I remember the first time I was called a "heartbreaker." I had worn bright blue strappy sandals that matched my braces, and a dress with too much color. I was with my mom, accompanying her on a trip to speak to her professor of her night course in college. When he said that, I decided that it was definitely the shoes that made me so, and I wore them everyday for two weeks after.
It was sixth grade when I first was introduced to a straightener. All the girls at the pizza shop had long, straw shaped hair. They were all almost identical; to the point where you could look from behind and not tell who was who. I wanted to be a part of that. My mixed African American -Caucasian blonde kinky spirally curls were just too "puffy."
I remember when I learned that if I tilted my neck a certain way, I could make it look skinner, prettier, "like a dancer."
I learned how to make a t-shirt look one way at home, and another way dropped off at a party. I learned how to revert the same t-shirt back to the first way when I made my appearance returning to my mother's car. I liked the tricks my friends and I used. We brought a backpack "just in case it gets cold we have sweaters” and stuffed bright crop tops and daisy dukes in the pouches.
Or, after prom night our friends and a few stragglers (Was I one of them?) smuggled 12 dollar vodka into the conversation of who didn't love them, who they wanted to love them, and if they wanted even wanted to love at all. We began taking shots from teacup glasses because that was all we could find.
I guess somehow the teacup made it seem less threatening. Like a pill. Easy on the outside but a jumble of atomic mess and confusion on the inside. I took my shot. I didn't feel any different. I took another, less of what I took the first, and I waited a minute. Nothing. I wondered if I really knew how much I had taken, and how much would I need to "feel it? " Did I even want to find out? Maybe another time. I passed the teacup.
I was told that my hair didn't look "right" wet. It looked stringy and bare like shoelaces without a home so I stayed indoors until it completely dried. I listened to john Lennon and Elton John while thinking about what it would be like to be twenty-oneor thirty, and how I couldn't even imagine being that old. Then, I stared in the mirror and reminded myself that when my hair was damp my head looked like a jellybean, and my body, a stick of celery.
Sometimes, I got the wanted attention from teenage boys skateboarding outside my house. I got the ultimatum, like a summer storm, deciding whether to ignore or acknowledge their presence.
I remember the first time I was called ugly by a boy in 8th grade. I didn't understand the right he had to call me "ugly," and I wanted it explained to me why I felt hesitant to talk back.
When I got my first boyfriend, I didn't like the way he kissed me. I had read somewhere that it was important to be aware of what you like and don’t like in a relationship, and if you don't like something, you were supposed to leave. So, when he swooped in during a movie I ran to the bathroom and stood in the stall for ten minutes, trying to decide whether to go back into the movie, or sneak away.
But there are bigger decisions then a faked sickness, like college. What do you want to do for the rest of your life? Right now, drink, honestly. Be serious! But really, where do I want to go?
The other day I was at a family picnic with all my relatives. And my Aunt said, "What a heartbreaker you've become!" I figured I finally earned that title, so I broke into a soft smile. But I'm still not sure. I was sure it didn't have anything to do with my blue and and red tank top.