Monday, August 24, 2009

08. Stop and Look.

Now in her late twenties, Juliana knew that the crossroads she encountered when she graduated from high school wasn't unique to her, but a rite of passage everyone goes though as they test the waters on their own for the first time. She was finally able to remove the water wings circling her arms that kept her afloat in the past and she no longer heard the warning from the shore that the current was too strong or the water was too cold; she was going in on her own terms and she was not about to tentatively dip one toe in, no Juliana was going to jump in head first. At the age of 17, Juliana Ernst felt her self coming into being and regarded this experience as a privilege that was bestowed only upon a few and she felt lucky embracing such an honor knowing that she would exploit this time to it's fullest.

As Juliana got older, she liked to boast about the experimental time in her life, right before college, when she kissed girls and smoked joints and went to all night dance parties where she met strangers that she immediately felt close to. Juliana was able to shed her suburban shield and allowed herself to be carefree and open for the first and only time in her life; later when she picked herself from the momentary slip off the well worn path, her shield went right back up and she would continue to hold it there for the rest of her life never wanting to deviate from what was expected of her. Juliana would also later learn that her transgressions were a little more extreme then most people and she clung to this one reckless period in her life and retold stories about it a lot longer then she should have until one day when she was 32 and she still talked about that one time when she was at a rave that she realized she couldn't use her teen years as a badge anymore. Yet, Juliana held on to it because she had a vague sense that it was important, what she didn't recognize was it was the one time she forged her own path, however off beat it may have been. Perhaps with time, Juliana could have corrected it, but she would never find that out because before she knew it some outside force reached down, picked her up, and put her back where she was supposed to be.

Juliana confided in Trevor that she thought she was doing what every one did, that she was tired of being labeled as good, that she wanted to prove to everyone in her high school that she didn't fit into the straight A, student government, band geek mold that everyone assumed she belonged. Juliana saw her senior year as the time to break away, the time to start displaying some deviant behavior so people would start talking. She hung around the locker room when the football team finished practice and made sure everyone could see her kiss one of the players; because jock and nerd worlds never collide. She rolled down her window as she drove out of the parking lot and casually hung her hand out the window, her fingers embracing a circular blend of tobacco and addiction. She left campus during lunch and came back for the last period of the day with a different outfit so people would ask why she changed. But that wasn't enough for Juliana, because once she knew people were talking she wanted to fan the flame even more so she started taking more risks with herself and never said no to anything, yet as she continued down the black abyss, Juliana forget that she was trying to prove something to everyone because graduation day came and went and the only thing she was trying to do now was keep up with all the people around her so she would fit in as they put things up their noses, in their veins, and through their lungs. Juliana never once stopped to look at where she was until it was too late.


M.J. said...

Nice character development!

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