It’s been about five years since you’ve heard from me last, so I guess I should catch you up on what happened. I was eager to start high school. I had a job and friends and started to figure out who I was. A lot has changed since then. Some for better and others for worst. You see, May 18th of last year is a day I’ll never forget. That day, the class I would have been enrolled in graduated. That is the day I would have graduated high school. When I was younger, I knew being able to afford a catholic school education was nearly impossible for my family, but despite my doubts, I saved all of my money. However, those broken stairs at my house finally collapsed. All of my savings went into fixing them. After that, I had to quit my job. That man that forcibly kissed me kept making advances and I knew it would not get better. I could not find another job after that. With no money saved up, I was forced to dropout of high school just like some of the other girls on Mango Street. I should have been able to experience high school. On the day of what would have been my graduation, I knew my time on Mango Street was at its end. I went home and took off for the nearest train station with only my books, papers, and a few of my favorite things.When I left, it broke my heart, but I knew I would come back for my family and so many others. That is what I had always promised to do.
When I got to the station, I had forty-two dollars from babysitting. My main focus was food and a ticket. To save money, I picked the cheapest ticket I could find, which would take me to New York City. My train left in the evening, so I found a bench and claimed it as my own. I just sat there. No one noticed me. I saw little girls who got pushed around by men much older and stronger than them just how it happened to me. This reminded me of all the reasons why I needed to write about and fight for women when I got New York. I was so caught up in my thoughts that I almost missed my train. Before I knew it, an old man was calling through the speaker “Next train to New York.” As the train moved, I was filled with panic because I realized I had no place to stay. I decided to find the closest shelter when I got there. I had twenty-two hours to get all of my plans figured out.
When I got to New York, I got a map and off I went to The Bowery Mission. I stayed for two and a half months. They helped me get a job on the street near a little shop where I sold pizza and water. While there, I met a woman named Athena. She was thirty-two and had one child, Logan. Her husband kicked her out after three years of abuse and she had nowhere to go. After saving my money and finally rented a small apartment, I remembered Athena and her son and how so many other women on my street were just like them. It reminded me of how much I missed my family and how I’d go back for them someday. I still sold pizza and water, but tried to write a book about the struggle of women in my free time. I began to doubt myself because so many publishers told me people don’t want or need to know about all these problems. No one thought I could do it, so I started to believe them. One day, after another failed attempt, I hit rock bottom and stopped writing. I went on for three months and didn’t write at all. Then after work one day, I saw the most beautiful pair of shoes I have ever seen in my life. I knew if I got my big break, I could afford my house on a hill, those shoes, and be able to bring my whole family to New York. Those shoes represented everything I have wanted and worked for in life. With my dreams closer in reach than ever, I vowed to never give up again.
Finally, I met a publisher named Olivia. Her mom had been killed by her husband after he abused her. She reminded me of my mom with her curly hair, eyes I could look at forever, and her skin soft as snow. I remembered how deeply I needed to see my family again so, I showed her what I had so far. Her eyes lit up and I could tell she would never doubt me and I finally found someone to help me pursue my dreams. I kept writing. I devoted day and night to it, sometimes being late for work, but it was all worth it. I was going to show the world Mango Street. All the abuse on Mango Street. The fear, rejection, and mistreatment on Mango; I would show it all. My story is something other’s can call their own and it will finally be heard. Everything I wanted was coming true. I was looking for houses, got recognized at a convention for upcoming writers, and even visited Athena and her child. I could finally help other girls while having my dream job. Being alone in New York, when I hardly fit the mold of a typical “New Yorker”, made my heart break when I thought about my family too much, but a voice deep in my mind reminded me I had to go back.
My life turned upside down in a short year. I got better at writing, left my first home on Mango Street and I planned to release my first book. I also planned to go to Mango soon. I needed to document the emotion and experience it gave so people can see the real Mango Street. I knew I needed to get my family out of there and help so many women. Women who sat at their window every day would finally be able to make something of their lives. With my words I can help show that anything is possible, no matter race or where you grew up. I may not have the best life or be the most important person in the world, but when people ask who I was, a little girl with a strong voice can say I changed her life and made a difference. The street I lived on taught me falling doesn’t mean you have to stay down. Mango Street will always be my first house and shaped me into the person I am today, but I now know that it is escapable and that it will never take me back again.