Panorama of San Bernardino

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Everybody hurts

Sometimes, I feel as if I am sabotaging everything good and true in my life because I don't know what I want. It reminds me of my senior year of high school. High school had started out well. Freshman and sophomore year I was able to put the chaos of home aside and study and get good grades. I was a preppy goodie two shoes in all GATE classes. The classes weren't easy. Yes, this was before the grueling era of IB and AP, but the classes were still difficult. My home life did not help. Most days, I had to find time to write my papers and do math homework over my parents' screaming voices in the background. It was a stressful time for them. We were losing the house after Dad's realized dream of buying a bar became a nightmare and led us into financial ruin.

Junior year began my downhill slide. I was working at Round Table and partying almost every night, even on school nights. We would drink beer from the keg after hours. Although I can't remember specifics, what I do remember is having a blast. There was little drama, our manager was super cool and my best friend Tracy and I ruled the world of pizza. Or at least it felt that way to our high school minds.

The cast of characters at Round Table was varied, like something out of a John Hughes film. There was Lydia, a chubby black girl who loved to sing and play practical jokes. She could crack us up with a lift of her eyebrows. Then there was Mark, a blond, loud punk guy who hung out with the uptight assistant manger John who never let us drink. Then there was Sean, the cool manager who let us drink after work. He was in college getting his engineering degree. There was also our buddy Chris, a freshman who looked like a brown haired Anthony Michael Hall from Weird Science. He was tall and skinny with dark hair and long bangs that covered his face Ian McColluch style. Finally, there was Tracy and myself. Tracy was blond to my brunette with blond spiked hair to my curly unruly mess of brown curls. Tracy was taller and thin, whereas I was short and round, but we both loved our new wave and punk music and wore thick black eyeliner mimicking Siousxie Sioux's makeup, our punk idol.

What I remember most is laughing all night and cracking jokes and speaking in our fake English accents and making fun of people on the phones we manned in the back for the pizza delivery lines. We would make false orders to get free dinner and sneak our friends free pizzas out the back door when the manger left to do an errand.

On Friday nights, we would stay there until 3 in the morning. The pizza place closed at midnight, but I lied and told my parents I was closing and doing side work and then going to Denny's. School suffered of course. For a time, I had dreams of attending Claremont McKenna. It was a different world that I yearned for, a place of books and education and learning, where I could put all my family drama aside. I could lose myself and create a new me. Alas, it was not meant to be. My goals shifted from school to drowning out my sorrow with a mix of Coors Lite and Strawberry Hill wine. It worked. I felt nothing. And, slowly but oh so surely, my grades slipped and most mornings, I ditched class and went to Hollywood or the beach or the mall. Anything was better than going to school hungover.

It must have driven my poor mom crazy to see me throwing it all away. I had always been a superstar in school, it was almost easy for me to excel. Aside from Math, which I worked my ass off to get a B in, I was an A student. I always loved history and English. I even aced Economics which is ironic considering my math struggles, but the core of economics was philosophy and that intrigued me, Yet, senior year, I sabotaged myself and just gave up. I stopped attending class altogether at some point, I can't even remember how it happened. My family was in free fall at that point. We were living in a rental after losing the house to the bank. To make it even worse, my twenty something half sister Barbara had died and Dad was in a deep depression. He locked himself in the bathroom with a shotgun the day he found out she had died in a car accident. Weirdly, I don't recall crying or grieving, but I do remember my twin sister's cat getting hit by a car. I cried and cried. It was probably the only time I cried that year and the only time I remember feeling anything real and true.

Eventually, it all broke down and I stopped going to school. I only needed five credits to graduate but I didn't care. I threw it all away and took my GED.

This pattern would repeat itself through out my life in different ways. I was waitressing my way through school but floating from job to job. Whenever there was stability, I somehow messed it up. At some point, my sister and I ended up in a trailer park in Pomona, a combination of bad luck, my car blowing up and me losing my job again, and bad choices. What I knew once I got there, however, was that the trailer park life wasn't for me. There was a hopelessness and desperation there. It was palpable. I worked my ass off to get out of that trailer park. I transferred to UCR and everything changed. Then USC Law.

Now, many years later, I almost feel as if my life has lived me. Those years after USC Law at the big firms I was never happy. I jumped from firm to firm mirroring the chaos of my youth. Finally, after almost 7 years and my dad's death, I ended up back home in the Inland Empire as a deputy public defender. And some things passed me by. No baby. And my writing career has stalled. Am I just biding time till retirement?

Despite all the accomplishments and successes, I'm still floundering. Disappointment haunts me and the yearning for something more is so strong. I don't know what it is. My husband Adrian is the bright spot in all of this. I am loved and love.

Yet, I feel as if I'm on a precipice looking down some days. Into the abyss.

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