My life began full of joy and happiness. I was a bright, happy baby, and a silly toddler. However, when I went to school for the first time I began to be shunned and I wasn’t very popular from the get-go. In fact I was one of the least popular kids in my grade. I was ridiculed constantly and I can’t say I didn’t deserve it. If I had to be around my younger self now I would be annoyed by this silly kid who, in my opinion, wasn’t told to shut up enough when he was little. I was hyper and at times acted downright stupid. I had little self-control and was often selfish, not caring so much about other’s opinions as my own. I drove away kids with whom I could have made friends. I think I probably took away a different meaning from kid’s shows when they said – referring to bullies – “It doesn’t matter what they think.” No child deserves to be yelled at when they are small, however sometimes they do have to be forcefully told to stop when they are acting up too much; it would have saved me a great deal of grief in my life. You may not understand where I am going with this, but I was losing out and, until the second half of high school, I never had many friends. My confidence was low and I hadn’t ever had a real girlfriend. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. But I believe a person can change another’s life forever, in as little as twenty-four hours or less.
This holds true for me. In the summer before my junior year, my family went to Orlando Florida for a two-week summer getaway. It was the best vacation of my life. While we were there I had an unbelievable experience. It entirely changed who I was. We were at Typhoon Lagoon, one of Disney’s water parks, and, as it seemed to do every day there, a thunderstorm started. Naturally all the rides were closed and we had to take shelter under the canopies or anywhere else that was grounded so we could avoid being struck by lightning. After a short while the storm began to die down and I walked out to use the restroom. On my return trip, I caught a glimpse of what I thought, at the time, must have been an angel standing near the condiment stand of the restaurant. I did a double take and thought, “Wow.” She was so beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect white teeth, amazing body, and something else about her that was just incredibly and relentlessly attractive. I was an insect drawn to a flame. Then as though she felt my eyes on her, she looked straight at me and smiled. I was caught off-guard. I was used to dirty looks, not smiles! I smiled back and now thought, “Oh Jesus, what am I gonna do?” Later on that day, I had a chance to talk to her. I introduced myself and she told me her name was Lindsay, that she was from Calgary, Canada, and she was 17, (a year and a half older than me). I lied and said I was 17 too. I was so nervous the whole time we talked, but Lindsay was so cool, laid back, and just so much fun to be around that I actually loosened up and eventually asked if she’d like to see me that night. To my complete astonishment she said, “Yes”. My day and entire vacation were made.
Later on I met her at her room and we took a long walk, about three hours, and just talked and talked until eventually she learned I wasn’t as old as I said I was. I thought my goose was cooked. I’m sure she could tell how upset I was because she said it was OK and it didn’t matter to her. Then she kissed me like I had never been kissed before. My life would never be the same again.
Lindsay changed the way I looked at myself – for good. I had been looking at myself as a loser and it had been growing worse rather than better. I didn’t want to talk to people because I was afraid they wouldn’t like me either. I was spiraling downward, quickly. I looked at girls I hadn’t met before and they would usually look at me like I was something they’d normally try to avoid stepping in, but not Lindsay – she smiled. That smile was enough to stop my descent and give me enough confidence to talk to her. Other girls ignored me, tried to push me away “nicely”, or laughed at me sarcastically. Lindsay talked to me with interest, laughed with me, and drew me in. That conversation made my confidence jump, then gave me the courage to ask to see her later. Other girls would have been disinclined to acquiesce to my request, but Lindsay agreed with a smile. That “yes” sent my confidence on a steady rise but it was not yet enough to tell her my real age. Other girls might have just held me and said, “Aw… its OK”, but Lindsay said, “It doesn’t matter. I like you,” and kissed me. That kiss sent my confidence soaring and I knew once and for all that there was nothing wrong with ME. I was not redefined, I just finally accepted myself and realized that others could too. I hadn’t changed – not really – I had just opened myself to the world.
After our week together was over I was sad because I didn’t know if I would ever see her again. But in a strange way, I liked myself more. Lindsay Dawn Wiens changed my life for the better in less than a day! She gave me the courage to open up to people, the self-assuredness to talk to those I meet because there is nothing wrong with who I am. She cleared self-doubt and fear straight from my mind. It is bittersweet however. I won’t pretend that a day hasn’t gone by since we parted on July 16th 2006 that I haven’t hoped we could be together again. I got that wish for a week in 2007 when she came to my prom, but you guys don’t need to hear another long story. Perhaps my desire to be with her will be fulfilled again in February when I plan on visiting her in Calgary. A part of me will always want her more than anyone else. Any person can change another’s life forever in as little as 24 hours or less, this I believe.