Writing Catalog

Mo Armstrong

Grade: 11

Hawken School

Instructor(s): Ailey Picasso, Tom Waitzman, Dan O'Connor

Losing Our Dimples

Personal Essay & Memoir

Losing Our Dimples

We stopped going to summer camp and started going to work. We file our taxes and send in our W-2s. Only the lucky few get to remember what they knew as pure childhood happiness with no worries and no sense of the world around them. Only a few remember the dimples on their cheeks when they smiled. A visible piece of us lost with time. Losing our dimples and losing our smiles. Losing our smiles and growing up. I remember getting my first job and being excited that I was finally old enough for such a thing. Now that I've had two other jobs, I know that working and growing up is a scam.

I spent a lot of my time as a child at the place where I worked my first job. I remember when the summer camp would walk down and we'd get in our lines to go in and all have the time of our lives in this amazing pool. Now that I've worked there, I realize that Bedford's glittering jewel is not much more than a hole in the ground. The truly happy smile that showed on my face when I entered the pool is now an act, shown to those who pay for entrance. A smile with no dimples.

Losing our dimples and losing our smiles. Losing our smiles and growing up. I remember the first time I felt a twinge of pain in my knee. Not the type of pain you feel when you fall off your bike and scrape it, but the achy feeling when you walk up the stairs. It's quite premature and not everyone gets this so early on but I'm one of the unlucky few with sore joints and knees that won't bend. Knees that won't bend to push my bike pedals. No more riding my bike to the park; time to drive my car to work. Losing our dimples and losing our smiles. Losing our smiles and growing up. I still remember the first time I was sent across the sliding monkey bar; my mom holding onto my legs and pulling me along as I held on for dear life. I couldn't reach the ground with my feet and the landing felt way too low. I remember going across it on my own and hearing all of my friends cheer me on. Then the day came when I could hold onto the handle and walk across. I was growing day by day and getting tallerーsoon came the day when I was just too tall to go across the sliding monkey bar. I realized that I was growing up.

Losing our dimples and losing our smiles. Losing our smiles and growing up. The day I realized that I'd grown up was hard-hitting. I remember sitting around with my family and just thinking. Thinking about all the things in my life that have changed; things that felt different. All of this stuff around me that I never noticed. I'd grown up. Soon I'd be leaving school and going off the college. I'd gotten my license and a car. I had a job and I was doing things on my own. The more I thought about it the scarier it got and before I knew it there were tears running down my face. I don't if the tears were from the fear of growing up or the sadness from realizing I'd lost my childhood to time.

Losing our dimples and losing our smiles. Losing our smiles and growing up.

No Stars Out Tonight

Personal Essay & Memoir

No Stars Out Tonight

I push the pedals of my bike as fast as I can to get home, but at this moment, home is anywhere away from my house. Earlier that day, I was lost. Physically lost in a city that I know like the back of my hand and lost in my thoughts. I was drowning, sinking into the deep waters of the idea that it would all end soon. I was losing myself to this idea. As I pedal, I can only hear one thing and the rest of the world around me is muted and frozen in time. But my mind is racing. "Her lips will turn blue, she'll feel cold to the touch, her breathing will slow down and eventually stop." It'll stop and be gone forever. I don't think those words were for me to hear, but what's done is done. What's heard is heard, and I can't ever forget those words, so I pedal faster. I got back, and everyone was there. They knew she was going to leave, so they all came. Why? Why did they have to come? I guess she's not only my grandma. But why here in my house?

The sound of my mother yelling rips through my thoughts and pull me outs. Just down the street from a house that I won't call home. My mom grabs me off my bike, and I don't fuss or try to move away anymore because where would I go? It's the middle of the night, and I'm just a 13-year-old. As we walk, I see holes in the sky, white holes scattered around. They were once called stars, but tonight, I can't call them that. The walk is short, too short, and I want to just pass the house and keep going. Against my will, I'm led down the driveway, but I don't go inside. I stay on the porch, away from the suffocating atmosphere that waits for me inside. My cousin sits with me. I should have expected him to come out here. We are very similar, with the same habit of sucking our thumb until way too old, the same crazy curly hair, and the same weird speech pattern. I think about how similar we are and how it feels like I'm sitting with myself: just me myself and my cousin on the porch looking at the sky. No stars out tonight, and I don't think there will be any for a while. I don't go inside until late in the night when the sky is completely black and no cars drive on the street. Too many people there saying their final goodbyes. Not me, though; I can't go to her, can't even look at her. So I go straight to my bedroom in the back of the house. At least six other people lay sleeping on my bed and on the carpeted floor, so I pick a spot and close my eyes. I could tell that she closed hers too.

When the sunlight of the next day shined in through the window, my eyes opened, and her eyes stayed closed. As each of my cousins woke, we were all forced into the basement, but I caught a glimpse. Through all of the adult bodies, my aunt, uncle, dad, and grandpa sat. They sat around her, and for the first time ever, I saw my dad cry.

At the time I was too naive to realize it. Too young to be told anything. But that was the whole point. She came to leave. That was the only reason.