Her First Love

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Her First Love

Danny Martinez, Jr.

Until the lion learns to write his own story, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter - African Proverb The ConTextos Authors Circle was developed in collaboration with young people who are at risk of, victims of or perpetrators of violence in El Salvador. In 2017, this innovative program expanded into Chicago to create tangible, high-quality opportunities that nourish the minds, expand the voices and share the personal truths of individuals who have long been underserved and underestimated. Through the process of drafting, revising and publishing memoirs, participants develop self-reflection, critical thinking, camaraderie and positive selfprojection to author new life narratives. Since January 2017, ConTextos has collaborated with the Cook County Sheriff's Office to implement Authors Circle in Division X of Cook County Department of Corrections as part of a vision for reform that recognizes the value of mental health, rehabilitation and reflection. These powerful memoirs complicate the narrative about violence and peace-building, and help author a hopeful future for these men, their families, and our collective communities. While each memoir's text is solely the work of the Author, the images used to create this book's illustrations have been sourced from various print publications. Authors curate these images and then, using only their hands, manipulate the images through tearing, folding, layering, and careful positioning. By applying these collage techniques, Authors transform their written memoirs into fully illustrated books. In collaboration with

Her First Love Danny Martinez, Jr.

Back in 2003, at 1100 S. Hamilton, also known as Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, is where I first met Dianna. Later I was to be her first love. The first time I went to CCJTDC, I was seeing how dudes were hollerin’ at the girls on the floor below, a.k.a. their jail girlfriends. It was crazy, because whatever cell they were in is who they might be talking to.

How they were hollering at them girls was, they waited until night time after the CO does his or her count. Then they laid on the floor and put their ear on it, so you could hear what the girl is saying. Then when you want to talk back, you would have to jump back up and talk through the wall, then jump back down to hear what she said back.

Then in the day time, we would go to school and get ready to see who you are talking to as they walk by. If you cool with the teachers or officers, they will let you give them a kite, which is a letter.

My first time in there, I was watching how these guys for real thought these girls was their girlfriends. But as I kept coming to CCJTDC, I found myself doing what they were doing. At first, I was using this girl I was so-called talking to through the floor to let my name be known, because that was the thing to do back then, so all the females could know who you were.

So how I met Dianna was crazy, because she was talking to this dude who had been locked up for some years, and she had been in there for a long time. He used to show me her letters a lot. Then one time he had showed me how she looked.

When I first saw her, I knew I wanted her, but I didn’t let him know. At first she didn’t stand me for whatever reason.

As time went by, it was getting closer for me to take some time, and leave that place and go to Illinois Department of Corrections. So one day we were waiting to go to class, but as we were waiting, the officer told us to stand by the wall so the girls could walk by.

they come,” I was nervous, don’t know why. “Here first At by. k wal to them for ver fore It felt like comes to my mind d. Here she comes. The first thing that I said, making sure I was looking goo same week I was “What’s up? Write me a kite.” So the to say is, “What's up?” She was like, d the kite to give write her and see her, and pass her frien leaving to IDOC, I had the chance to to her.

(Man, God was good.) Now I was in IDOC, feeling sad and blue because I couldn’t see her no more, or even just say little words to her. I was in a cell thinking like, She ain't never going to write me or keep in touch. I was such a fool.

to my cell and was like, “Danny Martinez, Then one day, out of the blue, the CO comes said, “Here you go. You have mail, and what's your ID number?” “D41130” I said. He giving me my mail, I was thinking, Why whoever wrote you must love you.” As he was letter with the girl’s name on them, who would he say that? Then I saw why. Letter after I was so happy I was jumping up and down, I had been thinking about since I got there. t by, we were writing back and forth to each so happy to write her back. So as time wen to do, so I was about to come home, and other like crazy. I didn’t have that much time she was about to go to a placement too.

Now I was out, free like a bird. I still was holding her down on the letters, and I also sent her my house phone number, because then house phones were still in. She starts calling the house from where she was at, and we were talking. There would be times where I was outside and would miss her call, and be sad that I missed her calls. So as time went by, she had earned a pass to go home for some days for Thanksgiving. Now here comes when we first met, held each other, hugged, and kissed each other.

Thanksgiving week she calls me, but not from that place. She calls me from her mom’s, saying she wants to meet up but doesn't know how to get from the southside to the northside. So I told her, “You know how to take the Red Line, right?” She replied back yes, and I told her to take the Red Line to Belmont and get off, and I’ll be there.

