Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

November 8, 2010
By , Colorado Springs, CO
1993, 0 years- Your dear old mom pops out two baby girlies, you and your sister, and the never ending competition for the best or favorite daughter begins. You two are nothing alike, you are taller and more slender like your father and your sister is shorter and stouter like your mom. They never knew that one of you would go cuckoo for coco puffs and be rebellious enough for two teenagers, while the other would build the Great Wall around her mind to never let anyone in. The latter is you.

1st grade- You grew from 5 pound babies into skinny six year olds in Birmingham, Alabama; the most segregated city in the USA. This isn't exactly a proper environment for raising children, so you only stayed through first grade. The summers were hot, the bugs were abundant, and our 140 pound rotteweiler slept all day due to the heat. He was your guardian, your loyal watchdog, Hannibal. You buried him in the backyard of your 7,000 square foot house later that summer. You play all day outside in the sun, you have no worries, and you get nap time during school. You are lucky enough to watch Scooby-Doo a few times a week, and classic cartoons on Saturday mornings. Your dad is on-call 24/7. You hardy ever see him. He comes home at 11pm and leaves at 5am most days. Needless to say, you never developed much of a father/daughter relationship with him. Although, he did occasionally bring home your favorite food: black olives. You would put one on each finger and eat them off your fingers one by one, twas great fun. After dinner every night, you would saunter off to change into your Power Rangers PJs for bedtime.

3rd grade- In 3rd grade, you and your family moved from the deep south to the whitest and most sheltered place on earth: Colorado Springs, Colorado. You lived so close to your elementary school that you could walk every day. Playing on the hamburger-shaped jungle gym on the playground is a favorite pastime, as well as chasing the boys around the field in the ultimate game of cat and mouse. You got to know your neighbor quite well, an older and very attractive boy, and he taught you the basics of skateboarding. By the end of the summer, you were a pro. Emily was your best friend. She was short, round faced, and her wavy blonde hair bounced with every movement. The two of you enjoyed sharing in the trivial moments of stuffed animal wars and cartoons together. In your younger years, you had a knack for sleep walking. Your finest moment was a warm summer night when you decided that your bedroom window looked like a suitable bathroom door, whence you proceeded to open it and jump out the window. You lived on the second floor. Bright idea, eh?

On a more serious note, the attacks of 9/11 struck in 2000 and you, like any normal 8 year old child, were completely unaware. At school, the teachers whisper to each other in the corners. There's a white elephant stomping through the room. The grownups are avoiding answers. Only many years later did you learn what really happened on September 11th, 2000.

5th grade- The year 2002, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon, her breasts were mutilated and covered in scars. Her hair was thin, she was scrawny and weak. You had never seen her like this before and it frightened you like monsters under the bed. One unforgettable day that year, the four members of your family gathered in the master bathroom. You all had tears streaming down your faces and your mother shivered and shook while she wept. Your dad's steady surgeon hands slowly dragged the electric razor over her head, chopping off the 20 inches of beautiful hair she had spent years growing. It pooled by her feet in a brown puddle. You still see that moment crystal clear in your mind.

In school, you're that socially awkward quiet girl who doesn't fit anywhere nicely, like a power cord and outlet. You hear the cool kids giggling about your dorky outfits that you picked out for yourself. They crush your spirit. You were so proud of yourself for doing this simple act on your own. A girl named Emily Lucas was the primary culprit, but give her 7 years and you would become acquaintances in peace. You particularly adored a special bright green disco-inspired outfit that your mom bought you for your birthday. The day you wore it to school, you walked in with the confidence of a queen and left with the confidence of a slave. No one told you then that the bullies would never disappear. There was no magic cure. But best friends are there to stick up for you, even if they only weigh 60 pounds like Emily. Of course, you had a crush back in this age who always managed to bring a smile to your face. He was Brian, and he was also the only boy taller than you was in 5th grade. You hate being so tall, you damn your genetics.

6th grade- Sixth grade. The year all elementary schoolers look forward to like Christmas. You're at the top of the food chain. You have the coolest teacher, Mr. O, you get to go to sixth grade camp where you have the time of your life, you were a sparkly princess in the school play “Knights of the Rad Table”, and you get to enjoy the benefits of being a big bad Sixth grader. Overall it was a pretty decent year. You especially adored pajama day, the best day of the year. You are taller than all the other girls and most of the boys in your class. You are approaching six feet, a giant to small children. But you are a child. You have no worries in the world and you get to spend your lazy afternoons playing tag or running around or any other favorite childhood pastimes. Life is like a cheerful disney movie, hakuna matata: it means no worries. The real world hasn't smacked you in the face yet, telling you to wake up and grow up.

