Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sophie's Story

Dumbledore sure knew what he was talking about. Love is the most powerful magic in the world. And of all the magic I have ever witnessed, love has been the greatest. 

I was born on a snowy October morning in Anchorage, Alaska. And, let me tell you, October is not too early to be snowing if you’re that far up north. My parents are two of the most beautiful people I have ever met, to this day. Their beauty is so vast and substantial that sometimes I can see it glowing – radiating from their bodies – shimmering around them like starlight. Their beauty draws people towards them; it lights the way for others, giving them a path to follow. My parent’s beauty comes from the love they have for each other. The more love they share, the more beauty shines through. Though, sometimes, when my parent’s beauty is at its greatest, it can even scare people away.

Love can be scary. That’s why it’s so much easier to hate.

Even with such beautiful, loving parents, I have had to learn about love all on my own. Seriously, who doesn’t like love? Personally, I’ve always believed love brings true happiness. But it isn’t always easy to survive in this world of pessimists when you think that way. For me, love has always been greater than just romance. It’s the greatest thing this world has to offer – so why not share as much of it as you can? Yeah, yeah, that’s a great idea . . . as long as you are not starting 6th grade. 6th grade was the biggest reality check I ever had to face. I went into middle school with as much innocence and starry-eyed dreams as you can imagine. I was so blissfully unaware that, at first, I didn’t even notice when people tried to hurt me. I mean, who would want to hurt little old me?

Apparently, a lot of people.

And, after a while, they got their wish. I got hurt. More than hurt, I got maimed – in the most gory, morbid, gruesome way. These people around me, my peers and fellow schoolmates, broke my heart. I felt so wounded and na├»ve and foolish that my only hope was invisibility. So invisibility is what I became. By 7th grade I was the human equivalent of a “timid little mouse” as my mother so lovingly called it. I would literally go through days where I didn’t speak a word. Life was hard, it was lonely, I felt dreadful, and, worst of all, I had closed my heart to love because I didn’t want to get hurt again.

7th grade was also the year I first read Twilight (and no matter how much I rue the day I first set eyes on those books – I still find myself comparing boys I date to Edward). During that time my heart and I lived in an alternate reality. Only inside that book was I able to feel again. Inside that book I could once again be the starry-eyed optimist I once was, inside that book I could feel love. Yet, no matter how well those silly Twilight books protected me from the pain and suffering of the world, I had to face reality some time.

Reality hit in the most peculiar – yet oddly perfect – way possible, as it often does. I was a freshman in high school, the epitome of my hell. Life in the real world was so brutal and unforgiving at that time that I would have to come home and take naps after school so my body could deal with the stress. The best parts of the day were the bus rides home when I could curl up in the lumpy brown bus seats, open up Twilight, and travel back into my favorite world, my decidedly “real” world.

A friend of mine rode the bus with me. Her name was Dawn and I liked talking to her because she reminded me of my parents. She was kind of a hippy, to put it bluntly, and my parents are kind of hippies, too (I was rocked to sleep listening to The Grateful Dead, for gosh sakes). Sometimes Dawn would bring her boyfriend on the bus. Her boyfriend was an attractive guy – though, at the time, I only had eyes for book characters – with a pair of the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen. They were a terrible beauty – they scared the hell out of me. Sam was his name and when he and Dawn rode the bus I would always talk to them. I connected to these two rather out-of-place people because they understood me like no body else could. Sam and Dawn knew what it was like being poor in a rich community; they knew what it was like not liking pop music and not wearing the right clothes. They were just like me! But with one glaring difference: they didn’t feel bad about it. 

The most vivid recollection I have of Dawn’s boyfriend, Sam, was one day on the bus when we were discussing music. Sam and I were discussing a musician we both liked and after I finished speaking Sam just stared at me. He stared at me with those terrifyingly beautiful green eyes, half a smile playing across his lips. I’m pretty sure, at that moment, I gulped. He saw right through me with that gaze of his, penetrating my soul, reading the emotions that played through my heart like a scholar reads a nursery rhyme (in other words, very easily). Sam eyed me as though I was a piece of candy, and I knew there was something bawdy going on behind his gaze . . . Ladies and gentlemen, this is also known as “undressing someone with your eyes”. And, oh my gawd, did it freak me out.

I remember days, after that experience on the bus, I would sit around contemplating whether or not I should tell Dawn her boyfriend had looked at me like that. At that time in my life I almost felt like I had been taken advantage of by Sam. It had only taken his gaze to send the defenses I had built up for myself to go flying. Now I understand that it was my own fears that had caused me freak out so much. My fear of love, of getting hurt, of getting my heart broken, caused me to see the intensity and passion in Sam’s eyes as a threat. Only through a look, Sam had forced me to become aware of myself. He had forced me to look at myself honestly. And I really didn’t want to look at myself honestly. Although, I can pretty surely attest that Sam still has the same killer gaze, I realize now that it was my own fear of reality that caused me to feel so intimidated by him.

I ended up leaving high school for a special state-funded school program that I got into. It was a good decision because it gave me time to look back at public school and realize how important those experiences were for me. Though high school did end up forcing me into reclusion and generally took away my ability to feel, in the end I’m thankful because it also taught me how important love is. Sam, and his crazy-yet-beautiful eyes, reminded me of reality and forced me to face my fears of love. After that experience I was finally able to recall the importance of love and I began a search for love in my real life – not just in book world.

Love is scary, but it’s also the most powerful magic this world has to offer.

You may be wondering if I ever talked to Sam again. Three years later I was able to contact him on facebook (now single . . . wink, wink). It’s been a pretty crazy trip since then and I am definitely not the same person I was in my freshmen year of high school. But what’s really important is not just that I have changed, but the journey I went through to get here. All I can wish for now is that I have many more journeys in my future. Maybe, even, a few of them will involve Sam, as well . . .

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