What Happened Since Then

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Dear 19-year-old Alex,

I would hope you (me) are about to graduate high school. I myself, as you know, because I am you, am about to graduate middle school. I really liked meeting all of the people in middle school. I made a lot of friends, and I hope you have made many more in high school. I don’t know about you, but right now I want to go on to be a successful businessman and own a store that sells sports equipment. I would also be good with being a doctor, or an engineer. I also don’t know if you have done these, but I have some goals I want to accomplish in high school. I want to make the varsity basketball team as a junior. In order to do that, I want to spend at least 10 hours practicing basketball a week. Also, I want to get straight A’s at least once (right now I get 2 A’s and 2 B’s for the most part). I want to have a girlfriend for the prom. Lastly, I want to get into a good college. It doesn’t have to be Ivy League, but I would like something close to that caliber. I wish you could write me back, but you can’t, so I just hope that you liked high school and accomplished these goals.
See you (me?) in five years,
14-year-old- Alex


Dear 14-year-old- Alex,

I know this can never reach you. But I feel like I have to write this, to tell you about what happened in high school. So here it is.

You had three months of summer vacation after you wrote this. You came back to school in September. In October, I met a new friend. This kid hung out with the wrong crowd, but I couldn’t see that then. I thought I was being cool, hanging out with him and all of his friends. Then, one night when we were all hanging out, he shoved a bottle of beer in my face.

“If y’wanna be part of our group, ya gotta drink this.”

I didn’t want to. But I didn’t want to lose his friendship, and then he shook it in my face more. I thought what the heck, might as well, and drank it. Well, I loved it. And I wanted more. Even though I was only 14, I needed more beer. These guys had a lot of beer that they had gotten, I didn’t know how (they had stolen it, as I learned later). So I drank and drank and drank. I got to be pretty much alcoholic, but I couldn’t tell anyone, so my parents assumed that I was being sullen because I was being a teenager. In fact, it was because I didn’t have any beer. But I didn’t think this was a problem, because every time I did, I would go get some beer, and be happy again for a while.

Eventually, the beer ran out, and we had to go steal some. I agreed to be one of the thieves in exchange for an extra portion of all that I stole. So one night, I broke into a liquor store, and stole 10 six-packs. I did that 4 more times, so we had about 300 cans of beer just lying around. They were all hidden at the house of one of the kids whose parents were never around. But after a while, beer and cigarettes—they had those too, and I smoked a lot—got old. I needed something more in order to get high. So I got into Marijuana. My grades were steadily dipping, and my basketball practices were slowly shrinking, from one and one half hours to one hour, to forty-five minutes, to 30. But I didn’t see any problems with this. I got into Cocaine. Now, my grades were D-range, and basketball was non-existent. I didn’t bother trying out for the team, as at the time of the tryouts; I was high on cocaine thinking that I was the owner of a giant company and had billions of dollars. I never got a girlfriend—I was too busy using drugs. I flunked out of school, so I never applied to college, and started buying cocaine with money I made from robbing. I was arrested twice, once for breaking and entering of a restaurant, and once for buying cocaine from an undercover officer. The second arrest sent me to prison for 10 years. I am now writing this from my prison cell. I just wish there were some way I could go back and talk to the little kid who wrote that letter to me.
Alex Gibbons





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