I watch from the sidelines, while you shine on the stage; I’m mesmerized hearing you sing. And who am I? Just an awkward fan. Is it strange that I’m calling myself a fan of yours, as if you’re an A-list celebrity and I’m the overlooked journalist, who’s not trying to exploit you, but just wants to tell you that you’re cool and we should be friends? After all you’re my age, we’re in the same school, same choir. Yet I don’t say anything I stay standing, listening, and watching you in the spotlight.
16 is a funny age, every movie makes it out to be like the prime of your teenage years. My reality was faced with an exceedingly strict upbringing, a cut off from social media. A time where I would sneak eyeliner into my bag, put in on at school, and take it off before I got home. Having the spirit of a queen who wanted to rule, but had a kingdom taken away before I even had a chance to conquer it.
I joined show choir my junior year of high school, hoping that maybe I’ll have a kingdom to rule, finally happy with the people I surrounded myself with. My first encounter with Melissa, isn’t one that she would remember, because she probably couldn’t see my face in the crowd of choir kids. She sang my favorite song, New York State of Mind by Billy Joel. When the song ended I saw a group of kids stand and roar with applause cheering her name; everyone loved her. I instantly realized that I was not going to rule this kingdom either, but for the first time, I was okay with that, this queen seemed pretty great.
After adding her on Facebook, I felt an overcoming amount of envy fill up. As if singing wasn’t enough she was perhaps the most photogenic 16- year- old I’ve ever seen. Her pictures were filled with comments of a myriads of friends ( or fans) commenting about her perfection. Not to mention her hair had been dyed red. I had been begging my parents to let me dye my hair red for years, and here she was with a luscious and thick head full of the most gorgeous mahogany red hair. Melissa was everything I wanted to be in high school, loved, confident, intelligent, but never cruel to others. She was always one step ahead of the trend, not afraid to be different, but praised for it. She was the star of the show, playing a princess with a powerful voice, and I, I was merely just a member of the ensemble who never got tired of watching her shine.
The remainder of high school certainly was better than the last several years of my education, yet I still remained without a kingdom conquered. But a silver lining appeared; early December of 2013, I had gotten into Marymount Manhattan College. It was a small liberal arts college in the upper east side of New York City. There was my ticket out of a small town and into the bustling city where I believed the rest of my future waited for me. A new start and a new life where I could finally reign as the uptown girl from a downtown world I wanted to be.
Complications arose, and after fighting harder than I ever had in my life, I made my commitment to Cal State Fullerton, under one condition, I would be living on campus, not with my parents.
Feeling defeated, I tried not to talk about my future with my classmates who were traveling around the country for their future. When graduation day was arriving, they posted the list of which seniors would be attending which school, and to my surprise, I saw Melissa’s name next to mine on the list for CSUF
If I remembered correctly, Melissa had gotten into Berklee College of Music in Boston; A school full of opportunities and experiences that would suit her so perfectly. I was so excited for her, because I couldn’t imagine anyone else who could possibly deserved a chance like that. But This girl who I had considered to be a star of the show, was now going to be a regular Cal State classmate just like me. Both of us were going to staying in the freshman dorms of CSUF, eating in the same cafeteria, taking the same bus to get to work, and overall, both of us were going to be living a life completely different than what we had expected merely less than a year before.
After discovering we had a class together, and sticking together due to our common bond, Melissa and I were spending a remarkable amount of time together. She taught me the ways of doing my eyebrows, and the art of aesthetic, and I felt like Elphaba in Wicked when Galinda teaches her to be popular. Though let’s be honest, personality wise, I’m the bubbly and sparkly one, while Melissa is a bit more reserved than I am. In the year that we were dorming we became the closest of friends in our little friendship group, I think it’s perhaps we both felt this overwhelming sense that we weren’t exactly where we were suppose to be. We became roommates and the best of friends.
Melissa was quicker to realize her unhappiness in her path that I was, and in ways I regret, I believe I envied her for that too, but unlike high school I couldn’t take my envious behavior and watch her shine from a distance. We were too close, so instead of helping her shine like a friend, I wanted my light to outshine hers.
Despite every obstacle and the world saying there is only way way to succeed in this life, Melissa showed that none of that matter to her and she was going to continue to do her own thing . I watched as the people who would comment about her perfection whenever she posted something a little different that made her stand out of the crowd, slowly faded into the distance, and for a little while, I become one of them. When in reality I was just wondering how she could be so confident without the approval of the peers she once knew so well, but she was no longer the Melissa they once knew.
She had blossomed, and had done so gracefully and quicker than most of the people we knew, and certainly faster than me. During my time of envy, Melissa still remained praising me, defending me, and supporting me in all my adventures. She was the true embodiment of a queen who fixes other queen’s crowns, someone who finds beauty in people and captures it so she can show them what others see. And while I might have rolled my eyes as her aesthetic, I was blind to see the art and creativity she carries in her heart. But once I had grown and opened my eyes and my mind to her world, I realized that she wasn’t on the ground, she was flying about everyone else; it was just a matter of time before I learned how to fly as well.
I’m so incredibly proud of Melissa as she reminds me to search for the good in the world and possible paths a person has in their life, She is not the same girl who would stand in the spotlight, but I’m no longer the girl who watched her from the wings. Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned through the past several years is you don’t need to conquer and gain the affection of a whole kingdom to be a queen, you simply have to believe you are one. I don’t fight or envy Melissa’s spotlight, because we each have a different stage and a different show to preform.
Four years ago, I would have been speechless if you told me that Melissa was going to be one of my best friends, and someone who I no longer can envision my life without. I’m grateful for her and I value our friendship to no ends; I will always be here to fix her crown.