Learning To Love You More




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

Poughkeepsie, New York USA



I was born two weeks early on November 30, 1984. I think it was snowing on the day my parents brought me home, based on a picture I've seen. I was a cesarean birth, but I don't think my mom wanted me to be. After having me, my mom joined a group that opposed unnecessary c-sections and held birth classes, where she taught women about natural births and I suppose it was a kind of support session for pregnant women. My two younger sisters, one two years younger and one five years younger, were both natural births.
Until I was eight, we lived in a house on a highway that led up out of the town valley and towards New Jersey. My mom called it a highway, but now I realize it isn't really one because the speed limit is only 45mph. I lived with my sister Lisa until our youngest sister was born and my parents put an addition on the house to add a bedroom. From then on, I had my own room and Lisa and Michelle shared. This made them closer and me kind of the outsider of the children. I remember playing by myself a lot. I had a set of Fischer price "hole people" as I called them, and I use to spend a lot of time enacting their lives. "Don't touch my hole people!" I screamed to everyone so that I could put their lives on pause until I played with them again. I also used to act out stories by myself with invisible characters in my backyard. One time I remember being a princess trapped in the treehouse. Usually the oldest sister is the bully. However, Lisa has always been the wild child, and she was the one who beat up me. She liked to pretend she was a wolf and jump on me. Then Michelle would help her pin me down and I would flail around because I have never been good at fighting back.
Another of my mom's hobbies was raising goats, so I had a lot of goat milk and goat cheese growing up, though I've since forgotten how goat milk tastes. Every spring there were new baby goats that my sisters and I named after flowers. They're very cute when they're little. However, my mom always seemed to sell the ones I considered mine, such as Magnolia. When I was nine, we got two barn cats but mine ran away while I was at summer camp. I've never been much of an animal person. I let my sisters take care of all the animals and I tend to avoid them.
I learned to read when I was four. One night when I couldn't sleep I complained to my parents who were sitting and watching TV in the living room and they decided to start teaching me to read. At least, that's how I remember it. I made it into kindergarten when I was four because my birthday was the day before the cut-off (December 1st). Throughout school, I was usually made fun of for being the youngest in the class, although I was usually smarter than a lot of other kids in the class. One of my most interesting memories of kindergarten is when I had a discussion with some other kids during naptime about whether or not it would be possible to count to infinity.
In first grade I joined the PIE program, in which two grades were in a class together and had the same teacher for two years. However, I didn't actually have the same teacher for first and second grade because my first grader teacher quit or got fired or left or something, so we got a new teacher who was French Canadian and my mom didn't like her, so she chose not to put my sisters into the PIE program. In second grade I remember being annoyed because when the teacher tried to show the class how to read clocks, she put the hour hand exactly on the 2 for 2:30 even though it should have been halfway between the 2 and the 3. I think we also learned about ducks? I went to a special place to get tested, and they told me I had a high school vocabulary. However, they told me to write a composition about what I wanted to be and I had no idea what a composition was because that's a phrase used by teachers in the 1800s not in the 1990s, so I wrote a sentence saying I wanted to be a ballerina. And then I was bitter because I would have understood if she said essay. Anyway, my parents probably thought of me skipping a grade but decided that then I would be too much younger than everyone else.
The great thing about PIE classes though, was that we did more creative work than other classes, though I didn't realize this until after elementary school. I remember doing a lot of descriptive writing assignments. Such as once we went into the woods near the school and wrote down our perception of the woods. My third and fourth grade classes also put on yearly plays. In third grade we did Peter Pan and I got a one-line part as a lost boy. In fourth grade we did Aladdin, and I again had a one-line part saying "want some baklava?" in the market. I thought we were so great that I wished we could go on tour.
In third grade I was friends with the fourth grade girls in the class and during lunch we would try to sneak to the part of the playground we weren't supposed to be in to go on the swings. In fourth grade, there was this one girl I really didn't like because she was snobby and got everything she wanted. For example, her mom gave her fifty cents to buy a cookie at lunch everyday. (Ohh those cookies were so good). So for that, and because she was really cliquey and tried to steal my friends away from me (I think that's what happened), I didn't like her.
I was a strange kid. I wasn't very happy. I cried easily, such as when I cried in second grade because someone sat in my chair and made it warm. My friends in fourth grade taunted me once by calling me X-girl because I didn't like anything. I was in girl scouts and my friends in my troop used to make fun of me too. This was a condition that lasted until high school, when people grew up a little. I'm not really sure why, but people liked to pick on me probably because I would get so irritated but be bad at fighting back.
