Unlike my other blog posts, this one will be a sort of summarizing, backtracking installment to my independent project journey series. Before I dive into what my project has done for me in the long run, I’d like to talk a bit about how I came to sign up for it. One of the main things that drew me to Westtown, other than the school’s overwhelming sense of community and closeness, was its independent academic options. Although there’s a CORE program here at Westtown to some extent, a student’s schedule can be extremely personalized, which was very different from the other schools I had looked at while searching for a high school in late freshman year. So, back in my first year of high school, just after reading the Hunger Games, I had the grandest of ideas to create my own 5-book fiction series about werewolves that go to boarding school, and I had hoped to have a final product by the end of my high school career. I realized about 3 months into my first school year that that was probably the most unlikely goal I could have set for myself. I had to do 3 papers due, 2 projects, 4 assignments for homework (including Algebra 2, which was an absolute struggle at the time), 2 presentations, and midterms coming up, and those were only the education-related things I had to complete. Those assignments, on top of balancing health, family, extracurricular obligations, and a social life made writing nearly impossible for me to continue, so I picked up new hobbies like photography since it is a class here that I was able to take in my first year.
I had always wanted to take an Independent in English, but since I want to become a neuroscientist, I had to shift my focus to science in these last two years. After turning in all of my college applications in January, I decided to follow another passion, and in place of Chem 4, I added English Independent Research. And that’s how I got here, writing a fiction autobiographical novel.
In doing this independent, I was able to pinpoint quite a few aspects of my work ethic that I struggle with, including procrastination, which has been my most difficult obstacle to overcome, perfectionism, as I’ve had to start over multiple times because I found a better way of telling the story, and impatience. I’ve also realized quite a bit about myself as a person while doing this project. I am diligent and can get work done with both quality and quantity when I put my mind to it. I have truly appreciated the opportunity to discover myself in such a way through the process of working on this independent.
The following is the last excerpt from the book that I’ll share with you all.
The camera my mother gave to me for Christmas when I was twelve that my sister ran over with a skateboard three days later would have been much appreciated right about now.
My heart is beating faster than it ever has before. My skin, now tinged with a glowing red tone, is hot and in sharp contrast with the cool night air. Although the only thing touching the skin on my face is the air, I can almost swear that my cheeks are being pricked, but my mind tells me that’s probably just the tired muscles in my face yelling at me for smiling so hard. I’m propped up on my elbow, looking at her, and her eyes, facing the dazzling sky, resemble the Dead Sea. I can feel myself drowning, struggling to catch a proper breath as I look into her eyes, with stars, that appear as particles of salt, floating in the green ocean-like abyss. I realize then that I can see into the abyss. I can see the lighter green speckles that dot her eyes, the extra-glossy film that I always seem to mistake for tears, the shadows casted by her lashes that make her ocean seem darker, deeper, the glowing whites of her eyes glistening like white sand white tiny specks like rocks.
Before I realize I’ve moved, my hand is on her face, stroking her cheeks slowly and gently as if I am a blind man and the hardly visible freckles on her face are brail. She smiles and turns her head to face me, ripping her gaze from the stars in the sky to the reflection in my brown eyes. Her hand cups mine as it rests on the side of her face, all motion momentarily halted.
I wish I could capture the look on her face as the words roll from my tongue without my brain’s permission.
“I love you, Selam Green.” Eyes wide, lips tight, Selam is frozen. I stutter over my next words. “I-I don’t know what—I just—I don’t know,” I say. Her eyebrows furrow and I realize that I do in deed mean it. I love her. I love her so much and even if she doesn’t feel the same way about me, I want her to know how I feel. I want her to know how much I feel for her. I am completely and irrev—”
“Ash, do you mean that? I mean, do you…y’know? Do you love me?” she asked. She looked up at me in a position that seemed so unlike her. Perched on her elbow now, her eyes peered at me through her curls, which were now well past her shoulders and falling in her face. My heart sped up like the day I first met her; my tongue caught in my throat and the words in my mouth. “Ashton, I love you too.” The cat let go of my tongue and my lips were on hers in a second. Our bodies moved in sync, and, regardless of how corny this may sound, our hearts felt like one. My fingers crept into her hair, tugging gently at the coiled strands, eliciting breathy gasps with every pull. I inhaled her moans, smiling and slightly buzzed by the new sensation.
I guess this is what they call love. Feeling wrapped up in a warm embrace, entirely soaked in their presence, but wanting more, wanting to be closer to them. I pulled her closer and she pulled me in more, but I needed more. I couldn’t bring myself to think of the very idea of pulling away, but as we are both running out of breath, I push her shoulders back softly, and our lips separate. Within a millisecond, my mouth longs to be on hers. My chest yearns to be closer to hers. This is love. Staring into her eyes for what feels like the first time. It’s discovering the beauty mark on her left shoulder again as my thumb grazes it. In this moment, considerably the most precious moment to me, all I wanted to do was capture it, take a picture because what they say really is true. “Take a picture. It’ll last longer.” I want this moment to last forever. I want to look at her forever, memorize every inch of her face, and then spend another eternity memorizing every detail of her beautiful body because I love her. I want to capture this feeling, but feelings, emotions, can’t be forever saved through pictures.
Love is being homesick and not knowing the cause of it when I am technically at home, left only to discover that my home is in her arms with her head tucked in between my shoulder and chin with my face buried in her hair that smells of vanilla and pine cones. Maybe home is not just a roof and four walls. Maybe home isn’t a house at all but a person. Maybe home is nothing but two arms holding you.
I plan on finishing up the writing phase in a week or two before heading onto the polishing phase. Thank you so much for listening! The few polished chapters I’ll have will be shared on the independent seminar blog in a little less than a month. Thanks again!
My extremely embarrassing story from middle school: https://www.wattpad.com/story/1660506-boarding-school-for-werewolves-on-hold