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The Mistake You Made

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January 27, 2011
Dear Luis,
As my older cousin, I always looked up to you. I remember how we used to hang out every week back when we were in elementary school. We used to go to TSE (Tenth Street Elementary). The ancient school looked big to me back then. I remember how I used to think you were cool. You loved singing and dancing furiously to hip hop music. I remember how you hated putting gel in your hair because you said it didn’t look good. You always made me laugh when I felt depressed.

As we grew up, we still hung out at parties and in the spacious park. Sometimes we would hang out with my younger brother, Aldair, and some of our short aunts. Times were good until something bad happened. Do you remember it the way I do, Luis?

It happened one day in November of 2008, around 4:30 p.m. We were hanging out at Exposition Park, where we always used to play--- you were 13 years old and I was 12 years old. The autumn leaves were falling off the trees slowly. I remember how there had been a lot of trees making noises in the wind. The seasons were changing quickly; so were you, Luis.

We hung out in the park usually with our aunt, Zulma, Aldair, and our other crazy cousin, who was also named Marcial. Then, we saw an uncle of ours that everybody knows because he runs a crew in the neighborhood. Everybody knows him as “Moro”. He had some piercings called snake bites as well. He always drank a lot of beer; He seemed like a monster to me.

Out of nowhere he asked you if you wanted to join his crew. Everyone was surprised because we never thought that he would say that to you at your age. I remember you looked shocked too; you didn’t know what to say. You just stayed quiet, thinking about it. I got scared because if you actually joined, it would affect our awesome friendship.

“Hey do you want to be part of my crew?” Moro asked you.
“I don’t know,” you replied.

Two days later, I found out that you had joined Moro’s crew and had already started tagging. I felt sorry for you because we both knew you were doing something wrong, but you still kept on doing it.

You also started doing things I didn't like; you started drinking and smoking with my uncle Moro. You told me that he wanted you to get other people from your school to join him. When you told me that, I thought to myself , “How dumb for middle school students to join a crew!”

A year had passed and my grateful family moved to a house near Central & Adams. I felt happy that my uncle hadn’t approached me about the crew. I would have been scared if he wanted to jump me into his crew like he did to you. You told me that you were not happy.

“I regret joining Moro’s crew,” you explained.

“Why did you do it in the first place?” I asked you.



“I don’t know, fool, I didn’t think about what being part of a crew really meant,” you replied.

I think you learned a good lesson not to be in crews or gangs. I’m glad you got out. Are you happier now that you don’t hang out with our corrupted uncle? I want you to know that you really taught me a lesson in life. You taught me to be strong and not do things I will regret later. Crews are not worth it. I wish we could hang out more, just like when we were young, but for now, I wish you the best and I hope you stay out of trouble.








Sincerely,

















Your Cousin,









Marcial Clemente





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