In fifth grade, I started middle school and met Meredith, who became my best friend all the way through the end of high school. We used to talk for hours on the phone everyday. She was kind of like my psychologist who got me through it all. Since senior year of high school we've grown apart though, and I guess I can't call her my best friend anymore. But I know I can always go back to her and she'll understand me on some level.
Over the summer before sixth grade I suddenly realized that my singing voice had become pretty good, so I joined the school chorus. I had already been taking piano lessons since fourth grade, but this is when my love affair with singing began. That was also the year when my uncle started sending me tapes of unknown singer/songwriters and they became my heroines who I sang along to. Up until then my life goal had been to be a writer, but around that time it began to switch towards the goal of being a singer/songwriter/musician of some sort. It wasn't until the end of high school that I started writing songs though.
Sixth grade was the year when girls were really catty and I became interested in boys. I was in a little clique of friends, but then they kicked me out, though I don't remember why. I started to like this boy Tim, I think because someone told me they thought he liked me. He probably didn't though. It was a time of note passing during classes and talking about crushes and so on. I remember saying I was desperate because I hadn't had a boyfriend yet. And this was in sixth grade! Little did I know that my "desperation" would continue for many more years. Each following year I had an obsessive crush on a different boy.
After floating around for most of middle school I finally found a solid group of friends in eighth grade, made up mostly of girls from the honors classes. Some of these people I no longer talk to, but some of them have remained good friends of mine still. I went through a depressed phrase in eighth grade, when I thought about suicide and even wrote a story about my own suicide. Another one of my friends was also very into depression and we glamorized it for each other. I think it was a cry for attention because my parents have always seemed to dismiss the importance of my emotions. Not that my parents paid any notice to this depressed period in my life anyway. It was just teenage moodiness to them, and they similarly considered unimportant my love for my boyfriend senior year of high school.
During eight grade lunch, my group of friends sat at one end of a table and the group of honors boys sat at the other end. Sean was one of these boys, and I'm not really sure why I liked him. He was very cynical and not very attractive, but I guess I was intrigued by his uniqueness. I did some things to him that I now realize as truly being crazy. Such as making a ornithopter out of pipe cleaners and shoving it at him at a track meet in homage to his favorite hobby of making ornithopters. Such as writing to him in mirror image a story about his death. I have no idea why I did that - I think after a while I started to hate him too, for not liking me back so I simultaneously liked him and made fun of him. I liked him until the end of freshman year in high school when he started dating one of my best friends. They had a very silly relationship that lasted months though they never kissed and rarely held hands. I doubt he's dated any girls since.
High school was dominated by being on the cross country and track teams. I can hardly believe that I ran almost everyday for four years (with the exception of summer and winter vacations), and yet I have hardly run in the past two years. I was never a very good runner, but I really liked being on the team and the feeling that we were all working together at something special. Our team was one of the best in the county, but since I wasn't good enough to score I was really only competing to get better for myself. I peaked at the end of the sophomore season. I wish I could still run like that. I have many memories of road running around my beautiful town, sometimes alone but often with friends, of races, of the adrenaline, the excitement, cheering on the team at the state meet, bus rides, track meets in late spring when it would get dark, listening to music on the nighttime bus rides to indoor track meets. And so on. My three core best friends throughout high school were also on the team. This included Meredith, as well as Caitlin and Elaine. We called ourselves the Hefs ("I'm not a heifer I just eat a lot" was our mantra") and we made a lot of movies, including a rap video, and had fun going to school dances dressed up in crazy outfits from thrift stores. Caitlin is really the only one I've stayed close with since graduation. She is such an amazing person - always crazy, on the go, spontaneous, doesn't hold back what she says or does, wearing crazy clothes. She has helped bring out my fun quirky side over the years.
Another thing about being a runner - the boys. I liked most of the boys' team, who were all skinny and crazy. In tenth grade I became obsessed with one of these trackies who was a poet who wore emo glasses. He started a trend of pouring out his heart in the school literary journal, mostly about his love for a girl named Janet, who didn't like him. I wrote him some poems that I put in the journal, but he likewise ignored my affections. Janet became my ideal, the perfect girl, and I was jealousy of her and her friends and all the trackies and popular kids who actually went to parties and got drunk. I really wanted to party, but I wasn't accepted into that group, and all of my friends then were straight edge. This was frustrating for me. I remember spending a lot of time lying in my bedroom on my raspberry rug feeling sad for my state of nonexperience and unrequited love for the poet, reading his poems and scribbling away my own pathetic writing into my notebook.
