This I Believe

Blake - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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An Unfortunate Circumstance

Happiness does not depend upon circumstance. As a child I was often alone. Living in the vast confines of my giant neighborhood, I would get lost in the distance and openness of it. I went to a small charter school and had a few friends, but the majority of my time was spent roaming the desert around my house. Most of the homes near mine were occupied by residents over the age of forty-five so I really didn’t have many options as far as friends go. One summer afternoon my grandmother approached me with an idea. Her friend from years before had a grandson about my age that lived right down the street from me. My grandmother, like most grandmothers, was the very proper church going type. So it goes without saying that I assumed her friends grandson would be the same stiff collared, church going, stuck up kind of person that a nine year old boy is not interested in knowing. She was my grandmother however, so I could not refuse her. I went to meet him never knowing a lifelong friendship would emerge. I walked into a house, comparable to most castles for a nine year old boy, through the dinning room to the living room where he and his grandmother were sitting. He was about my height, blonde hair, and blue eyes and was wearing a shirt proudly displaying “The Ramones” band logo. It was an exact likeness of the logo on my own shirt. We hit it off.

Years passed and we grew closer. Hardly a moment goes by that he isn’t smiling about something, and I found out soon after that he did not have much to smile about. His father left his mother when he was only three years old due to drug addiction. Then one night soon after, his mother was driving home from a Christmas party when a drunk driver hit her. She now cannot remember anything before her eighteenth birthday including the birth of her son and her spinal column was crushed destroying her ability to walk or even stand up straight. his childhood was spent taking care of a mother that didn’t even remember his name. Mornings spent pushing through the screaming to feed her breakfast and tell her that he loved her.

He did however receive a large settlement from the driver of the other car which enabled him and his grandmother to live comfortably until his thirteenth birthday. His uncle, his grandmother and he bought a bike shop called “Valley Cyclery” with some of the money from the settlement. The shop soon turned into two and three shops and the bicycle shop soon turned into a sporting goods store. They were flourishing, until the day I got a call from him that struck me speechless. His uncle became addicted to drugs, couldn’t support his habit and fell into debt with a notorious motorcycle gang. He had gotten involved with the hells angles who had, as they are known to do, slowly drained money each month from the shops earnings through his uncle in order to pay the ever growing debt. In an argument with one of them his uncle shot and killed the leader of the hells angles. He immediately ran from the gang to the McDowell Mountains behind his house and mine. He was soon found by the gang and murdered before the cops even knew what had happened.

He lost everything, the bike shops, his settlement money and his uncle. He now lives in a fully paid for 850,000 dollar house with a mother that doesn’t remember his name and a grandmother who works as a receptionist in order to just barely pay the bills and feed them both. After all of this still not a day goes by that Brett McClain isn’t smiling. Happiness does not depend on circumstance. This I believe.