Kalena Oakley

FINAL DRAFT:

Personal Memoir

Every once in a while you have a day where nothing goes right, but everything is perfect at the same time. The days where you’re dreading for them to come, but you never want them to end either. It’s when you know that everything is going to be changing soon, and you aren’t ready for the changes to come. Those are the days that you will never forget.

It was July fourth, two years ago. It was a time of excitement, love, and passion. Everybody was out of their houses, hanging out with neighbors, and having a good time. The streets of small town Quincy, Illinois were busy with excitement. There were block parties, pool parties, everything you can imagine.

 I woke up at nine; I was starting the day off early. I packed my pool bag, packing all of the essentials: cell phone, iPod, swimsuit, towel, and tanning lotion. I jumped into the passenger seat of my car and waited, impatiently, for my mom to get in the car.

            While we were driving I was screaming for my mom to drive faster. It was a five minute drive, but it felt like an hour. When we finally stopped the car, I jumped out, waved good-bye, and slammed the door shut. I proceeded to run up the four large concrete steps to the doorbell and rung it. I could hear the dog barking ferociously, and I could hear Katie’s footsteps as she ran down her stairs to answer the door.

            She opened up the door, let me in, and we went upstairs to her room. I always loved her room. It was bright blue, with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. It was always so bright and welcoming. The room was even better than usual this time because my best friends Maureen and Erin were sitting there. My best friends are the most incredible people I have ever met. We are all completely different, but somehow we all come together. Katie is a cheerleader, and one of the happiest most outgoing people you will ever meet. Erin is a soccer player, and she is very quiet. Maureen is a basketball player and a cross country runner. Like me, she never stops talking. I think the reason we were all best friends is because we all liked adventures and we always managed to find them when we were together.

            Katie’s dad came in and said it was time to go. We all piled into the back of his navy blue Nissan Altima and were ready to go. We were on our way to our first of the three country clubs we were planning on hitting up that day.

            We pulled into the Sheridan parking lot and jumped out. We raced each other to the pool, threw our bags by the only empty table left in the place, and jumped into the pool. We looked over to the high dive and there they were… the boys. It was Tom, Matt, Jake, and Dalton, and of course they were on the diving board trying to impress us. Sadly, stuff like that actually worked on us.

            We ran to them and started talking. There were so many people in the pool that we couldn’t hear each other, so we decided to get out and go sit at our table. We ordered our favorite food, the nachos supreme. Every nacho was perfectly filled with hot sauce, chicken, beef, sour crème, and salsa.

            Once we had our food, we talked about our plans for the rest of the day. The girls, us, were going to leave so that we could go to a different country club. The boys, being boys, were going to go back to Tom’s house to blow stuff up. They were excited because it was the fourth of July, so their parents didn’t mind for once. We all planned to meet up at the Mississippi again for fireworks later that night.

            With our plans finalized, we got Katie’s dad and told him we were ready to leave. We loaded up the car and drove to the Quincy Country Club. Once we got there I said hi to my mom, who was there with her friend Beth, and then met back up with my friends.

            They were already with a big group of boys. It was Brian, Beth’s son, Adam L, Luke, Austin, Adam S, Joe, Nick, and Mark. That’s what I loved most about my friends. They always wanted to be with the guys, and they weren’t afraid to go after what they wanted. The boys wanted to play us in pool basketball, and considering the fact that we never back down from a challenge, we said that we would play them.

            We won the farkle, and got to start with the ball. We shot our first shot, Erin being guarded by two guys at once, and of course they got the ball, broke away, and scored. That’s pretty much how the entire game went. We never scored a basket, but we still had a good time.

            When we finished playing we told them good-bye and left to find Katie’s dad one more time. He agreed to take us to the third country club in Quincy. That’s where Maureen’s family was, and we were supposed to eat dinner with them.

            Once we got there we started searching for Maureen’s family, but we got distracted by the gigantic blow up slide. We decided that dinner could wait; we wanted to play on the slide.

