Caterina Armenter, 17, joined Writopia this past fall, completed her first piece of creative nonfiction, and won a 2009 regional gold key from Scholastic for it!! Please help Cat celebrate her accomplishments by reading her memoir, below:
By Cat Armenter, 17
I was on the V train listening to my iPod and gazing at everyone sitting around me. It was the worst train ride of my life having to see passengers pity me and stare at my bloodshot eyes. I had never felt so paranoid. I was on my way home preparing myself for what I was getting. I knew I was high and I knew I couldn’t play it off. The minute I knocked on the apartment door my mother opens it, stares at me for a good five minutes and pulls me inside. It was the worst mistake I had made in my life, Melinda told me I would be fine by the time I got home. Damn.
“Sit down.” My mom pushed me on the sofa. She knew.
The whole time she was talking and lecturing me I tried my best to listen but I couldn’t. It was as if my mind and body weren’t working together and did their own thing.
Now that I think of it, I could’ve bought some eye drops at Duane Reade!
“Are you listening?” she added.
“Yes!” I yelled back
“What are you on? Your eyes are really red and glossy!”
“It’s just weed mom, I swear. It’s not a big deal! I only took like 3 pulls; I didn’t think I was going to end up like this.” I was telling the truth. But I knew it sure wasn’t going to make things better.
“Look at you! How could you do this to me? After all I have done for you.”
My mother began to cry. She felt as if she had failed as a single mom. I cried as well knowing I had failed as a daughter. Why did I do this? I didn’t even enjoy it. Is this improving my life?
In high school I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I was known for being a very independent person yet I got along with everyone. I was getting good grades, and I even joined the newspaper. Freshmen year I already began making friends with all the juniors and seniors. I hung out with them after school and I was invited to all the hip parties. It was an artsy high school, nothing like those preppy usual stereotype high schools, but what is a high school without gossip and cliques.
Everyday after school the potheads would go to the weed park. I wasn’t a pothead but I was their friend. I wasn't trying to look cool by hanging out with them. I hung out with them because other than the fact that they smoked, they were really cool people with interesting ideas and points of view. They were very open-minded; they didn’t care about their clothes or brand names. We would spend hours talking about politics, anarchism, George Bush, abortion, religion and other interesting topics. I never felt pressured by them if they offered a hit of their joint. I was never scared or insecure to say no.
I'm not trying to say I never smoked bud, if it was a Friday night and I knew I was in a safe place with lots of time on my hands I wouldn’t always reject the offer. I am very light weight though, so three pulls would always do enough for me.
Melinda is one of my best friends. We’ve had our share of fights but we always end up together again. We have different opinions on life but we always have a great time no matter what. I remember we smoked on a roof near St. Marks one day and listened to our favorite song, Disorder by Joy Division on our iPods. As we walked down the streets of the Lower East Side we were talking about philosophy and how life was all an illusion. Oh man, good times. We thought we were on top of the world. We were crazy but it was a good way to forget reality.
Not until recently did I start getting over the fact that my parents didn’t live together anymore and I was beginning to be glad about it. I would hate the way they argued and yelled at each other. It hurt me to know that they no longer loved one another and I had a feeling it was all because of me. I guess every kid goes through that stage when their parents divorce. I felt as if it was all because of me, I felt like I shouldn’t have been born to create hatred between a couple that loved each other.
My mother always had a hard time dealing with me. My education is her first priority and she makes sure I get good grades in every class. In her opinion anything below a 90 average is not good and it means that I’m not working hard enough. It gets stressful at times, especially since I’m the lazy kind of girl. I never fully understood why my mother was so obnoxious and strict, I was jealous of my friends because they had the freedom to do whatever they pleased. My curfew would be around 10pm, while the party was just getting started and my friends would be leaving by 1am.
Sundays were my favorite, my mom would let me sleep till 12 and have pancakes ready on the table. In my opinion those were the best pancakes I ever had.
The more I was on lockdown the more I wanted to rebel. But I was a child and I didn’t know better, I didn’t appreciate what I had.
As my mother continued to lecture me on life and my future, I began to worry about that 5 page research paper I had due the next day.
“You need to be focusing on your studies! Not worrying about your friends and smoking weed with them!” She tells me.
I blanked out.
“Listen to me! I’m talking to you” I didn’t understand why I had to listen to her blabber, why couldn’t she listen to me for a bit?
“Mom, I know you’re upset, I got the picture. I took a couple hits and that’s all. You should feel lucky that I'm not some kid going around tripping on acid or E. I get great grades! I’m not just some fuck up. I promise it won’t happen again. Now can I go to my room? I’m really tired.”
“I don’t care what other kids are doing, I’m not their mother. I care about you because you are my daughter and it’s my job to be the best mother I can be.”
And she was. As I thought about it, I realized that although she can get strict and annoying it just shows how much she cares for me. Once in a while we go out for dinner just the two of us, explore museums, or we could spend hours at Loehmann’s looking at clothes. My mom and I have a great time together and she deserved better, I appreciate everything she does for me but I never showed it.
The argument lasted a lifetime and I was grounded for a good month. I didn’t complain because I told her I understood where she was coming from. If I was her I’d do the same to my daughter. God knows I don’t want children though.
That night I received the silent treatment. We didn’t say a word the whole night and I could feel the tension between us. It was sad. I was disappointed in myself.
The next day I was quiet thinking things over and what we had discussed. I realized that my mother is my first priority and then come my friends. I thought about this for a long time. It took me a while. I thought of all my friends and how friends change easily and how I could never really trust them. I want my mom to be proud of me and see me grow up into a smart, strong, and independent woman.
The next morning I apologized to my mother. I was still grounded. Oh well. The best part was that we were talking to each other again and I really loved her and appreciated everything she did for me.
Funny enough, I never said anything about not smoking weed anymore. But it has been over 6 months that I have no interest in it. Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun, but I have better things to do.
After that day my grades began to improve and I felt more active. I joined a gym, took swimming classes and I joined a DNA after school program at the Museum of Natural History. I was still good friends with Melinda and she continues to smoke her blunts. I know that one day we’ll go our separate ways and things come and go. She told me one day she wanted to move to Amsterdam and open a marijuana cupcake café. Isn’t that funny?
Sometimes I tag along with her and her friends after school for a coffee or whatever but I don’t get too close with them, I have other plans ahead. I’m not quite sure what I want in life yet but I know for sure that I want to be happy. I want to afford to buy myself nice clothes, pay for a nice loft, eat good food, go out to a nice fancy restaurant once in a while, treat my friends to a drink and even help those in need.
I’m looking into medicine although that would be another 9 years of study. Oh man, wish me luck. My passion is and always will be photography but I know that I have no desire to struggle for a career living as an artist.
Sometimes I feel like I want to just let go of everything, just forget about all my problems and never have worries in life. That’s what drugs do to you, they make you forget about all your problems but the truth is that once you are sober again you realize that those problems are still there and you have to solve them. Everyone wants an easy breezy life, including me. But I know this can’t happen because people need to make choices in life, everyone makes mistakes in life, and we all have to go through obstacles and learn our lessons. I find people like Mother Teresa and Gandhi a great inspiration to people on this planet. If everyone were like them, then the world would be an amazing place. But there is no such thing as a perfect world, a Utopia. And how would we learn from our mistakes and improve if there was such a thing?