When folks ask about my cousins and such, I never hesitate to say that I only have one real, blood, cousin whom I speak with often enough and everyone else are just honorable mentions, at times. I don't know where the bloodlines stopped and the friendship lines truly began but that's neither here nor there, I suppose. Now, if truth were to be told, I think the guys who make up my circle are more like brothers than anything else, luckily, we all didn't grow up in the same spaces because lawd knows, a couple of us would have gotten arrested.
Tonight, I've scoured the 15,299 pictures on my phone in order to find a few to share of the crew, the fam. Now mind you, I didn't throw EVERYONE in these because I'd get angry texts asking why I'm not paying royalties for pictures used and such (rolls eyes). IF you happen to read this piece and you're not seeing your face, fret not, I didn't ask you for permission and my direct deposit hasn't posted as of yet for me to pay you.
The Four Horsemen of the Valley have been riding strong now for over a decade and for as much junk as we talk to each other, there's a bond here which just can't be broken, though we did have a fifth member but he eventually went rouge after getting into it with 3/4 other Horsemen; I stayed quiet because he was added by Bobby, Bobby took the attrition hit for the friendship.
In all honest though I'm pretty sure that if I pass before any of these three, they'll muster up the courage to say something nice about me, they might even say that I'm lightweight funny and stronger than I let on, then again maybe I won't have them take the podium or mic to say anything at all; the one in the glasses will call me Estevies and tell some story no one needs to hear.
On this day in 2016, we were smiling because we'd pulled off an incredible feat and got our brother Ford back, we thought we'd lost him but this dude and his wit kept him out of harms way. He shows up backstage at the festival we were hosting like, "What's up, guys" (smh). Damn, I haven't shaved since this day and still can't grow a beard or proper mustache.
I hope we continue to grow and I'm allowed to snap most of our pictures, with my tiny ass phone. Bobby's face was smaller in this picture, it was pre Balco and him using that Barry Bonds cream.
These dudes though, smh, these freakin' dudes.
The blue jacket that my buddy Dom is wearing has to be one of my two to three clothing regrets! You see, Bobby, anytime a story is set to go sideways, my cousin Bobby is probably involved. I picked up this jacket in Switzerland or maybe it was Amsterdam and it was dope, I mean, pure slick and somehow Bobby convinced me to give it to Dom one night before we went out on the town.
Dom: "Broooo, this fits niiiiice..."
Me: "You can have it, brother..."
Dom: "Nooooo, no..."
Bobby looking over and grinning
Me: "It's yours..."
Now all of these years later when I skim through pics and see this jacket, I think, I did the right thing but then again, I hope to find another jacket like this during my next trip to Europe. These brothers have been close for a decade as well and they've opened up their homes and hearts to me and Bobby when we decide to jump in a plane venture off to Europe.
A few years ago, they all decided to come and visit us here in California for a few weeks and see a few things; it was during this time we got matching tattoos and formed a notorious gang of seven, called The Magnificent Seven. Actually, we just took the four and added the three to get to seven.
From trips to Egypt, Rome, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, we've gotten loose in the paint and it has been an amazing ride. I'll never forget our whirlwind trip to Zurich to see Dilated Peoples perform, we landed in Geneva, dropped off our luggage, packed our backpacks and started on a two hour or so trip to the festival; literally, we hit the ground running.
We got to the festival, received our credentials and we listened to music all night long. My ex girlfriend used to ask if there were any girls we hung out with and the truth is there was always us, laughing in some corner, buying beers, or telling some stories of old. On this particular night we partied unlike we've partied before.
There was a club that the fellas wanted to get into but we didn't want to each pay to do so, so I was the one they told to go and speak with the bouncer (rolls eyes). Look, I have the gift of gab or the ability to persuade. For some reason, my line about being on my last day of holiday from the States and only wanting to spend thirty minutes in the club, led to the security walking us in and to the bar and by the time we emerged, the sun was up and we figured we had time to sleep for at least four hours.
US: "Checkout is at noon right..."
Bobby who's a quasi vegetarian, was so hungry, he looked at the rest of us and started talking about his want for meat products, it was wild and we ended up walking him back down and off of the ledge; I would have added those pics but even I looked drunk in them so I can send them one off, by request only.
As fate would have it, checkout was about an hour and a half after we got to our room and closed our eyes! We heard a knock on the door for housekeeping and then my broken French realized that our night turned morning was soon to turn night, turn morning, turned afternoon real quick. Smh, that was the longest right home ever and legend has it, two of these guy's souls might still be dancing in the hotel lobby.
In all seriousness, over the course of the last decade, these brothers have allowed me to see so much of the world, it's ridiculous and I'm forever grateful for their love, even if I've lost a prized jacket in the process. I still have clothes and shoes in the closet at my brother's house in France, it's funny to think that the moment we're there again, I'll slip into some of my favorite kicks and shirts which I left in my room. Bonjour!
Ma and Pops! I've written about these two in a post some time ago and I'm pretty sure they have more patience with my quick witted replies than perhaps any people on earth (Not your sushi but the one on the menu). The years have been gentle to us since we were kids and now in our adulthood, we've found a foundation which always existed but now is solidified through age and maturity (they're mature, I'm their World Impact adoptee).
