I didn't expect to write this | Teen Ink

I didn't expect to write this

January 9, 2018
By shelbsss1202 BRONZE, Sawyer, Michigan
shelbsss1202 BRONZE, Sawyer, Michigan
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"have courage and be kind"

In the ninth grade
I hung out with those older girls who do things that
My father would lecture me for
My mother would criticize and chastise me for
And I would never be let out of the house again if they ever found out
But my best friend and I get in the car anyways because we are freshmen.
In high school.

And as we’re riding in the backseat
The car starts to fill with smoke

“Wanna take a hit?”
The smoke curls around her fingers and her lips
She is a dragon
No scales or tails
Only a laugh that fills the car with the
Smoke that pours from her mouth

And held between her fingers is a knight
Helpless, dangling from her claws
I stay silent as she lifts him to her lips

My best friend speaks up “I’ll do it.”
I meet her eyes and they say
“Don’t be such a goody-two-shoes”
He makes her giggle and cough
While the others turn to me,
Dragon eyes glowing they say,
“Come on Shelby, live in the moment!”

“Live in the moment” I thought
“Don’t you want their fire-tinged tongues?”
But I say “no thanks”
And after running upstairs to my room that night
Before my mother could smell
The stench of singed pride clinging to my t-shirt
I sat on my bed
And I wondered if living in the moment is always this hard

And don’t I always live in the moment?
What about all those hours, minutes, and seconds
That I am reading in that patch of afternoon sunshine on my bed
That I stand at the sink, brushing my teeth next to my brother in mutual silence
When I’m on the phone and I tell my grandma that I miss her too
What am I doing then if I am not “living in the moment”?

Carlee thinks she’s bad at doing
Spontaneous things
Some of her friends do too
But now she’s pierced her nose
She’s planning out her tattoo
And none of that really matters though
Because when it was our senior year of high school
She took a step back and breathed it all in
So she could keep that memory, that smell
It could stay there in the cabinet of her lungs
So that some day
She can take a jar off the shelf
And relive it

And now, when she sits down with
A friend, a family member,
Maybe even a new crush
She silences her phone
And she connects her soul
To their conversation

To have that slow ache of nostalgia
Rising from the depths of your lungs
All the way up to the back of your throat
Isn’t that living in the moment?


To let your words dance with others
So that maybe your word meets a new thought
And takes it back to his place,
Isn’t that living in the moment?

And my dad
He told me that living in the moment
Is like holding me for the first time
At the Detroit Metro airport on July 9th, 1998
He is living in the moment
Every time he sings along to the radio
As he works in his wood shop
He told me living in the moment is standing at the altar
On his wedding day
And it’s you and it’s her
And nothing else matters

I started this off
Thinking that I was going to tell everyone
That living in the moment is bulls***
And that it’s all just an excuse
You use to get your friends
to get chicken nuggets with you at 2 am

And it can be really.

But living in the moment
Is more than a tired phrase
That leaps off the tip of your tongue
Like a last ditch effort
To finally get what it wants

It is more than the words that
Ricochet off the walls of your skull
Like a pinball machine

A new high score every time you take a risk

It is more than just a sticker
Clinging to the rusted bumper of a 2003 Subaru
That is not really there for the driver
It’s there for the person stuck behind them in a traffic jam     

I’ve realized that
Living in the moment is
taking a deep breath
Not for oxygen but for living
And maybe that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal
But for a lot of people
The difference between
Needing to breathe
And wanting to breathe
Is actually a really big deal

What I’m saying
Is that the dad who appreciates all he has
And the girl who smiles at both her memories
And the person sitting across from her
Are so alive

And me?
I am the girl who said no
But now I am the girl who says yes
And no
And I don’t know
And maybe but not right now
I am the girl who says whatever the hell I want to say

Because I didn’t know this
But I am a dragon
I have been all along
And living in the moment is the fire that I breathe out
It blazes a path in front of me
And yes the soles of my feet are charred
And the ends of my hair smolder
And sometimes I burn people
That I never meant to hurt

But the best thing about living in the moment
Is that it requires living
And it means that even after a rainstorm
I’ll wake up tomorrow
With embers still glowing inside me
The smoke lingers in my lungs

And as my mother always says
“Where there’s smoke,
There’s fire.”

And at the end of all of this
I still can’t find the words to tell you
What it truly means to live in the moment

I think you already know.

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