Cheese

Story of a Girl
2019-12-31 23:57:34 (UTC)

End of a decade

Two nights ago, I found myself awake at 2am listening to music when a sad song came up on my playlist. The song was actually a cover that I prefer to listen to over the original, but as I was listening to the cover, I thought about the artist of the original song and how that artist makes me think of someone I care a lot about. So, I tucked myself into bed and kept listening to music until I found myself wanting to take some time to reflect on everything that’s happened throughout the year. After all, it’s almost the end of the decade, still before midnight here PST. I can’t believe 2020 is just around the corner... And after taking some time to reflect about all that happened this year, I’m feeling very emotional.

To start off, nothing major that I can recall happened from January up until May, when I met my paternal grandmother for the first time. It wasn’t all that exciting but I’m glad I can at least say I’ve met her once. That’s all I wanted. She also met my oldest dog, the one who passed away, which is a memory I’ll always remember.

In June, I started filing my application for a college with a campus near my house. The original plan my mom and I had agreed to was for me to apply for next year’s fall semester, but in early June we had gone to the campus to ask for more information regarding the application process. The person helping us at the student recruitment center gave us a quick rundown of how the process would work and seeing as there was a small opening to apply for this year’s fall semester, my mom jumped at the chance and had me apply. This was a badly planned decision because I had to rush through the entire application process by trying to meet all the deadlines, and at the same time, we had to find the money to not only be able to start making payments for books and such, but we were also in the process of moving and we would need a lot of money for the moving process as well. In the end, I did manage to start the fall semester, although I do wish I could have done it differently. Like I mentioned, we were also in the process of moving. We had been renting our old house while my mom’s husband fixed all his paperwork to start preparing to buy a house, but the homeowners decided to sell the house we were living in so we were given a 3 months notice. So yeah... paying tuition PLUS moving houses, it was all bad timing.

In July, I turned 20. It’s still VERY surreal to say that, because I honestly don’t feel a day over 13. Like, I still feel and behave like a child. To most adults I’m still just a kid to them too lol. Not to mention I don’t look my age either. I’ve been told that I look anywhere between 12-16 but I have never been told I look older than 18. So anyway, I don’t think I asked for much. Senior year, I won a small giveaway and the reward was a gift card to the Cheese Factory. What I wanted to do for my birthday was go out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory so I could use my gift card. Things didn’t really happen like that. Instead, we ended up going to Olive Garden (which I definitely did not complain about, it had been about 10 years since we last ate there...) and I ate what I think is called the Tour of Italy? It was good though. The kids were mostly well behaved and our hostess was very kind, very patient with the kids. My mom told me we would be going to the Cheesecake Factory after eating at Olive Garden, but that didn’t happen. The nearest Cheesecake Factory is AT LEAST 40 minutes away and by the time we finished eating, it was around 9PM. All I really wanted was to eat cheesecake but it wasn’t that big a deal, Olive Garden was pretty good. In July, we also had to let go of my little boy, Mochi. My mom had found a new house literally like a block away from the house we were living in, but the homeowner there wanted a $200 deposit PER dog and we had four dogs. There was no way we could afford to pay for all of them, so he was the first to let go. I started to develop a very lowkey allergic reaction to his saliva & my hand would almost immediately develop a rash wherever he licked me, and it only happened with him. Sometimes along with the rash, little “bubbles” would appear on the area as well. Kind of like pimples but without any pus, I’m not sure if that makes sense. Basically like raised skin, idk. Next, he was abused as a puppy and he was always very mistrusting of others. It took him a lot of time to start developing trust in me, and my mom really did not have the patience to wait for him to start trusting all of us. Poor baby, he didn’t deserve to be abused but we had no other choice than to take the time to bond with him and repair the damage he had endured. Before the whole trust issue thing, my mom and her husband both knew it would be best to get rid of him if I was having allergic reactions and as much as it pained me, I agreed. He had the most trust in me and would show affection through licking me but I would always have to keep a physical distance or else my rash would start up. My allergic reactions weren’t severe at all, but they didn’t want to risk my reactions getting worse, which they gradually were. We decided to give Mochi away to one of my mom’s husband’s best friend Omar, who has a female husky. He also used to have a male husky named Rusky, I’m not sure if I ever brought that up but we dogsat him for a little bit last year. Omar REALLY loves his pets and gives them the best care possible, so I knew Mochi would be in good hands. The second dog we would be getting rid of is Sparkles. She’s absolutely crazy and she can never sit still. There’s no talking nice to her, you have to yell at her in order to get her to obey. So she was a very obvious candidate and my mom decided to give her away to the old woman across the street. She herself has about 3 dogs, all of whom stay outside in the lawn and guard the house. I didn’t feel too comfortable with Sparkles there but at least she would have the company of other dogs. Once we had started packing though, we all began to miss her crazy behavior. Our other dogs would actually cry because they could see Sparkles across the street, but couldn’t be with her. They would bark at each other from across the street and we began feeling bad that we had to break them apart. Long story short though, we decided to take her back but even to this day my mom heavily considers dropping her off at the adoption center and honestly, I agree with her on some occasions. So yeah all in all, we moved into a new house and had to let go one of our dogs.

