Sunday, June 9, 2013

Conversations (4)

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It always comes that when someone asks me why I don't watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I have to answer the same way: Eight-year-old me will break shit.

There's a tiny mini-me somewhere inside the metaphysical walls of my sentient self (I don't even know if that makes any sense) and she absolutely hated MLP in the past and the fragments that remain of her hate it in the now. She thought it was stupid, silly, and she hated that girls always had stupid shows while boys got tales of fighting, sacrifice, good and evil, etc. She doesn't exactly care that My Little Pony is suddenly so good college boys are proudly flocking to Hot Topic to buy a Rainbow Dash shirt. She'd rather not have to deal with that, and she'll roll her eyes if you suggest she should watch it because, dammit, just because she's a little girl doesn't mean she likes things like that.

I could tell her there's nothing inherently wrong with girly things, but the problem lies in the fact that girly things usually mean things without the heart-breaking, stomach twisting conflict she wants to see, even if she really is just eight years old.

And it got me thinking about what would happen if I actually got to talking with her. I hear her every now and then, and I think about the life she led and the life she could have led, but I've never tried telling her anything. It wouldn't make a difference because she exists only in the little gap between the real world and my dreams. So if I try and talk to her, my future and her future, my past and her present, will not change.

But say she was waiting in a room, bored out of her mind, looking around and trying to get out because what the hell does one do in an empty room without purpose when you're just a kid? And then I open the door and peek my head inside. And she'll recognize me, in a way. She'll frown because I'm tall, but I don't reach the ceiling like she always wanted. In fact, I'm not very tall at all. She'll raise her eyebrows when I stumble inside because I'm wearing a short dress, the kind our well respected grandparents and distant relatives would disapprove of if they saw it on another girl because it doesn't reach past the knees. It just ain't respectable. And my dyed blonde hair will confuse her because it makes my skin look darker than she thought was possible. She'll remember she likes cute little dresses, but hates all the implications that come with them, and she'll tug at her brown hair and think is it really that curly?

But I won't expand on that because not long from now, I got back from visiting my university and wandering around, lost, tired, and confused through freshman orientation. And even though she's gonna live through it in nine years, I need to tell someone about my silly observations.

So I'll be like, "You alright?"

And she'll respond in Spanish and somehow understand me, but fuck this shit, I'm not typing in Spanish so I'll translate here since she'll say, "Yes." But she's staring. Because what is wrong with her/my hair? She won't say anything, though. Despite her faults, she's been taught not to be rude. She hates rude kids. Directing the word malcriada at her is about the worst possible thing you could call her--she'll cry and run off, hurt and angry. So she'll try and hold rude words back, but she's just a kid, so she's not very good at controlling herself at times. I don't have the heart to tell her it gets both easier and harder in the future to bite your tongue.

And because I don't know how you start a conversation with an eight year old, I'll say, "I like your shirt."

It's the Spongebob one dad got us when he came back briefly from the United States. She has no idea what it says, except maybe that bubble means burbuja.

"Thank you." She'll tug at it. "I like your dress."

"I kind of thought you'd be wearing one too," I'd say, nodding at her blue pants. "Not like this one, obviously, but longish, with a ribbon in the back...lighter color, maybe?"

"I don't like dresses."

"Yeah you do. You want to wear them all the time."

"No, I don't. They're a bother."

"That's what other people say. But you can run in 'em. Remember the pink one? It's princess-y."

"Princesses suck."

"No they don't."

She makes a face.

"Didn't we have a character who was a princess? She was secretly a spy at nighttime, and she would switch in and out of the two personalities and no one knew who she really was? She kept it a secret even from the prince."

She'll remember. And it really freaks her out, because she never really told anyone. Truth was, it wasn't a character. Not the way she understood it at least. She'd been writing since she was six, but she didn't understand the terms and components of a story. She didn't really think in words like character, personality, development, conflict, flaws, resolutions. She just imagined up people and saw snippets of their lives. Sometimes she didn't have the words to write them, but she could dream them. And she used to dream a lot.

She'll also remember Barbies she'd seen in the store, all the ones covered in glitter with long golden, braided hair around them. And she remembers thinking she wanted them for her birthday or Christmas, except they'd be a thousand times better if they weren't just princesses. It'd be fifty hundred thousand times better if they were all secretly living some badass life somewhere, going on adventures, cracking down secret codes, taking out bad guys.

