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Dating : Fifteen

h2>Dating : Fifteen

Jonathan Gringauz

I’ve been hiding in this fucking bush for three hours. The bush is one of those prickly ones, and I’m getting poked everywhere. The air is so damn cold, every time I breathe in, it stings a little. I’m scared they’ll see the steam from my breath, so I’m exhaling into my sleeve. It’s so goddamn cold. I swear I’m never gonna hit another highway spot again. This was my third spot of the night, and halfway through my fill, I heard the one sound you never wanna hear painting highways, the hissing of brakes from a car coming to a stop. I didn’t even have to look back; it didn’t matter if it was the cops, I just booked it. I sprinted along the highway barrier and left my paint in the dust. Paint is free, bail and lawyers are certainly not. Gravel crunched under my feet, and I could hear some yelling, not that I cared what they were saying because after all, freeze does mean run. After running probably a mile, with cars and semis whooshing by, I hopped the fence back into the brush, where I’d hidden my bike. The top of the fence was lined with jagged pieces of twisted metal, and it hurt like a bitch when I tried getting up. I ripped holes in my pants and hoodie, and I think there’s some blood on them too. My mom is going to be so pissed. I went to pick up the bike, and that’s when I saw the flashlights and heard the radios. I jammed myself into the biggest bush I could find, laid down, and tried covering myself with leaves. Anything beats getting thrown in the back of a car and brought to bookings. That’s where I’m at now. I hear these idiots all around me, and they’re taking my fucking bike. It’s like a five-mile walk home. I have math homework I still have to do for tomorrow, and my mom will be so pissed if she finds out I was out all night. She kind of knows what goes on but doesn’t have enough proof to crack down on me. I love my mom. I’m glad she doesn’t know about everything I do because I feel like she’d be somewhat disappointed. I try not to think about it.

I think they’re gone. It was two cops. I’m not gonna lie, I thought this was it. They looked around, apparently not very well, then made some dumb ass joke about “Picasso escaping.” If I had a dollar for every time some adult called me Picasso, I’d be pretty rich. So corny. So dumb. Now I’m starting my walk home. I hope I get there before the sun comes up. Walking is better than being in the back of a squad car. Those stupid motherfuckers couldn’t catch a 15-year-old. I swear I get so lucky every time; this is my sixth cop chase. You’d think I’d be scared by now, but each time I get away, I get more reckless, feel more invincible. While I’m on this walk, why don’t I explain a couple of things to you stupid-ass civilians? First off, the “fill” I was talking about is bubble letters that I paint by filling in and then outlining. Second, you might be thinking, Wow, what blatant disregard this young man has for public property! Shut up. I don’t care that what I do is illegal. It’s fun. So please, for the love of god, shut up about how much you pay in taxes. I’m fifteen, do you think I care about what a fifty-year-old man named Robert tells me is wrong? I get respect from the veterans of the game, and get famous from what I do, and frankly, it’s just a little paint on a wall. I’m not smashing windows; I’m not painting people’s houses. Graffiti writers have somewhat of a code. No private property, no personal vehicles, and no places of worship. Somewhat of a troublemaker’s honor code. Everyone who’s anyone adheres to that code, but I’m not going to lie to you, writers are dickheads, and there are plenty that break those rules. I don’t. I’m a good kid; I just do bad things. There’s a difference. Right? I mean shit, I could be dealing drugs and beating people up, but all I want is to paint. Let me live. Even though I still got four miles to go and it’s 3:00 in the morning, in the end, all this shit is worth it. The feeling of seeing yourself on a wall is a high like no other. Well, I wouldn’t know. I’ve smoked weed like twice. That’s it. But seeing yourself up is better than that, I promise. I’m just bored with the same stupid suburban bullshit. I was tired of the drama, the beer pong, and living through social media. Graffiti at least forces me to go out. I get to make memories that will hopefully last a lifetime. It’s a hobby with a little extra spice, that’s all. Plus, I don’t expect this to be sustainable. It’s just a little youthful rebellion, I’m 15, not stupid, so please let me live. I got two miles left.

