It was the night of July 4th, the year when we were both twelve. I still remember the neighborhood party- kids running around with sparklers, parents drinking and setting off firework fountains, and the teenagers running around barefoot playing manhunt. She and I were laying on my driveway with a blanket under us watching the sky, pointing out stars and planes and everything else in the air.
“Is that the big dipper” she asked.
“I think so. I don’t know much of anything about constellations.” I replied
It was a cool night, the wind picking up every now and then, and the shrieking of the fireworks could probably be heard a mile away. It was around eleven but the bottles clinked and the children laughed, for it was a lonesome friday night. All of us were overjoyed to stay up late, knowing that the weekend would bring even more fun.
Across the street, her father called her to come inside because they had something to do in the morning. She grabbed her blanket and waved goodbye, running towards her side of the street. I picked up mine about five minutes later and started to walk up my staircase, when i heard my name yelled. I turned around and saw her, tears streaming down her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked quickly, a flicker of fear in my voice.
“They are both drunk. Again. And they’re fighting. I can’t….” she told me, choking and spluttering on her words. “I can’t go back there! I just…. they could hurt me on accident”
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I said, pulling her into a hug. “They’ll stop. They will go to bed and then you’ll be fine.” She sniffled in real big, pulling away from me.
“I just don’t want them to drink any more. Every night, It’s the same.” she said.
“They need help. We can’t do anything, it’s just them.” I replied, not really sure of how to help. “Just go home, run upstairs to your room, and lock the door. Then put in earphones so you can’t hear them.”
She nodded and hugged me one last time before walking down my steps. I watched her go, all the way until she opened her door. She glanced at me one more time, and i gave her what i hoped was a reassuring smile. After I saw her go inside, I turned back around and opened my door.
This type of night wasn’t unfamiliar to me or her. Her parents had been drinkers and smokers for what seemed like forever, and they never got help. No matter how much she begged and pleaded that they stop, they acted like it wasn’t a big deal. Like it wasn’t a problem that they never remembered the night.
What was unfamiliar to me was this feeling of anger and powerfulness towards her parents. I wanted to yell at them for what they make her and her brother go through almost every night. I knew I couldn’t do something about her situation, but what about other kids? What about anyone with any kind of problem? I suddenly wondered what happened to people that didn’t have anyone to talk to about what they were going through.
It was that moment and time when I realized what I had to do. I decided that I would make my career out of helping people with situations in their lives- from friends or family that got drunk, to kids who didn’t have parents in their lives. I wanted to be a friend and mentor to them, as I had been to her. I wanted to listen to every single one of their difficulties, and make it mine. Help them brainstorm ways to help themselves, family, and friends.
More than ever, I wanted to know why people did such things, and why they acted like it wasn’t a big deal when questioned.
I just want to help.
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