This Is Who I Am

I am trying to figure out who I am. I suppose most people spend their whole lives doing so, but somehow I feel like I’m close to knowing. This is what I know: I know that my mother suffers from Schizophrenia. I know that her world and mine exist on two different sections of the universe, but somehow they are intertwined. I know that my father struggles with a past of poverty and addiction, so to compensate, he gives my sister and me everything he can. I suppose a childhood of dolls, good food and tons of freedom is what every child strives for. No rules. I thought I loved that. The old Yoomee did enjoy that, but as the seasons change and I grow older, my opinion starts to change. Maybe rules would have helped. Maybe my mom wouldn’t be in the hospital or my father would learn to be content with his achievements. Maybe my sister wouldn’t frown so much or my house wouldn’t feel so empty.

I want them to feel what I feel as the sound of Cumbia rolls off the waves in Pocitos, Uruguay, and on to the hot sand. I want them to breath in the smell of grilled meats and smile at the notion of eating cow intestines. The smell of newly washed clothes and the vision of a packed suitcase race through my body; the excitement of the unexplored is contagious. I want them to understand that. I love to read. I want them to fly through the pages of Things Fall Apart and then meet Okonkwo in Ethiopia. He touches my face in disbelief because I am so white. Does my mother know that feeling? This is what Yoomee loves.

But I feel myself changing. Something inside of me is pushing for more, is begging to free itself from a mind of swirling thoughts. This is not a bad thing; this is what I’ve been waiting for the eternity of my young life. I am ready to see

what this world has to offer, I am eager to leave the bed I have slept in for 17 years of my life. I want to put on boots and walk across the Andes. My fingers tap constantly telling me its time to pick up the drums or strum a guitar. My crooked teeth want to bite into a pizza made in the Tuscany or savor the taste of Dulce de Leche in the home of an Abuela somewhere in Colombia. I want to dance through Rio de Janiero and write a novel about a Swiss girl who fell in love with a swarthy Moroccan. So who am I? I am everything silly, questioning, angry, curious and happy about this world. I am the old woman on Avenue C and 8th street who sells empanadas and the little girl who skips to school holding her father’s hand. I am the moody teenager who listens to Cat Stevens and the excited student who wants to fall in love. I am changing, I can feel it.

One day I will come back for my ailing mother and my discontented father. I will pick them up and shake them until their eyes turn big and they see what beauty surrounds them. I will shake them until they notice the songbird that sits on the balcony every morning or the man who sings in Tompkins Square Park. But this will happen when the time is right, because right now, I am too busy changing.

Yoomee Ohayon
Age 17, Grade 12
Brooklyn Friends School
Gold Key

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