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September 19, 2009
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The yellow light flooded out of the gym and poured into the fluorescent-lit hallway. The mixed colors cast shadows over me, dotting my pale skin with little orange blobs. I walk past the gym and simultaneously contract Hepatitis C.

I hate the gym with its stuffy ceilings, dirty floors, and smelly locker rooms. It is a house of torture where I am forced to dodge balls, kick balls, and get slammed with balls. I try to shake off the embarrassing memories as I hurry past the unpleasant room. With my head turned down and arms crossed against my chest I start to pick up my pace and of course I trip. I catch myself before I can completely make a fool of myself. When I finally regain my balance, I look back to find that the cause of my unexpected misstep is a little sign with a red drop: a blood drop. Today is the school’s Blood Drive. Oh boy.

I love blood. I love the sharp metallic smell and I love the bright oxygenated red color. I especially love when I have blood work done. The green rubber band secures my upper arm and a vein is easily found. My veins run through me like strong red rivers carrying the life and power of my body. When the sharp needle breaks through my thin skin and punctures the fortified tube, a tingle of electricity is sent up my arm. My body is ready, preparing itself for what is to come. The current of the red river runs through me with a powerful force. I feel ready. The first tube is connected to the needle and immediately a surge of warmth shocks my body and raises goose-bumps on my arm. I watch the blood, my blood, fill the tube and I am mesmerized. The thick liquid sloshes into the small vile creating a concentrated concoction of my strength and power. I want it. I want that part of me that is being taken; the part that will never be returned. I don’t say anything, though, because I know that this blood needs to be sacrificed. This blood needs to make sure that I am healthy. As the last tube is stuck in my arm, I send off my little blood warriors with a silent message of gratitude. “Thank you, for you have made me who I am and have carried with you the ancient secrets of the many lives that I have filled.” And with that, the needle is removed and my blood is wheeled into the laboratory. I look at the warm crease in my elbow where already a blue bruise is starting to form.

But I am not giving blood today. No sir. I hate Blood Drives, especially when the blood drive is held in a diseased gym. The withdrawal of my blood is a very powerful process. The Blood Drive diminishes this power and sacredness when teenagers are packed into a yellow tinted room. The first step of the process is the withdrawal of information from the donor. The donor sits at a table and fills out a questionnaire. The questions are personal and invasive, such as “Have you ever had sex in a foreign country?” Excuse me? I know this is to take precautions against AIDS, but what? This belittles the process of giving blood. Then the donor gets tested for iron and minerals. If one is lucky enough to move on to the next round, he/she gets to sit in a chair and pool their blood in a bag; a bag that hangs there, in the gym, among hundreds of other teenagers’ blood bags. I feel so sorry for that blood; to hang beside a gray curtain in the shadow of fluorescents and clouds of dust. Then the donors leave their blood in the hands of another to go eat cookies.

Blood is mystical power. It belongs to the one whose veins it runs through and nobody else’s. Blood is sacred and blood is unique. Blood cannot be given out to just anyone who needs it or wants it. My blood belongs to me and no one else. When blood mixes with another’s I freak out, I can’t take it. Five years ago, when my mom carried my aunt’s baby (it was my aunt and uncle’s embryo my mom just provided the womb) I went crazy and I had no idea why. Now I am starting to understand my intense hatred for that process. My mom’s blood mixed with the fetus’ blood and that was not natural to me. Blood should not mix with another’s blood. Period.

Logically, this does not make sense to me. I am a very socially minded person and I know the importance of helping people. I know that the right thing to do is to donate blood for dying people. It would give them a chance to live; my blood has the potential to save a life. However, I also know that a part of me is repulsed at the thought of giving blood to another and I honor that intuition. This deep drive within my soul veers me off of the path of donating blood. I accept this ancient proclamation of my soul and I succumb to its warning. I draw my blood deep into my heart and hold it there until I feel inspired to let it surge through me.

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