Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Scholarship Essay

Here I sit now, in the present. I am looking down on my one year old son as he sleeps peacefully in my arms. I look down at his eyes, examining his eyelashes in wonder at how long they are. His little button nose and his rosy cheeks look so smooth and soft. His little ringlets, forming around the base of his perfect little head, fall across my arm. His little lips, so perfect and plump, remind me of a heart sitting on top of a smile. He is perfect in every way.
My heart is enlightened now, and it jumps inside my chest as my lungs fill up with air….I take a deep breath. The world is once again full of so many possibilities. Those possibilities lie within my precious son, and as his mother I am obliged create a world for him where anything is possible. He has once again renewed my lust for life, and my quest to live the best life that I can. My ultimate goal is to give this precious angel I have been blessed with a wonderful life.
My mind shudders as it flashes back to the past. It seems like so many years ago sometimes, and then other times those images are as sharp as if they were still right in front of me. My mind and body were bruised and battered in so many ways, and I was wandering lost along this continuum that I called life. It has been a long and sometimes harrowing journey to get back to the light, but now I am exploding with flashes of blue and yellow.
August 28th, 2005. The skies have become haunting, a foreboding grey color with bits of light flashing through. The sun has just come up in the Quarter, and its light is an eerie white color. It seems bright, but yet at the same time it seems dark. I think I remember my mother saying this was the type of sky you see when the devil is beating his wife, almost like the sky when it is both sunshine and rain. The clouds are thick, and you cannot see the sky. The wind gusts from time to time, picking up pieces of trash and carrying them down Bourbon Street.
I am tired, but I do not want to go home. I am wasted, and I do not really have any idea what time it is. I worked at the club on Bourbon Street last night, slugging back about as many drinks as I served. The drugs were flowing freely as well, after all this was a hurricane party. After I left the club, I was wandering the Quarter in search of some dope. I could not very well be stuck inside for several days without my dope, facing withdrawal and this hurricane at the same time.
I am in no position to leave the city of New Orleans. I am a broke junky, who is crashing with friends because I do not really have a place of my own. For the past year, I have been living in various motels and crashing wherever I could. I am spending a hundred dollars a day on heroin just to keep myself high. I would need several hundred dollars of dope with me to go anywhere comfortably, and I do not have any. I am not taking off to some random place where I have no idea where to find any dope. Staying right here in this city and its dark alleys that I am familiar with gives me the best chance of avoiding this impending withdrawal. I am not going anywhere.
After work, I wandered the Quarter until well after ten in the morning. Stopping at all the usual bars, I was looking for anyone who could score. I saw people that I knew, and we talked only of the hurricane that is headed this way as we sipped our cocktails. Ecstasy and cocaine were practically being dropped onto the bar floors, but there was no heroin to be found. Defeated and already starting to feel sick, I headed back through the Treme to ride out the storm.
I was staying with a friend who lived on Esplanade Avenue, just past Claiborne where the I-10 crosses on the other side of the Treme neighborhood. As the alcohol and cocaine started to wear off, the absence of my beloved heroin had become quite apparent. My nose was running, and my stomach had started to churn as the fear of impending doom began to take over. I went straight to the bedroom, took a serious sedative and passed out.
I slept restlessly as the winds and rains howled outside, hearing all the madness outside swirling around and sometimes crashing into the window above my head. I remember when the power cut off because the window unit blasting freezing cold air into the tiny dark bedroom suddenly cut off. I remember thinking, “Uh-oh. It is really going to be hot now.” Alone, in the dark, absorbed by the storm going on in my mind and body I was hardly aware of the storm that raged on outside.
I finally came to after the storm was past, and the water was almost as high as it was going to get. Not out of the fog of withdrawal, and aching with the need, I stopped by the bathroom to clean myself up before heading out to check on the rest of my crew. I knew I would not be the only one suffering from this lack of opiates. I walked carefully up the steps, pained by the lack in my system. Emerging from the darkness of the basement floor, the sun became apparent as I climbed the steps to the third floor. Reaching the top, the sun shines so bright you do not even notice the power is out.
Walking out onto the balcony overlooking Esplanade, the sun is almost blinding. The skies are bright blue, and the weather is absolutely beautiful. Then I glance down from the sky, and gasp because everything is covered with water. There are rivers where the roads had once been. People were wading through up their chests. Eyes wide, I just stood there in disbelief.
