Happy Burnday

Today I am turning 17. Living at boarding school, birthdays are honestly the best. Not only do I get a birthday party and a cake at night, but I also get to spend all day with my friends.

Today has been amazing and I’m so thankful for the people around me that make every birthday so special. But exactly one year ago, my day looked a lot different.

Photo Credit: guideposts.com

I had just found out that my dorm had burnt down. I was just packing to leave again, to get away from the smoke. I had none of my own clothes to wear, none of my belongings with me. My then-boyfriend had just ditched me to hang out with his friend on possibly the worst day of my life. My family was trying so hard to make my sweet sixteen as good and peaceful as possible, but there wasn’t much they could do. My life had just been turned upside down.

I can’t believe that was already a year ago. The hills and trees still look burnt, we still live in mobile homes, and the pictures of the fire still make me sick. It seems like yesterday that I was screaming at the orange skies that were burying the sun behind smoke to go away, to go back to normal, to turn back the time and make this all go away. But there was no turning back, there was nothing left to do. Nothing left to do, besides trying to forget about everything for a day. Trying to imagine that we were going on vacation and not evacuating from a wildfire. Trying to imagine that my friend and I were watching Riverdale in the girls lounge, not on my sofa at home with amber alerts going off next to us. Trying to imagine that everything was like it had been 48 hours earlier.

Now, a year later, I know that nothing is really still the same. We don’t live in the same rooms anymore, we don’t have the same buildings anymore. I know that, and I’m finally beginning to accept that. I know that there is nothing left but to move on.

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“Where are you From?”

He broke my heart in pieces over and over and over again.

It was a few days after my 12th birthday. My mom told me we were going to Buca di Beppo’s in Thousand Oaks for dinner with my family to celebrate. Birthdays dinners have always been something we always, ALWAYS had for one another. Every time someone in my family had a birthday, we all would meet up somewhere and celebrate over dinner. Therefore, I was not surprised we were having one for me. We took birthday dinners pretty seriously, because we rarely got to see each other. Birthdays were just an excuse to come together.

After school, I went home, took a shower, and my mom insisted on me letting her straighten my hair, which didn’t seem out of the norm because she always loved how my hair looked straight. She said everything looks cleaner when my hair is straight. When we got to Buca di Beppo’s, the host led me all the way to the back where I saw all my family, my closest friend, and all his family. I was shocked, but had a huge smile on my face. There were way more people than I expected and they were sitting at a massive table with every appetizer on the menu right in front of them. “SURPRISE,” everyone yelled. I was ecstatic; I had finally gotten the surprise party I’ve always wanted.

I was so happy, but I knew something was missing. It took me a while to realize what, or who, it was. My dad, mom, sister, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousins, my best friend, and his whole family were there what could it be? Then it hit me “Mom, where is Blake,” I asked, my voice cracking. Blake is my brother, at that time he was 25, and I knew was he wasn’t there. Showing up to family dinners is so important, because the time we have together is rare. So, not being there is practically a sin in my family. “I don’t know. No one knows. Sorry, Ki,” my mom said. My 12-year-old self felt so betrayed. “No one can get a hold of him,” my dad said. “He might be living on the streets, we don’t know. But, don’t worry, he’ll come back eventually.” How could I not worry? How could everyone but Blake be there? How could someone be SO selfish? At the time, Blake was in and out of rehab because he was addicted to heroine. He often lied and stole things from me and my sister. Which, at the time of the surprise party, I knew, but very vaguely. Years later, of course, I knew a lot more.

It’s as simple as that. He broke my heart in pieces over and over and over again. He smashed mine and my whole family’s. Not only did he break our hearts, he also ruined our trust. The truth of the matter, though, is he would do it again. What’s even sadder is I don’t blame him. He did it because he wanted to escape the world. That’s what drugs do; they help one escape. He wanted to run away from two families who could never meld beautifully, two families forced together with the same last name, but personalities that begged to differ. What I mean is, I don’t blame him for wanting to get out; he’d be crazy if he didn’t, but I blame him for being so incredibly selfish. Truth of the matter is, he isn’t the only guy who’s broken my heart, nor is he the first to do so.

That’s a different story for a different time ,though. In case, you were wondering, Blake is better now. At least he says he is.

 

Cherry Blossom Season

It is that time of the year when it starts to get warmer. The spring breeze is so nice and warm that you just want to take a nap. The flowers are blooming and the birds start to chirp. This is when I know my birthday is coming up.

Photo Credit: eskipaper.com

I have a Japanese middle name, “Sakura,” meaning cherry blossom. This name is common in Japan among people who are born in the spring. The day I was born, my grandma in Japan said that since the cherry blossoms were in bloom she would name me Sakura.

