As promised…Part 2 …..(I want you all to know my story so you can understand God’s work and my Faith Walk) Please feel free to comment and tell someone else about the blog…Thank You and God Bless!
I received my drivers permit at 15 years old which was great as that brought with it the ability to explore further than my bike had previously taken me. I was able to use the car to go on small errands, and on Sabbath, I was able to drive to church. Jamaican parents tend to be very strict so I had to have some kind of justification to leave the house. Therefore, most of my social life came from church related activities. As my friends and I started to turn 16, it meant it was time for your license, which meant you could drive without the need of an adult (mainly parents!).
This is where the firsts tastes of freedom came and seeds were planted. At this age, your friends start to become more important and your family less important. Things started to change. The “I had to move from New York attitude” was gone now (although I knew someday I was going back) and I was starting to make new friends and settling in to my Floridian life. I was now being invited to hang out with the school kids and I wanted to fit in so bad that I found that the Seventh Day Adventist life was starting to impact my social life. I couldn’t go to parties on Friday nights and found myself making excuses for missing the party.
There were more and more baptisms at church and my Mom continued the harassment. Finally I broke down and said I was ready to be baptized. I began to study for baptism and my Pastor came by the house to study with me. The Sabbath around my 16th birthday I got baptized and my parents were happy, (Mom was so happy.) Looking back now, I think that I felt slightly different after being baptized, but I did not feel a true conviction or conversion. I think I was happier that my Mom wouldn’t ask me to get baptized anymore. That very night there was a big party and I was getting phone calls like “Dwayne! You hanging out tonight?” I was mad because it was a Saturday night and normally I would have been able to go but I was like “Nah, I just got baptized…How am I gonna go to a party!?”
So there I felt like “You’re supposed to be happy, why aren’t you?” I want to make it clear – I did want to be baptized, I just felt the same afterwards and I thought it would have been different. So as time went by, I continued to go to church but I started to feel funny.
So to fast forward a little bit, my junior year in High School, everyone started applying to colleges, taking the SATs, the ACT’s. I took my tests and scored very well on the ACT and I started to get letters from colleges coming in. I was cool with some of the older students that were seniors or graduated and they would say “Go to University of Florida!” or “Go to Florida State!”. So I applied to both and got accepted to Florida. I was like “Yes!! I am going to be out the house!” Because the ONLY thing my mom talked about more than baptism, was getting an education. I went to Florida for an orientation during my senior year. One of my best friends was already going to school there so I told him what weekend I was coming and he said I could stay with him. It just so happened that the weekend I went was Rush week. That’s when all the Fraternities were trying to recruit new pledges. Alcohol, Alcohol, Alcohol!
We went down Frat Row and got smashed! Drinking at every frat house, (That was the first time I ever drank.) and finally ending up at a Toga Party!. I met a nice young lady there and we danced and spent the night together. “What a weekend!” I thought. “I can’t wait to go to college!”
Graduation came and went we all cried and said our goodbyes. Two weeks later I was at Florida. I was all about getting my grades so I could pledge a fraternity and I was always looking for a party.
(I managed to do a little school work along the way.) As I would go around visiting people on campus, I came across some kids from church that I didn’t even know when there and they would go to church in Gainesville, and I was wondering what was wrong with them?? They are away from home and they go to church?! They are weird! I think I hung out with them once.
Drinking turned into smoking and I was partying more than studying. I never realized what it took to send me to school. The sacrifices that were being made for me that I was taking for granted. I pledged the frat and then I was a brother! Wow! Now I have status…people know me, I’m the life of the party… What a fool I was. It wouldn’t last forever because along with the bills my parents were getting, they received my transcripts as well. 18 months after it started, it was over. I lived with my sister for a while and started going to community college, where I pretty much repeated the Florida scenario. Finally I ended up back at home and back at church.
I unsuccessfully tried to find work for about a month and got to the point I would just about do anything. I finally got a 2 week filing clerk position. It ended up turning into something permanent and I wound up working nights after a few months in the Data Center which made it difficult to go to church (which I actually preferred).
After being out from underneath my parents for a while, it was hard to go back and live like that again. After working nights for about 2 years, My brother in New York was getting married so I had to go up there for the wedding. Finally I was going back to NY!! (even though it was just a visit). While I was in NY I got the newspaper to see the salaries of Computer Operators like myself and I could not believe the salaries!
I asked my sister in New York if I got a job there could I stay with her until I got on my feet. She told me yes. Two week later, I was in NY.
Up Next…Part 3 – New York