It’s Who You’re With

lauren

Image Credit: Lauren Anderson

 

Growing up, I was faced with a number of challenges that affected my mental, physical, and emotional health. Like for many young teenagers, middle school was an experience I wish I could erase from my memory. During this awkward, transitional phase of adolescence, I was constantly searching for where I belonged. By the end of my seventh grade year, I still had not found a group I felt that I fit in with, despite my heavy involvement in art, music, and dance. Little did I know, a fateful trip to find supplies for water bottle rockets in my science class would change my life forever.

I will always remember the moment I ran into my band director in the Astoria Middle School office, after being sent to find construction paper by one of my teachers that year. I had no idea that this casual encounter would end up pointing me down the path that has brought me to where I am today. At that time, music wasn’t a huge part of my life. I had switched into band from choir due to my distaste towards the teacher, and decided to play flute because that is what my friends played. During that encounter, knowing my history with dance, my band director asked me if I would be interested in being a part of the high school marching band’s color guard, which I excitingly said yes to. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but to this day, it was the greatest thing I ever agreed to.

You could feel the magic and energy in the air as we loaded the truck after our final rehearsal. From that point on, it was as if the next three hours flashed before my eyes. Before I could blink, I was on the field playing my final show with the group that shaped my entire life. During the closing of our show, I glanced over to my best friend as our eyes filled with tears, realizing it was actually all over. We exited the field and circled up for the traditional senior speeches. Parents came to hug me as tears streamed down my face. After each of the other seniors had spoken, it was finally my turn. I had been dreaming of and dreading this moment for years, and now it was time for my final words to the group.

“Long live all the magic we made on that field tonight,” I remember saying to the group, quoting a Taylor Swift song. I waited for a smirk from my best friend, acknowledging she had noticed the reference before continuing. “After a performance like that, I don’t care what the numbers say. None of it matters. What’s important is the love, and I love all of you so much. Thank you for an amazing final run.”

Shivering in the twenty-three degree temperature, we eagerly awaited the announcement of scores. We did win that night, in our hearts and in the eyes of the judges, who placed us first in Open Class (all bands with more than one hundred members – we had twenty-nine), in addition to five caption awards. As great as it felt taking home those trophies, what felt better was realizing that together, we did something that had not been done in previous years. The band that took the field that night wasn’t just a band; it was a family. Shiny silver trophies now sit in the band room of Astoria High School, but only the members who experienced that evening can speak for the true accomplishments of that season. Even with the challenges we faced and the number of adversities, we still managed to defy the odds of being crowned champions that night. This accomplishment created a platform for the future of this group to grow on, as well as serve as a driving force of my personal music career.

“You don’t have to be big to win,” the judge announced, calling out our score. We already knew that, because all you need to win is love.

Moving on into college, I was unable to forget this night. However much my visions for my future changed, I could always remember what it felt like to love music, and to love the people who I could make music with. Over time, those friendships faded and I found a new family to fall into. As time moves forward and graduation creeps closer, I find myself feeling similarly to the way I did at my last marching band show; happy, sad, excited, scared. Fearful and curious of the future in front of me, and thankful for the memories I’ve made along the way. While the future is intimidating and unknown, I know now that our dreams our inevitable, and while our successes and failures may change us, it is the people around us who move us forward.

 

By: Lauren Anderson

Zombies for Organ Donation

knee

 

It’s become a joke, but a happy one. My family and I attribute every milestone of my progress to the donated tissue holding my knee together. When I took my first step up a flight of stairs, my dad said it was thanks to my “zombie strength,” as if a ligament donated from a dead person gave me superpowers. It sounds strange, but this donation did give me power. By choosing to be an organ donor, this anonymous person gave me a better life in the midst of their death, and I will always be grateful to be a “zombie” because of them.

The first time I dislocated my knee, I was nine. It was father’s day and my brother chased me around our yard with water balloons. I tripped and fell. My kneecap displaced and stayed on the side of my leg, poking out of my jeans in a way I’d never seen before. The pain was sharp and constant. Moving made it acutely worse and I didn’t know what to do. I screamed, my brother found my parents, and my dad scooped me into his arms. They drove me to the hospital in our minivan. I was carted into the emergency room, I refused painkillers because needles scared me, they cut the leg of my jeans, and I saw my misshapen, grotesque bones out of place. The doctor came. He was distant, unphased by my injury. I looked away as he slid my kneecap back, in a sharp, unnatural contortion. The absence of pain was glorious; each part of my body was in its place again.

I went to physical therapy for a while after that. My therapist taught me how to walk, how to move in a way that wouldn’t upset my fragile leg. Still, I was unstable.

