I got three comments on my last post, all of along the lines of how I probably have a crush on Darius. Let me set the record straight: I do NOT have a crush on Darius. Crushes are something 11 years olds get on pop stars. They write their names in hearts all over their school notebooks and spend time thinking about what their initials will be and what they'll name their kids. I'm leaving this life in a few months and any sort of boyfriend thing is probably not my decision to make. I do not have a crush.
What I DO have is a brain that has spent the last 6 months soaking in estrogen and the body of a heterosexual woman with what I think might be a higher than average sex drive. So when an objectively attractive man like Darius shows me positive attention I can get a little giddy and woozy and it might just show through in my writing. I thought that maybe having sex regularly and handling things on my own would make that stop a little, but if anything that seems to be making it a little worse.
I'm not here to blog about sex (for the first time in awhile), I'm here because I had an incident with Ashley over the weekend. When I first got here she wasn't exactly hanging out with the most upstanding citizens, but getting her on cross country seemed to have her burn off any trouble making energy she might have had. But now it's winter and too cold to run, and we've almost done enough hours to qualify for her license she's got the carrot and I'm without a stick. This means she's back to hanging out with old friends. To her credit she is respecting curfew, I think it's because I'm home most nights to enforce it when her real mother typically wasn't. But she and her friends cut class the other day and there was a confrontation.
Latherman had let me off of work early on Tuesday (Don't ask what I did to earn that), and I was ready to come home and nap when I found the door unlocked. I froze for a moment with the door ajar, having learned by now that in this body a burglar isn't something to be battled, but to run from. I had my cell phone halfway ready to call the cops when I smelled a mildly familiar smell...marijuana.
I walked back to Ashley's room and opened that door to find her on the bed with a boy and a joint. She was slightly shocked to see me, and I must have had a look on my face because he was fucking terrified.
"OUT. NOW." I said in a voice firmer than I thought possible with this voice.
The kid jumped up, grabbed his coat, muttered "Sorry" and headed out the door. Ashley was less shocked and contrite and just kinda waved goodbye before turning to me and asking "Why are you home early?"
"Is that what you have to say? Why are YOU home early?" I asked back "And why are you doing drugs in your room"
"Really?" She raised her eyebrows "You're going to lecture me about smoking a little pot?"
"Uh, Yeah" I said "I didn't think I needed to tell you that was a bad idea"
"You and Aunt Rosita smoke it all the time"
Oh we do, do we?
Yeah, I figured Kari did it occasionally because I've been around Rosita when she does it and she offers, but I didn't know how frequent it was and I DEFINITELY didn't think she did it around Ashley.
I'm gonna pause a moment here and lay out my thoughts on drugs, since I might be sounding like a cheesy government PSA on after school. I know that a lot of writers on here before have lax attitudes towards pot, hell those guys Todd and Brian were like Cheech and Chong, and that's fine. I worked on Wall Street, remember, I've been around people who were able to live functioning lives on stuff WAY worse than pot. I think the war on drugs is a massive waste of time and resources that has way more negative effects than good. I personally never enjoyed the stuff but I don't think it's worth the effort to keep it illegal.
But it is illegal. And it's especially illegal for poor minorities like Ashley. If she got busted possessing or buying the stuff I don't have the resources to keep her record clean. I once knew a guy who got caught with a moderate amount of cocaine and had it disappear the next day buy calling a good lawyer who was in his frat. Kari doesn't have those kinds of connections so Ashley would be at the mercy of the law. It's a shitty reality in this country but it's reality nonetheless
"But we're adults" I begin carefully "You're and your friends could make a mistake that might mess up your whole future. I can't afford a good attorney, if you go to jail...even juvie you'd miss a lot of school. Plus a drug conviction means you won't get any federal financial aid for college.
"Since when do you care about me getting into college?" She asked, with that same disrespectful eye roll
"Ashley, you're going to need to go to college to have a shot at a decent job these days" I say, not because I fully believed it but you kinda have to say it to high schoolers, plus I don't see Ashley working an oil rig.
"You didn't go to college" she retorted "Hell, you didn't even graduate high school. You do fine"
If only she knew just how far from fine her mom's job situation was. How much of a struggle it is to raise a kid on a receptionist's salary which is probably higher than industry average because the unofficial job description includes sleeping with the boss.
"We survive" I tell her, trying to make sure I give this kid a positive message or at the very least don't screw things up too badly "But it's really difficult. It would be a lot easier if I had an education. I don't want you to have to go through the same struggles in life, I want you to avoid some of my mistakes"
Bad choice of words.
"Mistakes like getting pregnant at 14" She said icily
Kari's feet are size 6, which is way small enough to jam right in my mouth. Of course having a kid at 14 is a TERRIBLE life decision, but you really shouldn't say exactly that in front of the kid. Ashley isn't stupid, I think she knows that her mom's teen pregnancy made things difficult, and she might even have a little bit of unneeded guilt about that.
She looked like she was near crying so I sat next to her on the bed and wrapped my arm around her tightly. "You're the best thing in my life" And after living in this life for 6 months I can say that without having to lie "It's just...if you had come a few years later things would be better for both of us."
She sniffled a bit and gave me a hug. I think teenagers appreciate honesty, which makes my life difficult because every day I lie about being her mom.
"Do you really think I could go to college? She asked
"I get your report cards, I KNOW you can go to college" I replied encouragingly. I'm not wrong. The kid's no genius but B's and C's will get you into a low to mid level state school. "You just need to stay out of trouble. When is your ACT anyway?"
"March" she said breaking the hug "And I'm totally gonna bomb it. There's a lot of math."
"I could help you study" I said feeling extra helpful for some reason
"Thanks Mom but" She said with a pause after the but "Do you even know high school math"
"We use it all the time at work" I lied. There's a lot of math in finance, yes, but as the receptionist the most I really use it for is to calculate how much to tip the guy who delivers lunch. "I've picked up enough of it"
With that there were more hugs and a promise to avoid marijuana until she was able to do it in a less precarious situation. I thought about calling the real Kari and filling her in, but I'm not sure I'd like her response. She'd probably accuse me of judging her.
Which I kinda do