By Natalie, age 18, Ohio
Editor's Note: The first two chapters of Natalie's book appeared in last month's issue of SDM. (Avere Fede: Part 1) Her story will continue in next month's issue.
I have a little brother. His name is Zachery. I guess you expect me to go on and on about how he's a horrible child, and how I hate him. I won't. My little brother is actually my inspiration some days. When he was born, he looked nothing like my parents. He was a blue eyed blonde haired little boy who had no similarities to his older sister, who by this time had started to get a little jealous that she now had to share the spotlight with a little bratty child who cried and whined way too much. He was more goal oriented than I was, and I thank God for that every day, because I'm pretty sure if he had followed the same path I did, he'd be a lot deeper in the hole than I'm in.
He was always a good student, always telling mom and dad that he loved them, always in someone's "top spot". I remember when I was like that. I actually laugh. No one remembers that when you hit high school you were either A, a hot/cute/slutty girl (or boy) who made a name for her or himself with some sort of activity in middle school, and carried that with her into freshman year, or else B, someone who had to fend for herself the first day of freshman year. I was Type B, but no one knew that. I was automatically accepted into the group of Type A girls because I had "connections". Actually, I just smiled pretty and people inquired who I was and why I smiled. I caught the eye of the strong safety my freshman year and the quarterback my sophomore year. They held me dear until the day they graduated. I got my name on day one of freshman year and held it dear till the last day of senior year.
My brother will be a freshman next year, and as much as that terrifies me, he will walk in as Type A. Not because he is trashy, or anything like that, but because my brother is an attractive young man and he has excelled in many things, and to this day he still amazes me. And anyone who tries to step to my little brother? Let him be warned, he's got a temper just like his big sister, and a right hook to match. He will put you in your place, and he will make sure you know where you stand. I'm sure my parents would be glad to know that this is what people will remember most about us after our years have passed, that we let no one and nothing stand in our way. We fought like hell, and continued to fight like hell till the day we died. He's four years and fifty one weeks to the day younger than me. His name is Zachery. Don't you dare forget it.
Who knew that a child born with no physical attributes in common with you could make you feel so alive? Whether he excels in baseball or academics or anything else that he decides to do with his life, he will always have me. I will support him every step of the way, and make sure that he's okay.
My little brother is my hero.
I'm a big Sex in the City fan. Besides the whole "sex scene" I believe that the show teaches you a lot about friendship and things of that nature. I was completely uprooted when I was in middle school. I had everything planned out and I was happy where I was. Then my dad decided that he had found better opportunities elsewhere and we were leaving. I was the new girl in school, and I hated it. I adjusted well, made friends the best way I could, and slowly got over the fact that I wasn't in my hometown anymore. Little did I know that the middle school I went to would split into two different high schools. I had made friends with everyone who was bound for the other high school.
Walking into my first day of high school was once again that Type A, Type B situation. I smiled pretty and made sure I looked like I wasn't nervous, even though I was crawling in my skin. I was taken under the wing of the strong safety, who began to call me his "baby girl", and I laugh to this day when I think about it, because he was so much fun to be around, and I don't think I would have had anyone else take me. He knew I was a Type B, but he treated me like I was a Type A.
I had a harsh freshman year. The rumors started about how I'd slept my way to the top, which is completely untrue. But the rumors flew, and I took them with a grain of salt and a lime. I started drinking as a freshman, and as a freshman I was reassured by my senior friends that I could handle myself fairly well. When the class of '04 graduated, they told me that I was going to be okay without them.
Those seniors helped me through my first real heartbreak (which I will explain shortly). The class after them was a heck of a good time. The class after them were my real best friends. And then, sure enough, I was the big bad senior, and I had my own adopted freshman as well. I'd learn very quickly at this point that none of my new friends could be trusted and that I would never be the girl I was when I walked into that high school, nor would I leave with the same untarnished name I had when I walked in. But I would be a stronger, more defined person, and people would know who I was and what I stood for. And I'd make it very clear to anyone who had stepped to me, screwed me over, stabbed me in the back, or talked about me behind my back that karma would get hers, and they could keep on doing what they were doing. What they had to say would not make me or break me, and even after high school this stands true. My true friends know who they are, and my "so-called" friends, well, they don't matter too much anymore. I believe in forgiveness, but slowly but surely I'm learning that not all is forgiven. Stab me once, shame on you. Stab me twice, shame on me. I guess this is the way I see things. Knock me down once, I will make sure you know I refuse to be knocked down again.
