Learning To Love You More




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

Katie Presley
Seattle, Washington USA



My life started a little more than two months before it was supposed to, when I was born in Bellevue, Washington. My mom went into labor so early that doctors tried to give her drugs that would keep me from being born. Clearly I would have none of that, so after four days of my mother's labor my birthday fell on July 24 instead of September 30. I was not exactly done cooking at that point, and my heart was not strong enough to support me. I weighed five pounds, miraculously, when I was born but dropped to four in the days following. My birthday is also the day I was issued a death certificated instead of a birth certificate, because I was taken to an intensive care unit in a Seattle hospital and the Bellevue hospital never got word that I survived the trip. My mother got the death certificate in the mail and called the hospital screaming that her daughter was alive, and was going to be alive and they better tears up this damn piece of paper and give her a real live one. I survived the first night, which was the hardest one, and a vigil was held over my incubator and I finally left the hospital about the time I was supposed to be born in real life. I grew up in a cul-de-sac where we had block parties on the weekends and did the Macarena and all the kids were the same age. We were all inseparable, and one of my best friends into early primary school was a boy named Rhys, whom I still see around from time to time. We went sledding down the hill of the cul-de-sac when it snowed, and had birthday parties together.
When I was just barely four my sister was born at the same hospital as me, also early. She was only a month early, however, and somehow still managed to be HUGE. She has always been healthier than me, although we both have a heart condition we inherited from our mom. My sister is Anne Adrienne. We fought pretty bad growing up, but we never stopped loving each other as far as I know. Once we got in a fight and she screamed "You haven't taught me anything!" and I cried and cried because that's the only thing a big sister wants to do, is teach the littler one something. She was probably five, which would make me about nine. We were sitting in my mom's Subaru.
My parents got divorced when I was in third grade, and it was the first time I can remember seeing my dad cry. It was one or two tears and I was sitting really close to his face and I just wondered why. He said he was moving to an apartment that was close by. I would sit on my bed and watch him leave the cul-de-sac to go there. Eventually my sister and I started going there, once the separation became a divorce. We took a family vacation to Disneyland while they were separated. I got very sick, which I always do when I am stressed out or nervous. I threw up precisely every other day, so I got two full days in the park and two days sitting in the hotel listening to the tape "Simply Mad About the Mouse", which had people like LL Cool J doing covers of Disney songs. I have that tape in my room right now, more than a decade later. This family trip reveals a lot about the relationship between my parents, who are still friends and love each other although both have been remarried since.
In fifth grade I had the most traumatic social experience I have ever had, to this day. It was year-long, and it revolved around my trying to get in with the four most popular girls in our grade. Two of them were very nice, and two of them were terrible. I went on to junior high and high school with one of them, and managed to make peace. The other mean one I am yet to fully forgive. I hear she's fat now. Anyway, I followed them around and copied their hair and asked them to like me. The meanest one said "you're kind of a follower." This might be the worst insult I've ever gotten, because it's the one that hasn't been apologized for. One day my best friend, the nicest in the group, got a concussion on the playground and the only name she could remember was mine. I ran to her and tried to walk her to the office but one of the mean ones pushed me out of the way and took her arm. Eventually my teacher saw what was happening, and told the four of them to be nice to me. I remember the recess that day, they all wanted me to be on their team in basketball and they put their arms around me and I thought I would die of happiness. The next day was how it had always been, of course.
Sixth grade, I got over them and moved on to the group of quieter, smarter girls that for the most part are still my friends today. Sixth grade is also when my mom got remarried to Chip, who moved into our cul-de-sac a year or two earlier. He has three kids that are now my siblings, and we moved into a bigger house so all seven of us could fit. We are still a fifteen minute walk away from the house I grew up in. Mom and Chip took us all to Burgermaster the night they told us they were getting married, and we drove to the house we were moving into and got out of the car screaming and jumping and hugging each other. Laura is right between Annie and I in age, so we were both convinced she would be our best friend. In some ways, we were right. She and I were inseparable until I moved to California for college, and then she and Annie got tight.
