Growing Up By: Alexis Oakley Period: 2 January 23, 2012 Gerber
Dedication To all the people who have crossed my path so far in my life, and to those who have still to enter.
Table Of Contents • My Name • A Smile is Worth a Thousand Words • It’s Time To Go Mom • A Little Change Can be Good • Crutches and Gems • E.S.H.S Fight! Fight! Fight! • The Combination Game • The Dress • Through the Halls and Tunnels (Extended Metaphor) • Getting Ready for the Next Chapter • Critics from my peers • Alook at the author
My Name I was three weeks old when my mom finally named me. My name is Alexis Brittney Anneke Oakley, and this is the story on how that came about. For starters, mom couldn’t possibly select the appropriate names before meeting me and once I arrived she weighed all the options before making thebig decision. I went home from the hospital as “Baby Girl Oakley”. The hospital kept calling to find out if they could change their paperwork and were quite happy when they learned I did, in fact, have a name, YEAAH! Personally, even though it did take quite awhile, I think my mom did a great job choosingmy name. There was a lot of thought put into it. Alexis Brittney Anneke Oakley – my mom did not want anything too complex or difficult to pronounce like her name (Marjolein), but still wanted it to be feminine and sophisticated. Preferring a name that would start with the letter “A” because she thought it had presence, made a statement, and that it is the prettiest letter in the alphabet. She also liked the “nickname” for Alexis is “Lexi” and that was important as her name cannot be broken down very easily. Both my middle names show respect and were chosen as a “thank you” to my gg and granddad for being so supportive and such a strong influence in my life. Brittney is “of Britannia” and was chosen because my granddad is from England. It is spelled an unusual way with a double “tt” and the “ney” because my mom said I was a very special little girl. My gg’s name is Marjanneke, Anneke is a portion of her name. It’s also a very popular name in Holland and honors my gg’s Dutch heritage. My gg and I are particularly close so it’s specialhaving myname in hername. Oakley is my Mom’s family name and I am very proud to have it as my last name. As far as nicknames go, I have a few more than just “Lexi’. My gg from day one called me her “little dolly” because I looked like the perfect baby doll, and like the porcelain dolls she made. My granddad has called me his “little ghoul” because I looked as if I was a little ghost in the white too long jumper I would sleep in. My uncle has several, one is “tater-tot” because I was so small and he is 6”7”. Another name he came up with whenwe watched the movie “Land Before Time” and since then I occasionally call him “Big Foot” and I am“Little Foot”. To my mom I’m sometimes “Love Bug” (thankfully not around my friends) or “Toots Sweet”. Through the years my family and friends have abbreviated my name calling me Lexi, Lex, Lexus, and Alexi. Though I am not fond of Lexus and Alexi my third grade teacher insisted on calling me that the entire school year even though I asked her to call me Alexis.My mom did a great job, I love my name and I would not change it for the world.
A Smile is Worth a Thousand Words When some people smile they instantly brighten a room.Their white teeth shining and giving off light like a prism when the sun shines onit. My mother’s smile makes me feellike that one piece of good news you receive on a bad day, giving you hope that everything is going to be okay. My uncle’s smile is heartfelt laughter after a semi-serious moment. Where as my granddad’s smile is a grin, unless he is in the middle of a funny story. My grammie’s smile is that rainbow you see right after a rain storm. Telling you that everything is better because the rain has washed all the bad in the world away. My mom and grammie tell me that I have my great-grandpa’s warm smile. It makes me feel proud that I have that piece of him in my appearance. My mom tells me that when I smile it warms her heart because it is caring, beautiful and energetic. Everyone has a different smile, some are relaxed, others are tight and forced. Some girl’s smile is like they were trained by professionals. I can tell the type of mood my friends are in because of their smiles, without saying a word. If they are happy they have a big bright smile, an if they are sad then their smile is like pulling an elastic band. A smile conveys not only the emotion of the person smiling but it makes everyone feel good seeing their happiness. When you see someone smile it instantly puts a ZING in your step.
