When I arrived, someone told me to look for the man with the big ears, a mole on his face and danced funny. I said, "You mean watch out?" The girl just smiled and shook her head.
That was my introduction to juvenile justice and sure enough, he showed up at 7 a.m. the next day and now, almost four years later, I want to thank him.
When he talked to me, he looked me in the eye like I was a real person. He asked me about my life like he cared. He didn't judge me, but he didn't buy my "It's not my fault!" story either. A kid knows when an adult is being real and he was real. He called me on my B.S., but not like he was playing "gotcha."
He was the first person who could make me laugh at myself and the first person who asked what I thought about something as if he really wanted to know.
I started thinking I mattered, and since then I've found out that I do.
He wasn't a miracle worker, I guess. But it was a miracle to me to learn I could design my own life - even when my childhood was a nightmare and I was guilty of a crime because I thought my friends were real friends.
Who would think "juvie" would be the best thing that could happen to me?
When he told me I could choose - I could take the hard road and not know if it would pay off, or [I could take] the easy road and never know what I was made of - I laughed and said "Okay, DAD." But inside I was thinking how different my life would be if he had been my dad. I cried when I was released, but I knew the road I wanted to take.
It was even harder than I thought it would be and lots of times I came close to turning back. I would think about the man who sang Bob Marley's "Every little thing's gonna be alright" when I said goodbye.
I kept pushing on. I got my G.E.D. I got a bad job and then an okay job. Even when I lost, I didn't think I was a loser. Now I have a great job.
I will never forget the man who believed in me. I stopped at Juvie to say thanks, but he wasn't there. I'm going back to my life in Eugene where I work for a lady vet who likes my way with animals.
I want you to know Mr. G, every little thing is alright.