            We went in pairs because we couldn’t all go at once. Maureen and Katie went, and once they cleared Erin and I took our turns. We started in the maze and got trampled by all of the little kids. When we finally got to the top, we counted to three and then went for it. We ended up flying off of the slide and landed on the grass. It was really painful, but we just sat there laughing.

            Unfortunately, Maureen’s mom had heard us laughing and came to get us. She did not look happy at all. Maureen checked her watch and we realized what had happened… we missed dinner. Her mom glared at us, yelled at us for missing dinner, and told us that she was going to take us all home. Katie was spending the night at my house, so when Maureen’s mom pulled into my driveway we both jumped out of the car and booked it into the house before she could say anything. I felt bad for the other girls still in the car.

            When we got into the house, we realized that it was really quiet. Nobody was home. There was a yellow post it note sitting on the kitchen counter. We read it and realized that my family was at Tom’s house.

            We ran to their house, whose backyard was connected to ours, and saw all of the people. They were having a party and all of our neighbors were there. We said hi to my parents and then snuck inside. We went down the stairs where the guys were playing “Madden” on the play station. I unplugged the T.V. and told them we were going to the neighborhood soccer field until it was time to go to the river.

            We grabbed a football and were on our way. We walked past all my neighbor’s houses, and thinking back now, I would give anything to be back in that neighborhood. People were always trying to get out of there. They were trying to get to bigger and better things, but once you get there it’s not what you expected. You might have a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood, with a better school, but you had to give up everything to get there. I would die to live in that neighborhood again.

            When we got to the soccer field we divided up into teams. We set up the boundaries and started to play. Tom had the ball and he was yelling at me to run. Right when he released the ball, I heard a loud thud and was on the ground. I had run into the soccer post. It didn’t hurt, it was just really funny. To this day my friends still remind me of that.

            After my “accident” we decided to head back to the house because it was getting dark out. When we got to the house, our neighbors were leaving, and our parents told us to get ready to go to the river. Finally, it was time to go.

            The car ride to the Mississippi was a blur, just a lot of loud teenagers. Once we got there, we ditched our parents and tried to get as close to the fireworks as possible. It was a failed attempt. We decided on a spot a little further away, so that we weren’t with all the other people of Quincy.

            We laid out our blankets, and took our place on the ground. The sun was setting and the show was about to start. You could feel the excitement. Not only did we have a perfect view of Quincy’s fireworks, if we turned around we could see the fireworks from our neighboring town.

            While we were waiting for the light show to begin, Tom grabbed me and said that he wanted to talk. I didn’t want to leave my friends, but I humored him and off we went. When we got out of hearing range we sat down and he started talking. He told me how he was going to miss me when I moved and how the neighborhood wouldn’t be the same without me. He told me that I was his best friend, and he would always be one short phone call away. Right when we got up to leave he reached for my hand and told me that he loved me. I didn’t know what to say. If I could go back to that moment I would tell him that I loved him too, but all I did was smile and run back to my friends.

            As soon as I sat down the fireworks started. We all sat there in wonder as the lights flashed across the sky. It was beautiful. It was a moment I would never forget. As the final lights faded, we packed up and headed home.

            When we got back to my house Katie and I went straight to my room and started our favorite movie, Wimbledon. We gossiped through the entire thing, and when it finished we turned the T.V. off and attempted to fall asleep.

            While I was trying to fall asleep I heard a noise outside my window. I got up and opened the blinds, and right as I did Katie turned my bedroom lights on. Whoever was outside my windows could now see us, but we couldn’t see them. I tried to scream but instead of hearing my voice, I heard a series of load booms. It sounded like the fireworks were going off again. We woke up my dad, and we all ran outside. Fireworks had been set off on my neighbor’s front porch.

            We ran into my house and my dad got out a pan, the smallest one, and filled it with water. He got out his shoes, took some time to tie them, and then went back outside. I look out the door and he is screaming at me to call 9-1-1. The fireworks had caught their front porch on fire!

