August 7, 2008

“Amber Ghliko!” The crowd erupts in cheers as my best friend walks across the stage, her beautiful blue gown swishing around her gracefully. I clap as hard as I can, my eyes encouraging her not to trip or fall on her graduation day. She walks up to the professor, her eyes straight ahead as if focusing on the finish line a mile away, though I know she is just diverting her attention from the crowd. She is nervous, nervous about the chapters in her life that lay ahead.

Oh, boy. My hands automatically start to sweat as my mind wanders away from the enthusiastic crowd and wavering heat. I try to push the nagging thoughts and worries to the back of my head, to be resurfaced after my name is announced, and after I shake the professor’s sweaty but welcome hand.

I take a deep, oxygen filled breath as I try desperately to calm my nerves, though I know it will be fruitless. My vision starts to sway, so I hurriedly try to find my parents’ faces in the crowd to calm me. My mother smiles and my father raises his fist in salute to me. I could tell they were proud, and even that alone helped the butterflies in my stomach fly around even harder.

I smile just at the thought of how much my parents care for me. Even from when I was five minutes old, they always provided the best for me. Just how much my mother would tell me how poisonous drama was, or how to choose my friends carefully, even if I wasn’t receptive to it, has proven it.

I laugh silently as I take a trip down memory lane. I close my eyes to make the memories sweeter, and in a split second I can see myself as an eight-year-old, soaking in all the gossip that went on at the dinner table in the evening. My father would tell my mother all the stupid (and sometimes juicy) things that went on at his work, including the all-too-popular, “He said this,” or “I cannot believe she actually said that!” stories. My mother would tell of some rude person who budged in front of her in the check-out line at the grocery store that day. I would sit there with keen ears, concocting up scenarios where I would go through the same thing when I got older.

I guess, truly, it’s the same story with every person. As a kid, you’re always yearning to be older, taller, wiser. You try to use bigger words to impress the people around you, or you even result in involving yourself in “grown-up” problems, like gossip and other things. I was the same way.

Just like a regular eight-year-old, I dreamt of Cinderella, her balls, and the romantic kiss her and her prince would share at midnight. I also dreamed of prom and the teenage drama my mother warned me about: gossip, break-ups and hook-ups. I had seen it all in movies.

Sometimes I would sit on my bus ride home and just meditate on these things. I guess maybe it was just me being ignorant, though I should’ve known that maybe, just maybe, the teenage life wasn’t all that it was cut out to be, and that my mother was right about those things. Though, truthfully, I think getting involved in these things was the best thing for me.

But, of course, I thought that I knew best, and I kept fantasizing about many teenage ordeals. I kept telling myself, that one day, I would grow up to be the most popular girl in school. But I guess I never thought it would be so hard, tiring and stressful. I guess I never thought I would cry my heart out because a guy broke up with me, and I guess I never thought I wouldn’t have the same friends forever. I guess I was just a regular eight-year-old girl.

My mind starts to spin as I go back in time, visiting where I learned that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about things.


I was eleven, and it was my first day of Junior High. Needless to say, my heart was racing and my palms felt clammy. But, of course, I naturally tried to hide that fact.

“Just be yourself.” Mother had said, her hands soothing out the wrinkles in my cotton candy pink skirt and matching blouse. “You’ll be an instant hit. Remember to always say please and thank you, and don’t forget to write down your homework.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I had replied, rolling my eyes and trying to sound like the teenagers I saw at the mall. Pushing her fussy hands away, I slid off the kitchen stool I had been resting on, grabbed my backpack, and headed for the door, eager to get on the bus and chat with my friends. As I reached the door, I sighed loudly as my father’s shape appeared in the doorway, his eyes mad but at the same time sorrowful. Hands on his hips, he pointed over my shoulder menacingly.

“Say good-bye to your mother!” He rumbled. “After all she’s done for you, you actually think you can leave without saying good-bye?” Turning to see my mother, I was shocked at how withdrawn and depressed she looked. Her eyes were drawn to my father’s, and they had almost a pleading look to them.

“Mike…” She began, but I hurried over to her and kissed her cheek, interrupting her.

“Bye, love you,” I whispered softly in her ear. I then turned around to face my father as he slowly opened the front door. Biting my lip as to what lay in store for me that day, I approached the gateway to the outside world. My father held out his arm to stop me, and when my body finally did so, completely, he enveloped me in a giant bear hug. He took me by surprise, almost toppling me over, but I regained myself.

“Bye darling. Have a nice day.”

I nodded slowly as I walked out the door, the breeze nipping at my bare legs as my eye caught the familiar yellow school bus down the street. Yelling “bye” one last time to my, at the time, bizarre parents (they weren’t truly bizarre, but hey, what’s an eleven-year-old girl supposed to think?), I raced down the driveway, anticipating another chapter in my life.

Of course, it didn’t happen that way once I actually got to school.

Later that day, I came running in my doorway, tears flowing down my cheeks as I flopped down on the nearest couch, chest heaving. It took my mother exactly thirty seconds to come rushing towards me, gathering me up in her arms, shushing me like there was no tomorrow.

It took me several minutes to stop sobbing. After I regained composure, I told my story. “S-she called us j-jerks for n-not c-calling her, and t-then flung her f-food tray at us…”

“Who did?” My mother prodded.