I swear, I get the text, "The backseat is yours if you want to go..." with every out of town run that they go on because they know I love to roll the window down and feel the wind against my face.
They've watched my progression and rooted for me to win for years on end and if it weren't for their patience and love, I'd probably be stuck and miserable. Pops held me accountable to make some moves earlier this year and he did so in a manner that wasn't intrusive at all. There are some friends who judge and then there are others who simply love you but let you know you're being a jackass too.
Thanks for the laughter, the seat, and the ribs!
One of the dopest and sweetest on this planet is my siostra/sister, Agata. I could go on and on about her strength and courage and perhaps one day I will however today, I'm focused on the love that both she and my brother-in-law FiFi share with me.
It's always fun to see the faces of people when I mention that my younger sister is living in Poland. It's common to have others say, that me of all people would have a family member in Poland.
When I say, she and FiFi don't miss a beat when it comes to what is taking place in my life, I mean it. This year, these two sent me a birthday package that was unlike anything I've received before, it was amazing and my parents were blown away too that the sibling bond is so strong.
In life, good, bad, or indifferent, we find those whom we mesh with and are willing to ride with until the end; I hope that I'm old and grey and living close to my sister and FiFi when it's my turn to say goodbye to this world.
This is how family should be and I'm grateful for a sister who checks in and also shares her heart as well, I'm even more grateful for a brother in law who loves her unconditionally.
My son Ben is pictured below, not pictured is my son Jeff; I'm proud of these two guys. As a father it's difficult not to be concerned with the rearing of children but these two I haven't had to worry about at all and I'm happy that they've managed to take care of themselves over the years.
Man, this dad joke has been an ongoing one for over twenty years and our friendships have grown in stature over time as well. In 1997, we were beefing about Master P vs Wu Tang and Grant Hill vs A.I. and now we're looking back at life and noticing that everything happens for a reason.
This man pictured below has been my marker amongst friends, when it comes to business, travel, fashion, and thought process. The adage is true, if you want to succeed, make sure to surround yourself with successful people.
Coming into this year, I had a want to do a few things but didn't know if they were feasible or not and instead of being given up on, my brother, said, "I'll continue to send you these tips until you tell me to stop". He listened to my heart coming off of a breakup, he walked me through some hesitations, and he offered to assist me in reaching my mark.
There are hundreds of thousands of people who have two properties and a whole lot more to show for themselves than I do but I'm seeing that it can be done and it's never too late to start, you just have to start.
From college until now, this brother has been a consummate friend and I pray we'll enjoy our remaining years pestering each other and trying to one up the other!
Young Hektor, who's name isn't Hektor but Aren has been another one of those people I look at and consider a cousin. This brother allowed me to SEE Europe for the first time as though to say, "Peep it, take it in, make friends, and take over bro" and that I have since our European tour back in 2011.
I'm pretty sure I've eaten more eggs, bread, and other dishes in the presence of this guy than anyone aside from my parents! IF I could place into words how meaningful of a friendship it is I have with him and his family, I would probably sit here for a lifetime, searching for the right words to say.
From the code names for folks, to the ideas shared, laughter had, and words of encouragement expressed... Man, this another one of those fam that isn't on the family trading block.
I remember before we all left his parent's house to head down to L.A. to catch our flight into Spain, his mom looked at me and said, "You're the eldest, if anything happens to any of you, I'm holding you responsible". This is when I knew we were family, I figured my dad had phoned her and said, "IF he acts up, feel free to use whatever means necessary to let him know you're in charge". These kids don't even know.
My real brother T was growing out this sweet mustache a few months ago and then he shaved it off because it was bugging him, haha. I'm surprised he has put up with me bugging him for so long too, almost since he was born I've been bugging him. He's my step brother but not like the movie, we're cooler than those two awkward dudes; well, I'm awkward, he's cool.
Look, I probably have a $10,000 food bill with him and my sister-in-law but they still allow me to visit, eat, and laugh, boy do we laugh!
At some point soonish, I'll write about this guy and our shenanigans over the years, I hope our parents don't read that piece though, like I really hope mom skims past. There are far too many things to share about our bond and I really do hope that I get to talk about my brother in more detail.
Yeeeeeah, fam, we're out here! When we move, we move and it's evident within our smiles. After a while no one knows who really is family and who isn't, it's all in how we step to each other that brings all of these bonds together and there's something so magical about it.
My cousin Brandon has kept the music flowing, soccer moving, family nights poppin', and food smokin' for some time now. This year would have been doubly miserable if I didn't have a weekly family night to look forward to, I mean, from top to bottom I've been enriched and fattened. Their little man and me have our cool guy handshake down and we even get down on the video game sticks from time to time... SUPER UNCLE!
If you know you know and if you didn't know, I've just pieced some of my people into a story which might have some run-on sentences and such but all truths.
Again, there are others whom I'd place in this tree as well but I wasn't sure you'd want your faces blasted out for the world to see; just know that you're special and that I would be here if it weren't for your love.
I did include some real family just because mom's would be upset if I didn't (rolls eyes). Also, I do have female family too BUT I started writing and only my sis got back to me, giving me the green light.
Let me know who's ready to adopt, I'm not too much trouble or too picky... both of these are lies!