The school hallways were always crowded between classes. Sometimes it made Mark feel like he could blend into the crowd and not be noticed. Other times it was very difficult to get to his locker and class on time. Truth be told, he preferred the anonymity to the tardiness. It always seemed like when he was recognized for anything it was always bad.
Class went on as if it was separate from the world he was in. Mark's mind kept drifting in and out as he tried to take notes and simultaneously attempted to solve his real problem. Being homeless wasn't as great as it seemed in his dreams of not having to put up with his dad.
"Mark, you coming with us or not?" Jeff asked, pulling Mark out of his deep thought.
"Oh, yeah," Mark got up out of his chair. "Where we going?"
"We're headed to my house," Jeff replied. "Thought we would work on your guitar lessons."
Mark was enjoying learning to play the guitar. It had always been something he wanted to do. He could remember pretending to play when he very small; now it was a way to escape from the world he was currently living in.
After putting his books back in his locker, Mark found his way to the exit doors where Jeff and Matt were waiting for him. They walked quietly from school to Jeff's house. It was good to feel the warmth of the sun on them this unusually warm fall day. The color of the leaves was growing bright. This made it more enjoyable to all of them as they walked through the historic small town.
Once in Jeff's basement, they took out guitars and Jeff began the lesson.
"You remember the chords G, D, C, and E minor?"
"Yeah, I think so," Mark replied as he attempted to finger the guitar to each of the chords as Jeff spoke them.
"Ok good," Jeff started again, "We're going to try a couple of songs so you can get the feel for keeping a strum with the beat of a drum as Matt plays." Matt sat at his drum set excited he was going to be able to finally play as Mark tried to learn his part of the new band they were trying to form. He began a basic four count beat as Jeff started playing a familiar song they had heard on the radio.
Mark tried to keep up watching Jeff's fingers. Finally, Jeff called a stop to the effort.
"Matt, let's go a little slower until Mark has it down," Jeff said.
"Okay," Matt said as he readjusted his symbols and his stool.
Mark gave Jeff an embarrassed look. "Sorry, man. I guess I don't have it down as well as I thought."
"Don't worry about it. Just keep doing what you're doing and it'll come." Jeff knew simply from watching Mark's efforts that his friend could learn. He was beginning to have hope in his dream of doing something as a band.
They practiced for about an hour when Matt finally stopped. "You guys hungry?"
Jeff nodded his head in agreement. They walked outside and Jeff lit up a cigarette. "Want one?"
Mark acknowledged the offer by shrugging his shoulders. He had a vivid memory of his dad chain smoking. That memory triggered other memories that began to make Mark feel sick to his stomach. He just kept looking at his feet.
"Well, it's up to you," Jeff continued as he took a puff and drew it in with a deep breath.
"My dad used to chain smoke," Mark started. "I guess I just have bad memories from it all."
"Bad memories? From smoking?" Jeff was curious now.
"Yeah. I guess that's why I live the way I do now. Never again will I live in the same house as anyone who hates and hurts people." Mark was feeling anger and frustration built up inside him.
"I guess I don't really know anything about your life before you came here," Jeff offered. "What was it like before?"
"You don't want to know," Mark assured him.
"I really do," Jeff pressed. "You're my friend now. It's up to you, but I'd like to know what makes you tick."
"Maybe some other time," Mark said, shutting him down. He paused. "I can tell you one thing. Those cigarettes aren't worth the money you're spending on them. Years from now you're going to be paying twice as much to fight the cancer you're investing in now."
Matt started laughing. "Well, I guess you don't want to have anything to do with what we found back in the woods."
"What do you mean?" Mark looked at him suspiciously.
"We found wild pot growing just behind Jeff's house," Matt smiled. "You sure you don't want any?"
"Really? You found pot just growing wild in your backyard?" Mark asked skeptically.
"Sure did. I know you want some," Matt tried to talk him into it.
"No, I don't. I saw what it was doing to the kids back in the city before I came here. I saw the guns and the fights and the lack of trust," Mark said, getting frustrated. "No, I don't think so."
"Wow, I didn't expect this. We were sure you would want to have some," Jeff said. "Truth is there isn't any. We just wanted to know what you had in you."
Mark took his time to respond as he looked at both of them even more suspiciously. "Really? I was pretty sure you were serious."
"We are serious about who we hang around with," Jeff said solemnly. "I drink and I know it's wrong. I smoke and I know that's wrong too. I will never do drugs. I won't hang out with anyone that uses."
"Me either," Matt interjected. "I don't need it."
"Okay," Mark relaxed, still not completely sold on their final reaction. "I'm with you. My life isn't perfect, but I know pot won't help it get any better."
Lost in Teen: Part 2
by Michael Wright
Dec 15, 2013
Mark had decided to head back to his campsite. He'd been living in the woods, but hadn't told anyone. It wasn't easy living like he was. Mark could remember reading Mark Twain's book "Huckleberry Finn." It had always seemed so inviting to live with no parents and no cares. It was a lot different living it for real.
Why Your Teenager Doesn't Respect You - And what you can do to fix it
Dec 1, 2013
When we go to the doctor's office, we inevitably hear the words, "This may hurt a little." You are about to read some things may hurt a little, but I'm hopeful that like a tetanus shot, it will hurt initially and leave you better off in the end.
Life Lessons from Sir Isaac Newton
by Michael Wright
Dec 13, 2013
It has been proven over and over that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Think about car accidents: it seems drivers are always trying to prove this theory false. Sometimes the result of testing this theory is very traumatic and sometimes it's almost comical. Sadly, too many times it ends tragically.
Michael Wright is a resident of Albuquerque, N.M. After an honorable discharge from the United States Army, Michael Wright earned his master's degree in Secondary Counseling and worked with troubled teens for more than 20 years.
He has recently published a 374 page book called Death of a Green Soldier which was released on June 20th and about which a short comment was published at Magic City on November 16, 2013