My only goal for the summer is to become someone else. I’ve seen it done before. I know it can happen. There’s always at least one kid in my class who pulls it off every year: leaving as a normal, forgettable face in June and returning in September, teen-movie montage–style, as some magical being who, over the course of a three-month summer break, was somehow blessed by the goddesses of clear skin and popularity. This year, I’ve decided, that kid is going to be me.
I can already see it: I am walking down the hallway on the first day of school. People turn and stare at me—jaws drop, papers fly, books fall from lockers, total chaos—and, as I pass by, they ask each other, “Who is THAT?” and “Where did SHE come from?” And then I’ll go to my first class, and the teacher will be all, “Is Sydney here?” and everyone will be like, “I haven’t seen her?” or “WHO?” or “Is that the girl who passed out that one time in Geometry?” and I will be all, “You guys! It’s me! You must not have recognized me because I’ve given myself a remarkably successful summer makeover, and I look incredible. Also, I did not pass out in Geometry, that was Taylor Fortin. I’m the one who threw up on the bus in second grade, but as of right now, you are all going to forget that incident forever.” And the entire school will be like, “Consider it forgotten! You are super cool and popular, congrats on all the hard work you did this summer, because it really paid off.”
I mean, that’s a rough sketch of how I think it’s going to go.
The trouble is, summer is halfway over and I’m not doing a great job of reinventing myself. So far, I’ve cut two inches from my hair (nobody’s noticed) and started ordering Cherry Cokes instead of vanilla ones (nobody cares). I think I need to do something a little more drastic. Something that says, “I’m not the same person I was last year, or any of the years before that, and you will deal with it.” You can’t go halfway with reinvention. You are you, and then you are you, only better.
Maybe I should get a signature look, like a pair of sparkly green shoes. I could be “that girl with the green shoes,” which is not the most glamorous way to be remembered, but I mean, it’s a way, isn’t it? I don’t know. I think I can do better. I think, like, I can be better.
Maybe I over the next six weeks or so I could become known for being the type of person who knows how do to stuff, how to be interesting or useful in some way. I could start mountain climbing. I could throw myself out of a plane. I could improve my soccer footwork or start playing the drums. I could get really good at making fake IDs, like my cousin Martin, who is kind of a jerk but admittedly has tremendous computer skills. Martin has been Martin as long as he’s been alive. I don’t see him ever changing. Some people don’t need reinventing. They just come out fully formed, like tiny adult versions of themselves, ready to spend the next 100 years or so being the same person, whether the world likes it or not.
Maybe I should change my face. I could watch a ton of makeup tutorials and learn how to contour or strobe or whatever, learn how to control the shadows and lights that the world throws at me. Maybe I’ll start wearing hot pink lipstick everyday, or extra-long eyelash extensions, or silver eyeliner smudged all over my eyes. Maybe I’ll look like something from another planet, someone from the future, someone from anywhere other than my hometown. Maybe I’ll only put makeup on one side of my face and confuse people. Maybe I’ll spike all of my hair straight up or ditch my contacts for an enormous pair of glasses. Maybe I’ll rip the left sleeves off all my shirts and tell everyone it’s “a statement” and “art” but never actually explain why or how.
Or maybe I should start speaking differently. I could talk like one of The Outsiders, all tough but romantic, and tell everyone to “stay gold,” or I could communicate only in whispers or screams. I could start snarling and maniacally laughing after everything I say, like a comic book villain. Or I could sing everything, like I’m forever trapped in an actual high school musical that nobody realizes that they’re in besides me. I could tell all my teachers, “I refuse to communicate via anything but the power of dance.” Or maybe I’ll just speak in rhyme/something-something blah-blah time. Or maybe not.
I mean, I’ll figure it out. At least I know the kind of person I don’t want to be: a jerk, or a creep, or “that girl who threw up on the bus in second grade.” (Seriously, people! Let it go! It was eight years ago!) My friend Erica says that real change happens slowly, you know? Like buds turning to flowers, caterpillars breaking from their cocoons, and other puberty-related metaphors. You don’t notice all of the changes that are happening to you until long after they happen, and then you wonder how you were ever anybody else. I’ve still got time to figure things out before the first day of school. ♦