Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Sarah Forst
Maryland, USA



I was born on October 23, 1990 at a hospital around four in the afternoon. My parents planned on having three children; I was the fourth. My parents, particularly my mother, were neurotically Catholic, meaning that birth control was not an option. I lived for two years on a small farm, of which I have no memory. When I was two years old my family relocated to a small suburban neighborhood in a small suburban town. I attended a small interdenominational preschool called Faith Christian. My first true memories begin at about four years old. I became a Daisy that year, a sort of pre-Girl Scout. I started ballet lessons as well. I enjoyed the once a week class very much, and I also enjoyed being, for once, the first person in my family to do something, as none of my other siblings had ever had dance lessons. I also started at St. John Elementary School, something that I had very much looked forward to. My main memories of kindergarten consisted of playing pretend and coloring. I also learned to read that year. I had my first birthday party at age five. It was a Halloween party, and I dressed up as a pumpkin. The rest of the little girls were dressed up as Disney princesses and Barbie. It was at this party that I met the girl would become my best friend, KH.
I was always very talkative and eager to share stories, though I was also very shy until I was about seven. It was at that age that my teacher assigned me the main role in our second grade production. I was the only child to memorize my lines, and I was just so proud of myself. That play was a turning point for me, and I became markedly more outgoing after my performance. I first went to residential 4-H camp when I was eight years old. It was one week and just so much fun to me. I had a lot of relatives there and always thoroughly enjoyed myself. I attended as a camper until I was twelve, when I became a leader-in-training. At fourteen I became a craft leader, and at fifteen a small group leader. Camp would always be a home away from home for me- a place that never changed, showing how much I truly changed.
Until I was eight years old, I was a very cute child. I was very tiny for my age, had pale skin, wispy reddish-brown hair, and a light smattering of freckles. When I was eight, I got glasses. Then, I got braces, along with almost every other existing piece of orthodontia. I also began to wear my hair longer, which was a disaster. I look like a cancer patient in any picture dating from 1998 to 2001. I was also a very sickly child. My first memory of something going terribly wrong with my body is from when I was about four. I hit my head on my old wooden rope bed and lost consciousness. I would develop a pattern of passing out anytime I was in pain. For some reason my parents didn't take this particularly seriously until a much later age. I also got sick much more than an ordinary child. I had chicken pox at three, and I clearly remember sipping a juice box while itching my scabs, watching my mother stencil the family room. When I was in first grade I developed some sort of stomach illness near the end of school, during which I couldn't eat anything without throwing up for over a week. They were ready to put me on a feeding tube when I mysteriously got better. Other than a cold that lasted every year from October to May and various bouts of strep throat and the flu, I didn't have another serious illness until I was in fifth grade. I began to cough up phlegm that spring and I grew terribly sick. My fever rose to 105.4 and I was often delirious. Had my father not been a doctor, I would've been hospitalized. No one could figure out what was wrong with me despite various blood tests until someone had the idea to give me a chest x-ray. The x-ray (for which I was very nervous, since I imagined that I would have to stand shirtless in front of a group of people) revealed that I had pneumonia. My dad brought home a nebulizer, I received quite a few shots, and many different antibiotics were tried. I didn't respond to anything until I had already been sick for almost two weeks. At this point, I began to recover due to a rarely used antibiotic that I could only swallow if it was cut into fourths. I did get better, though I would deal with mild bouts of pneumonia for the rest of my childhood and adolescence. My elementary school years were spent continuing dance lessons, swim team and tennis lessons in the summer, reading a whole whole lot, and generally impressing my elders and annoying my peers with my intelligence. I generally tested in the top one percent of my age group, and school was mostly far too easy for me. I received straight As and often complained about the infantile reading level of others my age. My older sister Colleen loved to brag that I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy in fourth grade, which is true. People used to refer to me as a forty year old in a nine-year-old's body. Despite my supposed genius, I still spent most of my time with KH, running around the neighborhood, putting on plays, having lemonade sales, and generally being creative and strange. I hated more than anything to be referred to as "cute". I found it very