I miss being little. Everything was so much easier then. I had no significant responsibilities, no pressure, and no school stress.
My days consisted of barefoot cartwheels in the grass, sweet mango lassies, and swimming lessons in the fading afternoon light.
I fell asleep cuddling my mom under mosquito net canopies, or listening to “Quelqu’un m’a dit’ if my parents were out for date night. I took baths in a red bucket just big enough for a petite 6-year-old with her knees folded to her chest (the shower was too scary). I collected shards of shattered glass behind the school gymnasium, which my friend and I called our secret treasures. I read stories on our yellow balcony overlooking a sea of rice paddies. I accompanied my dad to the grocery store just to get a Chupa-Chups lollipop at the register.
Recently I have found myself looking back and reflecting on life before March 13, 2020.
Prior to that date, i was busy being social, going out with people, even sharing drinks from friends waterbottles. But today, that all seems so bizzar.
Its crazy how much seven months can change someone.
I now can’t seem to remember how life was before we had to wear masks or make sure we obsessively washed our hands.
I am now so used to making sure I put my mask on before I enter a building or if I am around people, but why was it so easy to completely re-program the way I live my life.
I do miss the days where I did not have to think twice about approaching someone. I miss long hugs with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a long time. I miss meeting someone for the first time and shaking their hand. I miss being in a room with people all together and seeing smiling faces. I miss it all.
I miss life before March 13, 2020. It was simpler and there seemed to be less evil in the world, even if that was not the case.
I usually end up doing them in the evening much later than I should. I tell myself I’m being strategical and avoiding the heat, but if that was true I would run in the morning (that RARELY happens). In reality, my procrastination and dread for long runs are the reason why my long runs happen in the evening.
Yesterday though, my run was pleasant. I never thought I’d say these words, but it was almost enjoyable.
Around 7:55 I told myself, “Bella, get up, you’re running.” I grabbed my headphones, running watch, a headlamp, and started to run.
It was cool weather.
My music was good.
It was dark to the point where I could see my shoes and three feet ahead of me, but nothing else.
I had no light to see my watch screen, so I just ran. I didn’t constantly check to see my mileage or pace, or how much time I had left: I simply just ran.
And then there were the shadows.
What I’m going to say next will sound like some philosophical bs but while I was running it totally made sense, if you’re a runner, you know that the mind starts to lose sanity after about five miles.
The newly set sun and distant street lights served as an invitation for three shadows to join me. One ran about four feet behind me, one right by my side, and one ran far in front of me.
I stared at the three shadows for a good twenty minuets because, like I said, running is a tedious thing that causes a bit of insanity, and I started to think.
I thought about my progress with running, the struggles I’ve faced with it, where I am, and where I want to be.
The shadow behind me represented where I started: my first time running without someone forcing me to do it, the first time I competed in a race, and all of the first steps I took in my running journey.
The middle shadow right next to me represented where I am now: I am not in as great of shape as I was at my peak, but I’m in better shape that when I started. I am working to improve my skills.
The shadow in front of me represents where I want to be: my goals, the times I want to achieve, races I want to compete in, and mental toughness that I want to acquire with my running.
On my evening long run, in my philosophical state, I stared ahead and placed one foot in front of the other, in a rhythmical pattern, as I chased down my running goals and the shadow that ran ahead of me.
I like divulging stories and experiences from my childhood so I think I’ll do that again.
5th grade was an interesting year for me. I spent the whole year knowing it was my final year in China, that I would soon be moving to the promised land that I had only know as Hollywood from movies and the few visits I had made to the southern coast of California. I fostered friendships I knew wouldn’t last, I got moved up to the highest reading group, and I ALMOST kissed a girl. All the subdued craziness afforded to an awkward twelve year old was incredibly liberating, however at the same time, it was shrouded in the despair of having to leave behind everything I knew.
Aside from all that depressing stuff, my fifth-grade year was the perfect culmination of all the time I had spent in China. My friends and I released more videos in a single year than we ever had before, under the name of our production company, “Yovodka United.” My homeroom class won the elementary school dodgeball tournament, even defeating the teachers somehow, making for one glorious pizza party. I finally read the final book of the TinTin series from the library, after waiting nearly two years for someone to return it, and I gave my final goodbyes to the friends, the school, the city, that had raised me and taught me so much, walking off stage, throwing glow sticks into the audience, after our heartfelt class song.
