Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Universe

Now Playing:
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
  • Pink Floyd – Fearless, Hey You, and Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)
  • Tom Petty – Mary Jane's Last Dance
To say I’ve spent the last few hours trying to think of a speech will be a lie. I’ve actually been thinking about me and my twisted relationship with relationships.

I think the progress of friendships has gone kind of backwards for me. This is what’s supposed to happen: friendship is easy when you’re a kid. You run, you play, you love each other because cartoons are the best thing ever and homework sucks. Then middle school rolls around, hormones kick in, and you find your voice and your differences. And sometimes your friends and you are one, and it’s childish fun at one point, then total chaos in the other. Wartime catastrophe doesn’t hit till high school. Then the fights are big. You scream, you yell, you say you’ve been best friends forever and now you’re “changing.” The friendships that hold are great, though. They’re deep. Rooted. They keep your heart beating even in the worst of times. (Useless note: Giselle has me paranoid, I can’t tell if that’s the right “worst” or if it’s “worse”).

When I was little, I didn’t have friends. Not one. The school I went to—co-owned by my parents and relatives, created by my grandmother—had a little over 100 students, grades pre-k to 6th. I didn’t have any friends at all for the first few years of my life. I sat alone at recess, was always late to class, and never wanted to go to school.

It wasn’t until later in third grade that I made friends with a girl named Erika. We were best friends. Every now and then someone else would drift in and out of our friendship as a temporary third Musketeer. But at the core, it was just the two of us. Those were the years of drama. When we were together, we were inseparable. I wanted her to be my sister. But sometimes we clashed because I took my stories too far, and I was a sensitive little girl who cried at everything. There were a ton of fights, both moral based and emotionally driven, and some tearful and dramatic reconciliations. One time we went months (or weeks—time is slower in my memory) without talking, then, against everyone’s opinions, became best friends again.

Erika was my friend through mid elementary school. When I came to America, I had Carolina, Grecia, Montserrat, and then Maria Gabriella and Chabely in fifth grade. It split. I could get into ugly fights with Carolina. Sometimes with Chabely.  Huge battles between Monserrat and Grecia vs. Carolina. But Maria Gabriella and I stuck together without shred of battle. She and Carolina were simultaneously my Best Friend(s).

Then we went to different middle schools.

(Maria Gabriella and I eventually reunited again in high school, and it’s just about an easy friendship as it always has been).

So…middle school. That took a turn for the worse. I’m not done living my life, but it’s been the suckiest years so far. That happens when you make friends with one of the most beautiful girls in school because she’s new and you two ride the bus together. The first waves of bullying (not to her, to me) and sexual harassment (not to me, to her) and fights (all from me, for her) came with that friendship. Sixth grade, Ayelen called me her sister and I did the same. Then I met Erika, not the same girl from before, but oddly enough, also from Quito, Ecuador. We liked to pretend we were cousins. There was also Alex, Maria, and Lauren, who were with me during a couple of classes and all together during third period, dance.

Middle school friendships took an ugly turn. There was a balance at time. Boys were friends not enemies. Mario and Antuan, Jose—who remains the funniest guy I’ve ever known—Manuel, Piggy.

And Karen spent a lot of time with me too. We were in the middle of “best friends” and “good friends.”

But sometimes hanging around Ayelen (pronounced Ashlyn) was more trouble than it was worth, and I always wondered what it’d be like to break off that friendship. But she was sweet and energetic, and her outsider drama kept school interesting. It was a nice friendship with Erika, but she took a turn for the promiscuous when I was in seventh and she was in eighth. During that time, I was under the delusion that being sexually or romantically active was “bad” and “immoral” because I was judge-y as shit. But it didn’t make me hate her, I just missed her. 

(Like Erika, Ayelen was a year older than me, and she left to the high school I am attending now and spent two years there. We reunited once, when we had Geometry honors together. But then she left after her sophomore year, and I wasn’t sad. I was happy that she was still her flirty, go lucky, unabashed self. And that I was somehow taller than her.)

With Maria, Alex, and Lauren (or whatever the hell her name was), we went gossipy mean girls to Maria because Lauren hated her (don’t know why). No fights to her face. No fights with Ayelen or Erika. Everything was either hidden or internal.