Why not baseball or video games, instead? I guess I got a few screws loose, but don’t we all. It started with trains. I’d take the train, my mother at my side, with my face pressed to the window, trying to read every name that flew by. I was like, ten, at most. It started with me walking the train tracks, then I would walk the train tracks with a sharpie, scribbling stuff on everything, but I’m fifteen not stupid, and I had this urge to let people know I had been there. A troublemaker since the beginning, desperate to let the world know I existed. I haven’t stopped since so now this is therapy in some sick way. Therapy for what, I don’t know. I have a good home life. My parents are together; I do well in school; I have a decent social life with decent friends. But this spices it up. I get bored. Maybe it’s dumb. It’s definitely dumb, but I can’t help it, this shit is just too addicting.

I see my house now. The sun is coming up. The birds are chirping. I’m a little stressed about a neighbor seeing me and telling my mom. I’m walking speedily because my mom gets up at 6:00 in the morning, every morning, so I have to take the hard way into my room. I live on the second floor, and my window is adjacent to the roof, so I have to climb up the bricks onto the roof and into my room. It’s a pain in the ass, but nobody ever knows. I’m climbing up now and can hear my mom’s shower running. Little does she know. Ha. These bricks are slippery as hell. I can’t wait until I have my own place and can come and go as I please. I’ll have to pay rent, get a job, and pay bills. Which kinda sucks now that I think about it. This isn’t so bad. I got it pretty good. I was just being a brat. I think I am kind of a brat. I’m finally on the roof. I make my way up the slippery-ass tiles, quietly lifting the window open, and slipping through it. I strip out of my paint and blood-soaked clothes and hide them under my bed. Don’t want my mom to find those. I’m finally in my bed. My bus comes at 7:15 — less than an hour. I’m just gonna shut my eyes for a second.

Now, mom is yelling at me.

“Get the fuck up! Your bus just drove by”

Oops.

“Uhhh… sorry?”

She rolls her eyes. “I told you not to go to bed late again, you’ll have to ride your bike.”

I’m a master bullshitter. I got this. “Yeah, um, sorry, I had a lot of homework.”

She walks out, not even bothering to respond.

Is she mad because she knows I’m lying? Or is she just groggy? It’s my problem now. I grab a different backpack and sprint down the stairs. My feet hurt from the walk home last night. It’s a forty-five-minute walk, and only a 15-minute bike ride. I walk through my suburban-ass neighborhood, looking at all these suburban ass people. They bore me. Everything around me kind of bores me. I guess I’m lucky to be bored. Most people don’t get that chance.

I’m finally near the school, and the second bell is ringing. I’m never late for class; I hope my teacher isn’t too mad. As I said, I’m a good kid. I should talk more in class, though. Honestly, I think in some fucked up way, it’s pretty funny that running from cops and committing vandalism makes me less anxious than participating in class. It’s whatever. It’s fine.

I’m in class now. I don’t think the teacher cared that I was late, but it was awkward with everyone staring at me. Now I can’t stop thinking about it, and I just keep getting angrier. Why is the simple shit like this and asking where the bathroom is so hard for me? Why can my mind pick and choose what to be anxious about? Why can I climb highway overpasses with no second thoughts, but when I get cold-called in class, I can’t stop stuttering and sweating. My sweaty hands glisten under the harsh LED’s. So annoying. The teacher is going on and on about “proofs”. I’m not too fond of math. My secret weapon is that I practice my letters in class and then teach myself the entire math course on youtube. I get solid B’s, so I’m not complaining. My life revolves around graffiti, not the other way around. When I’m in class, I’m daydreaming about the spot I want to hit that night; I’m paying attention more to the blueprints for my next piece than how to break down an algebraic equation. Graffiti is perfect for a distracted mind. Keeps me grounded. You just gotta keep an ear out in case the teacher calls on you. You have to pretend you knew what they were talking about and spit out a vague but acceptable answer. The key is to do all right in school. If you have decent grades, your parents will have a hard time picking on you. Happy parents, happy life.

