led to a high-speed chase and ended in a car accident.   My girlfriend must of called my sister because she showed up at the car accident.  I was alone and fighting for my life.  I saw a gun pointed at me, so I ran.  I heard three loud Bangs!  I kept running but stopped when I thought about my sister.  When I turned around I saw the gunman getting in the car with my sister and the car pulled off.   My sister was helping the person who had just tried to kill me.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt betrayed.

For two years I acted as if Margarita was dead and never existed.  Grandma tried to make things better and encouraged me to forgive her.  She said that life is too short to harbor such anger towards my sister because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.  But I was too hurt to just let it go.   I was so full of scorn that I wouldn’t even acknowledge my own nephew, an innocent baby.   I was very foolish.

A few months later I found out Grandma was right because I was convicted of murder and never made things right with my sister before I was locked up.

But one day, I was called out of my cell for a surprise visit.  When I got down to the visiting room, I saw my sister and Nephew.  We talked…and made up.