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I wrote this piece as it was inspired by a past experience of mine. I hope people read this and understand how powerful the mind is and what it's capable of.
“You’re blocking the mirror, could you like, move, dude?” my sister shot at me as she impatiently tried to fix her hair. I did not move. I had a face of my own that I wanted to look at as well, and her room had the best lighting for face examining. “You are seriously so annoying, oh my god,” she yelled, after realizing that I was not budging. I could feel the scrutiny of her eyes watching the back of my head as she tried to maneuver her way around my tall body. I thought it was sort of funny. My sister, Haley,15 years and full of angst, only thinks out loud about one thing and one thing only: herself. Every time something does not go her way, she just has to-and mean HAS TO, express out loud on how it affects her. I mean sure, it is normal for people to do this at times but my sister, on the other hand, has no knowledge of the word “normal”. If you make a noise, movement, or statement that bothers her just the slightest bit, trust me, she will let you know. “DJ, Get out of the bathroom! I have to do my hair like, right now!” I continued to be mute and slowly maneuvered towards the door, smiling at her frustration. Making her upset by doing little to nothing was something that I often did for a sense of amusement. My sisters pesky outbursts about life would normally bother me to no end but today, today was quite different. She needed the mirror for an essential reason. She was getting ready for something. Something that excited the both of us equally. Something that gave the edges of my mouth a reason to touch my ears. Something that made me unable to sit still in the chair that I’ve always sat in. Something that made my being content. Happiness, I think is what they call this, right? What’s that something that I am so excited about, you ask? (or don’t ask, I’m still telling you either way). Tonight, at exactly midnight, I am leaving for Gulf Shores, Alabama. Vacation. Dreamland. A man’s journey from his highest point possible-to his lowest.
I am well aware that people often take vacations without making a tremendous deal about it and me acting such a way about Alabama is stupendously cheesy, but an occasion like this in my family is extremely rare, considering the fact that our wallets are skinny and our debt is colossal. Debt and money issues have riddled my family’s lives for as long as I can remember, and I have to admit, Iv'e grown accustomed to it. You know how it goes: appreciating the small things, mild excitement, taking everything as it comes. The whole 9 yards, you could call it. Despite the everyday obstacles of poor wealth and struggle, my grandmother and grandfather somehow managed to gather up just enough money to rescue me and my sister from our redundant, perpetuating boredom, and I was more than grateful for the chance to see something other than my bedroom ceiling.
I made my way towards the living room and gently sat down on the couch, letting all of the exhilaration flow through my body like an electric shock wave. My grandmother, age 62 and full of grandma-ness, slowly exited the kitchen with a cup of coffee tucked into her closed, shaking arthritis-cursed hands. “Hey, are you excited?” she asked with a timid, nervous-like voice as she began to slowly sit the coffee mug on the coffee table. I could tell she was nervous about the vacation. Despite the fact that she had been smiling and disposing bouts of happiness all this morning, I could tell that a certain feeling of hers was being hidden in the shadows: a feeling of anxiety. Borderline neurotic.
“I made you some coffee, your favorite.” I grabbed the mug by the handles and proceeded to drink. “Damn, that’s hot!” I shouted instinctively. I could hear my grandpas familiar laugh coming from the other room, the same one that I have heard for 16 years. It was as if he had laughed only once during his adulthood and recorded it, playing it over and over again each time something humorous occurred. Every time the sound exited his mouth, it had the exact same rhythm, volume, and consistency. I found solace in his laughter. My grandfather was akin to me, considering the fact that our sense of humor is exceptionally parallel. He never ever takes things too serious, and he always knows when, why, and how. I truly do care immensely for them, these two. After hours of conversing about nothing and taking sips of coffee between making words with my mouth, I decided that it was time for a nap; you know, before the coolest thing that’s ever happened in the history of happening in my life was about to happen.
“DJ, wake up! It’s time to leave!” Haley shook me in an instant. It was difficult for my eyes to adjust to the light at first, but they eventually pulled through. Thanks eyes, you never let me down. When the room became completely clear and I was fully awake, I could see and feel all of the commotion and hustle. My grandparents were rushing around the house, packing anything and everything that they may or may not need while jokingly picking at each other. Haley was doing what she always did when she wasn’t complaining: scrolling through her phone. Sitting beside me at the opposite end of the couch, she poked me on the arm with the finger that wasn’t scrolling through Twitter. “Grandma and Grandpa are so cute together.” She whispered as she observed their undeniable chemistry. She was right. My grandparents were cute as a unit. Not the stereotypical “cute” couple that you would see on the big screen, but cute pertaining to an infrangible sense. The bond they represented was beyond inseparable, and I am forever grateful to see something as divine and eye-arresting as their presence. Watching these two grow old with each other has given me a sense of knowledge that I have carried throughout my seemingly interminable existence. Their chemistry gave me the knowledge of good; and how to treat a woman? I knew that one like the back of my hand, thanks to them.
