Books Are Better Than People

A boy is lonely.

The boy is slowly losing all he cares about.

The boy is fighting.

I am deeply invested in this story as I sit on campus, reading Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls, when a guy walks up to me and says, “Hey, you look like you enjoy books!”

Yes, sir. As a matter of fact I do enjoy books. I was enjoying this particular book very much, and you have interrupted my reading flow!

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I don’t mean to be rude, but really. This guy interrupted me to preach about meditation or something, and I was not interested. I wanted this man to not talk to me, so I could keep reading. But was I going to ignore him? No, of course not. Was I going to tell him to go away? No, I don’t have the ability to be purposefully rude.

So I listened for all of two seconds, tuned him out, and slowly tried to turn my attention back to the heartbreaking story that also made weep minutes later.

I just like books more than people sometimes.

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Eighth Grade Me Would Hate Me So Much

Walking by the bathroom today, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My immediate thought? “Shit, is that really me?”

This is what I looked like:

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(Can we pretty please pretend that mirror isn’t so filthy? 😏)

I started to really look at my reflection, and I couldn’t help but laugh a bit.

When I was a kid, I despised braids. My mom was a superstar braider, and she always tried to hold me down “JUST FOR FIVE MINUTES” while she braided my hair; but I was relentless, and I usually got away. On the rare occasions that she managed to keep me still long enough to tame my hair, the hair ties would “accidentally” come off the second she turned her back.

Around 8th grade, I had to get glasses. Before I did, my dad insisted that I didn’t need glasses, that I only wanted some because my cousin (who I desperately wanted to be like) had just gotten her first pair. When I mentioned one day that I’d had to move up to the front row in each and every one of my classes, and that it was still hard to see, he took me to the optometrist. Two minutes into the appointment the doctor said, “Yeah. She definitely needs glasses, badly.”

I chose some small purple frames, excited to be able to see more than three feet in front of me once again.

I really didn’t mind having to wear glasses, until the first day I wore them to school. Because the second people saw me, they would say, “You look weird” or “You look different.” And what 8th grader wants to hear that? So from that day on, I started counting down the days (one year, the doctor said) until I could get contacts and stop looking weird or different.

Finally, that shirt. I had shirts just like this one growing up. Every single one of them ended up at the bottom of my closet, hiding in a drawer, or in a donation box; I used to think shirts with this style were so ugly.

Today, I saw myself, with my French braid (which I now know how to do myself), my giant frames (that I bought specifically because I wanted bigger frames, and despite the fact that I have contacts) and my ugly shirt (which was four dollars, and I think is pretty damn cute).

Tastes change, trends change, and we change. I like the way I look, and I have no shame in the fact that I now choose to wear things I used to openly deny.

Still, when I saw myself in the mirror today, all I could think was, “Damn, Ari. 8th grade you would think you look like shit.”