They were doing lines in the bathroom. When I went in there was white powder spread across the granite and sink, they didn’t clean it up as well as they wanted. Dylan has daddy issues, which apparently is an excuse to do speed and pick fights with his friends. My friend from home, Kyle, lost his mom in kindergarten, but you don’t see him making excuses for himself. We drink wine at parties. I never did that where I’m from but I feel weird mentioning it.
I woke up next to a trashcan. My hand was covered in my own vomit. It’s funny because this wasn’t the first time. My friends told me that I better not change when I got here.
And I haven’t.
But I say I do.
Because these kids are so easy to target and blame. When every person around is jealous of the wealth and connections these families have, it’s not hard to justify tearing down their success. I know it was never a problem for me.
When we go to family gatherings now, my cousins always ask about the “hoity toitys.” I smile, and tell them how there’s no self-awareness. They eat it up. Anything to separate us from the “rich kids.” I say that it’s all superficial. These kids will never know hard work like us. We came from reality. Besides the fact that my parents make over a hundred grand a year.
It kind of ruins the fun bringing that up, though.
I don’t feel bad. I don’t think I should.
Even though when I first started school there, so many people I still hangout with introduced themselves to me. They welcomed me. Not only that, but they did it with genuineness. They smiled with their eyes and invited me over to their table.
No one ever did that for me at my old school, and I went there for fourteen years.
There’s a weird belief here that the parents have, that I don’t know where it came from. They say that kids sell each other test answers. I’ve never heard of it, but I just go along with it. Anytime I don’t do well in a class, I tell my dad that it’s because I’m one of the few kids who doesn’t cheat.
He stops being mad. He pats me on the back and tells me, “that’s my boy.”
I don’t want to tell him what I actually do. I don’t want to tell him that I’m milking the money and mass networks of my friends here. I don’t tell him about all of his money that I spend on weed and ex.
That I’m a fucking loser.
When I’m surrounded by thousands of scapegoats, why wouldn’t I blame them?
Another must-read by the author: Passing
more by TYLER CLIFTON
photograph by Caleb Betts