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   It was 7:30 at night, another weekend had passed, and the count was 80 daysuntil the end of school. I sat watching CNN in the living room on the oppositeside of the couch from my father. I was more and more interested in the news. Myafter-school ritual used to consist of crunchy snacks, "Total RequestLive" on MTV, and lots of procrastinating before tackling the seeminglyunending mounds of homework that awaited me after a monotonous six hours ofschool.

This week, however, I felt different. My interest in the news wasjust developing. The thought of missing just one day of the world's events hadbecome a new fear. Going to bed I would lie awake, wondering what was going on indifferent land masses and time zones around the world. I longed to be in thosecountries where history was happening, where I could somehow be making adifference.

Often I have found myself so wrapped up in my thoughts andexcitement that I have forgotten to fall asleep. Realizing I must force myself tocalm down, I bribed myself (as I did my younger cousins when they were anxious):"The sooner you fall asleep, the sooner morning will come." For me,this means I jump onto my computer and see what I missed while in bed. That hasbecome part of my morning routine.

So, this is my preface. This newobsession is very different from any teenager I know. What sparked it? An eventthat should happen to everyone. Something that transformed my state of mind andthe perception of what I had looked at for years, but am just now beginning tograsp.

Recall my earlier scenario, but this time, I am not avidlywatching CNN like it's a thrilling movie, trying to anticipate the next move ofthe antagonist. This time I am about to change CNN to my beloved"Friends" reruns. Then an image finds me. This image changes me. Areporter in Afghanistan shows a bunch of children, boys and girls surrounded by awar-torn, destitute ghost town. The reporter asks one of the boys a question and,because of his answer, I am forever indebted to him.

He said, "Weneed a school the most."

I never met this boy. He is a stranger. Heis one of those lives in a faraway place that I now think about while lying awakeat night. It was at that moment that I glued myself to the TV, forgetting aboutRoss and Rachel and the reruns of my favorite show. At that moment a differentchapter for my developing mind began.

Soon the news changed to anotherheadline. I looked at myself; I looked at my pajamas. There was a hole in them.On the floor next to my feet were the remains of my unfinished apple. I waswasteful. I solemnly walked to my room and sat on my bed. I glanced at my schoolbag and again thought about what that little boy had said, "We need a schoolthe most." I'm ungrateful, I thought. That little boy wants to go to schooland I am complaining about going there tomorrow.

It was at this pointthat I started to cry. I surprised even myself. I never cry about anything. Theycall me "the tough cookie," yet I was crying over some little boy Ihave never met, nor will ever see again, and how he wants to go to school. Hiswords made a footprint on my soul.

Ten minutes passed and I was stillsobbing hysterically. I needed comfort. I dialed my nonna's phone number. I knewshe sense my shaky voice, not to mention my pathetic attempt to give her a cheeryhello. She listened as I poured out my soul to her amid my sobs and quickbreaths. When I was finished, she comforted me as she always did without evenknowing it, and helped me to understand my confusion.

I hung up feelinga bit better, my tears subsiding, my short breaths growing longer. The littleboy's words, however, rushed back into my conscience, and again I cried. I feltas though I had some sort of responsibility for those children, a responsibilityto teach them, a responsibility to be grateful. To be grateful for their sakethat I have a place to go to learn and a home where I can walk around my yardwithout the fear of finding a land mine. Gratitude. A virtue that I now make sureencompasses my daily actions, words and inspirations.

I looked over at mynightstand and a Baci, my favorite Italian chocolate, was still sitting therewhere my mother had put it that morning. I can buy a piece of chocolate anytime Iwant, I realized. I'm grateful. I opened it and read the message inside:"Many people live happily without knowing it." How fitting.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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Blue-eyed_Hippy-chick said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 1:22 am:
I love it. I watch the news every chance i got too. Very thought provoking
 
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