The Skype calls that seemed to go nowhere but made hours fly by in minutes. The new era of pop music, Maroon V, Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift, The Script, and Gotye, creating a perfect soundtrack that could encapsulate my memories into a single playlist. The Minecraft LAN parties that involved poor WiFi, pizza bagels, and lots of griefing. I don’t know if I can ever recreate a year as packed with mixed emotions and shameless exuberance as my fifth-grade year, but I only hope I can one day look back on my high school experience, my senior year even, with the same kind of nostalgic pride.
Before I was proficient, understanding language, my dreams would be primarily in symbols (I wasn’t a very verbal child). Now I’ve never written this down or spent much time reflecting on it, but from around the time I was 3 to the time I was 9 or 10 I would have very odd, indescribable dreams; a single, short line, accompanied by a circle and a square I believe would race around the room I would sleep in while remaining totally silent. And at moments I would hear a deep buzzing that I could not describe, the racing became more intense and increasingly antagonizing while appearing exactly the same. An unnerving simplicity that I didn’t understand frightened me beyond my greatest beliefs and I couldn’t describe them to my family for the life of me, haunting me for years after I stopped having them.
I used to live in a three-story house. To be fair it was a house divided down the middle with a wall so it could house two families, but regardless it felt large to the small child that I was. My house had an area where the stairs, which were all right above each other, and near the basement, there was an entrance to my dad’s office which was leveled slightly below the ground floor of the house but still sheltered slightly from the basement. And in the mornings or late afternoons when things were dark, but not enough to turn lights on, that area would have a shadowy appearance that terrified me. So sometimes, I dreamt that I was standing there, alone, in the early morning, when my parents were still in bed an eternity away on the third floor of my house, I would be frozen on that landing, surrounded by shadows and uncertainty, where I would hear a despaired howling, like one would hear on the Alaskan tundra on a cold winter night, but unnervingly human. And I would be unable to escape that desperate gale-forced cry, and then it would just end.
I wish I could say it to you, but we are on a strictly no communication basis.
The only thing we share now is our existence and hatred towards each other.
It’s sad… my greatest love turned into my strongest hate.
happy birthday, you’re an adult now.
I hope you move far far away and buy a house of your own thousands of miles away from here,
but I hope you’ll be happy.
I still wear the necklace you got me for my birthday. People tell me I should get rid of it, and I probably should, but I can’t because its the last piece of you I have left, and, as much as I want to, I can’t bring myself to let you go.
I want you gone but I want you happy,
I want you to feel awful for what you did, but I want you to come back to me.
I want to hate you, but I want you to love me…
because I love you still.
So happy birthday, thank you for the memories, the laughs, the smiles, and thank you for the love we shared.
I hope one day it will overcome the hatred we share.
I wasn’t sure what to say tonight, so I decided to comment on a few things I found while flipping through my journals. Enjoy:
November 3, 2015: Middle school is hard.
(This one made me giggle.)
March 6, 2016: Being carefree is not the same as being careless.
(Not sure what prompted me to jot this down. I probably thought it was a lot more profound back then, but I guess it’s still a valid point.)
April 5, 2017: I got hit in the eye with a baseball today.
(I remember it like it was yesterday. Ouch.)
November 20, 2018: TOO MANY FEELINGS AT ONCE! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE AND YOUNG!
(This one was written in capitals and had some vigorous underlining. I like it.)
December 4, 2018: I’m just so different than I was before. But I think that’s a good thing, somehow.
(Yay for personal growth!)
December 23, 2018: Some people are just easy to love, and easy to fall in love with. They are both my favorite and least favorite kind of people.
(haha no comment.)
January 6, 2019: “Wish I was there, wish we’d grown up on the same advice, and our time was right…”
(These are Frank Ocean lyrics. MAN, I wish I could write songs like Frank Ocean.)
Sometimes I write down the random thoughts that pop into my head. It’s kind of cool to see how they have evolved over time. That’s all for now.
My parents tell me that I broke your heart… but I deny it.
Sometimes, I think about how we used to be. I remember that one night when I texted you asking if you knew any good places to get my guitar fixed. We hadn’t really ever talked that much before this so I was shocked by your answer. “I can fix it for you, what’s your address,” you replied. You drove half an hour to my house to come pick up my guitar. You didn’t just pick up my guitar; you played my piano, talked to me, made me laugh, and told me I had a beautiful voice and you would love to play music with me.
