All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Author's note: I want to let teens around the world know they are not alone.
The average girl from my neighborhood is either pregnant by the age of 15 or has already had two or three kids by now. The majority of their “baby daddy’s” are in jail or don’t want anything to do with them or the kids. They have those long hideous nails that are painted various colors, accented with designs. Sounds familiar? Their colored hair weaves consist of purple, gold, and green all because their favorite female rapper entertains as such. It makes me want to scream! They live, eat and sleep these obnoxious rap videos as if they are the celebrities.
See…... I’m not the typical girl from this hood. We may live in the same place, go to the same school and even ride the same bus but what I can't quite fathom is the thought of is having two to three baby daddies, nor abusing any system (besides the school system to inhale all the education available) to take care of unplanned kids. I know I may come across a tad bit harsh; I just want more for them than they want for themselves. I always thought we should educate ourselves first. So much for that!
It’s amazing how I come from this place and I can’t seem to identify remotely close to anyone. The loud talking, rolling your neck to get your point across to intimidate me all because I refuse to master making a fool of myself unless it’s in the privacy of my own home. By no means do I think I am better than anyone. All I can say is to know better is to do better. This may sound like a huge contradiction but I hate to stereotype; however I see this behavior so often it’s sickening.
I am from this hood though. A hood called West Side Springs. I’m not proud of my neighborhood and I try not to mention in outside conversation that I am a resident here. Everything goes on at this juncture. You name it and I guarantee you it happened all right here. I can’t wait to be able to walk outside to the clean fresh air that exists somewhere far away from here. Instead I am exposed to the stench of urine hallway to hallway, debris from doorway to doorway and the ignorance that surrounds me from day to day. I don’t know what I would do without my attendance at West Side High. You wouldn’t be able to comprehend the reasons why I strive to do so well in school. Yup, you guessed it right, to get out of here, with this smile I wish you all could see on my face.
School is my escape from all the madness my hood has to offer. I don’t know what I would do without Ms.Vee. She is my guidance counselor. I am so grateful to have her in my life. Every leadership program, college prep course, and my attendance to classes abroad,she selected me. She knew my mom wouldn't be able to afford the activities so she took it upon herself to foot the bill. I enjoyed every experience and I learned an awful lot. I often wondered how Ms.Vee could seem to care more about me than my very own, biological mother. I try not to over analyze it, so I cover it up by burying myself into my school work. I think of it as another blessing and for every door shut the more doors are going to open up for me. My experiences have really placed my mental state at a whole other level. My diversity sets me free of this place so I am confident about getting out and not having to worry about being subjected to this bull right here in good old West Side Springs.
My innovative thoughts and visions keep my journal filled to capacity. The ink on these pages range from mental and physical abuse, death, suicide, discrimination, to dreams, goals, and all my plans for college. I always put forth my best effort every day to separate the good from the bad. It’s challenging under my circumstances however I am motivated in the best way. I refuse to let anyone or anything compromise my hopes and daydreams. Naw, I couldn’t see that happening. I haven’t put forth all this determination to turn back now.
It would be an honor to say that my parents inspire me, but they don’t. I have always been an avid reader of Maya Angelou’s poetry, a true Tyler Perry fan, and every year in elementary school I would do my book reports on Oprah Winfrey. Once doing my research on them, I found a common denominator in each success. Like me, they all have faced some form of adversity at many points in their lives. It gave me the feeling that the sky is definitely the limit. To think, I can be on the very same celebrity list sends chills running through my body. What are your thoughts? Do you think I will be able to manage weathering the storms of West Side Springs? Will I eventually fall victim to the weakness and negativity that lie between these concrete walls? Only time will tell in this building I dwell.
I have to be honest with you about something. Morning in to evening out my feet hit these cold floors to face the trials and tribulations of a true reality. I am still here in West Side Springs until I receive that acceptance letter. So with that being said there is more work for me to do and more examples I have to set. If I can get at least one person around here to consider making a change in their life I would be satisfied. Let’s take a look into my life, through my eyes and understand the real motive for me sharing my existence with you.
