Part I: True Love
����������� Everyone always said I was too sheltered, that I'd become a rebel and be "dancing on tables" when I got to college.� Well, here I am now at Harvard - my dream school! - I'm not a rebel, and I'm perfectly content.� Those were the thoughts running through my head one March, the spring of my freshman year in college.
����������� That day I remember being bombarded by memories of high school; it was like a home video playing in my head.� I pictured myself getting up at the crack of dawn to get on the bus, going to school and having lunch with friends, and studying frequently.� The problem was, I always thought I was content.� I wanted to believe my life was great.� But like every other teenager girl, there was a wistful side of me that wanted change.
����������� Sure, people were right, I was sheltered.� Somehow I made it through America's wonderful public school system without becoming entirely corrupted.� Somehow I managed to avoid all those pot-smoking, beer-drinking, negative influences.
����������� I guess I was a good child when I was younger; my parents nagged me all the time to "Stay motivated Honey! That's the best way to�get through school and get a good job."� I guess that nagging must've gotten through to me because I always got decent grades.� And by decent, I mean I never made a B in my whole life. Somehow though, I still had a social life.� I never was "popular" but I had a few close friends that I always knew would be there for me.
����������� As well as my friends and family thought they knew me though, they never really did.� No one did.� I was always shy, yet confident and put together on the outside, while on the inside, I was a total wreck.� I longed to be noticed, to be complimented more often, to be in the thick of the popular crowd.� Yet part of me knew that becoming popular would never give me true happiness - I mean, after all, most of the high school preps and jocks were just a bunch of friends who backstabbed each other all the time. They supposedly had a lot of influence and were liked by everyone, but the truth was, everyone hated their guts.� Looking back, I'm confident that I never want to be a person like that - I don't like materialistic girls anymore than I like chopping wood.� I just couldn't see that when I was younger.� Popularity was always appealing, no matter what the reality was.
����������� Anyway, high school was pretty much a breeze for me...at least the academic part was.� Even though I was never completely satisfied with myself as a teen, I had a lot more important things to think about the year I turned 18: college.� I applied to several schools - Harvard, Yale and Princeton among them.� I knew that my grades and SAT scores could get me in almost anywhere; they did, and I chose Harvard.� When I was six, I asked my dad what the best college was in the country: his response was Harvard.� From then on, my mind was made up to go there.� With one huge dream accomplished, I had a few more desires to figure out along the way.
����������� So there I was one day in March.� I was back from my little rendez-vous with past and sitting comfortably in the present.� It was about five o'clock on a cold, rainy day and I had just gotten back from Sociology, my last class of the day.
����������� I was sitting on the sofa in the common room six of us shared, contemplating whether or not to pick up the book sitting right next to me, Sense and Sensibility.� As much as I love reading, that day I felt too worn out to read.� I'd just sat through a stupendously long and boring lecture about the inner workings of the human brain.
����������� Being an English major, I'd signed up for Sociology simply because I thought it looked interesting, and I thought it might be fun - what a crazy idea - but when I met my ancient and extremely dull professor, that class became the drag of the semester.� What I really cared about back then was writing.� When I was thirteen, I found out that writing was what I wanted to do in life.� It's become my outlet to the world.� My middle school English teacher Ms. Kimble was the one who showed me that reading and writing don't have to be boring.� She was really the one who influenced my college major the most.
����������� As I gazed at the book's cover my thoughts began to drift to Ms. Kimble.� I wondered how she was doing, if she was still-
����������� Suddenly my thoughts were abruptly disturbed when Kim, my roommate, breezed in through the door and proceeded to plop down next to me on the sofa.
����������� Kim and I had best been friends since high school, where they went to the same little private school.� It's funny, I'm not even sure how we became such good friends.� Our personalities were almost polar opposites.� I guess the saying that opposites attract can sometimes be true in real life.
����������� In the four years we'd been friends I'd always been the shy, modest and studious one, while Kim was more of a wild partier.� Kim was always pretty smart though - she managed to get good grades without a ton of effort; she was constantly juggling school, cheerleading, and a social life, her goal being to become homecoming queen someday.� For me, I had to work a little harder for my good grades and I had my sights set on becoming valedictorian.� Homecoming queen would have been nice, but I knew I could never win. Kim was really the type who could win, but I guess luck wasn't on her side, because senior year, after waiting for four years to get that crown, Carole Anne Mason won the title by two votes.�
����������� I did end up becoming valedictorian and it seemed like I got all I really wanted, but that wasn't what it felt like.� Even Kim, my best friend, never knew how unsatisfied I really was with my life.
����������� "Sense and Sensibility?" Kim was saying, a look of disgust on her face.� "Why would you want to read that?" asked marketing major, the queen of doing anything but reading or writing.
����������� "We have to read the first half and write an essay analyzing Austen's craft," I replied.
����������� "Oh....how fun," said Kim, rolling her eyes.� "So, anyways, I've got tons to tell you," she began excitedly.� "I'm so mad!� Chad, you know the guy I've been dating for a couple weeks, came up to me today and dumped me!� He actually had the nerve to tell me he's 'lost interest' in me.� I mean, what kind of person does that anyway?!"
����������� "Clearly, someone shallow and short-sighted," I said, looking sympathetically into�my friend's�blue eyes.� "I don't think he was much good for you anyway; whenever I saw you guys together it seemed like all you ever did was make out.� Relationships without real substance never last long anyway.� It's probably good you're through with him now instead of later."� Maybe that was the reason why Kim could always find a boyfriend and I couldn't: I was always looking for the deep connection...I was determined to find it somewhere.
����������� "Yea Elle, you're right, like always," Kim responded, with a slight hint of jealousy in her tone. "Chad was too much of a jerk for me," she continued.� "He probably dumped me just to make out with some new girl. Ugh."
����������� "Kim, I think all you need to do is go take a nice long hot bath, watch a funny movie and eat as much Cherry Garcia as you want.� I just bought some from the corner store yesterday.� That should get your mind off of this good-for-nothing Chad."� While I was making a genuine attempt to comfort Kim, I really did want to just get this assignment overwith without anymore distractions. �Our four suitemates still weren't back yet, but I would just have to deal with each distraction as it came.
����������� "You know Elle, that's a great idea," said Kim as she got up from the sofa and went to go get started with the hot bath.� So while I did my work, Kim took my advice and tried to comfort herself with ice cream and movies.
����������� The rest of the night was pretty boring; luckily, Ashley, Jen, Danielle and Jessica - more partiers like Kim-hadn't gotten back until 9:30, right when I had finished the paper, I was just getting ready to pop some popcorn, get my pajamas on and hop into the bed I shared with Kim who had just finished "Bring it On."� That was of course one of her favorite movies from high school, and since I wasn't tired yet she suggested we watch "Someone Like You," one of my favorite chick flicks.
����������� It was almost midnight by the time the movie was over, and just as I was about to turn out the light, the phone rang. "I'll get it," I volunteered, getting up and picking up the phone on my desk.
����������� Who on earth is calling me this late at night? I wondered.� The second I heard the voice, I recognized it as that of my loving father. �"Hey Elle, it's Dad.� I'm at the hospital now and I need you to get here as soon as you can."�
����������� "What's wrong Dad?� It's almost midnight; I was just about to go to sleep.� Is everything OK there?� Are you all right?� Why are you at the hospital?" I think he could tell I was stressed as I asked him question after question.
����������� "Well actually honey, it's Mom. Now don't freak out, the doctors are positive she'll be fine, but I just really think you should be here."
�����������"What happened?"� I felt as if I had just been run over by a truck.