“Does anyone have to use the bathroom before we go? It’s going to be a long, long car ride.” My grandpa exclaimed as the car keys audibly jiggled in his hands. “We will be stopping to get snacks and to use the bathroom, too.” My grandma pitched in. Following that statement, the excitement once again re-visited my body and mind. It’s almost time to leave, I cannot wait! I thought to myself while smiling immensely. I immediately rose from my slumber and headed for the bathroom, shutting the door behind me rapidly, due to adrenaline, I guess. “Hurry, though!” My grandpa called.
Now, completely alone with myself, I began to soak in the optimism and excitement that has filled my cerebellum for the past 24 hours. I let out a sigh of intense relief. “Finally,” I said to the toilet. “Something amazing is happening. Finally!” The toilet didn’t say anything back. I began examining myself in the mirror, which also upped my euphoric mood. Over the last 2-3 weeks prior to today, I have been doing this sort of “diet” thing. Yeah, I guess you could call it that. And, well, I looked pretty decent, or so I thought. My tan was abundant as ever, and my scruffy long blonde hair had somehow achieved to make me look like a narcissistic surfer jerk. I didn’t mind, however. There was a rather loud knock on the bathroom door. “Hurry up DJ, we’re heading out!” My grandma shouted, even though she was only outside of the closed door. She couldn’t help it, she was old. When you’re turn old, pieces of you go.
As we began getting ready to leave, my stomach began to noticeably growl. It had now come to me that I had not eaten anything all day. I was too busy being preoccupied with happiness, or whatever that thing is. I paused with hesitation. I didn’t want to delay the process just to eat something, but my noisy stomach was telling me otherwise. After about 30 seconds of standing and thinking, I made my decision. “Hey guys, can I eat something real fast? I haven’t touched food all day.” I said, followed by an innocently sarcastic “I’m starved” to counteract the frivolous delay that I had now provoked. I thought they would disagree or even get upset but no, no they did not. Instead, they agreed with me. “Yeah, you should probably eat something. We have a long, long ride. Eat anything you can find.” Grandma said.
In a flash, I found myself at the dinner table with scattered, miscellaneous food items. I’m not sure what drove me to choose this list. Hunger can make even the pickiest eater go mad. Here’s what was under my nose: 2 half eaten slim jims, a bowl of rather disgusting rice, two bottles of red gatorade, and, (yes, theres more) a bowl of strawberries with an overwhelming amount of sugar. Here I am, two seconds from stepping foot out of the front door and then-BAM- I succumb to eating like a deranged pregnant woman. I finished my fat mans food followed by an audible burp. “Are you full?” my grandpa asked in a playful, sarcasm filled tone. “Yeah. I think I ate a little too much though, man.” I jokingly replied as I began to feel a little nauseous. Now, after giving it a thought, I was right. I had eaten too much. Despite the fact that my hands had not touched food all today, I could still feel the various junk items settling uneasily into my stomach, along with mild vertigo and nausea. The odd mixture of food was congruent to the term “nasty”, but why would just food itself cause me to feel as such? A queer thought followed the question: What if it wasn’t the food making me sick? What if it was something else..
A sudden feel of panic rushed into my stream of consciousness. What was wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? After about 2 minutes of contemplating the ideas, I left them aside, letting rationality take over. Oh, well, I’m just full, my mind offered in attempt to ease my worry. Alabama, here I come! I foolishly thought as I headed towards the front door, meeting up with my grandparents and sister.
With one foot out of the door and one foot still inside, I had no idea that the last time I would know my old self would be in that moment. It was as if I was leaving my past self behind, and by exiting the door, entering a new world. A world full of preoccupation with a body that I could no longer recognize as mine. A world full of worry and irrationality deriving from the feeble-minded teenager such as myself. Say goodbye, DJ.
The parking lot was extremely dark. I had never been awake at this hour with my grandparents and I have to say, it was kind of odd seeing them not sleeping past midnight. It didn’t feel natural. Nonetheless, it was different and a bit edgy at most. My grandpa then proceeded to start the engine.
“Hold on a second” he exclaimed.
“I think I left something in the house. Be right back.” I watched him as he slowly made his way out of the car, then up to the front door of the house where I had left my past self in. What a daunting feeling. I checked the clock on the phone. 12:35 am. All of a sudden, as I read the clock, my stomach began acting up with pain again, this time more abundant than ever. The pain sent a feverish chill down my spinal cord, and I begin to develop a mild tremor within my bones. My grandpa returned with the thing that he’d forgotten.
“Alright, lets go guys!” he exclaimed audibly as he slid the key into the ignition. The car started. I checked my phone one more time. 12:37. As I was reading the numbers on my phone yet again, Operator by Jim Croce (a song) slowly secreted out of the radio. The song resonated into my marrow, which actually, somewhat eased my tension and anxiety.
