Creating Worlds to Escape the One You’re In…
By Rock Kitaro
Date: June 3, 2018
Right now, I’m in between projects. I just finished “The Perennial War of Paramours” that I’m now pitching to agents. And while I wait and endure that process, coupled with some rare vacation time, I thought I’d spend the summer working on probably the most precious thing I ever created. Or as my friend Eduardo once put it, “It’s the world I created to escape the world I was in.”
I think every child with an active imagination has done this. Where they’ve taken characters from their favorite shows and video games and imagine a world where they play a role in the character’s lives. Essentially, its fan fiction.
Well, when I was a kid. I had the same dream, the same world, the same characters. We’re talking about characters from Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Sailor Moon, Mortal Kombat, Dragon Ball Z, even the X-Men. And this dream lasted from the age of ten until I was probably twenty-one. I was always a pudgy, goofy, awkward, heavy-set kid, always striving to be liked and loved by everyone. My character in this dream world was quite the opposite. His name was Majestic (I know that sounds stupid.)
Unlike the real me at that time, Majestic was a gifted athlete. He always had to do the right thing and never hesitated. He put himself in danger for the sake of others, selfless, yet always coming out on top through sheer will and determination. And unlike the real me at that time, Majestic had friends. He was loved. He felt wanted. He had people who depended on him and he never let them down.
Perhaps, I should start from the beginning to how this all went down. I’ve never shared this with anyone. It’s really embarrassing, but if I’m honest with it, it’ll probably make you laugh and remind you of yourself when you were a kid. I hope it does.
In 1997, my family relocated from Fort Hood, Texas to a place called Augusta, Georgia. Something about that summer really changed me. My imagination…I was already an impressionable youth. I was obsessed with martial arts. My favorite game was the Street Fighter series and for hours, I’d stand in front of the arcade machines just watching the automatic game play without any quarters. I’d just stand there, watching the moves of Ken and Ryu over and over again. Then I’d go home and practice the moves in my backyard. I got good at it.
So in 1997, perhaps it was due to puberty kicking in, but that summer I saw the cartoons for Sailor Moon for the first time. Haha! I really don’t want to go into details here, because it is odd to be infatuated with a cartoon, but to a ten year old boy, the girls from Sailor Moon were pretty. Unrealistically pretty, but still, pretty. They were on my mind all summer. That stupid theme song. “She is the one named Sailor Moon!”
Anyways…that’s how it began. My dreams. My daydream. It wasn’t that big of a deal at first. In 1997, I was in the 5th grade and at first, I liked Augusta, Georgia. I liked the music of the day. I liked the movies. But by the time I entered middle school, I realized that “being yourself” won’t get you far if you don’t fit in.
You see, before middle school, I attended at least five different elementary schools. My parents moved around a lot. And before we moved to Georgia, I attended school on a military base. The cool thing about growing up with other military kids is that, from my experience, everyone can be themselves. Because all of the kids know what it’s like to move from place to place. So when it comes to culture, everyone more or less is diverse. As long as you were “being yourself” you were accepted as part of the class.
However in Augusta, Georgia…I don’t want to paint the city with a broad brush. This was just my experience. But from what I saw, and what I lived through, the stereotypes were real. Cultural stereotypes between black and white kids. Black kids liked rap and R&B. White kids could get away with liking rap, but they were free and its was widely accepted for them of course to like pop, country, rock, soft rock, etc.
My favorite group was the Backstreet Boys. I’ve never talked with slang or Ebonics and I had a horrible sense of fashion. I remember a girl giving me crap because I said “hata” wrong. I think I said, “hater” and she corrected me with utter disgust.
By the time I entered seventh grade, I could no longer afford to be myself. I was always one of the tallest kids in the class, but I was getting bigger, more intimidating in size. Racial tension was on the rise between white and black kids and people more or less had to pick side. I remember a white kid who was notoriously racist, throwing a rock that hit a dumpster so loud just a few feet from my face. I could have killed me if it hit. And I heard that bastard laughing about it. On top of all that, I kid you not…my entire class that year was a gang.
