It’s Saturday morning and I’m waiting for Cory to come by. He asked me after 4th period yesterday if I wanted to go with him, James and Elizabeth to the mall. He’s already 16 and he says his mother lets him borrow her car sometimes. Anyway, the mall is having some kind of a sidewalk sale and they wanted to go to see if they could find some clothes for school. Cory wanted to try and find a new pair of basketball shoes. I don’t know why, though. He doesn’t participate in any team sports for our school.
I couldn’t believe it when I asked Mom if I could go and she readily agreed. She even gave me $100 to spend on some new clothes if I found something I like. I don’t get a weekly allowance. Dad just asks me on Monday how I’m doing on money. Usually, I don’t need anything because I never go anywhere. If I did spend some money the week before, then he’ll open up his wallet and hand me whatever he has in it. Usually, it’s about $50 or $60. That lasts me for two or three weeks. The only money I spend is for a soft drink after school. I don’t need money for lunch because my parents buy me a lunch card each semester which takes care of my meals.
So I’m sitting in my room waiting for Cory to arrive. I keep looking out the window to see when he pulls up. If I’m lucky, I can make it downstairs and out to his car before he gets out and comes in to get me. If he does, Mom will corner him for a half hour. I don’t have too many friends, so when one does come by, she goes out of her way to make them feel welcome. If I don’t make it downstairs in time, she’ll have him sitting at the table with a glass of milk and some cookies.
Yesterday, Mr. Byrd gave me this weird look when I entered his class. I don’t think he knows how to react to me now that he knows I’m gay. I have a feeling he’s embarrassed because he read it in my journal. I don’t know why’s he’s so worried. He told us when we started keeping it that we were to write down our feelings in it. What did he expect us to write about? Today’s music? Although I’m sure that a few of the girls probably fill their journals with fantasies about some singer. Hardly anyone in our class dates, so they have to make up a bunch of stuff. I’d like to read a few just to see who they do find sexy. I wonder if anyone has a crush on me. LOL. I doubt that, especially now that they know I’m gay. Hmmm. I wonder if any guy in my class has been thinking about me. I really really doubt that. I’m going to have to watch the guys better. Maybe I’ll find a few to write about later. At least it will give me something to write to fill up this stupid journal. Some days it’s difficult to think of things to write. Like last night. I still can’t believe I wrote several pages about doing IT. I even started laughing this morning when I was in the shower and... Oops. TMI. Haha. I’m going to count TMI as three words.
Yesterday in history class, Mrs. Carter gave us an assignment I’m not looking forward to doing. She wants us to participate in some kind of community service activity. That’s all I need is more work to do. It’s enough to keep this journal. Now I have to become involved in some activity that isn’t school related. It sounds like it might be a lot of work. She said she will give us more information on Monday. She just wanted us to give it some thought over the weekend about what we might like to do.
HEY, MRS CARTER. I THINK THE IDEA SUCKS AND I DON’T WANT TO DO IT.
How’s that for giving it some thought?
Beverly approached me again yesterday after 2nd period. Ever since she found out I was gay she’s has made it her mission to help me. I sure hope she doesn’t want me to be her community service charity case. I told her I was okay with it, but she insists that I should talk to someone about it. She said she told her older brother about me. He’s in college, but she said the next time he comes home to visit, she’s going to invite me to her home so I can discuss my problems with him. I’m not sure if he’s gay, or she just thinks I might talk to someone older. I told her that I would, just to get her to leave me alone. I know she means well, but I really don’t need anyone’s help right now. I think Monday I’ll wear a sign around my neck that reads: I’m okay being gay. Maybe she’ll get the hint.
I’ve got to go. I just saw Cory pull up into the driveway. I gotta get downstairs before he comes up to the house. I’ll write later about the trip to the mall.
Okay, I’m back. It’s Sunday night and I’m taking a break from working on my homework assignments for the past three hours. Let me write about what happened yesterday at the mall. By the time I got downstairs, Mom had cornered Cory in the kitchen and was talking to him when I went downstairs. By coincidence, he has a younger sister who is in my mother’s class. She’s also met Cory’s mother a few times. He gave me a ‘help’ look when I entered the kitchen. After about five minutes, I was able to pull him away.
