So how much trouble can one girl get into in just three months? How much can she set her life off course in that short amount of time? I mean look at her!! She’s so sweet, innocent and naïve.
I left my home on my 18th birthday. I moved in with my best friend. She was quite the partier and troublemaker. She was the one who had the experience with boys and drugs. One would think that she’d be the one who’d find herself in a pickle. Not me. Ironically enough, she grew up to be a hippie dippie yoga instructor that has lived in Hawaii, backpacked through Guatemala and Mexico, married an Australian and lived in Costa Rica. I would take her life in a heart beat. But my life took a different turn.
Of course, I tried alcohol that summer. I don’t recall drinking a lot but I’m sure that’s because I spent a lot of time blacked out. Through my friend, I met more people. People who were a lot more knowledgeable in worldly things. Remember, I was a square Christian girl. The first time I smoked pot was on her roof top. I don’t think I got high that night though. Must have been bunk!
I lost my precious virginity in the backseat of a Honda Civic to my high school boyfriend.I never saw him again after that. I hear through the grapevine that he lives on the coast and spends his days surfing. Again, I’d take his life too!
Somehow my friend and I got mixed up with a group of “taggers.” For those who don’t know, taggers are the people who graffiti our buildings. And they usually come in gangs. So with that lifestyle is the usual gang activity. There were fights, guns and of course a lot of weed. A lot. So much weed. It was huge. The biggest weed ever. Sorry. That was my Trump impersonation.
There were other things too. Like meth. My other high school friend, we’ll call her “Barbra,” gave me my first taste of meth. And that was the end of the story. I was hooked. Though I still smoked weed, meth became my drug of choice. I was already skinny, but I lost even more weight. I got down to a size zero. It was a constant party. Hotels. Meth. up all night. Meth. Called my mom, she asked why I was talking so funny. I said I’ve been hanging out with a Texan, must’ve picked up their accent. Meth.
The day after my wild night in the back seat of the Honda Civic, I found myself traveling to Las Vegas with some of these people I barely knew. The date was June 24, 1995. Just 21 days after I turned 18. That should give a clue as to just how quickly I found myself in trouble. I traveled with these people my age that I barely knew. I had no idea why we were going. I was just a long for the ride. As we entered the Vegas area, one of the other cars in our group stopped to pick up a hitch hiker. An older man. Finally we got to Vegas. One of the guys I was with and I got dropped off outside a hotel. The driver of the car had to go to her dads and we couldn’t come. So there he and I were. Alone. No money. No idea when they were coming back. We went to the Excalibur. They have a buffet there. We snuck in, telling the attendants that our parents were in there. Quickly grabbing some frozen yogurt to eat, we barely had time to sit down and eat it before they caught on to our game. So we moved on. We found ourselves in front of the Luxor. It’s lawn is a nice place to nap.
Eventually, I began to panic. I thought I was stuck there forever. I began trying to call people collect. But to no avail. I imagined having to prostitute myself out to get home. I had a wild imagination. Luckily, somehow our group found us. And we all met up behind the Stardust. Cops had our other friends back there. The hitchhiker was in cuffs. Apparently, he was a wanted felon. The cops made us hold hands and swear not to pick up hitchhikers. And that was my wild trip to Vegas.
Pot. Meth. Partying. Repeat. That was my summer of 1995, before I was supposed to go to boot camp. Flash forward to a week before I was to be sent off. My best friend and I go to a party on a river bed. I barely knew anyone there. I probably shouldn’t have gone, but then I would have missed out on one of the most pivotal moments of my life. Who would have known that one night would change my life forever?
We weren’t there long. Something hit my friends hand. Like a bee sting. Something hit my neck. Like a bee sting but worse. Come to find out, some asshole had an air pump rifle style pellet gun. The kind that shoots metal arrow shaped pellets. Not the round plastic pellets. No. The kind that get in and stay. So to the hospital we went. Actually just me. She was able to dig the pellet out of her hand. The doctors kept me over night trying to evaluate how they would remove it. They came to the conclusion, that they would have to cut my neck open and dig it out or they could leave it in. It wouldn’t move around, it wasn’t going to harm me. So there it stayed.
The following week, I went up to Fresno to MEPS. I got sworn in. I was ready to go. But me, being honest, opened my big mouth and told the lady “Hey, I have a pellet in my neck.” For those of you that don’t know- it’s cool to tell your recruiter stuff, but once you get in, you gotta keep your mouth shut. She sent me home. So that one week, and the previous events leading up to it, set my ship on a different course.
Imagine one event being a rock thrown into a pond. The resulting ripples go out for quite a while. That’s what I learned that summer. One event, one decision can effect your life for quite sometime.
*side note- I am still friends with a lot of those people from that summer. It’s amazing we survived.