Coffee at Sarmiento's This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     “There has to be more to life than a weekly coffee at Sarmiento’s,” I remember saying. Sitting in the same cozy corner of an Argentine coffee shop and raving about fashion trends over mugs of coffee, I realized that life had become too familiar and dull since starting high school. I wanted a change. I needed to recapture the intrepid spirit of my childhood. Curled up on the plush sofa with my coffee, I stared into the mug, watching the swirl of milk disappear into the concoction. I didn’t want to become that swirl of milk that ultimately melts from the rest of the world. Closing my eyes, I sank deeper into the sofa as my thoughts carried me away to plan a future in a foreign land.

During my childhood in Argentina, I tasted life with gusto and curiosity. I woke every day with the insatiable spirit of becoming a bigger person than the previous day, believing that Julius Caesar was powerless compared to me. The world was mine to conquer. I would put on my mother’s high heels and cooktortillas, or try to imitate Santana’s songs on my father’s gaucho guitar. I would throw my body over my babysitter’s back when pretending to be a hungry monkey, then push so strongly she would lose her balance. My parents had high hopes that I would become a professional person. My babysitter had high hopes that I would leave her alone. But I had high hopes of becoming a person different from others, one who stands out in the world. And I wanted to accomplish this here in the United States.

I entered my first high school class in America with courageous owl eyes, trying to find a seat in the classroom. Suddenly, I realized my classmates were speaking English at an extremely rapid pace. Even though I knew some English, I couldn’t understand a word of these natives. As class began, I was relieved that I could understand my teacher, and the lesson went by easily.

My English continued to be scant and I would confuse verb tenses and trip over my tongue. For the first time in my life, I felt ignorant. By the end of the day, my head felt as heavy as a stone. I came home and cried in frustration that I could not have a civilized conversation with classmates. The world wasn’t mine to conquer anymore. I understood that life was not as easy as in my childhood and pre-teen years; the planet was filled with challenges, and I had to make mistakes to learn.

I made hundreds of mistakes in high school but now I can engage in a lengthy conversation with a native English speaker, understand a complete TV show, and not only fluently speak the language but also teach my native language.

I am not as powerful as a Roman emperor, but I do stand out in my world. I make mistakes all the time, and I learned that if I fall seven times, I should stand up eight. Exploring, having missions, and learning from mistakes is the only way that I found to become the Julius Caesar of my world. I still return to Sarmiento’s during the summer occasionally, but I no longer order the same plain coffee - I have switched to a creamy mocha frappuccino with a pinch of chocolate on top.

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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