(The following is the introduction to the book I'm currently writing. Enjoy this little preview, inspired by our message at church today, based off of John 5:8. My story has always been one that I'm willing to tell. The more I grow, the more I understand. The more I'm in touch with God, the more I realize that my story CAN help others. The book is based off of that idea.)
If you've never met me or seen me in person before, one of the first things you'll notice about me is that barely any of my visible skin is without tattoo ink. If I were a betting man, I'd wager money that I don't have, on it being the first thing. If not that, the you'd probably mention how tall I am, but that isn't as unique. The ink is what stands out.
It wasn't always like that, obviously this artwork wasn't born with me, but by about 3/5ths of the way through my teenage years, I went under the needle and never turned back. My childlike vision wasn't for the sheer coverage area that I have now, but my wildly chaotic mind never let me down in the ideas department. As time passed (nearly two decades if you're counting) I collected artwork in each city I visited and countless times in my home of Seattle, WA. And when I say "home" I even mean in my own living room. There was rarely ever a stretch of time more than a month or more that I hadn't been tattooed. One tattoo became 10 and 10 became 200.
The more you read, it won't be long until you are understanding of another fact about me. I'm a man of excess. Tattoos. Music. Those were the "healthy" things, however more of my excess ranged from pursuit of drugs, to addiction to pleasure. I'd see highs in my life that couldn't be replicated in your wildest dreams, but the contrast was colossal lows that would shake me to a core that I didn't even realize I had. This'll all come in chapters, but I'm giving you a heads up now.
If you want out early, I won't be offended if you put this book down and pick up some lighter fare. Sex, drugs and redemption isn't for everyone. If you're still willing to stick through it, my prayer is that through the last few decades of failure, you'll personally gain something out of my ghosts. I believe in a purpose and a calling and if not for these lows, I'd likely never have had the content for this journal of thoughts.
I still remember the duplex that my mom and I shared when I was only a small child. As a kid, your memories are held together by finely woven threads, and I'm not even sure if the memories are all mine, or if they're results of photographs that I've seen, which store a place in my brain and over time become what I THINK was an actual memory.
Either way, I remember that street. I can recall the way the light hit the house as the sun set to the west. Kids rode big wheels up and down the cul de sac and I was happy and content, even though now, I realize that my mom and I had nothing. It's amazing how culture and age can change us. We used to excel with next to nothing but now we are paralyzed if our phone stops performing properly for an hour. Contentment used to be falling asleep on a twin mattress with a few stuffed animals and a raggedy blanket, whereas now, we are upset if the hotel doesn't have enough pillows on our perfectly acceptable rented bed.
I'm rambling and for that, I don't apologize. This is context and without it, this book won't go anywhere.
It was just my mom and I until my step dad came along. I even remember the day he adopted me officially. I now understand that paperwork had to be done behind my back, because my biological father signed his rights to me away, but I never knew him and I was just excited to have a dad.
That tiny duplex in West Valley, a neighborhood in Yakima, WA turned into a mansion in north Yakima. My entire world just got upgraded to first class and I was barely 5 years old. I didn't know wealth in material things prior to that, but I began to experience it not long after. To clarify, I wasn't fed with a silver spoon. I didn't get anything and everything I wanted. That being said, getting ANYTHING at all was an upgrade over my previous 4 years. In those 4 short years, I lived with my mom, with a family in California only a few weeks after I was born (so my mom could go to college) and with my grandparents, in their house which still housed my Aunt and Mom. Stability wasn't my life and before I realized it, stability was what I got. That, and a private education in a Christian school, a brand new bike, Little League fees paid for, and much, much more. Life turned Cinderella pretty fast.
For 6 years, I was the only thing in their world. My step dad was just "dad" now. My mom was and always had been "mom" and I was their son, by birth or by choice. Besides the aforementioned lifestyle, we didn't live in much excess otherwise. I was an only child and I did only child things. I played GI Joe by myself and I went in the backyard and shot baskets by myself. I rode that bike around on our deAd end street, conjuring up all kinds of different superhero scenarios in my head, obvious to the fact that I was all alone. The one thing I looked forward to with my dad was playing catch. He, being a southpaw with a love of the game, and me being a beanpole of a kid with a rocket arm bonded over baseball. For years. His workaholic schedule still allowed him time after work to come home and meet me in the street for a few minutes of cAtch.
That might go to my grave as one of the most important parts of my childhood. It was in that, that I realized as an adult how important it is to be present for your kids. One activity spawned a lifetime memory. This wasn't captured in photographs. It's forever lodged in my mind.
At 11 and a half years old, I was no longer the only one. In an effort to get me excited for the arrival of my brand new brother, my parents let me name my new sibling. Naturally, I named him after my favorite baseball player, Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds. It didn't matter though. I was not happy. The hormones started to kick in early for me and admittedly, I'm moody by nature.
So naturally, I rebelled. By 8th grade, this golden child of a youth had turned into a hell child about to enter high school. I had spiraled out of control and I did it while driving my parents crazy in the process. Rather than being accepting of the new addition(s) in my life at that time, I was just vying for attention. How do you scream louder than two new toddlers born 18 months apart?? You rob, steal and scream at the top of your lungs for help, not knowing that you're actually screaming for help.
None of that really worked, because I'd blindsided my parents. I went from poster child to mugshot worthy in a few short years. I began to idolize things I had been told not to and by the time I was 16, not only had I run away from home multiple times and tried to commit suicide, but I'd started getting tattooed. This awkward and gangly teenager was getting marked.
Thankfully, I've come to know now, these marks weren't my downfall. They began to tell my story.
Here we go.
#UntilWeMeetAgainProject Day 50. This photo is of Katie, on location while taking photos of her family.