July, Age 16
The glossy water sways like liquid silk across an iridescent horizon. It’s only 9 a.m. and a temperate breeze flows off the Long Island Sound. Watercolors paint the sky in robin egg blue and white wisps of vapor clouds. It’s the summer before my junior year of high school, and my pulse is rushing from a morning jog. I wipe away the sweat from my brow, already dreading tomorrow’s run. I’ve always been a terrible runner. If it wasn’t for the impending volleyball season, I wouldn’t bother. Honestly, I feel a tinge of bitterness towards Mother Nature for skipping over me when handing out the running gene. My annoyance is fleeting, though. I’m consoled by the brisk water as I plunge into the sound and float in the gentle waves. I stand up and make my way to the sandbar, dragging my fingertips across the glassy surface. After a moment of tranquility, my thoughts are sent askew by another turbulent current. For the first time in my young life, I’ve been experiencing serious anxiety.
Home is the best place to be miserable. It’s where you feel most comfortable being vulnerable and honest. So, even though I’m exhausted, and my face is presumably the color of an overripe tomato, I’m strangely comfortable in my discomfort. Sneakers in hand, I walk back to our cottage, my calloused summer feet withstanding the jagged gravel road. With a messy bun on top of my head, I’m slightly concerned that an osprey might confuse my hair for a hospitable nest. The saltwater has been absorbed into my skin by the sticky, humid air. At home, I look in the closet and pick clothes from my relaxed summer attire. Gone are the frills of fall to spring fashion, replaced by oversized t-shirts, shorts, and flowy sundresses. I look in the mirror and recognize myself for the first time in months. My hair is up, there is no trace of makeup on my face and my skin is finally tan after months of looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost.