Friday, December 16, 2011

A High School Story: Justin


As you may or may not be able to tell, I'm black.
As you should be very able to tell, I'm extremely proud of being black.
Yes, I grew up in a predominately white area of upstate New York, with mostly white friends, but I've always felt lucky to be of color & I've never let anyone make me think otherwise.
To preface this little story here, let me say that I'm not the least bit proud of myself for what I did.
In the same breath, this is something I've never talked about, I refuse to hold it against myself, & I'm bored as hell in this fucking school library.
Here goes...

Justin never really knew who I was, so I don't feel odd at all using his real name.
I met Justin through YouTube in 2006 when we were both 15.
YouTube was a brand new site with very few videos, let alone people with accounts, & I honestly don't even remember how I ended up meeting Justin.
All I remember is writing message after message, after message, after message back & forth with this kid.
Messages weren't sent instantaneously, so after writing him something, I'd wait about 10-15 mins for the little white envelope in the corner to turn yellow with a little "1" next to it.
I didn't know how to write messages back then, so I signed all of them.
...You know, like,
"Your friend, Mariah...".
I Know.
Shut Up.

Justin lived in Ohio in a small town similar to mine & we would trade stories for hours on how bored we've been our entire lives.
He was a hardcore metalhead/skateboarder who played guitar, went to shows, & started learning Finnish just because he loved Children of Bodom so much.
In other words, he was the perfect guy to my 15 year old heart.

At some point, I guess our YouTube messaging got a little tiring, so Justin taught me how to make a MySpace page.
His was all decked out with "666" in the URL, a custom background &...pictures of Justin himself.
Now, for the kids out there, you have to understand that before free social networking sites like MySpace & Facebook, it was likely you would never see the the face of the person you happened to be chit-chatting with for months.
I never thought I'd see what Justin looked like, & to be honest, I kind of found comfort in not knowing.
He could like anyone from Ryan Gosling to Jake Gyllenhaal to Pee Wee Herman.
He was already my friend, I didn't really care what he looked like.

Of course, he turned out to be a fucking stunner.
He looked half Italian or Native American or something with long brown hair & dark brown eyes.
He was tall for his age & had perfect teeth.
Just my luck, right?
Me, being completely uncomfortable with myself at the time, never uploaded pics of myself to my MySpace & lied about my age to make more friends.
Justin often asked me to put pictures of myself up, just so he could see who he was talking to & I guess because of the times, he had every right to know.
I always just shrugged him off & said I'll put some up one day, knowing damn well I never would.

Corny as it may sound, words cannot express how much I appreciated Justin as a friend.
He was my best friend.
I didn't have any real friends at school when I was 15 & no one EVER came over to my house.
So, when Justin told me to get a screen name on AIM, I happily obliged & I knew I could come home every day after school & talk to Justin until it got late.
We would talk about everything from school, to porn, to emo kids & the more I got to know Justin, the more I loved him.

One night, I was talking to Justin on AIM.
I don't even remember what he was talking about except for the fact I was agreeing with him.
Then out of nowhere he added:
"Yeah. & I hate black people, too."
I remember being shocked & annoyed, but I don't think it took me long to respond.
Me: Why do you hate black people?
Justin: Are you black?
Me: No.
Justin: Okay. Good.
He then went on to give me a list of complete bullshit reasons for why he didn't like black people, all of which I rebutted & I think it started to scare him that we may actually not see eye to eye on something, so he changed the subject but our friendship never really recovered after that night.

So, why did I lie?
Curiosity & insecurity.
I hated myself for lying, but I wanted so badly to know his reasoning behind his statement, I didn't care.
I didn't just completely shame myself, I lied to the only friend I had about something he should've known.
He "hated" black people, yet one of his best friends, the girl he talked to every single day & into the night, was black.
& to this day, he still has no idea.

Justin's justification for not being called a racist was that he "didn't want to hang black people".
The fact he would even think to say something like that set something off inside of me & I later found old pictures of lynchings that his friends would post on his MySpace as a "joke".
I don't know if it was his buddies that put all the misinformation in his head, or if he was just simply raised that way by his parents.
The next day, he IM'd me & apologized for "being a dick".
In an effort so save our friendship, I didn't accept his apology, but I asked him to change the subject & never talk about it again.
So he didn't.

We talked for a few more months after that, but I don't recall what any of our conversations were about, & the next summer, I made another MySpace without him knowing.
This one actually had pictures of me on it & my true age.
I added my old account as a friend, so if Justin ever got bored one day & decided to sift through my 600+ friends, maybe he'd find me & put the pieces together.
Probably not, though.

At the height of my little cyber-relationship with Justin, I imagined myself being with him one day.
I wanted to somehow become prettier & acquire more band t-shirts & transfer to his high school in Ohio & blow his fucking mind.
In my more realistic moments, I would wonder how everything between us would one day end.
Justin was in a different state, he'd never seen me before & we only talked online.
I knew that one day, I would have no idea what happened to Justin & I imagined myself walking around under a raincloud of depression without him.

It's been 4 years since the last time Justin & I spoke to each other, & I'm pretty sure it was just him wishing me a happy 16th birthday & me saying "thank you".
It's strange to think, he's out of high school, 20 years old somewhere, doing...something with his life.
It's rare that he even crosses my mind these days & if I ever cross his, I wonder what he thinks about all that time we spent talking to each other?
I still don't think it was a waste & I hope he doesn't either.
Justin's morals were way off, but he still made me laugh on some of the worst days of my life.
He knew me solely through my personality & liked me anyway.

I hope Justin is more educated these days as I certainly am.
I hope he's alright.
& I hope he's happy, wherever he's at.

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