I know it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other. Since then I’ve become more than you ever expected me to be. I’ve hit some speed bumps along the way, but somehow I’ve managed to move forward. Sometimes I reflect on the moments where I’ve hit rock bottom. I wonder how I maintained to keep fighting for the things I’ve dreamed of, and I realize that I gathered the strength necessary to move forward from you. When I was a kid you taught me how to be tough. You showed me how to be fearless. I learned resiliency from you. Although you consumed the lives of a lot of my friends, I now understand the principles you tried to teach us.
For a long time I hated you.
I hated what you represented. I hated the cycle you put us all through. However, those same things I hated about you, I have come to love. Without any of those life lessons I wouldn’t have grown into the man I am today. You put us through rough times to see what we could make out of the life we were granted with. You wanted us to fight. You wanted us find the strength in our hearts to stay hungry. Unfortunately, not many people get to recognize your message because they get to a point in their lives where desperation devours them.
The last time I saw you I made a promise to you that I would never come back to see you. I kept that promise for a long time, but within my resentment towards you, I learned a deeper understanding of what you represent. You are inspiration. You are hope. You are dreams. All you ever wanted was for us to acknowledge that we could achieve what we desired the most. It’s the external factors that destroy our vision of you and what you represent; the drugs, the gang violence, the police.
Now that I’ve gathered the strength to come back and see you again, I want to say thank you.
It is because of you that I was brave enough to follow my dreams and now have the courage to share our stories. I want people to see that good things do come from you, which is why I decided to come back and show people that my story is real. I was born in the pits of darkness that attempt to consumes all light, but I am a light that will guide the hopeless. Through your values I will lead the lost. In no sense do I claim to be a messiah or a god. I’m just a regular human being who understands his true potential, and you helped me get there.
I’ll love you forever.
All the wounds I received when I was with you have finally healed. Now I wear those scars with pride. It seems like yesterday when I was with you—eating Ramen noodles for lunch and dinner because it was all we had. I remember the summers we spent together going door-to-door to throw some trash out for people in exchange for chump change—just enough to afford a bag of chips. Crazy to think that I’ve become a person who jumped out of his comfort zone. Now I’ve traveled to different parts of the world and seen things I never imagined to exist outside of you. I once believed you were the world. Little did I know, you were just preparing me for everything that is out there.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay you for all the lessons you sent my way. What I can do for you is continue sharing my story—our story. Maybe one day someone will come across these words and feel inspired to make a change in their lives. All we can do is hope and continue to fight for the things we believe in.
I know you’ll always have an eye on me, and I promise to never abandon you as I once did again. Anywhere I go I’ll keep in mind everything you have taught me.