7th grade- A huge step up from the nourishing environment of elementary school where your teachers were always by your side helping you like a second set of parents. This was a year of many firsts, including that alien garment, a bra. You are introduced to a fancy smancy device called a ‘locker'. You fit inside it. You gain the unfortunate title of a ‘sevy'; bummer. You have a growth spirt and grow almost 6 inches in this year alone, your parents say you are “growing like a weed”. You wish you were older and beyond this juvenile stage. You always felt that way and you thought you would outgrow the feeling, but many years later you still yearn for the magic of age and the freedoms that accompany it. Your best friend forever, Emily, moves across the country this year. 6 years later and you still haven't seen her again. You discover an obsession with catchy Disney movies and the unforgettable tunes in them. Your favorite pair of shoes are a psychedelic pair of orange and pink plaid Converse. They belong in the seventies, but you adore them like a beloved stuffed teddy bear. The cousin you identify with most of all takes his own life this year after a lifetime struggle with bipolar disease. He is 16 when he jumps out that second story city window, you are 16 now as you pour your memories into this memoir.

9th grade- This is a year of love, relationships, death, and change. The death is of your grandpa, a man you adore. You never forget the texture and feel of his hands. They are strong and rough from many years of woodworking and handiwork. The skin is dry and soft, his palms are thicker and calloused. You wear his favorite outfit of yours to his funeral: a green and white polka dot dress with pink plaid flats. Your flute provides the music at the funeral, this is one of the hardest things you've ever had to do. The temptation to stop and bawl aloud is almost overwhelming, but you persevere. A few months later, your parents adopt a best bud for you: a fuzzy maine coon kitty whom you name Mortimer. He still keeps you company and his meows are the other end of an occasional conversation. You make the decision to try a short bob haircut and end up severely disliking it. Bad idea, you miss your long locks like a fish out of water misses the ocean. By this point, your sister has had several boyfriends and kisses and leaves you in the dust. You are insanely green with envy but you never dare share this with anyone. You crumple up this thought and toss it behind your mental brick wall where it will gather dust bunnies for eternity.

At school, you get on and stay on the honors track in academics. You feel satisfaction in success. You audition and get in to the middle concert band. You are proud although you know you could've done better. You become the quirky tall band girl, but you don't mind anymore. Band led you to your first love, a trombone player named Cameron. He is a senior and you, a freshman, but this doesn't stop you two from being together. He lights up your small world, he floats your boat, he brings a smile to your face. Age is just a number, but apparently everyone else disagrees. They criticize your relationship and give you odd looks, but you ignore them like they are mosquitos buzzing around your head. Your parents approve, thats all that matters in your book. Cameron gives you your first kiss, even though it wasn't his first. In that moment, heart racing, blood pumping, smile on your lips, love in your heart, you flutter away to heaven on Earth. You date him for almost two years, until the end of your junior year.

10th grade- A rough start to the year: your sweetheart is 2 hours away in boring college lectures. He majors in aerospace engineering, and thus he fulfills the profile of a true nerd. You must be strong without your nerd by your side. He isn't there to bring you ice cream after you get your wisdom teeth pulled, but he sends cards and makes up for it with kisses and chocolates when he comes home later. You audition and make the top band at your school, whoopee! You take yourself out for ice cream to celebrate, your parents don't know how much this means to you. They never understand your passion for the music that moves your soul. Its been years since they've ever genuinely been happy for you or proud of you for achieving something spectacular. They say “congratulations”, yes, but their smiles are forced and fake and their tone of voice is dull and lacks energy. This is that point in life where your family life starts to go down the tubes, like that dead fish you flushed down the toilet years ago. Its slimy and clammy and cold, lacking life and the vigor of years passed. Your dad pushes the family over the cliff's edge when he has an affair with your flute teacher, as though your home life isn't fucked up enough already. You stop talking to both parents about anything thats on your mind. You add bricks to your mental Great Wall, you've almost built a complete fortress around your insignificant ideas, questions, and trains of thought.

In the midst of this mess, your sister goes on mental AWOL. She becomes that bisexual tomboy girl who wears sweats all the time and slices her wrists open until she bleeds. She has sleepovers with other girls and guys at your house. She will sneak her girlfriend or boyfriend of the time into the basement and they will sleep in her bed and fondle each other all night. You try your best to forget all this, because it disgusts you like nothing else. You want to puke when you see the names of her lovers that she's carved into her thighs. You want to slap her, kick her, scream at her. How could a 15 year old girl be so insane and messed up? and does she have any idea how her actions affect those around her? No, of course she has no idea. Your parents discover the long thin scars on her body and they hire a “life coach” (we all know what that means) and spend thousands of dollars a year on her sanity. Your family leaves you in the dark about her from that point on. They focus all their energy on that nutcase sister of yours. You sit quietly and say nothing. Inside, you scream bloody murder at them all. Thinking, “what about me?! Am I just supposed to sit here and act like I'm okay with all this?” You guess you are. You get nothing for being a good daughter who does what she's told and still has her marbles. Cameron was mostly there for you when you needed him after Pandora opened her box of evil goodies upon your family. Your communication with him is mostly over the telephone, he can only come home on some weekends. You tell him that's okay, that you hardly ever get to see him. But he can see right through your facade. You weep at night when your family dinners turn into yell fests, and he can't be there to rescue you on his white horse. It breaks you inside that the only person you can trust and talk to is so far away all the time. When you need a big teddy bear hug, you can't get one. When you long for his strong arms and rough hands to envelope you in a bundle of love, they don't. You hardly ever smile anymore, but Cameron doesn't know this. Home life and the lack of the man you adore wears you down and tires you out.