It was thirteen days later that I finally climbed into a military vehicle and began my trek to get out of the city of New Orleans. Those thirteen days changed my life forever, and I have never been so profoundly affected by the things I witnessed. I was lucky to be alive, and I did not want to exist inside such a fog again. I realized how precious life really is, and that it can be lost at any moment. I had vowed to start anew, and to stop wasting my life away. We are only given one chance at this thing we call life.
Walking away from drugs and addiction is not as simple as just turning around and never looking back. It is a process of trial and error that is often riddled with relapse. After Hurricane Katrina, I went in and out of being clean. I would stay straight for a while, and then I would venture back to the drugs and alcohol. I would get clean again, and then eventually something would always lead me back to my addictions. I ended up in Williamsburg, Virginia drinking excessively.
I wake up one morning with no recollection of the night before. My head is killing me, but hangovers are nothing new to me at this point. My breath still tastes like last nights Irish Whiskey. As I open my eyes, I am become slowly aware of my surroundings. I realize that I am in a tiny cell with a metal toilet and sink. I am in jail, and I am not even sure what I may have done.
As it turns out, I have assaulted a cop in a drunken rage. No one is willing to pay my bail to get me out of this one, and I have no choice but to just do as I am told. My mind is reeling when I finally realize that I will not be out of jail in a few hours. I am not sure how long I might be here, but it will be at least a couple of weeks. My breath quickens in a panic over this situation.
I am finally thrown into a cell in the middle of the night after going through a series of checkpoints, rendering part of myself to the authorities at each checkpoint. One guard took my clothes, another forced me to wash my hair, and a third drew blood for some medical tests. I just want to lie down, and I am begging to go into the cell at this point. Lying on the top bunk in the dark, the sound of the door locking behind me sinks me heart.
The only window is a very narrow glass pane, and I cannot tell if the moon is out. It just looks pitch black out there. I have no idea if I am looking at the concrete parking lot, or if I am looking into the forest behind the jail. The only light in the room is a dim, yellow bulb behind a plastic shield inside the ceiling above the metal sink. My face is only about a foot from the ceiling. I lie on my back, looking up and looking back at the same time.
It seems as if I am peering at life through a rabbit hole. All around me is really dark and cold, and at the very top there is a tiny light shining. I am not sure what is up there, and I am sure there is nothing down here. I cannot get out of this tiny space if I want to. I cannot eat a snack if I want to. Someone else has to watch me use the bathroom. I am all alone with only a thin mattress, a rough blanket, and an orange jumpsuit. I have no idea when or how to get out. I am surrounded by complete hopelessness.
Suddenly, the urge to write takes over me. I have not written much in the past few years, as I will go through spurts of productivity and then many, many months without even picking up a pen. My mind begins to race with all the thoughts I want to put down on paper. Ideas begin swirling around in my head, and it seems as if they are almost ready to explode out of my hands.
It takes an agonizing two days to get a pencil and some paper. When I finally sit down to write, the words just come flowing out like a gushing wound bleeding all over the paper. I do not have enough paper for all the things that are spilling out of my soul. And that deluge has not stopped, I have been writing ever since.
I have been clean now for four years. I was in outpatient rehab for over a year where I learned an amazing amount of things about myself and also about addiction. In that year, I spent a lot of time looking very deep into my soul. With everything I learned, I began to rebuild my life one brick at a time. Until one day I was walking into the hospital with three years clean, no police record, and an enormous belly… I was ready to give birth
Looking into my son’s beautiful sleeping face, I think about the type of mother I want to be. I want to be able to provide him with everything that he needs to be the best that he can be. I want to be able to afford soccer, guitar, and summer camp. I want to take him on vacation, and to give him his own room. I think about the type of mother I want him to have.
I want my son to think of his mother as a woman who followed her passions and made a living doing something she loved. I want my son to learn from my example that one really can follow their dreams and become successful. I want to be an inspiration to my son to become whatever he dreams is possible. I want him to know from my life that it is never to late to make your dreams a reality, no matter how buried and dusty they once were.
My passion is writing. My dream is writing. I just want to be able to provide a good life for my son by the hand of my pen. I want to use my own talent and passion to provide my son with the ability to make his own dreams come true. I want my education to give me the tools I need to use these passions and skills to make a living. I hope my education will be the stepping stone of this wonderful life for both my son and myself.

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