Growing Up, A New Year, Small Talk

Growing Up

We say that we want to go back.
Back to when it was simple.
When we didn’t have problems.
When the scariest thing we had to do was
ride our bike up that hill.

But we forget
how many times we fell
and scraped our knees.
We forget the feeling of our stomachs in our
as the bike slid out of our grasp.
We forget the tears that we shed as we
crumpled on the pavement,
the hopelessness we felt as we gazed at the top of the hill.
We forget that we swore we would never ride a bike again.
But we did.

We say that we want to go back.
Back to when things were easier.
When there was nothing to overcome.
When the loneliest we ever felt was when
our moms left us at the nursery door.

But we forget the panic we felt.
The realization that the one person we loved most
was gone.
We forget the hysteria,
the sobs that twisted in our throats,
the gasps that ripped our stomachs apart
because we were sure
she would never come back for us.
We forget the iron grip of the hands
that grabbed our waists
prying us from the arms
we knew so well.
We forget the helplessness we felt
as we watched her walk away
trapped in the arms of a stranger.
We forget that we swore we would never go to school again.
But we did.

We say that we want to go back.
Back to when we were little.
When the problems we had couldn’t possibly compare
to the ones we have now.
When life must have been so much easier.

But we forget that it really wasn’t that easy.
We forget the determination we had that finally got us over that hill
in spite of the cuts and bruises.
We forget the faith we had that tomorrow would be better
even though we had no way of knowing if that was

We forget it all because
it makes it easier to forget that
we’ve lost ourselves.
That we’ve lost our guts,
our moxie,
our pluck,
our spirit,
our boldness.

That we’ve finally grown up.

A New Year

One year ends, and another begins.
Just like that.
It takes one second.
One shift of the hand on the clock.
The numbers change.

And that’s all it is really.
Another second gone by in a life full of seconds.
Another shift of the hand in an endless loop.
The beginning of day one of the next three hundred and sixty five.

And yet there is a magic to it.
A sort of hope in something so untainted.
The idea that there is a new leaf, a new hope,
A new chance.

Resolutions are made,
And will most likely be broken.
We are blinded by the fireworks,
Tipsy from the champagne.

But in that first new second
Of that brand new New Year,
Everything is infinite.

Now imagine if every second held such value.

Small Talk

And in the midst of it all you looked at me and said,
“So, do you have any ideas about college?”

And I froze.
I knew what I was supposed to say.
But I couldn’t make the words come out.
I couldn’t form my SAT words into sentences.
I couldn’t put on my interview smile, and give you the answer
I knew you wanted to hear.

But I couldn’t tell you the truth.
I couldn’t bear another round of thinly veiled
I couldn’t bear the prodding questions that would surely come after,
puncturing my momentary bravery
and making me deflate into passive submission.

I would tell you that you were right, as I always did.
Of course I’ll double major,
I need a real job after all,
No one can make a living out of that.

And we’d both laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
Yours would be tinged with relief, and mine with guilt.
We would keep laughing until we finally stopped,
whether out of exhaustion or discomfort I’ll never know.

And you would politely excuse yourself,
and go and tell everyone how charming I was,
how bright, how realistic,
how refreshing it was to meet a young person who knew what they wanted to do
with their life.

And I would remain where I stood,
gutted by the realization that you had just turned the biggest decision I had to make into
small talk.

And in the midst of it all you looked at me and said,
“So, do you have any ideas about college?”

“Yes,” I said.

And I lied.

Leora Randall-Tavori, Age 17, Grade 11, Fiorello H Laguardia High School of Music, Silver Key

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