We picked James up first. He is a red head with a face full of freckles. He’s rather small, and I don’t think puberty has taken a complete hit on his body yet. He has hardly any body hair, and his voice gets squeaky when he gets excited. I sort of had a crush on him in the eighth grade, but I don’t too much anymore. He’s beginning to show an interest in girls, but because of his immature features, most girls see him as a little brother rather than boyfriend material. I’m sure, though, that in a few years he’s going to be a rather handsome man.
When we pulled up in front of his house, he came running out. He stopped midway, leapt into the air and tried to click his heels. Instead, he lost his balance and fell to the ground. Cory and I were roaring with laughter when he got into the car. By nature, he has a ruddy complexion, but it was even redder. He warned us to stop laughing, but we couldn’t. Soon, he was laughing too.
We next headed over to Elizabeth’s house. I’d been there on a several occasions for parties. Elizabeth loves throwing parties, and invites us to her house twice a year. Once on her birthday in May, and again for a Christmas party. They are usually kind of boring because, to be honest, my friends aren’t exactly party animals. We mostly sit around and talk about school and teachers. Last year we played a game of Twister, until Richard accidentally put his face in Sarah’s chest. Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s mother walked in the room just as he did it, and she made us stop the game. I was looking forward to playing, because James and I were going to be next. I was hoping that we could get twisted into a few interesting positions. Elizabeth’s mother came with her to the car and warned Cory to drive carefully. After assuring her he would, we then proceeded to the mall.
Hold on a minute. Mom’s calling me downstairs. Okay, back. She was reading one of her student’s papers, and in the margin a girl had written in pencil, WTF. She then smeared it when she tried to erase it. My face turned ten different shades of red when she asked me if I knew what it meant. After giving her several clues, I finally had to say the ‘F’ word. Mom’s face turned red too. Then she got mad at me because I knew what it meant! Can you believe it? I left when she said she was going to call the girl’s parents and tell them about the language their third grader was using.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah. The mall. We got there about eleven and walked around for a while looking in windows. We went into this store called Victoria Secrets, but left when the saleslady asked us what we were looking for. I think she called the mall cops when Cory held up a black pair of panties and told her she’d look good in them- over her head! Hehe. We spent the next half hour waiting to be arrested.
I really never noticed it before, but Cory is really cute. As we walked, our shoulders would bump together. After a while, I was beginning to wonder if he was doing it intentionally, or if it was because James was always on his other side. Elizabeth usually walked ahead of us and decided what stores we should go into.
I think I mentioned that Cory is African American. He’s a year older than the rest of us because he missed a year of school when his father was transferred to Venezuela when he was in the second grade. His mother home schooled him, but they wouldn’t count it for some reason. Anyway, his father is some big wheel with an oil company. His father is African American and his mother is white. Cory ended up with a beautiful caramel-colored complexion. He’s taller than me, but we weigh about the same. Besides having a younger sister, he also has an older brother. He’s a junior, and I rarely see him and Cory talk at school.
I don’t know why I never looked at Cory before like I did today. It’s just when we walked side by side, I kept looking over as he spoke. He has a cute dimple on his left. Just his left, not the right. Weird. I had to stop staring at him, because I think he noticed. We were in Spencer Gifts and he put on this funny jester’s hat. It was multi-colored and had bells on the end. Anyway, he put it on and he looked really cute. I couldn’t stop staring at him as he laughed. He gave me this really weird look, took off the hat and walked away. I think I made him a little uncomfortable. I mean, he knows I’m gay. Right? I just hope he didn’t think I was perving over him or something.
I did realize something this afternoon. Even though my friends say they don’t mind that I’m gay, they do. It’s like some big elephant in the room that everyone sees, but no one wants to be the first to mention it. Once when we walked past a couple of cute girls from our school, James made a comment to Cory about them. He turned to me to ask me what I thought, but then he suddenly stopped. I mean, okay, I’m gay, but I can still appreciate a pretty girl when I see one. Right?
And Elizabeth. God, she got on my nerves. I think her main goal with our trip to the mall was to find me a boyfriend. Several times she elbowed me when a cute guy would walk past. Then she’d ask me if I thought he might be gay. How would I know? We don’t exactly walk around holding up signs that say we’re gay.
By the time I got home, I came to some really big revelation. No matter how accepting people say they are about gays and lesbians, they still see us as gays and lesbians and nothing more. Now that I am somewhat out to my friends, I am no longer Reggie Faulkner. I am GAY Reggie Faulkner. Cory was just Cory. He wasn’t Straight Cory; and James wasn’t Straight James. Elizabeth isn’t, well, I’m not sure what Elizabeth is. Sometimes I wonder if she isn’t gay herself and she’s watching people to see how they react to me. Maybe she wants to come out too. I’m not sure. My point is, why do I have to be Gay Reggie? Can’t I just be Reggie again?
