Life for Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair by Susan Sheehan

Life for Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair by Susan Sheehan

Author:Susan Sheehan [Sheehan, Susan]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-0-8041-5109-2
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: 2013-08-20T16:00:00+00:00

Crystal’s social workers had known for years about her involvement with drug dealers, and had taken note of the expensive gifts they gave her. She had more gold jewelry than any of the other girls in the group home, and wore chains with a big Nefertiti pendant, a Nefertiti ring, half a dozen other chains and rings, and large gold shell earrings. Though many items were stolen from her at the group home and in two unsolved burglaries at the independent-living apartment, in which she lost not only much of her jewelry but also her son’s name bracelet, there was always someone new to replace the valuables. The deaths of Diamond and Troy within three and a half months made the agency nervous. Perhaps Crystal wasn’t dealing drugs, but she was associating with drug dealers, and the shots were getting too close. It was time for her to leave St. Christopher’s. When Crystal’s social worker paid a surprise visit to her apartment in November and found roaches in the ashtrays and wine coolers in the refrigerator, Crystal was told to find an apartment of her own immediately.

On December 5, 1990, Crystal Taylor moved out of the independent-living apartment and into a studio apartment in the basement of a one-family house in Hollis, Queens, fifteen minutes away by car. She had been in St. Christopher’s care for five years and eleven months. Her first post-foster-care apartment was small, dark, and drearily furnished. She had found it by buying a newspaper—Crystal has virtually no interest in the news and very rarely buys a paper—and scanning the real-estate ads. Lonnie had driven her around to look at apartments. The rent was five hundred and twenty-five dollars a month. The double bed sagged and smelled of mildew; water, not light, seeped into the place.

Crystal received a hundred-dollar discharge grant for clothing and a five-hundred-dollar discharge grant for furniture. She spent the five hundred dollars on a new double bed. She left St. Christopher’s angry—she felt she had been hurried out instead of being allowed to stay until her twenty-first birthday, and she didn’t like having to wait for her discharge grants until she produced receipts for her purchases—but she was also grateful. “If I hadn’t been put in foster care, I’d have gone back to the Jeffersons’,” she says. “Without the agency pushing me and keeping me thinking right, I’d have been a junior-high-school dropout. Me and Daquan would have had a couple of more kids before breaking up. I’d have stayed on drugs, and I’d probably be on welfare. I wouldn’t be working for an advertising agency. I’d never have met Diamond. The staffs at St. Christopher’s told me that if I had been fourteen in 1990 me and little Daquan would have gone home to the Jeffersons’. They say the system is getting more overloaded. My timing was right. Things happen for a reason. St. Christopher’s gave me a second chance at life.”


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