Polaroids

On the center of the granite countertop of the mini bar in my grandparents’ house, a home I spent the majority of my childhood in, sits a single polaroid. In that polaroid is a picture of me as a little girl, food all over my face with my dog right in front of me.

That is the only photo I have from my childhood and I can barely remember the story behind the photo. Now, it makes me wonder how many memories I’m missing out on because I can’t remember. This is also because I have no photos to revamp my memory.

I have no photos of myself with long hair, with my parents, or pictures of my dogs. All I have are my memories; the ones blurred between the lines of trauma and bliss that was my childhood, the ones I desperately want to forget and remember all at once.

Photo Credit: theverge.com

It’s terrifying that I have such a clear memory of the smallest details nowadays, but I can’t even remember the details of my parents’ faces. The little things in life that were defining aspects of my day to day life as a kid are blurred images in my mind today.

All I would have are these photos, but I don’t even have those.

Now, I have an abundance of videos and photos piling up in my Snapchat memories and phones new and old holding numbers of concert videos that I barely look at anymore. Videos that I refuse to give up, in case I want to look back on them and smile. I have photo albums filled with developed photos, polaroids from prom and random nights with friends, lining the shelves of the desk in my dorm room.

Some people say you need to live in the moment, to put your phone away and let your mind keep the images. But, I can’t. I don’t take photos and shaky videos to post them on my social media; I take them so I can hold on to the memories forever in the literal palm of my hand.

I have no photos from my childhood. Not a single one. Not in a photo album, on my phone, but I wish I did. As much as I try to forget everything from my life before I was ten, I wish the memories weren’t becoming just memories. I wish I could hold on to a photograph and relive the moment all over again.

But, that’s why I take photos all the time through the lens of three different cameras. So in thirty years, I can look back with a clear image and not just rely on the one in my head.

Advertisements

the things we don’t talk about- holiday edition

The holiday season is coming up, which means a lot of happiness and posts about “holiday spirit” which is great, but this is about the things we don’t talk about.

We don’t talk about the peoples whose families don’t have enough money for Christmas presents, halloween decorations, or a turkey dinner.

We don’t talk about the kids whose families are split into two or more homes, forced painfully back together for the holidays, nor do we talk about the kids whose families are split and don’t see each other at all.

We don’t talk about the families who yearn for someone who is no longer with them or who yearn for someone who never has been with them.

We don’t talk about a lot of things, especially around the holiday season, because we want to distract ourselves with presents and lights and candy.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun, but this is for the people who’s holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. You’re not alone.

This is what the holiday season looks like to me, starting in October.

Halloween: Not very exciting and kind of awkward, as I’m old enough to not go trick-or-treating, but I still could go if I wanted to. It’s sad, because you realize it’s not as exciting as it was when you were a little kid.

Thanksgiving- Me, my mom, and step-dad sit at a fancy restaurant in Las Vegas, eating the turkey dinner on the menu. I wish I was home, with the rest of my family, like how it used to be. When grandma could still cook for us all and we could still all be ok sitting at one table. I’m definitely not as thankful as I should be on this day.

Photo credit: Nycinsiderguide.com 

Christmas- Awkward because my dad and step-dad are both at my house and it’s “rude” to pay more attention to one than the other. Normally, I do it anyway. Even more awkward because my two sisters are in the same house and they hate each other. Probably worse because my brother comes. Sucks because I’m the youngest and the people I want to pay attention to me don’t and the people I don’t want to pay attention to me pay too much.

New years Eve/ New Years day- Depressing, unless you’ve been invited to a party. Full of a lot of stupid phrases like “New year, new me” or “On the first page of a 365 page book.” Reality is, nothing ever changes.

Valentine’s Day- Cool if you’re dating someone; super lame if you’re not.

April Fool’s Day- Usually not funny. I probably end up forgetting what day it is and get pranked.

Mother’s Day- Celebrating mamas, trying really hard to make everything special, usually involves waking up earlier than my mom. Probably impossible, because I don’t think my mom ever sleeps. Normally ends up with a fight I feel terribly about.

Father’s Day- Another Mother’s Day, celebrating mom for being my mother and father. Forced to wish my step-dad a “Happy Fathers day! <3.” Normally, I don’t really mean it. I wish my sister’s dad a Happy Father’s day… I mean it.

Independence Day (AKA 4th of July)- Nothing super exciting. Missing the time I used to watch the fireworks on a big hill with my sister’s dad. Probably with my friends watching fireworks, but kinda scary because I don’t like the noise fireworks make.

REPEAT.

The point of this blog wasn’t for me to bag on the holidays. There is super fun stuff going on during the holidays and I appreciate and enjoy every single one (for the most part) for a different reason… I’m sure you hear a million things a year about why every holiday is great. This is about the things we DON’T talk about.

The point of this blog is to say: the holidays are coming up and with as much love and gratitude this brings, it can also be a rough time for some.