I’m in chem right now. I only have two periods left in the day. I have severe ADHD and can’t sit still for the life of me, but can somehow not do any of the readings and always make the teacher believe I know what I’m talking about. I don’t know how I get away with this much. I feel like a piece of shit for half-assing everything, but frankly, I don’t care, which makes me feel like an even bigger piece of shit. I’m complicated. It’s all complicated. Part of me wants to be done with this high school bullshit and be an adult. Another part of me is telling me to enjoy it while I can. My absolute biggest fear in this world is to go through life with regrets. On my deathbed, the idea of me thinking of what I missed out on scares the shit out of me.

I’m on my way home now. I’m actually on the bus this time. I just remembered that those fuckers took my bike. I just bought that thing. I can’t even drive yet, so I guess I’ll be walking to all my spots for a bit. I don’t know how to explain to my parents how the bike disappeared.

I try getting in the front door, but it’s locked, and I forgot my key. So I go through the garage door. In the garage is where we keep our bikes, I walk by and into the basement, and that’s when I do a double-take. I turn around and look at the bikes. My mom’s, my dad’s, my sisters, and mine. And mine…? I’m officially freaking out. Nobody’s home. What the fuck is going on. Was last night a dream? I’m running upstairs to my room to see if the clothes and my paint stash are still there. They’re not. Nothing is there. Why is nobody home? I hear that same hiss of brakes. I run to my window, and I see two squad cars pulling up. Fuck. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. I see my parents get out of each car’s passenger seat and walk towards the house. A deep sense of terror washes over me, but at the same time, a calm. It had to happen at some point.

“Could we talk?” they holler upstairs.

The next couple of hours are somewhat of a blur. Some things stand out, but mostly just a boring seminar of adults talking over me. They tell me repeatedly about how “I’ve taken the wrong path” as if I didn’t know. That was the point, officer. Turns out, my bag of paint, I forgot, was also my school bag. I had my folders with my homework, and my full name plastered across the top. Sloppy of me. Better luck next time, I guess. I’m only fifteen, and I’m a whiteboy so the coppers babble on and on about community service, and how it’ll be expunged from my record if I complete the necessary hours and stay out of trouble. They were trying to be sympathetic, I guess. I’m lucky I’m fifteen, they said. Fuck you. I’m not sorry, I’m just sorry I got caught. That’s not what I’ll tell them or my parents. For them, I’ll put on a show of tears about my regrets and learning from mistakes. Like I’ve told you a million times before, I’m a master bullshitter. And if that makes me a piece of shit, so be it. The dumb cops eventually leave, and my parents become just a storm of tears and yelling. I’m used to it. Especially my dad. He yells a lot, and at this point, it’s not even scary anymore. They go on and on about how nice the cops were, but truthfully, this whole getting caught business makes me wanna paint smarter and paint harder.

I got 25 more cans stashed in my attic, hidden under the wooden floorboards I’ve ripped up over the last few years. Tonight, I’m going to hit a track spot that I can admire when I go into the city. I’m grounded for five months, but I don’t care. I’m an asshole for being such a lying sack of shit, but the show must go on. There is paint to be sprayed and letters to be drawn. I’m a graffiti addict, which sounds stupid, but then again, so does high school, and so does my math homework.

I’m out the window again; and in 20 minutes I’m at this big beautiful wall. I’m just spraying away, and it’s the best feeling in the world. I’m using my phone flashlight to try and sketch out the piece, but I’m honestly scared someone on the train will see it, so I try seeing in the dark. I’m trying to switch out caps and make sure I use the right colors, all in the pitch black. Anything for fame. Anything for the rush. I hear the hissing of the tracks and a distant headlight, so I know a train is going by. I lie down in the brush to make sure the conductor doesn’t see me. I’m only like five feet from the tracks. The metal beast of a train zooming by you at 70 miles an hour is such an incredible feeling. I highly recommend it. It makes me feel a little more alive — but yet another pair of clothes for the trash, dirt, and paint all over. I love grime — my washing machine, not so much. After an hour, I’m finishing up my piece. I’m adding the 3D’s and the doodads and the fancy extra colors; all that’s left is a quote. I got it. Fuck. You. All.

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