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By ALIZABETH GROW
I know relating to me is difficult, even for those people who surround me every day, and I can’t force them to do so, but despite my “gift,” we share both sorrow and laughter. Every day, I hold my head up and take this world head-on instead of turning and dodging around corners as I did a lifetime ago, before I accepted that Tourette’s syndrome can be both a curse and a blessing.
The day I entered John Hardin High School, I was blessed with the miracle of friendship. And as I entered my junior year, I became close friends with Sylvie, a part-time college student and cashier at Peddler’s Mall. Sylvie and I had many commonalities: love of anime, languages, Cosplay and animals.
Not long before fall break of my junior year, Sylvie picked me up in her shabby, tattered, old car covered in duct tape. The vehicle had no air conditioning or rearview mirror. Even its side-view mirrors, the left in green and the right in purple, were covered in duct tape so that they would position correctly. Needless to say, the car was a functioning deathtrap.
The weather that day was cool, indicating that fall officially had arrived for the year, and we hurried to Barnes and Noble, less than a mile from my home. As the two of us entered the store, we seemed to run into an endless stream of friends who happened to be browsing that evening. First, we encountered Nick and Timothy, two of Sylvie’s college friends, and later we met a girl who worked in Starbucks Café.
When we finally took time to go through the newer collections of novels, magazines, puzzles and even calendars, my OCD led me to straighten every out-of-place item we passed. Joke books, puzzle books, comic books, fantasy novels and fiction galore — each I pressed far back into their respective homes on the shelves. I was enjoying myself and, other than a few mumbles and shakes, my tics had been forced down for the majority of our outing.
After an hour or so of browsing, we returned to Sylvie’s car, where she scolded me for leaving the window down. Nevertheless, I sat shotgun, and we teased each other back and forth as she started the car. “Holy crap, I’m starving, Sylvie,” I admitted after she heard the burbling from my stomach.
“Fine, where do you wanna go then?” She relaxed against the Hello Kitty seat cover and stretched as I lazily rested my chin on my arm. Reviewing all of the closest and cheapest options, I watched a woman emerge from the bookstore entrance and begin texting on her cell phone. She was across the parking lot from us, and it just so happened that the moment she looked up at me, all traffic was nonexistent and the approaching night was upon us.
I felt it in my hips and cringed as it worked its way up my spine, around my shoulders, past my neck, and out of my mouth — the most horrid scream. It caused me to throw myself back against the seat and toss my head so that my chin pointed skyward.
The woman jumped, her eyes wide. Then she bolted across the parking lot and hastily climbed into her car.
My eyes locked with Sylvie’s before she burst into laughter. Holding her chest, she managed to choke out, “Oh, my God, Ali!” as my laughter joined hers.
“I think I want Taco Bell,” I announced.
Alizabeth Grow is a junior at John Hardin High School.