"Angela Marie Randle." As I stood at the side of the stage, my ears perked up when I heard my name. Quickly, but gracefully, I walked across the stage to receive my precious college diploma. My heart felt as if it could burst out of my chest any second - looking out at the audience, I could tell by the proud look on my parents' faces that they were experiencing the same exhilarating feeling.
Then, in just a few seconds, my moment of fame was over; I was back in my seat, with Mom and Dad a few rows back and Jason sitting beside them. I flashed a smile at him and his eyes sparkled in return.
Twenty minutes later, when Katelyn Zimmerman had finally crossed the stage, we all stood up in preparation for our final benediction.
"Class of 2008, go out into the world today, bursting with your knowledge. Have confidence that you can achieve your dreams," boomed Evan Line, the smartest person I've ever met. "Now," he continued, "Let us turn our tassels, for we are now graduates of Morrison University!"
Just then, two thousand blue hats were tossed up into the air and it seemed as if the entire room broke out into hugs. After embracing Katie, Gen, and Lindsay - my three closest girlfriends - I made my way through the crowd to find Jason. As soon as our eyes locked I ran to him and he swept me up in a huge hug and a long kiss. Life just couldn't get any better than this.
"Congratulations, Sweetie!" I whirled around at the sound of my mother's always chipper voice.
"Thanks! I can't believe I've really done it. College is officially over." I took a deep breath, then let out a relieved, content sigh.
"I'm so proud of you, Honey." Dad squeezed my shoulder heartily. "You've got your whole life ahead of you," he said, grinning broadly.
"Okay, can we take the picture now?" Mom inquired. Without waiting for a response, she said, "Here Jason, you take one of Angie with us."
I got in the middle, squashed happily between my parents as Jason pressed the button and the blinding flash went off. Then Mom took the camera back and motioned for Jason and me to pose together.
"Who's ready to celebrate?" Jason asked eagerly.
"I am, that's for sure," I replied, taking his hand and happily walking towards the door.
The celebration was really just a reception in the Adams ballroom next door to the auditorium. We had some food, sat at a table with my friends, and just talked. After about an hour, it was time to leave for the airport.
As a sort of graduation present, Mom and Dad had decided to send me off to France. For the past four years, I'd dreamed of going to Europe - this was my chance. With Jason along, I knew it would be amazing.
After a multitude of hugs, kisses and emotional farewells, Jason and I walked towards the plane; we looked back to see both our parents clustered together: my mom Claudia and his mom Grace watching with moist eyes; Harry and Donald smiling, arms wrapped around their wives.
"You can tell they're going to miss us," I remarked.
"Of course they are - that's what parents do," came Jason's reply, as he took my hand and put it in his.
We then got our tickets checked, our luggage stored, and our drinks ordered. Finally, a chance to sit down in a comfortable seat and relax. I smoothed out my blue ruffled skirt in front of me. I decided that now would be the perfect time to read something: an old journal. When I was younger, I used to write in a journal every day. No idea how I did it, but somehow I managed to be consistent and overcome my inherent laziness.
My life was pretty crazy when I was in high school, so I decided to read an entry at the very end of my senior year - right when my life started falling apart and coming together simultaneously.
Wedesday, June 1, 2001
U.S. History class was almost over. Everyone else was doing their homework for next time as I rummaged through my bookbag, searching for my lipgloss. Aha! Found it! My gorgeous rose-colored Sonia Kashuk lipgloss. It looked sexy enough in the tube, but it looked even better on my luscious lips as I stared happily into my little silver mirror.
"You bitch!" came a whisper from behind me.
Slightly startled, I noticed the flushed face of
Emily Gibson in the corner of
"What was that for?" I turned around in my desk.
"God, that is so typical of you Angela. Just pretend
you don't know what I'm
talking about. As if you were innocent," she scoffed.
"Please, inform me," I replied sarcastically.
"Fine. You told the whole school that I'm pregnant."
"No, I didn't." It was a blatant lie. "Maybe it was someone else," I suggested.
"Uh, not possible. You were the only one that knew
I--" she paused and lowered
her voice, "slept with Joey Turner."
"All right," I sighed melodramatically. "So what if
I did tell? I thought you
looked pregnant." I shrugged my shoulders. "What are you gonna do...kill me?"
"Ugh!" Emily cried. "You disgust me, you self-absorbed slut!" And with that, she got up from her desk and stormed out of the room.
As soon as she got to the door though, her path was blocked by the enormous body of Mr. Lambert.
"Just where do you think you're going, young lady?" he asked, towering above her small frame.
"Umm...the bathroom. I need to, like, regain my composure."
"Are you all right Ms. Gibson?" The slightest amount of concern appeared on his nasty pocked face.
"Do I look all right to you?" she screamed, forcefully pushing him out of her way.
