Amanda Martucci is an organized student, a master planner: when I saw “Sarah” holding court in the front activity and game room, it seemed to be a good match. These two talked just as long outside the recording booth as they did inside. They hugged when they said goodbye. Amanda opted for Esquire’s “What I’ve Learned”-type format when she edited the piece, putting some of Sarah’s sayings in bold; I think it was a good choice.
“I’m a life guard. I teach people about HIV and AIDS.”
An Interview with ‘Sarah S.,’ Age 17
As told to Amanda Martucci
The people you’re around, I think, influence you the most. That’s what everyone says. Like, you can have a positive attitude but if you’re around negative people, you choose to do negative things. You have a negative attitude, and you start to hang around positive people, you do positive things. So, the people you hang around with and your living situation definitely changes your perspective on a lot of things.
I have lived in Albany my whole life, but in 2003 I moved to Detroit, Michigan. I think it was ’08 or ’07, I won a best community service award. And it was fun because it was a good achievement. Not only did I win a plaque, but my mom and my dad showed up and everyone was there congratulating me and it was just a good day. And plus, you get two-hundred and fifty dollars and I was really in a bad predicament; I really didn’t have no sneakers so I bought two pairs of sneakers.
I’m a life guard. I teach people about HIV and AIDS.
The best thing to do at Equinox is just everything, it’s just mad fun.
When I found out my mom had HIV, that had the biggest effect on me, because everything just turned because she denied it and, like, she’d do things that were not positive and wouldn’t help her in that area. And she doesn’t listen when I try to explain it to her. But it also took a positive role because now I can teach other people and from a personal point of view.
This has affected my career path in a positive way because I’m like yeah, I wanna stay in this area so people can feel comfortable with talking about it and talking to their kids about it.
I wanted to play volleyball. I really love volleyball, but I couldn’t because the day that I had to hand in the forms, I was too sick to go to school. I get sick a lot. But I don’t go to the hospital, there’s no point. So I just stay home, have some broth and I’ll be good for the next day.
School is alright, but I get sidetracked a lot. Like, my grades. It’s too early to tell for this year. And in the last couple years, I kind of messed up, so I decided to do an extra year in high school so I can get extra credits. I was going to graduate this year, or go to summer school to get my diploma. All my friends are juniors anyway, so I decided to keep myself back and work up with my class, like, with my friends and stuff. And get the grades I need to get instead of like just sixty-fives. I want more than that, so I just decided I’m going to wait to graduate until next year.
The most difficult challenge? I have a bad attitude. But I’m trying to fix it.
But I just, like, get real mad like if someone says something, I just go off at them. And that’s how I got into a lot of fights. But I overcame it because I knew it wasn’t getting me anywhere. And last year, I got arrested and I had to stay the night downtown, so that was a big wake-up call for me.
But getting arrested, that’s truly embarrassing because you’re embarrassing yourself, you’re embarrassing your parents, and you’re embarrassing your friends. So when I got arrested, I felt like a failure.
When I feel like someone’s trying to get too close to me, I push myself back.
I had a boyfriend. We were going out for about three weeks and he told me that he loved me, so I was, like, pause. You can’t love someone after three weeks.
I’m exclusive. Everybody knows that [giggles].
I’m exclusive because I’m not like anyone else. I don’t like to wear the same thing as everyone else. I like to be different. And I love myself.
If I won a million dollars, first, I would take my permit test and a day later, I’d get my license. And then I’d buy my Cadillac Escalade. I’d buy my family a house, and I’d buy my mom a house because I don’t live with my mom, I live with my dad and his girlfriend. And then, I’d take all my friends, everybody I know, probably the whole Equinox, on a shopping spree. And then, I’d take the whole Equinox crew to Six Flags. Then I would put money in the bank.