The upper-school college writing course here at Lawrence Woodmere Academy invited the students to ponder on and describe ten essentials in their lives, ranging from a wide array of objects, people, places, experiences, etc. Gladly, eleven brave souls were willing to submit excerpts of their pieces to the literary section. Humorous, interesting, and beautiful, these passages most certainly deepened my understanding of my fellow peers here at LWA, as hopefully they will for you!
My Grandmother’s Clothing
I remember the first time I saw my grandmother. It was in 2012, the first time I went to Nigeria. She was such a fashionista- her clothing always matched and was pleasing to the eyes. She was also a woman of God; She would always wake me up at midnight to attend Mass with her. I never understood why she didn't wake up anyone else to go with her, but I always assumed I was her favorite grandchild. I would fall asleep on her lap, and she would wrap me in her favorite scarf. I remember the smell; it smelled expensive, and it felt soft. Even though I was half asleep, I would feel and hear her pray over me. She would always say, “Otito diri Chineke.” When she died, my mother bought some of her clothes and her favorite scarf here to New York from Nigeria. When I tried the clothes on and wrapped her scarf around me, I felt connected to her and our memories. It feels like she is still with me.
Females are the Queens of our world. Without females, there wouldn't be any of us. There are so many intelligent females that are kind and help others. Females have kind hearts and are solutions to our world. I have mainly had female teachers my whole life and realize how much knowledge they have and how everyone should respect them. Coming into high school at a new school was very scary and stressful. A teacher named Dr. Last guided me through every step of the day and made me comfortable in myself. She always made me believe in myself in ways I didn’t think were possible. I would’ve never thought Dr. Last would become my “school mom,” and I can always go to her for advice about anything. I’m not able to trust people easily. Dr. Last showed me that I can trust others and have my own opinion about things. Whenever Dr. Last is not in school, I always get worried because she is the reason why I understand everything in class and finish all the work. Dr. Last played a significant part in who I am today. Dr. Last is one of the teachers I can’t live without.
My Lowest Grade Ever
I’ll never forget the day I got a 67 on Geometry in my Freshman year at my old school, and how disappointed I was at myself. From that day forward, I swore to myself to be better. I studied hard and did my best, earning a current cumulative weighted GPA of 4.34, which I’m pretty proud of, but I know I can do better. I keep this test to remind myself of my lowest point, and how I picked myself up and continued on, even stronger, while repeating to myself, “I will be great.”
Saturday Nights with the Boys
Saturday nights: I don't think it's possible for someone to feel such love for a day the way I do. Saturday is not just a day to me; it became a different lifestyle for me and my friends. Since school and work were done, I had the day and night to myself and could stay out till whenever, even if my mom did not approve. It was definitely worth the punishment. Whether it was throwing eggs at people off an apartment building with my work friends, Brennan, DQ, or Dylan, or parties at Ian’s house watching Kenny fall off a bike and Ian and Blake wrestle, Saturdays were always a day where I could truly goof around and not care if people were watching and trust me, people were watching. There are many things I do in fact regret,whether it was getting in trouble with the cops, brawls, or worst of all: my mother being mad at me. However, at the end of it all, I can say I had so much fun. It was all worth it due to the bonds I created with my friends, whom I no longer call my friends but really brothers.
Lei (Mike) Xu:
Steven was the first classmate and friend I met when I came to the United States. We were almost inseparable, like brothers. He is tall and strong while I am short and thin. The first time we met at orientation, there were only two of us at that time, so we started to talk. We found that we had many similar interests and the same living habits, such as both of us like eating hot pot and ramen noodles, and we are both Cantonese music fans. It makes us feel close especially when we're in a different place. We share everything in our lives. We go to eat delicious food, like our favorite hotpot and cheeseburgers, and watch movies together. We watched a horror movie called The Medium. I don't like scary things, so when I saw the dark room at the beginning of the movie, I curled up like a frightened mouse. When the ghost appeared, I immediately screamed while Steven casually crunched popcorn as if nothing had happened. He comforted me as a father comforts a child while we watched the movie. I know Steven will always be by my side to comfort me and encourage me when I am down.