Mr. Lambert stood speechless for a second, in shock. Seconds later, before he had a chance to say anything, the bell rang and we swarmed towards the door.
"Oh my god!" my friend Summer said as soon as we got into the hallway. "What a drama queen."
"Yeah, a touchy drama queen," I added, snickering. "She's the one who slept with Joey last weekend and she dares to call me a slut. I just thought the whole school should know that little Miss Perfect isn't so perfect anymore." I alluringly touched my hair as I saw my boyfriend John walking towards us.
"Hey Babe," he greeted me with a kiss and smile. "What's goin' on?"
"Well," I began eagerly, "Emily's reputation is officially crushed."
"Along with her self-esteem," asserted Summer.
Emily was John's ex-girlfriend who still wasn't over him; she was freakishly clingy, calling him all the time, saying she loved him and wanted him back. Personally, I just couldn't take it anymore. She needed to get her hands off my man. Today was the day of vengeance. I destroyed her.
"That's one less thing I have to worry about."
"You're welcome sweets," I responded as we parted to go to our next class. "See you Saturday Summer," I called over my shoulder.
Yesterday was Tuesday, my last day of high school...forever - hallelujah! Saturday is graduation. After that, I'll be home free. I plan on going to beauty school - not just because I'm amazing at doing hair, but because I don't want to go to a real college. See, I'm smart - 2200 on my SAT - but my grades aren't really anything remarkable. But the real reason is because my parents want me to go to Virginia Tech, some "prestigious" school a few states away. I, for one, don't care what my parents want, which is why I'll do anything and everything to go against them. What can I say? I'm a teenage rebel.
Anyway, yesterday afternoon, I decided to go shopping. I went to Target, desperately in need of some new shoes. What was supposed to be $20 ended up being $200, so I just charged it to the Visa.
By the time I got home, it was 6:00.
"Where have you been Angela?" My mom grilled me as soon as I walked in the door. "I've been worried sick."
"Out," I answered flippantly, looking through my pile of mail on the counter.
"Out," she repeated. "You expect me to be satisfied with that kind of answer??"
"Fine," I rolled my eyes. "Target."
"And you couldn't have bothered to call me on your expensive little cellphone that I pay for?" Her voice was rising and so was the tension. The perfect time to make my exit.
"Sorry," I replied without sincerity, as I grabbed some pizza off the stove and waltzed away to my room.
As soon as I left, I heard my dad walk in the kitchen.
"What in the world are we going to do with that girl?" Mom screamed at him.
"Honey, you need to calm down," he said soothingly. "She just finished high school today. Can't you give her a little break?"
"No," she responded angrily. "A girl with that attitude doesn't deserve a break. She...
Now inside my room, I closed the door behind me, tuning out their voices with loud AC/DC music. I flopped down on my bed and began chewing the pizza - I was starving.
After that I called John and we talked for hours. When I finally rolled over to look at the time the clock said 12:00. A few minutes later I had drifted off into the world of sleep. It's weird that I was asleep though, because I don't think I've ever had a dream that felt that real.
I was sitting on a gross green sofa, eagerly watching Jeopardy - a show I completely detest - and surrounded by at least twenty cats.
When I looked down at my skinny legs, I discovered two gigantic sausages instead! My stomach was rounder than a beach ball and my boobs were sagging down to my waist.
As I looked around, I found the room totally empty. Then I got up, searching for no one in particular - just someone. I decided to try calling out names: first Summer, then John. No answer either time..
Suddenly I noticed something. It was the news. Jeopardy had just ended - thank the Lord! - and there was a big headline. "Last night, Emily Gibson, former Miss North Carolina, has gone on to win Miss U.S.A," said the reporter.
They then showed Emily in full glory, a look of glee on her face as she was crowned. She was obviously still pretty, skinny, and annoyingly happy. Judging by her appearance, she had to be about thirty which made me the same age. So here I was, stuck in this nasty apartment - ugly, fat and miserable.
I wanted to throw something at the TV, but instead I just screamed.
"Aaaah!" I was letting out my anger and jealousy when suddenly...my eyes fluttered open.
I sat up in bed, sweat dripping from my face. I took a deep breath, trying to assure myself that everything was OK.
I couldn't help but shiver. Me ,fat. Me, alone, with no friends to love me. Worst of all, me, ugly. Without friends and a boyfriend, I was nothing. But without my beautiful, glamorous body, I was no one.
Thoroughly freaked, I attempted to go back to sleep. But it was difficult. I wasn't too sure what to make of this dream. Sure, it scared me. But was there really anything I could do make sure I never turned into an ugly cat lady? Nothing I could think of. So I just rolled over onto my nice, soft silky pillow and tried again to go to sleep.
I wasn't sure if I could turn the page. The dream had been scary enough; it should have been a big warning sign. But it wasn't. Back then I was dumb and didn't take advice. Until the day everything changed.