Back Again

May 28, 2008
By Leena Swanson, Park Ridge, IL

Who would have thought that walking to a hotel room by themselves would ever mean so much? The moment I got out of the graduation room I wanted to change into clothes that I wasn’t allowed to wear for the past 22 months. I wanted to carry a key and walk up to the room by myself. After asking my parents, I was on my way with a new sense of freedom and independence. I was leaving a life in a lock-down, therapeutic program in Utah, to return to Park Ridge. The graduation was in California and we spent a day there before flying back home to Illinois. California was great, the plane was great, clothes were great, caffeine which I wasn’t allowed to drink the entire time I was in Utah was awesome.

Coming back to the school I was at two years before was very nerve-racking. The people at Maine South were going to be hard to face. All of my old friends I was getting into trouble with, a lot of them would be here. I had no idea what to expect! Although I say they were old friends, for many of those people saying they were friends would be pushing it. I didn’t treat a lot of people too great, and many of them didn’t treat me too nicely either. Although I saw coming back as being tough, I was in for quite an awakening. I thought living a new and different way wouldn’t be easy, but would be something I would continue and would work towards. Things didn’t go as well as I hoped coming back.

Just a few weeks of being home I was back to dong some of the same old stuff. I started smoking and lying, two things that in themselves may have seemed pretty natural and normal, no big deal really. Unfortunately for me, they were a big deal because it didn’t just stop there, and the way that I think and my behaviors aren’t like every other teenager. Luckily I didn’t fall too hard though, I wasn’t back to everything. I probably would have been though had I not had so many eyes on me, or so many restrictions, or the transitional programs to help me get situated and back into the real world.

The adjustments to coming home were a lot more intense than to going there. Not that going there was easy at all, but it was like they were expecting me and very welcoming to me. Returning to school and life outside of Cross Creek was like disappearing for two years, then suddenly, bam, and right back into the world. Nothing stopped or waited. People went on with their lives. In some areas, in some ways it seems like a lot changed, but some shit just seemed like that same old same old. Because of the way I’ve missed some people and things in my life I guess I was thinking, maybe hoping that they’d be excited and willing to sort of just pick up where we left off. Some people did seem excited to see me and for me coming home; others, not so much.
When I first got home my mind set was still firm in a new, very different lifestyle, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to talk to people or have them talk to me. Because of wanting that new life, though, I may have closed a couple of doors with old friends right after coming home. I shut them out, thinking it would be best for me. I’m not saying at all that it wasn’t, but now I’m in a different spot and I’m missing all the old friends I’m missing being able to go out, feeling connected to a lot of people, just being normal.

Although in some ways Cross Creek was like my worst nightmare, there were some really great things about it. There are some things that I do miss. Probably the thing I miss most and will always miss is the relationships. I’ve met some of the greatest people I know there and I had best friends. The friendships there aren’t at all like friendships out here with two teenage girls. We know so much about each other, and could talk about ANYTHING. We worked though things together, helped each other out, and could relate. Some of the friends I’ve made there I might never see again, but I will certainly never forget. Cross Creek also taught me a lot about gratitude. Because of all we had taken away from us, we looked forward to the everyday things. One meal that was always a real exciting and anticipated thing was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We would get excited about therapy, talking, getting a package, playing around, and we all loved getting mail.

I will soon be making a lot of choices on my own about my life and what I’m going to do. I turn 18 in three months and what I do is not going to depend so much on my parents, or the possibility of getting consequences. I’ve got to look inside myself and make choices that will affect the rest of my life. I know that I have all the tools I need to live a very successful life, but the problem is inside me. The problem is the uncertainty about my future. I am in a consistent battle with, about life style and the way I’m going to live. I have the choice of the old lifestyle with a probably hard and definitely short life, or I can live long and happy and reach goals, I can have the job I really want and be successful.
To most people the choice would seem easy, to most it really isn’t a battle, not even really a choice, but to me it is and the path I take may be life changing. The way I go, would mean that turning back wouldn’t be easy, if I choose my old ways, trying to get back to healthy lifestyle would be so hard. If I choose a successful way, the fear I have is of the change, of never being able to go back on my choice. Eventually I’ll be forced to make a decision, because as I’ve learned from coming back home, time will never stop for me.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.

Parkland Book