My life thus far is a pretty short, simple story.
My whole family is Californian which is pretty awesome. My dad's from waaaaaay south right by the Mexico border, my mom from waaaaaaay north at the edge of one of the tribal reserves.
They met during college at UC Davis and settled down together. Along came my older sister, Anja, then three years later was me in the middle, and my little sister Chelsea after another three years.
After having three girls in a row my mom asked my dad if he wanted to try again for a boy but he was like nope.avi he said we'd just end up with 5 girls, so it was just us.
Growing up was pretty normal. My mom stayed home to take care of us kids and my dad was a trucker. Some of my earliest memories were riding in the big freight trucks with my dad.
My older sister started school and I wasn't really old enough to remember but I guess I was pretty jealous so I got put in preschool right away. I was super energetic and smart and was already reading pretty well before I started Kindergarten because I would "help" my sister do her homework.
When I was old enough to start school I thought it was pretty awesome. My first year I was in the same class as my older sister and we had this cool teacher Mrs. Michaelis, who was very new-agey hippie and stuff and always had lots of funky props and rainbows and songs. I ended up having her as my teacher for 4 years.
During that she married Dr. Araujo who was an anthropologist and specialized in storytelling and folklore. He spoke so many languages and I thought that was really cool. He'd come in to class all the time to tell stories and teach us Spanish. It was around then that I found out my knack for reading also extended to other languages, so I started picking up whatever I could in Spanish, French, and German. I wasn't always sure what I was reading but in hindsight I know I was building a knowledge of how much language is related, which ended up being one of my biggest interests as an adult.
After those 4 years with Mrs. Araujo I had another teacher for a couple years. It was around then that I started feeling like I was pretty different. While the other kids would play sports together I always felt like I was left out. They were usually sorta nice but I just didn't feel comfortable around them.
At one point during a class meeting I remember bursting out crying and being really embarrassed because I wanted to have friends but I was never able to play with the others. I started acting out and being hyper and weird which made people either like me because I was funny or hate me because I was annoying. I was too young then to understand how being an introvert works and so I tried really hard to socialize but it just never went well. I usually ended up spending my recesses sitting under a tree and daydreaming or talking to myself.
When junior high started things started getting pretty bad. I was a really smart kid, never needed to be taught anything twice, and I always got really good scores on tests but I would fail classes because I wouldn't do the homework. People started telling me stuff like "well if you would just apply yourself you'd do well" or "you're smart you have no excuse to be failing" "it should be easy for you" but it just wasn't. I don't know how else to describe it, I just had a block when it came to homework.
Because of that I started to get really angry and lose a lot of my interests. I stopped caring so much about science, which at the time I'd thought I would be a marine biologist. I stopped trying at all in school. I'd show up and I'd pay attention because I had nothing else to do, but I just didn't really care much if I got good grades.
I was pretty into music though. I really liked playing in orchestra and I did pretty well with my viola. While I started letting other stuff go I got more into my music and started trying to get better at it. The music program in the schools was really good, and we had this conductor Mr Moreno who was a really cool guy, and was able to make classical music appeal to young kids in a way that translated. He taught at the two junior highs in town and the high school.
For our concerts both of the junior highs would get together, and there was this girl in the other orchestra who stood out. She was super bossy and kind of snobby and her name was Mary. Some people seemed to like her but some of them said mean things about her because she was smart and competent and that made me kind of mad because those were the same things people would say about me.
So we ended up meeting and chatting during some of the rehearsals and we found out we had a lot in common, like how we loved Harry Potter and music and art. I was the sort to kind of attach to people like a third wheel usually so it was really nice to have a friend like that. We got to spend a lot of time around each other because of music stuff and I was pretty excited to actually have classes with her in high school.
In the meantime, I ended up transferring out of regular junior high and started independent study, which was like homeschool but with a teacher who I'd meet with once a week. It helped a lot to not spend so much time around other people but it didn't really help my grades much. I still failed a lot because I would skip homework and just take tests, which I did well on but for some reason that was never enough.
So along came high school and suddenly there was this whole new social scene with the kids from the two junior highs coming together. My high school was actually pretty good, there wasn't much bullying and most of the kids were nice, even the popular ones were usually actually nice people.
I was still in independent study but I was taking more classes at the school so I was kind of socializing again. I had my music classes with Mary and we got to be REALLY good friends, best friends, and we would talk on the phone and I'd go to her house and do all this stuff I'd never done with other people because I didn't have much for friends.
