Gallup is a nice town and it's even better at night. Most nights I go out on to my front porch and look at the view of the town. There is a nice view from the east side of town and another nice view to the west. In the middle of the night it's very quiet and all the lights shine bright. The only thing that messes up Gallup's quietest time would be the horn of the train when it passes through.
I have had a rough life here. Living in Gallup was hard for me because I was beaten as a kid and I had a single mother with no father growing up in my teen years. When I was in grade school, I was in many fights and I witnessed much violence. When I got home every day from school, I had chores and helped my father work around the yard. My chores that my dad had left for me were to feed the dogs, throw the trash, clean my room, etc.
When I would go down the street to throw the trash and check the mail, I would always see a bunch of kids fighting and drinking. While I watched all this violence, I didn't think anything of it. It was just a normal day to me.
When my father got arrested, I was 11 years old. As I grew older, I got into the gang life and was in the footsteps of the kids that I used to watch get in trouble. When I became affiliated and certified into my gang, I felt like no one could speak above me ever again.
At the age 14, I got arrested for my first crime. I was caught with possession of drugs and when I went to the juvenile detention center, I didn't feel any remorse. But I did feel bad because my mother had to visit me and talk to me through a two-inch-thick glass window. I just didn't want to be there and I really wanted to go home. I did not shed any tears and I didn't let anyone mess with me. By the time I got out, I had done 11 days and I did not want to stay in any longer.
When I got back on the streets again, I started distributing drugs. It was not the best life for a 15-year-old. I was getting more violent as my respect grew on the streets. I was doing a lot of things that were bad such as robbing houses, stealing cars, beating up people just for fun, etc. Witnessing and doing all these crimes changed me into a careless person, making me think differently about other people's feelings.
I had been incarcerated about 15 times by the time I turned 16. Being through all that, I thought about everything that I had done wrong in the past and it changed a little part of me on the inside. Experiencing all that changed the way I treat people today. Now I treat people the way they treat me. For example, if I get respect from someone then I'll show the same respect back.
Now I am 17 and I have been on probation four times. I live on the north side of Gallup with my mother, sister, and my aunt. They do their best to help me stay on track and want me to get somewhere in life. My sister and I are very close. We always talk and have the most fun together. She is always telling me to do well because she doesn't want to see me messing up in life. My family tells me that I can still have fun in life, but I must think about my actions as well.
I am now doing a year on probation for a fourth-degree felony that I picked up almost seven months ago. I have been trying my hardest to stay out of trouble but it seems like trouble always finds me. My goal in life is to possibly go to college, get certification to become a mechanic.
I finally realized, after all the advice my family and close friends have been giving me, that I can make it to where I want to be. I go to Miyamura High School and I'm planning on trying out for the basketball team. I enjoy playing sports because I smoke cigarettes and I'm trying to quit. I know that smoking and sports don't mix. I can get far in life and I am going to do my best to get there.
I am writing this article to tell others how my life living in Gallup N.M.
(Editor's note: This op-ed was produced by a juvenile on probation. The Children, Youth, and Families Department in Gallup submitted this piece on behalf of the juvenile.)