Last Thursday, the first night of Spring Break, the school bus dropped me off at Kelsey’s house where we enjoyed apple chips, Arnold Palmer, strawberry gummies, kettle corn, and the newest Jane the Virgin on her couch. We watched the show from her laptop placed on a food tray. The episode was generic but still enjoyable. It felt like it was over in a second. While lounging around her house, I got several texts from Mary Anne in succession:
Are you busy tonight
Me: I don’t think so why?
Aizar needs a new dress and I need some new bath bombs to //bathe away the haters// so we were like let’s go to the mall.
An hour and a half later, I was driving down the open road with all three of them in the car, belting out lyrics to Hamilton and Pentatonix. I sipped the tea of gossip that flowed from the conversation in the back seat. My driving was smooth that day, and I basked in the feeling of independence and pride. The simple pleasures like these always get me.
“The original gang hasn’t hung out in years,” Mary Anne said.
“Eons,” Aizar corrected.
“This is the life,” I said.
I returned home in that tired, content glow, but it was slightly chilled by apprehension. I had been gone for three hours “out for dinner” and hadn’t texted my parents during that time. The house was strangely quiet when I entered it. When I met my sister upstairs, she asked excitedly, “Did you get into Duke?”
“Oh, I completely forgot.” Decisions for Duke University admissions had come out at seven that day. “I’ll check now.”
I didn’t get in, and my sister went downstairs to get a snack. And to tell the parents, I presume. I just remained in my room, waiting for the shit to hit the fan.
It came about 30 minutes delayed, but it came nonetheless. My mother stormed in with that wild-eyed expression of her and ranted until her face gleamed. “You need to start studying for APs! Why don’t you ever listen to me?”
I respectfully asked her to calm down; I would hear from nine more colleges the next week. She squawked in indignation and continued to fill the room with her hoarse shouts.
Later in the bathroom, I looked at myself and saw my eyes laced in tired pink veins and my sad little mouth. When you’re happy, sailing on smooth wings, singing loudly in your car, glowing from the inside, and appreciating every little thing, you think that your happiness is the only right thing you’ve ever felt. When your soul is hurting and people seem so ugly that you never want to see them again, you feel upset and sobered. And that feels like the only right thing, too.