In early August, we actually moved into the new house. August 5th, I met with some advisors who helped me select my schedule for the fall semester. They gave me only 4 classes, which I thought was very little... oh, how wrong I was! :D That same day was also the last day to sign up for payment plans and make the first payment, which was very unexpected and it would have been nice to know beforehand, seeing as we had a lot of expenses at the time. But yeah, August I started school and things were going okay.

Nothing eventful that I can remember happened in September. School was pretty okay.

October was just awful. Absolutely awful. October 10th, I woke up to find my dog of 9 years on the floor, dead. And to this day, I still feel very guilty about everything that happened and I can still very clearly remember the sad look on her eyes before I went to bed. I spent the following day crying all day. I had a class that day and I cried on my way to campus, I calmed down for a bit before class started but during our 10 minute break, I honestly felt like crying again. That whole week was just filled with sadness. She would have been 10 years old this December.

Towards the end of October (the 28th I think), I came across a devastating discovery. An old friend of mine had passed away... and I literally would have NO idea had I not been curious to dig around. A long time ago, a former friend had asked me to play a game with her called IMVU. I remembered seeing the tv commercials but had never played so I agreed to make an account. It was me and my two former friends just hanging out on there every afternoon, this was back in 2014. I stopped using my account after I stopped being friends with those two people, but after I met Renett in school, she had asked me if I played that game. In early 2016, she asked if I would consider playing IMVU with her so I said sure. There was one chatroom specifically that I really enjoyed going to and that’s where I met my friend, Tam. She was from Pennsylvania and we met August 12th, of 2016 and I remember this because I copied down our entire conversation. To this day, it’s seriously the FUNNIEST chat I have ever been involved with and I’m honestly so glad I saved our first conversation together. Had I known back then that she would no longer be in my life, I would have saved every chat with her. But yeah. Tam and I became really good friends and we had our special group of besties on that game. We would talk every day in our group chat and we always had new things to talk about. Our friendship became more serious when she asked to add me on Facebook. At the time, I was having login issues so I told her that I would bookmark her profile page and once I could fix my login issues, I would send a friend request. She was okay with that... and I ultimately never managed to fix my problem signing in. So, time went on. It became 2017, then 2018. Then finally, 2019. We went from talking every day to every other day, to at least once a week, to every two weeks or so. We both started losing interest in the game and our other friends from our group chat lost interest as well, but we all still got along well and sometimes we all managed to find time to meet up in chatrooms like old times. By this time, Renett and I had long stopped being friends but I really enjoyed Tam’s company so our group chat was the primarily the only reason any of my friends came back to that game, myself included.

