Age: 17, Grade: 12
School Name: Notre Dame Academy High School, Staten Island, NY
Educator: Moira Spillane
Category: Personal Essay & Memoir
It Only Takes 17 Minutes
It’s Monday, May 20, 2019. At 5:14 pm, Melissa Holland climbed in her mom’s Volkswagen Jetta for a 17 minute drive home. It’s blue. The kind of blue that reminds you of a dress a farmers wife might wear in a movie about the Dust Bowl, decorated with pale yellow and white flowers, probably made out of old curtains, Sound of Music style. It’s a commercial blue. The seats are tan leather. The kind of tan that a child would use as skin color if they were drawing a white person who has a yellow undertone but is still pale. Having just run at practice, having just told her friend that maybe tonight or sometime in the near future, she would come out to her mom, having just been at school with the girl she can’t stop thinking about, having thought that today was going to be like no other, Melissa Holland placed her track bag in the front seat of her mom’s Volkswagen Jetta, climbed in, and shut the door. However, that day was like no other. Melissa had never felt like this about anyone before. She had never before wanted to sit in the passenger seat of the charcoal gray Mazda named Charlotte for forever. She had never wanted to never stop holding hands with a girl whose three letter name could make her heart leap through the space-time continuum. Posting photos and videos that captured those feelings on a private Instagram account that Melissa Holland was hoping her mother would not see, would somehow be her downfall. The four words no person ever wants to hear said to them because they’re afraid of what comes after, were uttered to her. We need to talk. I can’t tell you what ran through Melissa’s mind in that moment because it may involve an inappropriate word. A very common phrase that is said when something of this nature is about to happen or those four words that make up a terrifying phrase were just uttered. Are you and the owner of the charcoal gray Mazda named Charlotte dating? This question was not so terrifying. Melissa simply answered no…at least not yet. This led to a revelation of the never disappearing age divide. I don’t want you posting personal stuff like that on social media. You don’t know anything about yourself yet. You’re going to regret it. Melissa Holland did not cry as these words that were added together probably somewhere between the time of the discovery of the posts and the uttering of the terrifying 4 word phrase, no matter how hard she wanted to. Her world, in that moment, came crashing down. She told her mother, she was not like her. Melissa has always known one thing about herself; she looks at guys and girls in the same way. That will never change. One thing to note about Melissa Holland’s character is her volume. She is not quiet. That has caused some reactions from many people, but Melissa Holland has never turned the volume down on her voice or her mind, and she never will. That’s what struck Melissa the most in that moment. Her mother was asking her to not be herself. She was asking, in the most subtle yet striking way, for Melissa to shut up and blend in. To which Melissa replied with, It’s not the 1980’s, my generation actually shares real feelings. To which Melissa’s mother responded, You’re going to hurt people. Saying that sentence to Melissa Holland is like going into the room of a person who suffers from OCD and offsetting everything ever so slightly so that not knowing what it is that is wrong with the room, builds up inside of them gradually until they go borderline insane. It may not have effected Melissa as much as you think it would in that moment, but it built up like a Lego tower. Melissa Holland stared out the windshield into the surrounding trees of Rockland Avenue. She could not and would not make eye contact or continue this conversation with her mother. Her mind floated to the pictures she took of the owner of the charcoal gray Mazda named Charlotte 3 days before this. They were natural. Nothing stood out about the pictures. At least not to anyone other than the photographer. Melissa Holland never got to explore this new found feeling with this girl who caused Melissa’s heart to want to leap through the space-time continuum because she could not fathom this relationship without the idea of introducing her as girlfriend instead of one of my friends. Melissa Holland went on to ruin the relationship where Melissa would spend a lot of time in the passenger seat of a charcoal gray Mazda named Charlotte. They went back to friends. Melissa drove herself to replace the room with the offset objects belonging to a person suffering from OCD because it drove her to borderline insanity. Melissa Holland and her mother have never been the same. Melissa Holland before the 17 minute drive to her house, was never again seen. If you find her, please contact me or the owner of that charcoal gray Mazda named Charlotte that Melissa loves so much.