Volume 43 ~ 2021
 
                  

Jacey Kent

 
 
 
 

Through the Lens of Me

I see 

A wish, a hope, a dream, a want

You see a couple holding hands

 

I see 

Days of laughter, love, and memories just waiting to be lived

You see

Two friends talking

 

I see

A frazzled, stressed person late to work and in need of coffee

You see 

A car

 

I see

A mother, a daughter, a shared interest, something to watch for the first, something to do for the second

You see

A theater

 

I see

Ridiculous boys revving their engines, honking their horns, and causing noise complaints

You see

A high school parking lot

 

I see 

Summer, heat, sweat, mosquitos, bare shoulders, itchy grass, Mom

You see

A tractor sprinkler

 

I see

A path you must never stray from

You see

Colored tiles on the hallway floor

 

I see

A drawing in of the tired, the excited, the mad, the content, and conversation

You see

Lockers

 

I see 

An open space, memories and feelings echoing in a silent cacophony

You see

An empty hallway

 

I see 

First, the hospital; then, the bar, three best friends, and ice cream

You see

A pool table

 

But not me.

Rock, Karaoke Cruising, Pool, Smash Bros.

     Most people come out of terrible, world-ending, life-changing ordeals with trauma or PTSD… but not me. I came out knowing exactly what I wanted. Well, more accurately, I came out knowing exactly what I didn’t want. 

     I knew I didn’t want the friends who never spoke to me once the entire time we had to be apart. I didn’t want to see pictures of them hanging out, completely flaunting the rules without me. 

     I don’t want the “friends” who spoke to me all of three times during school last year. I don’t want the “friends” who treated me with civility, like a person they’d never met before. Apparently, being gone for three months in a hospital, coming back for a month, and the world ending for five months makes me a stranger. 

     I thought maybe I caused the problem, but then I talked to Judgey and Leggy, aka the two girls who used to be my real friends. But Leggy and I abandoned Judgey back in second or third grade when the other girls in our class- our “friends”- decided to give us the time of day. Then, I abandoned Leggy in eighth grade. But when I came back from the hospital, my “friends” had abandoned me too. 

     When life got back to kind-of normal after the world ended for five months,  I went through the first three-quarters of sophomore year with no friends. I cried an ocean, went a little crazy, and talked a lot with my therapist about how to make friends again. Suffice to say, it took me a while to remember how. 

     My birthday came around, and suddenly I couldn’t avoid it anymore. Every other year of my life, my “friends” and I had celebrated my birthday together in some small way. I didn’t have any friends anymore, so I had no clue what to do. Then my therapist gave me a serious assignment: ask Judgey and Leggy to hang out for my birthday. 

     Truthfully, I expected hatred and rejection. I left them for the glamorous idea of cool people liking me all those years ago. I guess Judgey and Leggy liking me wasn’t enough for me back then, but now it’s all I want.

     They said yes, and we hung out at my house. I can barely remember what we did, but I know for a fact they baptized me with rock music. We went karaoke cruising with windows down, music pounding, and voices sore from screaming and laughing.

     I had so much fun I asked them to hang out again… and again and again and again. I prayed they had as much fun as I did, not knowing what I’d do if they didn’t. But Judgey and Leggy said yes… again and again and again. 

     Rock music, karaoke cruising, pool, and smashbros. These became our traditions, our rituals. I found two friends who will bring me along when they break the rules. I found two friends who will never leave me like I left them, and I work hard every day to deserve their friendship. 

     I can count on my fingers the number of people I feel comfortable being myself around, and in the span of a few days they added themselves to that list. Leggy- my middle finger because I know she’d love it- shares my fear of being alone and my longing for people. Judgey- my pinkie finger because nothing else suits her as well- can relate to my introverted need to just have some me time sometimes. As the ring finger of our group, I can function without them, but not nearly as well. 

Stay In Shape, Athlete

I wish I could stay “in shape”

Be skinny and strong

Because the best varsity players look like that

And apparently, to look any different is wrong

People expect me to be and look athletic

They’ve already decided to which group I belong

They’ve decided I belong in the same group 

As my aunts, 

Uncles, 

Sisters, 

And mom

Yes, I love sports

I love to play the game

But does that mean it has to be my life?

Do I have to keep that brand always, like my name?

Can’t I choose what I enjoy?

Or what stereotypical label I want?

If I even want one

But then they’d give me another characterization

And another

And another

And another

And another

I wish I could change their denomination of me

Because then it would hurt less when I let them down

When I gain weight and eat too much

When my jersey fits a little tight

When I lose that weight to please them

And I look too scrawny and not tough

When I don’t start varsity basketball

When I’m not the best player on the team

When I’m not power and strength 

Wrapped in a tiny, small package

When my thighs rub together as I run

And I don’t look like the most athletic girl in my uniform

But I can’t change their labels

So I’ll just have to change how I label myself.

Her “Friends”

The girl with glasses walks with her friends to grandmas every day after school. 

They talk and talk and talk, never a moment of silence.

While her grandma sits and reads in the comfortable, quiet company of her granddaughter.

Just the two of them.

As the sun begins to set, the girl’s parents pick her and her friends up and take them home,

Where the friends keep her company

 

Her bedroom door stays closed,

And her oblivious parents stay out of touch.

The next morning, the girl and her friends go to school.

Her friends never leave her alone very much,

And go to every single class with her.

The girl knows she has the best friends ever, 

Because they always offer her advice and help her out

With all sorts of different endeavors.

Like that day she wanted to wear leggings,

And her friends said, No, don’t wear those. They make you look fat. We need to work on that.

Or that time she wanted to get rid of her bangs,

And her friends said, If you do that, they’ll see your acne. Don’t risk it.

Or when she wanted to text her classmates and ask them to come play,

And her friends said, Why would they want to hang out with you? They don’t. Put the phone away.

Or when she wanted to not straighten her hair for a day,

And her friends said, Ew, no. Are you crazy? Your hair looks disgusting when you leave it that way.

Or when she wanted to go to the pool because that one boy would be there,

And her friends said, No way. You can’t let him see you in a bikini! Find something baggier to wear.

Or after she talked to the other kids in her grade,

And her friends said, Great, now they think you’re weird and awkward, like some crazy old maid.

Or when she wanted to ask an older girl a question,

And her friends said, No. She’ll think you’re an annoying little brat. Better stay out of that.

 

Her friends gave her advice like this all the time.

 

One day her friends were being really helpful,

Talking and talking and talking to her as she walked down the hallway.

And she was so busy listening,

She didn’t see the person in front of her.

“Woah, sorry. Are you okay?”

It was the girl in her class who always wore tutus.

Glasses girl’s friends whispered, Yeah. You’re fine.

“Yeah. I’m fine,” she said.

“I like your outfit today. Did you straighten your hair? Huh. I liked it better before. You have natural pretty. That’s what my mom tells me.”

Then the voices in her head, her friends, stopped talking.

While the tutu girl smiled really wide,

And the girl with glasses cried,

Because she found a friend who was kind.