My name is Paris Jensen, I am 17 years old and I’m a senior at West Side High School. I live with my mother, my brother, and two sisters. My siblings are all younger than me. We live in the smallest two bedroom apartment so you already know what that means; yes, I sleep on the couch. You think my mother would put in an application for a larger apartment, yeah right that was the least of her priorities. I guess the only way to understand where I am coming from is to live it. My mother doesn’t see me, it’s like I am invisible, well at least she pretends not to. She says I look too much like my daddy, so it’s hard for her to look at me. I will never understand her logic so from time to time I find myself staring at my reflection in the mirror and recognize all that I do see. When I have moments like this, I turn to my journal to proclaim any mixed emotions on none other than a refreshing blank piece of paper. This is the best way to express myself without resorting to violence, abuse, or addiction. I encourage everyone to at least try it. Poetry is one my all-time favorites to write:
Who is this girl I see looking back at me? Is it safe to say that this girl is she? A very unfamiliar face my eyes can see. I am not sure that this girl even looks like me. A tear rolling down her face; is she really crying? She looks back at me, her soul feels like dying. Devastated and sometimes depressed; is it her mom’s drug habit that has her so stressed? She’s top of her class, her academics always up to par. It’s that girl from upstairs dreaming to be a star. As she pulls her tresses back, away from her face, her reality hits like a nascar race. She’s trying to focus in on who can it be. This reflection from the mirror is staring back at me. Wait just a minute its plain to see; that confident and witty mirror image is me. To all the young ladies with a story to tell; it’s nice to meet you, my name is Janelle.
I am signing off on this journal entry for the day; as I get back to my life to reveal my stay.
My father walked out on my mother and me when I was only four years old. I never knew the reasons for his departure and it’s obvious he never took the time to explain it either. Their arguing and fighting may have had something to do with it but I couldn’t understand what it had to do with me. I was still his child and what did I do to deserve being abandoned? Was I not good enough for an explanation? All I had was memories of what little time we shared together. I remember he would take me to the park every day and we had our daily stroll to the corner store for my favorite corn chips in the blue bag. Ever since then, I was left with unanswered questions and a mom who completely shut me out.
When I hear and see the number six I have horrific flashbacks of my 6th birthday. My mom started experimenting with drugs and alcohol so instead of celebrating my birthday with family, friends, and birthday cake; she tried to trade me for a hit of the pipe. Yes, the infamous crack cocaine. Luckily my uncle was walking on the same block that day. He snatched me up in his arm and dragged my mother with the other. I never heard my uncle use so much profanity towards my mother in my life time. It didn’t bother me not one bit cause he saved me from an unpredictable situation. I never had a chance to thank him, thanks uncle.
As for my brother and sisters I had no clue as to who their fathers were. I never recall anyone coming to see them or pick them up to escape this dreadful place. I am all they really have. I would include mom however she is too caught up in her own life to give exclusive attention to them. She has some nerve pushing her responsibility off on me, when she rarely even acknowledges me. It’s all good though grandma always told me, “Baby what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”. I believe in her.
I live a pretty rough life; however I don’t let it get in the way of school. I’m a straight A student, the student body president, I’m at the top 5 % of my class, and my chances of getting a full ride to a 4 year college is looking brighter than ever.
Seven a.m. comes so early in the morning when you are up all night with a bedwetting, two year old, little brother. The music from my alarm clock bounced off the living room wall into my ear. I hit the snooze button so many times my finger began to ache. I finally woke up when the tunes from my favorite song hit the air waves. I stood up from the couch and stretched my cramped body. I grabbed some clothes from my sibling’s room and made way to the bathroom. I am dressed and ready to enter into a whole other world at school. I wish I had a nutritious breakfast to sit down to but that was not the norm for any kids around this place. All we have is that nasty taste of the cheapest toothpaste on our breath.
“Mama, I’m leaving” I stated as I walk out the door to go to school.
