I’m crazy happy I was accepted at The University of Iowa. Mom came up to me during breakfast and handed me the envelope. I stared at it for a second, took a deep breath then opened it:
“Dear Mr. Eberstark,
I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Photography Program for the Spring 2015 Semester…”
I sighed. My mom’s eyes glowed; it’s been a while since I’ve done something she could be proud of. However, even with that, a bittersweet feeling seemed to have fallen upon her, something I saw coming since she wasn’t and still isn’t convinced moving far away from home is a good idea. For once, though, I was more than sure that this is what I wanted, and my confidence and drive to pursue this next step seemed to have given her a bit of faith in me and my future.
I went back to bed, envelope in hand and was overwhelmed by deafening thoughts of endless possibilities. My future is finally shaping up, and although this is just a first step towards it, it was enough to fill me with hope and excitement. I just needed one thing to work out as a reason for me to go on. Over the past couple of days, my parent’s worry seemed to be growing intensely: they were wondering what I was planning on doing with my life. I did too, obviously. I’ve never had to deal with making life-changing decisions like this one before, which, admittedly, put me under a lot of stress as I found myself dealing with my existential crisis, stuck at loose ends. Being directionless is petrifying, and as the days went by after I’ve submitted my application without any response, I became fairly mindless.
Just like any teenager, going through adolescence is filled with uncertainty and unstable grounds. We experience a lot, sometimes more than we can take that our lives become disoriented. We don’t know who we are and where we’re going. We feel things we don’t understand and rarely stop and try to figure them out. We let a lot of things slide, and just go through each day not thinking about the next one. It’s during the end of our last teenage year that our personality starts to shape up which also makes us realize that the outcome of who we are has a lot to do with what we went through during the first two decades of our lives. Nothing is set in stone, though, and change is constant, but we pretty much got ourselves almost all figured out. I can tell because I’ve come a long way during the past couple of months and now I no longer have to worry about not knowing where my life is going. I might no know exactly how things are going to move forward, but now that I’ve picked a college degree and finally convinced my parents to let me move, I feel more in control and free to navigate my life in my own direction. Just like I had been planning, I’m moving to the States in the Spring, and I’m going to the University of Iowa and majoring in Photography. The relief of being away from my parents and finally meeting Ryan will undeniably be a tremendous help. I can finally look at my past and accept everything I’ve gone through because it had led me to this.
After processing my first major life achievement, I ventured out of the house and walked to the coffeeshop where I ran into Magda, a very smart and deeply intellectual girl who used to go to Palmerston. She lives in Finland now and is in town visiting family members. We talked for a few minutes and got caught up with each other’s lives before carrying on with our day. On my short walk back home, I thought about our momentary friendship and how although we were never really close, when we hung out, our conversations were always serious and insightful which I admired thoroughly. I loved her mystery and her ability to read people so easily. At first, I couldn’t help but see her as a freak with messy black hair and gothic, dark clothes. I remember this one incident very vividly: we were at a party at a friend’s house three years ago. I was feeling invisible until I felt someone gently gripping my shoulder. I turned and it was her. She looked morbid, and bored. We were struggling with making conversation due to the loud music, and I was too shy and engrossed in the moment that I didn’t suggest we go into one of the rooms. She said something so heartrending I had to convince myself our brief encounter actually occurred afterwards. I can’t even remember the exact order of words, only a few highlights (“I’m probably so drunk” – “I want to tell you something” – “You’re a smart, good person” – “Stop living in the shadows” – “One day, you’re going to be great” – “You are beautiful inside and out”). I wanted to ask for an explanation, but the moment seemed so magical I didn’t want her to concretize. I’ll never know what she meant when she said those things. I don’t even know how she could tell. She barely knew me and what I was capable of. I’m sure she said more, but I just can’t remember the rest.
Over the years, when I thought of her, I tried analyzing the situation by recalling the words she said to me by putting them together again and again and trying to find the meaning behind them, but no matter how hard I tried, gaps remained. As I thought more and more about the ominous encounter, I found myself drifting away from my way home to Titisee Lake where I’ve always seeked refuge and contemplation. Walking by the lake, I suddenly saw two familiar faces coming from a distance. I had to close my eyes and re-open them to make sure I was actually seeing what I was seeing: Stephen and Claudia, touching, kissing, doing all kinds of things they shouldn’t be doing together. A rush took over me as I quickly ran and hid behind a tree and watched them. I was seeing something neither me or anyone else was supposed to see. It was like when I was a kid and I’d pretend I was a spy. A secret affair had been uncovered right before my eyes, and I was the first one to know about it.
Over the past few months, I kept anticipating the day I’d get a call from Hilda, crying and explaining how she found out Stephen has been cheating on her. Now he finally has. She was totally oblivious to his reputation as a player and that wasn’t because she was naïve but because she wanted to believe she was special and that he’d change for her. She’s given that thought more credence than it deserves. Boys rarely change. For them, casual sex is way more important than a meaningful relationship, especially at this age. I know, being a boy myself. However, for me, when it comes down to our friendship, I strongly believe I owe it to her to act in her best interest even though we’ve never clearly delineated a promise to tell each other everything or interfere in each other’s lives. I took out my phone and snapped a picture of them together before discreetly leaving the area and rushing back home for dinner. I’m still questioning whether or not I should deliver the bad news to her. I knew this would end bad. It was only a matter of time.