We were class 7-C. Our homeroom teacher had medical issues so we had more subs than a stable teacher. No lie, my classmates did whatever it is that they wanted. And with my size, presence, and immaturity, I was one of the heavy hitters. But it wasn’t the real me. And when you’re in the thick of it, just going with the flow, you barely realizing that you’re just playing a role.
My best friends were Javon and Josh. And as much we laughed and ruled that year. I was almost just as afraid of them. I saw Josh whoop this kid’s ass like it was nothing. Like, he hit as if his fists were made of bricks. I could hear the smack and feel the other person’s pain. Javon’s strength was otherworldly. It didn’t matter how big or strong you thought you were, Javon could pick you and bodyslam you like you were nothing but a stuffed animal.
And me…I was probably the most wicked of them all. I had built the reputation of playing the instigator. I hype up two individuals who barely know each other to fight each other as if they’ve hated each other for years. I was really really good at it. That’s not to brag. If I could meet all those kids who I pitted against each other I would drop to my knees and apologize profusely. It was wicked. It was wrong. But at the time, it was entertainment. We became celebrities of sort. In particular I was popular because of this fight I got into right after a gym class. Everyone complimented how cool I was. I didn’t swing about wildly, but beat his ass cleanly.
Then, there the time I allegedly walked out during a meeting with the Vice Principle. Honestly, I thought the conversation was over. But I was halfway down the hall when she screamed for me to get my black ass back into her office. The hallway was packed. I know that might sound embarrassing. But it wasn’t. I was getting high-fives on the way back down.
But the dynamics changed after the Christmas break. I changed. Once again, due to my daydreams. You see, that Christmas, I spent the holidays with my real father in Dallas, Texas. My real dad knew I was a fan of Street Fighter, and just before I returned to Augusta, he rented the game, “Street Fighter Alpha 3” from Blockbuster. While everyone else was asleep, I played that video game religiously. That, coupled with the song “Carol of the Bells” by the Transiberian Orchestra, really did amplify my dreams, my imagination.
By that time, I had developed my gift to the point that I could be anywhere, doing anything, and still dream of my personal fan fiction and the way I wish my childhood could be. I dreamed of being in a boyband like the Backstreet Boys. I dreamed of having thousands of fans screaming my name. I dreamed of my best friends Ken and Ryu helping me to defeat terrorists like M. Bison. I dreamed of a rivalry with Kyo Kusanagi because we both went after the same girl. And that girl was Sailor Jupiter of the Sailor Scouts. That world was ten times better than the wicked ways of my real self.
And when I returned to class 7-C after the Christmas break, I found that my own role within the class had changed. I saw less of Javon but I can’t remember why. He hardly attended classes. And Josh had sided with a new student to our class. Someone who had a reputation more nefarious than our own. His name was Giovanni. Everyone knew him as the kid who went to alternative school for bringing a knife to school. And he played every bit of the part.
He reminded me a lot of Tupac. That old-school 90s gangsta mentality where inflicting pain and making people afraid was just good fun. I remember one time he and a group of boys jumped this kid named Michael for no reason. Michael was a cool kid. He didn’t deserve that. And a righteous indignation spurred in me. I didn’t kow-tow to him the way others did. I was afraid of him, sure. But I think I just react differently to my fears. I don’t cower. I glare back at them. If I die or get jumped or beat the fuck up. It didn’t matter. I glared. And I think maybe seeing the injustice of others made me realize how wicked I was myself.
That same year, I stopped playing the part of instigator. I stopped making fun of others and no longer thought it was cool to just be fighting for no reason. I didn’t realize I had changed. It’s not like some resolution I consciously came to. I just did.
I remember one day, I was helping a special needs girl on the computer while the rest of my class was acting a fool. Then, someone from Giovanni’s table threw textbook that hit me square in the back of my head. I’ll never forget that day. Not because of the pain. Not because of my rage. But because of how I handled it. I never knew how brave I could be before that day.
I literally got up, went to the table where it came from. Looked at Giovanni, my old friend Josh and all their scared lackeys and whore in their fucking faces and calmly said, “Who did it?”