“Mhm. she replied. She didn’t look up once at the door to see what I looked like. She was so engulfed in her glass pipe I assumed nothing else mattered. My mother was a junkie. She slept with all kinds of men for money and drugs. I hate it.I found out from a nosey neighbor on an early morning elevator ride that men would be in and out of the house all day until I arrived home from school. She talked about my mother to another lady as if I wasn’t there. She also mentioned my father was a big time hustler and was much respected when he was around. I couldn’t imagine. I don’t even know if I would be able to recognize him if he walked up on me right this very moment. As for my mom, I wouldn’t be the one she changed her ways for even if I tried. She wouldn’t listen; it would be like speaking upon deaf ears.
I usually take the bus to school however walking to school with my home girl Tracey is refreshing. Tracey lives right next door from us, she is practically like family. We’ve been best friends since the day I moved into this hood. You thought my story was jaw dropping, her scenario is appalling. Tracey’s issues are very extensive. Her mother’s husband is abusive and she doesn’t seem to think anything of it, her brother is dead, and the women in her family struggle with self-esteem issues. I remember when Tracey’s mom was beaten so bad, that she was in the intensive care unit at Wilton Orchard Hospital for a month. I took the bus on a visit to see her and I could barely identify who she was. Tracey tried to convince her mom to contact the authorities but she was scared of the ramifications from Mike. I take it he is a force to be reckoned with.
Tracey had a younger brother named Jordan. Mike, her step-dad, punched him so hard in the face for crying that he died from head trauma. That night was too disturbing. Tracey was pounding at our apartment door crying hysterically. I wasn’t able to make out a word she was saying. I invited her to a seat on the couch/my bed, poured her a cold glass of water and advised her to calm down to reiterate the series of events. I was in disbelief of what I heard. A tear strolled down my face as I quickly wiped it off. Jordan was pronounced dead on arrival at the very same hospital where his mother was close to seeing her death. Tracey said when the cops showed up; her mom claimed that Jordan fell down the stairs. No charges were ever filed in that case either.
“Hey Paris” Tracey said.
“Hey Trace” I replied with a smile. She had a black and blue bruise around her neck, she seen me looking so she hurried to cover it up with the collar of her polo replica shirt.
“Mike always wants to play wrestling with me when I don’t do what he asks”. I felt sorry for her because she was now making up excuses for Mike too. I drifted off into deep thought about my situation and how bad it is, when really my best friend’s life was a whole lot more tragic. I had no words to make her feel better so I just gave her a hug and reassured her everything would be ok. My daydream was interrupted by Tracey calling my name.
“Paris……..Paris did you hear what I said”. I apologized and asked her to repeat herself.
“I know I can always count on you to understand and make me feel better about myself. I love you so much Paris” she said. Her sincerity made me want to burst into tears but I knew I had to stay strong for her. How could Tracey’s mom just ignore all that was happening? I stopped trying to grasp the thoughts of her world as we reached the school doors to hear the sound of the bell.
At school, I’m the shy, soft spoken girl. I don’t say much to anyone and no one says anything to me. Everyone knows me as “the smart quiet girl”. Once in a while some kid will ask me to do their homework but I always tell them no and the insults follow shortly after. I’m so over it though. I believe that everyone is given a gift with opportunities in life; it’s just that some people choose not to implement them.
“Good morning Paris, I know you’re ready to ace this test today” said Mr. Howe. He’s my history teacher and my favorite teacher. He makes learning fun, while all of my other teachers bore me with their long, drawn out lectures. Mr. Howe takes his job very seriously. He offers before and after school help every other day. I often wondered if Mr. Howe was a father and if he would abandon his kid as my dad did.
“Paris, I say again, you ready to ace this test today?” “Yes sir, I’ve been studying since we started the unit” I replied. He smiled as I made my way to my seat in the front of the room.
I was the first one finished with my test so I decided to read up on some potential colleges that I would like to attend. The colleges I am interested in going to are Duke and Yale. Duke is my dream school, but you always have to have a plan B. I know I want to be a surgeon, it was always been my desire to help others. When I was younger, my grandmother bought me a doctor’s kit for kids, and ever since then I aspired to be a physician. School went by exceptionally fast, especially for it only being Monday. When I walked out the front door to the school, I saw Tracey standing at our usual “meet up” spot. She looked so restless and fatigued. My conscious chimed in; I would assume so, she is living in a terror zone.