It’s Time to Go Mom When I was five, school was like a foreign language to me. Something I had never known and was very apprehensive to try. Preschool had been in the comfort of my home, workbooks with grammie, little bit of Spanish with Dora the Explorer, and reading time with Reading Rainbow mom. Story time was with gg, granddad, uncle Rob, or anyone else I could con into reading to me. The morning of my first day of elementary school did not go smoothly. Center Street had been under construction for the majority of the summer, and I had never stepped into a classroom, let alone a portable one. My mom’s hand was like a blanket, holding me and protecting me from the cold and unknown, but at some point I had to let go. When the teacher, Mrs. White, stepped out of her classroom she toldus to come inside and put our backpacks around our chairs. If we felt uncomfortable our parents could come in with us. As I looked around at the strangers, whohad all known each other from preschool, I noticed that they all looked a little nervous too. One by one they lugged or tuggedtheir little backpacks across the threshold of the classroom unsure of what lay inside. The dark brown exterior walls were menacing, warning you “Do not enter”. Finally it was my turn to go inside the little classroom and meet my classmates, hoping that I would make a new friend by the end of the day. My mom gave my hand a tight squeeze and asked if I would like her to come in with me. I looked at my mom and shook my head not quit sure if my answer was true and took a step forward. “Crunch, Crunch”, the gravel underneath my new shoes said as I walked forward. As I arrived at doorwhere the woman with the white hair was standing, she gave me a reassuring smile and I walked through the door. Inside the room bright posters of the alphabet and a border of numbers lined the room, telling us what we will be learning this year. Each tiny desk had a name card on it and we were to sit at our tables and talk to our neighbors. I shrugged my red backpack off my shoulders and put it around the back my chair. Within seconds two girls were talking my ear off about the posters and which flower on my backpack was the prettiest. And as if she knew that we were nervous, Mrs. White than entered the room brightening the tiny space with her cheerful attitude humming a happy little tune.
A Little Change Can Be Good “Dear Mom,” I start the letter home, “Today was good, though I did fall in the river, fell in the ocean, as well as went blind for about five minutes when I got shampoo in both eyes. The pain was tremendous- it is a thousand pins sticking in your eyes.” I could tell my mom was going to have a small heart attack when she reads this, but most likely she would get the letter the day we got back. I could imaginethe look on her face as I write this letter, she would be as red as a cherry and eyes as big as a saucer. My mom had a hard time letting go of me, even on the trip to Outdoor Science School. I am her “one and only” as she puts it. For weeks I had been anxious about this trip, part of me could not wait to go and experience it but the other part did not want to leave my mom. Many of my friends could not wait to get away from their parents. However, I am the antithesis of this feeling, because I love spending time with my mom. We are like those two girls at the movies that won’t stop talking because they are enjoying each others company so much. The Sunday before I left for Outdoor Science School my mom helped me pack my bag and did late night trips to Target and Ralphs for the little extra things I had forgotten to get. My mom was giving me advice on how Outdoor Science School was going to work and how I should try and get a top bunk. When I arrived at school on that Monday my grammie dropped my mom and I off across the street from the middle school, giving me the biggest and warmest hug I have ever been given. Mom and I walked to the cafeteria to get my assigned roommates . I found that most of my friends had been assigned to my cabin and at once I felt at ease. I looked at my mom, beaming, my smile spreading across my face from ear to ear. However, mom still did not look happy though she was relieved I was bunking with friends. Ms. Beachly told us that now was the time to say goodbye to our families and board the bus. I looked at my mom and give her a huge bear hug and load my big pink and brown flowered bag into the moving truck.It lands on the top of the pile with a muted thud. I board the bus unsure of what I was about to experience. I look at my mom through the window and smile. Four days till I am home, four days.
