Ever since I was young I have always challenged myself to be different and better. Being the middle child in the family and different from others around me, I starved to attain status. "Stand up for what you believe is right, even if you stand alone," and 1 Timothy chapter four were the very words I lived by and thus led me to being accepted for who I was as a result of my personal or group achievements, whether in playing sports, being a ranking cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, participating in after school projects or events, or indulging in my love for music or writing. There are many memories that I recall associating with my personal accomplishment, but the best example of my character is centered in the worst time in my life.
When I was about three years old, my parents split up and moved to different parts of the state of Pennsylvania, and so for the next ten years or longer, I can remember all the four-hour car trips traveling back and forth from Carlisle to Kittanning.
Since my parents had divorced and lived in different places, my brother, my sister, and I were driven out to Kittanning every other weekend for two day visits with my mother, and for as long as I can remember, I was never happy with the car rides, with living in the company of my father, or with my parents' divorce completely. Throughout all the years that would follow, I imagined living with my mother so I could excel and follow the dreams I wanted for myself, not do what my dad desired, and I waited ten long years till I had the chance to make a decision of my own.
At age thirteen I was legally old enough to decide where I would like to live and how I wanted to go about my life; and, when I became of age on September 25th, 1996 I told my dad that my wish was to live with my mother. The endless court battles and custody hearings from my past started over again once more, until the one day in the summer. That day was the final decision, final quarrel, and the final end of the reign of "who was to live where" and "who visited who," and that day was particularly rough for me. My dad, brother, sister, step-mother, and the rest of the Long family tried to waver my decision to leave, while my mother and the rest of the Bowser family placed faith in me to make the right choice and left that faith in God's hands to see the tribulations through. The company of God and my close best friend and mentor, Darryl Day, both comforted me and helped me cope with the stress. In Carlisle at the city courthouse we waited for five hours in a separate room until it was my time to go see the judge and talk with him. It was the decision of my mom and other counselors that I should not testify in court, but rather in another place so I could speak of my destiny with total confidence and truth, and without the pressure of the families acting on me.
I had waited many years for this moment, many years of a typical middle child, and many years as someone who couldn't become who he dreamed he wanted to be. In the Judge's private study he talked with me on a simple level and to me, not as an official of the law, but as a father and as someone who cared for my well being. The judge had just met me for the first time that day and he took the time to find out all about me and why I was going through this struggle. By the end of the meeting, he knew my story of how long I held on till this day, he knew what my dreams were, and he knew that this custody hearing was for me and not for anyone else. And this talk alone with the Judge made all the difference. When the hearing ended, the result was permanent and I was going to live with my mother for the remaining years of my schooling life.
To this day I have followed many dreams and accomplished a few of them, and so many more are left to reach. As long as I live, I will never forget this time of achievement and commitment in my life, because it took a large part of my life a resolve to never give up, and the help of God, to reach my first major dream.