Alex in Transit(ion)

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Book It

Oh Book It. This was my OBSESSION when I was in elementary school. You see, my family owns an Italian restaurant and as a result- we never went to other pizzerias or (da da dunnn) Pizza Hut. I always felt like the odd kid out because all of my classmates kept talking about how Pizza Hut was the place to be and I got so angry at my parents for not taking me there…even though, looking back, they had the good sense not to.

When I found out that if you read six books, your teacher will give you a free certificate to get a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut, I thought I won the lottery. “Six books?” I thought. “Hah, I can finish six books in a week.” And I did. Hey- if you think the number of blogs I read is excessive, you should have seen me when I was 8. I had a personal library that could rival Belle’s from Beauty and the Beast. I remember being SO EXCITED because, finally, I had an excuse to go to Pizza Hut!

My mother reluctantly took me to Pizza Hut after dance class. It took forever to get the pizza (probably because they were defrosting it) but I didn’t care. This was Pizza Hut. Once I received the scalding hot box, I couldn’t wait to eat it. I took a piece out and I bit into it…

and I was severely disappointed. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted in my life. The sauce tasted like metal and the cheese was tasteless. My response was “wow, they don’t make it like Daddy does!”

It was at that moment that I realized local restaurants will always pound the chain restaurants into brutal submission. So thank you Book It, not only did you encourage me to read to get free pizza (and probably caused the majority of my generation to become obese), you also made me proud to own my pizzeria.

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the parking lot.

I can see myself there now. Looking across at the people going in and out of Stewart’s, listening to my iPod to some song that reminded me of home, and savoring my Marlboro 27 as if it was my last one. 

The parking lot was my escape. I looked forward to hanging out there, even if most of the time I was by myself. Sometimes the store owner next door would come out and talk to me. When we first met, I was so overwhelmed by my new surroundings that as soon as she told me her name, I quickly forgot it. I was too embarrassed to ask her again for it so she became “Hey! How are you doing!” or “Isn’t the weather great out today?” I felt so bad that her name became a welcome phrase. Her son would come out once in a while and ask me to play a game of paper airplane with him. It was awkward because as enthusiastic as I was to play with him, I couldn’t ignore the fact that every time he saw me outside, I had a cigarette in my hand. I wasn’t going to be winning a role model trophy anytime soon.

I would look to the sky a lot, wondering about those I left behind. My family was a constant thought in my mind. Would my little brothers remember me? My then-three year old brother would cry for me to come back home so much but instead of lying to him and saying that I’ll be back before you know it, I gave him the cold, hard truth. “You’re not going to see me for a long time.” That was the hardest thing I ever had to say but he needed to get used to the fact that I won’t be in his life as much as I would like to. I’m living for the job and he is living to watch Sesame Street.

I thought of my friends, who were all still transitioning to life after graduating college. Some decided to move, some struggled with living with their parents, and some continued school. Yet even though they were all moving towards different places in their lives, they still would help me out whenever I needed it. I can’t even tell you how much that meant to me.

And finally, I would think about him. A lot. He was the reason why I wanted to come back with the spoils of victory. I’d often think about running back into his arms and I remember when it actually happened, how elated I was for that moment. We didn’t define ourselves when I was away…we didn’t even talk about it. If something happens, something happens. I guess we’d both understand if it did. I didn’t want to tell him about how stressful it could be sometimes up there, I only wanted to talk about the good things. The phone calls were few and far between, but whenever they happened or whenever I received a text message saying that I could pull it off…I felt like the happiest person on the face of the earth. It’s funny now because we don’t speak. Crazy how things can change in a year. I guess you really have to live for the moment.

Yet as stressful and lonely as it could be sometimes, I find myself to be a richer person for spending all those times in the parking lot. It made me who I am today and it showed me how resilient I can be. I know the meaning of true, hard work. To tell you the truth, I’d give anything to be in that parking lot right now. 

There’s nothing more satisfying in life than finding out what you really can do, if you put your mind to it.

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One of these days, I hope to have an apartment with a loft in it so I can do this. My grandparents had a loft in their house and my brother, cousin, and I would go up there all the time and read their old Archie comic books. That was a good time.


(by Pam Diaz)