OX (as in HUG and KISS)

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The sound of cars driving by, an itch on my back that won’t go away. The dumbest excuse for a lamp shining in my eyes. I’ve been sitting here for the past seven minutes just staring at nothing, trying to think of “that” moment. That special and crazy life changing moment where you realize that this is where life takes that big turn. But my story is not like that. It never was.

Realizing that anger was just a waste of time seemed to take forever. It did not happen all at once like in every movie. I didn’t have some crazy, huge sign posted up saying, “Alex! Go this way!” Life isn’t like that, and it took this long to notice. Signs of change don’t happen all at once. If they even show up at all, they are seen not with your eyes but felt throughout your body.

It started when my sister passed away May 08, 2006. She was only seventeen. I was in the seventh grade, almost finished with my first year of junior high. I was a pretty awkward, and I didn’t really know how I should act around people. I was scared of what other people would think of me. So I put up a wall. I wasn’t very comfortable with myself, and the fact that Ashley died didn’t help at all. She was my stepsister technically. Her dad married my mom. We hung out all of the time and I felt myself around her. I didn’t have to put on a mask and hide from anything when I was with Ash. We were sisters and I loved her.

One morning I was woken up by the sound of crying. My mom and older sister Alina were laying on Lina’s bed. I can remember it with such detail. I peeled my eyes open, letting the brightness of the light pierce through. I glance around my room and saw nothing but what seemed like pure emptiness. I already knew what was coming. My mom came up to me, eyes bloodshot, face cherry red. She looked at me for a second and then looked away, held me close and said, “Ashley didn’t make it mija.” I was quiet.

It was the night before my family and I were all going out to eat at my mom’s friend’s restaurant. It’s been awhile since we all spent time with one another so we decided to go out to eat. Everyone went except Eric, my stepbrother. He wasn’t very comfortable with all of us yet, so he kept to himself. The night went well. We talked and laughed and ended it with a picture of the three sisters, Alina, Ashley, and Alex, not knowing that this picture would be the last.

We got home not too late and I started to get ready for bed. My sisters were on with their plans of going to hang out with some friends like they did every weekend and I said my good nights. I got into bed and closed my eyes, ready to dream. What I didn’t know was that night would change my life in so many ways.

After those words came out of my mom’s mouth, I was silent. I was silent for almost two years. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve never been in a situation like that before. They got into an accident on their way home and rolled the car three times. My sister was gone forever, I was only thirteen years old, and nothing big had ever occurred in my life.

Junior high went by so slow and I hated every moment of it. I wasn’t happy. I had my friends at school, but that’s all they were. I never hung out with them outside of school, and I wasn’t very open with them. People would try to talk to me but I didn’t really care. I’d reply with a smart answer, look at them like they were stupid and move on. Now one of my really close friends Javi, told me that we used to have woodshop together. He said that he said hi to me one time, and I just ignored him, but I don’t even remember him being in my class. Those two years were such a blur.

Finally high school came and I loved it. There was more people, new faces and new people who didn’t know me from junior high. I wanted to be different and I wanted a change. I wanted more friends, and for people to like me, but that was easier said than done. Freshman year I was coming out of my shell. I made more friends and was actually talking to people, but I still had that guard up. I joined dance and people came to notice me for something. I fell in love with it and wanted everything to do with it. I loved the attention, and I did all that I could to be in front. I wanted to hear the people in the audience screaming my name, to feel the butterflies soaring while telling them my story through the movements I created. The feeling I get when I’m dancing is almost unreal. It’s like every emotion possible is ripping through with every note coming from the music. My mind goes clear and free from all of the horrid memories, all the stress and I let it all out. Everything that seemed to be the pain in the core of my heart, all disappears when the music starts playing. For once in my life after Ashley died, I felt alive again.

Sophomore year went by, I made new friends and I made new memories. Things were going well. Summer came, I kept in touch with everyone I let into my life, kept dancing and enjoyed the time I had with people. It was the end of my year being a sophomore, beginning of junior year. Right when I thought that everything was wonderful, things were changing. Now that I think about it, it all happened so fast. My dad told me that he was really sick and that the doctors didn’t know how long he had to live. I broke down. This made things that had been easy, now difficult again. After my dad told me my greatest fear possible, that was all I could think of. I was so wrapped up in the idea that one day it could come true. This made me angry, it wasn’t fair. It made me start to question things in my life like my religion and God. I didn’t know why something so horrible like this would happen. What was true to believe in and what wasn’t, was unclear.

I was getting into a lot of arguments with my mom and I didn’t like talking to her. Everything she had to say always seemed to irritate me. I didn’t really have any logical reason as to why but then I began thinking, “Why are you even here? You don’t do anything. You don’t even take the time to have a conversation with your own daughter. Why should I waste my time being here with you? You don‘t care.” I was angry with the world again just like when Ashley died. I was back to my old ways. I hated the way things were and I kept it all bundled up on the inside where no one would ever see it. I put on a mask with my smile taped to it and went to school everyday. My guard was back up, my trust in people became thin, and every day was just that. Another day.

I was really good at pretending and people at school were oblivious. I would go to school with a smile and come home with a frown. I was back to being stuck in my room by myself, waiting for the next day to come. I was miserable and mean and my family knew it. They would try to talk to me, I’d ignore them. They’d try to make me laugh, I’d walk away. I wasn’t the same as I used to be and after awhile, I didn’t really know what the “old me” was.

One day, my little brother Tommy and I got into a fight. It wasn’t anything new, we were always fighting. But this one I’ll never forget. We were arguing over the stupid computer, and I was in a special bad mood because my mom said something earlier to tick me off. She came in to tell us to stop, and we ended up getting into each other’s face. I let it all out and told her what was bothering me for the past three months, yelling. She returned the screams back at me and that was the end. I went to my room, slammed the door, and tried to cry myself to sleep. With my head pounding and the tears never-ending, I couldn’t rest. There was so much going through my head, so many thoughts of what I was going to do after that. I couldn’t stay after what had happened. I needed to leave.

I called the person I always called when I need something. My dad said to tell Alina to pick me up. I gathered what I could, and made my way out the door. My step dad took my door off of the hinges, and my mom took my phone. There was no way I was going back.

I lived with Alina for about a month. I enjoyed myself there with no one to bother me and became at peace with myself again but sure enough, I got myself into some trouble at school. Trying to be the responsible adult that she is, Alina told me that I couldn’t stay any longer and had to move back in with our mother. I wasn’t very happy but I made my bed and now I had to lay in it.

With no desire to be at my house, I made sure that I always had something to do. I joined the pom line and began putting all of my time into it. I was never home, practicing late at school and even though it was hard and tiring, I got through it. But not alone. I met this girl. She was kind of weird, and had this attitude of the highest optimism. I thought she was a freak but something interested me in her. I asked for her name and that was all it took, “Kristi Taga.” Right then and there, I knew we were going to be friends.

With Taga around, she made me forget the whole reason behind joining pom in the first place. I started to love going just because I knew that she was going to be there. She always had some smart joke to say or new story to tell. She was one of the only people that could make me truly laugh to the point where I could’ve peed my pants, and when pom ended, it was a sad day.

Throughout the year, Taga’s and my friendship grew to the point where it sucks when I live a day without seeing her face. She’s the “ham” to my “burger”, the “girl” to my “friend” and she has helped me through the times that I thought I was going to die. Kristi made me realize that it was okay to be yourself, and that was what made her so unique from everyone else. She made me see a new way of living. I started to appreciate what life had to give. She let me know that it was okay to let my true personality come out, and I thank her for that. She’s my best bud and I love her to death. Without Taga, my memoir would be incomplete.





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