Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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Me: Jake Ray Lopez Well that's me, Jake Ray Lopez born on the wonderful 14th day of December, 1982. I was a very goofy kid and not much has changed. Even now, when I'm 18 and responsible for my own life and growing up is going faster then ever. Oh man, if you know me at all this is a very scary thought. Growing up where I did and with the people I did, you would be change and mold you into a very goofy person too.

I am going to start this where I can remember, I was about six and we just moved into our new house, well we have lived here for about a year, but it was still new. So far my brother was my best friend and I am still not sure what I would have done without him. He was my role model and I did and went every where he did.

This really bothered him and he would yell at me or hit me all the time but it was ok because I new he still loved me and nothing could change that. His name is Justin Blake and he is two years older then me and he was much bigger also. I was always a small child, I was last to be chosen in sports and the first to be replaced by someone else in the game. through out my life I have used humor to make everything better, it was me and I could always make some one laugh when they wanted to cry. I am glad for this gift, if you want to call it that, but it help me many a times in my life and I would be lost without it. Back to my brother if you don't mind, sure I was a typical little brother and I never let down the fact that I was faster because living with some one that was bigger and stronger then you, you always needed to run. When I think back to playing with my brother a lot of things are fuzzy, but I will always remember riding on his handle bars just waiting for him to hit the brakes so I could fly off and look like a test dummy going through one of his drills. I hates this because, of course it hurt...duh, but it let me know that he loved me in some weird sort of way. Other then my brother I had a friend that was like no other, Daniel Sickles. Now let me tell you one thing, we were two of a kind, sort of like the three stooges rolled into two. Any time I wasn't at home or with my brother, I was with this kid. We did every thing together and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Life was going good for me and my family, same old stuff going on and I went on to first grade or was it second? Well any who, a year went by and it seemed like a week. Me and my brother were sleeping on the couch because I was complaining of stomach problems. So I was asleep and it wasn't a good sleep, one of those ones where you flip and turn wait to pass out from exhaustion. In a blink of an eye I shot up and screamed for my mother wishing I had died that second. My rents ran into the room, oh yeah if you don't know, rents mean parents. So they ran into the living room and picked me up, now I was in a lot of pain and I didn't know why. The rents rushed to the car and raced me to the emergency room praying that I would be fine. I went under immediate surgery for a ruptured appendix. They had told my rent that if they had waited any longer that I might have died. That wouldn't of been too cool, right? This time in the hospital was great, I mean nothing other then the food was bad about it. I got toys and more toys, people made me cake and foods that I would have never got at home. So after a week of heaven I was sent back home where I continued to grow up.

I had just turned eight and everything was going great, I had all my friends and most of all I had my brother, which he thought he was the best because he had reached double digits. For this birthday my rents gave me a bike, but there was one problem....I couldn't ride it, I mean my feet could hardly reach the peddles. My pops came and taught me how to do it and trust me I fell quite a few times. I began to get confident about my riding so I started doing stuff that I knew would land me back in the hospital. One afternoon I was going over to Daniel's house, now in order to get there I had to go down one of the best hills in the neighborhood. I shot down the street, I can still remember the feeling of the wind and know that if I had wings that day, the ground would of been history. As I reached the end of the street I was forced to take a deadly sharp left, and when I began this turn all I saw was a huge set of government mail boxes. Let me tall you right now, if I could remember the way I hit....I would of never rode a bike again. Some teenagers from down the street saw mw and the ran over and took me home, I was out for the whole time.

Another year went by and me and my brother became older. I had lost my best friend Daniel due to a sudden move, but it was ok because I still had my brother and this was all I needed. Things weren't going so well with my rents due to money problems, my mother was losing her job because the business was going under and my pops was trying to think something up. We ended up having to move into a town home as our new house was being built. See my rent took all their money and bought some land out in Egypt or the country what ever you want to call it, all that matters is that it was far from where I was use to. I moved to Elrode elementary and I was loving the new school. Nothing much went on during this time so lets move on, our house was finished and we moved right in. This move made me change schools, and I settled at Galm elementary in fourth grade. I began to make new friends and meet my new neighbors, they were cool and all, but they weren't as cool as my brother. Me and Justin had a whole new world out there for us and we never missed one acre of it. We were camping out in the woods and building crappy little forts and getting lost in our own imaginations.

Two more years pasted by and I was experiencing all of life hidden treasures, noticing girls and most of all noticing music. You will hear about the music part later. I went on to Junior High and boy was it a change, lockers, new faces, and lots more beautiful ladies. I had lost the bike and moved on to bigger and better things, my pops bought me a go-kart and I was lost once again in life's amazing features. Let me tell you that a go-kart is the best thing you can buy, because they are fun with a capital F! I would drive this thing every where, if my mother told me to go check the mail, I would just in the go-kart and go. In seventh grade I was given a new friend, Budda. Yes I know that his name sounds like something out of Deliverance, and when I was at his house I would often expect to hear "Squeal like a pig boy!". He was a cool cat and he did a lot of things that I did, so this made us really good friends. Now one of my most favorite things to do back then was to build models and blow the crap out of them with Black Cats, I would sit there al day and build a model that coasted 20 bucks and then run outside and blow it up. One day at school I was giving d-hall after school and I called my mother and told her, so she knew she had to pick me up. As I waited there after d-hall she never showed and I was beginning to wonder if she just forgot or something. I remember perfectly, watching the road and seeing her fly down the street, she pulled up and yelled ecstatically for me to get in. She later told me that my brother had been in an accident and that he was air lifted to the hospital with head trauma. I don't remember how I took it but I know that I took I well because I really never showed me emotions. My mother was going so fast that cars were pulling out of the way as if she was an ambulance herself. We ran into the waiting room to meet my pops and he had something along the lines of "I think he is ok". I was forced to stay in they waiting room as my rent went in to se him, he had all sorts of stuff on him and I was frightened to see him like this. It turned out that he was riding on the top of his friends Blazer as they raced up and down my street, and as he tried to get down his foot was sucked under the tire and he land on his head going 60 miles an hour. My brother was fine, but from that day on I clam his as a retard because only dumbasses ride on the top of cars.