demeaning and degrading. I despised the "popular girls" at my parochial school, but I honestly was very much part of the group. Whoever I was friends with at any given time would generally say they hated these girls as well, but when they weren't friends with me, they were friends with them. The main struggle of my life during my middle school years was with these girls. I was always quite weird as a child, but I sortof normalized at around age 12. I wore my curly hair in a messy bun that hid its natural poufyness. I wore glitter and hoop earrings. I listened to Avril Lavigne and Hillary Duff. According to my mother, I cried all the time during seventh grade, though I don't remember this particularly. I do remember her desperately trying to get me to home school. I scornfully said no, but then suddenly changed my mind after I started receiving bullying emails and letters from the other girls in my grade. When I was eleven years old, my family hosted two Russian "orphans" for a week in the summer. Lyuda and Sasha were eight and six years old, respectively, and ridiculously cute. We loved them to pieces and began the heartbreakingly long struggle of attempting to adopt them. Over a two year period, my parents traveled to Russia three separate times and in all, brought back four Russian children. The first was Matthew, who was then three years old. He shared my birthday, and was also a full nine years younger than me, leaving quite a gap. Matthew couldn't speak when we adopted him, and he only weighed twenty two pounds. I loved him more than I had any loved anyone before. We realized that he was special almost right away, but the full extent of this wouldn't be understood until later on. My parents `continued to fight to adopt to Lyuda and Sasha even after the spontaneous adoption of Matthew. When they finally did bring home Lyuda and Sasha (who decided to go by Alex since Sasha is considered a girl's name in the United States), they also brought home a girl about the same age named Anastasia (later to go by Anna), who was the mirror image of my older sister Colleen. The night my parents and the three children came home was so surreal. I hadn't seen Lyuda and Sasha in almost two years, and I'd never even met Anna. I shared a room with both Lyuda and Anna for the first year or so, and therefore got to know them pretty well. The year they were adopted was also the year I was home schooled. I have some nice memories of home schooling, but only a few. Sometimes my mom and I would go out to lunch or she would make me tea and English muffins. But that year was not the paradise my mom had said it would be. I never got truly dressed, and I barely saw anyone. I was bored out of my skull, and my mother didn't really teach me at all. I "learned" from extremely biased Catholic textbooks, and generally felt like shooting myself much of the time. It was during this year that I first cut off all my hair. I had become obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, and after I watched Roman Holiday for the first time, I was inspired to simply chop it all off. Everyone, including the hairdresser, tried to get me to reconsider, but I had made up my mind. I was left with an inch or two of verrry curly hair, which actually suited me and I very much enjoyed. When it came time to start applying to high schools, I refused to consider any option but Mount de Sales Academy. My sister Caitlin had graduated from this college prep, all girls school, while my sister Colleen had switched out of it into public school. I considered public school beneath me and made the decision to attend MDS. I enjoyed my first year of high school. I was elated to be the only freshman to get into the fall drama production, Harvey. I was actually the only girl who wasn't a senior to receive a part. We rehearsed at Cardinal Gibbons, a local boys school. The boys there also took part in the play. I carpooled with two sophomores named Danny and SW. Their maleness very much intimidated me, and I probably couldn't have been more awkward. I asked, with much encouragement, Danny to homecoming. My mother drove us there, with Matthew sitting between Danny and I in the backseat. I barely remember the dance itself, just his sweaty neck. My classes at school were challenging, but I enjoyed them. I became close friends with a few very devoutly Catholic girls, as well as a few girls with looser morals, who I tried very hard to convert. I first truly became interested in fashion that year as well. A girl gave me an extra copy of Teen Vogue after I told her my mom wouldn't allow me to read fashion magazines. I enjoyed it so much that I started asking my sister to sneak me a copy every month. I had my first period the summer after my freshman year. I was relieved since I had been lying to my friends and telling them I had gotten it in seventh grade. However, my already fragile body did not respond well to this change. I suffered gut-wrenching cramps and passed out on my bedroom floor. Even after it ended, I still endured horrible stomach pains all summer. Again, I had a mysterious illness and no one could pinpoint the source. The stomach pains stopped when I started school, so they were attributed to a lack or routine and general hormonal imbalance.
