Monday, December 1, 2008


When I was eleven years old I went to Robert A. Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks because I had nothing else to do during the Summer. We couldn’t possibly afford anything fancy like a summer camp and I didn’t really have any friends, so my mom decided to send me to Summer school. She didn’t care about the classes I took, she only wanted for me to have something to do for three months. They had open enrollment back then, so it didn’t matter that I was a poor kid from Van Nuys. I would just have to take the bus every morning and take it back down a three-mile stretch of street.

I had an entire Summer and a slew of choices. I settled on taking "Introduction to Design Concepts" and "Environmental Art" (apparently, they meant murals). There was one other girl who had the same classes and took the same bus home. Her name was Elisa. She was thirteen and therefore an older girl. She had a pretty face, thin and with a birthmark painted on the left side of her face, like the milk you just poured into your café. Her hair was long and wavy, the color of canela. She had fairy-like hands and moved with a swift gentleness that betrayed her personality and her strawberry-scented conditioner.

She had been born in East LA. Her mother was from Guatemala. She had grown up like every child of an immigrant; at the crossroads of two cultures. Constant conflicts with her grandmother had made her strong, though not without a hint of sadness. She had slender shoulders and they were strong and determined. She was always confident, even when she didn’t really believe that she was. She was rebellious and constantly dressed in red, black, and white (this was before The White Stripes). Her studded belt matched her leather boots and her chains jingled with her stride.

When I met Elisa, I considered myself to be what every other 11 year-old girl didshould be; normal. I listened to pop music and I wanted to be popular. Elisa, on the other hand, listened to punk rock, alternative rock, and metal. I started looking for all the rock music that I could find, hoping that I would at least like some of it, and that I could bring back something to talk to her about. Mamá was startled with my sudden changes in music tastes. I told her that I was finally being an individual, breaking free from the pack, and listening to what I wanted to instead of what I was told to (words still too big for me to comprehend just yet).

After meeting Elisa, I no longer wanted to be another sheep, another cog in the capitalist society that we had been bred into (I had yet to learn what capitalist meant). I wanted to dress like her, be like her, and just have more things in common with her. Even if I had never decided to try and please her with all my sudden changes in likes and dislikes. She was a catalyst in my life for uncovering a new emotion in me; jealousy.

I will always remember the last time that I saw her…

It was the last day of Summer school and she was going to high school in the Fall. I turned around as the doors were closing, to wave goodbye to her one last time, to try and memorize her face before she left me forever. But she didn’t notice. I watched her profile smile and her delicate wrists slide a piece of her hair behind her ear. She was talking to one of the boys who always rode the bus. To be fair, he was actually very cute, but she still wasn’t looking at me. Me, who she would never see again. As she laughed, her eyes sparkled. She didn’t love me.

I was just the little girl that followed her around. We took the same bus and the same classes, and being her shadow was the most I could really hope for. Even if I was too young to become a good friend, I tried to learn as much as I could from and about her. She radiated with the rebellion that all eleven year-old girls are drawn to. One could even say that she set me on the right track for feminism, equal rights, and critical analysis of established systems. She taught me a lot about myself, and even though I will probably never see her again, I will always remember my first girl-crush. ¶

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