How I Grew Up


Junior High threw up all over my floor, figuratively. I bled neon and chopped my blonde hair into a pseudo-mullet. When it rained I would listen to Bright Eyes and look out the windows. I hated everyone and everyone else hated everyone. Our parents and teachers tried to love us, sometimes succeeding.

I found myself in dark smoky rooms where it was quiet as everyone looked at me, smiling and waiting expectantly. I went to Warped Tour and wondered if I was the youngest person there. I went to folk shows and knew I was the youngest person there. I had girly feuds with thirteen-year-old alcoholics, pouting in their faces and saying that I didn’t care what they thought.

I was desperately and emotionally attached to myself, and absolutely unaware of how to stop caring. I cut my own hair and told everyone that I liked it. I spent too much time looking in the mirror, posing in teenage swagger and reflecting in my pathetic vanity. I loved any boy with lip piercings and messy hair.

A few months felt like a few years and I read too many books and spent too much time at home. The sunlight rarely hit my face, when it did it stung and shocked. I dreamed of dark, rainy streets and distant cities where no one knew me. I listened to sad piano music and had thousands of adolescent breakthroughs that quickly dissolved back into boredom and panic.

I loathed colors and pop music and became silently stuck-up, sneering constantly. I drank black coffee because it was cool and denied my age to anyone who asked. I sat with a rail-straight back and played the piano in the dark, wishing someone could see me.

I spoke of living in the woods and swimming in rivers. I forgot my years of excitement and my years of seclusion. I wanted to talk to everyone, to read them my self-indulgent poetry anytime they would listen. I wanted to change each soul for the better.

Everyone I knew basked in the seemingly new ideals of communism and anarchy. We spoke like intellectuals of books that we had read but not understood, there was nothing else to do but build pixel upon pixel to create an image. Clothes made in sweatshops became accomplices to our bohemian mystique; we tried to make ourselves seem relevant. I became a living cliché, trying so hard to be different and unknowingly making myself into an archetype.

Suburbia became hell and I became a sinner waiting to be thrown into the fulfilling life of crowded streets and nighttime lights. I waited tirelessly for the time when everything would change.

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image – James Bowe