But whenever people called her a princess, she'd correct them and say she'd rather be an empress. (Weird, because she never saw the first Neverending Story till years later, yet you would assume that's where she got the idea). She liked the idea of a girl actually doing stuff for her nation, and it seemed that princesses never did anything.

I can't help but wonder something. "How come we dislike princesses but not princes?"


"You've written about a prince."

"Oh. Yeah, I remember that."

Except she wouldn't. She wouldn't because our midpoint--the point of 12/13 years of age--is where we wrote about Prince Jacob Hart for the first time. She hasn't experienced it yet. "No you haven't."

She frowns. "Yeah, I have. Prince Max."

The name doesn't ring a bell, but I don't have to think far to remember. Our second story did have a prince, but he wasn't a main character. The main character was a girl who found a hidden portal at the bottom of a pool. When she emerged from the other side, a prince showed her around his castle, populated only by children.

I only remember bits of it. If I'm right, then it ends when a monster queen brings forth all her children and tries to take over the castle. So Prince Max gives our heroine a sword and she needs to fend the fuckers off.

It was pretty intense. But I don't remember how it ends. I think she gets back to her world, by mistake, unwillingly. And we never find out if the monster queen took over the prince's castle.

I guess I hated happy endings when I was little.

"No. Not him. You wrote about another prince."

"I did?"

"A young prince who befriends a witch and her mother. It's a fantasy story you penned when you were twelve."

Fantasy. Witches. A prince. It sounds like the sort of thing she dreams about but hasn't had the courage to put down on paper just yet. "What was it about?"

I make a face. In five years, she's going to hate that question as much as I do now. "It's...kind of difficult to explain. The witches...are facing a genocide, and at first the Prince doesn't want to help them, but he becomes friends with the little girl. And he decides to go with them and find the kingdom that used to belong to all witches." Jesus christ that sounds lame. Worst part is, even years later the basic plot remained the same. The characters just got....more complicated. As did the world. And the war.

I keep going. "But it's got magic. And fighting. And-"

"Can I read it?"

Fuck no. "I...don't have it here."

"How does the cover look like?"

"The cover? Why would it have a cover?"

"All books have covers."

"Published ones, yeah."

She stares at me.

"It's not published."

She looks displeased. Little lips pout and she crosses her arms. "Why not?"

"Because it wasn't ready for that. I mean, I rewrote it a couple of years later. Or I tried to, at least. It's not done."

She can count. Started it at twelve. Apparently finished it. Five years later, still hasn't been published. That's a long fucking time. What the hell am I waiting for?

"This sort of thing takes time," I say, kind of awkwardly. I really don't think I could explain all the nuts and bolts of publishing, because even if I was ready, maybe it'd take me another ten years to put a thing up in bookstores. Assuming bookstores still exist in ten years. "I've been up to a lot, though. I'm going to attend a university in three weeks."

That's easier for her to imagine. She straightens up. "University?"

"Yeah. In the United States."

Her eyes are gleaming. Just like we always wanted. "Really?"

"Yup. I just came back from visiting it." I've been saying this next thing around to dozens of people, but it's going to make her and only her float up and bounce around the room. "It looks like Hogwarts."

If little eight year olds could die of Happiness Heartattacks, past-me would be on the floor in ten seconds. "Seriously?" she squeals.

"Same with the area around it." I say, then slowly sit on the ground. "Want me to tell you about it?"

"Yes!" she says, then awkwardly hangs at the tips of her toes. "Why are you sitting on the floor?"

"There isn't a chair here."

"But you're wearing a dress. Mommy says we shouldn't-"

"I know, don't usually like following that rule, so..."

She's not gonna argue anymore. She sits down in front of me, stretching her legs out.

I start up again. "It really does look like Hogwarts. All the buildings are made of old bricks, taller and bigger than you could imagine. It's got all these trees that curve at the paths, like they're trying to embrace the Earth. The sun glimmers underneath them and freckles the old stones on the ground. You can find dozens of flowers, sort of how grandma's garden used to look like when she was alive. It's really difficult to try and keep yourself  from plucking out all the ones you see. There's squirrels everywhere. The English building is old and beautiful, and we'll be spending much of our time there."