            I grabbed the phone, dialed the number, and told the operator that there was a fire. She asked for the address, and since I didn’t know it I gave her mine. She said they would send somebody, but it would be a while because there were other things going on. My neighbor was running around with the hose, tangled up in it, attempting to put the fire out. After about three minutes of water being splashed onto the flying flames, they got the fire put out. When the police and fire department finally got to the house, they questioned all of us and then let us go back inside. Even thought I didn’t do anything wrong, being around the police made me nervous.

            As I was falling asleep that night I realized that this would be a night I would never forget. Quincy always had a lot of random drama going on, but I absolutely loved it. It was my favorite thing. You never knew exactly what was going to happen, but you always knew that something would.

            Springfield, Missouri is a great place to live, but Quincy, Illinois will always be my home. No matter where life takes me, I will always find my way back to Quincy. Your past follows you everywhere, and mine will always be close behind. I will always have the small town accent, the small town look, and the small town love. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Quincy is and always will be my home. After all, home is where the heart is, and I left my heart with the people who filled it.

            If you told me today that I could redo my entire life over again, or even redo my last night in Quincy over again, I would laugh at you. I have had my share of mistakes, some of them bigger than others. However, a life is not something to take for granted. It’s not something you try to redo over and over again until you get it right. It’s a onetime thing. You only get one chance, one life to live, so you might as well make the best of it. Life is full of random experiences. You never know what’s going to happen the next day, the next hour, or the next minute. That’s what makes it so great. You have the opportunity to make every second worthwhile because of the pure fact that you do not know what is going to happen next. One day you could be living the perfect life, and the next day your life could be turned upside down. Make the best out of everything that you have, do not regret things, and live every day as if it was your last. Even if it isn’t the last day of your life, it may be the last day of your life as you know it.

 I will never forget the last day of life as I knew it. I will grow old, forget many memories, and create many new ones, but July 4th will always be as vivid as it was the original night. Life is a precious thing, and I absolutely love my life. I love my home, and I love my friends. I love their simplicity and their slight craziness. I love how they are happy with whatever they have, just as long as they have each other. I learned that the hard way, I had to experience it for myself, but it was a lesson worth learning. It is my favorite memory.

 

 

 

ROUGH DRAFT:

            It was July fourth, two years ago. It was a time of excitement, love, and passion. Everybody was out of their houses, hanging out with neighbors, and having a good time. The streets of small town Quincy, Illinois were busy with excitement. There were block parties, pool parties, everything you can imagine.

 I woke up at nine; I was starting the day off early. I packed my pool bag, packing all of the essentials: cell phone, ipod, swimsuit, towel, and tanning lotion. I jumped into the passenger seat of my car and waited, impatiently, for my mom to get in the car.

            While we were driving I was screaming for my mom to drive faster. It was a five minute drive, but it felt like an hour. When we finally stopped the car, I jumped out, waved good-bye, and slammed the door shut. I proceeded to run up the four large concrete steps to the doorbell and rung it. I could hear the dog barking furosiously, and I could hear Katie’s footsepts as she ran down her stairs to answer the door.

            She opened up the door, let me in, and we went upstairs to her room. I always loved her room. It was bright blue, with foor to ceiling windows on two sides. It was always so bright and welcoming. The room was even better that usual this time because my best friends Maureen and Erin were sitting there.

            Katie’s dad came in and said it was time to go. We all piled into the back of his navy blue Nissan Altima and were ready to go. We were on our way to our first of the three country clubs we were planning on hitting up that day.

            We pulled into the Sheridan parking lot and jumped out. We raced each other to the pool, threw our bags by the only empty table left in the place, and jumped into the pool. We looked over to the high dive and there they were… the boys. It was Tom, Matt, Jake, and Dalton, and of course they were on the diving board trying to impress us. Sadly, stuff like that actually worked on us.

            We ran to them and started talking. There were so many people in the pool that we couldn’t hear each other, so we decided to get out and go sit at our table. We ordered our favorite food, the nachos supreme. Every nacho was perfectly filled with hot sauce, chicken, beef, sour crème, and salsa.

