The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

24

How much can change in one day? I mean *really*? Can you seriously wake up one day as a relatively happy high school student, whose biggest concern is going to see her crush play his guitar at a rock show that night, and end the next day so much older that you half expect lines to appear on your face? It all falls down.

Friday was my last day of high school. I went to first block and made copies for Mrs. Satzinger. I went to Choir and signed yearbooks, listened to "The Choir Song" as performed by an exceedingly cute trio of teenaged singers/musicians. During third block my class went to eat at Hinode, and I enjoyed some fellowship with my senior peers over sushi and hibachi. Fourth block I sat around as usual.

And then it was done. My last day. No Rydell High singing "we go together.."; no papers flying all over the place, no screams or shouts, not even any horn honking. Just casually walking to the car, backing out of the space, and leaving.

Later I came back to go to the book fair in the gym with Hannah and buy $20 worth of discount books. We went back to my house and ordered pizza, watched a bit of Legally Blonde, and then headed out to Billiards for the show.

It was an awesome show. A lot of people from school were there, so it was almost like a small senior class party, and everyone was getting along really well and being friendly. Sure, a few of them were trashed, but they were trashed in a lovable way. The band was good, there was a good pit, a good atmosphere. I talked to a few people whom I've wanted to get to know all year. It really made me wish that we'd done this sooner, so that we could all get together and have a good time like this throughout our last year together. But alas, it was a last stand. I decided that the next day I needed to learn Portuguese.

Through a somewhat crazy chain of events, I ended up in the possession of one of the band member's guitar, amp, pedals, cords, etc. They were stored at my house for him to pick up the next day, and he would have to call me to find out where they were.

The next morning I went to work. I sat in a shack for about 7 hours collecting money. During that time I decided to sit outside for a little while and "get a bit of a tan". Around 1:00 I started getting a sunburn, but didn't realize it. I also didn't realize that it was around this time that my grandfather was being crushed underneath a tractor wheel 80 miles away.

When a co-worker told me I could go, I started walking towards the office, until he called me back. My dad had pulled up in his white suburban and was walking toward me with a severe look on his face. Before he opened his mouth I knew he was going to tell me someone was dead. I'd been expecting it for weeks now, sitting on pins and needles to find out who it would be. I didn't, however, expect it to be my Grandpa Don. I thought it would be one of his parents, since they were older and their health wasn't as good. He said, "Grandpa Don was run over by a tractor and killed." I asked him to repeat himself. When he did, I just sort of nodded and said okay, then started walking to my car, parked around back. My dad offered me a ride, but I walked all the way around, stonefaced, and got in my car, like usual. I pulled out and headed for home. The whole way home I kept repeating a select few phrases to myself, including "He's not dead yet," meaning that I didn't have to cry yet, because he was still alive. He wouldn't really be dead until I got to my grandma's house and he wasn't there and everyone was crying. Also, "that's a stupid way to die".

I didn't shed a tear until four hours later, when I could be alone in his garden. I wanted to be strong for my mom and grandma, and give them my support. The hardest part was when my cousin Drew finally arrived. He had been on Reserve Duty in another part of the state, and was driven back by his sergeant. When he came, in his camo and combat boots, he collapsed on his fiancee, mother and father. I think his whole life for the past four years has been driven towards making Grandpa proud. That's one of the main reasons he joined the army.

Before I got to my grandma's house, I conducted my business affairs in a steady, polite tone. I told my voice teacher that I wouldn't be able to make it to the recital tomorrow. I called the guitar player's house and informed his mother that he wouldn't be able to pick up his things after all. When I told them my grandfather had been killed, I said it like it was the simplest of things. "Oh, the plane got stuck in Chicago, so I'm afraid your package won't arrive until next week."

He finally did come by for his things that night, after we got home. My mother was leaving again to stay at Grandma's for the night, and he came in, offering condolences. All I could think about or talk about was how terrible I felt that he had to come to our house at this time, because it must be so terribly awkward for him. I still feel that way, like a black hole of sad that dampens everyone's day and makes everyone feel awkward. I haven't told hardly anyone at school, even though I saw them all at graduation practice today. I don't want anyone fussing over me or feeling like they have to be careful around me, as though I'm a crying bomb that could go off at any moment. Maybe other people appreciate other people being sympathetic and careful about what they say on a "sensitive" subject, but it would make me feel like a leper, or like I had some terrible secret that mustn't be uttered. I don't want anyone talking about it, but I don't want them purposely steering away from subjects either. I just want everyone to act completely normal. I accepted long ago that I will be dealing with my pain alone for many years to come.

I am meant to be alone.

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