At one point in my life the only thing that interested me were my friends. I was too busy trying to impress my friends that I screwed around in school not being academically there. I was usually getting into fights and pushing peoples buttons; I would do anything that I knew could make people mad and extremely frustrated. I was the neighborhood punk. I was normally trying to find a way to pull a prank on someone to be accepted as a cool person; being accepted by all my peers were usually my intentions at school. Being cool to me was the only thing that mattered. I wanted everyone to see me as the rebel child. Usually people look up to the disobedient children thinking them to be independent and rebellious that’s what was classified as cool to me. That’s how I wanted other people to look at me because I felt like if it would have made people look up to me or even just remember me as being the cool person. While growing up in Norwalk, California an area that to some people would think to be somewhat of a ghetto, this was not really the best route for a young teen to be going down. Freshman year I pulled a 1.4 G.P.A. My parents had very little trust in me, they would even remind me how much they didn’t really trust me every so often, because of all the trouble I would normally be getting into. My parents absolutely hated the fact that I was the oldest out of four boys because of the bad influence I was on them, it even started to show when my younger brother had started getting into trouble every so often. Being a freshman in high school, college was never on my mind; I Gomez 2
had told everyone that I would never go to college. Just the thought of a minimum of four years after thirteen years of school was not appealing to me; not one bit. Slowly all these actions were catching up to me. I had to think hard about what I could do to repair the damage that at the time I thought was unfixable because of all the frustration and anger I had caused my parents for the actions that I had done.
In eighth grade I had a very young teacher; it was probably her first year ever teaching, and a horrible year at that. She is probably the meanest teacher in the world now because of all the frustration that I had put that poor woman through; Ms. Bullock was her name. Ms. Bullock in my eyes always had little to no control over the class. She was very skinny, about 5 feet 9 inches with very blonde hair; she was the most innocent looking woman in the world. Ms. Bullock was about twenty-four years old and was always really good at the teaching part of her job but once I, the classroom clown, got started fooling around the whole class would laugh and get out of control. Whenever Ms. Bullock would yell she would yell at the top of her lungs, her neck would tense up and her veins would become very distinct, appearing as if they were going to explode when she would yell. I thought she was scared of the students or something in that range because she would always threaten to expel me or send me up to the office on a referral, or something along those lines but always failed to do so. I think that by her doing that kind of reassured me that I would never get into trouble; I could always try and be that cool child that I thought everyone would look up to me for without any punishments.
Nonetheless one day in her class I planned out a scheme to make all my friends laugh, all I had wanted at the time was have people look up to me and actually want to be my closer friends. I loved the idea of being the cool child that was always getting into trouble and being rebellious. I had made just about twenty paper airplanes at home one night and my parents had Gomez 3
bought me these really sensational pair of shoes that were called Heeley’s; they were these shoes that had one removable wheel on each heel of the shoe so you could glide around effortlessly with everyone’s attention. That day I had gotten into her class and I had planned just as she started her lesson I would put some paper in the fan so it could make a rather displeasing sound, I did, consequently but also to me very expectedly she had walked over to see what the trouble was. She must have forgotten that I had done that literally once a week if not more but each time she would yell at me and go see the problem. As she went over to the fan in the front corner of the room I had gotten up with the wheels in my shoes and the airplanes in my hand ready to go. I tossed each and every airplane individually, one-by-one, and skated around the classroom, everyone in the classroom had busted out with laughter and even a couple of kids in my class had started following along. It was hilarious, Ms. Bullock started chasing me around the classroom yelling “This is the last straw, I’ve had it with you kid!” Finally I just made my way to the door because I knew the “Wait for me outside” would be coming and I was thinking it she had said it, loud. Everyone continued to laugh, that made me feel great. This was the first time Ms. Bullock had ever gone according to her word. She had sent me to the office after a thirty-minute lecture about how bad of a kid I was and how I needed to get my act together but it didn’t bother me one bit. When I go t to the office that day the vice principal said my name and then said “Luis what happened this time?” I replied “doesn’t the referral tell you what I did?” she gave me a rotten look and said “This time I hope you know your getting suspended…” and so on. Teachers would typically go on about how I needed to change my ways. So I was suspended for another three days on the top of the countless days I had gotten into trouble before this certain occasion; for example fighting, getting people as frustrated as I could, talking back to teachers and using profane language to much. This just lead to my parents losing that much more trust in me, and Gomez 4
every time I would get into trouble they would ask “When the hell are going to grow up Luis”. Finally people had started to see me as the rebellious child that everyone at one point in their lives had wanted to be also being known as the cool child in a group of friends.
