I just got back from my Senior Prom and couldn't fall asleep. I had to unload the feelings that were weighing me down like I was carrying a brick inside my chest. I had to clear my head. And writing always helps. Prom, as expected, was uneventful. Everything pretty much is uneventful in my life because I never get to have a say in what I want, be it my choice of career, or the kind of friends I should hang out with.
I'm just an ordinary girl with ordinary dreams. I sometimes dream of a parallel universe where I'm rich, and can have everything I want. Where I'm happy, because my parents don't fight. Where I'm carefree because all that occupies my head is studies. Studies and fun with good friends. When I get too lonely, I conjure up these parallel universes, where everything is fair and just, simple and perfect. But then I get dragged back to reality when I'm faced with the simple challenges of life, like asking my parents for a Prom dress.
After much debate, scrutiny and tears, it was settled that I wasn't allowed to have a date for Prom. I had my lessons and a professional career to concentrate on, so I was not allowed to get tangled in the mess called "dating". A sum of money was agreed upon for my dress and accessories. I knew exactly what I would have to settle for with that money, so it wasn't too depressing when my mother and sister accompanied me to the little shop that sold second-hand prom dresses. I found one for the price that my family could afford and tried not to feel too bad about it. A dress is a dress. You wear it once and that's it. I sometimes feel guilty wishing for more money to buy all the things that I want. But the guilt somehow always vanishes when I think. I don't know why we're poor. I don't know why Papa tells us every single month that we need to be careful with our expenditure. Because I don't know how much he makes or saves every month. I just know that every single expenditure pisses him off, but whenever there's an emergency, money magically appears out of nowhere. Whenever something unexpected comes up, at first I think that we are doomed, and then out of nowhere, I see my father throwing money at the issue and handling it in a jiffy. I can't help but wonder if we're living the way we are, simply because he's stingy.
But since I had been thinking these exact same thoughts from the time I was quite young, growing up made things even more complicated. I would look at the richer kids in school and feel jealous of the privileges they were born with. We were different simply by the randomness of our births. No matter how hard I tried, it became more and more difficult not to envy the things that the other girls had. Be it a new bag, or cool pj's at a slumber party, or even a new pen. I don't even like to brand what I felt as jealousy. It's something that only I can understand. And it makes me so miserable that I can't fall asleep at night.
A few weeks ago, all the girls were very excited about their dresses. Some were going shopping together, planning to get ready together and even booking salon appointments together. I tried not to indulge because I knew it would only make me feel miserable for not being able to go to a salon to get my hair and nails done. But there's this particular girl, Lindy, who always gets on my nerves. She's my only competition at school and she's immature, always talking about her boyfriend of two years. She thinks that she's one of the popular girls in school although she's chubby and just has a pretty face to her credit. And she manages to get on my nerves all the time.
But there are times when I secretly want to be best friends with her. When I want to swap my life with hers, to feel normal like her. And it's in times like these that she'd come to me, flaunting her new watch or talking about her boyfriend, and ruining whatever made me feel like wanting to be friends with her in the first place. Which is probably the reason why I liked to remind her every now and then that she was chubby. I enjoyed giving girls like her a little reality check, every once in a while.
It was around this time when girls were giggling and whispering in corridors that a little birdie told me that Lindy's dress cost $500. Lindy hadn't told me personally but I knew that she must have gone around with her big mouth and boasted to some person, somewhere, and that's how this news spread like wildfire and even I, who was refraining from these conversations, got to hear about it. That piece of information just rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn't help myself whenever I saw Lindy, ever since. I confess that I called her fat a few times since I heard about her dress, and one day, when all the girls were gathered around, I even went to the extent of saying, "Just wait and watch. Everyone is going to say that although Lindy's dress cost 10 times as much as Rebecca's, Rebecca still looks 100 times better than Lindy.". Lindy was also there and I truly wanted her to feel bad about her expensive dress. A few days after that happened, I asked her what color her dress was. When she said it was black, another passer-by exclaimed that her dress was black too. I immediately balled my palm into a fist and yelled out, "YES!", three times. I must have looked crazy. I feel so ashamed now. Prom may have been uneventful. But it surely filled me with more regret than ever.
Today, Lindy came in her black dress with her boyfriend of two years and her salon styled hair and nails, her face and skin glowing, and she looking perfect altogether. And I showed up in my second-hand dress, with my hair messed up by some women in the neighborhood, with make-up that made me look way older than I was, and with a secret date who wasn't allowed to pick me up at home. Today I realized that nothing I say to anyone, will change anything. Nothing can ever, so much as even scratch the people who are blessed to have it all. If apologizing to Lindy would help me take back everything I said in my moments of weakness, I would have done it. But I have to live with this feeling for as long as I'm still dependent on this household. I just need to concentrate on becoming independent and leading a life of my own. Then, I too, will have it all. It just has to be the hard way around for me.
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