After Lauren drifted, Maria and I grew closer.  She was my third (technically fourth) best friend. I wrote The Night Kingdom for her. She wrote Violet for me, and, a year later, Labels. When she moved away mid seventh grade, I wasn’t even sad, I was just angry. It wasn’t fair to separate us.

What I regret the most is the way I treated Maria while hanging out with Lauren. And that I never took a photograph with her. As far as I know, she doesn’t have a facebook, twitter, or anywhere I can find her. But even if I could contact her, I fear I wouldn’t know what to say. So instead I hope that one day, when/if Enkindled With Chains (novella) is published, she’ll find it somewhere in a bookstore and see her last name belonging to my character, the professor. And she’ll know I never forgot about her.

A string of friendships happened simultaneously in seventh grade, starting with an oddball anime-loving girl who wore a military jacket and carried her hair down at all times. On Valentine’s Day, Steph pulled her hair back in a ponytail, went to school without a jacket, and a pink little lacy necklace around her. She was even stranger on Valentine’s Day, and the next day, she claimed not to remember what had occurred during that 14th of February.

We had math together and she invited me to an end of the year party. I was excited for eighth grade. Then I got yanked out of Ruben Dario and sent to an A+ school with preppy kids and nice lawns.

Eighth grade there were no fights or resentments. Again there’s a list of names I can pull out, but there was Valentina, sixth grader Salome, and up and coming rockstar Danny (Daniella). And the best friend. Yaziris. Crazy and odd. Skipped class when she wanted but wasn’t a trouble maker. During middle school, I liked showing people my writing, so she read Still Life (back then called The Band) and jumped up and down like a maniac when Kim (named Jane) and Logan (named Kyle) kissed for the first time. Because I was innocent, it too was a really innocent book in terms of sexuality. I couldn’t show or even imply the possibility of two characters having sex. But underage drinking, drug abuse, and suicidal themes? That was okay.

I was still speaking to Maria during eight. Through the phone, but especially through snail mail, which I will always miss. Yaziris and I wrote her a novella with dual narration about a girl (named Erica) and a boy (Adrian) in a facility for suicidal teens. I actually don’t remember the name because it wasn’t typed. Yaziris started it in a piece of paper, which we stapled to a composition notebook and sent it off to Maria through the mail. I could be mistaken, but I think maybe it was called The Apple Tree. All in all, it was a sweet little romance. Quirky and funny with dark conversations. Whiplash moods in every scene. Black comedy. In return, Maria sent me Labels.

With Yaziris cheering at my side, I began to plan my first dark, gritty, epic sci-fi novel. Redemption. However, in the lose leaf papers, Yamazaki Hitomi was eighteen, her father in his forties, and there was a love triangle. In the summer I realized forty was young, love triangles sucked, and war was no place for a kid. She was twenty-seven when ninth grade began. Yaziris left to Puerto Rico. There were emails for a while, to her and Maria, but they stopped too.

High school. There’s so many names, so many groups, so many people whom I can call friend or at least “close acquaintance” that trying to list it here will make everything explode. And aside from one little bit of drama that sprouted out from last year to this then ended in a whimpering poof of a candle’s flame, everything’s fine. There are people who have their own dramas, their own fights. They’re entering that angry stage of drifting and uniting. Finding each other and tearing apart. Some people move, some others come. And even the ones who say, “I don’t care” are smack dab in the middle of the fights and the tears. It splits between the artistic kids and the dual enrollment kids. No fights for me. Mild arguments on behalf of others, but never a fight.

It’s easier now with most people. Easy laughs and happy conversations. I shout a lot in the cafeteria because it’s the only way to stay energetic over the wave of chatter. I’ve turned to being more theatrical with friends and more conversational with acquaintances. I won’t name anyone because it’s too imminent. I can’t detach myself and observe them. And I like looking back at my friendships. There’s nostalgia—the happiness that lulls me away to the most peaceful of states.

I’ve been trying to figure out what changed since the battles of elementary, through the suppressed anger of middle school, to the mild easy content of high school.

And it’s because I grew indifferent. I stopped fighting back.

I think that’s meant to be some sort of triumph, but it isn’t. Because in growing indifferent to fights, I didn’t realize I was stumbling into shitty friendships and not pulling away because, meh, whatever.