The last time I ever spoke to her directly was February 23rd of 2019. My last message to our group chat was on July 28th of 2019, two days before she died. So, the way that I found out about her passing was by accident. It was October still, I was looking for something specific in my bookmarks when I came across her profile page which I still had bookmarked. I thought to myself, “Oh wow, I can’t believe I still have it bookmarked. I haven’t heard from her in a while, I wonder how she’s doing?” So I clicked on her profile page and I immediately notice this banner at the top of the screen that reads something about legacy accounts and memorialized accounts and I was SO confused. As I’m reading more about memorialized accounts, I’m slowly starting to understand what was happening but at the same time, I refused to believe that what I was reading was correct. I immediately started looking for more information so I googled her name and yep, I found an obituary. Like, holy shit. I looked through her cousin’s and brother’s profiles because I remember Tam talked highly about them and yeah, they also had very sad posts that lined up with her unfortunate passing. At this point, I seriously did not want to believe that she was gone and for some reason, all this evidence of her passing was just unacceptable to me. I was in denial, but yet I had this heavy, sinking weight in my heart and that feeling comes back any time that I think about her. “I haven’t heard from her in a while” no shit... she died, that’s why. I really went a little crazy after I took the time to take everything in and my first thought was, she died in a car accident, maybe she got hit by a car... I sound so insane but I really went out of my way to prove that she died in an accident involving a car and at the end of the night, I began to believe in what seemed like the most obvious cause of death. It honestly broke my heart because I know she felt some type of way when I first met her and though we always joked about depression and suicide, we did it in that same way all “edgy” kids joke about it. There was no real meaning behind it yknow? We would always say “I’m gonna go jump off a building now” or “Seriously kys” but in the context of our conversations, those kind of sayings were all for edgy jokes. I felt like I was open about my own struggles and whenever she needed something I would drop whatever I was doing to talk to her, so I felt very sad when I thought about her death. If she needed to talk to someone, I would have been there for her at any time of day but the last time we spoke was so long ago, we fell out of touch for a bit. Not to mention that she lived across the country, we had never actually met so all our communication came from our group chat and I honestly couldn’t have forced her to sign in more often. And although I’m heavily implying that she died of suicide, I want to point out that I don’t actually know if that was her cause of death. From what I learned about her through our friendship, she was a smart girl and she would never purposely do anything reckless or anything that could potentially endanger others. She didn’t drive, she didn’t drink or do drugs (that I know of). She was a girl who liked to spend time on the internet listening to music and laughing at memes, but she also had her own demons to battle and to me suicide seems like it’s the most obvious answer. I’m definitely not trying to show any type of disrespect by assuming I know what happened. But she was my friend and I’m just so confused as to why she’s gone. And yeah. Little did I know that would be my last time talking to her and it still stings.

What stings even more is that there is a game I used to play with a bunch of my former friends, but now none of my current friends find the time to play with me. That is, Tam was the only one who was willing to play with me. She totally sucked at the game and she owned up to that too lmao. We would always make arrangements to play on holidays because that game has special achievements you can only earn on holidays. I’ve made it known that I don’t really do much during the holidays because I don’t have a lot of family but despite her own family celebrations, Tam always made time to play that game with me on special days of the year. This year was the first year since the day we met where we did not play our special game together. No Halloween, No Thanksgiving, no Christmas. It sucks. Nobody else has the sense of humor to enjoy that game except for her, and now the only person who would enjoy playing with me is gone. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to that game now. Been playing that game since 2011 or 2013, I have made many memories playing that game with friends I’ve had over the years but I think my race to the finish line is finally over.

And yeah. She’s gone. Her death really put things into perspective for me. We had never met in person, we were strictly two strangers who met on an IMVU chatroom and became friends. Knowing that she’s gone, it made me think that you can become friends with anyone online and suddenly they stop signing in and... you literally wouldn’t know if they’re okay or not. She stopped signing in less frequently and what exactly could I have done at that point? Had she not given me the link to her facebook profile, I would still think that she just gave up on the game like the rest of our friends. IMVU also removes accounts with one year of inactivity so I have up to her last login date to actively view her profile before I’m unable to view it again. That hurts. But at least the messages she sent me will always remain as long as I continue to log in. And, I WILL continue to sign in until I’m ready to let go of those memories with her. A part of her is still with me, though. A very long time ago, we met a little girl on that game who was attempting to become a “youtuber” and we had this really weird inside joke about our friend who “lost his mom” and we needed to spread the message to the world incase someone knew where his “mom” might be. I jokingly convinced Tam to have the wannabe youtube girl make a video with her so that Tam could “spread the message” about our friend’s fake mom lol. The youtube video is still up to this day, and as I’m writing this, I definitely need to download the video for myself in case the wannabe youtube girl takes it down. Aside from the youtube video, I mentioned that I saved most of our first conversation together and we also had a few in-game photos together so at least I will have those memories to look back on.

