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To the French Teacher Who Shot My Innocent Soul and Drove Away My Sanity
To the French teacher who shot my soul when it was still innocent, and drove away most of my sanity,
That day changed the course of my life. It was one of those days where you remember the actual calendar date, as well as every moment inside of it. I can still hear my shallow breathing, the only sound my ears could accommodate. I can still feel nausea creeping up on me, threatening to take the life it belongs to. I can still remember every single color, maximizing itself, and I can still hear every single footstep around me, echoing.
It was an out-of body-experience. One that when I play it over and over in my head, I am a bystander, a civilian, an observer, an average person, watching the event, witnessing two lives change before my very eyes. But, of course, I was not a spectator, I was part of it. Actually, not just part of it. I was it. If I had not been there at that very moment, doing what I was doing, looking how I was looking, nothing would have happened. No one’s lives would have been altered. No one’s secrets demolished. It would have just been a normal day at the Irvington Farmer’s Market. You would have bought your tomatoes and then just be on your marry way. My soul would have not screamed like a newborn and died like a soldier, which had bended the rules of time and left the world too young. I would have lived, and carried on without my secret being shouted to the world like it was everybody’s business. But of course, that didn’t happen.
If I were Brother Time, would I change the course of things, or would I live it out, become stronger from it? I obviously did not physically die, for if I did, these words would cease to exist. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I am definitely stronger then I was on August 17th 2011. That was the day I grew up. The day I turned into something more than I am. If I was water, then I used to be shallow. Shallow like a pond. The tears that stung my eyes were my waterfall that filled me up and made me a deeper person. Now, I am deeper than the Pacific.
The next ten months would be a mixture of timidness on my part and awkwardness on yours. It would be a combination of sleepless nights and sympathy. At the time, though, I did not know it. All I knew was that you, my French teacher had just witnessed one of my biggest secrets unravel before your eyes. You had seen me dressed up like a clown juggling for money on the streets, and I had been too shocked to explain. How could I? There was too much to break down, to interpret, to define. It was too chaotic, too messy, too rushed, even though the world was stationary, milliseconds were doubled and tripled and maximized until time stopped still.
How did you recognize me? You hadn’t seen me in two months; you were halfway across the street; and I was dressed up like an idiot. Was I an idiot? Was I an idiot for doing what I loved, for not letting society shape me, for creating my own path for myself to follow?
Thinking about that day has become a safe haven, thinking of witty responses to your questions and comments have become an obsession. Sometimes, when my self-esteem is low I call myself stupid for it and abuse the power I have to be who I want to be. When I feel good about myself, I laugh in the face of that memory. But, it’s not a memory. It’s a reality.
Is it every student you find doing something unusual, you laugh at and destroy their soul? Or is it just me because I, theoretically, "sit in the back of the classroom" and the only words that process out of my mouth in the 42 minutes that we share are “hi” and “bye”. “It’s always the quiet ones,” you once said. And you’re probably right. Because the quiet ones have things to hide. That's why their quiet. If you’re going to find my weaknesses and target them with hate, then there are a few other things you should know about me. Maybe I’ll tell them to you before you peel off my emotions one by one, like their layers of an onion, and stare at me nude.
You didn't make self-identification or self-judgment any easier. That day made me go through an identity crisis that no teenager should go through. These past few months, I have been soul-searching, trying to find out who I really am. After almost a year of weaving my way through periods of low self- esteem and insecurity, struggling to find myself, I think I discovered myself and realized who I am. I am a fighter, an individual. That point of self-assessment in my life has given me enough emotion and realization to be wiser then I would have ever been if that fateful day had been non-existent. I thank you for that.
On the last day of school I reminded you about the incident, and you laughed it off, like it was just another memory embarrassed to stay in your mind. Another sleepless night followed. How can you just laugh it off like that, when that day destroyed my inners? It’s just like when you stick your fingers in your ears and you can’t hear anything besides your own voice even when it is the quietest sound in the room.
Forgive me for noticing, but I now may realize that smile that possessed your face was not out of enjoyment or laughter. It was a nervous-based smile, one that categorized itself with awkwardness and oddness. You think I am a strange little girl, don’t you? Am I really that strange, or is it a matter of perception? Maybe, all of you, the ones that don’t dress up like a clown and juggle for money, maybe you’re the ones that are strange. Maybe all of you that wake up each morning without the slightest satisfaction maybe are the ones who should be looked at oddly. But, no. Majority rules, of course. Forgive me for thinking logically, not based on the rules that society has flung at us. Forgive me for coloring outside the lines and for perusing my own dreams and living my own life instead of one that society has thrust at me. I am an individual. No doubt about it.
You may laugh that day off, and you may be bewildered by it. Both are wrong, both are right. Both hurt me and both shout the truth at me. Both are realizations and accusations. You don’t have the right to judge me like that, except, you have all the right.
I write these words not with hate, but with confusion on what civilization and the general population really is, do we really have our heads on strait? Do we really have the right ideas on the world? I’d be very surprised if we even knew what we were talking about most of the time.
And, Dear French Teacher, I thank you for making me stronger, and showing me how to live out the worst. I thank you for creating a parallel reality and guiding me through it.