Sophomore year was hell. I didn't get along with my carpool. I had a sadist AP History teacher (I was in an elite class that only twelve girls were allowed into) who crumpled paper in my ear while I tried to write in-class essays that I was given no time to prepare for. I had an arrogant, pedophile-esque Chemistry teacher that made me want to put my face in a blender. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to commute to school, endured misery all day, got home around four, did my homework until midnight or later, slept for a few hours, and then repeated the cycle again. In all fairness, the year did have its good points. I developed a close group of friends that I felt comfortable with, I took part in another play (The Miracle Worker this time), and an art class saved my life. On the other hand, I became to twitch violently every few minutes due to stress. KH, my best friend, and Colleen, my sister, encouraged me to switch to public school. My pride and brainwashed way of thinking wouldn't allow me to make this choice right away. Soon, however, I began to see that I couldn't take much more. Starting around second semester, I constantly barraged my parents with pleas to allow me to make the switch. In retrospect, my parents were quite heartless. I was clearly depressed, anxious, and miserable, and yet their ridiculous Catholic idealism refused to acknowledge that it was my school that was making me this way. I signed up for a guidance appointment at Westminster High School against my mother's wishes and scheduled my classes. I started seeing a Regnum Christi spiritual advisor because I thought that if I could convince someone Catholic that I needed to switch schools, that I could get her to convince my mom. It actually worked, more or less. My parents very, very reluctantly (and belatedly) told me I could switch by handing me a contract with all sorts of bizarre stipulations. The deal was sealed when I had what was basically a seizure during exam week at MDS. I choked at a church breakfast and passed out, and apparently started having tonic clonic movements. An ambulance came and I took a trip to the hospital. They didn't find anything, and simply recommended a trip to the cardiologist and neurologist. I got pulled out of residential camp for my cardiologist appointment. The cardiologist made me uncomfortable and mostly talked to my dad about business the whole time. As it turned out, I had a "hyper-dynamic" heart- simply meaning that it closed too far and too hard. He told me I'd grow out of it and to eat a lot of salt. I never really understood how this connected to passing out, but I went with it.
I was very, very nervous to start school at Westminster. I didn't think I would fit in, and I knew I would be overwhelmed. I very anxiously and excitedly planned my first outfit: skinny jeans, a tee shirt with trees, silver shoes, and a blue headband. School was suddenly this incredible thing- this incredible experience of freedom. I could wear what I liked, associate with all different types of people, and take part in tons of clubs. I liked almost every boy who was decently smart and I had any contact with that first month or so of school. One evening in October a boy named KM started talking to me over myspace, and then AIM. I was so incredibly excited. I'd never talked to him personally, but I'd seen him at school. He was a senior, drove a car, and played in four bands. There was never a chance that I wouldn't fall hopelessly head over heels. That first night after I had a several-hour AIM conversation with him, I couldn't sleep. I stayed up all night and passed out the next day. It was one of the first times I lost consciousness due to something purely psychological rather than physical. I was elated when he asked me to go to the movies with a few friends that night. I lied to my mom and told her I'd known him for a month, that we were just friends, and that a bunch of other girls were coming. I wore my skinny jeans, red shiny flats, a white shirt I embroidered with red and blue hearts, and a plaid purse. I met him for the first time when I opened my front door. I was probably the most nervous I've ever been in my life. I got in the car with him and another boy I didn't know. KM drove a white jeep with punk bumper stickers on it. I remember so clearly his friend pulling out the keys when we were at a stoplight, and KM freaking out. Soon, I found myself at burger king with KM, the other boy, and another boy named KZ. To me, the conversation basically sounded like: "band name...blah blah blah... band name.... haha...band name... blah blah... band name". We went into Record and Tape, and then drove to Owings Mills to see Science of Sleep. It turned out it was R and we couldn't get tickets. So