A peek into mylife and the person I've become would reveal something between a mountain meadowand roller coaster. The mountain meadow would be my inborn ability to be at easewith whatever comes my way, and the amusement ride my sense of adventure. Butlife hasn't always been full of vistas and fun - it took a drastic turn sophomoreyear. Amidst the hormones and homework, it took a girl to change what I thinkabout life and how much I value it.
From conception to freshman, I was byno means a Romeo or a Fabio; my personality was closer to a box of Cheerios(minus the beaming child on the front). Quiet and shy, I spent most of my timealone, closed off to others and their friendships. High school broadened myperceptions and I started opening up, but it took a trip to a third-world countryto drive home the importance of having someone who is truly worth investing everyounce of myself into.
In the spring of sophomore year I went to Mexicowith 14 other teens. Thirty hours in a packed van allows passengers to get toknow each very well. In my case, I was squeezed in the back seat next to Melanie.Long blond hair, beautifully soft features, and a view of the world around herthat excluded negativity, Melanie was not the type to put much thought into howothers think she should act; she let her actions come naturally. She prodded meinto conversation, and for the first time ever, a human of the female persuasionwas talking to me and getting to know me. But as far as I was concerned, myfantasies would remain the stuff that daydreams are made of since she was twogrades ahead of me.
When the trip was over we returned to our rival schooldistricts (don't worry, no Shakespearean allusions here). In early summer I heardthat Melanie had been in a car accident. She was in a coma and incredibly luckyto be alive, her car having been broadsided.
This was the first timeanything like this had happened to anyone I knew, and I realized how fragile lifereally is. I was overcome by a need to visit her and help her in any way I could.Several phone calls later I learned that she was in the intensive care unit andno one but family could visit. I waited weeks before I could see her, all thetime sitting in the waiting room next to the ICU for hours, thinking. During thenext month all I could do was watch and talk to her with no response, for she wasstill in a coma.
In August I went on a two-week backpacking trip andreturned with a teddy bear and high expectations for Melanie. Lo and behold, shespoke, not much at first, but enough to say that she had missed me.
In thefollowing months, she slowly recovered. A bond formed between us during thosehours in the hospital room, and listening to her and accompanying her to therapysessions, have been invaluable for me.
During the last year I havetransformed from computer geek to seminormal. Melanie's friendship was the matchthat lit the tinder. Now I have no trouble being myself in large group or talkingwith strangers. My passion for schoolwork and life itself has in-creased tenfold.I guess Melanie was what it took to get me to hurdle the walls between me and theoutside world.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.