THERE ARE GOOD DAYS AND THERE ARE BAD DAYS, AND THIS IS ONE OF THEM
It’s Monday morning, and I’m writing this in Mr. Byrd’s first period class. I think he’s starting to act like Elizabeth. When I entered his class, he called me over to his desk and asked me softly so no one could hear him if I was all right. He seemed kind of embarrassed when I asked him sarcastically why shouldn’t I be all right. I guess it’s that big elephant in the room again. He kind of apologized, but added if I needed someone to talk to, I could always come by and talk to him. I nodded my head and hurried to my seat. He gave us some time to work on our journals, so I just wanted to mention it before I forget.
WHEN I’M NOT IN MY RIGHT MIND, MY LEFT MIND GETS PRETTY CROWDED
School can’t get any worse, can it? It’s Monday night and I’m on my bed reading this handout Mrs. Carter gave us in class. You know, that community service thing. She says it’s not her idea, but the school administrators are demanding that we do it. The way she explained it, since we are all in a gifted class (her words, not mine) and all of us will be inducted into the National Honor Society this Spring, then one of the requirements is that we participate in some kind of community service. I think it is a really stupid idea. I bust my butt off making good grades, and now they say it’s not enough???? Some of my classmates complained, but Mrs. Carter said it wasn’t her decision. Abe became really upset. I think he’s now trying to balance doing homework during the week and date Sarah on the weekends. When he asked what would happen if he didn’t do it, Mrs. Carter stood in front of him, folded her arms and stared at him. He tried to return her stare, but he sunk into his seat and timidly said he was sorry for being rude. I know others wanted to object, but after that everyone was afraid to say anything. The rest of the day was spent complaining about the assignment. It didn’t help when our afternoon teachers sided with Mrs. Carson and said the experience would make us better individuals.
OUT OF MY MIND, BACK IN FIVE MINUTES
Okay, I’m really back. I had to go do spend some ‘quality time’ with my parents. Anyway, that’s what Mom calls it. She made me watch some documentary on global warming on the PBS channel. She said I needed to be aware of it because it would be something my generation would have to deal with. She didn’t think it was funny when I said, “Geez, thanks Mom for messing up the earth and then expecting us to solve it.” She went into the kitchen and made popcorn. Popcorn! I had to sit and watch a boring documentary, eat popcorn and pretend I was having a good time. Anyway, that’s quality time in the Faulkner house. I’d write more about it in this journal, but I’d probably fall asleep.
So where was I. Okay. I had to reread some of this. I was telling you about the community service thing we have to do. There I go again, pretending someone is reading this. Haha.
HEY MR BYRD! IF YOUR OBJECTIVE WAS TO MAKE ME NUTS YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL
Okay, Reggie. Focus. The community service thing. The handout says we have to perform at least 60 hours of community service before our induction in April. 60 hours! I don’t think I’ve ever spent 60 hours on anything in my life except homework. I haven’t even spent 60 hours doing IT. Hehe. Well, maybe. Anyway, she made this list of activities in which we can participate. Most of them sound really, really boring: organize a food drive to help out a food pantry; volunteer in a nursing home, public library or homeless shelter; volunteer in an after-school tutorial program at an elementary school; become a volunteer worker for Habitat for Humanity; volunteer to do office work at a non-profit organization. The list goes on and on for a page and a half. But you get the idea, we have to spend 60 hours doing something nice to show that we care about others. I mean, I’m a nice person already, right? I’ve never hurt anyone, and I try to be pleasant all the time. I know I have my moods, but who doesn’t? But it’s like keeping this stupid journal, I don’t want to do it. I’m already falling behind in my assignments. The teachers keep piling more and more work on us. Now Mrs. Carter wants to rob us of our limited time to do service to others.
THE FASTER I GO, THE BEHINDER I GET
There was one bright spot in all this. Elizabeth raised her hand and proudly announced that she had already met the requirements because she had been volunteering the past year answering phones on Friday and Saturday nights at a Teen Crisis Center. You should have seen the look on her face when Mrs. Carter told her that past service would not count. We would have to submit in a week what we want to do. Our community service hours would begin then. So I keep staring at this paper and going over the options. She also said we could do something not on the list as long as we clear it with her. Hold on. Let me get the calculator. I’ll give it some thought. Right now I’m tired and going to bed.
