Marry that boy (19)
When I jumped out of my mother’s moving truck, rolled across the ground, and refused to lie in court, well, that was a pivotal moment. At that moment, I lost everything but my dignity. It was the first real decision I had to make in my life, and it cost me, personally, so much, but it was the right choice to make. There’s no way I could be complicit in putting an innocent person in jail.
Can you remember the first decision you had to make like this in your life? One that would, later on, define you? One that spoke to your morality or your “code” of who you would become or already were? Sometimes it is hard to find that moment. I had to sit here and write story after story until it appeared to me that this was the moment where I had to take a real stand for something I believed in. You may have to sit down and write story after story until you find the exact and precise spot in your life. It may have been early and may have been later in life, but we all have those significant forks in the road where everything changes after picking a direction we plan to take.
I didn’t know what I was risking when I made this choice. All I knew was, filled with fear, I had to run and run and run. I ran until the fear died down inside of me, and I reached out for help. My mother wanted me to sin. This same mother who sent me to church and who tried on religions like the monthly fashion wanted me to put my hand on a bible and swear to tell the truth, but then to lie. That lie had real consequences. It wasn’t like stealing a cookie from the cookie jar and feigning innocence. No, this was horrible.
What else did she tell me that wasn’t true? What about my father? What about my sister’s father? What about my step-father Robert?
My mother enrolled in school full time at NAU and picked up several jobs. She already had an MFA, so she was heading back to school to get another degree. I never understood why, but I think she had something to prove. She wanted a degree in the sciences, and my best guess was that she wanted to one-up my step-father, a biologist. So, she pursued genetics and micro-biology.
Having several jobs and being in school full time meant that she wasn’t home much, and the food in the fridge was there just about as much as she was.
My first day of school was exciting. In my previous school, we were allowed to wear hats, so I figured this new school was the same. I hadn’t watched the movie Clockwork Orange, but I had seen the cover of the VHS, and I liked the way they dressed, so I went to school the first day in my bowler cap, a white button-down shirt, black pants, and sneakers.
During the first hour of school, we had a school-wide assembly where they welcomed us on our first day, and about halfway through the announcements, the principal looked up, looked directly at me, and said, “Oh, and hats of any kind aren’t allowed here.”
I was so embarrassed. I took my hat off and put it on my knee, and smiled at everyone around me. I tried to play it cool.
Unlike on the reservation where I went to the gifted building a few times a week and had a homeroom to return to, I was instead a full-time part of a gifted group with break-out sessions for other academic studies. The school placed us all in our hallway with segregated lockers. I decorated my locker with my favorite skateboarders, just like I did in Fort Defiance. Peanut Brown, Chris Miller, and Tony Hawk. They were all reminders every day that once I got out of school, I was free to skate until it was night time. Freedom awaited me with that final bell of the day.
Oh, I also was asked out by a boy on my first day of school. That had never happened before. For once, a guy noticed me! Not just any guy, but a charming guy, and he happened to be the tallest guy in the school. Something I had started to learn that I liked - tallness. I was leaving class and heading to another when he walked up to me and said, “Hey, I’m Derek. Will you be my girlfriend”? I didn’t hesitate and said yes. What did that mean? I had no idea, but he chose me, and that’s all that mattered. Also, how cool is the name Derek?
My mother asked me how my first week of school was, and I told her about the hat and Derek. She asked me what his last name was, and I didn’t know why that was important, but she insisted on knowing. I told her I’d find out because I didn’t know. A few days later, I mentioned to her that his last name was kinda famous. She stopped everything she was doing and came over and sat in front of me.
“You can marry him if you want to. If he asks you, you marry that boy”.
Marriage? We hadn’t held hands. We had not talked since he asked me out. We danced around each other in class and saw each other and smiled in the hallway, but I still didn’t even know what it meant to be his girlfriend. I didn’t know anything about him.
I figured out later in the year that the name Hall was prestigious in Flagstaff. He was from a family that did something notable, and that alone was good enough for my mother. Would he treat me right? Would he be nice to me? Did we love each other? Didn’t matter. Also, she wasn’t joking. Before you go and think it was a joke, I assure you it was not a joke.
Well, Derek broke up with me a few weeks later. Before we broke up, the only exchange we had was him asking me out, so how the break up happened was pretty funny. I was walking down the hallway, and he was in a chair talking to another guy.
“Oh, hi, Darek!!”
“Yeah, so this whole girlfriend thing isn’t working out with me. So, let's break up.”
“Oh yeah, sure, Darek.”
I told my mother that Darek dumped me, and she then gave me pointer after pointer of winning him back. It all sounded so gross, so I didn’t do any of it. I decided to leave the whole thing with him a mystery. I decided I wanted, no, I needed a boy who would hold my hand. It was all I wanted.