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They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and I, for one, could not agree more. Here I am panting, lying down because i can't seem to get up, the energy drained from my tired bones, and longing for the years in which I have cherished to come back and revive my spirit. But, sadly enough, I'm not a puppy anymore. I have moved on from middle school, from my life that seemed to have no flaws. And now, I'm in some parallel world, living in a nightmare. I'm in high school now, and I can't let go of what i've lost.

"You look beautiful," my mother had said as I stood in front of the wall-length mirror staring at a girl whose hair was twirled in curls crisp with the overuse of hairspray, sporting a strapless, green and black, knee-length silk dress. Tonight was supposed to be exciting, exhilarating, a change of the average-ordinary-everyday pace I was accustomed to. Tonight was supposed to be relieving. As I sat in my assigned chair, in that stuffy, humid gymnasium, watching the people I'd grown up with grow up even more, all I wanted to do was get up and run. Dart. Dash. Sprint. Applause thundered and echoed off the white-bricked walls just as that doubting voice in my head had. It was 8th grade promotion, why wasn't I jumping for joy? Why couldn't I see myself as the mature, young woman I'd grown up to be, instead of the frightened little girl who was surfacing beneath my skin? My stomach dropped to a new low. My heart sank even lower. Sweat slithered down my back, leaving behind a shimmering, liquid trail of icy heat. The souls of my shiny flats stuck and rubbed my heals. Tears burned behind the eyes i had worked on so hard to appear happy, to appear jubliant. But even makeup couldn't disguise dispair. I was anything but happy. I was traumatized by the repressive memories of happiness, of freedom, of my indulgence of everything out of my comfort zone. I was revealed now, immune to nothing, shoved inside an alarm clock. I was shadowed in the eye of the storm: my fate. This broken time machine was spiraling faster toward my future, and I only wanted to relive my past.

The summer leading to my freshman year was more than the mediocre 'fun' I've been hearing everyone say. It was epic, remarkable. It was filled with sunburned days at the pool, and blanketed in lightning bug-dotted nights. On mild days, warm, fresh-cut grass-scented breezes swept the sweat glistened hair off my neck and waved it around like a flag in the wind. I had time to relax, to hear myself think, to accompany the ones I love most. Now, I have to face the sting of reality; Perfection only makes its home in fairy tales, and happiness never lasts. It seems as though summer was only here on a business trip, and had to leave when the time on the microwave reached 00:00. Now, here I am: a hopeless, out-of-place freshman armed with an "I-look-okay-but-I'm-really-not" smile and a hole in my heart.I had lost everything I had ever been proud of; all the friends who have provided me with photo albums full of memories, the boyfriend who knew me better than I knew myself, who was my best friend, whom I had loved for over a year, and the parents whose faces had once gleamed with pride.Now all they do is scrutinize every move I make, every breath that crawls in and secretly seeps out of my nostrils. Nothing is ever good enough. Nobody is ever happy like they are in photographs when i was little, running around barefoot in the soft grass, wearing nothing but a diaper and a two-toothed smile.Everyone is dark now, especially me. I was the old, mourning man at the greasy diner late a night, the old woman with only cats. In a world full of people, billions of people, I had never felt more alone.

The end of my summer was depressing. That warm breeze that had once tousled my hair triumphantly now chilled me to the bone. The lightning bugs turned off their lanterns and left me to vend for myself in the dark. As July wrapped up into August, I was wrapping up in myself. I had developed a prezel knot that slept every night and arose every morning in my stomach. Patches of zits sprouted and line my upper lip. Stress. All this stress was eroding away the girl I used to know.High school was in a finger's reach, and I couldn't help but panic. I lay in bed at night, replaying the movie of my life in my head, looking over old, illegible love notes, and torturing every fiber of my being with the words, "the future." Earphones made their permanent homes in my ears, for music was the only healthy way of getting out of this place, of getting away from myself, of forgetting, of never existing. If it wasn't the Beatles whispering words of wisdom into my ear, it was Jack Johnson reminding me to go on, just go on. As frightened and paranoid as I was, going into high school wasn't my biggest trepidation. When I walked down that dreadful school supplies aisle at Walmart, the scent of fresh boxes of colored pencils and packages of loose leaf paper tantalizing my senses, it wasn't just the future I saw was approaching. It wasn't just the past I knew I was losing. I was terrified of losing myself. I was petrified of becoming someone I'm not, of forgetting not only where I stand, but the road I took to get here. All the colors around me vanished, and I was in a sepia-toned shoebox living in a life I never knew existed; a life of disappointment, a life of betrayal.

The first week of high school was a speck on the windshield of my life; I never thought twice about it. I still had faith that this was all surrea, that Marti and Doc would be done fixing the time machine any day now, and they'd drive me back home. People came, bumped into my fragile, vulnerable self in the hallway, and people left, leaving me abandoned, my textbooks scattered twenty feet down the hall. I worked hard all day in class, solving equations and searching for definitions out of old, worn hardback books. Then, I worked even harder on the court, bumping setting and spiking. continually throwing myself down on the ground, wanting to just lay there in hopes of falling through the floor intho some parallel galaxy and never returning. It never seemed to stop. My days melted into nights, the sun immediately morphed into the moon. I barely had the time, let alone the energy to take a shower, and it didn't help that all my parents fed me was criticism. I just couldn't catch a break.

Just as I thought things were looking up, when I finally thought I had climbed out of the Mariana Trnch of a hole, my luck had vanished. The math homework I poured my heart into, the math homework I'd not only stayed up till dawn working on, my eyelids dropping, mind running to mud, but also missed Degrassi for, I get back and receive a B. That thin sheet of paper trembled in my fingertips as I examined all of my precise work. That tiny descendant of a tree, so small, almost nothing, held a priority so huge. A 'B'. Never in my life had I put forth so much energy and gotten a B. My stomach dropped. My lungs ceased to fill with oxygen. The rosy pink tint faded from my cheeks, and my body drained of every emotion besides anger. Tears burned in my eyes, incinerating my retinas. My nimble fingers clenched into fists of rage. If I couldn't even get an A on a paper, how could i do high school? It seemed to me as though I should pre-order my box for when i grow up to be a hobo. I thought I was a failure at life.

When the sun streaked through my crusty, Sharpie-stained window that next morning, I was a new person. After a night of tossing and turning, of debaring and anger, I had fallen asleep frustrated and upset. Fortunately for me, it seemed as though Mother Nature had not only brought light and exuberance along with the morning, but also, especially for me, an epiphany. Why was I mourning over my past instead of looking towards my future? I mean what was I waiting for, the Kool-Aid man to come bursting through my wall? For the last Golden Ticket? No, none of the above. I was searching for an excuse, an legitimate reason to hate high school, and I couldn't seem to find one. I was done feeling sorry for myself, I was done mourning. As I walked with my head held high through the hallways that morning, Jack Johnon's voice still echoed throughout my head; "Go on, just go on," he sang. I had realized that happiness was not just for the people who could afford it, but for those who seeked to smile too. When Life gave me lemons, at first I was afraid of the bitterness, but Life doesn't give lemons randomly, so I decided to make the best of them.

Change isn't always nail-biting and heart-breaking for all of eternity. Change requires adjustment, and the adjusting part isn't always up one's alley at first. It requires understanding, and compromise to be able to enjoy it. Once you give up what you thought you never could and move on, you will find yourself feeling that feeling unlike any other; the fuzzies in your stomach, the annoying ache in your cheekbones, and the warmth in your heart; happiness. If there's one thing I learned from this experience, it's that you can't dread giving up the past, because you'll never be able to enjoy the future.



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