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Not Everyone Has to Change
Identity is one of the biggest struggles every teenager has to go through once in their life. Who am I? What do I like? What do I dislike? Sitting cross legged on the soft cloud that lay over my living room floor, I pondered these questions and traced the cracks in the wooden floor as my mind drifted to a recent memory from my past: a day not too long ago but filled with such odd and wondrous remembrance.
I glared down at my iPhone, willing it with my mind to beep with the familiar sound of an incoming text message. It remained deadly silent, mocking me. Why, why are they so late? I had been looking to this day for ages, the day I would finally get to meet up with the friends I had made in my previous school, Mica University High School, after two long years. Evidently, I seemed to be the only person who felt that way. I flopped onto the white sterile sheets on the patient’s bed in my dad’s doctor’s office and sighed. I felt the blood rush up to my face and tears of frustration prick at the corner of my eyes. I stopped my tears just as they were about to grow heavy enough to fall over with the force of sheer will.
R-r-ring! R-r-r-ring! I grabbed at my phone like a hawk diving down at its prey and clicked on the message. ‘Sorry we’re so late. We’ll be there in like 5. The T train was jam packed,” Sent from Emily Santiago. I blew the hair in front of my eyes, aiming my air upwards and simultaneously rolling my eyes. It was 12:30 on a Sunday. The T train was a form of public transportation. No one’s even taking the train to work or school. Yeah, Em, you’re totally late.
You know what? I don’t care that you’re late. Just please comeeeee. I really wanna see you guys. And I feel terrible not sticking up for myself. But I love you guys. I know your faults. Please come. I miss you all.
‘Hey, girl, where you at? Hurry up we’re waiting for ya,’ Sent from Emily Santiago. I laughed out loud at her comment and set my phone down. I grabbed my dark blue coat with the fuzzy white mittens. Pushing my glasses further up my nose and lacing up my boots, I stepped out of the office feeling like I could conquer the world. Waving goodbye to the older man in glasses outside seated at his mahogany wood desk aka my dad, I moved out of the room and down the stairs with a slight bounce in my step.
Once outside, I lifted my face up to the sky and the cool breeze blew down my hood, leaving my cheeks to be reddened by the biting wind. I saw the cerulean ocean in the sky and squinted at the ball of fire suspended in the air. ‘Come on. Come on,’ Sent from Emily Santiago. I giggled and typed a quick ‘omw (On My Way!)’ back to her and placed my phone securely in my jacket pocket. Chicago at this time of day wasn’t exactly someplace you wanted to stroll around showing off you owned a fancy Apple iPhone 7.
I continued to move down Hyacinth Street, standing on the very tips of my toes in order to see over the heads of the people blocking my view. Coming to a stop at the subway station near a 7 11 station, I looked around to find two beige-colored blobs and three chocolate-brown-colored blobs waving enthusiastically at me.
Ella Lee is a fierce and tiny barracuda, a violent cute-but-deadly ninja. She is quick to lash out at others and is known for hiding some of the cafeteria’s plastic knives up her sleeves in preparation for a physical attack. But underneath that tough and gruff exterior, there lies a girl who would go to great lengths for her friends. On our trip, the store manager chastised Emily for getting too many free yogurt samples; Ella lashed out in fierce protectiveness. When I exclaimed that I had forgotten my wallet back in my dad’s office, Ella gave me a 10 minute long harangue on responsibilities but ended up paying for me anyway.
Emily Santiago used to be one of my best friends back in the brick-walled, no window prison the education administrator called Mica Uni High. She always had a smile on her face, no matter what happened, and laughed at every little thing; as bright as the color she loved best: gold. When the two of us decided to have a racing contest in the nearby park, Emily started off the contest by making me laugh so hard I couldn’t begin and so she won by a long shot. She told jokes and made terrible puns, lessening my fear of an awkward day with these distant friends.
Katrina Thomas and Ariel Ortiz came in a package. Throughout the two and a half years that I’ve known them, I have never seen one without the other. Katrina is a cheetah that spots a particularly tasty-looking gazelle; she rarely gives up. One hysterical moment of our trip was when Katrina argued with the cashier for much longer than necessary, all because the change he calculated was one cent incorrect. Ariel is a hummingbird with a devoted attraction to the hungry cheetah, flitting here and there in search of a new bracelet, new fashion trend, or new Japanese animation series. Ariel ran from food stand to food stand and bought over 4 different desserts before recommending to us to buy the crepe.
Yoon Baek Hee, or Kitty, is a thinker. Quick in academics and fast at learning, Kitty always placed first on the exams and was the head of the class in mathematics. She didn’t mind it when others called her ugly, or when they made fun of her homely meals, and I loved her for it. She had absolutely no limitations on her world and thought of everything as normal; society could never affect her personality. Kitty stood by the cashier and calculated the change faster than the computer could, and when the cashier tried to give Katrina the wrong change, Kitty waited for Serena to finish her rant and then told the man quietly, “I know that you tried to steal her money. I saw you place the extra five in a separate register. And I want to tell you, no matter what society dictates, stealing isn’t right. I think you have the potential to become someone who doesn’t do immoral things.”
After the day was over, I went back to my dad’s white sterile office with its white sterile sheets and grinned wide. I breathed a long lengthy sigh of relief at the realization that times do change, but sometimes, the right people won’t.