Killeen Texas! The Greatest Place Ever!

Did I mention that I hated Fort Valley?  Not that Fort Valley was a bad place but I never fit in.  I did not have a lot of friends growing up.  I was light skin with a cleft chin and my middle name was Lopez, so I was always asked if I was Mexican.  This was a small town in the south, so everyone was either black or white.  I was too light skin for some people and too dark for the other people.  I did not have birthday parties or sleepovers.  The only sport that my Gram would allow me to play until I got to Jr. High was baseball.  I was sheltered and a frankly I was a cry baby all through elementary school.   I was starting 6th grade which in Fort Valley was a part of Jr. High School.  This was a rough year for your boy!  My first day I remember thinking damn these some big ass kids.  I swear that entire 8th grade class was all on steroids.  I am talking about the girls too.  I was this quiet awkward kid trying to be cool, but I had no swagger at all.

Gram would not let me play football but let me join the band.  I was not earning any cool points playing the snare drum in the band.  I was tall and liked basketball so there was my opportunity to be a part of the cool kids.  I tried out for the basketball team and after running what seemed to be a thousand sprints for Coach Hughley, I made the team.  I was one of three 6th graders to make the basketball team.  I forgot to mention that I hated all the 8th graders?  They made my basketball experience the worse.  I was 4th string and I did not score a point the entire season.  I was proud that I did not quit.  I was happy to be a part of a team and I knew I would get better one day.

During that year my Dad moved to Fort Hood in Killeen Texas.  He invited me to come out and spend the summer with him in Killeen.  WHAT?!?  Leave Fort Valley for the summer?!! Hell Yeah…I’m ready to go now!  Summer 1992 comes around and I am about to fly in an airplane.  That may not sound like a big deal in 2019 but the only person I knew at that time who had ever flown anywhere was my Dad.  This was my first time outside the state of Georgia.  Hell, I rarely went outside of the city limits of Fort Valley, so my view of the world was microscopic.

As we drove from the airport in Austin my Dad was trying to prepare me for what I was about to experience.  We pulled up to a stop light and in the car next to me was what I assumed to be an interracial couple.  I was astonished!  Dad laughed because he could see the confusion on my face.  I am not saying that Fort Valley was segregated but everyone knew their place.  If you know anything about Killeen Texas, you would know that no one would ever claim that is the “Greatest Place Ever”!  To a 12-year-old kid from Fort Valley Killeen was the better than Disney World! ***Probably because I had never been to Disney World.  Also, let me remind you that I just had the WORST school year of my young life.  No girls wrote me letters.  I was 4th string on the basketball team.  I was a nobody with no drip, swag, or sauce (whatever they call it now).  The 6th grade was a complete wash for me.

My Dad and Stepmother both worked so they could not leave me in the house all day.  The next day my Dad tells me that he is dropping me off at the Boys & Girls Club.  First of all…what the hell is a Boys & Girls Club?  On the drive to the Boys & Girls Club I felt like I was actually losing my mind.  I am thinking to myself come on Dad you know I’m shy as fuck and you are going to drop me off at some random place where I don’t know anyone???

To be continued...

Standing In My Greatness "Lessons from a Lost Son & Failed Husband"


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