I took the remainder of the year with Ms. Bullock as a huge joke. I always did just the right amount of work to get by. The next year is when I started my freshman year at John Glenn High School in the city of Norwalk. This year was horrible I passed my first semester with a couple F’s and a few D’s while hanging around with all these cool people that I wanted to be exactly like. I got into some bad habit with my friends and I was going nowhere with that particular crowd. Nonetheless I was signed up for Wrestling; I was the starting Junior Varsity 119 pound weight class as a freshman, this didn’t help much because my friends on the team would go light a bowl right after or even sometimes before practice. Although with my 1.4 G.P.A. I was not even supposed to be on the team, but of course I had forged a letter that I had to get the principal to sign and say it was okay for me to Wrestle on the team that low of a grade point average. Until this day I have no idea how I got away with that, but I did. I continued to wrestle that year, finishing the season off. One day my parents had gotten this progress report in the mail and they were just fed up with this route I was taking; by this time I had straight D-‘s straight down the line for every single one of my academic classes. My parents then had started threatening me “Something has to change Luis … something is going to change in your life, Luis.” Growing up in the city of Norwalk there was never really talk about college from the schools and all my friends’ parents either lived in run down apartments or in theses tiny little houses. There were even a bunch of my friends’ parents that were not even here legally or did
not even finish high school if they were. Each time I would ask what their parents did for a living they would reply that their parents worked at grocery stores or at some low-income job. Not that it was a bad thing but there was never really talk of college while I was growing up. No one ever cared about that stuff. Even while I was in high school I never heard anyone talk about anything near a successful future. In accordance to all the other kids I hung out with I myself just hoped to get out of high school with a diploma. I hoped this because I wanted to be like everyone else around me I never wanted to over achieve. My parents had never raised me to be like that because they themselves came from really bad childhoods moving out when they were seventeen. I thought this for other reasons I wanted to be a punk child, the funny guy that everyone always liked in high school, I wanted to follow the tracks that the cool teens from previous years had made. One day, getting home from school my parents said “You better say bye to all your friends because we bid on a house and the bid got accepted.” I was astonished because there was never even talk about moving out of my home. This came out of literally nowhere to me, I even thought they were lying to me at first so I just went to my room. The next day my mother had reassured me that we were leaving so I was of course extremely upset and did not even know what to say about it all. I had lived in that same house in Norwalk since I was three years old and moved out at the age of fifteen years old; that was the only house that I had ever known. I was soo angry. In spite of them surprising me with that information I was getting into more and more trouble. Countless more referrals to the office and a few more fights, my parents had basically lost hope in me, from what I would hear from them. I had sensed that this move was the last shot that they were going to put forth with me; this was close to the final attempt they would make
but in my head I didn’t care; I cared about those friends that I had grown up with and looked up to all those years. Finally we had moved; we moved right after the last day of school my freshman year. We moved to this city, that I had never heard of, named Yorba Linda and my parents informed me that I was going to a high school named Esperanza. My first year at Esperanza I signed up for the Wrestling team and had got somewhat descent grades due to the fact that I did not have any cool friends to impress or try to live up to or be like. I kept to myself normally and just talked decently to some of the nicer people in my classes. I did not go out at all my sophomore year unless it was for a tournament for wrestling or something like that. I started to realize that everyone I had spoken to had a drive, some sort of drive to achieve a certain goal or to get to a certain school that they wanted to do or go to. I myself started to think about what I could do with my life but in spite of my parents moving me away from home I would say, “I’m not changing my mind! I still do not want to go to college no matter what you say or where you move me.” Which made my parents yell and ground me even more but at the time all I wanted was revenge. Continuing to go to Esperanza I kept on thinking about the way I had always tied to impress everyone else, doing things to make them laugh and wanting them to want to be my friends. For them to somewhat approve of me; I was normally trying to impress them in any tangible way that I could. I always would try and follow the lead of someone else; someone cooler then me, someone that got all the girls, someone who had all the friends, someone well-known and well liked and someone everyone wanted to be and looked up to. I now realize how much of a fool I was. My junior year at Esperanza I had opened up more, caring less of what people thought about me, or trying to impress them but just trying to have them like me for me. On top of that I Gomez 7
was performing decently in school and actually setting goals for my future. I told myself I wanted to be a Police Officer and went against my word and planned on signing up for some College classes. Being a rebel and trying to impress everyone else is not what really matters it’s yourself that you should be trying to impress. Pursuing a career in being a Police Officer would require impressing myself and it would also require some leadership qualities. I was always one step behind, trying to keep up with the person in front or make those people in front notice me. Finally my role was reversed; senior year of high school I was captain of the wrestling team. I believe that the countless long talks with my parents, teachers, family, coaches, peers and friends pushed me to achieve what I did. I now have great friends that like me for me and not for being the trouble making cool person. I now like to think to only impress myself as much as I can.