That Girl in the Pink Shirt
Nothing special, most would say. A little overweight; not exactly wearing the most fashionable clothes: An old dusty t-shirt, that looks as if she found buried in the corner of her room, with a pair of old baggy pants. Watching her walk down the school halls, I noticed, she always walks alone. She held her head so high, swaying with such conviction, strutting with such power. Other girls snarl, scoffing with disgust; “The more desirable girls,” one would probably say. In the cafeteria, she purposely picks the table with very few, if any, students. Is she shy, or does she like to eat alone? A shy bookworm, most would probably gather. She ate so tenaciously, as if she hasn’t eaten in days; burping aloud, without a care in the world.
Later that day I leave campus to pick up my girlfriend Jennifer. Waiting downstairs in her living room, hoping she’ll come out some time soon; but, of course, I know I have at least an hour wait. Ever since she gained a few pounds, she’s been so depressed; taking forever to get dressed, barely wanting to go out with me, or her friends. The sex has definitely slowed down; and, when she decides give me a taste, she complains about how undesirable she is the whole time. Sometimes I just want to scream “Shut the hell up!” but, how can I? She’s going through a rough spot. I have to be more patient and understanding. I just wish she’d believe me when I tell her she’s beautiful. Hearing her mom lecture her younger sister about controlling her food portions, “You want to fit into those new Hollister jeans we saw at the mall and look better than all your friends right?” She asks. Jens sister nodding her head yes, as she scoots some food off her plate, putting the salad dressing down, eating a plain salad with just lettuce and a few strips of carrots.
Walking on South Beach in Miami; hot, so windy; the waves moving so vigorously. “It’s so hot, why are you wearing a long sleeve shirt?” she asks. Ignoring her question, grabbing her hand, running toward the ocean. We always loved walking along side the waves, when they are so active, to see if we can withstand its power, without getting sucked in. “Mike stop it! I don’t want to!” Jen yells
“Why not? You love this…” I ask in confusion.
“I just…….. I don’t feel like it. Can you just take me home, please? I have some homework to catch up on.
“What’s the problem?” I ask in frustration
“Nothing. I just don’t feel like doing anything today.”
“You never feel like doing anything anymore. Ever since you gained a few pounds, you’ve been so depressed and unbearable lately; It’s not a big deal.” I say. Her face begins to frown as she yells, “Yes it is a big deal!” “Why does it matter so much? Wow, you picked up a few pounds; it’s not like you are fat or anything.” “Michael, I just want to look my best. I don’t want to become a fat slob. I’m trying to drop this weight, but, it won’t seem to come off fast enough; it’s driving me insane!”
“Babe, you are beautiful; I don’t know why you can’t see that.” I say, calmly.
“Just take me home.” Jen demands.
I wake up the next morning in my dorm; opening my closet to get ready for my 6 mile run. Taking out my long sleeve shirt, a pair of sweatpants, along with my Nike running shoes. Leaving the dorms, headed off campus, there she is… that girl. Wearing a pink shirt, the word ‘Weirdo’ on the front, in a pair of white jeans, with multiple patch patterns on them. Her walk is just so powerful, so confident, damn… Something about that girl. She’s walking towards the performing arts building. Wow…Is she going to school for acting? My parents would literally have a conniption if I pursued my dream…dancing. So I’m pretty much stuck with business school.
After my 6 mile run, walking back to my dorm, I have to call Jen to tell her I bought our tickets for the show this Friday. I’m excited; my friend’s band is performing. On the flyer, it says there are supposed to be multiple acts performing. Not just musicians, but also, poets and storytellers. I love this stuff; I really want to be a part of the entertainment industry, but, I know my parents won’t approve. They would stop funding my education immediately, I bet. Almost at my dorm, I start to feel lightheaded. Chugging down the rest of my water, not seeming to help, but, adding to my nausea. Collapsing to the ground, just before my eyes close, I see my roommate running toward me.
Waking up in the hospital, my parents looking over me with great concern in their eyes. Listening to them ask the doctor what happened, as he flips through the charts, looking at my tests. “He was extremely dehydrated. When he was brought into the ER, he was wearing a thick long sleeve shirt and sweatpants. That, combined with running in 98 degree weather, took a toll on his body. “Michael, why did you do that?” my mom asks. “I just like wearing long sleeves.” I say assertively. My father jumps in, “I noticed that’s all you wear now, Michael; we live in Florida. I don’t understand.” I respond, “My condition is getting worse; I don’t want people to see it.” Realizing I’m not covered up in usual attire, no long sleeves to hide what I’m ashamed of; I attempt to cover my arms, folding them against my chest, putting my hands over them. My father, unfolding my arms, grabbing my left arm to assess the situation. “Son, you can barely see that.” he says. “Yes, everyone would see; and, I definitely don’t want Jen to see it.” My mom intervenes, “Wait, Jen does know you have Vitiligo, right?” She asks. “Yes, she does; but, she doesn’t know it’s getting worse.” I answer.
The next morning, I was released from the hospital. Doc says to take it easy for the day; no class, no working out. I guess I’ll just chill in the dorm for the day. As I’m lying in bed, staring at my Maroon 5 poster, Jen calls.
“Hello.” I answer.
“Hey, your mom just told me you were in the hospital; Are you okay?” She asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just got a little dehydrated.”
“Okay..well I’m glad you are okay.” She says, nonchalantly.
“Yeah, I’m going to just relax today. Are you going to class today?” I ask.
“No, I don’t feel like it.” She says.
