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Lost in Your Memory
I have a lot to deal with. As I woke up this morning to the sound of calamity, I decided not to get up. The effort of pretending I care wasn’t worth it today. Hours pass, and I slowly raise myself up and look into the 9-foot tall mirror that resides on my wall. I have it there so I can see who I am after I’ve lost sight of myself. I have decorated the frame with some of my favorite photographs. My favorite is a sorrowful scene. My friend Caitlin is in the middle of it. She is wearing an old, gray dress that is in ruins from years of tattered abuse. She is grabbing her knees tightly against her chest, in a desperate hope that they will protect her from the hatred in the world. She is leaning against a corner of a room, which seems vast and empty compared to her small, cold body. Hey eyes are vacant and disarmed, thinking of things too dark to express. The entire scene is black and white except for a brilliant dash of color in her green, somber eyes. I don’t quite understand why I like this photograph so much. Maybe it is because I identify with the lonely, scared, vulnerable girl in the picture, who is so shy and afraid of the world. But maybe it is just good photography.
I leave my mirror. Accepting myself is just too big of a challenge to face today. I throw on jeans that I know fit me well, and a shirt that is too short and too tight. I grab a notebook just in case I do go to class today, which I probably won’t. I find school useless now. I used to have enough energy to go along with the routine. Now, I see no point in forcing myself through things that I can’t understand. It is just something that I can’t face on a daily basis.
I call Devin as I walk through the house to my car. My Tyrone, My 2005 Black Kia Sorrento. The only thing that I can always depend on. Devin answers on the second ring. He always likes to hear from me. He thinks he can keep me out of “trouble” as he calls it. We dated for a while, but he actually cared about me and I slowly started pushing him away. So, instead of telling him how I felt, I alienated him and we broke up. It’s better that way. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I don’t trust myself to take care of myself. Even less another person. That’s how it has always been. But he still cares, so I still let him. We made plans to meet at Coffee Exchange because it is in between my house and his apartment at the University of Arizona; he also knows how much I am addicted to caffeine.
As I pull out of the driveway, I see a girl walking her dog. She is one of my neighbors, I think. I never pay attention anymore. I suppose she is about 13. I think about what she might be like when she is older- a liar and a fake just like the rest of us. For now, she is still young and pretty. I fake wave at her. The same wave that you give when some jerk in traffic finally lets you make a right turn that you could have made 20 minutes ago if he had just pulled forward 3 feet.
Just thinking about her, how she is now, how I see her becoming, and how I used to be fills me with a burning. It’s almost like contempt, but more like an anger that I couldn’t handle what life gave me. I try to quickly quell the feeling. I thought I had decided to ignore these feelings of resentment and regret, I guess I need to try harder.
I drive down the main road. Not paying attention to cars around me. But looking out at the city. This is my home, this is where I will always come from, no matter where I go to. That’s a peculiar notion. You can never change where you came from in your past, only where you go in the future. I played my favorite CD that Andrew made me ages ago. I can sing any song on it by heart. Andrew made it for me on our one-month anniversary. It’s a shame we never got past one. But that was another thing I had to leave behind in order to get anywhere.
I run through a red light and hope there are no cops around. Even if there were I’m sure I could get myself out of the ticket. I’ve done it before. I pass the restaurant that my best friend’s parents own. Whenever I go, they give me a free dessert, and I take it, but not to eat it.
When I get to Coffee Exchange, Devin is already waiting with his coffee-- black with sugar, and mine-- a low fat mocha latte. I sit down in the chair across from him. He is wearing my favorite shirt of his, a green triathlon shirt that benefited cleaning the oceans. He is a very environmental guy. He hates it when I litter. But I will probably never change. Things will happen no matter what I try to do about it, so I might as well not even try.
I slide my coffee towards me and lift it. The weight is noticeable. It doesn’t feel heavy, but it holds more weight for me than a coffee cup should. I feel weak. I haven’t eaten more than one energy bar per day for a few weeks. I try to ignore the notion that I may hurt myself with this habit. “Thanks for the coffee,” I say. Devin just looks at me with his gorgeous blue eyes. Sh**. I know that look. It means he knows something, and the chances are it is something I don’t want him to know. And even less of something that I want to discuss, which I know is exactly what is coming next.
“Elizabeth, we need to talk.” I just look at him. I’m not giving him the satisfaction of hearing my voice.
“Mike has been talking to Caitlin, and she told him about your issue.” I still look at him. My expression is blank. What in the world is her talking about? My mind races to jump ahead of his words, to come up with an alibi, an excuse for this unknown charge against me.
