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The Earring This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Cleaning out my closet is the chore I detest most. Each time it gets harder to let go of my belongings. When I put anything in the bag labeled “Salvation Army” or “Vietnam Vets,” I feel as if I am throwing away a piece of myself. Each item of clothing, jewelry, or shoes has a story I am not willing to lose.

One day, I carefully untangled a single earring from the cluster of necklaces and bracelets. As I set it free, the sharp end stabbed my finger. The pain reminded me of the piercing gun pressed to my upper ear and how it shot through the cartilage. The anticipation that preceded it and the suffering that followed were much greater than the pain of the actual act.

I decided to get this earring when my parents were away for three days. I was to spend half the time with my aunt and the other half with family friends. Having never experienced this kind of freedom, I didn't know where to start. While at the mall with my friend and her mom, I was lured toward Claire's. Even though I had talked about getting my upper ear pierced, I suspected I would never do it because of my fear of needles. But as I watched a man get his sixth piercing, I summoned the courage to perform my first ­outwardly defiant act. I paced the store, palms sweaty and legs trembling, and asked myself why I was doing this – but there was no answer.

Every so often, I pick up an object in my room and wonder how I came to have it. A lot of the time I can't remember and throw it away without a second thought. Sometimes I recall why I did something and that my actions are a reflection of me. We teenagers often forget, in the face of conformity and popularity, that our actions represent us.

Two of my friends had recently celebrated their eighteenth birthdays, and wanted to commemorate the event in a special way. One, who lives for music, got a small tattoo of a treble clef above her ankle. The other, not really knowing what to do, got her nose pierced. The first claimed the tattooing process was virtually painless. The nose-piercing incident did not go quite as well. Not only did it hurt when she sneezed, but it soon became infected and closed up.

As I nervously awaited my turn at Claire's, the man with all the piercings assured me it was no big deal. My racing heart told me otherwise. Sitting in the chair, the employee had me choose an earring. By this time, my anxiety was at an all-time high. I considered leaving ­numerous times. Taking her time, the lady carefully set up the piercing gun and cleaned my ear. Meanwhile, I continued to contemplate why I was doing this.

Acts of teen rebellion are not uncommon. In fact, the words teen and rebellion fit together like no other pair. Teens believe that ­resisting conformity makes them individuals or makes a statement. Sometimes rebellion results for no reason at all. History is full of teenage “expression”; author Quentin Crisp summed it up best: “The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.” Teens often cannot distinguish between finding themselves and trying to be like everyone else.

The slight stinging right after the click of the gun was nothing compared to the pain to come. In the weeks that followed, I could not sleep on my left side and had to clean my ear three times a day. The pain never seemed to go away.

When my dad returned, I attempted to cover the piercing with my hair. Not surprisingly, even when the earring was in plain sight, he failed to notice. In some twisted way I wanted to be punished. I wanted it acknowledged that I had done something wrong. So I waited until my mom returned. To my disappointment, she didn't react either.

Rebellion is not always for a cause. Yes, in the '60s teenagers protested the Vietnam War and some still revolt in order to maintain their rights, but the majority of us rebel for absolutely nothing. We want a reaction, so we do something shocking just for the sake of doing something shocking.

One morning, a few months after my act of rebellion, I woke up to throbbing pain in my left ear. I went through an entire school day wondering why it suddenly hurt so much. When I came home, I unscrewed the back of the earring and blood gushed out. As I pulled the earring out, the pain miraculously disappeared.

Sometimes I unconsciously brush my fingers over the spot where my earring used to be. If I press hard enough, it still feels a little sore. I am pretty sure that small bump will never go away.

The other day I recounted my story to a girl in gym class. She told me the same thing happened to her friend. She said the shattered tissues take months, sometimes years, to knit back together.

The earring does not have a partner; it is all by itself. It has no use anymore. Nevertheless, I place it where I can see it from time to time – to remind me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 6 comments. Post your own!

Brynn said...
Aug. 27, 2010 at 6:12 am:

Nice!

I like it. I got my ears pierced at Walmart for my.... Tenth birthday, I believe. ^^

 
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Annabeth said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm:
Wonderful piece, I truly enjoyed it, I really did. I have not yet pierced my ears for the fear of infections and pain, so I keep sage in my own mind and wear clip-on's. Though most of my friends have at least two piercings, I'm not quite of understanding why it was important for them to do that. Being my own beliefs, I believe that getting yourself pierced, anywhere on your body is disrespecting it. It's an unnatural hole in your body, not something you were meant to have. Just me... (more »)
 
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rachiepoo22 said...
Nov. 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm:
I loved this piece. Every teenager experiences an age where all they want to do is rebel and do something that their parents wouldn't really approve of, solely to make a statement. I can relate a lot to this story because I have some piercings that are a little out of the ordinary (but only on my ears) and at first my mom didn't necessarily want me to get them. However, like you wrote-defying your parents just makes the urge to do it even greater.
Nice work-this piece was reall... (more »)
 
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CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm:
I read this piece in the mag--it's amazing. Good job!
 
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wtfwtf said...
Nov. 4, 2009 at 6:03 am:
if you'd like to read more about <a href="http://www.e-earring.com/">earrings</a> you are welcome
 
KiraKira replied...
Nov. 4, 2009 at 9:43 am :
You did so well writing this. I can relate in some way. My ears are pierced, but I no longer wear earrings. But that's not really the point you are making. I love how you describe how teenagers need to revolt. It is so true! This is amazing. Good job
 
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