“I only wish my words could just convince myself, that it just wasn’t real, but that’s not the way it feels.”
The car, like me, also developed a tremor, but the tremor was due to the engine running, like they always do. Cars run provoked by a simple sticking of a key into a slot. My tremor was due to..what? I thought. Why was I shaking? Why did I feel sick to my stomach? These questions resonated deeply into my inner thoughts as my Grandpa drove out of the parking lot and headed towards the main highway. Alabama. The promise land. A place surrounded by beauty, but perceived with the idea of hopelessness. That’s where we were headed. As we drove in the direction of the highway, a thought- no, a concern, arose from my head. The concern came in the form of a question, sending my view of the world into a tailspin of mis-perceived assumptions and narrow minded foreshadowing that conveyed dissensions between by rational mind and my irrational mind. The question was: Am I dying?
We now entered the interstate. The darkness of the night seemed daunting, the view of the world all through a car window. The back seat was filled with darkness, for I could not even see my hand if I were to hold it in front of my face. Here’s where I did it. Here’s where I made the decision that would change the way my teenage mind worked. The next sentence will surprise you, as it may not sound as “life-changing” as you think but trust me, if I had never done this, the situation I was placed in wouldn’t have gotten any worse. I pulled out my phone. With internet. An information superhighway. The perfect place to look for answers. Right? Wrong.
Checking my phone once again, I decided to look on the internet, in hope to seek answers about the issues I was feeling. The current “symptoms” were: Nausea, dizziness, headache, and feeling as if I was in a dream-detached from my surroundings. That was the scariest part. Everything felt like something you would see inside of a deep slumber. It also felt like the endmost time: a time of death. It felt as if everything I was touching would be the last time. Well, make up your mind DJ, I thought. Is it the last time, or something as simple as a feeling of a dream? The question danced around in my head. I turned to look out of the side-view window as if I was leaving the question where I asked it. Questions do not have location, though. They will follow you. They will become you. I typed in “Google.com” into my phone.
After reaching google, I went to webmd.com to check my “symptoms”. Foolishness. Foolishness. I didn’t have time for logical thinking, though. All I wanted was to have a moderately decent time in Alabama, and I needed an answer. I didn’t want to carry the heavy weight of this stress with me, so I figured that by getting on the internet and googling my symptoms and figuring out that I had a benign issue would carry the stress away. I was wrong.
I nervously typed in all my symptoms, anxious for reassurance. If the words “you will be okay” popped up at that present moment, then I would’ve tossed my mobile device out of the window and onward with enjoyment. Some things don’t always go your way, however. I’m sure you're wondering where my grandparents are, my sister, and why I didn’t ask them for reassurance, right? It’s as simple as this: I did not want to add additional stress to my grandparents, for they were already on edge as it was. Haley, on the other hand, had never been to such a place as Alabama and I did not want to ruin the vacation by admitting the fact that I, indeed, thought I was dying. The trip was supposed to be an amazing experience for us, and I did not want to ruin her mood by letting her know that I was in such a low state of being. After anxiously waiting for the page to load, it did.
I’m sure you fancy me as a hypochondriac. I wouldn’t call it that, necessarily. I don’t need to go into full detail about the trip to Alabama, so i’ll put it in short: the epitome of a life changing experience. Not the good kind. I had never been so relieved to be home. Home. Things made sense here, in Evansville. I visited the doctor, following the horrid week of living my life as if I was dying. I still do not know how the idea of death conceived my brain so quickly, but when it did, it took the old DJ, put him in a jar, and set him on a shelf somewhere. I still cannot find the shelf. Now, it is near the time of Halloween. This event--no, this nightmare, happened in the late time of June, near July. I have slowly recovered from the experience, but have not been completely sane, or the same, since. No, I am not crazy. Not a mad man. Just a naive fool with relentless, compelling flashbacks of those two weeks that plague my thoughts. Teens do not normally think about death, as they are busy doing things that teenagers do. I do these things, of course, but somehow, the idea of what used to be still finds an entrance into my mind, haunts me. A haunting idea rather, seeping through the conscious mind, destroying reason.That’s the problem with my head; it is crippled by the idea of possibility. This tale is a tale of not a mans vacation, but simply a story of a man’s journey. A journey of a feeble minded teen, plummeting from his highest point possible, to his lowest. I hope you enjoyed this little excerpt of my life, as I will be busy moving forward from it. Take this story and leave it to rest. I am putting it behind, as it has put an abundant hinder to my life for almost 6 months. 10 pages of gab is far beyond unnecessary, but I feel as if this is my chance to step out of the past. Now, there’s a door. A door that I am opening. There is one foot out, and one foot in. Just like when I left for Alabama.