Outside the window cities turned to towns and then to trees, as I left my old life behind, and journeyed to my new life ahead. We drove for hours on end. Passing town after town, road after road. We drove until the sun was high above us; Until it was staring right at us; Until it was out of sight. The slight muffled sound of music from the car radio was the only sound in the car that night. We were piled in, like the luggage in the back. A small foot kicked me in the side but I was numb to the pain. Too busy staring out the window, too busy thinking. The highway was empty, dark, and ominous. We moved slightly and unseen through the night, like death.
The road beneath our tires changed from pristinely maintained young roads to old and cracked pathways that lead to one way or another. Wifi was nowhere to be found, the GPS completely lost track of our location as apparently we were in the middle of the lake a few miles back. My dad drove without rest that night. His eyes were red and watering. Though it was dark I could tell due to the occasional flash of his Iphones GPS notifications on his dashboard. His large figure hunched over the steering wheel as if it was a cane for an old man. Besides him, I was barely awake. Too busy thinking to sleep.
It was the beginning of February 2014; my subtle breath visibly fogged the window at a constant rate. I was a little over halfway through my first year in high school when we packed up and left my old town of Robbinsville, New Jersey. Now we were in Connecticut, in a strange town called Redding. It was drastically different from where I lived before. We migrated from Suburbia hell to an almost-but-not-really-rural town.
I was never a fan of moving. The stress of packing, the trouble of cleaning, the depression of leaving and the terror of starting anew. I lived in New Jersey my whole life up to that point. I knew my place in school and in the town. I had a set routine of what to do, where to go, what time, and how to get there. Yet here I was, sitting in a fully packed car, pushed against the passenger’s side of the car sitting directly behind my mom, who was passed out from several sleeping pills. My head rhythmically tapped against the window as we rolled across the cracked road beneath us. The potholes were the worst, unexpected and when we hit them, it hurt like hell, I was afraid I would bust my head through the window.
I was afraid this move meant the loss of everything that I knew and loved. I believed that I would be all alone. That when school started I would be left out. I was never as outgoing as I was with all my friends in New Jersey, I had gone through so much with them. They knew me and how I acted. These people didn’t know anything about me. I thought maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe they’ll treat me like a king, I can hear the roars now “Fred! Fred! Fred! Fred!” Or maybe… maybe they’ll treat me like trash. I’ve been bullied before so I know how to deal with the experience, but I did not want to face that again.
Though the car drove silently through the night, my mind was roaring, high on the NO2 of thought.
February 2016: new year; new life. Walking through the now familiar school wearing a humongous grin. My chest hurt from laughing.
“Oh my god Fred! That’s- that’s- get out!! God, I’m dying. Hahaha”
“Hehe! I’m funny, Olivia, and you know it!”
And for several minutes we laughed together. As we relaxed, her head resting gently on my shoulder, our hands interlocked, my big fingers consuming her smaller ones, I sighed in relief. This was life now for me. At first it was everything I had imagined it would be. Bullies? Plenty of them.I faced it all teasing, discrimination, you name it. During the first year of my time here at JBHS I spent my nights alone, on my bed curled up in a ball, regressing to the mindset of a child afraid of the dark. My eyes leaked yet no sound would be made.
Yet as time strolled along, life became to be more and more bearable. Now it took time. Sitting on this old brown velvet chair, with my best friend who was also girlfriend laying on my shoulder sleeping gently, I realize how wrong I was. This was one of those wondrous moments that I never thought possible, a moment of peace and utter happiness. Yes there were times of pain and hardship. I had been bullied, but as time flew by I learned to deal with this pain. In the end the bullies drove off into their futures no matter what it was, and I stayed and bonded and took their place as the upperclassmen of the school.
“Fred! Olivia!” my friends called, “C’mon! We’re done with our lab. Lets’ go to the Ridge.”
As we got in my car I realized how I have to do things in life, I pressed my hands on the wheel and watched the world move by as I drove away from Barlow. I realized I had to take control of my life in order to make change happen. That in order to change, I just have to put the pedal to the metal and drive.