With that said, take care of yourself; be gentle with other people; be thankful for what you do have; focus less on what you don’t, but don’t ignore it; check up on your friends; and talk to someone if your Christmas was shitty! Some are better than others.

A Stuffed Animal

When I was in third grade, I wanted to go see Kung Fu Panda. All my friends were excited about it, but, when my mom broke the news to me that we couldn’t afford to go, I was heartbroken.

For weeks and months, I was upset about it. Until one day after school, when my mom made enough money, she showed up with the DVD and a stuffed panda bear in hand.

I’ve kept that panda bear ever since. Its name is Bob, and it’s a she. I don’t remember why I decided to give a girl panda one of the most boy names I knew at that time, but I do remember the countless questions I was asked, and the countless times I didn’t care to give an exact answer I didn’t even know myself.

What I did know was that I loved that panda. I brought it everywhere. I brought it to my dad’s home on the weekends, to the occasional family dinners, and to the sunset Malibu car rides.

It was around me when I was happy and when I was sad. I held onto it during the silent nights. I held onto it with the grip of my small, but tight hand while trying desperately not to feel alone with my family in the other room.

In a time of darkness, that stuffed animal was the last dwindling light source. It held every bit of my fighting innocence that diminished within me as I grew up, but, as I carried it with me through my life’s adventures, I carried bits of my childhood along with it.

When I moved in with my dad, I brought that stuffed animal with me.

When I went to Argentina for the first time, I brought that animal with me to the hotel, on the plane, and in my backpack on tourist trips.

Every trip I took to Mexico, I’d bring it with me.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

When I went to boarding school for the first time, it stayed on my bed. When I went home for weekends, it came with me in my suitcase. When I went to OVS for the first time, it came with me.

After I got back surgery before sophomore year, with all of my emotions ridiculously heightened from the the extreme pain meds that put me under, I had a mental breakdown for hours because I thought I had left this panda at OVS. It didn’t stop until my uncle lifted up my blankets and handed it to me.

I was fifteen then.

Then the Thomas Fire came. In a panic, I only had thirty minutes to pack anything valuable to me. Without hesitation, I grabbed my panda and threw it into the bottom of my bag. The dorm parents told us we would only be gone for the night, but I couldn’t risk it. I cried when I thought I left it at school, I couldn’t imagine what would happen if it burned. I had to bring it with me.

It seems ridiculous how emotionally attached I am to an inanimate object now that I’ve grown up, but it’s still important to me. It stays on my bed and it no longer goes on trips with me; I no longer rely on it. I don’t hold it when I fall asleep. In fact, it sometimes slips onto the floor guiltily in the middle of the night. But, whenever I’m distraught or alone, I grab onto it and hold it as tight as I can.

It may still be a stuffed animal, but it’s so much more.

It’s the last thing I have from my mother. I no longer have photos in my possession or objects from her and, despite all the tragic, dark times, this bear represents one of the few good memories I have of her. It symbolizes the goodness in her which faded away over time, but is still kept as a stored memory I hold onto – literally.

It holds my innocence. My ruined, diminished childhood innocence still stays safe inside that stuffed animal I look at every time I make my bed and I still smile about it.

The panda symbolizes my childhood. Without it, the last remnants of it would vanish.

The Beginning of the End

When I stepped into my first class at the beginning of freshman year, senior year seemed so far away.

Now, I just survived my first week of being a senior and too many realizations hit me at once.

That, at the end of the year, I won’t be sitting on the bleachers watching my friends from higher grades graduate. This time, I’ll be the one walking on the stage to receive my diploma that I worked so hard to get over my high school years.

But, it’s only the beginning of the year. There’s still so much to anticipate. So much to go through.

The countless college applications and dreadful Saturday mornings I’ll spend doing the SAT until I get the perfect score so I can get into the perfect college. The ideas for my senior project that I still can’t choose, because I don’t even have one in mind. What my prom dress will look like, or even my graduation dress.

Photo Credit: The Odyssey Online

It’s only the beginning of my final year at OVS. It’s the beginning of the end of my high school experience.

It hurts knowing at the end of the year I’ll have to say goodbye to everything I’ve known. To my friends and teachers, to my horse, and to the small town and smaller school that has been my second home.

But, I’m still hopeful that this will be an amazing year, and maybe my days at OVS will only be in my memories and I’ll be living a completely different life, but I’ll still remember them as the most important times in my life.

A Letter To My Younger Self

You’d be surprised how often I write letters to people I can’t send them to. I write them to mom, dad, past friends, future friends, animals, and now I’m writing one to you, my younger self.

I could just see your face reading this. You’d scoff, then toss it aside not wanting to read it. You were never a fan of reading; now you read all the time.

You’d be surprised how much has changed.

I no longer want to be a movie star, nor is UCLA my top choice. In fact, I want to be a lawyer, and I want to go all the way to the other side of the country and pursue law in New York City.