we went to play laser tag instead. I'd never played before and didn't really understand the game. However, I was pretty sure KM wasn't supposed to shoot at me since we were on the same team. I found him adorable. KM, KZ, and I ate a Denny's afterward. I had a milkshake and my stomach hurt the whole time. We also went to City Park in the dark (an infatuation with the park started that night that still hasn't ended). That was a Saturday. Monday at school, KM gave me a mixtape (like I said, I never had a chance). Also on Monday, a girl I liked and trusted told me that KM was a jerk who just wanted in my pants. I was angry, I was sad. I was nervous, I was upset. I actually called him on the phone (and I hate the phone) and I don't know what he said to convince me it was all untrue, but we decided to start over. We hung out around main street some afternoon that week, and I told my mother I was at a club meeting. He would tap me on the shoulder during school. I would get lost if I saw him in the hallway. He texted me all the time. I was deliriously happy. We went to Morgan Run (the first time, for me) and I hoped so hard he would kiss me, but he didn't. We hung out a few more times, and then I asked him to come to one of Mount de Sales' friends party, which was a dance. I wore a strapless plaid dress, and I felt oh so very pretty. He was late, since he had to play a show. He seemed to find my dancing very entertaining, and all my friends were very favorably impressed with his cuddly good looks and good manners. He drove me home, and I brought him inside to meet my sister. She went upstairs and we stood on the inside of my front door. He gave me a hug and I said, "Is that all I get?" He leaned in and kissed me and I could barely stand. He said something about my birthday and the BMA and then he left. I collapsed on the floor and couldn't stop smiling. He texted me immediately after and we had a sickeningly cute conversation. That Monday was my birthday, and he came by my house to bring a balloon and kiss me on my driveway. The next day, he picked me up from the school library and we went to city park. I was wearing a pleated plaid skirt, a green sweater jacket, black tights, and green tweed shoes. We pushed together a pile of leaves and jumped. We lay there and he kissed me, and I made out for the first time. In a pile of leaves. (Like I said, I didn't have a chance.) His tongue felt warm in my mouth and I just tried to improvise as much as I could. Eventually, my puritan instincts kicked in and I coyly asked, "What exactly are we?" and he asked if I would be his girlfriend and I responded that funnily enough, I would. I had a delightful few days, holding hands on the bus, being told that I was "tres migonne", and receiving pumpkins and knitting him a scarf. And then that Friday, our friend CD died in a car accident on the way to school. I remember exactly what I wearing. Jeans, houndsooth shoes, a white sweater that was a little too short, and a houndsooth scarf. I remember how I cried and got sent to guidance. I remember how KM held me on the way home, sadder than I had ever seen him. That Sunday he picked me up and we went to the viewing together. The next week was hectic and I didn't see him much. Then, I missed school on Friday to go to the Homestead with my family. We were texting throughout the day, and then suddenly: "So I'm enjoying all of our time together for reals but I want to take a step back because maybe we went into this too fast and I want to know more about you and be completely comfortable." It was all very shocking to me. He had a girlfriend three days later. He would apologize to me many times throughout that year, albeit awkwardly, and try to become friends again, but it never quite worked out. I began to listen better music, mostly due to the mixtape he made me. I began to dress better, mostly from observing KM's group of friends. That year I worked at Westminster Ridge, an assisted living, as a waitress. It got me used to talking to people I didn't know. I made friends with the cook, Richard, who was actually probably a little bit too friendly with me, but I think he just really wished I was older, if you know what I mean. He encouraged one of the kitchen boys, TG, to date me. TG was a weird little blip on my screen. He played soccer, for heaven's sakes! We went on a few dates and made out on his couch. I was so disgusted with him and also myself that I broke things off the next day. Never again would I get involved with someone like him. I began my odd relationship with IG around Christmastime. I liked him almost immediately. He was the smartest boy in our grade, and looked a little bit like me. We were on debate team together, and argued constantly. He invited me to Youth and