Life in the Dumps
By Danielle, age 18, South Carolina
Turning 18 is like opening a door to a whole new dimension you've never heard of. It can either be the making or breaking of oneself. You think for years that when you turn eighteen you will receive an equality card, but really you are receiving a push into reality. Not only can you buy cigarettes and join the military, but now you are considered a legal adult. One minute you're a teenager and then all of a sudden you're an adult. It's an event that happens in the blink of an eye, but lasts the rest of your life. When I turned eighteen, I thought I was invincible.
On July 6, 2011, I began my journey to adulthood even though I was only a couple months shy of being eighteen. I was led to Marion, Indiana with my lovely fiancé. If only I had known what I was getting into, then maybe I wouldn't have been as disappointed as I was. Marion would be that place on the map where you got lost and stopped to ask directions. The people were friendly, but the neighborhoods didn't look half as good on my side of the ghetto. When I say ghetto, I mean flat out ghetto! In South Carolina, I lived out in the country where it was peaceful and no other place could compare. This town was the complete opposite of what I considered decent and livable. Even though I'm back in South Carolina now, I can still see the house like it was the first time. The white paint was stripped off the house in most places, and where it wasn't it was stained with only God knows what. A wheelchair ramp blocked the front stairs because we lived with a guy who has cerebral palsy. Many assorted fountain drink cups, chip bags, and ripped open bags of trash covered the front and side yards. You always knew when this house was close because as soon as you turned onto the street you could smell its broken sewer line. All I could think to myself was, "How am I supposed to survive?"
Moving to a new place always means meeting new people. In this house, ten people lived and infested the house. Have you ever walked into a place and just thought how disgusting it was? It looked like these people hadn't cleaned the house in years. Trash was thrown into corners and scattered all over the kitchen floor. The dishes overflowed onto both counters, the stove, and even the floor. The plates had piles of food still on them with old food floating in grey dishwater. Anytime you moved anything, roaches would scatter everywhere. The rooms were piled with dirty clothes, trash, and torn up carpets. Every room was just as bad as the others. My fiancé and I took the front room because it was farthest away from the roach infested kitchen. Honestly, I was afraid to set any of my stuff down for fear that something might crawl inside it. But instead of complaining I began to make a list of what all I'd need to make this house livable. I bought all the cleaning supplies you could think of, along with gloves to keep the nastiness off. It took a couple weeks, but finally we had all the walls bleached, the furniture cleaned, the floors cleaned, all the laundry done, and the house smelling decent. Of course, now you had to make everyone else keep the house this way. My question was, "How do you make adults stop acting like children so they can raise theirs and make a good home for them?"
I decided to have a talk with the landlord, also my fiancé's step-brother. I told him my concerns and he said he would talk to everyone, but that talk never did happen, or at least I couldn't tell if it did. Within days the house was just as it was before. I couldn't understand how people could live there and not be ashamed when people walked in the door. The only room that ever remained clean was my room. Heck, I couldn't even wash and dry my clothes without some of them being stolen or people just going through my drawers. I lived in a house full of stealers, liars, and trash. I often became discouraged about my living situation.
The only way I remained sane was my daily doses of marijuana. Yes, I had smoked it before, but not like now. Being high was the only way for me to remain cool and be able to look at these people and not rip their heads off. I would buy dime after dime after dime until I just couldn't think straight anymore. My mind was being corrupted and yet I didn't care as long as I didn't have to think about where I was. Along with marijuana, I did my share of drinking. I knew it was against the law but I could have cared less. I needed that escape from reality for just those hours. I would drink until I couldn't remember the night and wake up and start again. I was spiraling out of control. I had dropped out of school because I was an adult and I could make my own decisions. Whether they were right or wrong I didn't care. I became distracted and out of reach from those who loved me. I was like this for almost five months until I finally realized I couldn't live this way anymore. I knew how smart I was and how stupid I was acting. So, on November 22nd, 2011, I journeyed back home to South Carolina.
Now that I'm back and can see how wrong I was, I've learned a few things about growing up. First, no one really wants to grow up, whether you believe it or not. Second, no one is going to help you when it's time to be an adult. Third, don't let reality make you feel so low. Fourth, you can never trust anyone but yourself. And finally, don't let life play you; rather, you play the game of life. Growing up too fast caused me to crash and burn, but being back at home I realized I haven't hit rock bottom. I'm now enrolled back in school starting in January, I live in a good home, and I am drug free, except for cigarettes. I no longer fear whether I will have a good life or if I will eat every day. I know life is what I make it, and now, I am making it right.