The Post Office Couple
The legendary Post Office Couple were known by all in my town. A town that was simply too big to know everyone but small enough that the Post Office Couple were public figures. They earned this title by loitering outside our local post office and displaying alarming amounts of PDA. They were unavoidable. Grannies shared traumatic tales of sights they were exposed to while collecting their pensions and bus drivers were constantly criticized for bypassing the post office bus stop. There were few people who benefited from the Post Office Couple’s behavior, although the primary school children would gather nearby at the sweet shop to stare at them intently. Their wide-eyed faces closely observing the movement of visible tongue, the angle of the heads at which their lips met, and the position of their hands. It was an unofficial component of our town’s sex education curriculum. A part that was more disturbing than Mrs. Doyle putting a condom on a banana, but it captivated us all regardless.
Everybody from the parish priest to the guards speculated who these two tracksuited lovebirds were. Surprisingly, I didn’t know of one person who knew their first names. The bookies were just opening up bets on their identities when they vanished. First, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Our streets were free from the disturbing sight of their groping. However, sadness slowly sank in as we realized the fate of the Post Office Couple. They had been an emblem of love in our town. It had been vomit-inducing mushy love, but love all the same. If they couldn’t stay together, what hope had the rest of us? We tried to fool one another by claiming that they had finally gotten a room, like we had all suggested under our breath uncountable times. While deep down, we knew that it merely wasn’t in their nature. We still look longingly at the post office hoping to see the passionate companions, yet always disappointed.
It’s been approximately six months since the last sighting of the Post Office Couple. I rate them five stars out of five, as they had no shame in expressing their love in public despite what others thought. Our community needs love.
Our community needs the Post Office Couple back. —Gemma, 17, Ireland
I go to a public college in the South, where the essence of fashion conformity permeates the surrounding air. Seeing Ella for the first time felt like a massive culture shock. She sat on the other side of the auditorium in my horticulture class, wearing a plaid two-piece pant suit and burgundy Docs, examining her chipped black nails, liquidating any hope of me knowing the structure of a plant cell. For the next two weeks, I felt like she was haunting me (turned out, we just lived in the same building). I saw her floating around campus like the ghost of the late ’60s; carrying her massive hiking backpack adorned with an iron-on of the yellow submarine and JFK campaign buttons. The day I finally built up the courage to ask her to hang out (“Can you explain mitosis to me?”) she looked like a splitting image of Megan Draper, so I told her, and she nearly burst with excitement. Next thing I knew we were watching Twin Peaks in her dorm, bonding over our mutual hatred of James (seriously, fuck James). Her room, by the way, is the coolest ever: filled with old mystery paperbacks, old yellow pictures of her grandparents’ wedding and dozens—I mean DOZENS—of different potted plants, including an overzealous venus fly trap. For the following six months we hung out at cemeteries, drank Italian sodas and listened to Guster ’til we turned blue, unapologetically trying too hard to be cool. Today we’re planning out our living space for next year…or the next three years. Who knows? Maybe by then we’ll have had our Vegas wedding. I would give her 10 out of five stars if I could, but five out of five will do! —Fya P., 19
I spent my first year of film school waiting for a teacher like Greg. I took my first class with him sophomore year. He walked into my life looking like the old piano player from Mad About You, and I was instantly comforted. The class was called “Developing a TV Series,” and he had the class arrange our desks in a circle. He then proceeded to ask us one by one what we loved about television. I fumbled over words in my head as he pointed to me. Suddenly, he started to ask me questions about my interest in TV. It was as if the entire class disappeared, and it was just the two of us talking about television. In that brief conversation, he made me realize I wanted to work in TV, not film, like I had been telling myself for the past 10 years.
From then on, I was inspired during every class by this sweet old man with a passion for television. On the last day of class with Greg, I waited after to talk with him and thank him for everything over the past couple of years. Before I could say anything, he complimented my work and called me “a good comedy writer.” It was such a simple phrase, but the weight of the words lingered with me as he continued to say kind things and show his willingness to keep working with me the next semester. There are a few moments in my college career that will stick with me, but this one means the world to me. A five-star rating to Greg, who taught me that ratings do in fact matter, especially in television. Thank you for everything, Greg. —Sarah, 20
I was told I lost my job with only a few days to spare in 2015. “Feliz Navidad” played softly on the loudspeakers and the smell of pine from the Christmas wreaths threatened to entangle me. So much for the phrase, “The happiest time of the year,” I thought. The restaurant that I had grown to love for the last 18 months was closing that night, without notice. I worked at the restaurant for more than just the money; I met coworkers I had grown to love, and thought of them as my second family. We worked together on Thanksgiving, talked about our problems, stole fries when the managers weren’t looking, and hugged each other when we had a bad day. However, there is one coworker who stood out to me from the rest, and that coworker is Jenny. The day after the restaurant closed, Jenny texted me and gave me a pep talk, saying everything would be OK, and that we would both find another incredible place to work. She also told me to watch some Gilmore Girls episodes, because she knew that was my favorite show. I started tearing up. I missed Jenny already—the way she would call me her daughter, her creepy boyfriend stories, and the way she gossiped in the walk-in cooler. She made a job that should have been miserable into an entertaining rollercoaster ride, and I can’t thank her enough. —Darcy, 19, Illinois
Jeff the Conductor
The horns in the back of the auditorium are booming like the horn of the Titanic and Jeff the Conductor is the magnificently possessed captain—the god-if-there-is-one, the one who brings the colors at dawn—who is now slowly pulling us from the harbor with all the groaning joy of a bull. His eyebrows are sky-scraping and his chin is tipped back, an expression of simultaneous anticipation and satisfaction bulging from his thick eyelids. He’s drinking from a waterfall but will be thirsty forever. And we, little I among them, are the bustling crew, the coal-shovelers making the earth move away, and I am about to cry because each note is like a glass world, a pocket of purity; I want to fall asleep in the curved bellies of F natural, E natural, D flat…let them devour me.
