When I was 16…

Or, Memories of My 17th Year.

I was in Lower Six studying Biology, Physics, and Maths1 at Queen’s College, Guyana, and for reasons unknown, I found the Krebs Cycle fascinating.

My friends and I hung out in the Bio lab because the teacher was fun. There was a non-poisonous snake that someone found and brought to the lab, I don’t remember if we named it, but I do remember the boys trying to stuff the snake down the girls’ shirts2.

Before classes, my friends and I would help each other with homework, and play games – mostly chess. I also was a part of the Library Club, just in case you doubted I was a geek. I was a Prefect3 assigned to a Form One class, where most of the responsibilities included helping the Form Mistress and making sure the class behaved – with the added benefit of being called “Miss” by the lowerclassmen.

Around this time we finally got hooked up to the internet at home – it was a dial up modem. I wasn’t allowed to go on until after homework, but I figured out how to mute the sound of the dial-up and snuck on a few times4.

ICQ was the thing to use. Even if it wasn’t the thing to use I’d probably have still used it because I liked that they had such a smart acronym5. I used it to chat with my friends at school – and random chats.

One of those randoms was a guy from India who couldn’t believe I was a 16-year-old girl because I didn’t talk about things like “hanging out at the mall” or “teen magazines”.  He sent me an eCard from 123greetings with the Backstreet Boys “Quit Playing Games” midi in the background. I don’t remember the content of the card, but I don’t believe I ever chatted with him again after that6.

I loved the song Lately by Divine and secretly loved Hanson’s MMMBop. I still liked JTT and Devon Sawa, and still watched things like Saved by the Bell, Sister Sister, Growing Pains, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Family Matters.

My love for books started at a young age, I was still a huge Famous Five fan and loved Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys novels – especially the combos. I read my first real romance novel that a friend from school let me borrow. It was more historical than the contemporary type, but I decided that I preferred mysteries. Around this time I read my first YA novel, written in the first person7. Of course, I don’t remember the name of the book; there was no Goodreads back then.

I would often practise playing the keyboard. I believe I also started playing the guitar, mostly because a keyboard wasn’t portable and for some reason I pictured myself needing an instrument that I could take on the road with me.

This was a transition year for me. My family had started the process of migrating to the United States, and I knew that it was my last school year (so I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have) before moving. It was strange, still going to school but knowing that I would never graduate with the friends that I had, some of them since I was 11 years old.

I could go on, surprisingly I remember a lot from this year of my life, but I’ll finish this here. Exit; pursued by a bear.

———-

1 I think I also took English, but I can’t remember my English classes, so I’m going to assume I studied those three subject.

2 Of course, at the time, it wasn’t funny, especially to someone who is afraid of snakes. However, looking back at the memory now, I never felt threatened by the boys, they weren’t malicious, just teasing and being, well, boys.

3 Probationary, as Upper-Sixers were usually the full-fledged prefects.

4 Sorry, dad!

5 “I seek you” – just in case you didn’t get it.

6 What he didn’t realise was, I was into pop culture, but wasn’t interested in chatting with someone across the world about something that “everyone” talks about, I was more interested in what life was like in India.

7 The book was on my shelf for a while, but I couldn’t get into the first-person writing style the first time around, I enjoyed it the second time around.

~*~

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The Year of Tears and Heartbreak

I had big plans, I wanted to do things, to go places, learn things … I made a list or two.

Sometimes things don’t always work out the way you imagined them, sometimes life surprises you and the only thing you can do is deal with it. Roll with the punches. Make lemonade.

In 2012, I wore sorrow like a cloak.

The year started on a low note as sickness festered close to home. Next came the incident* and with that it seemed the tone was set for the year; 2012 will become the year of tears and heartbreak.

I shared in the sorrow of a broken heart, feeling useless and ill-equipped, with only phrases like “it will get better” to offer as comfort. If I could have taken my friend’s pain away with the right words, I would have. Sometimes words are inadequate, but sometimes they are all I have to offer.

Next, Death visited our family, leaving a feeling of vulnerability. We are getting older. We will not live forever. I thought of my parents, they will not live forever. And as though it wanted to make sure we knew it meant business, I will never forget the thirty minutes I spent, driving home, uncontrollable tears streaming down my cheeks. Thirty minutes where I begged God for healing, chanting “please, please, please…” until I couldn’t anyone.

That night was the darkest night of the year, surrounded by family but feeling alone. Alone. Another lemon, another punch in the gut.

Just when things were getting back to normal, just when I thought that life was settling into its usual schedule, Sandy came. Sandy was not like Irene. Irene rattled our windows a bit, but Sandy crippled us and many are still rebuilding. While my home might be OK, others are not. The house that we came to call “Grandma’s house” (though grandma isn’t the only one that lives there) was flooded and repairs are ongoing. Will this bad year ever end? I can’t possible drink all this lemonade**.

This year sucked. It was the suckiest year in the history of my 30 years on earth, and I’ve had some sucky years. 2012 made me feel sad, insignificant and alone. It made me feel helpless to the point where I just wanted to stay in my room and flick through Tumblr, or browse the interwebs – anything to distract myself, really. But through it all I also feel ridiculously blessed and that’s all because of my family and friends.

The faith that I saw in the actions and words of family members going through tough times, the concern and love shown by friends who took the time to find out if everything was OK, who reached out with words of encouragement and prayers, who brought cupcakes … these will stick with me. These pull me away from the distractions. These stand out like beacons of light. These pockets of happiness were my strength.

2012 is drawing to an end. This is the last day. It’s almost over. Soon I’ll be able to say, “I made it!! I survived 2012!”. I have a lot of lemons, they are in this bucket and I have a makeshift lemon-catapult. I’m ready, 2013; I’ve had enough of your lemons, life, I’m ready to chuck it back.

—*—

* The incident isn’t a secret, but for reasons I cannot say, I cannot discuss it online. oOOoOOh vague statement is vague.

** There were so many other bad things that happened, but I don’t want this post to be a downer. However, I just wanted to state that everything that I went through this year affected my life in some way and I’m still thinking and praying about them (and for the others also affected).