my weird connection with mariah carey and why i will never forget that moment in the bathroom

2:30 PM

8.14.2017



Seventh grade was the worst year of my young life. At the time, however, I thought it was the end of the world. All of my friends, for reasons I still don't quite get, decided to team up against me. One girl, in particular, had it out for me and she took everyone I claimed as my social circle and brought them to her side. It was slow to start, but we stopped meeting for lunch, we stopped having sleepovers and shortly after that, my phone didn't ring for weeks. Rumors were spread and girls I used to spend all of my free-time with started looking away when they saw me in the hallways.

I had two best friends, and then I had one. That one stayed with me during the off hours, but during school, she went with them. I was alone and had no explanation. I missed 36 days over a trimester that year and that was very unlike me. I had always been a good student with near-perfect attendance and impeccable grades. I was one of the few that enjoyed school and then it took a turn where I'd make up any possible excuse to not go. Twice in that same three to four month period, I missed a whole week, blaming a UTI, but really I was just miserable. And then, come to find out, when I returned, everyone knew I had a UTI (how?) and I had to deal with that.

It was strange how it happened because honestly, I was pretty popular up until that point. I was a student body officer, everyone knew who I was and liked me, I was nice to people, and in a few weeks that stretched into months that was gone. When I didn't fake an illness, I would show up to class and do my part and weirdly enough, some of those "used-to-be friends" still engaged with me when we were assigned homework together. I did my best to play along but inside it was fucking awful.  Somehow I got through it, though I am still not sure how.  That's a really torturous time for most young people, even without the loss of your social life, but I still graduated seventh grade and by eighth grade, it was as if that entire year didn't exist (so much that other best friend literally wrote in my yearbook "sorry about our quarrel").

One of the days I begged my mom to let me stay home, I excused myself in the middle of the day to take a shower. Afterward, I sat on the toilet, wrapped in my towel, and waited for the steam to fade off the mirror. I had this ritual after every shower I took. As a kid in the era of Titanic, if there was steam in my presence on any mirrored surface I would smack my hand against it and then softly drift it downward and off, much like Rose did in the back of the car after she banged Jack. Don't ask me why, and don't ask me if I still do it to this day on occasion (because the answer is yes).

Directly in front of me was a small table that housed a bunch of trinkets that didn't belong in a bathroom. My mom, Marian, collected many little things. There was a jug and some canisters and several rogue bobby pins and I would sit and stare and wait patiently until I got cold enough that I needed something more than a towel. There was a window above the trinket table that was always open. In fact, I'm 90% sure it didn't have the capability to close. Luckily it was small and even in the winter, it wasn't a bother to me because I didn't spend a lengthy amount of time in the bathroom unless there was steam present. On this particular day, I could hear the voices of people walking down my street. Had there been a clock in the bathroom it probably would have read three-ish o'clock which meant school was out and the kids were coming home. I lived a block and a half away from my school but still complained when I had to walk home.

The voices carried through the open window, though I couldn't make out a single word. I don't know why I stayed, but I didn't move from that toilet, almost afraid that if I did, one of my ex-friends would know and yell out something harsh and I just wasn't ready for that. And they didn't live in my vicinity, but paranoia prevails, I guess.  I had skipped school for a reason, I didn't want to be seen.

After several minutes of mumbled conversations, the first dialogue I could actually make out was a song. These girls (I assume) were belting out Hero by Mariah Carey. Let me point out, this was 1998 so that song was considered "old" but for whatever reason, those lyrics were on their minds and they were telling anyone within earshot.

I've never really cared for Carey. I don't not like her, but the only album of hers I've ever owned was her Christmas album because it's a fucking classic (okay that's a lie because Marian did buy me the Fantasy album and I bought Butterfly with a gift card I had to MediaPlay). Needless to say, I knew the song, and I listened, and for some fucking reason, it completely kicked my mental ass.

I did have a hero inside of me and I was somehow going to make it.

I can't say for sure that it was the pivotal moment where I rationally changed my mindset and decided to survive the shit that had been thrown at me by some mean girls, but it replays in my mind and that's not a coincidence. It gave me a sense of hope in a really shitty time and since then, when I've had other shitty moments, shittier moments even, that song always makes its way into my head and reminds me that I made it through something hard before, and I will again. That's just how it goes.

So my advice to whoever reads this is simple: maybe a pop song will save your goddamned life and maybe if I get the chance, I'll thank Mariah...not only for that song but for making that Christmas album.

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