Milestones

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

We packed the U-haul truck and grabbed the last boxes. My step-father put the cardboard box labeled Kitchen Stuff in the back of the truck. My stomach felt uneasy. That was the last time I would stand in that backyard filled with uncut grass and three tree stumps. The rusted wire fence that surrounded my childhood home suddenly became something that had a significant impact on my life. The sky was gray and it was cold and rainy. And all I could do was watch as my life was falling completely apart.

“Home” was no longer Home, Sweet, Home. Home was a place for storage. Home was a place to rest and wake up. Home was a place to leave and never return. I looked back once more at my porch while we drove off and instead of being happy and picturing new beginnings in a new town with new people and a new school, I felt my cheeks get ridiculously hot and salty tears made their way down my face and into my mouth. The neon orange paper taped onto the glass of the screen door that read in bold black letters EVICTION NOTICE glared in my direction.

The days grew longer and muggier as June crept upon us and soon enough sophomore year was coming to an end. I was stuck between wanting better for myself and wanting to give up completely. Unfortunately, being homeless for the last two months of the school year wasn’t necessarily something I considered “motivation.” I had always been very studious and diligent, but I just gave up on my school work entirely and aimed my focus on my personal/family life instead. My grades plummeted drastically, friendships that had been maintained for several years ended. For a time, my younger sister and I stayed with our first cousin and her son at her house. Separated from our immediate family for the time being, we saw our mother and siblings about twice a week. Sophomore year was a complete failure. Literally. I ¨completed¨ sophomore year with 10 of the 35 required credits needed to be promoted to 11th grade. Needless to say, the end of the world was near (in my eyes).

Suddenly, things took a climactic turn for the better. Administrators at Danvers High granted me the ability to be promoted to 11th grade due to the differences in grading systems between public and charter schools. I realized that this was a chance to start again, but as junior year was approached I couldn’t help but feel nervous. New town, new people, new school. Adjusting to the unpremeditated change was hard. But soon enough, going from class to class in silence became a distant memory. Hearing the phrase “Hey, Jealexis!” became imbedded in me and replayed in my head constantly, giving me a sense of belonging every time; phrase by phrase, I found that I no longer missed my “former” life.

Now, life no longer felt like a never-ending transitional period. I got my first job, voluntarily helped my mother by paying small bills, and picked my grades up exponentially. The 16 year old version of myself gained a sense of responsibility. To not only take care of my well being, but also the people who stuck by me through the good and the bad. As my family became closer, I stepped foot into the bittersweet realm of adulthood. We depended on each other, listened to each other, and encouraged each other to be better. Don’t be surprised when you see the name ¨Jealexis Gomez¨ in news headlines one day. I am determined to be someone remarkable. Memorable. Permanent. For myself, but mostly importantly for my family. These 650 words are just the beginning.

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