Manhattan, Lower East Side
This is where I have been for most of my life as I was born and raised in this borough. Despite the awful crime rates rising and hateful sentiments against my people, growing up in this city is something that I can not change, and it is a part of my identity and upbringing. The moment I step onto the streets of my neighborhood, the bustling and noisy streets, the toxic, funky smells from the heaps of garbage piled up on the side all hit me at once as I take a walk around. Everyone’s walking, rushing like they have somewhere to be while you are there in the middle of it all, “swimming” among this sea of people as you try to get through your day in this vibrant and loud city. With the exponential rise in hate crimes this year, it would certainly be an understatement to say that it has been tough for me. Whether that be from the verbal or physical abuse my people have gone through or the many businesses that had to shut down this year, it is crucial now more than ever to not let this negativity get to me as I still have many things to keep me going, such as beginning my college journey and the people who love and care about me.
From listening to a song I love to the point where I know all the words, to the process of putting together one of my own, and even playing in a band, music is always the most dominant activity in my free time. It’s fun to find the right instrumental for a song I’m writing. Once I record it, I feel like a scientist that succeeded in testing a new invention. It’s also exciting to work with other talented musical artists, because you can potentially gain a friend and some more people to add to your audience. Playing acoustic instruments like pianos and brass horns in a band is also great. I started playing piano when I was three years old, and I started playing trumpets and baritones and playing in bands when I was eleven years old. Playing and performing in bands, hearing so many diverse and smooth sounds simultaneously feels like floating into a new universe.
Board Games with the Family
For as long as I can remember, I have always played board games with my family. Whether that be a 3-hour long competitive game with all of us or a quick card game with my brothers in between classes, I always love playing them. I remember the first time I played a “big boy” game with my family when I was younger. It was a game called Risk: Godstorm, a 4-hour long strategy tabletop game that my parents, older brother, and I played. I remember being really stressed out and not understanding the rules very well, and I definitely got last place, but this did not stop me. I loved this game so much that it became a tradition in my house to play these long board games frequently and wherever we were. Even after my brother left for college, we still keep this tradition alive with remote board games and games online. Even over the phone, we make complex strategies together and yell at each other. I hope that this tradition will last forever as it is one of the most joyous experiences of my life.
My parents took care of me in every way possible. Before I went abroad, I was one of those people who could not even make a simple tomato and egg scramble or wash my clothes even though it’s just throwing clothes in the washing machine. Even all my luggage was packed and organized by my mother before I went abroad. But the moment I left the country, I felt that I had to do everything by myself from then on. I felt like I had grown up like crazy during the past few years, but my parents were still very uneasy. Every time I go back to my home country, I am very reluctant to leave. Some will think the emotion of home-loving is bad and should not have too much dependency in the home, but I feel that the emotion of home-loving and missing parents is very usual and quite good. After all, home is the softest place for us, the best harbor.
Tacos Y Mas
This was my parents’ first restaurant and was their riskiest investment because in the restaurant business you never know if it's going to do well or if it's going to completely fail. Our restaurant is well known for its Mexican and Central American cuisine. The bestseller right now is the birria tacos. Tacos y Mas is like my second home because if I’m not out, I’m helping make sure everything is running smoothly in the restaurant. I make sure the orders are packed correctly. I make sure the packers put utensils and the sides they come with in the bags. I also make sure the customers who are dining in are content with their orders. The restaurant smells like you're in Central America with the aroma of pupusas, tamales and of course the delicious tacos. It is a beautiful place that was designed to fit an elegant Spanish cuisine restaurant. I believe this business will continue throughout my life and hopefully still be around for my grandchildren.
If you told me years ago that bubble tea would be one of my favorite things, I would never believe you. I remember going with my mom to this strange shop with a bunch of strange drinks and just being completely disgusted by it. About maybe the 4th or 5th time we went to this shop, she finally asked me to pick one thing, and I chose the passion fruit green tea with bubbles. Ever since that first sip, I haven’t been the same. The sweetness of the tea was just the right amount, and the strong fruit flavor was something I never tasted in tea before. Something about the tapioca pearls in the drink just makes it so fun, and every single time I’m in a shop that has bubble tea, I just have to get it. I have several rewards cards and memberships to a bunch of different shops, so every time I go out with my friends, I can get them something for free. To me, bubble tea is happiness in a drink.