NOTICE: IF YOU HAVE NOTICED THIS NOTICE, YOU WILL NOTICE THAT THIS NOTICE IS NOT WORTH NOTICING
It’s about 8 o’clock on Thursday night and I still have a ton of homework to complete for tomorrow, and I have to fill up this stupid journal. I’ve only got a little over 3000 words. I’m considering going back to the top of the page and recopy what I’ve already written. I got that idea from James. He said he did it last week and Mr. Byrd didn’t even notice. It’s cheating, but in desperate times we do desperate things. Right?
I’m almost 16 and I’m already burned out. All I seem to do is go to school, do homework and go to bed. Then the next day I do the same thing. There’s got to be more to life than this. Right? Is this all life has to offer? I watch Dad and Mom and they are always working, even when they’re not in school. Dad’s in his office working on his lectures or writing his book. Mom sits on the sofa and grades papers and writes lesson plans. They never do anything fun. I think the last time we went on a vacation was when I was 9. Even then, it was to Washington, D.C. so Dad could do research for a paper he was writing. Mom took me around to some of the monuments, but it was hot and boring. I didn’t have much fun.
I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do to meet my community service requirements. Elizabeth is trying to talk me into volunteering at the Teen Crisis Center with her. She’s already talked Caryn Stephens into doing it. She says we have to attend a 10 hour training session. Mrs. Carter said that could count as part of our 60 hours. I would have to work Wednesdays and Saturday nights, but what else do I have to do? It’s not like I’m busy attending football games and parties. She says they have a program called Teen Talk. Elizabeth says she just sits around most of the time and waits for the phone to ring. Most of the time, the calls are from young girls who broke up with their boyfriends. She says I wouldn’t have to answer calls like that. I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. And since Elizabeth has never had a boyfriend, I don’t know what kind of advice she can offer them. She says most of the time they just want to complain about what kind of a rotten boyfriend they have. Once they vent all their anger, they usually hang up.
I don’t know if I want to do it, though. I really haven’t had much experience. I keep worrying that someone will call and say they want to commit suicide. I don’t know what I would say to someone my age who actually wanted to die. I’d probably say the wrong thing and then they would kill themselves. Then I’d have to live with that the rest of my life. James is going to volunteer to work with Habitat for Humanity. They build homes for people. His dad is a carpenter, so he already has some experience working with him during the summer months. I’d probably hit my hand with a hammer when I try to drive a nail. I’d volunteer to work in the public library, but it would seem like an extension of school. So I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ve got to decide soon because we have to complete this community service form and have our parents sign it.
I have to finish this stupid thing and then do some chemistry homework. I’ll be lucky if I get in bed before 11 tonight. And I still have over 1300 words to write. I’m going downstairs to get something to drink. Maybe I’ll have an idea when I return. BRB.
Okay, I’m back. When I was pouring me some milk, I suddenly remembered I haven’t answered the prompt yet. I dug out my notebook and read it. Mr. Byrd wants us to write about something we fear. That’s hard because I don’t really fear anything. I’m not afraid of the dark or thunderstorms. In fact, I enjoy watching storm clouds from my window and then watching the lightning bolts as they brighten up the darkness. I used to be afraid of snakes until I took biology and we had to handle one. I thought it would be all slimy feeling, but it actually felt kind of neat as it slithered across my hands. So now I’m not even afraid of snakes. I’m afraid of vicious dogs, but who isn’t. So I guess I’m going to have to think abstractly. What does Reggie fear?
I guess most people would say growing old, but that doesn’t bother me. In fact, I can’t wait to get older. Being a teenager isn’t all that great. Maybe it is for others, but not me. It seems like I’m caught in-between places. I guess that doesn’t make sense, so let me try to explain. When I was little, things were simple. Mom and Dad made all my decisions. And I know when I get older, I’ll make all my decisions. But right now I’m in-between places. I’m too old to depend on Mom and Dad to decide what I should do all the time. But at the same time, I still need their permission to make my own decisions, and it still feels like they are making the decisions, but they let me think I’m making my own. It’s getting complicated. Right? So I’m caught in-between places. Someday my life will be my own, and I can decide what I want to do.