There are two right one.

One, the pathological liar. The one in my school, not the chick from the roleplaying forum who apparently had everything: hot incest, bad incest, rape, abusive step father, neglecting mother, gang affiliations, liberated sex life, underage drinking, drugs, cutting, several suicide attempts, etc.

But the school one. Infuriates me. And I’m not the only one. There are people in this world who try to be philosophical and succeed. Then there are people who try to be philosophical, are horribly cheesy, but it’s cute and true to an extent. Then there are people like her, whose philosophical musings make me want to barf out rainbows. And that’s not to mention the way in which she holds herself in class. Everything she does—overloaded attempts at being funny, quirky, and a tortured but intellectual soul—do not go unnoticed. When my classmates complain about her, I can’t help but agree. Even my English teacher gets annoyed at her.

And she’s been terrible to me. Because I’ve been upset about things then bitched at by her, because she’s Never Wrong and I have no right to be anything but tragically yet beautifully sad or happy-go-lucky.

She’s the one who was a bitch to a girl who lost her mother, because she “didn’t like her attitude.”

Because when you lose your mother, you have no right to be disagreeable. Apparently.

Yet I laugh with her. We were super close in sophomore year and I worried about her life and her made-up past. I worried about it so much I sometimes remind her of things she said because her past sometimes doesn’t match with her present. But hey, we don’t question that.

And the second. Also met her in sophomore year. Used to give me cookies for my birthday. Always worried she felt worthless because we share the same plights of Bad Student Syndrome. Her parents are crazy, punish her for odd things. In brief conversations, I’ve come to realize moving about was not a good experience for her. She longs for the friendships that lasted years, since you’re a wee toddler to a Big Kid.

But she’s aggressive, and I’ll never know why. She throws insults my way. She threw little rocks at my face once. It’s like she’s my baby cousin, Martin, ignorant to the weight of her words and actions, simply carrying on until morality evolves into her being.

It’s little things that keep me attached to her. Little things like the cookies she used to make. The worries she shares while she drives me to college or home. The encouragements she threw my way so I would apply to UCLA or Berkley so I wouldn’t go to a school with Stupid People. The fact that my profile picture on her phone is a photograph of a fountain pen and a notebook.

And when she insults me, it’s not a big deal because I don’t make it a big deal. Most of the time, I make a joke, shrug. The other times, I’m passive aggressive against the two of them. Observe a conversation that took place in AP Economics between Pathological Liar and Me.

“Hey Becky…do you ever feel like…the world’s just spinning out of your control?”

And I hummed a happy little tune to myself and kept on scribbling down notes.

So if I can have friendships that come easily, without pain or conflict, why do I remain with people so prone to throwing me into anger?

And what was it about Friday that broke that streak?

Despite what I said yesterday, the words of that girl didn’t make me question myself in terms of “I am nobody. I have nothing worth saying.”

It made me question the reasons behind holding theses…whatever relationships. Why have I done that? Try to hold onto something that can’t even be called a friendship?

Writing this has calmed me down from all the anger I felt yesterday. I don’t have hateful words stuck in my throat anymore. There’s no weight on my chest. I want to shrug my shoulders now and say, “well whatever. It passed.”

But I have to stop. I don’t ever want to drift to elementary me who fought about every little thing with the closest friend I’ve ever had, but I don’t want to have to go through little bursts of anger because I forgive infuriating people and find myself constantly pulled back to worthless friendships.

I don’t want to be incredibly dramatic, but I also am content where I am now with the people I’ve met. I know it’s the happiest I’ve ever been regarding acquaintances and friends because names keep popping up in my stories. There are names and personalities influenced by those around me, written into my fiction as a secret little display of admiration.

So why let two people ruin that? It’s time to let go.

I’m frightened about college because I don’t understand the pattern. What comes after carefree friendships with constant joy during adolescence if what started it all were erratically dramatic but epically complicated and triumphant friendships of childhood? Do I go back to square one, except this time it’s blissful solitude rather than painful loneliness? It seems a possibility, but I doubt it. I doubt every possibility popping into my head.

I guess it’ll depend where I am in the next few years, or who I turn out to be.

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
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