The Consolation Prizes

The Consolation Prize #1

My struggles aren’t impressive. I know what it feels like to hurt, to hurt physically, the ache that comes from pushing your body to its limits. I know what it feels like to hurt mentally, the throbbing that comes from the pressure to perform, to be the example, the guinea pig. I know what it feels like to be deeply tired, the kind of tired that demands both sleep, and peace. But my parents are loving, my friends, I, for the most part, adore; I come from the suburbs, a blessing, a bore. I don’t have stories that will make you gasp and cry. I can’t tell you about my perilous journeys of coming from one country to another, or my abusive father. I can’t tell you how I had to leave because he wouldn’t take his eyes off me. I can’t give you what you want but the consolation prize is this, the stories from a girl, who tries and hopes and lives. Who has her struggles and bears them well, however ordinary they may be and who wants to find her place in this world, simply find her peace. 

The Tidal Wave (Prize #2)

The 400. One lap of unadulterated pain. I was a distance runner so the 400 never crept into the corners of my vision after a hard workout. I had a sort of coexistence with that distance, until I saw the heat sheet. Until I saw my name and a false jumping off time next to the 400 along with a list of Edison girls I was racing against. My heart began nervously tap-dancing and refused to stop, even on the starting line. The gun went off and the 400? It set me on fire. I’d forgotten that my legs could be pistons and coils, that my body could push itself to its breaking point in such a short amount of time. So I roared with the 400. I unleashed the power that I didn’t know I had. Such power that as I was coming across the finish line, I tripped. I’ll never know if my spike caught the track at an odd angle or if my legs legitimately gave out on me, but I tumbled across the finish line onto the track. Sprawled on my back with the world in front of me becoming a kaleidoscope of shadows and bright lights, I contemplated how I’d gotten there. Before I could get too far into thought my body hoisted itself up onto my shaking legs. I took two steps before my team came rushing at me like a tidal wave. Making sure I was okay, congratulating me, reassuring me that yes I had crossed the finish line before her. They surrounded me with love.

The Baby Girl Garden (Prize #3)

Flowers filled our kitchen. Yellows, whites, reds, but most especially pink. Pink for the baby girl that we were expecting. But her little heart stopped beating in mommy’s tummy, the parents explained to us with their raw red faces and noses full of sniffles. So we let the tears slip down our faces, two sisters mourning one that could’ve joined our ranks. A baby girl to play with and love and love. And so we cried for her. But when our tears ran out and our faces began to dry, we planted flowers. Just in front of the rickety fence with the Italian phrase, painted in blinding neon, that none of us could read; next to the honeysuckle tree that the hummingbirds flocked to, the four of us planted flowers. We planted the yellows, and the whites, the reds, and all of the pink. These colors, this growth, for our sister and daughter, who might have been. 

The Earthquake (Prize #4)

The boy, was oblivious. Most boys are. But the girls knew. We knew. We could feel the tremors and the unspoken quaking of our friendship. The splinters and cracks that slowly tore us apart. I wanted Him. So did She. But, He chose me. At a cost though. Forced into the loss of a sisterhood. A million moments of laughter and tears, of secret little glances and waking with no fears. But somehow, we let one boy wedge between our cracks. Pushing, and thrusting, and shoving, until, an earthquake came, and we all fell down. 

The Summer Camp Boys (Prize #5)

“Summer went away, still the yearning stayed,” I knew that they wouldn’t last but like sickly sweet candy you can’t stop eating, I’d still let myself get swept away with summer camp boys. Summer camp boys from Utah and Northern California and Washington and Texas. My friends used to tease that my type was anyone that lived more than an hour away. Anyone temporary, anyone that could live on my phone screen after spending a blissful week or two together. I never was good at cutting ties, so we’d wait in purgatory, just chatting along over text until the next one came along. The boys here definitely held their appeal, but none of them could match moments captured in honey sweet sun with the summer camp boys.

The Boxes, Checked and Un (Prize #6)

Be a a good example, set the table, run fast, now run faster, do your homework, pass that test, do your best, ok better than that, find a man, keep good friends, read your scriptures, say your prayers, smile big, smile bright, how are you, oh great, glad to hear your doing well, stay in school, play by the rules. 

Boxes checked and un, never ending. My cosmic to-do list, created by a cast of characters, pressures, and parents, depending; on me to carry through and always check my boxes. To be the strong one, the oldest, never taking knocks and; forever be the example. I’m the perfect guinea pig. Who jumps through hoops, and hardly rebukes, and always checks the boxes.

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