“K-Kylie!” Kylie had been a member of my little group of my friends since Kindergarten, and I had always called her my best friend…up until the end of fifth grade. She had stopped calling me, and never hung out with my friends and me anymore. I just thought it was all a stage and that she would come running back to us.

My mother was aghast. “Oh, Darling. Come here. Shh.”

That day, which I still remember clearly, made me sorrowful for a long time. A few weeks later, Kylie tried to apologize to my friends and I. She invited us to join her “clique”, but when most of my friends eagerly accepted, I did not. I had realized what Kylie truly had become. I sat alone at lunch for the longest time, until a girl named Amber came over to my empty table to talk to me and invite me to sit with her friends. I almost declined, because I had gotten so used to sitting alone, but when I saw her pleading face, I accepted. Amber and I have been inseparable ever since.

I lost what I thought had been my best friend that day. I thought I had been robbed, though I truly was blessed. I lost friends who weren’t true friends, and I gained friends who still love me, to this day. But I also learned that maybe the teenage drama and the “friend break-ups” weren’t so glamorous after all.


“I hate him!” I shouted as I flung my purse on my bed, seething with sorrow mixed with anger. I was a sophomore, age fifteen, in the time that some would call the prime of a teenager’s life. I honestly didn’t believe that to be true.

My first boyfriend had just broken up with me. His name was Johnny, or John for short. He had semi-long brown hair, icy blue eyes, and freckles, just like me. I really thought I had loved him. I truly did, though I think somewhere deep down inside I knew it wasn’t true love. It couldn’t have been if he had broken up with me. True love was supposed to withstand anything.

I had just got dropped off from a date. Well, it was supposed to be a date. It was more of a, “Hey, I’m breaking up with you, okay?” informal meeting kind of date. But, he still classified it as a date. He even told me it was important, so naturally, I was giddy. I dressed up fancy, did my hair up, only to be slapped in the face.

So, when he dropped me off, I ran to my room. I was sobbing, my chest heaving once again. Getting into my comfy pajamas, I scribbled furiously into an old, trashed notebook that for years I had used as a diary. Stains from my teardrops are still embedded into those pages.

I then made sure to call every one of my girlfriends and tell them of the tragedy.

“He broke up with me.”


“Johnny broke up with me.”

“I’m gonna kill him.”

“He left me.”

“Oh my gosh, Mel. I’m so sorry. Need me to come over there?”

After I was done, I went downstairs to get some ice cream. I remember I really needed ice cream at that moment, and low and behold, my mom was sitting at the kitchen counter, looking for an explanation. We had just had a big fight two days before then, that I remember was quite childish. I hadn’t spoken to her for two days, though, for some reason, I couldn’t support the brick wall I had been building. It tumbled down with a roar, dust flying everywhere.

“Johnny broke up with me.” I suddenly whispered, a tear sliding down my cheek as I sat down next to her. To my surprise, she started to laugh! I remember I was so mad at her. I was infuriated. How could she laugh at a time like this?

“I know. I can hear everything you say from my room, especially when you yell.” She then withdrew a bowl of ice cream from the fridge, already finished with caramel and a chocolate syrup smiley face, my mother’s specialty. I gaped.

“How did you-” I began, but she cut me off.

She smiled, her eyes warm. “I dated too, you know.”

I laughed in spite of myself as I hugged her, the tears now coming down in torrents, though I wasn’t necessarily sad. As we both sat in the kitchen eating our ice cream (it turned out she had made herself a bowl too), we had a wonderful talk. About what, you may ask? Oh, nothing in particular. It ranged across many subjects - life, guys, drama, everything.

I cried too, during our talk. I was ashamed for a minute, though when I relive that night I really think it was necessary. But then my mom hugged me, whispering in my ear, “Just cry. Let it out.” So I did.

I lost my first boyfriend that night. But I also regained my relationship with my mom. I also learned that, yes, life isn’t always gonna be the magazine cover on Cosmo Girl. Perfect, glamorous, drama-filled.

I remember asking myself that night: how could I have ever wanted drama?


I blink as I am torn out of my own little world as my name is announced.

“Melanie Rose!” My heart skips a beat as the crowd roars with glee. I swallow hard as I walk across the stage, making sure to put one foot in front of another. I feel nervous but excited. I was finally graduating from college! I would finally be able to get a full-time job, to move out of my stuffy dorm. To finally go out in the world and make a difference.

I spot my parents in the bustling crowd. My smile widens as my mother waves and my father mouths “champ” to me. I see my friend Amber in the corner of my eye, her smile widening as she cries and screams at the same time.

The professor is drawing closer now, I realize. I also realize that this moment, graduating from college, was not how I imagined it years ago. I don’t know why, but I imagined three people dressed in camping gear, hiking towards the sunset. There would be two women and one man - the two women representing my mom and me and the man representing my dad. I would be in the middle, a little farther ahead than the others to symbolize me graduating from having to walk alongside my parents. There would be luscious grass and a hill up ahead with a swamp directly in front of it. There would be mountains, symbolizing perhaps my greatest moment in life, or maybe even my death. A storm would be blowing in, in the distance, though at that moment everything was bathed in gold.

I break out of my fantasy, and as I shake the professor’s hand, it dawns on me. Graduating from college is exactly like my mental image from long ago. I am graduating from having to walk alongside my parents. I am breaking free, and my life has just begun, just like the three in the picture.

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Chatty said...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 12:38 am
Well done!!!! I knew you could do it and this should be only the beginning of a fine writing career. I believe you have the talent to do it.
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