In the spring of junior year I had an awakening of sorts. I began listening to a lot of new music, classic rock. I got my license. I appreciated the warmth of the spring and summer in a way I never had before. Driving around, listening to music, I finally felt the joy of youth. And love, because I finally had my first relationship. Rich was a boy who'd been in my classes since eighth grade, originally forgettable but by eleventh grade he was a hippie pothead. I was attracted to the relaxation of his lifestyle and the fact that he smiled at me in the halls. At prom, he voted for me for Queen so I voted for him for King. Then I kept trying to get the courage to talk to him, to ask him for a ride home from school someday but I couldn't do. Finally, one day after I told my friend Caitlin specifically not to intervene in my love life, she rollerbladed over to the gas station where he worked and asked him if he liked me. He said yes, and then she told him to ask me on a date or something. Then she went home and called me so I could go into a nervous panic because no one had ever liked me before. The next day he drove me home from school, blasting Led Zeppelin. That weekend we went to the movies, which is a horrible first date because I sat there feeling awkward the whole time. When he dropped me off at my garage he asked if I would go out with him, and I said yes. It all happened so fast. My first kiss was a week later, standing outside his car at a spot on a country road near a farm called Crazy Cow. After about a month he surprisingly told me that he loved me, and I soon after said I love him.
I had no idea what I was in for when I started dating him - he changed my life in so many ways. First of all, I was admitted to the party world, thanks to him. I smoked up for the first time with him, in his car after a long deliberation. I got high surprisingly infrequently that summer, considering I was dating a major pothead, but probably because my curfew was so early. I never had a curfew before, but once I got a boyfriend my parents got all strict and said I had to be home by 11:30, which was about when parties were getting into full swing. When senior year started in the fall, school was really hard because I was doing APs and worried about applying to college and being valedictorian, etc. Meanwhile, Rich was preaching to me that I shouldn't care about my parents, about school, about authority and it really made me want to rip the roots from society and be able to do whatever I wanted.
Everything blew up on my seventeenth birthday that November. I went out at night to a party that Rich told me I would like, but it sucked because I didn't especially like the people. And then, instead of going home when I should have because of my curfew, I decided to fuck it and just go to Rich's house. I was so fed up with having a curfew and him telling me to break it and wanting to fall asleep in bed with him, so I finally did what I wanted. At two am my mom called all freaked out and demanded that I come home, so I did. The next morning was really frightening because my dad yelled at me and punched a hole in the wall and took the lock off my door because I wasn't to be trusted anymore. So that was bad enough, but Monday I got called out of French class and my mom took me into her car and started driving around while crying, telling me that she found out that my boyfriend is a drug dealer. She started saying all these things, that I didn't know how she would know, but when I got home and saw me diary on my floor, I realized she must have read it because I left it there. I had meant to bring it to school that very day to keep it safe from her, but I forgot. What a bad mistake. So she demanded that I break up with him, which I told him crying.
What followed was a hellish month in which my mom drove me home from school and checked up on every where I went, I had no freedom. Meanwhile, Rich and I fought every day because he wanted me to stand up to my parents but I couldn't and I was very torn. My parents sent me to therapy to help me "get over him" thanks to the advice of one of my friends' parents who did the same thing. However, one of the first things my therapist said to me was that she did tons of drugs when she was younger, so she was kind of on my side. But I wanted someone to tell my parents that what they were doing was wrong, irrational, mean, and no one would, not even the therapist. I remember one night particularly vividly when I crawled around my basement in rage, feeling my anger and frustration trapped inside my body like a cage. Meanwhile, one of my best friends Kat got into fights with her stepdad all the time and ran away from home and other adults supported her. I resented the fact that it was okay for her to rebel when I couldn't, when she was picking fights with her parents to escalate things to that level, and I couldn't be confrontational at all. I would just cry at the things my parents would say.
After a month, things started getting better. Suddenly the group of honors boys started having parties so I would tell my parents I was hanging out with them, and they would think everything was fine because they thought so well of those boys. Thus began my path of increasing freedom. I was able to date Rich for another nine months without my parents knowing. This involved a lot of hanging out with him after school while my mom was still at work, sometimes skipping morning classes to see him, and a lot of telling my parents I was hanging out the honors boys and not always doing so. Rich and I broke up several times over the course of the next year. We were always fighting because he wanted me to tell my parents that we were dating and I wouldn't. He refused to go to prom with me because we would have to hide it from my parents. I can't even remember what I got him for his birthday or our year anniversary. He was soo stubborn, and his whole identity was based on his drug use. He thought he was better than me because he had experienced more. By July I had grown sick of him and liked his best friend instead. However, his friend wouldn't do anything with me out of loyalty. So I kept hooking up with Rich various times over the summer. Finally, we decided to just stay together my last few weeks before leaving for college. It was then that I lost my virginity to him. On my last night with him, we decided to stay together while I went away because at that moment it felt like we should be together, even though was staying to live at home and go to community college.
