Part One: I am fifteen-ish, fully clothed and sitting in a low rent hotel room’s bathtub. Only the light that accompanies the overhead fan is on and I am bathed in the sickly yellow light. My parents are asleep in one double bed in the room outside the bathroom door and my sister is in the other. My little brother occupies one side of the floor and I have stealthily crawled away from my makeshift bed on the other side. I have a piece of paper but have forgotten, perhaps purposely, to grab a pen so I am using the only writing utensil I’ve found in the bathroom – a tube of lipstick from my mom’s toiletry bag. I ponder what to say and stare down at my big toe that has managed to poke a hole through my sock. I need words that will adequately convey my angst, my depression, my loneliness – emotions that I am feeling deeper, stronger and with more conviction than any human who has ever lived, ever will. I begin to scrawl. Words fail me.
Part Two: I stand outside in front of a replica of the Eiffel Tower. It is dusk. It is raining. Cheap faux french music is playing on some unseen loudspeaker. I do not have an umbrella. It is perfect set-up for a Teenage Classique moment. I do not miss the opportunity. I feel as alone as I’ve ever felt in my life. I stand in the rain and watch through gift shop windows as children haggle with their parents over mouse ears and giant monogrammed pencils. I wish my life was different. I wish someone understood.
Part Three: It is a gray day. We put on our sweaters and get ready to see The Ocean. We bring swimsuits and towels and sunscreen, optimistically. We pack the bright yellow ponchos with the smiling mouse on the backs just in case. We’ve never seen The Ocean before and have heard it is incredible; something you really should take in. People have spent a lot of money for us to see The Ocean. Plus we’ve come a long way. We arrive and I am amazed at how far it goes. At first I don’t even realize I’m seeing it because it stretches out forever, larger than my brain has ever processed. I realize that very few other people are at The Ocean that day. It is 50 degrees and the water rages. But we only have one day and we must make memories! We edge as close to the cold spray as we can stand, pick up a few shells, feel the sand between our toes. I draw hearts in the sand that get carried out to sea. Our parents are disappointed and wanted more from this experience; probably from this whole trip. They clench their jaws and encourage us to play, PLAY, get-in-the-water, SMILE! We try, but everything unravels quickly. A few pictures are taken in the hope that once the film is developed, our actual memory will be erased and replaced by these fake versions of ourselves, frolicking unnaturally against a cloudy angry backdrop.