Here’s the deal… I grew up in a small college town known as Canyon, Texas. I lived with my dad in a semi-normal-sized family until the big fall out of my senior year. Being a socially awkward kid, getting kicked out of my home was the last thing I needed. I had almost no friends to speak of and all of my mom’s family was ages away. I ended up moving my stuff around to a couple of different coworkers places before I finally somewhat got settled. I was living on the floor of a two-bedroom apartment with three other people and had no money for groceries, and my only transportation was a bike. By the good grace of God, another coworker needed a roommate for a much cheaper rent, and she actually had a room for me. Living there I worked over forty hours a week, finished high school, enlisted in the U.S. Army (HOOAH), and had my first taste of a hangover.
Then, one thing led to another… like little money –> ramen noodles and mac & cheese for every meal –> weight gain –> forced to move deployment date back by at least six months. A.K.A.– I had been discharged with the invitation to come back in six months assuming I had lost the seven pounds I had needed to. Having been discharged, I had a new scenario that needed to be worked out at lightning speed. I had $11.31 in my bank account, $77.39 in my tip jar (all in change), a $60 phone bill coming up, and no job having quit my job in time for me to ship out. Moving back in with my dad was not an option for me. No matter how many times he told me it would be different, and we could work things out; his actions spoke otherwise, especially those of my stepmother and siblings. Moving back in with my old roommate was an option, but she was having issues with her ex-boyfriend, who had also been a roommate of ours, and was planning to move out into an apartment of her own, or her mother’s house if that didn’t work out. My closest friend offered to let me move in with him when his brother moved out in November, but it was September, and I needed a place to go now.
So when life gets you down, take a shot; eat some donuts; and call Mommy. I have wanted to live with my mom for the longest time. We got along really well. My siblings and I got along really well, especially my favorite (sssshhh) Kennedy Stafford. Our personalities and lifestyles fit together. But, alas!!! That tyrant known as my father would never let me stay with Mom beyond her visitation rights. She wasn’t a responsible mother is his eyes and didn’t deserve it. But me being eighteen meant this time daddy couldn’t say no. I digress.
Ma was elated that her “first sweetie pie” (yes, she really said that) wanted to move in. She would finally have all of the babies under one roof, and if I couldn’t manage to find a job in big ol’ Dallas, Texas she would pay my bill for me anyway because it’d be a help for me just to be home. Dad was furious and belittled her, me, the city, and threw all sorts of Hail Mary passes to try and get me to stay, but to no avail. I was going, and I was stoked. I would get to see all my siblings that I hardly get to see. I could go to my sister’s plays, help out with the babies’ girl scouts (they’re not babies anymore, but the nickname is stuck), play knives with my oldest little brother and XBox with the youngest. I packed my stuff and we got loaded up, and I am now a resident of the big D. And I got the biggest culture shock of my life.
Now, I’ve been in Dallas before to see some football games. I’ve vistited my family many times. But, I soon realized that the peace and quiet of my own head had vanished. Besides me, there are five other kids: Kennedy (15), Neil (12), Corynne (8), Madison (7), and Kent (5); two other adults: Ma and Michael (my stepdad); and two guinea pigs–Gandalf and Sherlock. Kennedy’s graduating class is as large as the whole population of my former high school. Four houses down is a major street of Garland. One block down is the ability to get lost even with a GPS and a smart phone. My life quickly became an adventure. And here it is for you.