She looks like she's enchanted, but confusion springs to her. "Why the English building?"

"Because that's what we're studying. English, I mean."

"We are?"

"Yup. To become better writers."

She has to think about it. For a while. A long while. "Why?"

"Because we want to get better. It's going to be what we do for a living, if we're lucky."

Now she catches what she's been trying to say. "But I'm going to be a doctor."

Oh shit. I almost forgot about that. "Oh...we couldn't...really do that?" I say, though I end up pulling the last syllable like it's a question neither of us can answer.

"Yeah I could." She sits up straight, "I'm not scared. I don't mind blood. Sometimes my friends fall down and I check their cuts and I make sure they're okay. And the hospital didn't scare me. I don't cry when I go there. Look, I can check if you're alive right now."

Yeah, she'll put her hand against my wrist to feel the bones underneath, she'll check my pulse with her tiny fingers, and then, with the back of her hand hovering above my lip, she'll make sure I'm breathing. Foolproof.

"That's not it," I say, "You sort of lot of dedication to go to med school." That sounds terrible. "It's a lot of math and memorization we don't have the skills to tackle."

"But I'm good at math."

In an alternative world, telling this to an eight year old is about the biggest disservice you could do to the kid. But she's me and this really doesn't affect us anymore. "Dude, you thought you were good at math. Then you took pre-calculus when you were fifteen."

I don't think she heard anything but the word calculus. "I did?"

"Yeah, but-"

"How did I do?"

"You got a B."


"It' eighteen." (I think. Maybe it's more like a seventeen.)

"That's it?"

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. I almost died for that eighteen. But of course, my eight-year-old self is not the least bit impressed. I don't really blame her. "I mean, we've...we've gotten to figuring out what we're good at. We don't really....I don't really do a lot of the things I used to do."

She shuffles around, thinking about it. "What about swimming?"

I chew on my cheek. It's difficult to admit it. "We quit years ago."

She looks disappointed. But then I see it. A flicker of relief. She'll never admit it, though, not even to the one other person who knows the truth. "Tennis?"

"Quit that too."


"Quit it completely."


"Eh, that wasn't so dramatic. You sort of stopped when you were thirteen so you could focus on writing. It wasn't intentional. It just happened. We didn't get to become any good."

She doesn't look too relieved at that. "We're not doing anything."

We wanted to be everything, and we're not doing anything. She'd have other questions because I was going to try music, and singing, and dancing, and cooking, and diving, and researching, and exploring, and being it all. But she's not going to ask. Maybe, she thinks, that as soon as she started different things, she grew to hate them. It was always the same process. She'd like it for the first time or so. Then she'd hate it, and hate it, and hate it. And sometimes, she wasn't brave enough to quit up front. She'd just stop going to practice.

Wanted everything, did nothing. That's what she would be thinking if she could put the disappointment into words.

And I know she doesn't want to believe me. Maybe I'm an impostor. Maybe I'm not really her in the imminent future.

I need to keep talking. "We are doing things. Like I said, writing."

Yeah, she doesn't look too thrilled. "No one else is reading our books?"

" I haven't...I guess I'm not brave enough yet to give it to others.And we haven't really published anything..."

"So we're not like J.K Rowling?"

That was the dream. It still is, in a way. It's still the distant, unattainable dream because I can't get rid of my little eight year old self, and she clings to things in a way that time can't shake off.

But even though I'd still wish for little things like that, it's just not something you think about before plummeting yourself into thousands of dollars of debt. "I don't think we ever will be."

Crushing disappointment. At eight, if you met your seventeen year old self and saw that she was short and awkward, looking in a way you used to disprove of, no longer chasing the profession you believed was our calling, and not exactly being the child literary genius you thought you would be, then, well, you'd want to shut down completely.

There's only one thing I can say. I don't really believe it, but I feel like she will. It's all I can give her. "We're good, though. Good writers."

She turns her body away and starts playing with her shoe lace. She undoes it, then ties it again really quickly without looking.

"People think we have talent,"

She peeks up from underneath her eyelashes. She wants specifics.

"Like...professors. And judges in national contests."


The spark is back. It gleams in the corners of her eyes. I can't lose it now. Need to find the flames, set them free. "Yeah. We kind of won something. It wasn't...I mean, it wasn't very..." Losing the spark, losing the spark. "Yeah, we won something. It was a silver award."

