You pack up your high school yearbook and hundreds of photos for nostalgia’s sake. Your bohemian-inspired wardrobe which captures your creative spirit. Your favorite stuffed animals because, technically, you’re still a baby. Your parents ask if you’re ready. You think so.
They, your parents, watch from gym bleachers as you work your way through registration lines. Just like that, you’re independent. You can’t seem to stop glancing at them though, because essentially, you’re still dependent.
Freshman orientation. You make your social debut. You blend in, leaving some characteristics behind. Emphasizing others. First day of classes. Months go by. You’re malleable, but aware that you’re malleable. Guys notice you. You tell them you have a man. You realize they’re not really into you, they’re just making conversation. Chill out. Not everybody is playing a game. You set boundaries anyway. Because you’d rather be safe than sorry.
You know how to guard yourself, but not even your personal code of ethics can compete with stimulating verbiage. Also known as intellectual booby traps. Too ambiguous and too full of subtext to tell what the hell’s going on. The webs are too intricate to maneuver out of. And yet, you’re a web-weaver, too. Turns out everyone is playing a mind game. Or some kind of game.
Your showers are lukewarm and moldy. The water substitute causes your body to betray you. You develop hives. The doctor recommends oatmeal baths after he suggests no water touches your body at all for at least a couple of weeks. Your boyfriend sees you. He sees his rib. You see yourself. You see a confused little girl.
You go to class. It’s inspiring. You take notes. You fail a test. You lose focus. The classes you miss are the most valuable sessions. Unfortunately, you miss a breakthrough.
Professors say go the extra mile. Read more. Read ahead. Focus on what matters.
You’re on a hamster wheel. It’s impressive. It’s cute. But at the same time, you’re wasting time. You’re an ambassador now. You’ve got a lot going on. Including classes. Focus.
Play. Ride in cars, but not just anybody’s car. Go places, but not just any place. Freedom with boundaries. You can’t see it now, but The Grace is with you on the interstate. Downtown. In the city. In the club. Protecting you. It’s okay to live a little, just make sure you value life first.
Eat ten cent wings and cafeteria food. Because you play it safe, you find one alcoholic drink that you like and you stick with it. Forever.
You’re supposed to be studying, but you remember Wendy’s is open late. Go with your girls. Then stay up even later, just talking. Lay on their brightly colored twin beds. Eat hot pockets. Get bored and ride out with them. Make a vow to always go to Wendy’s late at night. Water these friendships like flowers. Your garden will grow, but these flowers are delicate and will dry up if not watered.
They tell you to be careful as you leave campus late with your boyfriend. Text them when y’all make it.
Time goes on.
He proposes to you. You accept, even though you’re not ready. It can’t work out because you’re both trying to change one another. Here’s your mirror. Here’s his. You will ask to be let go of. He will hang on, but eventually, he lets you go. You pray that he waits for you, but there are no guarantees. Engagement’s off. The love between you is too emotional. Too conditional.
You cry until you laugh. You laugh until you cry. You think people will be miserable without you, but life goes on, sweetheart. Yet, you love him so much. You miss him. So much. You wonder.
Life goes on.
You’re inspired. You meet people who change your life. Give you life. You embarrass yourself. Play yourself. Redeem yourself. Shock yourself. You say you can’t be bought, but you sell yourself short. You talk too much. You don’t say enough. Vivian Green’s entire album, “Vivian”, is now your anthem. You play her in your own car while you wave innocently through cracked windows and cut cool, bold corners. People know you. This is your heyday. Yet, you’re like a fuel range with only ten miles remaining before you’re insubstantial in the eyes of fans. It’s only a matter of time before you no longer blend in. But in the eyes of God, you’re just right.
Life goes on. You see what’s on the other side of obedience. You define yourself for yourself. And meanwhile, you find out he waited for you to become the whole person you needed to become. You’re both different now. You’re ready to be married now. You get married. You start a family.
Life is different.
The flowers start to wilt. You water them just in time, but they need more water.
Life goes on…
And then it repeats itself. ♥
Clinnesha D. Sibley is an award-winning playwright and published poet/essayist. She is the Literary Arts Instructor at Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, MS. For more information, please visit: http://onepagerapp.com/clinneshadsibley.