Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Last Day as a Teenager

It's today.

It’s today and I haven’t been able to figure out how to commemorate it. In truth, I’m not sure that it’s the type of thing I feel like celebrating; after tonight, I will have relinquished my teen status, entered the very unfamiliar and very frightening world of the twentysomethings.

Ridiculous as I know this will sound to the few readers this site has, most of whom are well senior to me, the knowledge that in less than an hour’s time I will have crossed the milestone from nineteen to twenty makes me feel impossibly old.

Right now, I am in the same demographic category as thirteen-year-olds. In half an hour, I will have moved into the same subset with twenty-nine-year-olds. You can see how dramatic the transition is, even if the momentary difference between nineteen and twenty isn’t all that great.

It’s the symbolism that matters, and I tend to be a great believer in tradition and the significance of ceremonial meaning. That being the case, I spent the day, following an English class and some scarce homework when it was all that was on my mind anyway, reflecting on what my teenage years have been like, what they’ve meant to me, and how strange it is that I’m leaving them behind.

I became a teenager seven years ago tomorrow on April 10, 2001, a date that, by virtue of the many things that have taken place in the world since it passed, makes it seem even farther away than seven years typically would to begin with

The day that I turned thirteen was a full five months before September 11th. That event alone altered the politics, economy, culture, and political dynamic of this country and of the international community in a serious enough way to by itself constitute the most far-reaching development of the decade, or, indeed, of our generation.

Eight months after entering the teen realm, and three months after the devastation of 9/11, the single most momentous happening of my life (even today) took place; my family moved within Native State from Bad Town, the lower-income, crime-laden suburb of Large Native City where I had grown up, to Beautiful Town, the more rural and affluent locality that I would soon come to treasure.

In Bad Town, where I’d lived from the time I was five to the time I was thirteen, I was made fun of horribly, so harassed that I’d retreated within a shell of insecurity and paranoia. I was well on my way, eight months from entering high school, to becoming a basket case of shattered youth, unrealized dreams, and crippling shyness born by way of constant abuse.

My mother, however, received a promotion from the pharmaceutical manufacturer, Big Drug Company, with which she was employed, and her higher rank entailed a move forty miles to the northwest for us.

Despite having essentially grown up in Bad Town, despite the fact that everyone and everything I knew was there, I prayed fervently that we would move as quickly as possible. Most children in the same situation (and, having relocated quite often sense, I have known this first hand) are resentful and resist departure for as long as possible, but I couldn’t wait to be settled in our new home.

At several points, when it looked as if the house in Bad Town was not going to sell, I literally fell to my knees and begged God to take us out of there.
On December 27, 2001, we moved. I have ever since remembered it as Deliverance Day, and, each year two days after Christmas, take some time to remember what God has given me. Everything I am today, every opportunity I have, every talent and social grace I’ve cultivated, is a result of what happened on that blessed Thursday six years ago.

Had we stayed in Bad Town, I would have been smothered, so buried beneath ridicule, criticism, and bullying that my talents and personality may never have shone through.

I am in college today, while my tormentors loiter on the streets, because of December 27th. I did not fall into a deep depression in high school and try to kill myself, because of December 27th. I am nineteen years old, and I still think of every day as something special, something I was never intended to have. The Lord delivered me. Therefore, it is Deliverance Day.

We lived in Beautiful Town a short time, two years and five months, but it is a place that I still covet in my memory. It was located in the western part of Native State, where mountains abound and the loamy, coastal climate of my original region gives way to fantastic greenery, spectacular fall foliage, and, in the winter, heaps upon heaps of magnificent white snow that were the joy of my earlier youth.

My fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth birthdays passed in Beautiful Town, and by the time we left one month following the last of those passages, I loved it as I had loved no place before and have failed to love any place since.

Ah, now it’s done. I’m twenty, twenty and I can’t believe it.

In any case, it was May 27, 2004, when we left, two years and five months to the day after moving in. My parents, Powell, Thomas, and Pie (who’d been born the previous summer and had not yet reached her first birthday) headed to our opulent new home in Deep South State (this move the result of a second promotion for my mother) while I stayed two weeks in Native State with my grandparents Normal Family before going up to Decaying State to stay with my birthmother, Anne.

She hadn’t been present much during my life, and while there I confronted her about the past, something she didn’t want to discuss. The resulting fights were so furious that I left early, staying first with my aunt in Beautiful Town and then with my grandmother just outside of Large Native City. On July 29, 2004, I took a flight from Large Native City International Airport to Central City in Deep South State.
Over the course of the next several months, our home there was hit by three major hurricanes, one of which ranks among the largest storms in U.S. history, and, in an unrelated series of events, my paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, and maternal great-grandmother all died.

We buried my great-grandmother on New Year’s Eve Day, 2004, and, deciding we’d had enough, left Deep South State for Southern State in March of 2005. We resided in Wealthy Town for nine months before moving to Mountain Town that December, and in Mountain Town we have since remained.

Shortly after arriving in Mountain Town, I learned I’d been accepted to Major University, which is located in the Important Area of Southern State.
On June 16, 2006, I graduated from Privileged High School, and in August I left home to attend Major University an hour and a half away.

My Freshman Year of college was very difficult, a long and dramatic story that is the reason for my pseudonym “Blackened Boy” but that I will have to detail later, and, after seriously considering not returning the summer between Freshman and Sophomore Years, I began classes last Fall as a second-year student.

Things have gotten much better since then, and I have rejoiced in my recovery, of which this blog is a part.

So, having lived through all that, I was searching today for a meaningful way in which to end a period of my life that has defined me and will likely continue to do so (or at least shape who I am with great significance) for some time to come.

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