Hannah Montana isn’t my favorite artist anymore, and Wizards of Waverly Place is shockingly not my favorite TV show anymore.

Instead, you went through the embarrassing seventh grade emo phase you shamed Rachel for going through.

If I’m honest with you, younger self, I’m so much different than I thought I’d be.

Some things stayed the same. Logan is still alive, I still love horses, and I still love to sing- though the older I get the worse I seem to become.

But, oh boy, I am definitely not the person I thought I’d become.

I no longer have hair that goes down to my hips, instead it’s right below my shoulders.

I dont have beach blonde hair or sun-kissed, clear skin. I have glasses, and I have freckles, and I have scars.

I don’t go to a big public school where I’m the most popular girl. I don’t go to beach parties on the weekends or sneak out of my bedroom window at night time. Instead, I go to a small boarding school. Instead, I spend weekends going to the movies and riding horses.

I haven’t had a boyfriend yet, but I really could care less. It was something I dreamed of, but now all I dream about is getting into college or passing my math test.

This may not sound appealing to you. You always dreamed of the crazy nights, city lights, and the “celebrity” life, and maybe a glimpse of that dream will come true in NYC, but trust me when I say what’s happened after mom and dad is quite possibly the best thing that could’ve ever happened to us.

Life has gotten so much better. I’m writing this letter contently from the warmth of my bed, music through my headphones. Summer begins in five days, and I’ll be going to Disneyland, one of your favorite places, a week from today. You used to be obsessed with Maroon 5, and I finally see them next Tuesday.

Though you had all these dreams when you were younger, none of them seemed possible due to our circumstances. They were all just dreams in arms reach, yet they seemed so far away.

Well, I’m glad to say that I’ll be a senior in just a few days. That while my dreams weren’t the same as they were when I was younger, they’re coming true, and I hope you’re proud of me.

Photo Credit: takemygist.com

Dear Father

Dear Father,

Or should I call you that?

Photo Credit: Tumblr

Were you really a father to me, or simply a mere memory.

Of someone I dreamed would be.

But this letter isn’t a poem to you.

I wrote one to mother months ago, and every week I’ve been pondering whether I should write one to you. I never know what to say to you, or what memories to reminisce, simply because there are none.

Yes, you were a father, but biologically only. You weren’t a father until you had to be. Until, you got the call that mom had died, and you suddenly had to drop that neglectful act and realize you had two kids to raise whom you left behind.

But according to you, you never left us behind, did you?

You’d send $500 a month to keep us barely below the poverty line. You’d take us on Sundays to shopping malls and Jamba Juice trips in hopeless attempts to buy our love and respect, but those are feelings that cannot be bought.

They are earned, but you didn’t earn them.

Yes, I loved you the way any daughter unconditionally loves their father, but there was nothing else to love.

You missed dance performances for business trips, and movie nights during computer drifts.

I have no memory of you besides the fragments of moments spread over the years of my childhood, a childhood I long to forget.

Do I miss you? I wish I could say yes, but there’s nothing left to miss. Yes, you were better than mom, at least at parenting, but at least mom was there. At least she left knowing that she’d always be in my mind.

I wish I could pour my heart into this letter like I did for mom, but I simply can’t. She changed my life, but you weren’t around enough to do that.

I know you tried your best. I really thank you for that. You did everything you could to keep my childhood intact.

You were pure at heart, but for a child who was ignored desperately, pleading for an escape, it would never be enough.

As much as I loved you, like any daughter loves a father…

You’d never be enough.

One day, my love.

I met you on a ferris wheel.

Well, that was when I really met you, your soft hands and nervous laughter, nervous but happy.

remember when we first started talking, during awkward lunch hours, and way too late at night over text. I remember that time when you walked me back to the bus and everyone inside was staring at us, but our friends approved. They knew just how perfect we would be for each other.

via i.pinimg.com

I remember that first kiss, so sweet and unsure, but so convinced it was right. I remember realizing how madly I was falling in love with you, when I had to leave you for the summer.

We have such a great history. I mean, you sent me flowers to Germany. You gave me an engraved necklace confessing your love. We’re going to go to Paris together.

So I’m asking. Why do we have to end like this?

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is the best decision for us to make. But why? Why is this the best we can possibly do? The longest we can possibly go?

I don’t understand the universe. Once it brought two soulmates together, why would it break them apart so soon? Why would it give us this choice to make, so bitter and sour and burning hot?

It’s not fair. You know that, I know that. And obsequiously, we go along with it.

I see couples that get so much more time together, that get to go out for dinner on a Tuesday night, or go watch a movie after school, or walk their dogs together at sunset, and I am so jealous. It’s that red, yellow, glowing jealousy that you can’t turn off. I hate it. I want to be happy with what we are given. But there will always be this huge part of me that wishes for us to have that life together. I know we deserve it.

One day, my love, one day.