“What’s up Trace?” I asked. I hate to see her in such a predicament. There isn’t anything I can do about it except encourage her and give her my support.
“Well, I’m border line failing my English class, barely passing my history class, my mom’s husband thinks that he is Mike Tyson and I’m his opponent. The icing on the cake is my little brother is dead. That’s what’s up Paris.” she said sobbing while tears were dropping like flies from her face onto her bright red shirt. I squeezed her tight and embraced her. I kept holding it all in, telling myself not to cry however I couldn’t help it. Seeing my best friend break down like this made me nauseous. We stood in front of the school and wept together.
The walk home was somber yet silent despite all the commotion going on around us. Not even the fiends could grab our attention while begging for a few dollars to get high. It was almost as if Tracey and I were in our own worlds. I periodically looked to my left at her to make sure she was keeping up the pace. It’s a shame that I knew momma was hardly concerned why I would be late coming home today. I had a chance to put a few more things into perspective and I couldn’t wait to get home to stop my hunger pains.
Once I finally arrived home, I discovered my mom wasn’t there and she left my siblings in the house by themselves. I don’t understand my mother. Why would you leave a 2, 3, and 4 year old in the house without adult supervision?
“Hey y’all, where’s mama?” I asked the four year old, Peyton.
“I don’t know, she told me she would be right back. That was kind of a long time ago though” she said. I started to shake my head. Lord only knows where my mother was and when she was coming back.
“Did you three eat?” I asked.
“Yeah, mama fed us before she left” she replied. Peyton looked exactly like mommy. I wonder what mom’s relationship with Peyton’s dad was. She never spoke any words about him or Shawn and Samara’s father. Why it was that mom could look at Peyton and not me? My dad must have really put a hurting on her feelings. Shawn and Samara didn’t resemble any of us. I was always inquisitive about the identity of their father however I wouldn’t dare ask my mom. Shawn, Samara and Peyton didn’t have a clue as to the world they were really living in. Well not yet to say the least.
The school lunch was a disaster so I decided to raid the fridge because peanut butter and jelly didn’t sound like an appetizing meal. There was nothing here to eat, so I went to the pantry and cooked some Chinese beef noodles that were in a red pack. It wasn’t the best 30 cents meal however it would stop my stomach from erupting like a volcano.
“I hate living this way” I said to myself as I turned on the stove.
I cooked my “so called” meal and started doing my homework. My math teacher gave us 20 problems to do, and I already did half of them during class. I finished my homework in less than 10 minutes.
Around 9:30, I put my brother and sisters to bed and then I jumped in the shower. The 15 minutes I was in the shower I envisioned a glimpse of my future. I know this right here is only temporary and it is not the life I plan to live. I have a brother and two sisters to set an example for since my mother fails to do what parents are expected. I don’t know why my mother or any mother would decide to have 3 children if they knew they weren’t going to do anything constructive with their lives.
After I dried off, put my pajamas on, and got comfortable, the doorbell rang.
“Who could this be that at this time of night?” I said out loud to myself. I looked through the peephole and there was a man standing in front of my door with a white V-neck on. What could he possibly want? I’ve never seen him before. He rang the doorbell again and knocked on the door. Before I opened it I looked through the peephole and said “who are you?” He replied, “I am here to see Paris Jensen.” “Is she home?” As he talked I kept staring in the peephole waiting for this man to announce himself.
“Are you Paris Jensen?” he asked. Now that I can see him clearly, this man looked so familiar. I couldn’t quite put my finger on who he was. I was contemplating on whether or not I should tell him that I’m the person he’s looking for. I just decided to tell him. “Yes, I am Paris and who are you for the second time.” He took a few steps forward and answered, “I am your father.” I stood on the other side of the door thinking what if this man is lying just for me to open the door? Could he be that man my mother was trying to exchange me for drugs with? I took a deep breath and asked, “How am I supposed to know who you are?” He replied, “We used to take walks to the corner store every day for your favorite corn chips in the blue bag.” Yes, this was definitely the sperm donor who abandoned me but I guess I can give him some credit for remembering what I thought about most. I opened the door and stood there.
