Saturday, February 8, 2014

Kyle Jones: The ongoing stories

it's the beginning of February in 2014. A long time ago it was the middle of January in 1991, and I was just coming into the world. In the time where my mom and dad watched me wrapped in a blanket I don't think they could have called my life ending up taking the turns, drops, crashes and flights it did.

I was born different than most; From my mind, to my attitude, my background, down to the way I even look.

 I came out slightly deformed, not in an 'It's the elephant man holy shit don't stare' kind of way, but noticeable abnormalities involving my right ear, eye, and jawline growth. My eye has a growth of extra pink tissue on the same sided corner, my right ear is completely deaf, and my jaw is slender and missing muscle on the right side while the left is basically proportioned. If you didn't figure it out this lead to some social problems early on.

In 1994 when I was three my father, a former Military Officer and at the time Park Ranger, had committed suicide by his own service revolver in his and my mothers condominium in a suburb in central New Jersey near the shore. Looking back I can say I only have good memories of my father, good times at arcades or playing in the snow with him and my brother (who is my half brother from another father). He was missed by a lot of people but there were warning signs pointing to mental instability. But again it was 1994 and the public knowledge of those red flags was as well known as CGI at the time.

I had a lot of resentment and anger towards my father until a few years ago. At that point I decided to stop just being mad at him but to research the mentality of suicidal people and the effects of depression, try to understand the why to his what, while also speaking to his family about him and picking up on small pieces that gave me the whole picture of his mental state.

That anger quickly turned into pity. He had been struggling with depression or what his mother called 'the blues' and what may have been bi-polar disorder for decades but was never diagnosed. Since then I never understood what drove him to the edge of the cliff but I have forgiven him for pressing the pedal to the floor. That about sums up the first four years of my life.

Now, we all know when your a kid it can be both the best and worst time of your life. Because of my abnormalities I was avoided by most other kids and generally left alone. But I didn't take it too hard, when I came home I always had my brother and my cousins.

In 1995 a few months after the event, I moved with my mother, my brother, and my now homeless mother's mother we called Grammy, into a rental. It was a yellow home with brown shudders, a two door garage drive way, four bedrooms, a laundry room, three bathrooms, a deck, and a football field for a backyard. That house was like the Mecca of my family at the time.

A year after we moved in my aunt and her husband plus their two sons had to move out of their home and live with us. So the house grew from three kids and two adults to four adults and four kids. At the end of the year of 1995 we even gave my other uncle a place to stay, and my mother had just had my little sister. So we had a house hold total by 1996 of... five kids, five adults. Thats ten people in this house plus my uncle had a son he had on weekends so we were eleven deep!

So as far as school I didn't care for friends or see them as a need. I always came home to family, my cousins and brother, who even if they picked on me and annoyed me still accepted me, because to them I wasn't the kid with this or that, I was just Kyle.

The big part I left out was the fact that I was born white, but my mother is a light skinned mixed (50/50) African American and Caucasian woman. My entire family is like this.

The uncle and aunt I mentioned? That uncle we'll call Barry, he's black as night. His wife, my blood aunt, white as snow. But didn't I just say my mom was mixed is what you're asking yourself right?

I'll clear it up for you. My mothers mother, our Grandmother was white and married twice. Before the first husband left her in the early to mid fifties he gave her my oldest Aunt who I'll call later on Mary, the aunt who moved in with me who I'll call Bernice or Bee, and my oldest uncle who we'll call George

After she had those three she was a single mother of three in the early sixties. My grandmother was a courageous and hardworking woman that took nobodies shit, but she still needed help. Luckily my grandfather, who wasn't a saint but I'm told was a good man at heart, provided along side her. Now tell me, what black man do you know that owned his own business in the sixties, and what woman do you know with the heart to be above skin tone and love him? My grandmother.

My Grandfather, Leroy, owned his own Dry cleaning business. My grandmother worked in it while also being a nurse. In the time together they had three more children, My uncle who I'll call Carl, my Mother who I'll call Barbara, and my youngest uncle (the one who moved in in 95') named Leroy after his dad.

One drunken night my mother met a man in a bar. Nine months later she had Brian, who is my brother older by two years, born in 1988. His story is a novel in itself too.

Now my dad was a pure white polish Irishman, and so I came out white, with 25% african american blood.

In my next blog I'll go over what it's like growing up with white skin, in a predominately black world in the mid nineties.

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