“Girls, your grandfather is in the hospital and we don’t know why yet,” my mother told me. While I found out only four weeks ago, it feels like years have gone by. We thought it was nothing- he was 82 and gets sick every once and a while with pneumonia. 8 hours after he was in the hospital, he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
For the past few years, reading has become a trend rather than a hobby. With TikTok challenges, aesthetics, and even, “BookTok,” a genre of TikTok videos where people recommend authors and novels, making sure to tag the specific hashtag so their videos have better chances in the algorithm, people have been encouraged to parade their newfound pleasures with all of their followers.
On the cusp of my two-year anniversary as a lifeguard and a swim instructor, I have been reflecting on my experiences at the pool where I work and how they have shaped how I navigate the world as a high school girl.
Just over a year ago, I began writing letters to my great grandfather as often as I could. An ample vessel of knowledge, my 95 year old great-grandfather has lived through war, political turmoil, economic instability, civil rights movements, and other infamous chapters of US history textbooks.
Ever since I was a young girl, I was a grinch. My green claws scratched against the Mariah Carey vinyl records until they shrieked. My furry-green-fluff laced the cookies laid out for Santa. I don’t come from the type of family that rises before the sun on Christmas Day to tear apart trinkets from the man who slides down the chimney to lay presents out for each good little kid.
As a junior in high school, I am taking AP Art History this school year. In the cozy confines of my first period classroom, we probe art pieces from 3500 BCE- modern day works through lively discussion, thoughtful written analysis and precise note taking.
Following in my mother’s footsteps, my favorite book is The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This isn’t a book report so I will not summarize it, although Atwood’s seemingly fantastical depiction of sexism should be noted. Gilead seemed widely improbable for years.