J.R. Dalton: Story of My Life

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Dear Central Speaks,

I am 21 years old now, but I moved to Central when I was 19; that was only after living in every low income neighborhood in Baton Rouge since I ran away at 16. I had never even heard of your town until high school when I started dating a girl who lived off of Sullivan Rd. After a few months of hanging around out here, while she and I were still dating, I realized that this was the sort of place I wanted to live in. At that time I was mixed up in the sort of life parents try their hardest to detour their children from. I was addicted, unenthused with life, and found myself breaking promises and disappointing my family. I remember finding hope outside one of your churches out here and from that point I made a step in the right direction.

 It was not until I had dropped out of school and lived in the real world for a few years that I developed the means to make the move. It happened in January of 2008, when a buddy of mine that lived off of Hooper needed a roommate and posted “Only $240/ mo. Rent” into his Facebook status. I gave him a call and moved in not long after. I worked a little at Raising Canes the first year and by the time I turned 19 I was a shift Manager at the McDonald’s on Joor. I struggled with what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.

I am steadily approaching 22, have several grey hairs that I’m strangely fond of, and have already lived two lives, only one of which I’m proud. Over the past few years I have been transformed, rebirthed, and corrected yet still I am faced with the aftermath of my former-self. Still, I am odder than who I was raised to be so I’ve become a socially accepted black-sheep in my family and circle of friends–no less black yet loved so much. Now that I’ve finally gotten into college and have some real-life experience behind me I have the full support of my family and friends.

College was the furthest thing from what I thought I was capable of, and growing up I had no real encouragement to think differently. I wanted to grow, learn, be someone great, and I knew that in the world today, getting a degree would be my ticket. Now after so long being out of the academic ring, I’m enrolled and I’m already enjoying learning about those very things I thought I’d never use after school.

It has been nearly 3 and a half years since that move here and though I have too many fast food restaurants on my resume, I’m still more than motivated to be something better. After much work, many bills, and hard times without a direction, I have learned how to keep a job and upgraded from follower to leader. I have been working at local bank and now have every bill paid forward with at least 6 months- worth of cushion. I have few worries and many hopes. I have been playing music and doing gigs at most of your local bars. I have a beautiful girlfriend now, whom I have been dating for nearly two years and if I stay on the same financial track it will not be long before I marry her. Abe Lincoln said, “I do not think much of a man that is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” I have come a long way from my teen years and through it I have gained purpose and a vision for what I want to do with my life.

So here I am. I want to write; maybe even be a journalist. I love reading and writing, though it’s not what I am known for. I am in college right now at BRCC and I hope that one day I can make something more out of my past than just memories, but for now, I’ll write.

I write because I want to speak. I speak because I want to be heard.

J. R. Dalton

1 Comment

  1. B. Morgan

    December 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Beautiful. Encouraging. Hopeful. Thank You! I’ll be praying for you. Follow God’s will, you’ll be fine.

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