Got the Life
All in the family
I've been clean for three years. I don't fight with my wife anymore. I don't lust or cheat anymore. I don't overeat before I go to bed anymore. I don't have to try and remember anything I did because I don't lie anymore. I don't hate to come home anymore. I don't put off my dreams anymore. I don't wake up feeling like hell anymore. I don't spend money on things I later regret anymore. I don't deny my blessed life that has been waiting for me . . . anymore.
I began sending my friends and family text messages like the one above shortly after my father died in 2005. Losing Dad was my wake-up call to see that I had to change the way I lived or I was going to die, too.
By the time my father fell ill, he had become a total Holy Roller, completely into Jesus. But he never once made me feel like the way I was living was wrong...even when he knew I had fallen pretty far off the right track. I had spent the last twenty years of my life popping pills, drinking beer, smoking weed, and throwing wild parties at my house. I was living the life I thought I was supposed to be living as a rock star. Dad often came to visit and hang out, but he never once said a negative word or made me feel judged for my actions. You'd never know Dad was a religious man because he loved hanging and having a good time, something he could easily do sober. Of course, he wasn't always that way and that's why I thought having a good time was all about getting drunk or being high. I was oblivious that I was on a path of destruction.
Long before I was born, Dad made his living as a musician. He was in a band called Reggie andAlex...Dad being the "Reggie" in the name. They were one of the hottest bands around, packing in sold-out venues all throughout Southern California. He played guitar, the bass pedals, and keyboard and sang while Alex played drums. Dad was an extremely talented and gifted musician.
We shared a common bond from the day I was born...literally...which was our love of music. I was born in Los Angeles in 1969. Back in the day, Mom traveled with Dad and the band all the time. But, the stress and transient lifestyle of being on the road became too hard for her toward the end of her pregnancy so she just stayed at home until the big day. When she went into labor, every musician Dad knew in L.A. came to the hospital to support my parents as they welcomed their only son on November 2.
Six weeks later, our family was back on the road, traveling in Dad's white tricked-out van so Reggie and Alex could finish the last leg of their tour. Our first stop was Aspen. The band set up while I slept onstage in my infant seat. Touring with the band didn't last too long, however, because my parents realized the road wasn't the right place to raise a kid. Since they made the choice to start a family, Dad would have to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure I had a good stable life.
By the time I was around three or four years old, my family was living in Bakersfield. We moved into our first house that was literally in the 'hood. We were the only white family on our street. I vividly remember the day we moved in because I never thought I was "white" until I took a good look around the neighborhood, which was primarily black and Hispanic. My father's family heritage is Spanish Basque, so I have very dark features. If I had to, I could easily pass for Mexican.
I got my looks from my dad. His complexion was so dark that he looked half black and half Mexican. He had black curly hair that he'd blow-dry straight, so it looked longer. When he didn't blow-dry his hair, it was more of an Afro. He had a big thick handlebar mustache that made him look extremely ethnic.
Dad was the epitome of 1970s cool. He wore button-up T-shirts with funky designs on them, shirts with big wide collars, opened halfway down his chest, and those crazy 1970s platform boots with a zipper on the side. He was always dressed in style...or at least what he thought was in style. I'd look at him and think, "I'm never dressing like that!" But that was hip at the time, so to the rest of the world, he looked cool.
On the day we moved into our new home, neighbors stood outside their homes, staring at us as my folks tried to get us settled in. When I woke up the next morning, I looked out my bedroom window to see if all of those strange faces were still there. That's when I noticed our house and Dad's brand-new truck had been egged the night before. I was really scared. I didn't want to live there. I had never experienced racism or prejudice, and my mind was too young to understand why anyone would want to hurt us.
When Dad woke up that same morning, he told me I had to go out and make friends with the other kids, but I didn't want to hang out with anyone in that neighborhood. I would have been very content staying inside forever. I was a pretty shy kid anyway, so making friends was hard enough. Trying to fit in as the only white boy in a neighborhood of Hispanics and blacks scared me to death. Dad told me I could say I was Mexican or white...whichever I wanted. Maybe he was joking, but at the time, I felt confused. Even though I looked it, I wasn't Mexican at all. I reluctantly took his advice and did what I had to do so I wouldn't get beat up.Got the Life
. Copyright © by Fieldy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.