With these "so-called" friends who needs enemies?
I might as well tell you about that heartbreak now. I'm relationship illiterate, I'll point that out right now. I have issues letting people get close to me because, honestly, anyone who has ever told me that they'd be there has left. I guess it's a fear now. I'm afraid of letting someone get too close and then them leaving. I have Tyler to thank for that. It's a Natalie complex.
I'd had the worst day at volleyball. I was sore and whiney, and I just wanted to be at home and in my bed, but no, the girls insisted on going out. They dragged me to a movie, and the September chill had just settled in. In volleyball hoodie, ripped jeans and black mittens, I wasn't warm, but I wasn't cold either. We bought our tickets and went in to our movie. Let's just say it got lame and we split. We went to wander the parking lot, like everyone did. As we walked out the doors, we ran into a few of the girls we were friends with. And there he was. I remember Sari pulling me aside and introducing me.
"Natalie, this is Tyler. Tyler, this is Natalie." When we made eye contact my heart was gone. It got colder at that moment, and we both felt it. I offered a glove, he shared his jacket. At the end of the night I ran into the darkness with no gloves, and thinking to myself that I would never see him ever again. But he tracked me down. He found my cell phone number and he texted me.
I remember the day he did. I couldn't stop smiling. He insisted that he needed to see me again. I wouldn't see him until months later, in fact, but that didn't mean he stopped trying to talk to me. He'd IM me constantly and call all the time. It was to the point where our moms would yell at us to get off the phone. He swore what we had was perfect, that he loved me, and all he wanted was to be with me. Some things are too good to be true.
Let's just say what we had was far from perfect. He wanted me, and I wanted him, but I couldn't have him, not because he wasn't there, but because I was the type of person to put everyone else before myself. And I saw friendship as a more valuable resource than a boyfriend. He moved on pretty quickly. We went on winter break, and when we came back, I was ready to make a commitment, and he had a new thing. She just happened to be my best friend, and that's how it's been ever since. It's always been a girl I've been friends with - the new girlfriend, the new fling - and when things fall apart I'm always the girl left standing there. Tyler thoroughly makes the statement very true for me: "Who needs enemies with friends like this?" If a friend is willing to stab you in the back like that, then they aren't really a friend, right? Then again, Tyler is the perfect explanation of the double standard. He doesn't want me, but he doesn't want anyone else to have me.
They told me that I was the type of girl who never loved anyone, strictly because I had a policy: Don't let anyone get close enough to hurt you. Tyler, he loves everyone. Who thought he could ever be serious about a relationship? And to this day, he still isn't serious about a relationship. He's the type of guy who's going to be thirty and alone, still coming home to an empty apartment every night or waking up in a different girl's bed each morning. He'll be so readable ... He is so readable. Every girl will see right through his pretty green eyes and straight to those commitment issues. All of his friends are going to be married and happy, and he's still going to be that guy who's stag at the wedding, stag at the cookout. All of his friends will tell him that he just needs to settle down, but he won't. He'll say that he's alright with just having fun without the commitment, but deep down he's terrified. He's scared that he's going to find someone who makes him feel something he hasn't felt before, and he'll know right then that he has something to lose, and he won't lose it. He's never lost anything before; losing isn't his style. His luck, it will be one of those girls he's already broken and walked away from, and he's going to love them and they aren't going to have the heart to love him back. It will be his loss then. I can't wait.
I realize all this must make me sound awful, but how many times can you get burned by the same mistake? Then again, how many times is it going to take for me to learn?
One of these days, you're going to love me, and I won't love you anymore.