The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Opening Up to My Shorty
Antwaun Garcia

Once in a while someone finally grows up and realizes what he wants. In my case, I went from being what you would call a pimp, a playa, someone who doesn't care about other people's feelings, to someone who is trying hard to settle down and be caring.

In all of my previous relationships I have cheated on a female with one or numerous other females. I didn't care too much about their feelings. I used females like a boy uses a toy.

Back in those days I used to have what I called "a phase" with a female. I would gas her head up like I needed her, like she was everything to me. (It was easy for me to tell girls nice things when I didn't mean them.) Then, poof, out of nowhere I'd let her know it was over. I could never face rejection so I would hand it out before it came to me.


I would toss her number away, toss her letters, toss any pics of us, too. Kind of cold-hearted, I know, but it's the truth.

I would have females depressed thinking about me, wondering what I might be doing. My way of getting over a female was to just bag another one. Then, once again, after about a month, it was "bye-bye-bye."

I knew I didn't want to be like two of my boys, who were almost devastated because their girls left them. I'd hear cats in the streets complaining, "My girl left me." But that wasn't my way.

I Wanted to Stick With Someone

But after a while, I started getting annoyed at females who only cared how thick my pockets were. I wanted to settle down, to have a wifey to go places with and to miss when she's not with me.

Now, believe it or not, I think I have found that one. At the time we started talking, I was talking to five other girls, and she was talking to some cornball around her way. We were both tired of these corny people and wanted something serious. I will admit, I wasn't planning to be faithful to her at first. But she opened my eyes to the fact that she wasn't a dummy I would talk to and get my way with.

Now I have been dating her for the past 10 months, and to be honest they have been the best 10 months I have ever spent with any girl. She is mad cool and mad funny. She has a great personality and is a very good listener. One thing about being a foster care kid is that you have a lot of drama going on, and you always need someone to listen to you and to talk with. Normally I don't talk to anyone, but my shorty has always opened her ear to me.

We Had Great Convos

One week, we were talking on the phone from 10 at night to 4 in the morning when we both had to be at school early the next day. It wasn't those boring convos like, "The sky is blue, and the grass is green." We were really talking, really getting to know one another, really laughing the whole six or seven hours on the phone each day of that week. I had never done that with any female before.

image by Kenly Dillard

I couldn't get enough of this girl. When we had class together we would sit next to one another and talk through the whole class, or write notes and crack jokes. Afterwards we would get something to eat up the block at the bagel shop, and then I would walk her to the bus. We did that from February to the end of the school year.

Opposites Attract

What's real interesting is we have nothing in common yet we are so compatible. She loves bacon. I hate pork. She loves horror films. I think they are corny and prefer a comedy or action film. She listens to rock and roll, and I listen to R&B and rap. Yet we still find similarities within one another.

And over the last 10 months, she has always been there for me, no matter what. I have been through some tough times, and she stood by me through it all. She listened about my life and past. She couldn't believe how I survived what I've been through. It kind of left her speechless. But telling her about my past helped her understand why I am the person I am. She loves me for who I am.

The main problem I have with her and most females I've liked is letting my feelings show. Don't get me wrong, I've told females what they want to hear, but usually when I don't mean it. It's hard for me to tell my feelings when they're real. After all, I have kept my feelings bottled up since I was 10, the year two of my best friends died. They were the only two people I confided my feelings in. When I lost them, I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone else, and not talking about my feelings became a habit.

But Couldn't I Say How I Felt?

But with my shorty, I wanted to tell her my feelings. It just seemed like a big risk. What if I told her how I felt and we soon deaded things? Then I might feel mad and stupid for showing her my vulnerable side. I might be heartbroken, or feel pitiful and depressed.

But I knew I'd feel just as bad if the relationship ended and I never told her how I felt, or, worse, if it ended because I never told her how I felt. I decided that growing in relationships is all about showing people how you feel, and taking a chance by trusting them with your soft side.

Even if there are grimy people in the world, that didn't mean my shorty was one of them, and that I couldn't work at letting my feelings show, at my own pace, to make our relationship even better. And I wanted to get better at showing my feelings not just for my shorty, but because I wanted to be able to show my feelings to my family, too, especially my sister. For most of my life, my pride and stubbornness and fear that I can't trust people hasn't let me do that. So I was nervous about saying how I felt, but I decided I was up for the challenge.

First I started by trying to tell her all I thought and felt, the good as well as the bad. Then I started trying to express the emotions I would rather not expose, like telling her when I miss her. She responds like any typical female. She says stuff like, "That was so cute."

Trying to Open Up

But even though I'm getting more comfortable telling her what I think and feel, expressing those emotions I don't feel like talking about isn't getting easier. Sometimes my girlfriend won't realize how hard it is for me, and she will change the subject or even start singing or acting stupid when I'm about to say something I really need to say. That's when I think, "Either I'm boring her or she don't want to hear it." Then I stop talking and don't say anything more until she asks me to. It takes a lot of trust to expose my innermost thoughts and feelings. It can be frightening to trust her because if she breaks my trust I will feel worse.

Now that we are getting deeper into the relationship my feelings are growing more. We talk every night. No matter the time, we always make sure we put one another to sleep. But at the same time, I am still taking my time with showing her my feelings, because we both don't want to rush into something we are not ready for.

As I am growing older and more mature, I don't find the same things fun anymore. The idea of playing a female intentionally just doesn't sound fun. What sounds better is trying to build a good relationship by working to trust and be trustworthy, and showing my feelings more. I am respecting females a little more, and I'm feeling the benefits of it.

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