The end of high school and the summer before college was a lot of fun. All my hard work finally paid off and I achieved my lifelong goal of being valedictorian. I beat out all the smart boys in my class. I was never pressured by my parents to do well in school, I've always just been very motivated and competitive. I was really proud of the speech I gave at graduation and I even included a little dig against my parents in it by mentioning "memories of all the things our parents told us not to do but we did anyway." Additionally, all of the different cliques kind of melded together towards the end so that everyone was friends and there were tons of people at parties. By the summer I had immense amounts of freedom and I went to parties multiple times a week. There was a week of crazy parties in July that involved me in a striptease, unplanned sexual activity, and such. I loved everything that summer, all the friends I'd made and the beauty of my town.
Then, college, which began a whole new world. I didn't apply to any Ivy Leagues because after the stress of the senior year, I realized I didn't want to go somewhere super intense academically. I didn't get into my top choices for college though, but I decided on Vassar, where I thought I would become a laid back hippie. However, things haven't exactly worked out that way. Freshman year of college was great. I was so happy to finally be free of my parents and to experience so many things. I got drunk and went out with friends on my hall almost every weekend night. By the end of freshman year however, I started to become disenchanted with Vassar. I realized that the friends I had made weren't really the kind of people I thought I would meet. They were a lot more uptight and gossipy than I expected. I also liked to call Vassar a "romantic wasteland" due to my unhappy experiences.
I broke up with Rich over October Break and then started dating someone at school in Novemeber. We dated for three happy months and then he suddenly broke up with me. I was crushed because it seemingly came out of nowhere. I was used to Rich, who was always there for me to take back, and it was a shock to realize that someone could mean a breakup as final. To make things worse, this boy started dating one of my friends just as I was beginning to get over him, which renewed the pain. I had some other failed crushes during the spring but accepted by the summer that I would probably be single forever. Even Rich was over me by then. I had sex with him over spring break, just because I could, and after that he basically decided to end contact with me because I had hurt him too much.
Sophomore year was a complete change. Within the first week, I was already panicking about how much I had to do (because I added more classes and extracurriculars). It seemed like every sophomore was hit with harder schoolwork like bricks. Things slowed down and I stopped partying so much. I ended up alienating myself from a lot of my freshman friends and trying to become closer with other people. Right away I got wrapped up in a whirlwind romance with a boy named Pat, only to have him dump me a month later and start dating one of my friends. I couldn't believe that it was happening again and I was pretty depressed for about a month while I tried to heal. I was really sad about losing him as a friend as well as the fun of hanging out with him. We used to have really fun parties with his friends, get drunk on cheap wine and sing really loudly and dance to records and he and his roommate would get naked and dance together and once there was a quite scandalous make out party. Anyway, my point is that I get very upset by breakups because I know that it means I will essentially lose that person from my life, even though they once meant so much to me.
After Pat, I went on the lookout for other crushes and ended up becoming interested in a boy named Ben I met on Friendster. We had some awkward encounters throughout the fall, but we started to get to know each other better when we tried to start a band together. I thought about him all winter break long and my dreams came true because we began dating right at the start of the second semester and are still together four months later. We went to Europe together for two weeks and it was an amazing adventure, trekking around cities holding hands and experiencing so much together. He means so much to me - he is my best friend. He's opened me up to a lot of things, like ideas about spirituality and creativity and sharing our love for music. Now he's home for the summer and I'm hundreds of miles away staying at Vassar and working in admissions instead of going home.
It's nice to be on vacation from school. By the end of sophomore year I started resenting school and how stressed out it makes me and overwhelmed by the amount of things always happening on campus. It never slows down, until it comes to a standstill during vacations. I'm hoping that cutting down on extracurriculars next semester will help my sanity. Right now I'm a double major in music and psychology, though if I want to make things a lot easier for myself it would be better to drop the psych major. There is a lot of pressure to go to grad school, but I mostly just want to get a job and leave school behind, move to a warmer city, and have my own place, my own kitchen, my own life. I still have two years to get through first and I'm curious to see how things will change because each semester so far seems to bring surprising changes and new friends.