We moved into this much bigger house with a huge backyard and a view of the lake and Mt. Rainier, and mom got right to remodeling it, which she has done extensively to ever house I've lived in. Meanwhile, my dad was dating around and also got remarried in the year after my mom and Chip. He married Sally, who has two kids that are Annie's age and 10, now. I took immediately to spoiling the littlest one, Briana, because she was just a baby at this point and it was like playing with a doll. Dad and Sally were married for three years and then they divorced. I still see them sometimes, because Dad and Sally are still seeing each other. They live in the house we lived in with them, although it's very hard for me to remember what that was like because Sally redid the house as soon as we moved out. My sister Anne hates Sally, which is hard for me because I certainly see her faults but I also get along with her. And I love her kids, and they love me.
Seventh through ninth grades I was totally obsessed with the band *NSYNC and I saw five or more of their shows with my best friend at the time, Sheila. I went to an extremely small charter school devoted to community service and an international curriculum. I stayed there through high school and graduated with a class of 34, to give some perspective. Sheila left the school after ninth grade and we have slowly grown apart so that now I have not seen her in at least six months, and even then it was just for a night in which we realized how much we have both changed. I thought of calling her just yesterday because the member of *NSYNC that she loved announced he was gay. I hope she is somewhere thinking of us and laughing.
Ninth grade I also got into drama, and did at least two plays a year every following year until I graduated. I went to school in Los Angeles to accommodate being an actor, but that plan has since changed. I acted in one play and co-produced another my sophomore year, but realized then it is a hobby and not a career goal, any longer. I now study English Lit and Education.
Over the last year my eyes have been opened to social work possibilities, which were introduced to me by an Anthropology professor from South Africa. As it stands now I am traveling to South Africa to study next spring, and then staying on over the summer to teach English in an AIDS orphanage. So far, this looks like what I want to do with my life.
In January I started dating Ben. The day we started dating is also the day he started dating his last serious girlfriend, who is still perhaps his best friend. I wish this were not the case. When he told me he said "Now I don't even have to memorize a new day!" and I just shook my head. He's perfect except for times like that where he's just a little dumb. That's ok, I'm dumb too sometimes. Now we have been dating for almost seven months. His birthday is July 23, the day before mine. We were born about nine hours apart. To me, this is perfect and it makes me smile to think about. On my birthday this year Ben tried to break up with me because he thinks it will be too hard to be apart at school. He goes to school in Walla Walla, Washington and I am in L.A. I think we can do it, so the break up did not happen. It still might because he is still scared, but I hope it doesn't and we still love each other so I think it can still work. I think Ben and I would have beautiful children because we both have good hair and nice skin (his is better than mine by a long shot) and green eyes. But I want to adopt, so I probably will never know. We've talked about having kids, and how I'm scared I would pass on all sorts of bad things. He wants them bad. I can tell.
My grandpa died this summer, a little over a month ago. It was like losing a parent. Annie and I did not have nannies growing up, we had our grandparents. They have always lived a half hour away and we used to go to Hawaii with them every year, until Grandma got Alzheimer's. Still, she has outlived her husband. I read a poem at his funeral and it felt really good. I have had two dreams about him, only one of which I have told my mother about. They were both good dreams and they were both just us talking and missing each other. In both of them, I was aware he was dead. They were just a chance for me to say what I have wanted to say to him, once more. I woke up from the last one crying and cried more a few hours later when Ben woke up and I told him about it. This is why I haven't told mom yet, because she might cry. I cried on my birthday on Monday because he didn't call and sing to me, and mom cried with me. Then his phone got disconnected the same day. It was a pretty bad birthday. I only got to listen to his voicemail twice, I think. I came to bed sobbing and then Ben and I had our breaking up talk. Really, not a great day. But things are good today, it's finally cooling down and I have no plans for the day except to maybe return some of the twelve messages on my phone. I also need to eat something, it is 2:15 and I haven't had anything all day.