Spring is my favorite season. Although it is the season of my birthday, the reason I like spring most is because of the perfect weather. It’s hot enough to go to the pool and also if you drive a couple of hours to the mountains you can go skiing. I love to ski and I love to surf, so this season is perfect for me.

September 11th

September 11th, a grave day in history that will never be forgotten, forever looming over our history like the dust and debris that was left after the world trade center was hit. To some this day is almost insignificant, and to some this day means more than anything else.

Most people remember it as the day that the United States was attacked. Before the attack, September eleventh was simply just another day of the year. But after that attack, just mentioning the day “September 11th” brought a hush to a crowd, or caused someone to look down in sorrowful remembrance. For some people it made them feel uncomfortable, for some people sad, and some people resentful. I’ve seen all of these reactions. But what I saw the most was acceptance, not because people didn’t care, but because to a certain extent nothing could be done; the plane crash couldn’t be taken back, the lives lost couldn’t be brought back and the birthdays, as insignificant as it might seem, would never be the same.

My older sister had her 7th birthday on September 11th. Now, being that I was three years old when the attack took place, I don’t remember what I was doing, or what we were doing that day for my sister’s birthday, but I can almost promise you that with a catastrophe like that, her birthday was altered in some way.

I remember that I didn’t really understand what was happening when my parents tried to explain to me that the plane had crashed into the world trade center. For a three-year-old, death is an unfathomable idea, let alone combined with the catastrophe of 9/11 accompanying it.

As the years have rolled by, September 11th has become less of a painful reminder of what was lost that day. However, the pain that was caused will never fully disappear. The disheartened look that people get in their eyes when my sister says that her birthday is on September 11th will never go away, the damage that was done to hundreds of other families, to the world trade center and to our nation will never go away. But like human nature, we learn how to deal with it and accept it. 

Photo Credit: http://www.911memorial.org

Happy Birthday Sarah

This weekend, my friend Kendall Shiffman checked me out, and I spent the weekend at her house. On Friday we watched a ton of TV, which was, as always, really fun.

On Saturday, my best friend Sarah came over in the morning, and we hung around the house. She then went to the lacrosse game while we got ready for her birthday dinner at California Pizza Kitchen that night.

At first, I was a little worried about the dinner. I knew a couple girls from a nearby school, Villanova would be there, and I had never met them before. I was nervous, and expected the dinner to be really awkward. Thankfully, it wasn’t. They turned out to be really nice and funny, and the whole night was a blast.

Then this morning, Sarah and her brother came over, followed by two of the girls from last night. We barbecued hot dogs, and ate ruffles with onion dip while drinking coke. It was delicious.

Sarah is my best friend. She’s funny, isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, and is someone I know I can always count on to be there for me. We have lunch dates every day at school, where we talk about everything and pretty much anything.

She has helped me so much, from problem-solving to leaving behind some of my insecurities and growing into myself. This weekend with her and Kendall was so much fun, and I hope the rest of her birthday day is amazing. Happy Birthday Sarah!!

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The Happiest Place on Earth

So, much like a fellow writer, I too took a trip to Disneyland this past weekend.

It has been about a year since I had been to Disneyland, and I was glad I got the chance to go.

We left Ojai early in the morning in the pouring rain.

When we got to Disneyland it was cloudy, but not quite cold enough to wear a jacket around so I ended up carrying mine most of the day.

I spent the whole day hoping it would get cold so that I could put on my jacket and stop holding it.

So when we got the park I was with two very close friends of mine, Sarah and Cameron.

We took this trip to celebrate Sarah’s mother’s birthday.

When we got the the park her parents split off from us and another friend met us at the park.

We walked around for a bit and then Gavin, Sarah’s brother, met us to surprise his mom for her birthday.

The surprise ended up working perfectly.

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Happy Birthday Evan!

Today, it was one of my best friend Evan’s 18th birthday. He decided to have a get-together with some of his friends at his house. After a riveting ultimate frisbee/disc golf demonstration, my friends and I got picked up and drove to Evan’s house.

His mom cooked us an excellent dinner with tri-tip, kabobs, salad, and delicious tea and lemonade. We all sat around the table and joked around, and were alternating taking turns at doubles ping-pong, which I will admit, got quite intense! There were a bunch of different teams, some of which dominated, and others which hardly got any points. But over all it was very fun, we all got some good laughs out while playing.

After Evan opened his presents and it started to get dark, we moved into the garage for a game of “water pong“. Now, water pong is basically the same as beer pong, which is a popular drinking game, but of course we played it without any alcohol. It’s a fun game to play and we had two teems of four that battled hard. There were some awesome shots made and, like the ping-pong, it got pretty intense.

We all had such a great time and I really couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday. I was sad when it was over and we all had to return to school. But, 39 more days (and believe me, I’m counting) until we graduate and spend the beginning of summer together with time to do whatever we all want! All in all, it was such a great day with friends 🙂