“You…. You need to eat. Eli, you can’t go to the gym for hours everyday and only have one power bar. You are going to die. You need food for your body to function. Are you even listening to me?” My focus snaps back to him. I had been looking out the window at a particularly attractive guy in a black pick-up. He had black hair, dark eyes, and a lip ring. But Devin was still looking at me. So this is what he’s all worried about. I can’t believe Caitlin could have let this slip. It’s really not that big of a deal. She does it too. Caitlin probably told about me to cover her own a**. My goodness, that girl only ever thinks of herself. She never thinks of how what she says will get me into situations like my current one.
“ What are you talking about? I only eat one power bar at the gym. Why would I eat more? Isn’t it bad to exercise on a full stomach? I don’t want to get cramps when I run,” I know he will see right through this, but I try to think of a better excuse while he answers.
“Eli, I know that’s not true. And so do you. Don’t lie to me. I am sick of it. Just tell me the truth. I’m just trying to help you because I care.” I know that. Of course I know he cares about me. It is probably his greatest downfall. I weigh my options, and decide that I can be truthful, sort of.
“Devin, I am so sorry. I just can’t handle it…” I lean forward, crumpling into my own arms. Shaking from my lack of food, sleep, and the coffee I just finished in front of me. His eyes go soft, and he slides nearer to me, and puts his arm around me. The weight of his muscles is comforting and warm against the thin fabric of my shirt. I raise my head and look into his face.
“I can help you Eli, I can. You know I care. How about I get you a muffin from the counter?”
“Okay, I guess so” I mumble between small sobs. My chest is shaking too. My lungs aren’t in the best shape from smoking a pack of Marlboros every week. Plus I perfected crying long ago. It worked wonders whenever I came home with a bad grade or past curfew. My next problem is the muffin he is currently buying me. I won’t eat it, that’s a given. But how to make him think I will is another issue.
I quickly look up and see he is buying a blueberry muffin. Probably the first he saw, that lazy guy. He starts walking back to the table with a giant blueberry muffin. I suppose I’ll have a bite or two too convince him and then just stay at the gym longer today.
“Here, you need this to keep your body healthy. And try to keep eating normally okay?” This shouldn’t be too hard. 145, I quickly calculate how many extra calories I’ll have to burn on the treadmill by faking my sanity now. That’s around ten minutes, which isn’t too bad considering I usually go to the gym twice every day. I tear a small corner off the muffin top. After all, if I am going to eat, it is going to be the best part of the muffin.
As my mouth closes around the sweet bread, saliva douses it immediately. My body has been anticipating this moment for months. The muffin tastes so good. But I can’t focus on that. I look up after I swallow.
“Thank you Devin, thanks for caring about me. I couldn’t get through this without you.” After I say it, I see that this can work to my advantage. Next time I need him, I can say that I am having a “relapse.” Then he will feel responsible, and he can’t leave. Then I won’t be left alone.
“I’m only looking out for you. Shouldn’t you be at school? You need to go, then graduate and get to college with me.” Damn, good point, but easy out. He is so naïve. I pull out my phone to look at the time. 8:34. School started 30 minutes ago.
“Oh no! I’m late! Devin thank you so much! For everything.” I hug him and kiss him on the cheek. I start walking away. “Bye!” I give him a wave that looks more like a hand spasm; it disgusts me, but I let it slide.
“Elizabeth, don’t forget to call!” I hear as I walk out the door. I grab my keys out of my bag as I walk across the parking lot, the black asphalt already radiating heat this early in the morning.
I slide into the driver’s seat and toss my bag on the floor. I stick the keys in the car as the motor comes to life and my music surrounds me. I am still holding the blueberry muffin in my hand. I contemplate another bite. Then I remember the burning and fire in my lung during those last minutes on the treadmill, and the breathless feeling that comes when I stop running. I throw the muffin out the window.
I pull out and screech into traffic. I head towards my house. Which is currently just a relative direction, seeing as I am about fifteen minutes and eight miles away. I have nowhere to go. I don’t think I am going to show up to school until ten o’clock anyway. That’s when I have class with Brad, the kindest guy I know. He sits next to me in writing, and I pretend to be normal for an hour during fourth period just to talk to him.
I head out to my favorite outlook of the city. I grab my laptop, and I start remembering you. How last time, you were the one who tried to get me to eat. This day reminded me of that. Everything we used to have before I ruined it. I still miss you. I hope you still miss me too.