There was also my lunch table group. We'd sit at this table out in front of the library, and we were kind of a bunch of misfits. A lot of us were kids who got picked on or alienated by the more distinct cliques. There was a guy who was smart but kind of ill-mannered, but people acted like he was stupid just because he was really big. There was this other guy who was really nerdy and looked a lot like a girl so people treated him differently, though he really didn't care. We had a couple of gay kids, a couple of goths (including me, at the time), nerds, drama queens, all sorts. We were a mixed bag and we had a lot of fun. My parents wouldn't really let me see any of them outside of school because my grades were so bad but I didn't really mind.
So with all this stuff going on, school, music, my friends, I still managed to have a LOT of free time because I never did homework. I started to spend more and more of that free time on the internet. I'd been sort of lurking around for a long time but I didn't really do much. There were early days as a young teen on 4chan and the old Yahoo chatrooms, but I never really stayed in one place that long. Then I started on deviantART and things were kind of different.
I would get in those chatrooms and talk to people from all over the place like it was another of my "lunch table" groups, just a mixed bag of people. It became very normal for me to have friends I knew only in text who were from Australia and Germany and Brazil.
We'd talk about all kinds of things... art, music, books, video games, science, news, life. It was usually a completely open forum and the topics just wove in and out of each other, always something different to talk about.
So with that being as it was, for a long time my life was basically school, music, the internet. I was having a hard time getting along with my family and didn't spend much time with people outside of school so the internet became my playground and in many ways was more real to me than the other stuff I had to do when I'd leave the computer.
High school finished up, I managed to barely squeak by to graduate. Mary and I were finally free to spend more time together as adults and she was sort of my window to the world. With her being such a dominant personality and myself being a bit too easygoing, she usually dictated what we'd be up to and I liked it that way.
We both took classes at community college, me learning the ropes of teaching music and her learning more about English. She did really well, I... didn't do so well. Sure the music stuff was good, I was improving faster than ever, but I still wasn't making the grades to actually go to a university. Mary, on the other hand, finished up what she needed to do and transferred to a full university way down in Southern California.
At that point, when I knew we were going to be separated, I had to really think seriously about what I was doing with my life. School wasn't working out, my family problems were getting worse all the time so I had actually moved out to sleep on people's couches for months on end, and I really had no idea what was happening because everything was so different from what I'd imagined.
So I decided then that I was going to have to stop making excuses and using crutches. I had moved across town with some friends into a house of my own and was working and studying a lot, so when it came time for Mary to leave for college I decided I needed to detach myself from her. I stopped answering her texts and calls, I stopped being friends with her on Facebook, everything. I felt bad because I knew she'd think she had done something wrong, but I really felt also that it was something I had to do to get my head straight and be independent.
So for a whole year it was like that. I kept to myself and really tried to do well in school, saved up as much money as I could from my job, and fully intended to act like a proper adult.
But in the end I just felt more and more like I was unhappy. The things that made my life worthwhile were not a career, they were none of the things that people told me I should be wanting and doing to be a grown up. I wanted to have my quiet alone time, I wanted my books and music and my handful of close friends.
So in the end, when my separation was done and Mary came back on vacation from school I told her what my conclusion was about me being my own person instead of part of a unit, and she totally understood and we slipped back into being friends as if nothing had happened, though things had really changed with me. I was able to hold my own in a way I hadn't before because I then knew who I really was and what I wanted.
I ended up moving back in with my parents for a while and was looking for somewhere else to go, trying to make some pretty big decisions about my life, when things got turned on their heads. My mom got sick, really sick, and got worse really fast so she was put in the hospital and we found out she had cancer. I had two sisters in college and my dad was taking a lot of time off work to be with my mom so I realized that I was going to have to put my own stuff on the back burner for a while.
I dropped out of college, which I've since felt was one of the best decisions I made for myself, and worked as much as I could, but things got more and more hectic as my mom got worse. It became clear that she wasn't getting better so we cleaned up our messy house and messy act and brought her home for hospice.
She passed away after 9 painful months of sickness, and it was like the foundation of my life had cracked irreparably. Almost everything I had imagined my life would be when I was young was just not happening, not there anymore, and for a few months I floundered.
So here I am now, coming up on a year since then, and I'm still in a very weird limbo. I don't think I will ever go back to college because nothing I want from my life requires it. I have my handful of very good friends who I spend some time with and really enjoy. I have my sprawl of internet friends who I talk with almost every day. I also have my family though we're all still kind of off-balance from losing my mom.
I don't really know what I will do. Maybe I will go to culinary school to pursue my lifelong love of baking and pastry. Maybe I will go work in a restaurant to learn the ropes. Maybe I will move to another country. I don't know! There are so many open doors but they all will take so much work and sacrifice to go through, there's no easy way out now and that's a scary and exciting place to be as a young adult.
Maybe in another few months or a year I will try this again with a more satisfying ending, but for now my story is very much in the middle.