It's not that great when you think about it--not to mention the fact that I haven't won or published anything since--but she's got selective hearing by now. We won something for our writing. We impressed people through our writing. She always wanted that too. "What did you write about?"

A conversation between a serial killer and her admirer. Dammit, girl, stop asking difficult questions.

"It was just a scene from a play--a much bigger play. We couldn't get the highest award--but, wait. It's okay. I mean...we sort of rushed it. We turned it in a day before the deadline."

"That was a bad thing to do."

I laugh. "It really was. But it's okay, we typed it up and finished it. We type really fast now."

Sometimes she imagines that. She imagines being older, in a room full of books, typing without looking at the keys like she's been practicing, speaking and thinking in two languages, like all great educated people.

She's smiling to herself when she asks. "We're writing plays?"

"Attempting. We write novels more often, but it all might vary. I might write memoirs and speeches in the future. Screenplays, probably. I'm going to study all kinds of aspects of filmmaking at the university."

"What about writing?"

"I'll study that too. I--we can study almost anything we want. We can take random classes about gender and religion. About the philosophy of feminism. The inner workings and meaning of Hollywood when it comes to the definition of art. I can watch dozens of movies, from Japanese and Spanish and even Turkish film makers. I can learn about neo-noir. I can study Russian fairy tales and folklore."

She seems impressed. I haven't mentioned all the science and history and math classes I could go through but wouldn't exactly take because I'd suck at them, but so far, not too bad.

I keep going, "When we first got there, we were really nervous."


"The school was really big and really pretty, but we could have gotten lost really easily. And we didn't know anyone."

Her smile fades almost completely. She's really scared about that. She hates being alone, seeing people run around with the closest of friends, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder. Sometimes when Erika isn't at school, she feels that loneliness, and she dreads and hates every second of it. She knows it's the problem with having only one best friend, but she just can't make any others. What's more, she doesn't really want others until she has no choice but to try and make some more.

"We were given a room. We had to share it with another girl, but she was alright."

"Share it?"

"Yeah, there were two beds. A normal one, and another one really high off the ground, built over cabinets and drawers. You picked that one because you're rather silly. You struggled to climb over it and had to roll your body over the mattress to get on top, but it's nice to sleep a couple of feet off the ground. Either way, you didn't stay in there for long. On the first day, you had to run out and go meet your orientation leader. He's studying Creative Writing just like you are, and he remembers your name kind of quickly. He takes you and your group around the school grounds, and it's pitch black and looks sort of frightening, but you don't mind."

"Sounds scary."

"It's still perfect. You can see the sky. The stars are there in a way they never are in our city."

"What?" She frowns. "I can see the stars."

She's not thinking of the city I'm talking about. "One day, not far from where you are now, you're going to move to a place that doesn't have a sky. And you're going to miss it a lot. You'll miss it so much, you'll walk around the university campus at nighttime staring to the worlds above, tripping over your own two feet. The only time you looked away from it was when you got dragged into the ghost tour."

Her eyes widen. "Ghost tour?"

She hates ghosts. She wouldn't have gone on that tour if you paid her.

"We walked around campus with a group and were told stories of places that were haunted."

Two alternatives. As much as she regrets it when it's time for bed, she loves hearing ghost stories. She'd just hate to be out and about at nighttime, without mommy and daddy, hearing about all the haunted places.

"The tour was kind of lame," I say.


"Because the stories weren't too scary.You know better legends."

"So you weren't scared?"

"Not even a little bit. They tried to scream and catch us by surprise after telling a story, but you saw it coming every single time."

She looks at the floor, hiding a proud smile. In the future, she realizes, she won't be so easy to scare. "Then what happened?"

"Well I had to go back to my dorm pretty quickly. We had an eleven p.m curfew. When we woke up the next morning, they were blasting Circle of Life over the hallway's speakers."

She giggles at the thought. I kind of wish she knew what Never Gonna Give You Up was so she could giggle again when I tell her they played that song too.

"I guess the second day was a little weird. There was still a lot of walking around and a lot of presentations. You got awkwardly pulled out of a presentation about academic classes and requirements because you have an A.A."

"What's that?"

"A degree you get after the first two years of college. It was us, this boy studying business, and this really tall girl studying biology. We were told we can stay at the university for however long we want. We can graduate in two years. In three. Or in the traditional four."

