We have to quit giving other people crap for being different.
You think that overweight kid from volleyball class would never be able to shed those excess pounds? Give her a year or so, she might just discover the beauty of yoga or running. Maybe by then, we would want her on our team and she’d actually experience the joy of getting picked first.
Remember that four-eyed weirdo who always sits at the back of the library and talks to himself the entire time he’s seated there, alone? Who knows he must have been doing a lot of advanced reading and that could have been his strategy for recalling theories and equations.
Looking at someone who’s obviously different than the “rest of us” is okay but staring, that’s just rude. Sometimes, we even talk about them in their presence using hushed tones, in whispers. That volleyball classmate, that genius weirdo —- they were in the form of an albino woman I was walking alongside at the Ayala underpass earlier today. People from as far as the other end of the tunnel were obviously wide-eyed, more than curious (at a certain extent, freaked out), to be seeing an unbelievably white human being.
Alright, so it’s not everyday you get to see an albino but you don’t really have to rub it in that she’s different. Way different. I glanced at her twice, purely out of curiosity and mostly in trying to let her know, “Hey, maybe you’re used to this, maybe you’re not. Whichever it is, you’re gonna be okay.”
The year I turned seven was probably the biggest and grandest celebration I’ve had in my personal history of birthdays. My parents rented a huge pizza party place with its own fun kiddie playground, the one with an incredibly long twisted slide that ended in a deep plastic ball pool. After the games and giveaways, two mascots showed up - a fat superhero and a stuffy chicken - in which the fat chicken attempted to lift me from the floor (with much failure) while I blew the candles from my cake.
Overtime the celebrations grew smaller and crowds of families, neighbors and friends reduced to a mere one-tenth of what we usually were able to gather. Hotdog sticks stuck on pineapple centers were replaced with beef bites or chicken empanada. Goldilocks cakes with frosted flower icings were exchanged with those triple-layered chocolate square masterpieces. Collared Sunday dresses were traded in for denim cutoffs and sheer tops.
Today I turn a year older. What now? I’m reading through piles of birthday greetings posted on my Facebook wall (FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, THANK YOU EVERYONE) as I finish the last few spoonfuls of my banana oatmeal. I’m supposed to attend an exhibit launch tonight but I might just skip, go to Fully Booked and buy myself a good read or two. I’ve also written down on my “Notebook of Goals” that “this year, I will be good to my body,” among other things. In plain sight, nothing legendary has happened since I got up from bed this morning.
I like my routine even at the point of being accused as boring. I like how I’m able to keep up with everyone else with the help of social networking sites. I like being decided about my lunch while everyone else bets something new off the menu.
But even as premature and predictable dance together while my 22 looks ahead, I still don’t know what I really want to become or where I should be in the next few months or so. Quite frankly, how do you celebrate a life lived in two decades (plus two)? The answers come in rushing: I want to see the world; I want to meet my soulmate; I want to reconnect with old friends; I want to be more private about certain things.
The habits stay the same, but I guess the dreams get bigger. And at this point of staying tangled in a web of unknowns, maybe it’s alright to struggle and not know.