“Yes, I am Paris why?” A smile came across his face. I thought to myself, that smile looks familiar. What does he want from me this particular time of the night?
“Well, I know it’s been some time ago since we last seen each other but I’m your father” he said. He looked relieved after he said those few words to me. I thought whopty doo so now what! I haven’t seen my dad in 13 years. The last words he said to me before tonight was, “Even when I’m gone, you’ll always be in my heart”.
“Wow, after 13 years of being M.I.A. on my mother and me, you want to show up tonight?” I said with an attitude. He was the reason my mother never looked at me, the reason why my mother barely said anything to me.
“Please, let me come in and talk to you” he replied. By the look on his face I could tell he was hurting on the inside, but his hurt couldn’t ever match mine. I felt no sympathy for the man that stood before me, but I needed a logical explanation on why he missed all of my birthdays, every first day of school, and other special events that took place in my life.
“Sure, come on in” I said, leading him into the living room, which was also my room. I knew if my mom would catch this man in her house, she’ll have a nervous breakdown. At this point I didn’t have a single care in the world. He sat on the couch that was across from the one I slept on. “Well? Are you just going to sit there? I didn’t invite you in so we could stare at each other.” I stated. I didn’t want him to waste any more of my time; I had school in the morning.
“Hmm, you got that attitude just like your mother. I didn’t come here to do that; I came here to make up for some lost time. I wanted to see how much my little girl has grown” he said. I scoffed and said “Excuse me? You think you can fit 13 years of not being in my life into one night? I don’t think so.” He looked down at the floor. I can’t believe this man thinks he can just jump back into my life and everything will be all good. What does he think this is? A movie?
“I’m so sorry Paris.” he said with his head buried into the palms of his hands.
“Why did you leave? Why weren’t you around to be the father you we’re supposed to be? Why did you have to be so typical? Do you know what you put me through because of your absence? My mother doesn’t say any more than 3 to 4 words to me. Shoot, I’m lucky even if she says 3 words. She says I look too much like you. I don’t have a relationship with her because of you, so thanks a lot!” I said between sobs. All of my frustrations we’re coming out and I couldn’t stop them. I hated this man, but loved him somewhere deep down because the fact remained that he was my father.
“I was young, dumb, and scared. I shouldn’t have walked out on you and your mother. What’s done is done; I can’t change the past. I want to be a part of your life Paris from this day forward.” he said. That sounds good and it would be nice to have a father figure in my life, but what if he decided to leave again?
“I don’t know. The proof is in the doing, not the saying. Anybody can tell me they want to be a part of my life. Take the extra mile and show me, that’s if you’re not scared.” He stared at me for a couple of minutes and then said “Well, here’s my number. Call when you want to talk”. He handed me a piece of paper. I took it and said “Yeah, sure”. He took one last look at me and walked out the door.
I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock to find my mom still was not at home. I left a note on the table to let her know where the kids would be if she made it home before me. I took the kids a few doors down to sit with the neighbor until I returned home from school.
On my way to school this morning, I didn’t see Tracey. I was really worried about her. As soon as school was over I went to her house instead of going to my own. I knocked on the door four times, no answer. I knew Tracey was home because she had no other place to go. I turned the knob to discover that the door was unlocked. I walked inside and started calling Tracey’s name. “Trace? Are you here?” No one replied. I walked upstairs toward her bedroom. “Trace? Tracey. Are you up here?” I opened her bedroom door and seen Tracey sitting on her bed with a gun to her head. She looked up at me. Her face was covered with bruises, her eyes were puffy and red, and her lip was busted.
“I can’t do this anymore Paris. I don’t want to live anymore. If I’m dead, he can’t hurt me anymore” she said between sobs. I ran over to her, sat on the bed and put my arm around her shoulder.
“Tracey, you can’t kill yourself because of your mom’s husband. You have a lot to live for. We graduate in a little less than 4 weeks. You were accepted into Bottomwood Technical on a full scholarship. Why would you want to end your life like this? If you don’t want to live for you, then at least live for Jordan” I said to her. I reached for the gun, she clinched it tighter and yelled out “Paris! I can’t, this is it!”.
