September 3, 2016: The Day I Apologized and Lived to Tell the Tale (Part 1)

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Dear Diary,

The summer between fifth and sixth grade, Dad decided his five daughters' childhoods would be incomplete without a miserable summer road trip to a national park. I don't remember which park we went to, or what we did there. I remember only the following.

1) I wanted to listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks during the drive, but Lydia wouldn't stop screaming until Mom played the Sesame Street: Sing the Alphabet cassette on an endless loop. To this day, every time I see an outdated kitchen, I reflexively sing, "La la la, linoleum!"

2) The hotel we stayed in had a swimming pool. This swimming pool had a diving board, and this diving board traumatized me for life.

Mary jumped off the diving board first. After resurfacing, she smugly bet I couldn't do the same. As you might have guessed, Diary, Mary has always had a deep-seated need to prove herself better than her sisters, and better than me in particular. What you might not have guessed is that when we were kids, I was nearly as competitive as Mary. Eleven-year-old Lizzie Bennet would never back down from a challenge.

The diving board was, in retrospect, not particularly high or dangerous. But to my prepubescent self, standing on the edge of that thing was like looking down the side of the Grand Canyon. Plus, the board had springs. Imagine standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, and the ground beneath you wobbles as if it's about to launch you over the cliff to certain death.

I knew this was the stupidest thing I'd ever done, and if I wanted to make it to middle school, I should admit defeat and climb back down the ladder. But I also knew that if I didn't jump, I couldn't live with myself. What was the point in surviving to see the sixth grade if I was a "bock bock bock, chicken," as Mary so eloquently called out from the water below?

And so, dizzy with fear but afire with stubborn pride, I jumped...into a magnificent belly flop that knocked the wind out of me.

You don't have lungs, Diary, so you can't know what it feels like when they stop working. My brain stopped thinking; my heart stopped beating. The universe blinked out of existence, and I was left suspended in a crushing nothingness.

The nothingness trapped me even after the hotel's lifeguard hauled me out of the water. I lay on the cold cement and stared up at the sky forever and ever. Then forever ended, and air rushed into the vacuum of my empty chest. That breath filled me with unbearable pain, but also exquisite relief. I was alive.

Today, I lived through the whole diving board experience again, metaphorically, when I went to Will Darcy's house to apologize.

I had a dozen valid excuses to avoid apologizing. Too much time has passed since our big fight. Dragging it up now will only hurt Will again. He said himself that he wants to forget about that conversation, and me, as soon as possible. He'll be irritated to see me on his doorstep. He might be furious. He could call the cops and report me for stalking.

Plus, his house is so far away: one hour by bike, according to Google Maps. I'll ride all the way over there in this heat, and Will might not even be home. It's Saturday. He's probably out grocery shopping or hiking with Gianna. The trip will be futile. I should call first, but what would I say? "Hey, it's me. The girl who stole your heart, smashed it with a verbal hammer, and threw it back in your face. I'm thinking of coming to your house today. Are you free?"

No, calling Will is a terrible idea. Showing up unannounced is also a terrible idea. Why do I want to apologize, anyway? To make Will feel better, or to make myself feel better? And after I make one of us feel better, then what? We go back to being friends? Is that even possible? What if Will wants more than that? What if I start to want more than that, but he's already over me?

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