"I'd want to leave early."

So maybe I haven't changed that much.

"Sometimes I think so too. never know. Maybe we won't be ready to graduate very soon. Nineteen is an awfully young age to go out into the world. You don't see it now, but it'll be a scary future to face in eleven years...or so I imagine."

She can't see it because she doesn't think in numbers like that. She imagines when I'm older, but that's not a specified point. It isn't a clear cut picture, there's too many things to guess about, too many scenarios to come up with.

And maybe I'm not so different. Maybe two years is too distant for me, and even though I've fooled myself into thinking otherwise, I can't see a thing either.

"If the university looks like Hogwarts," she says with a little smile, "I guess I wouldn't ever want to leave it."

I return the smile, stretching my legs out just as she has done. "It does factor in, doesn't it?"

She nudges the end of my boot with her small shoe, trying to kick her legs apart a little bit. She stands, bored of having been sitting still for so long. "Can I see it?"

"See what?"

"The university."

"What? Right now?"

She looks to the door behind me--the same one I walked in through. I glance over my shoulder, not really having considered the possibility that we'd be leaving the little room. But there isn't a reason for my university not to be there. There isn't a reason for impossibilities to be here.

"I suppose so."

I climb up to my feet and reach out for her hand. She takes it immediately, walking always a couple of steps behind me as I go to open the door. She doesn't want to be the first one to walk out. That's a bit of a scary thought. So she hides behind my legs, peeking out as I reach for the knob, turn it, and slowly swing the door open. The humid air hits us first, and it makes her crinkle her nose. We step through, gentle breeze blowing the scent of the strange, foreign air. To me, it's nothing. Not anymore. But I know it's odd for her. Immediately she knows this isn't the place she's grown up in.

I keep walking until the door shuts behind me. The little room and red door disappear the second we hear the closing click. We're now standing in the field, the one that seems to be the heart of the university. There are buildings all around us and little walkways everywhere. The lamp posts are strangely old, lining up against the stones. The fields and trees are green and the university buildings are a warm red. Kind of makes her think of Christmas.

She lets go of my hand. Little fingertips slip from my grasp and she steps up forward with wide eyes.

Then she bolts down the field.

"Hey, wait!"

Laughter everywhere. I'm following her thrilling, giggling echoes as she turns a corner, goes down bricked stairs, and keeps running, one building to another. I catch up to her and ran up past her. I wave my hand, telling her to follow me, and she complies without question. I lead her to the English building because it's really the only place I can remember how to get to. It's a long run. We bolt by violet flowers and confused squirrels, underneath flickering sunlight, tumbling down little hills.

We run down the one path I took when picking my classes and meeting my adviser. We make it to the building, and I have to turn and wait by the door to let her catch up. She's out of breath, but her eyes are still gleaming and her body's rippling with energy. She keeps looking around. I imagine the university must look so much more wonderful through her eyes--bigger, more mysterious. Less like just an educational institution, more like a town from a distant past filled with magic and wonder.

She catches up to me, running up the steps and urging me with silent enthusiasm to lead the way inside. She bounces on the balls of her feet as I push open the door, stepping into the dark. The lights are dim, but they only feel especially dark because of the brightness outside. The cold air inside is nicer, soothing against my warm skin. When we drift inside, she immediately starts going down hallways, opening doors, but hovering shyly just outside of the rooms.

"It's alright,"  I say, nudging her, "We can run. No one here right now."

That's all the encouragement she needs. It's so warm inside--not in temperature, just in colors, in feeling. Warm wood and soft colors. She peeks inside classrooms, rounds up corners and presses her hands against the walls. She keeps looking up. Maybe she wants to go upstairs. I have a better idea.

"There's a staircase to go downstairs."

She turns to me. "But we're on the first floor."

"There's floor zero."


"If only. Just come on."

I lead her back down the hall, turn a couple of corners till we're in front of the staircases. Like promised, these go down into the darkness. We stand on top of it. Her eyes are a little wide. She's cautious, maybe even a little afraid. I grab her hand to make sure she's okay. She hesitantly steps forward.

I'm so weak, I wonder briefly if she'll be too heavy for me. But no way does she weigh more than sixty or seventy pounds. I reach out for her and lift her off the ground, arms underneath her knees. It's not a great height, but it gives her a feeling of comfort. The little bit of pesky fear bothering her disappears.

