Worth Seeking

In the fifth grade, I wrote a rap about the dangers of drugs and
alcohol. Naturally, it followed the melody of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
theme song, considering those were the smoothest rhymes I knew. I watched the
show nearly every January morning when school was delayed due to persistent
Pittsburgh snow. My sister and I would watch Will Smith charming America while
eating Honey Nut Cheerios. It was nice. 

My teacher asked me to perform that
song on Kick Butts Day—a day dedicated to spreading tobacco abuse awareness. I
asked my best friend to join me, since my boney nerves could not handle the
pressure alone. Together, we hesitantly agreed, primarily because our six-foot-three
lesbian gym teacher was not a woman to be messed with. The whole school gathered
in the gym squeezed together in the hot bleachers one Friday afternoon to
encourage this imaginary occasion. Thankfully my friend and I had personal
seats right next to the microphone, waiting for our turn to perform. Before we
stole the crowd, a middle-aged speaker was giving our student body a rather
lengthy talk about his daughter, Stephanie. He told her story of drugs,
alcohol, and death. To keep the hundreds of vulnerable students in line, the
school thought it would be the best idea to scare us about drug abuse rather
than actually explain what makes these substances so dangerous. He managed to
shed a few tears, take multiple dramatic pauses, and humbly hand the microphone
to me. The entire crowd was silent, but my gym teacher insisted we carry on
with the planned speakers. I played the instrumental version of the song on my
iPod Nano and spit my phat flow.  A few
encouraging claps followed my performance as my friend and I, embarrassed,
returned to our seats. We didn’t talk much after that day. The principal was
next on the microphone and gave the student body one last lecture on the
matter. In unison, we all stood up and repeated a pledge to never abuse any
drugs or smoke a cigarette. Since I was still facing nearly the entire student
section, I saw all these adolescents make this pledge. It didn’t look like they
all meant it.

Sorrow, loneliness, and regret are not common words in health
class. Schools attempt to explain why drugs are harmful, but they never tell us
why people take them in the first place. As I grow older, Stephanie does not
seem so crazy after all. Her dad only highlighted the friendly, studious side
of his daughter, but he never explained what drew her into bad habits. Perhaps
he didn’t even bother to find out himself. Now as I watch almost all my friends
and fellow peers drawn into the misconceived high of the high school lifestyle,
I wonder what draws them in. Besides, they heard my informative lyrics warning
them of these dangers, so what don’t they understand? What don’t I understand? We
are all hiding from each other with every drink, smoke, and hit, shielding
ourselves from the matter of maturity and responsibility. Most of us won’t get
out of the cycle of hidden anger and resentment. It isn’t hard to be an
alcoholic—it’s hard not to be an alcoholic. Clearing the fog and pessimism can
be accomplished, however. With a little hope and positive perseverance, I hope
we all find something worth seeking.

originally published on Crybaby Zine

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