This I Believe

Derice - Marshalltown, Iowa
Entered on April 5, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: community, family
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Way Out

The “rez life,” life on the reservation, was swallowing me up whole and I was just standing by watching. I thought I was stuck and I was going to never accomplish what I wanted to. If I didn’t have an angel to come to my rescue; I would have been stuck in the norm, a way of life I didn’t want to become accustomed to.

I was living with my mother in South Dakota on the reservation. We always fought, and I got tired of all the partying. The everyday camaraderie of alcoholics and marijuana abusers always wondering who has the good stuff was oppressive to me and I knew I was settling for less. I thought I had no alternative, no escape. Everyone around me was smoking pot and drinking. The conversation of the week was “Where’s the party going to be at this weekend?” “Or shall we go smoke a J?” I would sit back thinking to myself, “I can’t go the rest of my life this way.”

I was screaming this in my head everyday. It was as if I was standing at the bottom of a deep, narrow and dark well and I was looking up only, seeing the pin point of sunlight, and shouting at the top of my lungs, but nobody could hear me. But still I went along because my friends did it and their friends did it, a vicious chain, all because our parents did it and our grandparents did it, a vicious cycle of non stop alcohol and drug abuse. I didn’t want to be another one of the many settling for the norm.

It was June of 1991 and I was still in that well, and in that pinpoint of sunlight, there appeared a little figment of a person trying to look down the well, trying to hear my cry. My grandpa from Iowa listened to my desperate plea for help and he came that very weekend. I was so ready to go, ready for a fresh start. As I started my journey to Iowa, it seemed as though every town we passed through I felt that girl from South Dakota was slowing shedding off me like layers of skin, all the memories or curses that were handed down generation to generation were slowly disappearing.

I yearned for a life like the Cleavers, where the mother stayed at home and had a hot home-cooked meal, something like pot-roast, mashed potatoes, corn and hot buns just out from the oven, ready when you get home from school and the fathers were actually happy to be home with his family. I knew the Cleavers’ life existed somewhere, and I was searching for it because I wanted that life.

When we turned on to the gravel road that led to his house, I knew it was the start of my new life, I knew this would be a dramatic change, a good one, the stability, structure that I longed for. I was tired of living my life on a whim like a tumble weed just waiting for the next thing to come along. I was ready to live like a tree, stable and strong.

I believe in knowing there is an angel out there waiting to rescue you.