Last week I wrote and posted a blog titled “It’s not me” and in this blog I featured an old photo of my wife, my eldest daughter Jenelle and I. After posting that blog, my old friend Brad Hickson suggested that I title it “Foundation”, well that really got me thinking. This photo was taken while I was an inmate at the Airway Heights Corrections Center back in 2004, I believe my wife was 18 years old at the time and I was 19. Airway Heights is about 3 hours away from our home yet without question my wife would load up our daughter into our old beat up 1994 Ford Explorer and make the trip to visit me at least once a month…..I truly don’t deserve her.
I was 17 years old when I met the most beautiful woman who would eventually become my wife. After a night of drinking, smoking, and partying, my younger cousin asked me for a ride to pick up his girlfriend so she could spend the night with him. I agreed and off we went, I remember it was really late into the night, it must have been around 1 am. Around this time our city was not doing too well, the gang violence had been steadily increasing and there had just been a murder about a block away from where we were going. It probably wasn’t smart for us to be out that late but we didn’t care, my cousin was a well-known drug dealer and my older brothers reputation out on the street had a way of making us feel untouchable. We pulled up to an old apartment complex on 6th street and waited for my primos girl to come out. I don’t believe we waited too long must have been 10 to 15 minutes and when she finally came out she wasn’t alone. Along with my cousins girl came her younger sister…I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
We headed back to my cousins place where the party continued. I believe I fell in love with her instantly, I noticed there was something different about her. You see I thought she was there to party with us but it became very clear that she wasn’t that type of girl, didn’t take long to realize she was only there to take care and protect her older sister. She had a nurturing and caring spirit….I just couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
Later that night, a friend of ours from the neighbor hood came barging into the apartment to let us know he had just gotten into a brawl with a rival gang member. As everyone started getting riled up and ready to retaliate, my cousin calmed everyone down and assured us that there would be plenty of time to hit back but tonight we were here to party. I was asked to give this kid a ride home as his clothes and face were battered from the fight, my cousin also volunteered this girl that I just couldn’t take my eyes off, to ride with me. This was my chance I thought! My chance to captivate her and make her mine. We dropped the young man off at South Hill leaving her and I alone for the ride back which truly felt way too short, I wanted to spend more time with her. We parked outside of where the party was and continued our small talk, I wanted to tell her I was in love with her but that would have been weird because we had literally just met. Just before she got off of my car I told her that I felt there was something special between us, I don’t recall if she agreed just to be nice or if she also felt something for me. Her name was Teresa…I just couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
As the party ended and people started making their way home, I asked Teresa if I could give her and her sister a ride home. She agreed and off we went, as we said our goodbyes she leaned in to give me a hug to which I mistakenly took as a kiss so I went for it and failed miserably. At just the moment when I was sure I was going to make contact with those beautiful lips of hers, she turns her face and I planted one right on her cheek…I was embarrassed and crushed. The next few weeks were a whirlwind for me, all I could think about was this girl that I had just met. I couldn’t concentrate at work, I honestly didn’t even want to go out much as I just wanted to see her. It would be nearly a month before I saw her again due to the fact that she had left right after that weekend we met, to spend time with family in another city. I would call her house and hang up whenever her mother or anybody else for that matter would answer, I just wanted to hear her voice. I think I started to give up after a while, you see it was killing me that I would call and she wouldn’t be the one to answer or even call me back, at that time I didn’t know she was out-of-town. One day it all changed though, she finally answered the phone! The first thing she said when she answered was, ” Hey why do you keep calling and hanging up?” I said, “huh? I didn’t”. I was so embarrassed but I didn’t care I was finally talking to her…I just couldn’t take my mind off of her.
The next several months went by so fast as we started to get to know each other. I had never met anyone as beautiful as her, not only in her physical appearance but as a person. I didn’t understand how someone could be so caring, so loving, and willing to put others needs ahead of her own. As I learned more about her it became apparent that her being was molded by the strong loving mother she was blessed to have. Her mother instilled in her what it was to be a God-fearing woman with unwavering character. Her father was and continues to be a habitual alcoholic, although he has calmed down today, in those times he was extremely abusive which is where I believe Teresa got her mental toughness from….I was so in love with her.
Things kind of went haywire prior to my incarceration. I was living way too fast, not thinking ahead. Teresa ended up pregnant but that did nothing to slow me down. I was way too young to appreciate what I had in that woman, I guess I got comfortable after a while and started treating her like I did everyone else. If you weren’t riding with me then I had no use for you. Now I realize that she was indeed riding with me but she knew I was heading nowhere fast down a path of destruction. It hurts to think of the uncertainty she had to endure in those times, being 17 and pregnant not knowing where the hell your boyfriend is most of the time. I should have been there to take care of her and assure her that I was going to do everything possible to provide for her but I was more concerned about myself. I just didn’t care about anything at that time, I was extremely reckless. I ended up being charged with 1st degree robbery to which I was given 36 months of prison time and through it all she never left my side. I fought my case for about 5 months and prior to being sent to prison we decided to get married. Our wedding took place on the 4th floor of the county jail, she looked beautiful…..I was in my inmate jumpsuit……I truly don’t deserve her.