So YEAH. October was the worst month of 2019. My dog died, and I found out my online friend is no longer alive. Tam introduced me to a lot of good music which I can no longer listen to without thinking of her. She also really loved listening to Gorillaz. Her favorite band member was Noodle. Any time I listen to their music, I listen to it with a heavy appreciation. I unintentionally came across one of their songs a few weeks ago and I CANNOT listen to this song without thinking of her. So Tamya, I really wish I could have dedicated On Melancholy Hill to you sooner. I wish we could have spoken more often but I know you were busy with school and family. I should have let you win at least once, too.

November was quite uneventful. Students K-12 got all of Thanksgiving week off... meanwhile, I was allowed Thursday and Friday off but I’m still a little bitter since I already had Fridays off anyway so I technically only had one class day off that week lol. My mom and her husband began arguing, so what’s new? Haha. Always on the holidays. For the first time in a VERY long time, my mom made thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t a traditional American thanksgiving dinner with turkey and potatoes or whatever. We had pork and it wasn’t properly cooked the day before so we couldn’t enjoy the flavors as much but it was still pretty darn good.

The second week of December marked my last week of the fall semester and my first semester as a first year college student. IT WAS STRESSFUL AS FUCK. My Monday class had a group assignment, equivalent to a test grade. At the start of that semester, there were 14 boys and six girls in the class. A girl whose name I’ve forgotten because she only came to class twice, Destiny, Megan, Perla, Shatteria, and myself. Unknown girl and Destiny eventually stopped showing up and although I got along with Megan just fine, we sat on opposite sides of the classroom but Shatteria and Perla sat next to me so the three of us became a little trio and we inevitably became group members for the project. Our project was based on a hypothetical business that we were in “charge” of managing and basically we were asked to create a budget and purpose for that business... Long story short, I did the project mainly by myself. Big surprise, right? Both girls are grown adults with children and I probably shouldn’t be calling them girls right now lol, and though they have jobs and I don’t, I had other assignments and projects due for my other classes. AND OF COURSE, my mother having issues with her husband didn’t help much either. She forced me out of the house to go take the kids to a park (so she could distract them and herself from the drama) on a night that I had intended to dedicate to my assignments... I literally did my homework, on my phone, using Microsoft Powerpoint and Word. This was Sunday night I think, my online english class required me to turn in my portfolio on Monday morning 8AM but I never wake up that early so I always turn my assignments in the Sunday night before. So not only did I have to turn that in, but my Tuesday class ALSO has quizzes on every lecture we have and oh so coincidentally, we had two lectures in one meaning two quizzes ALSO due Sunday night along with my portfolio, along with working on the project due the following day.. It might not sound like a lot, but it was a lot. My Tuesday night professor adds topics to the quizzes that aren’t covered in class so I kind of have to read the textbook and that week there were two chapters instead of one because he had to skip a lecture few weeks prior. It’s a lot. My mom chose a good night to drag me out of the house. And to top things off, she decided it would be good to do a little grocery shopping while I was itching to go home to finish my assignments... Long story short, I met all my deadlines. I stayed up past midnight and I may have taken a few shortcuts, I did my best not to half-ass my assignments but I made all my deadlines. Fast forward to the end of the semester, I didn’t fail any of my classes. That’s all that matters. Do I have a 3.5 or 4.0 GPA? NOPE. Do I care? NOT REALLY! As long as I got passing grades for all my classes, I’m good lmao. My presentation on Monday evening went well. I literally did all the work, none of the girls in my group contributed to our presentation. They work, they have children, I GET THAT. But a heads up letting me know they wouldn’t contribute at all would have been nice so I could’ve had all the work done prior to the due date. I stressed myself the fuck out just to make sure I got all my work done. That aside, the most “looked up to” person in my class said nice things about our presentation and the project was graded based on what the class thought was appropriate so I think I got my team a good grade. It was an easy A class anyway. I could have shown up to class empty handed, failed the presentation grade and still have passed the class. My Monday class was my favorite class so it felt very bittersweet saying goodbye to my few acquaintances for the last time. I didn’t speak a lot to many of them but we all had a mutual respect for each other. Like I made friends and suddenly the semester ends and poof, I never see them again lol. It’s funny in a very sad way. My Tuesday class did not have a lecture that final week since all our tests are done online, but I will miss that professor as well. He would always make jokes and our class was a very serious, get to the point class. Most people wouldn’t laugh at his jokes and he would own the fact that even his wife thinks his jokes are corny. It takes a lot for me to laugh out loud but he did manage to crack me a few times. For the most part, I acknowledged his jokes with a smile because I did find them funny, just not enough to start laughing like a maniac. And finally, my Thursday class. I managed to get a high C on the final but he always curves his tests so, I got a low B. Not bad though! I didn’t like this professor at first but over time I got used to his very lowkey vibe. He’s a very nice man, very sweet and he also had jokes ready for us every lecture. I actually have his same classroom for one of my classes in the spring semester, so I’ll definitely be reclaiming my same seat in the second row once the new semester begins... I also made a friend in that class who’s also my age! We won’t be sharing any classes together next semester but she’s awesome, I hope to see her around campus.

