Howdy from Texas y'all - I'm back in my home state for just a couple of days. And ohmygosh it is COLD here. Like 32 degrees and sleety! Eesh!
But it's fun to be back in the Lone Star State!
Less fun…the super bowl on Sunday. Ugh, I can't even.
So! Let's talk about Texas some more (and how the Cowboys really need to bring it next season). Being back here is always nostalgic for me - I went to elementary, middle, and high school here, so I did most of my growing up in TX. Today the reminiscing put me in a mood to do some creative, non-fiction writing, capturing some of the more vivid memories from my high school years.
She's fourteen - though she is often mistaken for twelve - and a complicated mixture of insecurity and confidence is etched into her movements. Not quite sure how to carry herself; this body of a girl, all angular and flat, while her friends are blossoming and budding. She's shy around strangers, quick to cry, even quicker to blush. But there's a grittiness to her; beneath the awkwardness there is a flicker - a flame of mischievous passion. When she runs there is no stopping her, and when she smiles it's captivating. She's not beautiful, no, not exactly. But she's different - those big, blue eyes hold countless dreams - her imagination stirring behind the pupils. Her sun sign - a Leo - prone to drama and a need for the spotlight…though she's often scared to claim it.
She's fifteen and girls are mean. Heart wrenchingly mean. She comes home and collapses into her cocoon bed, staring at the moody, melancholy purple walls. They called her a bitch, the word scrawled messily onto the front page of her notebook. She rips the paper to shreds, but the black ink seems to snarl…the words feel damning between her shaking fingers.
She's fifteen and dating a boy. He's sweet, all goofy laughter and gangly limbs. They meet after school and make out in the hot tub at the gym. She wonders if she's doing it right, and navigates the lust and the fear with her lips. She thinks she likes the way it feels. Isn't kissing supposed to be like fireworks? There's no flash bang of July 4th, but his mouth is warm and, besides, everyone else is doing it.
She's fifteen and a boy touches her. She let's him - she thinks she wants him to feel her heartbeat, feel the rush and pulse of her body. But almost immediately, a crashing, shattering feeling of shame slams through her chest. She pulls away, breathless in the worst possible way, and leaves without a word.
She's sixteen and counting calories. Sixteen and convinced that 99 pounds isn't low enough. Every meal becomes a nightmare, but she learns how to hide her hunger and hate her appearance. Her heart beings to dance, skipping beats and aching through her shirts. She feels dizzy, terrified, and weak...but pretty.
She's sixteen and everything comes crashing down.
She's sixteen and realizes that she's stronger than she ever thought. She finds strength in her family, her friends, and - most importantly - in herself. And for the first time, she begins to understand that "pretty" is a dangerous and destructive word. A word that will take years to lose its power over her.
She's seventeen and reckless. There are late-night parties at the lake, with bonfires and guitars and talk of alcohol. The boys tease the girls, and relationships swell and collapse in the midnight hours. They listen to metal bands with funny names, and she laughs with her girlfriends as they make up new lyrics and finish each other's sentences. On the Fourth of July she sneaks out to set off fireworks. The boy she likes is there - the one with the charismatic smile and the silly nickname. He aims a Black Cat at her - she gasps at the shocking heat and tingling phhhhhhst as the firework catapults past her face, stinging the side of her cheek. She's angry, rattled by the scent of burning air. But he scoops her up, throws her over his shoulders, and she laughs wildly, the sound brighter than the fire singed sky.
She's seventeen and has the best friend in the world. They are closer than sisters - cosmically connected. They dress up for photo shoots, and strut down hallways like runway models. They run together and no one else can keep up - cross country and track addicts, they spend weekends running, laughing, and daydreaming about the future. This is the sort of friendship that lasts forever, in spite of distance, time, and growing up.
She is eighteen and about to head to college.
She is eighteen and everything has gone by so, so fast. She's nervous but ecstatic, vulnerable but strong. Her body still aches with the scars of insecurity - some wounds will take years to heal. But the fire in her eyes glows brighter than ever. She is smoldering, a lioness just waking to her potential. A girl on the cusp of becoming a woman. A dreamer who's adventures, hardships, and joys are just beginning.
As always, thanks for reading y'all - it means the world to me :)