by Artsy Barbie
You're not quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as you were before this summer. In fact, you're a bit scared and nervous. But you're meeting new people – nice new people, fun new people – and you're surviving your schooling, so there's soft, warm contentment in you, like a soothing cup of tea and a gentle nap.
Then you start missing school. You move up in the world – as big a world as school can be – and the shine in your eyes dulls all the more, leaving you even less optimistic than you were before you started this period of your life. As the months dredge by slowly and painfully, your world grows darker and darker. Getting out of bed is like climbing a mountain. Interacting with friends, family and classmates might as well be punishment. You miss more school.
But you get better.
You're able to smile again, and perhaps because of this you throw yourself into evolving your personal style. It becomes your mantra and philosophy to look good and feel good. You pierce your ears multiple times and dye your hair – skirts get shorter and boots get taller. As you laugh and enjoy life again, you remember how much you like to pretend.
So you act.
And you laugh, and you love it, but just as quickly you cry. One of the people you love the most has cancer, and as cavalier as she is about it – it isn’t that serious, after all, something that can be removed – you die a little inside when you hear. After it's all over and she's all right, you realize how immensely lucky you are to not have to suffer that same extreme pain as so many others your age who have lost a parent.
You cry some more.
But you continue your pretending and do a damn good job at it, which takes up most of your summer. You meet more fantastic, like-minded people and are absolutely sure that this is one of those great turning points in life that you've heard about. You decide you like it.
Unfortunately, it's over just as soon. School is in session again and for a few moments you feel yourself falling back into darkness. It scares half the life out of you, but this time you can feel it coming and refuse to give in to it. You smirk victoriously, utterly unabashed, at this beautiful win.
The year goes on and you are given your options of escape. You're missing school again, but this time it’s for a noble reason, as you have found a whole new motivation to get up in the morning. It invigorates you and breathes a new life into your lungs and veins and bones, albeit a sad one. You're discovering for the first time that the escape you yearn for means separation from most of the amazing people you've met. Your belly laugh grows somber at best, forced at worst, and several things are suddenly off the table to discuss among friends. Not being able to talk about it feels like the saddest thing of all.
You ask yourself what happened to your excitement and happiness, but come up with no answer. It isn't that you're depressed again, just that you feel much too old and weary for your thirteen-going-on-fourteen-going-on-forty years. You and your friends eventually come to a vague mutual agreement about staying together next year, but it feels a bit half-hearted. Over time, it feels better – you feel better – but at the time it seems all but hopeless.
Still, you cheer up.
Deciding your future high school is a difficult choice, but you finally choose one that must be Artsy Barbie's Dream School, a happy echo of Fame. You're anxious and excited for next fall, although still a bit sad. You have higher hopes for your Dream School than you did for This One.
Graduation is less than a month away, holding summer and more pretending hostage in its cloudy and ominous grasp. You don't know what the future plans on hurling at you, but you've learned the cliché and accurate Life Lesson that the only thing you can do is go with it. You're still evolving, after all.
Life goes on.
You go on.
7 years ago