No one said anything. And I stared the shit out of Giovanni. I knew was him. I dared him to speak up. I dared him to get up and make a move. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would torn his limbs from his arms. And no one in that room would have been strong enough to stop me. But he sat there like a little bitch and said nothing.
Then I calmly went back to the special needs kid, sat down, helped her with her math and had no doubt in my mind that no one would mess with us for the rest of the year.
But still…from that moment came ostracism. I wasn’t one of the cool kids anymore. I had to make new friends. Which, honestly…was better. I didn’t mind hanging out with the so-call nerdy girls or book worms. At heart, I could relate to them. Even had a crush on one of them. This girl who burned me a CD of Youngstown. I really liked her.
There was still some tension between myself and my old crew. And some kids did try me, thinking I was still with the old crew. But nothing else happened. Probably because I became a specialist about skipping school. If you think all this is unbelievable, the stories I could tell you about skipping school would blow your mind. Even my real brothers started calling me the con-artist of the family.
All of this translated well into the art of story-telling. As I’m sure you know, when it comes to fiction there’s always a bad guy and a good guy. A protagonist and an antagonist. I think all authors who can master both, providing a good guy that everyone thinks is cool and inspiring, as well as crafting a villain that’s believable, yet ruthless and truly evil to the core…I wonder if all authors who do this well had childhoods like mine.
And by the time I reached 14, I was ready to put it all down on paper. It was around this time that I finally acknowledged that I didn’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness. It’s the religion my parents converted to when we came to Augusta, Georgia. I was into the religion at first. I enjoyed going to the meetings, answering questions from the magazines. I really did enjoy it.
But after three years, I think the religion really clashed with me, my relationship with my parents, and my subconscious perceptions about the reality in which I saw. Don’t get me wrong, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are an amazing religion in which I agree with a lot of their concepts and beliefs. But…several things.
1. Bad Associations create bad habits. Our parents didn’t let my brothers or I associate with our peers outside of school unless they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is a problem because it hindered our growth. They essentially created a bubble and tried to feed us a very utopian view of how the world should be, instead of allowing us to experience how the world really is like the other kids did. Thus, by the time I went to High School, I was so far behind in terms of maturity and social queues. And because I hated this concept so much, frustration brewed. I was confused. I felt guilty for even questioning the religion. And if you know me, then you know that I always come to a point where I’m like “fuck it” and come what may, this is what I’m going to do. So I rebelled.
2. There were too many meetings where the public talks and Watchtower articles talked about how children should be submissive to their parents. If you’ve read this far, then you know this wouldn’t fly well with me. The Bible says honor thy mother and father. But what happens when you start to see your parents not as parents, but as tyrants, their alleged love forced and given out of obligation or some selfish sense of superficial duty. I suppose this is normal for a teen to feel this way about their dutiful parents. But when it comes to encouragement towards what we wanted to do as young men, I don’t remember a lot of that. I remember a lot of them forcing us to adapt and behave like Jehovah’s Witnesses. “This is what you’re going to do as long as you live under our roof.” So it shouldn’t be too surprising that I didn’t even wait the entire summer to take off after I graduated. And that’s not to slight my parents too much. It worked. A lot of grown children still live with their parents.
3. In my young life there were three things that I absolutely loved about being alive. And Jehovah’s Witnesses threatened to take away two of them. Those three things were beautiful girls, Christmas, and Martial Arts. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate worldly holidays for theocratic reasons you can Google yourself. And martial arts…I was told was too violent. I had to hide my love for Street Fighter. Once, my mother caught a game and threw it away. A game my dad bought me for Christmas. And I get it. Martial arts can be violent. But that’s not the way I see it.
As an adult, I’m a fan of k-pop. I’m not gay. So I don’t watch their music videos for their pretty faces. I watch it for the same reason why I’d watch Nsync back in the day. Or the Wade Robson Project. Or “You Got Served.” I watch it for the choreography.
I’ve seen hundreds of fights from amateurs. Even in the UFC, it doesn’t interest me. But in the movies, in video games, every strike is deliberate, it’s precise. There really is an art to it. And if I can imitate them to the point that it looks exactly the same, that’s all I wanted to do. I could care less about the damage of the moves. Just doing it is good enough.
