Up until this point, I had Elementary School by the horns. But 5th grade was a tumultuous time, and after my parents split and my dad moved away, my grades dropped drastically. I stopped being a straight-A student and spent the bulk of my time distracted by my own imagination. I started cutting class, going as far as hiding on the very roof of our building only to get exposed by my own chihuahua, and even made the mistake of running away from home. Imagine that. A young kid, taking the subway from Bushwick to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, attempting to buy a ticket to Atlantic City, where my dad was living. I remember the disappointment and sadness on my mom’s face when she showed up. Family members I hadn’t seen in months made their appearance at home, lining up to express their disappointment. It was a poor decision, I know, and I wasn’t allowed back in school until I agreed to meet with a shrink every Wednesday afternoon. I still remember his name. The ink blots made me feel as though I was, in fact, crazy, and regular meetings didn’t bring me any closer to being around someone who understood me. Nuck, still a young child himself, would offer motivational speeches after school, expressing his discontent at the idea of progressing to the next grade without me. So I woke up one day and made the decision to shut down any doubt about my ability. After getting my grades back up to par, I enrolled in the Math Olympics, where Alonzo, a grade younger than me, and I brought home the gold. The school would notify students of an upcoming test for those “gifted and talented”, in which a passing grade would be met with an acceptance letter to I.S. 383. Nuck and I would put our cards on the table, and became the only 2 students from our graduating class to pass with flying colors. Our graduation, held in the very school we would be attending next year, featured R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”, long before sexual abuse allegations would plague the memory of every cap and gown ceremony.

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