I was only 12 years old when I decided to let go of childish things. To me, this meant burning three diaries that contained all my detailed thoughts, strong feelings and beliefs from ages eight to 12. I remember holding a lighter in my left hand, clutching it tight with my slightly sweaty palms, while hugging all three diaries with my right. As soon as I stepped out of my house, I threw my diaries on the pavement with damp eyes, clenched heart and ragged breathing. I lit the pages without thinking twice. And I knew, the diaries were not the only things I let go of that day.
It was in mid-October, five months into the school year. I was a freshman — a supposedly exciting phase of life where children my age thought they were responsible enough to be called teenagers. I rebelled against my parents at age 11 by having my very first boyfriend, followed by another during the summer. Around this time at school, you were expected to be established. That meant having the right friends, your place in the seat arrangement, and your spot in the school bus. But as for me, I had just lost all three best friends: lost my ex-boyfriend to one, was lied to by the other, and was considered as an embarrassment by the last.
Around this time, I discovered that it took approximately 15 minutes to get to school without traffic. As a student of an international school, I was expected to have a luxurious car, new school materials every year, and a hundred pesos in my pocket. The only car available at the time was the one my grandfather owned: a maroon Mitsubishi similar to that of Chevrolet’s 1964 Chevelle. The car seats were red, the air conditioning broken, the windows tinted purple. The car broke down at the most inappropriate times in the most inappropriate places, like in the middle of the highway. I was more willing to walk to school than ride the old thing, but I had no choice and hid the fact that I was dropped off and fetched in an ancient vehicle. It was the vehicle my grandfather loved most. It was the best in his eyes but for me, it was junk, and I hoped for it to be temporary. My grandfather loved me; I was 12 and hardly reciprocated that love.
In the month of November, my classmates silently decided that I was officially off the batch list. I had no project partners, I was never invited to parties, I didn’t have a respective seat, and I ate lunch alone in the classroom. Insomnia won me over and I dark circles under my eyes. I lost appetite and became hardly skin and more bones. I walked down hallways noticing new dirt on the railings every day. The walls weren’t as white as I thought they were and my smile was not as genuine as my classmates thought it was. I was never in the top of my class and my teachers hardly talked to me. My enemies won me over.
“In the month of November, my classmates silently decided that I was officially off the batch list.”
By the end of November, I was officially the batch gossip. I had the ugliest nickname and was talked about, to my face. My classmates wrote logos on their wrists with colorful markers to signify they were anti-me. They whispered to one another and stared at me from head to foot, as if inspecting every inch of me for dirt to laugh about. The Christmas gifts and Valentine chocolates I received were merely obligatory. The blue roses I always wanted were sent to my ‘ex-best friend’ by my ‘ex-boyfriend’. I remember staring at the roses. She held them with such pride. As soon as she left, I picked up the only blue petal that was left behind. She never wanted blue roses.
I never knew what trespass felt like until I walked into the walls of my assigned classroom. School became a foreign land to my soul. My classmates became foreign people to my body. Half of my god became these foreign people whom I wanted to please. If this was a family, I was the black sheep; if this was a zoo, I was no endangered animal; if this was a corporation, I was assigned janitor. I was the only company I had and the only company I had hardly ever loved me nor even cared.
“Half of my god became these foreign people whom I wanted to please.”
I was only a freshman when I decided to throw away any vibrant aura around me. Happiness was selfish — it made you think that everything was okay only for it to be robbed later on. I watched the orange flame slowly consume the pages of the most important part of me: my memories. I wrote on diaries to remember the details I knew I was going to forget later on in life. These were my biased opinions, my school crushes and my most embarrassing moments. I watched as my pink diary turned black and the words I kept safe within its covers turned to ash. I only watched as my whole body shivered and tears finally rolled down my cheeks. I never forgave myself for such weakness.
After everything turned to dust, I swept up the pieces, threw them in the trash and walked back home, where the walls were blue and the roof was green. Our front porch had patches of grass and dying flowers surrounded by weed. Looking up, the night had a beautiful night sky lit by more than hundreds of stars. Suddenly, I knew the world hardly cared for only one human being.
I went back into my room, didn’t bother to turn on the lights, slowly closed the door, climbed the top bunk, rested my head on a pillow, and threw on a blanket. As my head hit the pillow, I watched the glow-in-the-dark stickers slowly lose their light. And slowly, like leaves falling from a tree, my eyes fell shut.