Was it Worth it?

 It was sometime in the second grade, on a weekend. The sun was out and as bright as ever, but the shades covering the living room window blocked any light from entering the room, leaving the television to be the only source of light. “Adventure Time,” one of my favorite shows around that age, was playing, and I was happily digging into a bowl of fruit loops, my favorite cereal and food in general to this day. Loud banging and yelling was coming from around the corner at the end of the hallway, which I knew was coming from my parents, but I wasn’t very bothered by something I was so used to. No lights were on in the house, with the exception of the TV, and the whole house was dark, despite it being the middle of the day. I don’t remember my initial reaction when my mom ran out of her room, screaming at me to call the cops with a fresh black eye as my dad stomped behind her, yelling that she was overreacting. What I do remember is running into my room not too long after with the home phone and sitting with my back to the door, crying wondering whether I should act or not. In the end, I hid the home phone out of fear my dad would take it, and hid underneath my covers, thinking that I had to get away, far away, and live on my own.

            When I was told my senior year of high school that I’d have to start thinking about where I’d wanna go the following year for college, I already knew in the back of my mind I’d be coming to ASU. Now that I think about it, really think about it, the sad truth is that I’d first considered the college the summer before senior year, when I’d seen a tik tok saying ASU was a good school that wasn’t hard at all to get into. In retrospect, I wasn’t confident I’d be able to get into a good university where it took actual skill and good grades to get into, but ASU was a well-known enough name where I could get in easily and still be proud of where I’d be attending. It was between that and LSU, which I also got into. Immediately after watching the tik tok, I remember googling where Arizona was on the map (I still couldn’t tell you the locations of all 50 U.S. states), and the distance it was from NYC, my home town, captured my interest instantly because, yes, after so many years, I was still certain about moving as far away as I could.

            To be fair, however, it wasn’t my old memories that motivated me to keep my goal. After far too many years of a clearly unhappy marriage, my parents finally split about two weeks after quarantine began, when I guess my dad decided he’d finally had enough and secretly bought his own apartment only a couple blocks away from us. The summer before junior year, though, was by far my most depressing, as I remember feeling I didn’t have a single person I could call a close friend, and was smoking weed the most consistently I ever have to this day. Senior year did start out pretty strong as going into school had finally come back to NYC (after COVID), and I can say for sure that was the happiest I’d been in a while, but that all changed two weeks before Halloween 2021. While it’s true my parents split, I wouldn’t be able to explain their complicated relationship to anyone, even if I wanted to, and the fact they still had to co-parent my seven year old sister (six at the time) only added to the chaos. It was a Saturday, and I know this for certain because they’d both gone to drive my sister to her ballet class at eleven in the morning. I was never awake at the time they left, but I do remember eating breakfast around noon when my mom, along with my aunt, came silently into the house, clearly concerned.

            I chose not to say anything at the moment, but, as high as I was, I still could tell something was wrong. My mom refused to speak, but was making an unusual wheezing sound that I knew wasn’t normal, and my aunt continued telling me everything was alright, but the fact I never asked, along with the look she kept giving me, told me the opposite. Less than an hour later, they were both gone again, refusing to tell me where it was they were going, but later that night my aunt returned back to the house.

“I had to take your mother to the hospital”

“Why? Is everything ok?”

“Asa tried to kill her.”

            According to my mother, the story goes that, amidst another heated argument, my father finally snapped and, at the top of his lungs, screamed such horrible things at her inside their little Nissan Altima that my mother refuses to tell anyone exactly what he said. As my mom decided she’d had enough and readied herself to get out of the car, my dad asked her for “one last hug.” At the refusal of his hug, my dad took it upon himself to (attempt to) wrap his arms around her and, when my mom pushed him away, he choked her. With a singular hand, my dad took his thumb and shoved it so far down my mothers throat she claims to have blacked out for an instant before watching my dad exit the car to pick up my little sister from ballet. He never came back to the car, probably taking the bus back home with my sister, and so my mom drove herself back, and somehow met up with my aunt, though it wasn’t long before she began coughing up blood and had to go to the hospital, staying for just over a week. At the hospital, the doctors told us her carotid arteries had popped, and that it was a miracle she hadn’t died.

            Two weeks before Halloween 2021 I had it set in my heart that I’d be going far away for college. I felt I had nothing left in New York. The two weeks between that weekend and Halloween itself were miserable in the sense that everyone felt the need to post and talk about the different Halloween parties they’d be going to that weekend, parties I knew I wouldn’t be going to. It wasn’t the jealousy of them all having a good time that got to me, but the fact that partying was all everyone had to be worried about, while I was feeling as though my entire life had been flipped upside down. The Friday of Halloween weekend, I remember standing outside in the freezing cold with a group of my friends, waiting for something I honestly can’t remember at the moment. I also can’t remember what it was that triggered me to break down at that moment, but after almost two weeks of trying my best to hold myself together, I started crying, making myself vulnerable to friends who’d never seen that side of me. Rather than looking at me weird however, like I was sure they would, it was those friends that helped me through that time more than anyone else, more than any of my family even tried to, more than any of my teachers or school counselors, anyone. It’s those same friends that I continue to talk to daily despite the country between us.

Any true New Yorker could tell you about the unforgivingly harsh,cold and long winters we have, and winters in the city are never a great time for anyone (except tourists). But the time in between April and when I left for college was the best I’d felt in a long time. Hanging out with friends, close friends, every day without any real care in the world, enjoying the hot weather, fixing relationships with family and old friends, thinking back to that period of time almost feels unreal. Throughout this time, however, the one thing that continued to linger in the back of my mind was that soon it’d all be over, and I’d be moving across the country. Nearly my entire life, I’d had it set in my heart that I would leave and start fresh, thinking that’d be what’s best for me. But now, when I’ve finally gotten everything figured out, is leaving still the right decision? By the time I’d finally found peace, it was already too late for me to take it back, the enrollment deposit was in, the loans were taken out, and there was no going back. That being said, it might’ve been, and still is, sad to think about what life could have looked like had I never left the city, but I was never upset with my decision. I still continued to be confident I’d have a good time in Arizona, and it gave me encouragement to see all the people around me so excited for me to begin this new chapter.

Since starting at ASU, I’ve had my ups and downs, as does everyone, but overall I’ve had a great experience and believe that this was the right path for me to take. Admittedly, I’ve had my moments and tend to find myself thinking about where my future lies, whether it be here or somewhere else, but I’m not at all upset about coming here and have no regrets leaving. There was a large period of time in my life where my past history and traumas reigned supreme over all my other thoughts, and affected all my actions and decisions. That period of time is gone, and I’ve felt myself grow as a person significantly since then. I’m clueless about what lies ahead in my future, but that’s another problem for another time. Like I told myself I would in the second grade, I’ll just keep running.

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