So maybe that is what I fear most. What if I make the wrong decisions? What if I make a wrong turn that really messes up my life? I already thought I did when I kind of came out to some of my friends. So far things have been okay, but it has only been a couple of weeks. What if my parents find out and disown me? That could really be a wrong turn. I don’t think it will happen, but what if it did? What if Dad is some closeted homophobe and kicks me out onto the street when he finds out? Okay. I’m really getting scared, so I got to stop thinking like this. Dad is not a homophobe. He will not kick me out of the house. But these are the kind of things that I do fear. What if I spend my whole life doing something, and then realize that what I did wasn’t fulfilling. I have this dream that I really want to do something to make a difference. I don’t know what it will be, but I want to do something that people will remember that Reginald Kaylor Faulkner existed. What if I don’t accomplish that? What if I’m lying on my death bed and suddenly realize that I accomplished absolutely nothing with my life? I didn’t even make a slight dent in making the world a better place to live. Dad and Mom are teachers. They are teaching a future generation. They are advancing mankind.
I’ve got to stop thinking like this. I need something more concrete to be afraid of. The future can be a pretty scary place, especially for a 15-year-old, soon to be 16. It’s a dark and ominous place, not like a dark and scary room. At least in a dark and scary room, you can turn on a light and ease your fear. But you can’t turn on a light to the future. I guess we light a match and walk a dim path toward an unknown destination. And along the way, we can only hope that we take the right path and make the right turns so that when we reach the end, we will be satisfied that the journey was worth the venture. Because at the end, we will turn and see the trail we took. And when we close our eyes for a final time, hopefully, there will be a smile on our face. Whew. I just reread this last paragraph. I think I’m starting to think too much.
Okay. I’m going to bed. I’m depressed. I still got 500 more words to go. I’ll try to do it on the bus on the way to school.
YOU’RE SO STUPID THAT YOU ONCE STARED AT AN ORANGE JUICE CARTON BECAUSE IT SAID CONCENTRATE
It’s hard to write on the bus. We’re constantly stopping to pick up students, and busses aren’t exactly designed for comfort. Besides, Elizabeth is sitting next to me and I can tell she’s trying to read what I’m writing. So if you’re reading this Mr. Byrd, I’m sorry for the way it looks. Honest. Hold on. She’s peeking over again. I’m going to move further to the front. Okay. Back. She’s giving me dirty looks now, and she just pulled out her journal. I bet she’s writing something about me. If I ever get a chance to read it, I’m going to see what she said.
I didn’t get very much sleep last night. I kept tossing and turning in bed. I shouldn’t have written what I did because it really upset me. I keep thinking, what if I was really born a loser? What if I live my whole life and accomplish nothing? But then I thought that perhaps I’m reaching too high. Simple, little things can sometimes be big events, can’t they? I don’t have to be a scientist and solve global warming to accomplish something, right? I mean, like a plumber goes to work every day and helps people solve a problem in someone’s home. That’s a small deed, but it was an accomplishment. Maybe he stopped a big leak that would have flooded someone’s basement. And the waitress in a restaurant takes people’s orders and makes sure that they enjoy their meal. She’s doing something good, right? I mean, they are small things, but they add up over time. I’m thinking too big. That’s my problem. I want to do something on a grand scale all at once. But maybe doing small things, little by little is just as rewarding as solving the world’s big problems, right? So, I have to give this a lot of thought. I have to decide what I want to do with my life that will make me happy and be rewarding. Maybe I’ll be a teacher like Mom and Dad. They seem happy, and I know they feel they’ve accomplished something special. I can hear it in my mother’s voice when she talks about her students. She’s proud to be a teacher, and I guess that is all that really matters in the end. So I have to find that certain thing in my life that will make me look back someday and say, I’m proud I did that. But I’m only 15, going on 16. This is something new, and I’ve never really given it much thought. Maybe that is the reason Mr. Byrd is making us do this. Maybe I’m not starting to hate it so much.
Okay, I just counted my words and I’m 100 short. So I have to make up some stuff. I guess I could lie about it. Who would really know? Me, I guess. I could do it, then I’d feel guilty about doing it and probably see Mr. Byrd after class and confess my sins. LOL. He’d just smile and probably pat me on my back. I’m starting to really like him. He seems to care about us. He’ll be one of the people who will look back on their life and smile, knowing he did a good job. Maybe I will be a teacher. Who knows.
Hey! I did it. I got over 5000 words!
TODAY IS THE TOMORROW THAT YOU WORRIED ABOUT YESTERDAY