“Tracey! You need to take a look at the bigger picture here. Stop always thinking about yourself! Do you see your mother contemplating suicide? She gets physically, mentally, and emotionally abused more than you do!” my emotions we’re overwhelming me, but I knew I had to stay strong for her once again. “TRACEY, give me the gun so we can make some sense of this mess.” She was crying uncontrollably as we tussled over the gun, POP…..POP, two shots rang out and all I could hear is Tracey’s voice say “Paris, you don’t understand!” as she sobbed. Everything was black until I opened my eyes to realize that blood was on my hands, clothes, and sneakers. I looked around for Tracey and she was on the floor lying in a pool of blood. I immediately dialed 911 from their house phone and waited by her side until the authorities showed up. Tracey kept trying to apologize. I told her to keep still and don’t do any talking. The ambulance finally arrived to take her to the same hospital her brother died in and the one her mother spent a lot of time recouping in. I guess the police had no care about what happened because they never questioned me. I left Tracey’s mom a message as to her whereabouts and I went home to drop my belongings off. Mama was in the kitchen doing her usual, getting high. The kids were napping. I told her Tracey was shot and I was going to the hospital. She didn’t move or say a word; it was like I had spoken to the walls. I rushed out the door to catch the next bus.
After what seemed like the longest bus ride ever, I hoped Tracey was ok. I knew where I was as soon as I walked through the doors, the smell told it all. I asked the woman at the desk was Tracey still in the E.R. or was she in a private room by now. The woman replied, “She just finished up in O.R. and is being taken to her room as we speak. I took the pass and headed for the elevator. As I approached the room door I heard Tracey crying. I walked in and she looked up at me and said, “Jordan is dead, Paris.”
“I wanted to be with him. I’ve been mourning his death long enough. It makes me sick because my mom acts like he never was born. She took all of his pictures down, threw away all of his clothes, shoes, and toys. I attempted to end my life so my brother wouldn’t be alone and so I don’t have to live here in fear anymore” she cried.
“Look, killing yourself is the cowardly thing to do. Killing yourself means Mike won. You are a very smart girl with a lot of potential, why would you make such a selfish decision? I love you so much Trace and I don’t want to visit you at your grave any time soon. She was crying harder than ever. I took her hand and said, “I promise, everything will be okay Trace”. Before I left I spoke to the doctor and he assured me Tracey was going to be fine, she was shot in the arm. With the fighting we did over the gun I was glad to hear she would be ok. I kissed Tracey and told her I would see her later.
I got off the bus and before going inside, I checked the mail. There was an envelope with my name on it and it was from Duke University. My heart dropped. One of the colleges of my dreams is sending me mail. I went inside of my house and sat on the couch. No one was home, my mom and my siblings probably went to the grocery store. Today was the 15th of June and that was when the food stamps came out. I opened the letter and it read:
Congratulations on your acceptance to Duke University.
You are now challenged with making the very important
decision of selecting which college or university you
are going to attend. We know that this can often be
an extremely difficult decision for you.
We, at Duke, recognize the importance
of your decision and the commitment it entails to learn
and develop by means of association with an outstanding
center of learning. As awesome as it may sound, this
decision may very well have an impact on the quality of
your life. I believe that Duke offers not only an
a superb educational experience, but also promotes
individual growth and development.
We encourage you to visit our campus if you can. If you
have not made a commitment as to where you will attend
college next fall, I hope you will carefully evaluate
the information contained in this letter and seriously
consider our university.
My very best wishes to you for a successful collegiate
experience, and I sincerely hope you will be joining us
here at Duke in the fall.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I read it over and over to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating or going crazy. My first thought was to call Trace and that’s what I did.
“Trace, you will never believe what happened!” I practically yelled in the phone.
“What happened?” she responded.
“Duke sent me a letter and they are giving me a full ride!” I said. I calmed down a little, but I was still very excited.
“Oh my gosh! Good for you girl. I’m so happy that you are finally getting out of this place” Tracey said.
“Never to return” I responded.
After I got off the phone, my mom walked in the door with my siblings. She had grocery bags in one hand and my smaller sister in the other.
“Ma, I have some good news” I said as I walked over to her and took my sister out of her arms.