Government and picked me up every Wednesday to go to the meetings. Occasionally we would go somewhere afterwards. He fascinated me, he attracted me. He repulsed me, he drew me in. During this time, I also became friends with a boy named PT, also from the debate team. PT didn't attract me the way Ian did, but he had the advantage of knowing what he wanted, which was me. PT was so wryly funny and liked me so much that I half convinced myself I was interested in him romantically. I kissed him once and then proceeded to break his heart by telling him I didn't like him in that way. Barely a month later, I would make it to Nationals in Speech and Debate, along with Kathleen, IG, PT, and a few others. IG and I were going through a hate phase and ended up by ourselves that Friday night in Houston, Texas because everyone was sick of us arguing. We walked up twenty three flights of stairs, and then talked in his hotel room for hours. When the others came back the light was off, and I was in his bed. He was on a chair and we hadn't even touched, but you can imagine how that looked to PT and the others. I flipping out with joy since Ian had finally confessed to liking me. The next day we all spent five hours debating with the other smart kids from across the country. I skipped church for the first time that weekend, with the encouragement of IG. IG and I also kissed and he more or less asked me out. It makes me want to throw up now, but we sort of snuggled on the way home on the plane. For a month or so, I was very, very happy. My friends got along with Ian and I adored him. We talked on the phone for hours each night, had picnics, exchanged books, and watched movies. He was physically inexperienced, but I still felt pressured to move fast. I said I love you. He said it back. I went away to camp, he wrote me letters. I went away to camp again, and I held hands with another guy. When I got back, I told IG and apologized. A number of things made me suddenly feel totally impervious to his affections. In retrospect, it was probably my hate for myself being projected onto him, but either way I broke up with him one day in July. He was devastated and wrote me a very long letter, but I felt nothing. I carried on with my summer and started my senior year. In many ways, I came into my own that year. I could finally drive, after I took the driver's test three separate times. My style was more my own, and my music taste had developed greatly. I had a group of girl friends who I hung out with on a regular basis- tea parties, adventures, picnics, etc. I became very close friends with a sophomore named MV. I was more comfortable with her than I'd ever been with anyone. I drove her to school almost every morning and we constantly wrote notes and exchanged collages. I also worked at the Pottery Loft, a paint your own pottery studio. When I worked there, I worked alone, which meant that I could more or less do what I liked. On November 9th, a boy name MJ came in to the shop. His friends were next door and he was feeling a little annoyed with them. I had been friends with MJ the previous year, but hadn't really talked to him much. I sat down and talked to him, and made him his first cup of tea. We talked about music and all sorts of other things. Soon, his four friends came in: BF, BD, T, and RK. I knew RK a little bit, but didn't know the others at all. I berated BF and MJ for smoking, and Brad and I had our first conversation- it was about our matching oldsmobiles. I burnt some popcorn horribly and we generally had a good time. BF, MJ, and RK began to sit with me at lunch and visit me at work more often. My good friend DH had a birthday bonfire on December first. I had a great time playing my tambourine, with MJ encouraging me to sing and talking to BD. BD and RK ended up spending the night and I talked to BD about KM, and he about CF (a girl who broke up with him for KM, funnily enough). After that, things were more friendly between the two of us. MJ and DH decided to spontaneously take a trip to New York to see Juno, and tried to get BF, BD, and I to go too. We thought it was too dangerous and we all ended up hanging out the night DH and MJ went to New York. I drove to pick them up at BF's (none of them could drive yet), and BD had to stand at the end of BF's driveway so I wouldn't miss it. It was that night that I realized I like BF. We went to Denny's and I got a free meal and we spun on the spinny thing at night. They were enthralled with me and I was enthralled with them. BD and BF invited me to go Christmas present shopping with them. They both gave me funny little presents and we ran into KZ, whom I was not incredibly fond of, and then my car made a horrible noise. We fixed it with a sledge hammer, or rather BD did, and KZ went away. That night, BF and I cut BD's hair, drank hot chocolate, and went to the park. BD carried me over a railing, and then I passed out on BF. We snuck back into BF's house and he gave me a blanket for my feet. They told me I was like a character from a book. The three of us hung out lots that Christmas break. We went to the movies and BF put his arm around me. And then one day BD called me crying, from work. His grandmother had died and he was just overwhelmed and didn't know who else to call. I went and picked him up and we hung out and started becoming very much better friends. He told me he had to tell me something and so we hung out the next day and he told me he liked me but he knew I liked BF and that nothing could come of it, etc. etc. And I was so confused and I kissed him and he kissed me, and I didn't know what to do. I thought I liked him, I told him I did, I told BF I didn't like him and then New Year's came around and BF was there with his soulful eyes and we both betrayed our friend and held hands, though not much else. We all tried once to hang out together, but it was awkward and horrible. BD was mad and BF was miserable. It didn't seem like we could do anything to make things better, so BF and I began to see each other. We ate grapes on the spinny thing and kissed for the first time. I was happy and oblivious. He realized that his friends would hate him forever if things continued, and he told me that we couldn't be together. I cried and he cried and the car windows fogged up and I've never been kissed like that in my life. But, it was over. A few weeks passed and BD began to recover and we were able to be friends again. I was sad about BF but happy to have BD as a friend again. All my friends reassured me that I didn't have to worry about BD liking me, since no one could ever like me after what I had done. BD and I hung out one day near the train tracks in the cold. We lay on the rocks looking at each other and our hands touched and he kissed my forehead and things went from there. He was very distraught and I was very confused. Suddenly though, I was very much in love with him. We hung out almost everyday that week, and I was delighted with him. He was so funny and so different. He kissed my nose and told me he liked my clavicles. He made me the most wonderful mix. We decided we would gradually get everyone used to it; he even once kissed me in school. Only a week after the day at the train tracks, he was attempting to unbuckle my jeans. I was truly freaking out and then ten minutes later he ended it. I was heartbroken. I spent the next several months wishing for things to have been different. I tried everything to get him back, despite what he had done. I had a self-imposed, boy-free month. It didn't help. Finally, my frustration, confusion, and anger culminated in dumping trash all over his car, with the encouragement and assistance of DH. This obviously did nothing to help the situation, and I felt horrible and sort of followed BD around to apologize. At this point, I realized I was acting totally neurotic and decided to reform myself. I made the decision not to waste any more time on people who didn't care about me. I did very well, and that chapter in my life was closed. I talked to BD and BF occasionally, and hung out with BD once upon his request, but that was it. I began to become friends with MJ again, and focused on college and my real friends. I had a very lovely spring, if somewhat hectic. Time went fast, and soon it was time for prom and graduation and all those long-awaited events. I took an AP Psychology course that spring, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I realized as I was reading the symptoms for Generalized Anxiety Disorder that I was not just "stressed" but that my constant worrying had a name. My panic attacks and twitches and fast beating heart were not normal. My parents were soon encouraging me to go on anti-anxiety medication, which I have not yet succumbed to. Also during this time, KM re-entered my life, telling me his entire CD was influenced by me. We hung out a few times, but I prided myself on not being as crazy about it as I had been in the past. The night before the last day of school I watched a movie at his house and we made out next to my car. I haven't seen him since. I also visited a few colleges, and decided on University of Delaware. After graduation, I went on a trip to Cape Charles with KH and our friend EH. From there, I went to camp. I came home for a week or two and took a trip to see MV in West Virginia and went to Richmond with Allison to see the National. I then went on a wonderful weekend trip to New York, a truly great experience. I went almost straight to camp, and now I am home, waiting for what is to come.