So as I was on my way, I was excited, anxious, and had the butterflies. All on the train, I was thinking, What am I going to say? What is she going to say? Is she still going to like me? All of these things going through my head. Next thing I knew, the CTA train intercom was announcing the Belmont stop was coming up.

Here I go. I got off the train, watching all kinds of people coming and going. I walk down the stairs and there she goes, the girl I became her first love, standing right there waiting for me. As I approached her, I couldn’t help but notice her beautiful smile. We hug for the first time and kiss for the first time. Life couldn’t get any better that day.

S Th o w go an e w be , s ksg en ho he ivin t ba m did g ck e fo n’t with to rg w m oo ant me y h , d. to sh ou ” le e se av al e so and m c y am she sid e e b m fo ac et m rn k ot to y m hi sp om ng e , b nd , b ut Ch rot I w ris he as tm r, a lik as nd e, w si “Y ith ste ou m r. ha e a She ve s w n to ell ot , s . W on l o yo hen y sp u ca she end s n on had e da to y

Time went by, and she came home and we started kicking it. One day I broke her heart, by showing her I was on some other shit at the time. I didn’t know she was so in love with me and I was her first love. I was young and dumb. So that was it. At that time, I was focused on getting my clothes ready and going outside. I wasn’t thinking about others but myself. I was living the fast life, getting money. I thought I knew about love, but I didn’t. I didn’t know how females could get feelings faster than males.

Years went by. We lost touch for like 10 or 15 years. Then came 2015. I was in Division IX, and I was talking to my mom on the phone and she is like, “Guess who friend-requested me on Facebook?” I was like, “Who?” all happy and shit but not knowing she was going to say Dianna. Then she said, “Dianna.” I was like, “What? How? When?”

First thing I said, “Did she leave her number?” She was like, “No, but I will get it for you.” I told her to get it ASAP. When my mom told me Dianna had Facebooked her, I was excited. I couldn’t believe it—out of all people! Then she like, “I got to get her number for you, because she didn’t leave it.” When she told me that, I went from 10 to 0. I was like, “What?! She didn’t leave you her number?! Mom, get her number.” She was like, “Danny, be cool, I got you.”

My mom said, “So the next time you call, I will have it.” Man, I couldn’t wait to get Dianna’s number. Next day, I call my mom. She was like, “Guess what? She sent her number.” I was like, “Give me the number, give me the number.” As soon as she gave me the number, I was like, “Mom, I got to go. Call you later—wait, before I go, hit her in her inbox, and tell her I am going to call her and to pick up.” So as I was calling her, my heart was beating like crazy.

Remind you, I hadn’t talked to her in 10 or 15 years. So, she picks up and I was like, “What’s up?” She was crying because she couldn’t believe it that she found me. She said she has been looking for me for years, and she wasn’t going to stop looking until she had found me. So we talk every day for hours. Then she got sad, because now I was telling her about my situation, that I am fighting for my life for something I didn’t do.

Now, sixteen years later, I have changed. I am a grown man who understands more about relationships and feelings, compared to when I was 17 and didn’t know anything. I don’t play with women’s heart or feelings.

I just want to say: Dianna L., I am so sorry for ever hurting you, and I wish I could take it back. I wish you nothing but the best. You showed up for me during my darkest hours. Now that I’m older, I appreciate your support, especially with all the things you’re going through. I’ve learned that the little things you do for me mean a lot. I’ve learned never to take anything for granted, and to treat people like you want to be treated. I love you and miss you so much.

Danny Martinez, Jr. I am from Northside, Uptown, Magnolia block, From Patrón and weed be cool and smooth. I am from where they said freedom is, but it ain’t. Beautiful, but also scary, on-your-toes war zone, cut-throat. I am from rose, Reminds me of my mother, Rosie. I’m from Puerto Rican food and helpful. From Rosie, who been there for me no matter what, And Danny, Sr., who showed me how to be tuff. I’m from learning them streets and unlearning (also each other). I’m from Catholic Virgin Mary, candles smell good. I’m from Chi-town but born in Daytona Beach, Florida, Rice and pork chops.

Until the lion learns to write his own story, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter - African Proverb Copyright © 2019 ConTextos

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