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The Real Nikki
Out with the old, in with the new is what the New Year is about, right? So how come every new year comes and goes and I still have one thing holding onto my leg like a lost puppy? Jalen Adams. He's my expired milk stuck in the refrigerator that I don't feel like taking out. He's the gum on the bottom of my Converses that I don't want to touch. He's the trash I don't want to take out. He's the...well you get the point.
We've been together since March of 2008. October of that year I don't know what happened to the hugs, kisses, flowers and chocolate. I mean I didn't think I was a demanding girlfriend. I didn't nag him. I didn't say those stupid things most people said during perfect moments like, 'What are you thinking?' and 'This feels right.' You're probably wondering what I was wondering at the time, what the hell went wrong?
What went so wrong with the relationship that he thought to take Melanie Yates to the movie theater to watch Twilight and have the nerve to be kissing her instead of me, and instead of watching the movie they paid for! I mean, it's not like I wanted to watch the movie, it was overrated anyway, but still the offer would've been sweet. That caused our first argument.
It went a little something like this:
“I wasn't with her at the movies, you're so-called friends mistook someone else for me,” he said nonchalantly.
“So you weren't kissing Melanie Yates at the theater?” I said cutting my eyes at him.
I exhaled, I hadn't even realized I was holding my breath.
“Oh well then-”
“But you're lucky I wasn't. Melanie might actually have the time to be with me. Unlike you, the only thing you have time for is Rawlings and Spalding.”
“What are you talking about, who are they?”
He looked down at the Spalding basketball I carried under my right arm and then at the Rawlings basketball coupon I had in my left.
Blushing furiously, I got up from the park bench suddenly. “Well maybe you should see if Melanie Yates will give you a chance, you...you...Jerkhead!”
I left him, feeling like a complete idiot. What the hell was a jerkhead? I had no idea, but what I did know is that when I got home that afternoon, I cried like a big baby. His last sentence said it all: he was with Melanie Yates. My face was tucked in my extremely baggy, gray sweat pants and suddenly I felt like a hippopotamus. Yes, that was it, my baggy clothes. My all-about-sports attitude. All of that had to change. Jalen doesn't want another sports buddy, he wants a girlfriend, and that's exactly what I'll be, I thought.
At the time it seemed like a perfect idea. It took me about six months to make the transition from tomboy to girly, but all through those six months, I thought about how much Jalen would love to be with me again. How good things used to be before October of 08 happened. After six months, I was a new person, so I thought. Walking down the hallways of my schools i got 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' from everyone except for my coach and teammates.
“What's with the new look Nikki?” asked my best friend Dalia. I noticed a touch of hostility in her voice.
“This new look is the new me. You don't like it?”
“No, I don't like it. I know this isn't the “new you”, the old Nikki is still under there, somewhere, under all that CVS Pharmacy make-up,” she said lacing up her Jordan's to join the team's practice. “Now, if you'll excuse me I have a team to be committed to, remember what that is? I got better things to do instead of wondering why some boy doesn't want me anymore.” She snorted, “Let me know when the real Nikki lands back on Earth.”
She left me speechless. I couldn't say anything to defend myself, my mouth was dryer than the Sahara desert. I left the schools' gym, stomping at anything and everything that was in my way. Okay, I thought to myself, Dalia may not like what I'm doing but she doesn't understand how I feel about Jalen. As long as Jalen likes it then I'll be alright, what people think doesn't matter.
Reassurance was key, I guess, in fulfilling what I started. And once Jalen reassured his feelings for me, I knew that what I was doing would be worthwhile, which is why I called him that night to set up a date.
* * * * * * * * *
It was a spring-feeling May afternoon when Jalen and I decided to meet at Rick's Ice Cream Place, about 2 miles from where I lived. I walked, it was fine with me, I was enjoying the day. When I reached my destination, I peeked into the window to see if he was there early, and yes he was there early, with some other girl. They were holding hands and smooching away. When they finally pulled away from each other, I saw his smiling face clear as day.
“Don't cry Nikki, don't cry,” is what I muttered to myself as I sprinted back the way I came from. Of course I cried, the tears gushed from my face faster than the speed of light. My tears were blinding my vision, but I continued to run. I don't know how long I was running, but I finally stopped at the end of my street and plopped myself onto someone's lawn. I lay on the lawn trying to catch my breath, wiping away the stupid, smeared mascara running down my cheeks and not caring about the new, clean white sun dress I bought for a cheap price at the 'Rainbow'.
By the time I was done laying in the grass, I was caught in an unfathomable depression that turned on and off like an uncontrollable light switch for the rest of the year. I stuck with my girly look, out of pride just to show Dalia that it really was the new me, but I wasn't very believable. It was November 3rd when I started to feel better.
I sat by myself on a swing in a nearby park, so deep in thought that I didn't realize when Dalia sat next to me on the other swing.
“It's been awhile since we've been in this park together, just the two of us. Instead of me, you and Jalen, the three of us.”
“Eh, I was hoping you wouldn't have said anything,” I said feeling a light fall breeze hit my face.
“Why? Because it's the truth?,” she rolled her eyes, “You know Nikki, it's better to live knowing the truth instead of living with lies.” She started swinging herself.
“Dal, why am I so stupid?”
She kept swinging, “You are not stupid, you were lost, we all get lost sometime in our lives.”
I began to swing with her also. We began picking up speed, we went faster, and faster. I began laughing, it was a hearty laugh, and it wasn't fake. I realized, that was the first authentic laugh I laughed, since March of 2008.
* * * * * * * * * *
Now it's January of 2010. I'm waiting in Rick's Ice Cream Place for Jalen. I know what your thinking, but it's not what it looks like, honest.
“What do you want to talk to me about?” he demands pulling up a chair next to me.
I hold out my hand for a handshake. “Thank you,” I say beaming from ear to ear.
“You're thanking me? For what?” he says not accepting my handshake.
“For making me stronger and for teaching me a lesson.” I grab his hand and shake it, just for kicks.
I get up from my chair revealing my baggy sweat pants and my Air Jordan's on my feet to remind him about who I really was. I was a tomboy and still am. That will change sometime in my life but for now I'm content with it.
I walk out of the ice cream place, still beaming, knowing that the real Nikki has now landed back down to Earth.