‘You Only Live Once’
Antonio Peres is a Colorado Springs local and has worked at the college for the last three years. Guided by the motto “you only live once,” Peres recalls his childhood and his path to where he is today.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Interview & Photo by Pema Baldwin
“Three sisters. We grew up with each other throughout our whole life. Two younger, one older. One of my younger sisters is one year younger than me and the other is two and a half years younger than me. Older one is by two years.
Growing up with three sisters, you kind of see life differently.
I’ll say I understand women more. Me being married; having a wife. I’ve understood where she’s coming from more than if I grew up with a lot of boys, I think.
It was just my mom, mainly. She had boyfriends all the time, but, me being an angry kid, I was always wanting to fight with them. I kind of blame myself for breaking up a couple of her relationships. I just had a lot of anger and wanted to fight her boyfriends. I was the only boy, you know. I wanted to protect my family that I grew up with since I was a baby. I always had that madness in me: to not let a guy in.
Throughout elementary and middle school, I had a lot of anger.
I was born with ADHD, so that had a lot to do with it, but growing up and having people teach me helped me grow out of that. I had a lot of people that mentored me and taught me good things — taught me how to grow up.
Mentors were teachers, friends, family — it was all over the place. When I was in middle school it was mainly teachers because I was in a special ed class, but it was all over the place growing up.
I taught myself to not be angry at a lot of different things that are out there. There could be somebody — like if I was a younger kid, so to say. Let’s say I was 7 years old. If somebody were to call me a name, I would want to fight them. Then these people taught me that words are just words, so I applied that to other things in life.
I go off the motto ‘You only live once.’
After high school I took off a year. Just relaxed. Tried not to worry about life, the world, and all that.
Still had a job at that time. And then after that year I got a better job and just tried to stay on top of my jobs, and then moved out on my own.
I was working at Wendy’s, McDonald’s. Any fast food chain you can think of I’ve worked there: Taco Bell, Subway, Arby’s. I’ve worked all over the place. That was when I was between 18 and 23. Then my life went into a downward spiral.
I lost my job, I was drinking, smoking a lot, partying a lot, I was doing a lot of bad things just to not control my life. I was taking that ‘You only live life once’ to mean misconduct. I thought, ‘Yeah I live life once, so let’s just go party.’ I wasn’t prioritizing the right things.
One time, when I wasn’t really caring about my life, I was careless. I went to work high and I cut my finger. I sliced it. I had to get, like, nine stitches on that finger.
Anyways, when I was 23 I lost my job at Burger King — I was working there for three years. I was like, ‘Oh shoot. I don’t even have a job.’ I was thinking, ‘Man, this is gonna suck.’ At that moment I had a sense to pray, or even to ask God — if there was a God out there — to help me. I was on my hands and knees at home. I was praying every night. I was like, ‘Yo, this sucks. I need something better, God. Please help me.’
Two weeks later, He pops up with a job at Taco Bell.
I was like, ‘Oh this is great. I’m not actually jobless. I’m not gonna run out of money.’ So, I got the job at Taco Bell, and right after Taco Bell I got a job at the Subway, and that’s when I met my wife — she was my boss.
She’s Christian, so she kind of taught me who God was. I’m a faithful person. I believe in God, and I’m a religious person. Ever since that moment that I prayed to God, I believed in him so much.
He’s taught me so much. He’s grown me into the man I am today. It’s a good feeling when you have God on your side.
I’ve always been that person that’s learning off of somebody. Now I have the tolerance where I can teach somebody without getting mad. I’ve screwed up so many times in my life, but I have a tolerance for mistakes now. I understand where people are coming from.
I like to be a person that can always mentor somebody.
Even if I was working here for just a day, what would I say to each person that I come across? What can I say to influence them to do better? Or even for them to have a good day. It could be me saying, ‘Have a good day’ or just talking to them for a couple of minutes. I would want them to remember, ‘Oh, this person was really cool in my life even though I only knew him for one or two minutes.’ So, if you only live once, then you have to do everything in your life — every single moment of every single second — to the fullest.
You just learn it over time. You have to go through mistakes to learn from them.”