For nine years afterwards, my knee would occasionally dislocate. It would always right itself, almost immediately. I walked and ran with a limp and I never let anybody touch my knee. I grew up afraid of my own steps.

Then, when I was eighteen, I took a bad step on my way to class, and my knee fully dislocated again. It was the same crack in my ears as my bones shifted and my ligaments tore, the same pain. It was cold, and I shivered. Each involuntary movement stung me. I was angry that my body betrayed me, again. I was pissed because I couldn’t walk down the street, like everybody else. People stopped, they called my dad and an ambulance, and a boy put his sweatshirt under my head. A girl in my class distracted me while we waited by talking about how annoying the professor was. I was sent to the hospital and the doctor put my knee where it belonged.

Even thinking about it now, I tense up, curl my left leg in, protect myself. Some days, when I’m walking down the street, I remember how dislocation feels, how easily my knee slid to the side of my leg. My fists tense, and I feel the pain, but I know it’s over. I’m fixed. It’s just that unpredictable pain like dislocation has a way of haunting.

After the last accident, I had a knee operation and in that operation, I received donated tissue. Since surgery, I have re-learned how to bend my leg, how to walk and how to go up and down stairs, all through the same physical therapy program I graduated from when I was nine. Today, I can even go for runs. It’s not always easy. I stumble and limp a lot sometimes, but when I get a good run, it’s empowering. I’ve re-claimed my body. I like synchronizing my legs to move like I was taught, pushing myself hard enough that I can feel a breeze against my skin, and I love that all of it is powered by my body.

I didn’t do it alone. Somebody chose to give their body to me, after they died, so that mine could function. I don’t know anything about them, but because of their decision, we are deeply connected—we share a body. Not only am I grateful for what they have given me, but for what they have given every other person who received their heart, their kidney, their liver, anything. Organ donation is an act of love that lasts beyond death and through life, and it is one of the most beautiful things I have been a part of.

The little box on my driver’s license says “Organ Donor.” I’m proud it does, and I hope yours does as well. The next time you go to the DMV, take a second to think back on me and every other zombie out there. One day, far from now, you might create a zombie, too.

 

By: Julia Thompson

A Piece of Hawaii in Forest Grove, Oregon

Forest

 

At Pacific University, we boast a large population of students from Hawaii. Many students will meet these Hawaiians and experience the island culture. The food, greetings, music, and their Pidgin (or Hawaii Creole English) will seem very foreign. Even I, who was born and raised in Hawaii, was initially unfamiliar with it.

I am what people call the first generation. My parents, born in Japan, immigrated to Hawaii where I was born on the island of Hawaii (same name as the state). They both lacked the ability to speak English fluently so their community consisted of fellow immigrants from Japan. That is why I grew up in a culture that was halfway between the Japanese culture and the local Japanese-American culture.

The first time I heard people talking in Pidgin was when I entered middle school. By then people who knew how to speak Pidgin knew how to distinguish the authentic Pidgin and the mimics. Like all middle-schoolers, I was trying hard to fit in, and I didn’t want to risk being outed for being a fake so I gave up on speaking Pidgin.

For the most part I have a feeling most of the islanders gain their cultural experience through the gathering of their relatives and/or their parent’s friends. From what I noticed, the relatives of the cultured islanders all live near or on the neighboring islands. On top of that their parent’s friend who decides to stay on the island all live close together. After all, the most you will have to drive is probably 1 to 2 hours if they live on the opposite side of the island.

Because they have friends and relatives nearby, they have more opportunities to have gatherings and parties. There, the kids will mimic how all the adults speak and eventually learn how to speak in Pidgin, just like how I learned to speak Japanese. There, they will experience the friendly greetings and kisses from their relatives.

For me, all my relatives lived back in Japan. Unlike most of friends who went back to Japan every year, I only got to visit Japan once every 5 years or so. That’s why I don’t have the experience of meeting with my relatives over holidays. I never grew up with the island style gatherings.

It was a strange experience when I first visited the Hawaii house.  Let me describe that moment: at the door, I hear the muffled island music that I never really listen to. As I walk in I am greeted with hugs and smiles from strangers that I have never met. People laughing and talking in mixtures of proper and Pidgin English.

As I sit down on the sofa, bewildered and confused, someone tosses me a bottle of Heineken.

“Cheers, braddah” he says.

I enjoyed the rest of the night with these friendly strangers who treated me as if I was part of the family already. The house had a special kind of welcoming feel that is unique to the islands.

When I came to Pacific, I was excited for the new mainland experience that everyone back home talked about when they went to college. But I never expected to learn something about my home during my stay here. While many people experience the diverse cultures of other places in their stay here at Pacific, I don’t think many people get to experience the diversity of their home.

 

By: Michael Sakai