Chapter 1

Where It All Begins

Really struggled with how to start this off. May be I should have started with my initial steps or a funny moment from my past. You know something to break the ice. Introduction is in order so let us do that, my name is James Leo Woodford III, I know that is a long name. Since the brain does not remember any details memories before the age five, generally, I will focus on the actually moments that I do. If I do offend anybody that is not mine intention. Just telling the truth from my perspective, may get a little raw and if you aren’t down with that you should stop here. Still there well don’t say I didn’t warn you. Let us begin.

Being the oldest of four children, I think I’ve gain an unique and interesting prospective on life. If that does not interest you try living with cerebral palsy but don’t worry this is sad, life sucks kind of book. There are moments though, might make of you feel uncomfortable. Trust me that isn’t my attention, just had to get somethings off of my chest.

The morning started off chaotic because Mom was rushing us to get ready so she could make it to work on time. It was my first day of kindergarten; I couldn’t wait to meet new people. Five years old, filled with curiosity I was anxious to see who I’d meet in my class; that’s when I met her for the first time. We introduced ourselves, she was beautiful. She asked if I wanted to play a game, I agreed. Then she told me to follow her. Confused but curious I asked where we were going as I followed behind her. Once we got to the closet, I asked her the name of the game and she said DOCTOR. In the middle of our game, we were discovered by the teacher, needless to say we got in trouble.  DOCTOR opened my eyes to the anatomy of girls.

Already curious, but that event just made my mind wonder even more. We got sent to the office where they called our moms.  We went back to class and I anticipated the consequences waiting for me at home. I was happy to see that I got home before my father. I knew what awaited me; the ass whooping of my life, it did not disappoint.

Time moved on, now at the age of seven my curiosity grew. I had my first kiss with the girl next door. All that year, she would wait for me to get home from school where we would sit and talk on my porch.  Growing up people always saw me as different because I couldn’t play like the other kids.  I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was one years old. She was the only person that didn’t see me as different.  One day she threw something at my window, told me to come out. As usual we were just content to talk. I think we talking about each other’s family, my parents were never home and when they were they would be asleep. Her parents worked all the time just like mine, so we clicked. In the middle of the conversation she kissed me. That were the first time someone other than mother kissed me.

Sometimes later my mother informed me that my neighborhood girlfriend had relocated. I had cried for weeks after that, even wrote letters to her. If she got them, I don’t know. Life went on summer turned to fall, me and my school crush grew closer. By then I had discovered 2pac and Biggie, the two of them became my world. I remember battle at recess, the other kids playing kickball and me the ref. Often I would lose track and just imagine myself on stage rapping. Anything I just hated that I wasn’t “normal” like the others.

Music has always been a huge part of my life, I guess it started when I heard Prince Purple for first time. Prince arrangement in that is legendary. I always gravitated to rhymes over beats, growing up in my house hip-hop didn’t fly with my mother especially when I started to repeat bars from the “unholy” 2pac. Seven years old rapping “Ambitionz of a Rida” and “America’s Most Wanted”, yes I see now it was not ideal. Hey I don’t care at the time I just wanted something to myself, being the oldest of four I was expected to be the “shining” example to my siblings.

Being the only handicapped child had its perks, I was just responsible for keeping my room clean, didn’t have to do dishes or even laundry. I’m not saying I didn’t have chorus but mine were more spiritual. You will need some background for this part, see I was that it was fault that I born with cp. It wasn’t my fault some asshole doctor was not ready for me come out. I wasn’t waiting for him to finished dinner, I was ready to be born. Anyway I knew that cp wasn’t my doing. Was told that if I prayed hard enough the Lord would heal me. Nothing better to do so I started but I also had to do homework. If I did not pray I would be in trouble with my mother. If I did not do my homework... well I choose school.

Made a couple of friends during my early school years, I wasn’t in a traditional school. My parents did not like the Dayton Public School system so they paid for all four of us to go to private school. Now looking back on it was the smart call but the wrong school. My crush yep that where we met. A church school that is hilarious when I think about it. She was not my only friend though. There was Josiah, who became my best friend, Sam, Autaun and Travis became my clique. “We’re just boys being boys” that was our slogan, those rap cyphers during recess weren’t the best but they were a start. When I talked people couldn’t understand me so I wrote most of them. Man I wish I had kept that journal.

Josiah and I weren’t always friends, matter of fact when we first met he had freaked me out. My mother had taken me over to fellowship and I guess that she thought that I needed a friend. The Ruffs had three boys all around my age. So me and Josiah, the youngest, was playing monopoly. Josiah pulled out three pieces, ok it’s must be one of his brothers are playing with us. Nope, the third piece was for his imaginary friend. If that was not freaky enough, when it was the imaginary friend’s turns, no lie the piece moved by itself. Something out of Jumanji, I was out, told my mother it was time to go but it we stayed for another hour or so.  I guess that did not freak me out too much because we are still friends to this day.

Josiah’s mother saw that I had talent so she gave me a keyboard. I loved that I would play that keyboard all day and night. So I had to pray, do my homework, girl problems, a growing fascination with music and had an “example” to my sibling. Had for anybody, especially when you are dealing with cp. Frustration does not even come close to describing the feeling that I began to feel. At seven I felt terrify, felt like I’d failed everyone. Could not get God to heal me, felt like my own mother didn’t even love me. All of this weighing on my mind had me attempting suicide. Looking back now it was silly but surviving that made me appreciate the good in my life.  

Now I need to clarify, I am not suicidedo. Attempting to kill myself was selfish and I apologize for the act. During that time, I had made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t attempt nothing like trying to kill myself again. Honestly it will solve nothing, of you will dead and your family and friends are leaf picking up the pieces.

After that event life turn normal for a while, well depending on your definition. See I’ve always hated “normal” because what is normal for me may not be exactly normal for you and vice versa. Take family for example; I had both of my parents around growing up while most of my friends grew up with a single parent. So on the outside I was considered abnormal to my friends. I took a sociology class my second semester of college. Anyway, nobody is normal.

Eight years old, I found something that I should have never seen. I went into my parent’s room, probably looking for a 9v battery, don’t ask, and I found what eight year olds considered the HOLY GRAIL. Didn’t know what I looking at first then I’d remembered the closest. Note to self: keep entertainment material out of the reach of children. Here we go again I guess it would never die. Got caught playing HOUSE with a friend. Just kids trying to do grow up things, I should have just enjoyed being a kid. I would not take anything back because I wouldn’t be the man that I am today.

Family life was chaotic; parents did the their best to keep out of trouble. With three boys it was kind of hard, we stay in trouble. People thought that it was all Justin, my middle brother, but what they did not know it was me behind the scenes. Home most of time by ourselves, we had fun anyway we could. We took mattresses off the beds then rode them down the stairs, crazy but very fun. There was this one babysitter that all four of us didn’t like so we bombed her with dirty socks. The first song that I ever wrote I got my ass beat for. I wrote the song to my girl at the time but she never knew that I was the one that wrote it. See Justin stole it from me to sing it to his girl. Long story short, my dad found it, Justin ratting me out and we both got whopped.

Looking back now I’d always wonder why we grew up in Dayton, a city which not one extended family member lived. I am not bitter but I’m just asking, it was nice coming up up to Gary for a week or two but I had hating going back home. Actually to do honest I never felt like I was home in Dayton. It would have been nice to have cousins to have your back. Friends are cool but there’s nothing like family.