I’m from Seattle, but I was born in Hawaii. At a very young age my mom came to the US on an arranged marriage from the Dominican Republic. I come from a large family and my father was in the Marines which caused us to move around a lot. He had a pretty illustrious career in the Marine Corps, he received a Purple Heart in Lebanon during the attack there in 1983, leading into becoming a drill instructor in San Diego. When I graduated high school I joined the Marines as well, but not because of my dad. I knew school wasn’t for me at the time and coming from a broken family and separated from my older brother I felt I needed to seek direction in my life. I became an avionics technician on AV-8B Harriers in Yuma, AZ. After the Marines, I moved to Seattle for a change of pace. I knew the aviation industry held something for me, but still wasn’t quite sure exactly what. I followed my best friend whom I met while in the Marines to Seattle. I soon started my career with Boeing as a Manufacturing Engineer and started another chapter in my life.
Shortly after my final cross country move, a dear friend, Joshua Rhone, lost his battle with cancer. He was best friends with my brother. Even after all of the stuff we went through together; the moving, the separation and our parents divorce, when our friend passed away it was the first time I really saw my brother destroyed. I felt I needed to do something spectacular as the feeling of helplessness became overwhelming. Since then I’ve grown my hair out and donated it to charities for patients that suffer from hair loss due to treatment. I’ve done it several times already and will continue to do so while having fun with it.
Moving to Seattle broadened my musical tastes while meeting plenty of interesting people who have also influenced my appreciation of music. I started to attend various festivals out of town. Having the pleasure to meet some awesome people from Chicago at another fest we started attending festivals together. This has grown to become more than just a festival friendship and more like family. Each year a group of about 7 or 8 of us go to a music festival and this year it was Firefly. I like a wide spectrum of music and there were few festivals that provided that. We loved the variety at Firefly. So, I flew in to DC three days early, spent sometime with family, then met up with my friends and came over. Firefly was known for having an eclectic crowd.
In this picture we were just leaving Trombone Shorty and heading to the Firefly Stage to see Blink-182. With my “my long hair don’t care attitude” I tried replicating the image on my totem. Shorty had just blown me away, and I was thrilled to go see a band I grew up on. Our group actually had 4 totems throughout the festival, each one with a different person from our group. All were equally awesome as is everyone from my crew.
Firefly, it seems like so long ago. I loved the variety of music they had each day. It wasn’t just one type of music. I could see something different every day at a cool new different venue. I loved how you could go from the intimacy of the treehouse and then to something huge like the main stage. After the festival, we all said our goodbyes and I gave my friend Juice a ride to his car. Passing all the different campsite areas is the first time I really understood just how many people were there. I met nurses, sailors, even a real estate agent. That’s what I loved about Firefly. I don’t think there’s ever a time I’ve regretted meeting people through random conversation.
I don’t know what lies ahead. I’ve just turned 34, and I started to notice that the getting up on Saturday mornings are just a little bit rougher, which is tough although I’m always able to rally. I’m not sure what my friends and I will do next. Maybe a long vacation where we can relax. Regardless, I know that I always have a home where they are, and they always have a home with me. That special bond we created is always something we can share.