|12th grade me.|
Photo by Shakanna Inman
I remember that day like it happened last week. The rain is falling, and my daddy, his long legs stretched out, is walking away from our apartment. His long hair has been cut short so it no longer fits into a ponytail like he normally wears, and his once dark skin has long been bleached white from drugs. My mother, short and stalky, an ape compared to my antelope father, is standing outside the door, rain falling down her face, yelling at him. Daddy won't take Russell to the park and he wants to go. I can go, but Russell can't. Daddy won't take Russell for some reason, and Russell is running behind me and daddy crying. I don't care because he is my daddy, and Russell can't have him. Then my mom says the words that have come to haunt me every day for the rest of my life. "If Russell can't go, then leave Alexis here." My father, tired of the fight, puts me down and walks me back to my mother, the ape. With that, my father, his long graceful legs stretched out, lopes away. Without me. This is the last memory I have of my father. Flash forward ten years. In my mind, it happened the next day. I'm sitting in an office relating my life story to a police officer who is hurriedly taking notes, the principal who is working to keep up a manly facade, my counselor, who started crying twenty minutes ago, and my grandmother, who I have come to rely on most in my life. I sit in a tiny back office and tell them everything I have experienced, from being hit by my mother all the way to sharing a tiny room with three brothers and a dog, and having lice that never went away. The police tell me that I never have to go back to my mother again, and I tell there where all of her drugs are stashed. I finish up my school day and go home, to hear that my mother and her newest leech have been arrested. This is the last memory I have of the ape. In my mind, however, I have always been an orphan, and this has shaped me into who I am today.
Growing up an orphan has allowed me to become very self-reliant. Whenever I think of myself as self-reliant I think of Shirley Temple saying "I'm very self-reliant, my mother always told me to be that way." Except it wasn't my mother who always told me to strive for independence, it was my grandmother. And because of my self-reliance I have succeeded in life. I'm graduating from high school, something that not many members of my family can brag about, and I'm not pregnant, which is more than my mother could say at my age. I have never felt worse than the moments in life when I forever lost my mother and father and I know that if I go about procreating I will ruin life for some other helpless soul. I am determined to succeed in life and be everything that my mother and father never were.
On May 12, 2011 I am a typical teenage girl sitting in English class listening to music and texting. No I'm not supposed to be texting, but a crucial high school survival skill is learning how to text on the sly. I have become a functioning member of society, and I am driven to succeed in life. I'm so driven to succeed that I never stop going. I want to do everything, and excel in it. Until I was thirteen, I was never allowed to do anything, and once I got the chance, I kicked down the door to freedom and strutted through the empty frame. The world knew that I arrived. I have many insecurities, and I believe that these things come from my age. Every day I repeat the mantra of Captain Up from Starship, "When I look into your eyes, in the mirror, I get a pleasant feeling. You're not a failure, overall. You can laugh at yourself." I have been shaped by my past experiences, and I know that because of my drive to succeed and my self-reliance I can go anywhere I want to go in life.
Now that I am about to graduate everyone expects me to look into the future and magically decide where I'm going to go in life. The answer I really want to give all the scholarship and college people is "hell if I know!" I know I want to go to Whitworth and get my teaching certificate. I know that I want to be a theatre and English teacher, and I know that I'll eventually graduate from college. But that's about it. No Mr. Schneider, I cannot tell you where I'll be in ten years, I can't tell you where I'll be in five years. I just know that I'm going to college, and that's all that I want, is to go college, survive, and eventually get a doctorate.
Alexis Olmstead is a 20something blogger who struggles with the reality that she is in fact old enough to do everything except rent a car. She recently took her first big trip by herself and is now contemplating bigger and brighter things for her future. For more reminiscing, rants, and updates on her life, check back often.