How I Moved Cross Country at 18 and Found My True Identity
A week after I turned 18 with the love my life we packed my 2006 Silver Mustang and his 1989 Tiffany Blue Jeep Cherokee with the bare essentials and drove 38 hours to Merritt Island, Florida. In those 38 hours we spent separate, due to driving separate cars, I listened to 10 audiobooks and every song on my playlist about five to six times but when I think back to the first 15 minutes driving out of town my mind was not with my family or friends I was leaving behind, even though I knew I’d miss them dearly and still do to this day. I thought to the version of myself I was leaving in Castle Rock, Colorado. That day, those 18 years were a blur. A blur filled with joy, laughter, memories, but also sadness, pain and bitter moments.
Who I was when I lived the life of Sami Grimwood, the troublemaker and the laughing stock of my high school. I was in a very dark place for the majority of my high school career. Even with the support of my family and the few true friends I had, that town had darkness hovering over it like a cloud of smoke. I needed an escape. I needed to reinvent myself and be happy.
The first 10 months of living in Florida I spent most of it alone, between school and both Tony and I working full-time jobs to pay our bills out schedules never overlapped. When I was sleeping he was at work and when he was sleeping I was at school. I needed companionship and decided to get a dog, Atlas, a Dutch shepherd Pit Bull mix with a checkered past. He was found in a heroin dean that doubled as a dogfighting ring. When the police raided the place they found him, hairless, shaking and covered in wounds so infected you could barely touch him without a yelp. He was a bait dog, the small animal to get the fighting dogs riled up. He was rehomed twice and there seemed to be no hope. Until I stumbled upon him on craigslist, “$100 for the first person to show up, 8-month-old mix with a lot of problems”. I called the poster and said, “I will be there, 9:00 AM tomorrow, I want him.” I woke Tony and our friend Britt up, who was visiting at the time, and told them we are going to Kissimmee I’m picking up our new puppy. We drove 2 and a half hours and as soon as I saw him I knew he was mine.
A little over two years later, he is kind of a pain in my butt, but the most positive thing in my life. He found a way into my broken heart and with butt wiggles and slobbery kisses mended my soul. He is my best friend, my confidant, and the best thing to happen to our life. I say “our life” for he and Tony have a special bond that I don’t understand just like Atlas and I have our own also. He was also crucial to my ongoing process of coping with the death of my father who died in May.
Having our sweet boy stumble into my life gave me confidence in the person I was becoming. While I saw only flaws and negatives in myself and in my life he brought me back to earth using his unconditional love as a tool. In that time, I have been more confident in myself and who I am now, I am heard by someone who, though cannot respond, listens to my pointless rants and the random thoughts I have on a daily basis.
I have found a sense of identity in the person I have become and my drive to achieve my goals haven’t been stronger, and with the help with friends, family, Tony, and my dear boy Atlas, I have found me. The me that has always been inside but was afraid of judgment from my peers. I was bullied in high school, for many years I had attacks on social media, rumors, and even physical violence. I made many mistakes in my past that to this day linger with me. Constant reminders when I visit home, and memories that sit in the back of my mind. But nevertheless, my mistakes were the lessons that made me who I am now and who I am now is who I was meant to be.