This I Believe

constance - tempe, Arizona
Entered on April 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I Used to Be a Philanthropist

I believe that the only person I can save is myself. I tried to save someone from themselves and through this experience I have come to know this as fact.

Braden was a sweet fun-loving guy whose soft blonde curls and skin as white as a geishas made me feel at ease.

We had been dating for over a year and I became a member of his seemingly traditional Mormon family. Then Braden’s baby-fat figure turned gaunt and his skin scabbed over, my slight premonitions turned to certainty.

Three a.m., my cell phone rings.

“Connie, its Alison,” Braden’s mom said, “Do you know where Braden is?”

“No,” I said, “It’s three in the morning.”

“Can you track him down?” She asked.

I didn’t think twice, I was accustomed to the selfless rescue procedure I considered “my project.” I felt like I had to save him, and his family made me feel like it was my calling.

Out of bed, sweat pants, varsity jacket and scarf on, I am ready.

I start with Kyle’s house, but both he and Braden’s cars are gone. I make a quick decision to go to the house of an “Amigo” that I had been in front of once before.

I now have my black Jetta pulled up in front and I march my half-asleep independent 16-year-old self to the door and knock.

A girl with a large sweatshirt covering a frail body answers.

“Alo,” she said, “What you need gringa?”

“Ummm, hi,” I began, “I am actually looking for my boyfriend, Braden, with curly blonde hair. Do you know where he is?”

“Eh Amigo,” she yelled into the house, “La novia de Blondie esta aqui.”

Beyond the corridor were a few dingy couches erect on stained orange carpet. Little hung on the walls and as I my eyes wandered I saw a large Hispanic man with numerous tattoos and a worn face coming towards me holding Braden by his shirt.

Before I had time to open my sleep-crusted eyes, Braden lay past me on the grass.

“Yo Blondie, you ain’t cool no more man,” Amigo said as he slammed the door.

Here was Braden, sprawled out on the wet lawn with a thick piece of rubber wrapped around his elbow as he said, “Hey baby.”

This was Braden and this was me trying to save him. I put myself in this compromising situation paired up against a poison that no mortal can defeat for another. I thought I could save and blamed myself for his addiction.

This wasn’t the life I was going to live and my stars pointed to more promising directions such as college, a career and cohesive relationships. From this experience I learned that the only person I can save is myself and the only people I want to commit to are people who don’t need to be saved.