“Hun, you’ve missed class a lot lately. If you keep missing school, aren’t you going to get kicked off the track team?” I ask.
“I guess, eventually…but, it doesn’t really matter. Coach says, I’ve lost my flare; my times are slower. We both know why.” She says.
“Jen, why don’t you just go train? That’s how you are going to get better, and, drop the weight you’ve been complaining about.” I say in frustration.
“Mike, you know I’ve been trying; and, barely any results!” she yells.
“Relax, you’ve only been trying for a few weeks. Keep pushing.”
“Yeah, whatever.” She says in sarcasm
“You are coming to the concert tomorrow night, right?”
“Yeah. I’ll make an appearance, if, I can find something to wear.” She replies.
“Okay, I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
“Okay, bye.” She hangs up.
Lately, I just don’t know. I care for Jen; but, she’s really starting to piss me off, with this self-conscious shit. But, at the same time, how can I judge her? Am I really any different? I mean, I literally almost died of a heat stroke, because, I don’t want anyone to see these spots on my arm. I just need to get out of this dorm for a bit; get some fresh air.
Wandering into the performing arts building; always wanted to see what it looked like, and, what the students do here. Hearing a strong voice coming from the end of the hall; sounding so passionate, as she tells her story. Peeking through the open room door, seeing that girl again, as she speaks with utter potency. It’s so impressive; how the crowd seems genuinely interested, so compelled to this story.
Her speech follows
Growing up in an affluent area, I was always the oddball. Sure, I had a few friends here and there; but, even they constantly reminded me of my differences. Although, I grew up in a fortunate, area my parents’ income always went straight to bills; leaving little for my sister and I. We would wear hand me downs, or make our own clothes. The schools we went to, all the girls were slim, fashion junkies, and had many friends. I had a few friends; but, that never mattered. It’s nice to have someone to talk to; but, I’ve always been proud of not fitting in; even if that meant I had to walk alone. Not having the worries, the stress of trying to impress ,or top the expectations of others. I’ve been ridiculed and laughed at many times, about my clothes and weight. I laughed many times myself; always knowing the joke was on them, gave me plenty of laughter, to fill a lifetime. Having a free mind; not having any qualms if my clothes were up to date, or whether my friends will like me or not, if I went to a KISS concert. Yes, I am enjoying my stress free life not trying to meet expectations for anyone, other than me. And I have to say…I’m loving it.
Damn…that girl has some serious influence; so courageous. I should get her name sometime. The next day, my roommate and I, are getting ready for the concert, that’s taking place on campus tonight. So tempted to take out my usual long sleeve, but, I think I’ll do something a little different. I pull out my favorite grey Calvin Harris short sleeve t-shirt with a pair of black cargo shorts. The phone rings…it’s Jen. “Hey, I’m not going to make it tonight; I can’t find anything decent to wear. Everything I have is out of style and makes me look chunky.” “Alright fine. I’ll talk to you later.” I say. “Come over after the concert; my parents will be out late.” She says.
My roommate and I get to the concert; the auditorium is filled with hundreds of students that attend this school; and, people who don’t. Looking at the stage set up for my friend’s band to lead the concert tonight: Drums, keyboards, mics, and guitars. The entertainment industry is so exciting; it’s my dream to be an entertainer, concentrating in dance and acting mostly. I guess me not pursuing it has a lot to do with my parents always shunning the idea; but, when I really think about it, I think my vitiligo sealed the deal. I always thought people would be so focused on my skin condition, rather than seeing my talent. The crowd begins to scream and clap, as my friend’s band appears on stage. They call themselves the” Drive through Project.” Odd but catchy. They are really nailing this performance; I think this gig just grew their fan base tenfold. Going to the back of the room, to grab a drink, the next performance is preparing to get on stage. This time, it’s a dance performance. They gather on the stage, as the lights above their heads change to red and blue, accentuating their outfits to the max. The lead dancer…it’s her again. Her moves…so fierce, so crisp. The choreography is mind blowing; she and her crew look as if they are genuinely enjoying themselves. Everyone in the room seems to be excited about this performance, as the majority begins to dance along to the music. Watching the girl again…the lead dancer, as she moves so vehemently…so sexy. Looking around, embarrassed, trying to cover up what’s poking out below my belt; hoping no one noticed.
Later that night, I go to Jens. She opens the door, with a puzzled look on her face and says, “Hey, you are finally wearing short sleeves again.” I grab her face, kissing her passionately; picking her up, taking her to the couch. Laying her down, I begin to unbuckle my pants, continuing to kiss her on the lips, her breast. Flashbacks of the concert begin to surface…seeing that girl move with such passion…so talented. In her eyes seeing nothing but motivation and confidence. Opening my eyes, seeing the look on Jen’s face; so defeated, as if something sucked the life out of her. I stop myself from going any further, buckling my belt, and sitting up on the couch.
“Jen, I can’t do this anymore. I care for you, and, I’ll always be here for you, if you need anything.”
She interrupts, “Why are you saying this?”
“You aren’t happy. I just want you to get your grades up and get back to track practice. I want to help you so much, but, it seems like the more I try to help, the further you are going down. I’ll check up on you, but, I have to go.” I say, apologetically. Seeing that look in her eyes, like I betrayed her, is killing me; but, I can’t keep living like this anymore.
When I get back to my dorm, I unpack all my short sleeve t-shirts from a box. Then, I sit on my bed, taking out a large yellow envelope; the application for the dance and acting program. I’m going for it; not going to let anything stop me this time. Maybe I’ll find out what that girl’s name is. I’m sure I’ll be seeing her a lot now.