28 May 2016

Caption: My Final Freshman Essay

There is a graphic novel called Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, in which she tells about her childhood through comics. I think there’s a good concept there, showing short snapshots of one’s life, I think they shape who people turn out to be. In my mind, at least, freshman year doesn’t stand as one memory as a whole. I remember moments, days, or things people said that have affected me and who I am greatly. From the very first class to the last lunch period, this year has been the most influential time to date in my life, and I can honestly say I have grown from every moment.

“I’m your best friend now,” she said with a bright smile. The corners of her lips crinkled whenever she smiled. The soprano section leader with the curly mass of tinted orange hair put her arm around my shoulders, literally taking me under her wing. It was my first day at AC Davis High School, my first third period Show Choir class. I sat on a plastic black chair, sitting up straight to hide the small inkling of fear I had inside. I looked around at the faces around me, they all seemed so confident. I couldn’t help but smile. Mrs. Ruiz glanced up at me from behind the piano, as she warmed up the voices filling the room, her trusting eyes met mine for the first time, introducing me to the frequent knowing eye contact we’d share multiple times a day for the next four years. I took a deep breath from my diaphragm, and my body relaxed into a state of hope and excitement that would become my constant emotion while in that room.

“1…2…3….you done yet?” I thought to myself. Then he lifted the pillow off of my face. This was the tricky part; trying to catch my breath without showing any visible signs that I was breathing. I kept my face still, resisted the urge to move my hair off of my face, and played dead. I held back even the tiniest motion, and my mind started to drift, thinking about the fact that there were 50+ people staring at me at that very second, as I lay uncomfortably sprawled on the steps of the Kiva. As the Othello to my Desdemona placed my “limp” body center stage, I thought about two things. One, I had to pee. My bladder always waited until this most inconvenient moment in the show to alert me that it was full. The second being that I really wanted to smile. But alas, dead girls don’t smile. I did quite a lot of deep thinking in the minutes I spent lying dead during the last acts. I told my friend, the third in a long line of attempted Cassios, after opening night, that I felt infinite. That’s a line from my favorite movie, but never until that first night of Othello, had I truly understood what it meant.

A notification popped up on my phone. It was a Tumblr “note,” which is the social media’s version of a Facebook “like” on your post. It wasn’t just any notification though, it was the 150th “note” on a poem that I composed in January, therefore a seemingly big deal to me. I started writing poems in sixth grade, my creative writing journal was filled with them; these ten segment lines that ended in cheesy rhymes. I had always loved to write, and I think that comes from an inner desire to always be expressing my feelings. Personal essays have always been my favorite (I’ve been waiting for this assignment all year!) but bad poetry is really where I started. Studying the world’s best poets and their glorious works was such an incredible journey for me this year. My Honors English class quickly became my favorite, and I found myself writing more than ever. This winter was a specifically rough time, a time where I found peace in spilling all of my thoughts and feelings through beautiful words. I adore poetry. I so admire the ambiguous quality of it, the way every word can mean something different in each individual’s eyes. My mother always said that the best poetry is relatable, and in a way, every element of poetry is exactly that. I could write a random sequence of words, and someone’s heart would be impacted. I wrote more this year than I ever have, even the sound of the keys on a keyboard comfort me now. This summer I’m attending Yale University’s Explo program and taking a class in Personal Essay writing, 56 days until I leave, and I couldn’t be more excited to further explore this part of myself.

Over Christmas break, my family took their annual trip to New York to visit family there. I was gone only 10 days, but I missed my friends like it’d been a month. I went on this trip each winter, but never had I felt like my friends missed me. This year I experienced a new kind of love, a true unadulterated friendship love. My friend likes to say, “I love you in the non-confusing way.” The day after I got back, my friends wanted to have brunch with me after I went to church. I walked out of the building, and my two best friends hopped out of the car and started full-on sprinting towards me. They ran at full speed through the icy Central Lutheran Church parking lot and attacked me with hugs. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. I hope to always have a steady group of friends to love that much.

Twenty One Pilots blasted on the car radio, the bass shaking the car windows. I sat in the backseat, holding hands with him, while the the girl with the big soprano voice was driving and the girl with the best taste in music was in the passenger seat making faces at me through the rear-view mirror. I can’t remember our destination, more often than not we lacked one, but I do remember the car rides. I remember the lunches we skipped hanging out in the library. I remember the feeling of complete happiness that filled me. There is something to be said for John Green novels in the sense that he gets all of those times of pure young content correctly. I just wish that the book could end there, in the world where Hazel and Augustus run off into the sunset healthy, where Rose and Jack stroll off the Titanic hand in hand, where Romeo and Juliet live to stop the feud themselves. But life is not like that, much like we wouldn’t adore those stories if they ended in the way our hearts seem to desire. After every little fall of rain where Eponine sings her last note, a Cosette and her Marius finish the show having grown immensely. I grieve nothing that happened between my two best friends and me this year. Because we all grew. And now she is off to college, leaving the other three of us to start our sophomore year. I feel I can speak for the four of us when I say that we are all better people now then we were back in December. The rewarding side to all conflict is the resolution and the character development that follows. We are all more secure in who we are as individuals, and isn’t that the point of high school? I laughed, taking in the perfumed air of the adventurous girl’s car. I smiled back at the girl with the daring heart and hair through the mirror, looked up at the boy next to me, and shouted, “I love this song.”

