by Sana Mamtaney
My very first pair of glasses, a week after I got them. Maybe ten pairs of sunglasses along with the glasses – cheap aviators, sparkly ones filled with magic and girliness worn as a toddler that wouldn’t fit on my head any longer, and some round black ones.
A love for instrumental music when I quit playing the clarinet in the seventh grade because I never felt like practicing. Earbuds so dirty and worn out that I forgot them in a hotel room because listening to music at that point was all I wanted to do.
My Wii remote after I rummaged for it in the movie cabinet and after an hour of searching, realized that my cousin took it home with him.
My cousin, when my father got the call that he needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible because there’d been an accident. I couldn’t comprehend what had happened, and neither could my aunt who drowned herself in work for years afterwards.
My first boyfriend, a boy named Noah with brown hair the color of milk chocolate in preschool when the teacher pronounced my name as “Santa” and he laughed, so I gave him a death stare. The chance to have the perfect first kiss – the kind every twelve-year-old girl dreams about, the kind you see in movies about the geeky high school student who somehow manages to fall in love with the quarterback of the football team – when one of my friends decided to peck me on the lips, and I felt nothing. No sparks, no sudden realization of how crazy about him I was, no butterflies, no excitement like in chick flicks that I’d gotten my first kiss before the rest of my friends. Nothing.
My sense of security when my parents told me the reason my mom had been acting so passive aggressively was because she found out a week ago that her mammogram revealed a lump. I thought I would never have to know what it felt like to always be on edge, wondering if the next doctor’s appointment would end in our favor or in cancer’s, if I would have to hold her hand while she winced from the pain of chemotherapy, if I would have to sit my friends down to tell them my mother had cancer.
My fearlessness when the sound of popping bottles rang out like gunshots at a music festival and sent me running like it was my last minute on this earth. My ignorance for the way I treated my mother, when in the few minutes I thought I might collapse on the streets of New York with a bullet in my chest, I just wanted to hear her voice. To tell her that I was sorry, that I loved her.
My hopelessness for myself when I realized that I didn’t want to die. Lying awake at night with thoughts searching for a home began to seem not so bad once I realized that I may not get to live to see things “get better.”
My faith in humanity, when I realized that rape culture, in fact, existed, and so many people refused to acknowledge it because “she was asking for it” or “her dress was too short” or “she was totally wasted.”
My doubt in humanity when we came together to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage, the black lives matter movement, and the concept of feminism.
My love for myself, when I would lay in my bed night after night, crying hysterically into my pillow to muffle the noise because I couldn’t understand why presenting in front of a class or going to parties made me so anxious, and why my body took up so much room. My dislike for myself, when I was told “I wish I was like you,” and I began to understand that everybody’s idea of self-love is different, that the girls in magazines and on Instagram aren’t who I am and I am not who they are.
Last summer, I lost a pair of Marc Jacobs sunglasses that my mother allowed me to borrow, which became buried in the sand at the beach, or swallowed by the waves, or chewed up by a seagull. They weren’t aviators though, or sparkly toddler ones that held unicorns inside them. I lost her sunglasses but gained the magnetic feeling of controlling the sand molding in between my toes and the cold salty water washing over my wrinkled feet. That day was a symbol of my gaining control over my emotions and the freedom from self-judgment that comes so often with not having a magazine-standard “bikini body.”