Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Uncle Steve (Ch. 40)

My Uncle Wally came and packed up my stuff and told me I was going with him to Atlanta, GA.  I didn't want to go.  I begged my Uncle Steve not to make me go.  I had only met my Uncle Wally a few times and had no idea what would be waiting for me in Georgia.  I was afraid to leave the only person that I knew loved me.  I had no choice in the matter, I had no where else to go.  

"Start putting your stuff in the car, we leave in 15 minutes."  It was too sudden, I wasn't prepared for this!  For the last few years I was the one that had decided what would happen to me and where I would go.  This control was what held me together.  The responsibility for my own well being is what I knew.  The helplessness I felt was enormous.

I put my things in the trunk and as I was walking back in the door I overheard my Uncle Steve say, "She is ruining her life... going to end up just like her mother.  She's out all night partying.  You have to get her out of here."  When I walked in they stopped talking and my Uncle Wally told me to say goodbye.  Uncle Steve had tears in his eyes and his mouth in a tight grim expression.  I ran to his chair and sat down in front of his legs.  "Please don't send me away, I'll do better," I cried.  He just shook his head and told me that he didn't know what to do.  I gave him a stiff hug and walked out the door angry at him.

I thought him sending me away meant that he didn't love me, but it was because of how much he loved me that he sent me away.  I wish I would have know that then.  I wish I would have hugged him one more time, kissed him and told him thank you.  I wish I would have told him how much I loved him.  Uncle Steve was the only family I had ever known all my life and leaving him that day felt like someone was taking the only love I had ever been given away.  Less than a year later, his love really was taken from me forever.  That was the last time I ever saw him alive.

Uncle Steve saved my life.  If it wasn't for him, my uncle Wally would have never came for me.  I would have never made anything of my life.  I would have never left there.  I would have been a high school drop out, pregnant at 17 and living off a government check for the rest of my life.  I might not have made it to 17.  I might have died while drunk driving and killed others too.  

Living on a reservation makes you blinded to things the world has to offer.  The government assistance Native Americans receive makes it easy to lose all ambition for bettering yourself.  With minds clouded with alcohol, each day is lived only for the present, because they can see nothing else.  This isn't true for everyone, but it is for the majority.  It took me 7 years to realize I wanted more out of life, but I would have never realized it if I were still on the reservation and he knew that.  He changed my life.  He gave me a real family.  Thank you Uncle Steve.  I love you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Living With Uncle Steve (Ch. 39)

At 15, I spent my waking hours chasing one high after another.  I wasn't able to adjust as easily to being in a family, as I was in the other dysfunctional situations I lived through.  I think a part of me knew that my life of "just trying to survive" was over.... and I just didn't care anymore.  My resentments towards my aunt escalated and I did what in the past proved to solve my problems... I ran away again.

Uncle Steve had gotten a small place of his own in a little Hispanic town right outside of the reservation and had set up to have a nurse come daily to help him with his disabilities. I spent a lot of time at his place because I was allowed to smoke pot there.  Uncle Steve had always smoked weed and didn't bat an eye when I came over stoned out of my mind looking for munchies in his bare kitchen.  He was no hypocrite. 

There was an initial awkwardness the first time we lit up together... I think both of us were remembering when I use to read The Box Car Children books to him when I was little.  I was 15 now though, and Uncle Steve understood that I had grown up a long time ago.  We were close.  His little 600 square foot duplex apartment held pictures of me in every room.  In his bedroom there was a large shadowed profile of me that was made when I was in kindergarten.

I ran away from the reservation and moved in with Uncle Steve.  His little apartment only had one bedroom, but there was a very large (8'x10') storage room.  It had two high little windows and we managed to squeeze a little twin bed in there.  My uncle did the best he could.  He told me that if I lived with him I had to go to school and graduate.  So every morning I continued to get on the school bus, and continued to ditch school... only sometimes I wouldn't come home at night.  I would party all night long, and have to wait for the following day to get back on the bus to get home again.  Uncle Steve would be furious... but I could usually butter him up to forgive me by having a friend come over to smoke him up. 

One night, not wanting to have to get into it with my uncle again, I snuck out of the tiny little window in my room.  I had to climb up the head board to reach it and it was a tight fit getting out.  Once out, I took off with some friends to a party in the city.  At the party I met an older guy who was from the same reservation as me, who I had heard of in passing, but never actually met.  He spent the night watching out for me and giving me drink after drink and lighting me up.  I loved the attention.  I loved being "cared" for.  When he asked if I would go to the bathroom with him.... I went.  I knew what he wanted to do in the bathroom.  While we were in there, some woman came banging on the door screaming at us to get out.  She called me whore and kicked me out of her house.

The guy let me leave alone.  I sat on the stairs out side with no way home and no where to go and cried.  That was how I lost my virginity.  When I finally made my way back to Uncle Steve's in the early morning hours, I couldn't get back in the high windows.  I sat outside and waited for morning and cried some more.  I later found out that the guy in the bathroom was my second cousin.  "Could anything in my life be more screwed up?"

After the nurse came to get my uncle up, he told me my Uncle Wally, his brother, was coming from Georgia and would be here later tonight.  Uncle Wally was the uncle that worked for the airlines, he was the one who set me up on the plane each time I ran away from California.  He would be coming to rescue me again, only this time it was from myself.  I waited for him excitedly, not knowing the life changing decisions that had been made for me behind my back.