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Four Green Walls

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I believe in bathroom stalls. Everyone has a favorite, as taboo as it comes off. Head toward the library, turn into the second to last door on the left, and elbow open the stall closest to the sinks. That’s mine. It’s known me for years – in sickness, in health, in the race to mop up tears, in the curse words over lost words – and I’m going to miss it more than anything else when I graduate this June. I can keep my friends, I can stay in touch with my teachers, and I can say goodbye to my IB classes, but I’m going to miss that tiny rectangle of green. It’s always been there for me.

I didn’t have a lot of real friends freshman year – the type you can talk to about the deep stuff – and living out a medical mystery didn’t make my situation any easier. I spent much of the third trimester sprinting from my brother’s car to the bathroom, classrooms to the bathroom, the track field to the bathroom, the library to the bathroom. All my favorite places, but I felt safest in that little box. I didn’t have to fear a public uh-oh moment, and since my peers mostly frequented the bathrooms closer to the front of the school, I didn’t have to deal with long lines of grunting shoes putting pressure on me to “hurry up and finish up.” I could hum out the soundtracks to Broadway musicals or whisper raps like a little white girl, and the green paint soaked it up like it never happened. The walls became my drawing board, my therapist, my muse, my devil’s advocate, and something to hold on to when I couldn’t find anyone else to lean on. They knew my story when no one else did, and though the light graffiti left by previous beneficiaries couldn’t tell me as much, I knew they’d be there for me as long as I needed them. They’d proven it to me.

Today, I’m healthy, but I look back fondly on that period in freshman year when I wasn’t because I learned to place my trust in the intangible. In the face of uncertainty and relentless pressure to be “normal,” I had a safe haven to live out my temporary life as a sick kid and create a bond that would outlast the turmoil. I’m a lot different three years after the fact – I’ve broken out of my green shell in every sense, but I have to attribute a big piece of where I am now to my little corner by the library and the pep talks immortalized in its walls. Use it well.



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