As senior year went on, I was still working hard on my grades and getting ready for my future as a lawyer. I loved my business law class. It was really interesting and it reaffirmed my desire to become a lawyer. I noted this goal in my Reflections book.
I had lofty goals of becoming an international corporate attorney or a prosecuting attorney and live in either NYC or Washington DC. It’s funny to note that I didn’t want any children, but I would have them if my husband wanted them and then only a maximum of two. Little did I know I’d marry someone who wanted seven children.
Grandma Nor was still living with us. Which made home life tense. To add to the tension, my parent’s second son was at his antics again. This time his baby mama was leaving him (and rightly so… but that’s his business why she left him). Right before my eighteenth birthday, he tried to kill himself. And everyone forgot my birthday. Their other son came home from Germany and bought me some flowers a couple days later.
Shortly thereafter he kidnapped his son and took off for Florida. I would be couple years later before he was caught. But no one heard from him during that time, so that cause a lot of strife in our home. His baby mama and their family thought my mother knew where she was and she felt they were harassing her. I just know that if someone took off with my kid, I would hold their whole family ransom until my child was returned, so in my eyes, this family showed tremendous restraint. This was my family life for the last year that I was at home.
Since my birthday is March, it was sort of a downward slide into the end of the year. This was the fun part of the year. We had senior trip, senior skip day, the school picnic, Class Night and Graduation to look forward to. All this activity could take my mind off all the turmoil in my home.
There was the senior trip
We went to Orlando, Florida for a week over Spring Break. It was a lot of fun. We got to go to Disney World, Sea World, and Epcot Center. It was pretty hot there and by the time we went to Epcot, everyone was hung over and sunburned (except me). I think that most of us spent the day looking for places to take shade breaks.
The travel agent messed up our return flight, so we got to eat out at a fancy steak restaurant on our last night in Orlando. It was my first introduction to one of my favorite desserts – key lime pie. The next day, we boarded a flight that flew from Orlando to Cleveland, Cleveland to Albany, Albany to Rochester, and finally Rochester to Buffalo. I don’t think any of us could hear for a week from our ears popping on so many take off and landings in one day.
The most fun part about it was getting out of Rushford for a few days before we graduated.
And then there was the prom:
Prom was interesting to me because I went with my best friend’s boyfriend’s brother. And yeah, he was cute and older and all the girls wanted to go with him. But I didn’t want to go with him. I only asked him to go with me because my best friend wouldn’t have been able to attend the prom if I didn’t go. So they set me up with her boyfriend’s brother. It is funny to remember that I was sick the day that he called me for me to ask him to the prom. I had never, ever been sick a day in my life, but that day I had strep throat. I had to ask because it was my school’s prom and he didn’t go there. I almost didn’t do it, but I knew my best friend would be very angry with me if I didnt’. I think he was 21 or something, so too old to be hanging out with high school girls, but he was. His older brother (24) was dating my best friend, which was how it was in Rushford. Like I said, statutory rape wasn’t really talked about much in those days.
Anyway, one of my biggest memories of this entire time period is that another one of my other girl friends was fooling around with this guy I went to the prom with, cheating on her boyfriend, who happened to be a good friend of mine at the time. What no one knew is that I had found a note earlier that they, my friend and her boyfriend, had written to each other that was about me. It was very cruel and called me a “big black thing” and joked around that I would want to get with him. I will admit that I had a crush on her boyfriend, but not to the extent that they were talking about in this letter that I found. I remember this crushing me. And then this same girl was now cheating on this boyfriend who called me a “big black thing” and expected me to keep it a secret.
It all blew up the day before graduation. She had snuck off to be with my prom date and my best friend and my best friend’s boyfriend. I was hanging with some friends downtown. Well, the boyfriend showed up asking where his girlfriend was, because she had told him that she was with me and my friends downtown. This was when I realized just how much I resented both of them for what they had said about me – so I told him where she was. And he went there. Apparently a shotgun was produced and some other drama ensued that I really don’t remember, but what I remember from that scenario is that my feelings for both of them had died when I saw that letter, and that I was a very vindictive person. It would take me years to get past that flaw in my personality and I am sure it showed before this time, but this was when I became keenly aware of it.
This scenario legitimated that I needed to get away from these people. Mainly because I had learned that they would smile in my face for years and stab me in my back in the worst way possible. I know I had done nothing to either of them for them to write to each other about the color of my skin. Certainly not pretend to be my friends and then write such awful things about me. I lost a lot of trust in a lot of the people from my town then. How many others were saying these things behind my back? I know I had years of hearing many racial slurs said in front of me, so I could not imagine what was being said behind my back. So, it strengthened my determination to get away from them all.
Finally, finally, the day was here. Graduation
I had made it. The only Black kid in a sea of white. And I had done it really, really well. But there were deep scars left from my years in this town that would take years and years to overcome.
My oldest daughter is graduating high school and they have asked her for her quote and all I know what she wants it to be… the same quote that I would have used if Drake had been rapping when I was a kid…
“Nigga, we made it!!!!”