            Once we had our food, we talked about our plans for the rest of the day. The girls, us, were going to leave so that we could go to a different country club. The boys, being boys, were going to go back to Tom’s house to blow stuff up. They were excited because it was the fourth of July, so their parents didn’t mind for once. We all planned to meet up at the Mississippi again for fireworks later that night.

            With our plans finalized, we got Katie’s dad and told him we were ready to leave. We loaded up the car and drove to the Quincy Country Club. Once we got there I said hi to my mom, who was there with her friend Beth, and then met back up with my friends.

            They were already with a big group of boys. It was Brian, Beth’s son, Adam L, Luke, Austin, Adam S, Joe, Nick, and Mark. That’s what I loved most about my friends. They always wanted to be with the guys, and they weren’t afraid to go after what they wanted. The boys wanted to play us in pool basketball, and considering the fact that we never back down from a challenge, we said that we would play them.

            We won the farkle, and got to start with the ball. We shot our first shot, Erin being guarded by two guys at once, and of course they got the ball, broke away, and scored. That’s pretty much how the entire game went. We never scored a basket, but we still had a good time.

            When we finished playing we told them good-bye and left to find Katie’s dad one more time. He agreed to take us to the third country club in Quincy. That’s where Maureen’s family was, and we were supposed to eat dinner with them.

            Once we got there we started searching for Maureen’s family, but we got distracted by the gigantic blow up slide. We decided that dinner could wait; we wanted to play on the slide.

            We went in pairs because we couldn’t all go at once. Maureen and Katie went, and once they cleared Erin and I took our turns. We started in the maze and got trampled by all of the little kids. When we finally got to the top, we counted to three and then went for it. We ended up flying off of the slide and landed on the grass. It was really painful, but we just sat there laughing.

            Unfortunately, Maureen’s mom had heard us laughing and came to get us. She did not look happy at all. Maureen checked her watch and we realized what had happened… we missed dinner. Her mom glared at us, yelled at us for missing dinner, and told us that she was going to take us all home. Katie was spending the night at my house, so when Maureen’s mom pulled into my driveway we both jumped out of the car and booked it into the house before she could say anything. I felt bad for the other girls still in the car.

            When we got into the house, we realized that it was really quiet. Nobody was home. There was a yellow post it note sitting on the kitchen counter. We read it and realized that my family was at Tom’s house.

            We ran to their house, whose backyard was connected to ours, and saw all of the people. They were having a party and all of our neighbors were there. We said hi to my parents and then snuck inside. We went down the stairs where the guys were playing “Madden” on the play station. I unplugged the T.V. and told them we were going to the neighborhood soccer field until it was time to go to the river.

            We grabbed a football and were on our way. We walked past all my neighbor’s houses, but thinking back now, I would give anything to be back in that neighborhood. People were always trying to get out of there. They were trying to get to bigger and better things, but once you get there it’s not what you expected. You might have a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood, with a better school, but you had to give up everything to get there. I would die to live in that neighborhood again.

            When we got to the soccer field we divided up into teams. We set up the boundaries and started to play. Tom had the ball and he was yelling at me to run. Right when he released the ball, I heard a loud thud and was on the ground. I had run into the soccer post. It didn’t hurt, it was just really funny. To this day my friends still remind me of that.

            After my “accident” we decided to head back to the house because it was getting dark out. When we got to the house, our neighbors were leaving, and our parents told us to get ready to go to the river. Finally, it was time to go.

            The car ride to the Mississippi was a blur, just a lot of loud teenagers. Once we got there, we ditched our parents and tried to get as close to the fireworks as possible. It was a failed attempt. We decided on a spot a little further away, so that we weren’t with all the other people of Quincy.

            We laid out our blankets, and took our place on the ground. The sun was settting and it the show was about to start. You could feel the excitement. Not only did we have a perfect view of Quincy’s fireworks, if we turned aroud we could see the fireworks from our neighboring town.

