Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fila Tennis Shoes, Hickies & my friend

The longest I ever went to any one school was for 4 years, in fact, excluding my life after marriage, that is the longest I had ever lived in one country consecutively, Guatemala. I was in the Maya School from 8th to 11th grade; the High School consisted of 8th- 12th grade and had maybe 120 students. You knew everyone, not only knew them, you were friends, you knew their siblings, parents, had been to their houses, it was inevitable. Of the 120 students, 90% were foreigners. Our parents worked for one of the Embassies, Consulates, the UN, Charity or Multinational Company. We were multi-cultural, all races, religions, ethnicities, backgrounds, socio-economic levels, as different as you could imagine, we all had one thing in common: we were alone. We didn’t have cousins, or extended families, we didn’t have lifelong friends, or people we knew from the neighborhood, we had just arrived to this country because it was our parents job. That meant one thing: school was everything, and as for me, the friendships I made during those years are unforgettable.

Last Friday, I got an e-mail at work, one of our schoolmates had been very ill, and the e-mail asked that we all keep her in our thoughts and prayers; I sent the e-mail out to out the classmates that I thought would be interested, at 9:36 my friend Kike (a nick name for Enrique) replied from his blackberry. He remembered our school mate well, as we rode the bus together and said he would pray for her and her family in this difficult time. He then sent me hugs and that was it. He was killed by a thief while he sat in his car at 10:00 am, they took his watch, wallet and his cell phone, he was 35, he left behind a young wife and a baby girl.

At least three times a week Kike would come by my house after school, we would play video games, listen to CD’s (they were brand new back then) our we would walk to a nearby strip mall to buy candy or a soda. He had his eye on a pair of black Fila tennis shoes, that were the bomb back in the day, and we would walk all the way to Metro 15 (a mall) and look at them, ask their price, he would try them on and then we would walk home. On our way there he would tell me what he had heard the older guys say about me (his brother was a couple of years older) which to me was invaluable, he taught me how to give a hickie, we practiced on each other forearms, he taught me how to spit (don’t ask), we practiced flicking cigarettes across the street, and tried to make rings of smoke, as we laughed and coughed. I will never forget the day he showed up at my house with the money to go by those shoes, he was so excited! We walked briskly to the Mall; he clunked down his 500 Quetzals’, which in those days was about $70, a pretty penny. He had a big ole smile and his face as he laced them up and wore them out of the store. It was starting to get dark as we walked home, I could still see his smile but mostly I remember how he walked tall the whole way.

7 comments:

  1. I am sorry to hear about your friend's passing. Celebrate him and his life as you have by remebering him so fondly!

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  2. I am so sorry about your friend. I, too, lived overseas and with no family everyone you go to school with becomes your family. I am still friends with them to this day and it is a bond that most don't understand unless you live it. I will keep his family, and you, in my thoughts and prayers.

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  3. I am very sorry also to hear of you friend. You have done him proud by posting this great memory of him.

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  4. Ylla, so sorry to hear about your friend 'Kike'- I'll be sure to keep you and his family in my prayers =(

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  5. I had the pleasure of knowing Kike, for he was my neighbor and good friend in Colombia; we shared a lot of good moments together, and his death is very difficult for me to understand. I will always remember him.

    I know what pair of shoes you're talking about. :-)

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  6. Estoy tan triste como tu!!!! los que tuvimos la oportunidad de ser sus amigos y de conocerlo bien sabemos lo grandioso que era Enrique...lo vamos a extra├▒ar pero con tantos recuerdos lindos que tenemos de el, podemos mantenerlo vivo en nuestra memoria por siempre!!!!!Rezemos mucho por su familia y por Guatemala
    YA NO MAS VIOLENCIA!!!!!!!!

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  7. From your story, I get a sense that Kike was a cool guy, sound like he was an amazing friend to have had in your life. Sorry to hear of the circumstance which ended his life. It is sad that we live in a world where evil people, incapable of love, can take the life of someone else, for the gain of a few items of no real value. I hope they are caught and get what they deserve for the crime. All my Love at this sad time for you.

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I love you Darling, really! Thank you!