Josh (New York City, United States)
It was always going to be her.
Here’s a fact about people. They rarely impress me, and I don’t allow them to see my vulnerability or change my life very often.
With Roni, everything is different. She doesn’t play the judgmental card when she first learns that I’m an introvert in a world where people never stop talking. She also doesn’t try to fix my autism, or dismiss my interests as too odd or boring for a normal society.
What is normal, anyway? Does it even exist? For most of our lives we’ve been conditioned to blend in with the crowd, not express ourselves as individuals. We’re taught from birth that life is all about pleasing other people, especially authority figures.
Get that wrong, and you’re an outcast.
Be yourself, is what everyone tells you
No, not like that.
I’ve been listening to Fall Out Boy nonstop lately. I can relate to their lyrics more than I have with any other band or singer. It’s almost as if the universe made Fall Out Boy’s music just for me.
It’s almost as if the universe knew I desperately needed Roni, and gave her to me.
Like my favorite lyric in my favorite Fall Out Boy song says, Roni is just the last of the real ones.
Veronica (St. Louis Missouri, United States)
17, going on 18 and glued to a wheelchair.
Not exactly what I signed up for in my goal of becoming an independent adult, wanting to explore this world standing on my own two feet.
My mom keeps reminding me that God has his reasons behind everything, even something bad like this. “Roni, put your hand over your heart. You should be thankful that at least you’re alive.”
Religion is included on that list of things I used to have faith in but don’t anymore. It’s not like I haven’t tried to be joyful. It’s just difficult every time that joy slips out of my grasp, every single time I start believing that I have it.
Whenever I’m out in public, I get stares.
Not the kind of stares that hint at admiration,
the kind that hint at judgment and disgust, as if there’s something wrong with me.
Maybe there is.
My mom has now become skilled at ignoring their stares each time she pushes me. She loads up our cart with the essentials like cereal, milk, boxed macaroni lunches and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
She never gives them a second thought, and their cold, heartless looks don’t seem to bother her.
Or, if they do, she hides it very well.
On the outside, I smile.
On the inside I’m a storm no one would want to be caught in.