Thursday, September 3, 2009


I've come to a conclusion.
We lose intelligence as we grow older.
Don't agree? Keep reading.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 11, sitting in our big conversion van, on the way home from a trip to North Carolina. I sat at the truck stop, waiting for my mom and god mom to come out. I was flipping through a popular teen magazine, and a certain article caught my attention. It was abut kids who were 'Straight Edge.' You know, no smoking, no drinking, no drugs. I guess I was so intrigued by the piece because I had always been against all of that in the first place: I watched my brother's (and other family members') downfall from drugs and drinking and I promised myself at an early age to never touch any of it, especially cigarettes (which had taken my grandpa before I had ever met him.) I'm sure I read the article three times over, and like I always do, got super inspired, and decided to live my life 'Straight Edge.' By the time we had pulled away from the truck stop, I had drawn black X's on my hands like the kids in the magazine had so they would be denied alcohol upon entering a club. I was also determined to have the X's tattooed on my hands as soon as I could, just like the kid in the magazine.

I managed to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes all throughout middle school, but as soon as I hit high school, everything changed. Immediately, I got in the wrong group of kids, and by the third week of school, I was drunk for the first time. Yup, my first time getting drunk was at the homecoming game. I wish I could remember it better. I managed to stay out of trouble until that summer, when I smoked weed for the first time. By sophomore year, I was smoking out of an apple in my bedroom before school, and by May of sophomore year, I was smoking cigarettes. It was one thing after another.. I wouldn't say I did it to fit in, but instead, I saw my friends having the time of their lives, and I was sick as hell of being this sheltered Christian girl..So I let loose.

The three things I vowed to stay away from since a little girl, and I was doing all three regularly. By the summer before junior year, I was drinking beer with my pancake breakfasts, high all day, and smoking up to a pack of Newports a day. That summer, last summer, were my self titled 'glory days.' I lived with my best friend for two weeks, and those two weeks were the best 14 days of my life. Drinking, smoking, listening to Free Ride and Stranglehold over and over, doing whatever the hell we wanted. And the rest of the summer continued the same: Our parents had no idea what we were doing, and frankly, we didn't care if they did. We were idiots, and loving every minute of it.

I won't go into too much detail, but my downfall came the first week of Junior year, when I got expelled. Pills were involved, and I was humiliatingly arrested in the middle of school. All of my charges were dropped, but our glory days came to an abrupt end, and I, as well as my group of friends got a harsh reality check. Harsh.

In the past months, since being home schooled, I've looked back on the choices I've made, and I ask myself 'Who have I become?' The little girl with badly drawn X's on her hands in honor of her brother, had morphed into this: A girl who cared more about getting cigarettes, getting weed, and getting drunk, more than herself, her health, her family.

About a week ago, I sat down on my computer, and found a pamphlet lying on the keyboard. It was hand drawn by me, when I was ten or so. It had a big cigarette with a red line through it on the front. The next page had a horribly drawn red lung and a horribly drawn black lung.'Your lung if you don't smoke. Your lung if you smoke.' The next page featured a stick figure with X's over his eyes with 'Every cigarette you smoke takes a minute from your life' scribbled above. My mom walked in behind me, and saw me flipping through the folded piece of computer paper which she had come across and left for me. 'A minute doesn't seem like a lot until you have kids. Then you'll want to live every minute you can.' She said, and walked out. I flipped through the pamphlet titled 'Smoking Kills' once more, and pushed it away.

So last night, I sat outside the back door of our basement, smoking a cigarette, and thought about my decision to be straight edge so long ago. My promise to my mother and father that I'd never smoke, never drink and I wondered this:

Why hadn't I followed my own advice, and never started any of it in the first place? I was so much smarter then, it seems. I knew the facts back then: Smoking causes cancer. Drinking can turn into a dependency, and nothing good comes from drugs. But as soon as I hit high school, and went wild, the facts didn't matter anymore, all that mattered was having fun, no matter the cost.
If only I had followed my own advice, I wouldn't be this: Seventeen, with a slight beer belly, kicked out of school and regularly drug tested at home, with a cigarette addiction.

I was smarter then, when all that mattered was facts. When peer pressure wasn't issue. When I was oblivious to what really surrounded me. If only I had kept those values, those morals, I had as a sheltered girl, I wouldn't be in this mess.

So I guess I somewhat disagree with my own conclusion: Maybe we don't lose intelligence as we age, maybe we just don't give a shit about the facts anymore. Maybe we just become stupid.

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