December 12th marked my last day of class. December has been pretty hectic. Mom and her husband threatening divorce, just like every year. They’ve been fighting again, just like every year... What’s new? She made us Christmas dinner again too. It was the same as thanksgiving dinner, but this time she made turkey too and everything was made on Christmas Eve in the morning so it was ready for us on Christmas morning. We played Loteria with the kids and we also handed out tamales (which we sell every year and whatever doesn’t sell we hand out) to the homeless. However, I think there was a law being passed that can have homeless arrested if they’re seen on the streets, so we didn’t see that many on the streets compared to last year. The kids loved their gifts and my mom got us some stuff as well. It was an okay christmas, better than last year I guess.

Over Christmas, we dogsat a little Pomeranian named Spikey. My mom’s best friend’s dog while they went to Disneyland in Cali. Ever since my dog died, it has felt very unusual holding a tiny dog but Spikey was mostly well behaved... except for all those “marking his territory” moments with pee everywhere. Yesterday, we got a very lovely surprise! After our dog died, my sister was all over social media posting photos of our dog and one of her friends took notice. His dog was pregnant at the time, and he felt bad about our dog, so he offered to give us one of his pups for free if we wanted to open our heart to another dog. We were on the fence at first since my mother said she didn’t want another dog. She saw us suffering over our childhood pet and didn’t want us suffering again when the time would eventually come for the new dog, but she surprisingly agreed to care for the new puppy once the litter was born. We agreed on getting a girl puppy so that our old dog’s dresses could still be used, and we also agreed to name her Nena. However, we had to wait a bit for her to fully stop nursing from her mother. Over time the boy would send us updates through photos and videos. Yesterday, just as Spikey was being picked up by his family, we were told Nena could go home with us so my mom and sister went for her and now she’s here! She’s also a chihuahua and she looks so similar to our old dog. We got our old dog at 2 months old, Nena is only a month old and she’s sooo so tiny. Little girl fits in my palms, she’s precious. I sometimes feel as if I’m subconsciously trying to replace her with my childhood dog but honestly, the family doesn’t feel complete without a tiny dog. She looks very similar to our beloved but she could never replace her and the memories we created with her. But Nena is still a baby, so we’ll have plenty more memories to create with her. She kept me up ALL night, I barely got any sleep because she would wake up every 2 hours to play before tiring herself.

And now it’s New Year’s Eve, 11:55PM for me. 2019 was a roller coaster and for some reason I’m emotional about the end of the decade. 2009 to 2010 didn’t feel like a big change but for some reason 2019 to 2020 feels like a big deal? I’m sad. I lost a lot of friendships, I lost pets and people I cared about. In general, there were a lot of goodbyes, which is somewhat fitting since I am now saying goodbye to the end of a decade. I hope 2020 goes well. It probably won’t. I guess I’ll find out next year, huh?

“Slow Dancing in the Dark” by Sora.wav is the cover I was listening to. The original artist is joji. Tam loved his videos as filthyfrank and she definitely enjoyed his music. I never would have imagined how much her death would hurt me.


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