But under my parents’ roof, I couldn’t practice it unless in secret. In fact, about 70 percent of my personality was something I just had to keep to myself. Away from my parents. Away from my peers. And I thought, away from God.
Revenge, Rivalry, and Rebellion. I know when I hand people my business card with those words on it, they think something nefarious, as if I’m a hitman or part of the mob. But revenge, rivalry, and rebellion is just something I know. I understand it. It’s embedded in me. And if anything, without it, I wouldn’t have come so far. I wouldn’t have reconnected with our heavenly father. I just use those elements unconventionally.
Let me put it this way. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on about this theory about how everything is going according to God’s plan. I truly believe that God created the essence of everything. This includes qualities like ambition, anger, or even jealousy. But just because those words have a negative context by human standards, they don’t have to be used in a negative way. For instance, a hammer is but a tool. You can use it to build something, or to kill someone. You can use it in a positive way or a negative.
I believe it’s the same with anger and even jealousy. When it comes to revenge, rivalry, and rebellion, its the same way with me. A lot of bad things have happened to me in which my heart of heart demands justice. But that sensation of getting revenge doesn’t have to hurt them. I can use that need as motivation to better myself and defeat them in other areas aside from the superficial or physical. I know it would be cool to not even have the urge to get revenge. But I’m 31-years-old. One day I might change, but so far, that burning desire has kept me going my entire life. It really is the coal of my engine. Anytime I think about slacking off, I think of what I sacrificed, my old rivals, and how they doubted me, looked down on me, and went out of their way to keep me down.
And rebellion? In my conversations with God, I often ask if I would have found my way back to him and the sanctuary of the Bible, if I didn’t feel an enormous sense of rebellion towards pop culture and the mainstream ethos. For instance, if it was mainstream that everyone was doing God’s work, following his commandments, treating each other with decency, helping and loving each other…I wonder if I would have rebelled against that.
I’m sorry. I think I got way off course. Anyways. I thank you for reading this far. The point of my writing all this…was to say that when I was a teenager, I needed to escape from this world. So at the age of 14, when I decided I didn’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness, I didn’t want to be a stereotype just to fit in. And I was tired of shooting myself in the foot when people asked me for my honest opinion, thinking that they really wanted such honesty, I took to writing.
Every Sunday morning, Monday night, and Wednesday night when my parents forced me to go to the Kingdom Hall because I lived under their roof…I’d escape into my daydream, my fictional world. I could hear the speaker, listen to him, flipped to a page in the bible and still maintain my dream, like watching a movie in my head while keeping my eyes front.
And when I went home. I started writing. I started from the beginning. It was therapeutic. It was amazing. And if I may toot my horn a bit, I think for my age, it was brilliant. I’m not the best writer grammatically. You won’t see me create pretty language with my words. My brilliance comes from my ability to capture and convey realistic motives, the cause and effect, to predict the most likely of outcomes. This was before the age of Google. I was writing about the music industry, the filming industry. I was writing about traveling the globe, different dimensions, and the struggle of being blessed with too much power, doing the right thing when every fiber in your body is screaming for you to go all out.
The name of this world I created was called G-Force. Yes, named after that anime. But nothing like the actual anime. I just liked the name. Anyways. By the time I graduated high school, I wrote over 300 pages and kept it in a trapper keeper all this time. This trapper keeper, my G-Force…I lent it to my best friend Madison when I was in college, and was relentless about tracking it down to retrieve it.
All through my twenties, it’s been languishing in my closet. And when my apartment flooded last January, I almost lost it. So, I’m spending this summer typing it out. I don’t want to change the prose of it, to keep the authenticity of my youth and capture how I used to be.
I plan on releasing it on this website, through Wattpad, and Medium.com. Clearly, I don’t own the rights to the characters so I don’t plan on making any money off of it. Just thought I’d share. If you’re interested, make sure you click to subscribe to this website. I’ll try to upload a chapter before every Tuesday morning.
– Rock Kitaro