“One day I will say goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever. One day I will go away.” – The House on Mango Street
A voice that cannot be heard. Silence. Every time I try to speak, it’s like my voice is tied down to my throat. The long car ride home after a lengthy lecture always encompasses fear. Trembling under the fear of disappointment, I simply sit silently as the car curves into the driveway.
As I open the garage door and enter my room, I fall into my bed, exhausted. My mind is racing, thinking back on everything that has happened that day. I’m exhausted. When my mind runs full, my heart feels empty. After every mistake I have made, I always receive the same copy-and-paste lecture from my mom, always along the lines of:
“You should’ve done better. You never think of other people. You need to learn how to respect other people and how they care for you.”
The countless piling of hefty responsibilities. It’s tiring. It’s tiring trying to always meet the cultural expectations of my family. It’s tiring trying to do what other people think. There’s no escape; like an endless maze, the journey to escape the constant cycle of regret and distress is neverending. This struggling attempt to voice my opinion ends in forever silence. A voice that cannot be heard — like a bird with clipped wings.
I look back to my childhood. Elementary school to be exact. Friends galore. Thick as thieves we were. Our second family was one to cherish for the rest of our lives. We always were with each other and always had each other’s back. Everything and anything was perfect, without the burden and weight of what was to come. Joy. Happiness. and Laughter. What I would do to experience true Laughter again. All aspects of life that are seemingly forgotten are in abundance in this youthful memory, as is in any other.
Friends. What are Friends, nowadays? Fake or real, it’s really hard to tell. True friendship is hard to find, and I am man enough to admit that I’m envious. I want to experience true Laughter with real Friends. I want to experience what I had back in the day. Those good old days.
They say that you’ll only find three “ride-or-die” Friends in your life. I used to think that number was too little, but now, the plot has changed. I’ll be alright with just 1.
The 16-year-olds looked so old. Growing up, I always wanted to be the age the 6th graders, 8th graders, or seniors were. The top of the pack, they all looked so cool, being much older than I was. These 16-year-olds could drive cars, hang out with friends, work to get money, and so much more. I never once thought of the
“less positive” side of the world that awaited.
I am now around the age I once wanted to be. I wish I never yearned to be this age and appreciated the childhood I once had. I wish I cherished the life I once had. A child, enjoying every second of his life, without a care in the world. I wonder what happened to that life. It’s as if that life was a dream. A dream far out of reach.
The responsibilities have multiplied since then, and the weight of life is reckoning. As the truth of the real world starts to affect my life, I realize my time is up. The clock has stopped ticking. As I look back, I don’t even know where things started to go wrong. Every single day, I reminisce on the joyful experiences of my life, hoping for a remake. Hoping for a chance to rewind.
I look at my covered desk, then divert my eyes to the ceiling.
Tears flowing down my face, yet covering my mouth to keep quiet. School, in many ways, has caused me to go into spirals. Stressed about the tests, quizzes, or assignments I have due in one week makes me rethink my whole life. It makes me rethink my entire future in just one minute and fear if I can succeed. Stress becomes angst, angst becomes sadness, then sadness becomes fear.
Fear of the consequences. The consequences. Cause and effect. This and that.
The trembling fear of disappointment and failure clouds my mind as I finally return home after what felt like a lifetime. Seconds felt like hours. Minutes felt like days. Hours felt like an eternity. All attempts to stall the inevitable consequences. I crawl up the doorsteps as slowly as I can, still trying to delay what’s coming.
As I slowly creak open the door, I see my parents waiting for me.
“Here we go again.”
Life Life is unfair. If there is one thing I have learned throughout my experiences, it’s that life will not go your way. You have to genuinely work for what you want and even still, nothing will completely be what you want. It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. Fighting a battle already lost.
“It’s okay. When you grow up, you’ll realize. Nothing is fair,” my mom warned me when I was younger, but even with knowing, my
life is always going to be that uphill battle. Life is always going to contradict me, always trying to break me every single day. What happened to my life? The life of freedom. The life of enjoyment. The life of my childhood. The life of ignorance. Oh, to be ignorant of life’s unwanted grasps on fate. Life. Just a constant flow of negativity, without even a chance at success.
When I was younger, the world didn’t seem to faze me. Scared was a foreign feeling to me. Until that moment. The moment when everything changed. The first thing that I was scared of. Standing there, helpless, I understood what it meant to fear. To be scared. I was lost. Confused. My child mind could not comprehend the suddenness. Back against the wall, I hid. From Everything. What felt so far, felt so close in a matter of seconds. Yet, it still felt so out of reach. I try to reach my hand up but I can’t.
Till this day, that moment has changed me. Scared is all I feel. Scared to talk. Scared to ask. Scared to be. Scared to anything. The fulfillment I once had. Just being able to be me.
I am lost, confused, afraid. I don’t know. I didn’t know. That back then, that moment. That blurry, unknown feeling. Nobody understood. Nobody understands. Was it in my head? Is my mind playing tricks on me? People are calling it my surreal imagination, but it was so real. They wouldn’t know.
For the better or worse, saying goodbye is tough. I’ve always hated it. I’ve hated the gaping hole in my chest, the emptiness I felt after saying goodbye. That everyday loneliness that tears through my soul, wishing, regretting. The last step, the final step, left me with a feeling I can’t seem to shake.
One by one. One by one, everyone eventually leaves. This time, there’s just pain. Nothing else. My heart slowly sinks to my stomach. Was I not enough?
Helpless. I feel powerless in the grand scheme of things. Goodbye’s are the absolute worst. From one to another, nobody can prevail. One can only reach so far back into the past. Only if I hadn’t taken the step. The step into the world I wished to know. But now. I find myself wishing, wishing to return to the familiar world I know and love.