Park Rangers, shotguns, and misconceptions

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Last night my friends and I ended up surrounded by a couple of park rangers. We were camping at a relatively active ground and to be honest it probably wasn’t the best place to set up for the night. But it was our friend’s birthday and we didn’t really have the time or resources to make it happen anywhere else.

So mid-shotgun, freshly popped beer can in my hand, my index finger poised at the aluminum tab, came very bright flashlights and a stern voice telling us to stay where we are. Now this being real life and whatnot there were a few of us there who weren’t of age so they hassled us, ticketed the minors, and required that we empty out the rest of our alcohol because we were giving it to “children”. It felt like pouring liquid money out onto our prohibited wood fire burning off in the distance. My few sips of Riesling were used to douse the lingering smoke. It smelled awful when we finally finished pouring out the beer.

When I was sixteen, I had my nose broken by a police officer. He elbowed me in the face while he was strapping my arms and legs onto the stretcher in the back of the ambulance I totally didn’t need or request. Because I had refused medical service, I was deemed unfit to determine my own needs and therefore they were able to send for one anyway. A year later when we got the $900 bill for the “medical attention”, it burned hot with the blood in my cheeks.

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Three armed cars and six fully loaded officers had us surrounded in the two bedroom apartment. By my shoulders, they dragged me handcuffed and barefoot through the glass from the window they’d broken as my cousin and aunt cried from the inside of the house. I was in pajamas and my uncle had called the police on my aunt as a means of vindictive revenge because she’d taken a bath too long the night before and they always had a sick and twisted relationship, filled with abuse, both mental and physical. My father, his brother, was furious when he came to find me in the hospital with a bloody nose, handcuffed to a bed and surrounded by police officers. I was detained for several hours while I waited to speak to the chief. I had serious back, shoulder, and neck injuries and I still hear my nose click when I wiggle it around. It took months for all the glass to leave the bottoms of my feet.

For a long time when I went to visit my mother, this memory haunted me. I know it’s not quite like the PTSD most soldiers experience when they come back from war but it was still freakin’ traumatic and it took me a really long time to refrain from shaking openly in front of the guards at visiting.

To this day, I still feel my pulse quicken as I stare at the uniforms processing me into the prison.

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So when the park ranger told us that if we weren’t breaking the rules we had no reason to be scared, I told him that wasn’t true. That a police officer broke my nose for no reason and I had to live with that for the rest of my life and when he asked me why I felt like I needed to share that, I told him he shouldn’t make false statements based on nothing. So even though we were all breaking rules I would have been brought back to the same place in time, the same screams and tears I heard as the six officers arrested my aunt for a bath and the time when they put my mom in the back of a police car where she’d be shipped off to live for the next sixteen years.

The lady cop tried to say I had been a danger to the man who hit me and that his force was probably necessary to protect himself but all I did was look her in the eye and think how full of shit she was.

Don’t get me wrong, police are people too and the guards at visiting are actually surprisingly nice. I know there are a lot of good ones out there and I can’t say the exceptions prove the rule, but to be honest everyone has skeletons in their closet and I hope they think again before guessing someone’s tolerance to a uniform.

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Blissfully awake

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I love feeling crazy. My first love, that horrible and bewitching first encounter with my heart strings that left me broken and scared made me fear ever enjoying my time by myself, told me I was crazy and psycho and a bitch and I was so afraid I’d be alone forever because I thought he could only speak the truth.

But as I drive along with the windows down, my power music blasting, the feeling of my hair whipping back and forth in the wind, my hands orchestrating the energy I feel in every sound, I can’t help but be captivated by the feeling.

I love laughing by myself because I feel happy or just plain grateful to be alive.

I love feeling dangerous and predatory as I glide across the street, be it walking, skipping, or driving.

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I love dancing to my iPod in the middle of campus as passersby state and wonder what I could be so happy about.

I love yelling in victory as I leave my astronomy final that kicked my ass. (I passed that by the way and it felt GREAT).

I love wearing whatever I want because I don’t care if my socks match or my hair looks a little bit like a rat’s nest.

I love that my roots have grown out so much that people think I’ve died my hair again.

I love that I bite my cuticles down to the nubs because it gives me something to do when I’m waiting and I kind of like the way red fingertips look as I drag them across my art.

I love writing about my feelings because it helps me understand myself and it helps me communicate them later.

I love pulling a book out in public as everyone else scrolls across their electronic screens because old things aren’t always bad things and reading is never a bad thing.

I love jabbering away with people in elevators and doctor’s offices because I’ll never see them again and what’s better than having a meaningful conversation with a stranger?

I love feeling free and alive and I love having a good time and if that makes me look crazy as I dance my ass off in my car in traffic I don’t care because I think it matters more to me that I smile every moment of everyday than if you think I’m crazy or not. Because I’d rather be crazy and happy than normal and complacent. Because complacency to me is the worst sin. Embracing it is a nightmare in daylight.

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Growing into myself

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    I’ve realized today how much my family loves me. I used to think of myself as the black sheep of the household but now I don’t really think I believe that. It’s funny that it took a screaming battle between us to make me see it. To be honest, it’s not just about my family loving me that makes me happy. Part of me hates to say it but I know I need them to need me. And really I’m not very happy at the moment considering we just went through a huge shouting match which ended with me in tears and my sister traipsing off defiantly. She’s so young but she can be so callous sometimes. And I know it’s the age but I really wish there was a way to step outside yourself and watch the way you appear and sound to people. When I was younger I thought the only way to be okay was to be around people all the time. I wanted to be surrounded by a huge family that never really let me sleep or be by myself like all those movies with half a dozen kids running around the house, throwing things and demanding food all the time.

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I think what I’ve got is big enough. I’ve got my cousins, brothers, neighbors, and friends in and out of the house so much that I really couldn’t handle much more than that. Now that I’ve gotten older and learned to enjoy my private time, there are moments where the thought of hanging out with anyone but myself makes me a little crazy. But after this showdown, I’m torn. I want to be by myself but I also just want everything to be back to fine and sit on my couch and watch Greys Anatomy with my sister. I was talking and my dad didn’t hear me and my sister didn’t hear me and I thought I was done and I was going to move out but really I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be on my own yet. I want to embrace my youth for as long as is respectable. I want to chase my dreams. I don’t want to chase phone bills and grocery lists and electricity bills like I would have to do if I lived on my own. I’m not ready to sacrifice yet. Because I need people. I need my family. I need to know they love me and want me around. But it’s hard when my dad tells me I should move out and my sister shuts down when I try to talk to her. I know it’s all going to be fine tomorrow and everything works out as it should but it was still bittersweet when they both texted me telling me to come home and rewind. Because I’m starting to feel my roots growing bigger than the ground I’m planted in. And I feel like it’s almost time to start a new chapter. But the thought of leaving home scares the crap out of me. And I’m transferring out of the state soon and I’d really like it if I did’t move out before then because I know I will look back on this time somewhere down the line and think back to when I was surrounded by the people who raised me and knew me best. And one day my dad will be gone and my sister will have a family and there will only be a few holidays a year where we get together.

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