And I am about to cry because the wrinkles on Jeff’s forehead are like ditches. I am about to cry because when I have those wrinkles, when I have that hair color, when I have that creaky step, will I be? Will I be so open-mouthed at notes played excellently? Will I be so astonished by beauty, simple beauty? Or will I be, as I like to dream, so immersed in beauty that I’d be used to it? Though that does defeat the purpose of it, I suppose…
And Jeff is triumphant as ever on his podium, reveling in the open sea we’ve broken into. His hands are blurred in their activity—raising waves, hauling rope, hurling confetti, and we are dancing, dancing on the deck of the Titanic, barefoot and wild. The floor is covered in rose petals, the sky is dripping gold, our tears are swallowed by the ocean, our wings are made of satin, and the tip of the iceberg is but a diamond-white mirage, melting away, melting away. —Belinda, 15
It’s not every day that you meet someone as strange as you—let alone at fashion week, through possibly the strangest act of the universe bringing two souls together. She was the model, and I was her dresser, meaning I literally had to put clothes on her and do up her shoes in roughly 30 seconds without screwing anything up.
It really only took a few moments after I met her for my soul to go, “Oh, there you are”. That was last year. Since the week we met it has been a continuously weird ride. She helped me with a project for uni, I helped her run lines for her acting class, we’ve spent endless hours talking, and only last week did I find myself asleep in her bedroom, which almost typically resembled mine, even down to the dreamcatcher right above her pillow.
It’s strange the way the world works, and the way the universe puts people together. I have never in my life met someone as absurdly wacky and unique as her. I have never seen eyes that blue, or heard a laugh so contagious. Everything she wears is vintage and fair-trade. She is all about feminism. She makes jewelry and dreams of living in a Kombi van. She also models, and acts, and works in a very pretty shoe store. She has to ban herself from reading so she can get things done. She drinks too much coffee and loves peanut butter and banana more than any other combination.
To me she is the kind of girl who only exists in books, but somehow we stumbled into each other’s lives. Honestly, it’s hard to describe her in just a few words, but fortunately Robert Fulghum pretty much nailed it: “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness, and call it love.” I think that’s a pretty accurate summary of what happened. And she, she is a passionate and wild, very beautiful soul who gets an infinite number of stars from me. —Aisha, 20
★ × ∞
My Best Friend
My best friend went through hell her senior year. I witnessed this firsthand helping her through the tears and pain. I am not going to get into the story because it is incredibly personal, but I would like to thank her for teaching me these three lessons: First, you cannot fix everyone who is broken. Second, you cannot rely on people to carry all of your emotional baggage for you. Last, and most important, if one of your friends or family members ever attempts to emotionally control you, it is not possible to fix them with love. She is one of the sweetest and most caring people I have ever met, and it has been a rollercoaster ride this past year. But she has come out a superstar and has definitely become stronger for it. —Madeleine G., 19
I don’t know if I’ll hear from you again. I don’t know if I WANT to hear from you again. If anything, I don’t think I’ll forget meeting you on that border, I don’t think I’ll forget the concave of water that separated two entirely different cities. I remember sitting there, I remember you sitting beside me, I remember the cold, the city lights, the smoke that half-heartedly covered your face as you exhaled your cigarette. The sadness in your voice, and the smile you revealed after I had attempted to make a joke.
We met and our attraction was not based on face, body, sound, or thought value. It was the mutual uncertainty we shared, not being in a foreign city, or not being foreign to each other, but just to life. You told me all your secrets, as did I, and we spoke knowing we would never hear from each other again. “When are you leaving?” you asked me. “Tomorrow”, I replied. Twice. Twice you asked me this. “I would like to see you again,” I would’ve said, but I did not.
When you spoke of your difficult circumstances, I apologized. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I would say. “No, no, it’s alright, it’s fine, it’s not your fault.” I knew that, but I also knew that you had never heard those words from someone who cared, who maybe cared too much. I won’t forget meeting you, I won’t forget the night ending as fast as it did, the clasp of that handshake, and the connection that was lost as our hands withdrew from each other’s. I won’t forget watching you walk away into uncertainty, on that dirty crossing, and I hoped, I hoped that you would no longer have to walk away like that again.
The only thing I have forgotten is your face. —Maudie O., 19
When I was 14, I tried to kill myself. A few months later I tried again, and I kept on trying. I didn’t think I had a purpose to live, I never really thought I was supposed to be alive. Because I never had hope, I never hoped life would get better. Well, that’s what I thought until I watched Rowan Blanchard.
It was a summer day, and I had turned on the television just to look for some stupid Lifetime movie to watch, and on that day I somehow landed on the Disney Channel. A bright and smiling girl was on my screen, and she was talking about hope and being happy. Something clicked, and somehow I felt a little less lonely. I watched the episode, and for the first time I was actually happy.
I don’t think Rowan will ever know what she did for me that day. That was the day I was going to attempt another suicide, that was the day I was going to end it all. Ever since that day, I find myself watching this girl. She makes me happy and makes me feel less alone. I haven’t even met her, nor do I think I ever will, but she has done something most people could never accomplish.
Rowan Blanchard gave me hope. She made me think it was possible to get better, and that it was possible to be happy again. It’s been a year since that day, and I still find myself wondering what I want to do with my life, but I know that no matter what, I have Rowan Blanchard there. —Skylar, 17 ♦