Wednesday, June 12, 2002

I've been working for nine days straight, and am enjoying the first of my three days off.

We have some new people at the store, and because of that closing has seemed to go on a little later. That, or things have just been unusually hectic because of the approaching senior finals. High school will be over this Friday, and hopefully that will lessen the amount of teenagers that congregate in the cafe and spill out over the tables and chairs. None of us mind that they use the area to study, it's just that most of them are inconsiderate and leave latte cups, piles of books that they used and didn't put back, and can act loud and obnoxious. They also take up a lot of space with their huge backpacks and chairs they stole from other tables and placed in the aisles. I mean, God forbid they study in groups less than five. Not only that, they take their shoes off and leave them in the way, lie on the floor, and I caught a few of them having a book war, throwing our books at one another. I put a stop to it immediately. When they get that way, we curb their behavior pretty quickly and if they persist, call the guard to kick them out. At one point I got frustrated and took two abandoned back packs from a table and threw them behind the cashier counter. In doing so, because the backpacks were both half the size of myself, I tweaked my back.

It's nice that the under eighteen crowd has somewhere to go, and we're happy that they find our store a good atmosphere in which to study, but when they become a nuisance, it spoils it for everyone. First, they get a warning. After a couple of warnings, they are asked to leave. This isn't their living rooms, and most of them do not buy from the store. So, we've been cracking down harder on them.

Last night, I was helping Brian in the kid's department with some displays, and there were a bunch of teenage girls at a table just outside the area. Just hearing them talk reminded me how glad I was that I wasn't a teenager anymore and that I didn't have to be subjected to goofy girls on a daily basis. I was never a goofy girl, but when you are fifteen, that is who you are forced to socialize with on a daily basis simply because you go to school with them. Just hearing them talk made me glad that I was an adult. And that is, even an adult who is neck deep in debt, living with her friends, has clinical depression, and who has an uncertain future. Anything is better than having to spend a lot of time around "clique" driven goofy teenagers. I can tell that these kids are probably the "popular" crowd, as all the girls dress in midriffs and low cut jeans, and are striving with every detail from cellular phone covers to toenail polish to represent what is "in" as much as they can. They flirt with the packs of boys who come in, and I hear them sometimes exclaim something like, "Oh my God Brittany, guess who like totally just walked through the door!" That's followed by giggles and squealing as they watch a spiky haired kid with braces, droopy shorts, bad posture, and a few freshly squeezed zits saunter through the door with his buddies. And it just makes me so totally, like glad that I'm not like, a teenager anymore. And that like, my peers aren't like, either.

When I was a teen, I spent most of my days in my room drawing or painting, or watching TV to escape from Kansas. I'd also go on long walks at night under a star splattered sky, feeling the wind against my face and street underneath my shoes. You could do that in Topeka, Kansas. I'd usually wander into construction sites in our condominium complex and explore the places under construction. I loved the smell of the drying cement, exposed wood, and freshly dug up dirt. It was the smell of progress and possibility. Sometimes I could look through the unfinished roof at the sky and listen to the wind as it made its way through the trees. And I'd think about the future and what it held for me. During those moments, I was as far away from my teenage peers as I could get.

And, early in my college years the reality far surpassed those dreams. I made it out of Kansas to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. And, I got into Parsons on my own. It was my portfolio with my drawings that I'd done on my own time that had gotten me accepted at that highly competitive school. Within one year of arriving in New York I was working for my then idol, Mikhail Baryshnikov. The posters on my wall and the numerous viewings of his ballet performances, White Nights, and The Turning Point, had become a reality for me. That is another story that I will elaborate on at a different time. The important thing was that the strength gained by marching on my own path is the very thing that enabled me to get there. And that is why I'm able to keep it together during these rough times and feel much better off than the teens who congregate at Barnes and Noble. It's hard to know if they will ever experience the thrill of achieving a goal when everyone around you said that you weren't going to do it. That my way was wrong and that I was setting myself up for disappointment. I have many successes and experiences under my belt that were of my own doing. And, I know that there will be more in the future. It may be a frustrating journey right now and at times feel hopeless, but I have those experiences to draw on to keep me going. And, no debt, depression, or loss of a job can take them away.

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