I Am Myself

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I am myself. I do not look like anyone. Anyone famous. Anyone in my family for that matter. I am skinny, dark skinned, and have thick curly hair. It is a family joke that I am the tallest member of my family ever at just under six feet. I have gaudy and unnecessary earrings that I wear to make my earlobes look less Buddha-like. I am not like anyone that you know. I, despite my appearance, am goofy. I am passionate. I latch on to activities obsessively: I played lacrosse for five hours a day, six days a week for three years until my fifth concussion cut down my dreams of playing in college. I am emotional. I can’t even begin to think about watching My Dog Skip without getting a bit misty. I am creative. I have played guitar for three years now, an instrument that my ultra-macho sister calls “some dumb thing that will get you nowhere in life.” But my guitar has taken me places.

During the summer before eleventh grade, I volunteered at A.I. DuPont children’s hospital. Midway through the summer, I was called down to the hospital’s main office. I was informed that there was a patient who wanted to learn to play guitar. I was recommended because my interest survey claimed that I enjoy music and playing the guitar. The latter was exaggerated. I had quit playing guitar for the past six months due to a combination of boredom and personal issues. I realized that I had to begin practicing again. And so I did, an hour a night for the three days before I was to meet and play guitar with the patient. But I was nervous: my skills were rusty and I had no idea what to teach him.

The boy in the wheelchair was fifteen, about six months younger than I was. He was black and had hair that grew in some spots and didn’t in others. He smiled all the time. We sat and talked for about a half hour, then I asked if he would like to play my guitar and he agreed. His hands were not strong enough to hold the strings of the guitar down as he played, so his therapist and I did that. For four weeks, Cody and I met every Friday. We laughed and talked, mostly about his life before his illness. He showed me pictures of himself, completely unrecognizable, just a year prior. He looked like a normal teenage boy. His friends had organized a Facebook page, updated daily, with “get better soon” notes. This hurts. I hurt for Cody, for those who care about him.

The night before our fifth Friday together, I received an email at eight thirty pm. The message began with “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this--” Cody had passed. The next night, he was scheduled to throw out the opening pitch at the Blue Rocks game, an event he had been training for with his physical therapists. This hurt too. It hurt those Cody knew a million times better than he knew me. I cried because I hurt too.

But my guitar took me to this place. It let me meet this kid who was strong and happy and never stopped smiling, even when he couldn’t hold his own hand in a fist. And my emotions took me farther. They pushed me to move on, to accept that Cody had passed for a reason, and that it was better to be optimistic, because he was pain-free now and at peace.

Since then, I have pursued my passions with a renewed energy. I dedicate at least an hour a night to the guitar. And I love it. Whenever I get lazy, I look at the picture of Cody and me on my counter. I will not forget Cody because he taught me who I am.

I am emotional. I am goofy. I am passionate. I am creative. I am sentimental. And I am all of those things because of Cody. I am not like anyone else at any other college. And they are not like me. They are original in their own way. And I will not promise to stay up every night studying. I will not promise to graduate at the top of my class. I will promise to be creative. I will promise to be passionate. I will promise to be emotional. To be goofy. I will promise to be myself.





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