            While we were waiting for the light show to begin, Tom grabbed me and said that he wanted to talk. I didn’t want to leave my friends, but I humored him and off we went. When we got out of hearing range we sat down and he started talking. He told me how he was going to miss me when I moved and how the neighborhood wouldn’t be the same without me. He told me that I was his best friend, and he would always be one short phone call away. Right when we got up to leave he reached for my hand and told me that he loved me. I didn’t know what to say. If I could go back to that moment I would tell him that I loved him too, but all I did was smile and run back to my friends.

            As soon as I sat down the fireworks started. We all sat there in wonder as the lights flashed across the sky. It was beautiful. It was a moment I would never forget. As the final lights faded, we packed up and headed home.

            When we got back to my house Katie and I went straight to my room and started our favorite movie, Wimbelton. We gossiped through the entire thing, and when it finshed we turned the T.V. off and attempted to fall asleep.

            While I was trying to fall asleep I heard a noise outside my window. I got up and opened the blinds, and right as I did Katie turned my bedroom lights on. Whoever was outside my windows could now see us, but we couldn’t see them. I tried to scream but instead of hearing my voice, I heard a series of load booms. It sounded like the fireworks were going off again. We woke up my dad, and we all ran outside. Fireworks had been set off on my nieghbor’s front porch.

            We ran into my house and my dad got out a pan, the smallest one, and filled it with water. He got out his shoes, took some time to tie them, and then went back outside. I look out the door and he is screaming at me to call 9-1-1. The fireworks had caught their front porch on fire!

            I grabbed the phoned, dialed the number, and told the operator that there was a fire. She asked for the address, and since I didn’t know it I gave her mine. She said they would send somebody, but it would be a while because there were other things going on. My neighbor was running around with the hose, tangled up in it, attempting to put the fire out. After about three minutes of water being splashed onto the flying flames, they got the fire put out. When the police and fire department finally got to the house, they questioned all of us and then let us go back inside. Even thought I didn’t do anything wrong, being around the police made me nervous.

            As I was falling asleep that night I realized that this would be a night I would never forget. Quincy always had a lot of random drama going on, but I absolutely loved it. It was my favorite thing. You never knew exactly what was going to happen, but you always knew that something definitely would.

            Springfield Missouri is a great place to live, but Quincy Illinois will always be my home. No matter where life takes me, I will always find my way back to Quincy. Your past follows you everywhere, and mine will always be close behind. I will always have the small town accent, the small town look, and the small town love. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Quincy is and always will be my home. After all, home is where the heart is, and I left my heart with the peole who filled it.

            If you told me today that I could redo my entire life over again, or even redo my last night in Quincy over again, I would laugh at you. I have had my share of mistakes, some of them bigger than others. However, a life is not something to take for granted. It’s not something you try to redo over and over again until you get it right. It’s a one time thing. You only get one chance, one life to live, so you might as well make the best of it. Life is full of random experiences. You never know what’s going to happen the next day, the next hour, or the next minute. That’s what makes it so great. You have the opportunity to make every second worth while because of the pure fact that you do not know what is going to happen next. One day you could be living the perfect life, and the next day your life could be turned upside down. Make the best out of everything that you have, do not regret things, and live every day as if it was your last. Even if it isn’t the last day of your life, it may be the last day of your life as you know it.

 I will never forget the last day of life as I knew it. I will grow old, forget many memories, and create many new ones, but July 4th will always be as vivid as it was the original night. Life is a precious thing, and I absolutely love my life. I love my home, and I love my friends. I learned that the hardway, I had to experience it for myself, but it was a lesson worth learning. It is my favorite memory.

Published on January 5, 2009 at 3:00 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This story was very well done. I liked how detailed you got with the scenery and what was going on. I would have liked to have seen some character development as far as your friends, I’m sure they had great personalities and that would make the story even better. Also there were a few misspellings but a quick read-through can fix that.

  2. Reading your story made me want to go to Quincy. The way you described the excitement of Quincy was amazing and I was really into the whole memoir. One thing I would comment on though is the fact that I didn’t know what I was really reading about until the end. Putting a little more detail in the beginning instead of just diving in might have been a good idea. But I really enjoyed it!


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