The funny thing about Davis choir, is that we take going to State for granted. In fact, the main reason many of my friends go is purely to buy the State sweatshirt. But I didn’t take it for granted. Going to State itself doesn’t stand out as that great of a memory for me though, and I think that’s due to the extreme Sound of Music-induced sleep deprivation I was suffering from that day. But making it to State, qualifying at Solo Ensemble; that is something I will never forget. I remember singing the last note of Tango to Evora, the song we won Regionals with, and looking at the people around me. Those kids and those songs and that director and that dress- that was really me standing there with them. That shocks me to this day. I locked eyes with my best friends, I felt the energy, and in that moment I couldn’t care less if we placed. Because in my heart, I had won. That feeling, the feeling of not needing to win because I couldn’t care less, I think that’s called being content in what I’m doing and what I’m a part of. But I don’t think “content” is a good enough word…I don’t know that there is one descriptive enough.

. “Go get a tissue,” my mom laughed at me. She was right, as she tends to be, I could almost taste my own snot dripping to my lips. I can’t imagine how strange the scene must have looked, she in my green plush chair, and me sitting on a blue yoga ball in tears. I learned this spring never to underestimate the power of just having a good cry. Call it hormones, call it stress, call it young love, call it over-thinking, or a combination of the four with the addition of homework, the reason didn’t matter. I just cried. A lot. My crying tended to be alone in my room, but in this moment of weakness, I cried to my mother. Which was something I really should have done more often, instead of letting it all pour out at once, but it felt so good to let go. That’s the weird part about being fourteen, your mind and your heart and your tear ducts all like to gain up on you for unexpected random reasons. Of course, whatever was causing water to gush from my eyes that particular day doesn’t matter as much as the fact that my mom was there for me. My parents have always been very emotionally supportive, but this year I appreciated them for it. I saw lack of parental love in too many of my friend’s lives, and it really opened my eyes to what amazing parents I have.

. “Left…left…left-right-left.” I could the boy playing Kurt muttering under his breath, as the seven of us tried to march in step with each other. I loved embodying Louisa so much in Davis’s spring production of The Sound of Music. It was so different in comparison to Desdemona and previous roles, and I had a lot of freedom to do whatever I wanted with the young, spirited Von Trapp character. I also made a lot of good friends, friends that I didn’t realize I’d needed until I had them. The Captain and Freidrich became some of my closest friends during the run of the show, and still are to this day. There’s something so exciting about being in a show, I truly love nothing more. I’m so lucky to have found my passion so early in life and because of that, I have lots of time to get more experience and training at my craft. I hope to pursue musical theatre as a career, and Davis is giving me everything I could possibly need to do that. It’s teaching me how to love every aspect of theatre; from the long rehearsal hours, to audition jitters, to cast friendship, and the moment it all adds up onstage. And I cannot wait to do six more shows with Davis before I graduate, because even though I’m stress eating every night, venting about cast drama to anyone who will listen, and carrying dark eye bags everywhere I go; nothing makes me happier than theatre.

It was pouring down hard. The hair I had woken up at 5 am to straighten was falling victim to its natural state of wet waves. We were running down the streets of Seattle as fast as our high heels and dress shoes would let us, and by “we,” I mean my choir family led by our director and a few chaperones. We were on our way to Cheesecake Factory after watching 5th Avenue’s The Sound of Music, as inspiration for our own production later in the year. Nothing was particularly special about those 30 odd minutes we spent running through the city in the rain, except that I felt more loved and free than I ever have. But that’s the thing, aren’t memories like that the point of living? Those fleeting feelings and passing moments that seem like nothing, but looking back, are the feelings and moments that make up who you are as a person. There is so much to learn in high school, math equations, thesis etiquette, and study habits. But the lessons that truly matter in life, (because honestly only a minor fraction of people actually use Avogadro’s number after high school) are the ones no one wrote lesson plans for, and the ones we never realized we were learning.

Junior high was really a terrible time for me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of people. I was so ready to go to Davis. It may seem like a dramatic transition, going from nine years in a class of 20 kids at Riverside Christian to a class of 700 at Davis, but it was one I had been dreaming of since fifth grade. Something about huge amounts of people has always excited me, I’ve always wanted to go to a public high school and later move to a big city. And I think that’s because I love feeling like I fit in within that big group of people. I found the place where I belong; standing on the Davis stage pouring my heart out, standing on a riser singing until my voice dies, sitting in a classroom absorbing knowledge, and laughing with amazing human beings until I cry. Everyone told me not to get my hopes up too high about high school, that way I wouldn’t be disappointed. But honestly, my life at Davis is better than I ever imagined. Freshman year has been perfectly imperfect in a way that has caused me to grow in who I am, appreciate what’s around me, truly live in every moment, and love everyone who needs love. The Link Crew leader said that freshman year is the transition year, during freshman orientation. And I think she was quite right. I transitioned into more of the person I hope to be for the rest of high school, and maybe the rest of my life. And I made memories that I will treasure for a lifetime, memories that will and have shaped who I am.