I hardly remember this event. It happened in the auditorium. That is all I remember. I think my parents and Dwayne and Mama Grant showed up for my graduation. I don’t remember going across the stage, who was valedictorian, any of the speeches, where I sat, the practices or the aftermath. I think some of the graduates planned a trip to the beach. My goal was to walk, get it over with and never look back. I never planned to see any of my peers again and couldn’t care less if I ever did. I didn’t have anything against any of them. School was a dreadful thing and 12 years of it created a certain accumulative “trauma” in my soul and all I could think about was walking away from it, building my life without any of the restrictions of teachers or the predetermined reputation that my brothers gave to me because they went ahead of me and by the time I got to the class many of my teachers already had in their head what I was going to be like. The world was going to be a different place for me. It was a place free of all encumbrances…so I thought. The politics of school was very frustrating. This was my motivation to skip half my senior class days. I had checked out in the 10th grade and the next two years was simply marking time.
School was a popularity contest. It was for the strong, the attractive and the athletic. It was not for people like me. I was not attractive, athletic, smart or popular. I was lumped into that group of kids least likely to succeed. And once you get in that mix there is no way you can get out while in the system. My only hope was to get out of the system and the prejudice that abounded in the system. I walked right off that stage and into the work world. No beach for me. No sentimentality either. I finished my time and I was out of there. I had no functional parents, no teacher support, no friends and no future…unless I carved it out for myself. Needless to say, I went into the work world with a significant chip on my shoulder.
The cool thing for me was that I was now the quarterback, the person in charge, the president of the class. I elected myself and I had a game plan. I was going to make a million dollars by the time I was 30 years old.
Being the fourth brother it would seem there was little trailblazing to do, but because my two oldest ones were in prison by this time and the third one was in the Army, I was the first of the five to graduate. I suppose since the first three didn’t make it to the finish line it was generally understood (or at least anticipated) that I would not make it either. In that sense it was a big event for a “Thomas boy” to graduate high school. God has been kind to me. My life has had many hardships, but he has protected me from a lot and has given me much.
I am doing way better than I deserve.