“Oh really? What?” she responded.
“I got a letter from Duke today and they’re giving me a full ride to their university” I said. My mom stared at me. This is the first time in a long time she looked at me like this.
“Are you serious? My first born is going to college? The first in our family?” my mom said with tears in her eyes.
“Yes ma. I’m going to college. Oh, and my graduation is in less than 4 weeks” I responded.
“Oh. I am so proud of you. I’m sorry that I haven’t been the best mother to you. It’s just that you look so much like your dead beat daddy, every time I look at you, I see his face” she said. I thought I looked nothing like my dad. The only way I recognized him was by his smile because he used to smile at me like that.
“I know ma, but from now on we need to start acting like mother and daughter. Despite my father’s decisions” I said. She held out her arms and walked closer to me. I walked into her arms and gave her the biggest hug I have ever given her in my life time.
“I promise to do better Paris. From now on it’s going to be you and me.” She looked at me and smiled, and then she went in the kitchen to put the groceries away.
I walked to where I laid my dad’s number at. I picked it up, looked at it, and tucked it away in my journal. I said to myself “You weren’t here then, and I don’t want you here now. I was fine before you so why should it be any different since you showed up? It won’t be different. Honestly, I don’t want you here. I’m not going to call to let you know either, you’ll figure it out”.
So you see, I’m not the typical girl from the hood. I’m one of the few that stands out. I’m the fruit loop in the world full of cheerios. I graduated the top of my class and also delivered a speech. Tracey was released from the hospital, got her grades up and graduated also. Her mother didn’t even show up, so my mother and siblings, as well as I were her cheer leaders. She got a summer job at a store in the mall as a sales clerk to keep her occupied and out of the house. She’s counting down the days until she goes to technical school.
I hadn't seen my father since the day he showed up at my doorstep and I didn't call him either, however he did show up to my graduation. He stood near the exit gate with red roses in one hand and a card in another.
“What made you come to my graduation?” I asked him.
“You said the proof is in the doing. I came here to show you that I really want to be in your life and I will do my very best to play an active father role.” he said sincerely. “I also came here to tell you the truth about me and why I stayed out of your life.” “Ok, so let’s hear it.” I replied. “Paris, when I met your mother she was a hard working woman who lived in the suburbs. She owned her own home and was doing very well for herself. Once she met me, the charming hustler, so to speak, her world began to change.” So my life didn’t have to be what it was but he changed that, is what I was thinking as he was talking. “She had access to lots of drugs and money. She started using and lost everything”, he added. “She moved to West Side Springs because that is where I handled much of my business.” “When I told her enough was enough and I wasn’t going to sit back and watch her destroy her life she decided she would do what she had to in order to get what she wanted.” As much as I wanted to believe him, I just couldn’t. I wasn’t going to change my mind about how I felt about my father even though what he was saying made some sense. “Paris, I know this isn’t the right time or place but…..” I interrupted him to say,
“Thank you for the roses, they are beautiful. I’m not trying to be mean or anything, however I think it’s best if we just stay out of each other’s lives. I will be fine without you. No matter what, I’ll always be your daughter and you’ll be my father. I love you unconditionally, but it’s best if we stay apart. My mother is all the father I need.” I told him.
“I understand and I can’t even be upset with you. I love you always Paris” he said. With that, he went to his car as I walked to my mama’s friend’s car. As I got in the backseat, I saw a crack pipe half-way under my Mom's seat. Was she using again? Sh promised she would not. On the ride home I realized that there was more to my life than I knew. I had so many questions for both my parents. How would my unknown childhood play out in my adult life? How much of the truth was my father telling? Why did my mother fail to fill me in on what happened? Yes, I need to address all of this but I didn’t want it to throw off my focus with college. I will get to the bottom of this real soon.
After my graduation, I haven't seen or heard from my father. I’m happy he respected my wishes. Over the summer, I took on an internship at Wilton Orchard Hospital. Even though my life had a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle I still improved since I graduated and I loved it. I start school in the fall, and I was anticipating it. You thought this was the end of my story because I was going to college, but this is only the beginning of being “UNCLASSIFIED”.