It was the summer of eight grade and I was about to experience the worst four years of my life. I walked into Taft high school a strong eight grader with tons of friends and left that day a lame freshmen. But things were beginning to look up for me because of my brother, I stated knowing all his friends and was lucky enough to stand with them in the front of the cafeteria after every class. this was good for me because I had made lots of new friends and began enjoying school, but that would soon come to an end. I failed freshmen year and was forced to go to summer school, I should of learned to like summer school because I went every year. Sophomore year came about and my brother was a Senior, now you know what that meant. This was the time when I discovered a woman by the name of BEER, and how much I loved her. Boy did I love her so, I asked her to homecoming but she wasn't allowed to go. 10th grade was the best year of my life so far, nothing but parties and waking up in places I didn't know I went to. Now it seems like I was falling into an alcohol induced vacation, well I was and it was fun, but it all ended when the Seniors had to leave. My brother had graduated and I went back to summer school and life went back to its usual boring ways, I mean I still went to parties but they just were not as good of parties.

I moved on to 11th grade and this is where music became my life, I bought a guitar and a drum set and became the music freak I am today. Along they way I was getting tired of the same circular music like Limp Trizkit, Corn on the cob, and all the other on talent crap bands and became lost in a New kind of music, called EMO. This is me, I live for this music and nothing would stop me from hearing it. All my closest of friends loved it and I was happy, because no matter how crappy school was I always had my music. We formed our first band and we called ourselves For the Kids. Man we could rock the house but all of my band mates were lazy as hell and we broke up later that year, so r.i.p. Over the summer of Junior year I was getting tired of getting drunk and passing out, so me and Fred went straight edge. Fred was my closest friends the time and straight edge was not doing anything, no smoking, no drinking, nothing, and it sucked. So this lasted for about two months. Oh yeah I almost forgot, I was sent to Alternative High School for selling fake tickets, a little harsh but what can I say, my principle sucked hard-core. I gave up straight edge because I love cancer, I mean I love cigarettes. Right before school started I was given my car, a 1990 Honda p.o.s, I call her the Time machine. She's kind of like my dog, she smells, she's ugly, and she runs like crap, but I love her to death. I was still at Alternative the first two weeks of my Senior and the was just the beginning of the worst year of my life. I went back to Taft not missing the smell or the work, just the people. Trust me being in a place with nothing but g-funks and huchies, you would miss them too. Well I had to get back in the grove of doing work and taking tests, but I was tired, tired of sitting in a desk waiting for my rents telling me how to live and a teacher telling me how what and when to think. So I sat their thinking my life couldn't get any worse, but if only that was true.

It was Thursday November 2, 2000 and I was on my way home from work and everyday I drive the same way home down Culebra, but this time it was different. As I drove down the street I saw a major accident, there was a huge white truck and a smaller gray car. I passed with care not know what happened and who it happened to. I walked in my house and told my mother what I had seen and she just said it must have been the weather, so I just went to my room. The minute I closed my door the phone rang, I picked it up and was told the worst news of my life. My best friends told my that two students died on their way home from a friends house, I could tell that he was holding something back so I asked who they were. I did not recognize the first name as he said Ryan Hastings, but as the second spilled of his tongue I asked again. Who? Erin, Erin Adair, I must of asked three or four times who the second name was because my brain wasn't processing the information. Finally the name hit me and the picture of Erin slapped me across the face, I told him I passed the wreck on the way home and that I wished I had left work an hour early. Erin's boyfriend John, was one of my good friends and I spent the next four days along his side as if she was my girlfriends too. I thought, I can't break because I was me, come on nothing bothered me, and I haven't cried since fifth grade. I ran this thought over and over that night but the next day the tears wouldn't end. It really didn't hit me until I saw her, see looked like she was asleep and I could just tap her and tell her that the bell's about to ring, but she wasn't waking up this time. Days went by and the hurt turned to anger, but passed as I thought about loosing another friend. I made it thought that time in my life thanks to my friends, my true friends, the ones that don't let you down when you are faced with the worst. After that I just began living a fuller life, not letting stupid insignificant things make me mad or ruin my day, no longer basing all of life on petty things like high school and grades. All that matters to me is that I graduate and if its with a C, I'm cool with that.

I am still hear living in a place I take for granted and still not knowing how lucky I am, but its ok. I will look back on life and give thanks to all the people and things that gave me trouble in school or life because it only made me stronger. Well this is the end, actually its not. May 30 the end and May 31 is the beginning, my time to start a new.