Blaming Dorogov This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Los Altos, CA
Here is where I lie. My blue-sheeted bunk bed is where my older brother slept before me, and my oldest brother slept before him. But my brothers never did lie like I do.

My brothers are honest Jewish guys. The oldest keeps kosher, and everything's got to be blessed. He's not so strict that a rabbi has to bless it, but he'll bless it himself. He walks around the house blessing the soap before he showers, the shaving cream before he shaves, and the Stock Market before he invests. By the look of my brothers, you can tell they've never done anything evil in their lives. Their skin is as clean as printer paper. No scars.

Unlike my brothers, this bed drapes me in blue. It is my refuge: a place I go when I know I'm f---ed. And I am f---ed.

As I gaze up at the top bunk, I read the scribbly handwriting of my childhood, “Mark Daniel Levin.” I was named after my grandfather, Marcos. He moved from Nicaragua to Miami in hopes of a brighter future, and worked hard his whole life to give my dad the best childhood he could. He was an honest man, a hero to many, and although I may not be worthy, I was named Mark for him.

But really, this bed and what it contains is me. It is a symbol of my sin and my identity. That is why I lie here.

I can't help but remember every moment when I've been wrong. I remember when I stole candy from a grocery store in second grade, and I remember when I stole hubcaps off someone's minivan. My mom first noticed when I stole a toy car from a little girl in preschool. However, my brothers never stole.

I remember when I lied to my mom about where I was going and what I was doing there. It was my own perfect brother who ratted on me. I wanted to kill him. And so now I lie on my blanket of lies and rub my scarred up elbows and think how I'm never going to be good. I'm never going to be perfect like my brothers. I'm never going to escape this bed of blue.

My mother's tearful words of this afternoon echo in my ears, and it pleases me.

“It's all because of your great-grandfather Dorogov. He was a counterfeiter and a gambler. He was a chicken thief and a sinner.”

My whole life I have wondered why I am not like my family. Why I like sports and they like medicine. Why I like risks and they like seat belts. My entire life I have waited for an explanation, and now my mother's tear-stained lips have given me my alibi. If I do something wrong, it is Dorogov's fault; he has thrust me into this bed and bound me with shackles of lies and deceit, sin and malice.

This is perfect. I hold no guilt. I can blame everything I have done and will do on the evil Dorogov. Perhaps I'll rob a bank or hunt an endangered species. After all, it's not my fault I screwed up. I had no choice: Dorogov made me.

But now I remember my father's words: “This is something you'll have to struggle with your entire life.”

At the time, I believed he meant I would have to struggle with the genes I had inherited from Dorogov. But as I think back to my Jewish roots and time spent in Sunday School, I remember the story of Cain and Abel.

My brother is much like Abel. He is smart. He is charming. He is good. He never does anything bad, and my parents love him.

I am much like Cain, the brother overshadowed by his sibling's greatness. I am constantly struggling and wavering between the paths of good and evil.

And so, as I reinterpret my father's words, the words of God himself, “This is something you'll have to struggle with your entire life,” I realize what he meant. As God granted Cain the choice to triumph over evil, my father has granted me the same. I can't blame my imperfections on Dorogov, because Dorogov isn't making me do anything. I choose to do it and next time I can choose not to. It's my own personal struggle to triumph over evil. My own struggle to not f--k up.

Thinking back, I vaguely remember growing my hair so that I could donate it to a child with cancer, writing letters to my friends and family asking for donations so I could fund the construction of water pumps in Africa, silencing one of my peers when he called another a “kike.” But sticking out like a thorn in my memory is every time I stole, every time I lied, every time I broke the law, and every time I stood by and did nothing while others were humiliated.

So my mother was wrong. It's not Dorogov's fault. It's mine. And like Cain, I am doomed to wander this imperfect land fighting my evil urges every day so that one day I may be righteous. So that one day, I may struggle to be good.

I am f---ed.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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.Boo. said...
Mar. 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm
I struggle with evil. Everyone does too; your not alone. Good luck not-Dorogrove!
 
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