You spend Valentine's day in the mountains with your shattered family and your spectacular boyfriend. You have been dating for about 7 months now. You cherish every delicate moment and every touch that you get to share with him. He tells you he loves you. Your heart stops as you comprehend this. It scares you, you are so young, you tell him this and thankfully, he understands. But you know deep inside your being that you really have a heart exploding with love for him and only him.

You barely survive the school year and summer is upon your doorstep. You get a job to help distract you from all the things on your mind. Your mental Great Wall reaches for the stars and thousands of thoughts are shoved behind it. Your boyfriend is home for the summer and this cheers you up tremendously. He works 60 hours a week in a rock yard (what a man) but he always finds the time to spare even 2 hours for you, his Mart, as he calls you.

11th grade- You start the year off with a bang: your 16th birthday followed closely by your license to drive. To celebrate your birthday, your parents take you and your sis to Italy for a week and you never want to leave. Its spectacularly b-e-a-utiful and full of handsome Italian men, yummy. You inherit your mother's old car: a reliable old Saab. Your parents buy your sister a brand new car, damn her. Soon after getting cars, your sister follows you to school one day and rear-ends you, totaling your dearly beloved Saab. You know she will never live that story down. Score 1 for team me. You keep a steady job throughout the year and work your butt off seven days a week. You have yet to figure out where homework fits into your schedule. You meet a boy named Dan and he takes you on the emotional roller coaster of a lifetime. Dan is in love with you and suffers from bipolar disorder and depression, a magical combination. You fail a math class this year and are incredibly angry and bitter with yourself. You tuck this awful moment behind your mental wall, hoping it will never come back to haunt you, but, like a nightmare, it always does. You decide it's better for both of you if you break up with your darling Cameron so that's exactly what you do. You say it's because you guys are at different places in your lives and that you've been dating for much too long for a 16 year old girl. You hardly ever see each other anyways, right? You shatter his heart into a million pieces and he drives away quietly. This silence hurts you more than anything. He cared the world for you and he laid his world at your feet on a silver platter. This decision is the biggest mistake of your life, but you will never admit this even to your parents. You add this painful secret to the pile behind your mental fortress. You are writing this memoir 6 months after you broke his poor sweet heart. He still won't talk to you and you cry about him on a regular basis, your parents don't even notice your swollen red eyes at dinner. You find yourself completely alone. This is a painful way to live. You attend prom with a band friend of yours. Your mother makes your prom dress. She constructs a beautiful maroon strapless gown and she tailors it to fit like a glove. Your mind is absent through the whole night; it's wandering, thinking about you beloved ex-boyfriend. Your best friend Jenny knows this, she sees it written all over your thin weak face. You ask yourself why you ruined such a beautiful thing, and you will never know the answer.

12th grade- Senior year, you've almost made it. You long for the carefree simple days of elementary school, where homework was unheard of and your teachers regularly scheduled art and coloring days. In hopes of a laid back year, you sign up for a pretty lax schedule. Creative Writing is your favorite class but you visit your favorite teacher, Mr. Barkley, on a daily basis. You pick up a knack for photography and fall in love with the thrill of capturing beautiful simple moments on film. You are as tall and skinny as ever, hopefully you stop growing finally. You think about that old boyfriend of yours regularly, and when you attempt to contact him, he doesn't respond. Its like he disappeared completely from your dismal life, and when he left he took the vivid colors with him. All that's left are the blacks and whites. You've grown distant with all your old friends and you contribute this to your independent manner and general readiness to be free of high school. Even though you are so ready to be out of this dark pit that is high school, you fear the future. Its your worst nightmare. This is because you are completely undecided about everything soon to come. You have no idea what you want to major in, where you want to go to school, what you want to do for the rest of your life. Its scary to think that you have to plan out your whole future now, when you are a young 16 years old. The thought is daunting. The stress overtakes you. You toss another bundle of crumpled thoughts behind your mental Great Wall. As a slightly rebellious act, you get your cartilage pierced. Your sister already has several piercings. You think you are so crafty and malicious when you get that done, but your parents laugh and give complete consent. They don't even care, you might as well have gotten a tattoo and dyed your hair purple, maybe they'd notice you then.

Your mind is completely occupied by bottled-up thoughts and squashed ideas. Who knows when they will all come flooding out. That great wall in your mind is like a dam containing an expansive body of water; as soon as it obtains the smallest of cracks, it will come crashing down and release all the murky water stuffed up behind it. You pray to god that won't happen any time soon.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

GooGirl1995 said...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm
Wow.... just wow... This was very powerful and very beautiful. :) You show your growth over the years and i can relate to a lot of the bullying. Thanks a ton to your teacher. This was just WOW. 
Martamoo replied...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm
Oh thank you so much, that's very nice of you to say.  :)  My creative writing teacher is the bomb.
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