From that night we became closer. I remember how excited I got when you would text me, how nervous I was when you would come over, and how happy I would be when we played music together.
Weeks went by and, even though you lived half an hour away, we’d hang out almost every night after swim practice. I remember my best friend saying how perfect you were for me. At that moment, I agreed. You were an amazing guitarist who was looking for a singer in your band. You were funny and entertaining. You were an amazing swimmer. And, you actually paid attention to me, something I had never really experienced from a guy.
One night, I heard a knock on my door. There you were with a guitar case, my guitar case. I opened it to find my guitar clean, polished, and fixed. I thought you were just going to replace the string that I had snapped. I was shocked. I offered you money, but you wouldn’t take it.
That night, you kissed me. I had kissed people before in dares, spin the bottle, or other stupid party games, but this was my first real kiss. My heart beat a million times a minute, my cheeks were probably bright red, and I remember thinking how perfect that moment was. It’s crazy how much things have changed since then.
I remember how you would surprise me with flowers; how we would sneak into your guest house when your parents were home, so we wouldn’t get caught; the guitar lessons you gave me; and the food you would buy me. I met your whole family. We did a triathlon together. You finished way before me, but as soon as you crossed the finish line, you ran back to do the final stretch with me. When I ran my marathon, you woke up at five am to drive to the starting line and cheer for me and you were their when I crossed the finish line. Then, there was the time you told me you loved me, I said it too.
It seems like everything happened so fast. I had so many firsts with you. I had so many good memories with you. Before this, guys always ignored me, wanted nothing to do with me, and would never want to be part of any relationship with me. I never thought I would be the one hurting you.
I was happy in the beginning, for the first couple months, but as time went on, something changed. You didn’t change though, you continued to so many nice things for me and be the amazing person you are. You wrote me a song, comforted me when I was down, wrote me letters when I went to sleep away camp, went on hikes with me, and told me I was beautiful. You didn’t change at all, but my feelings did.
I started acting weird. I became a bit distant. I don’t know why I stopped feeling the same for you, it just happened. The day I told my parents I wanted to break up with you they said not to. “He’s so perfect, stick with him,” they said. My mom would get mad when ever I asked her how I could break up with you.
I tried to feel the same way about you again, I really did, but I just couldn’t. The day I broke up with you, you cried. You said you were okay and that it wouldn’t change our friendship, but we both knew that was a lie.
I cried too. I felt like such an awful person. My mom would tell me I deserved to feel that way, because of what I did to you. My best friend would say it too.
It’s been over half a year since we dated, yet its almost like whenever you look at me, you seem sad. We’re in the same friend group, so I see you sometimes when I’m with my friends. A couple weeks ago, I asked you what was wrong. “Whenever I see you, I just get sad. I get so jealous when I see you with other guys. I still love you,” you said.
Now, we barley talk. It’s awkward when people say your name.
Sometimes I think about how we used to be. My parents tell me that I broke your heart… I don’t deny it.
I miss waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch my favorite cartoons.
Now I struggle to wake myself up, even in the afternoon.
I miss wearing zebra print leggings under neon pink skirts and Hannah Montana shirts to top it off.
Now the worries about people judging the dirt at the bottom of my shoes to the fabric of my cardigan consume me to the point of anxiety.
I miss being excited about Christmas. I miss waking up early and running out of my bedroom in my pajamas to sit around the Christmas tree and open gifts. I miss making cookies for a Santa I once believed in.
Now I know his existence was a mere tale.
Now Christmas itself is a mere tale to me.
I miss believing. I miss believing in fairies and elves, and having adults feed me those tales to keep my imagination strong.
I miss dancing around the room like no one was watching. I miss dancing to music that actually had a meaning.
Now, all I hear is deafening dubstep and meaningless, degrading rap. Now all I see is grinding.
I missed when I could sing at the top of my lungs, and no one would say I was bad even though we all knew I was.
I miss when the most dramatic thing at school was two seven year olds holding hands under a desk, not finding out drugs were killing your best friends.
I miss being young. When I’d see celebrities on big screens and wish to be like them one day. Now I know who they really are, all their messed up scandals and drunken photos taken by paparazzi.
I guess what I miss most is being a child. I don’t miss my childhood, but I miss when I was young. When I wasn’t stressed about school, when the biggest worry of my life was if Miley was going to get with Jesse or Jake, and when I could always be happy.
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