I trot down the stairs rather wobbly and run down the second hallway. I have to let her down not long after, but it's brighter now, and her curiosity has pretty much overcome anything else. "Do you like it?"

"Of course."

"We only got to be here at the second day. That one was nicer than the first."

"What else happened?"

"Odd little bonding exercises and a creepy motivational speaker. You seem to be unaffected by both those things. I haven't decided yet if that's good or bad."

"You didn't like them?"

"The bonding thing was interesting," I say as she walks into a classroom, checking the bookcase by the side. "They put everyone in a circle and read out loud statements. If the statements applied to you, you stepped forward. So it'd be like, step forward if you're the oldest sibling. And then you'd do it and you'd watch everyone else who stepped forward."

She reaches for a book on the highest shelf she can manage and opens it up. They're all a plain green, bounded without pictures, just a string of words. She pretends to read them.

"At first the statements were simple. Step forward if you're an only child, step forward if you're from out of state, step forward if you speak another language. That kind of thing. Then it'd be things like, step forward if you know someone who committed or tried to commit suicide. Step forward if you know someone with HIV. Step forward if you've lost a loved one. A lot of people went forward with that one. It felt odd to stand behind."

She turns back from the bookshelf, staring at me. "You didn't?"


"But what about...?"

She doesn't have to say it. I know what she's thinking. I thought about it when the circle around me shrunk and I was left up behind. It doesn't seem right to admit it to her, because I can't remember what it felt like back then. At six, I hadn't understood what was happening. I'm sure it didn't sink in till I was seven. So by eight, I would know. But by then, had it been too long to feel the pain? Did I just understand because the concept of life and death happening in real life--not just in pictures or books--had become something so grounded in my reality?

"This might suck to hear," I say, "But you remember her more than I do."

She tilts her head. "You forgot her?"

"No. I didn't forget her. But it's...more difficult now. To go through all those memories, all that time that's piled up. Everything becomes too distant. And you feel the past more than remember it. I don't know if it makes any sense. I feel it, but it's all blurry, all underneath the surface of who I am right now. I didn't step forward because it doesn't...feel like I've lost anyone. Not...yet, at least."

I can't tell if she believes my answer. She seems to be thinking about it, maybe wondering what else I've forgotten in between her and now. It's been a lot, I guess. We're not even the same person anymore. Yet still she stays with me, even as the years pass and I grow farther and farther from her. She won't leave me, even as time tries to pull us apart.

She walks around the room, controlled energy now. Then she stands at the tip of her toes when she sees the window. Even though we're in the last floor, the hills of the city seem to accommodate around us. There's a small area just outside this classroom, shrunken in with the ground, filled with benches, a statue, and flowers. It looks beautiful.

Then when she presses her hand against the glass, her face brightens up. She sees something in the ground and bolts out the room. I don't have time to look out the window and check, I have to go after her. She figures the way out almost without my help, just opening doors till she can get to that small patio.

She jumps down the small steps and heads straight for the flowers. I go up behind her, trying to think of what to say when I see what caught her attention specifically.

It's our doll.

She touches the pink hair with gentle care, and slowly drags her fingers down to the blue eye. "She looks different."

"She's from my time," I say, kneeling in front of her and giving her a sheepish smile. "Don't throw her into a washing mashing. She'll lose her hair and her eye."

"She has her hair."

"Only because we forced mom to stitch it back up."

She pats it and tugs it, making sure I'm telling the truth.

"Did she ever have an arm, by the way?" I ask her.

"Mommy has to stitch it up," she explains, examining the rest of her. "I have to give her back soon. Mommy has the arm. It's just..."

We never gave her back. We took her half completed and ran. I kind of like that she doesn't have an arm. But I do wonder something else.

"Does she have a name?"

My little self looks up, her lips parted into an answer. She holds her up, as if the doll could talk and tell us for herself. But there's only silence. We never gave her a name. Or if we did, it was so insignificant and uneventful it was discarded not long after.

I don't know why the fact makes me happy. I lean down against the flowers, my feet touching the end of the bench behind us as I curl up on the grass. She follows suit, cradling the doll between us as she runs her hands through the hair. She looks up above to see the clouds slowly drifting above us, the building stretching up to the sky, shielding us from the sun but letting the rays peek just above the rooftop.

