When I arrived in Atlanta I did so with a bitter heart. I was angry at my Uncle Steve for sending me away and I hated the idea of living around a bunch of Americanos. After living on the reservation for so long I had come to believe that most white people were lame and stuck up. I wanted to be with my people, who were wild and free and..... OK with me being drunk most of the day.
What I knew about the south was only what I had seen by watching Anne of Green Gables. I was picturing men in overalls and ladies with hats serving ice tea expecting me to say things like, "yes, mam I've been doing lovely today!" What a nightmare!
The landscape was vastly different from California or the beautiful deserts of New Mexico. I had moved to a rain forest! Every direction I looked there were trees, and what looked like branches of ivy growing over everything. My aunt and uncle lived in a cookie cutter neighborhood where every third house was the same. Their house was a small, narrow two story. I would share a bedroom (and bed) with my little 12 year old cousin.
As time went by I got use to things just like I had every other place I had lived. By the time I was 16, I had been a little girl who loved her mother, a child who missed her father, a crack baby, a good kid, a sex abuse survivor, a treasure hunter, a candy thief, the kid who gets picked on in school, a hamster murderer, a police informer, a snake wrangler, a brave kid, an unloved child, a resident of a battered women's shelter, a Mormon, an entrepreneur, a pool shark, nothing, a trash collector, a mooch, a spoiled little girl, a skier, a manipulator, a tap dancer, and an Indian. I had moved 38 times that I can remember. This time I didn't change who I was to fit in though. I had drugs now, and I could be comfortable just being me.... as long as I could be me high. I loved being high. It took away everything that was bad. It blocked out the past and only left me with the present, it took away my insecurities and only left me feeling silly and happy. I used weed to numb my feelings so I could cope with my world and get through the day. I still went to school, I still did my homework and I got straight A's. I liked to party, but I mostly used drugs to self medicate.
I understood that I still had to take care of myself, no matter that I had been taken in and adopted by my uncle and aunt. I got a job at 16. I worked at a daycare and supervised the after-school program. Everyday after I got out of school I took the bus home and walked to work. I made $6.00 an hour. Things were looking up for me. The drugs enabled me to live comfortably in my own skin. I had a family who showed me lots of love, was doing well in school and had a job. The drugs were helping me, I thought... what could be bad about drugs? Somewhere in the back of my head I thought of my mother and how the drugs had taken over her life..... but that wouldn't happen to me. I would make sure of that.