She doesn't look away from our doll. It's like she's missed her. It's been years since she's seen her.

"Are you disappointed in me?"

The question throws us both off. I don't know why I asked it. Maybe because it's better than just wondering it over and over again.

"Why would I be?"

"I'm not how you expected we'd be."

That's not undeniable. Somethings are good--typing fast, going to university, writing--but it's not all the same. And whenever I failed to meet an expectations...well, that's not something she can hide from me. One, she's too young. Two, I remember exactly what I wanted back when I was her age.

She doesn't ever look at me. I stare into her eyes, because they're sharper than I remember, but gentler in some ways.

"Do we still talk to Erika?"

She blinks back something. Sadness. Tears maybe. She knows what the answer is.

"No. Not for a long time."

"Do we have more friends?"

"A lot more."

"Are you going to leave them?"

"I have to."

"Will they miss you?"

"I'll miss them."

"You look sad."

"Because I am. There's a lot that's changed between eight and seventeen. A lot will change between now and..." I sigh and shrug my shoulders. Between now and nineteen, twenty, twenty-four, twenty-nine, thirty. The list can continue on.

"It's alright," I say to her when she looks away worried. Tears in her eyes. As tough as she tries to be, she also cries much more easily than I do. It's strange to be such a divided person when you're just a child. "We're also happy."

"Because we're going to study?"

"Because of a lot of things," I say, "Because we're not stuck. We're going to keep going. Sometimes we stumble around because we're going too fast, and sometimes we fall behind because we're too scared to keep going. But nothing's holding us down. It's just nice...all the progress. It takes you away from some people, but sometimes it brings you closer to yourself."


"Yeah," I reach out for the doll, fixing the little skirt. "We're more focused now. I know you wanted to be everything. I know there's a lot you wish would have been different. But it's nice to have one goal, then improvise through everything in between."

"Sounds fun."

"It is. And I'll change and grow, and this self will just disappear. But you won't ever go away."

She snuggles up closer, brushing grass away from her face. "Why me?"

"I don't know. Maybe you're the only one who will ever keep us grounded. Maybe despite everything that's going to happen, and all the people we'll meet and all the people we'll disappoint, we'll always just want to make you proud."

It's a lot for her. Maybe too much. But even though I know it's not all how she wishes it was, there's a lot to be thankful for. A lot to be happy about.

It's so strange to always look for a way to make your younger self happy. I don't know when or how or why I decided it was her who I wanted to be for the rest of my life. Maybe because at eight I knew what I wanted from fiction; strong girls and wonderful worlds and the fight between twisted morals and the good in people.

And I knew what I wanted from people and from myself.

"Will you show me more?"

One last, small smile. "I think I have to go now. There's a lot to get ready for. Busy weeks. Busy month. Busy life."

She nods. Slowly. She understands. She pushes the doll to me, knowing I need her for comfort. "I guess I can wait."

"You'll see it happening. You always do."

We stand up from the grass. She climbs up the bench behind me so she can wrap her arms around my neck. I'll hold her back, but only for a second, because it really is time to go.

And when she disappears down the path back into the English building, I'll watch behind with the doll in my arms.

In two weeks, I leave my house. And I'll come back, every now and then, but it won't make sense to ground myself here and stop all progress. I'll have to keep going, somehow, half the time on my own, half the other time with momentum carrying me away.

But if I can make her happy, at least once in a while, one way or another, then maybe I didn't live such a bad life after all.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Memories (In Terrible Quality)

Forgive the crapness that is these photographs. I took them all with my phone, except for the first one (but I can't find one with good quality) or the group pictures from prom. (We took a professional one too, but that one isn't available yet, I guess)

MDC graduation (this was at the beginning of May, only picture I have)

EDIT Found better pictures my dad took that day with our semi-good camera

Prom (June 6th)

After-prom (Sleepover at Gise's--who is insane. Made us stay up till the crack of dawn and won't let me take a good picture of her)

High school graduation (June 7th - not a lot because my dad took better pictures with a better camera)

I got a fancy little glass award thingy for earning my A.A, but they spelled my name wrong and it seems...oddly weird to take a picture of it. So that might come later.

Idiotic selfie at Giselle's pink bedroom, saying BYE :D

"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..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.