Crutches and Gems To anyone on the street walking by the blaring music means there is a dance class going on. Maybe kids are learning ballet, perhapsthey are learning jazz or possibly a hip-hop routine. Nobody knows how hard The Studio dancers work until the beginning of summer when the big recital shows off our talents, dedication and skills. The Company 1 class isabout half way through and we are running the ballet routine over and over perfecting it for the recital that is in two months. Sweat drips off of our faces like ice cream on a hot summer day. We gracefully leap across the floor like we have been practicing for the past five months, thump, thump. The teacher stops us and gives advice, critiquing each one of our movements and telling us what to improve on. When a break comes we stare at the clock that seems to tauntus “You still have an hour and a half to go.” The dance instructor’s loud, megaphone voice, is what calls us to the floor and tells us the small part that she had to change. We goto our positions and mark out the new movements to the counts and beats of the music. The music starts, a fourth of the way through the dance I land a jump wrong, tumbleand landon my ankle. I try to get up but the pain is tooexcruciating. “Just what I need, a sprained ankle two months before the recital.” I think as the music stops. The instructor rushes over to see what occurred and all of a sudden, like a running faucet I start to cry. She helps me up and places me in the observation chair askingthe assistant to grab an ice pack and towel. My mom comes in at the end of class, seeing me she rushes over to see what hashappened and triesto help me as I attempt to walk. Who would guessthat three days later I amin a hot pink cast with bedazzled crutches trying not to disrupt the ongoing class. “Plunk, Plunk” my carefulness does not stop my crutches from yelling as the jewels fall off and hit the floor. My teacher can not believe her eyes or her ears when I tell herI will be out of the cast three weeks before the performance. I will have hours and hours of careful practice once the cast is off, but I will dance all five numbers in the shows!
E.S.H.S. Fight! Fight! Fight! “How do you think you did?” I recall my mom asking anxiously when I got into the car after cheer try outs that Thursday night. She had dropped me off at 3p.m. and now it’s five o’clock. I looked at my manditiory uniform, white shirt and navy shorts, and my number sticker that I had to put on my shirt , it told me that I had done my best, no matter what the outcome. I told her the process, how we were given a number (mine was 7) and divided into groups of four. We performed the dance routine, did the cheer, and two jumps. After each group performed they were told to leave, have a good night, and the results will be posted Saturday morning by 7:00 a.m.I started whenI was five years old, cheeringwith the El Segundo Youth teams as well as the Renegade All-Stars. Friday all anyone could think about was Saturday morning 7:a.m. Friday night I was on pins and needles, I could not wait for the list to be posted the following morning.I planned on being at the high school early in the morning waiting for the list to be posted by Coach Marney. Friday night at 10:30 p.m. “Ding Dong”, our door bell rang, my mom opened the door and did not see anyone, thinking it was “ding, dong, ditch” she closed the door.We had just walked back into the living room when the door bell rang again and there was also loud knocking.This time I got the door and was greeted by a handful of the senior varsity cheer leaders. “CONGRATULATIONS!” They all screamed at once. I looked at my mom and could not believe it. “You are now an El Segundo High School cheerleader!” Jordan yells at me as she hands me an “E.S.H.S. Cheer “shirt. They filled me in on the festivities that were to take place the following day.I was smiling from ear to ear, like toddler atChristmas. My mom gave me a huge hug and told me that she was very proud of my hard work.
The Combination Game Click, click my lock mocks me as I try to unlock it. “Alexis turn it three times before you start your combination and than turn it the other way after you hit the number.” This advice does not make sense to me, turn the dial the other way after each number? School starts in two days and I still need to finish decorating my locker let alone figure out how to open it. I am standing at my locker in my blue and yellow cheer warm-ups with my mom peering over my shoulder giving me advice onhow to open it up. My lock looks at me as if I am the enemy and if I open it I will be in its territory. I have my mom try to get it open so I can see for the ten-millionth time how it is done. I look down the hall and watch some of my peersstruggle to open their lock and others that have no difficulty opening theirs. I am determined to open it before any of my friends can see me struggling with my lock to dial the combination correctly. I analyze my mom’s techniques and try it again. Why won’t it open for me? Do I repel locks? I start to doubt my intelligence thinking “I can write an essay, read a novel, solve quadratic equations but when it comes to opening my lock I am hopeless.” I try one more time thinking that if I do not open it this time I will give up and the combination has won this round of the game. I turn the dial and hit the first number, click, I hit the second, click, click I turn the dial towards the last digit in the code and pull down on the lock. POP! It unlocks, I start to jump up and down, I have conquered the combination game. My smile is as contagious as a yawn and my mom starts to smile and laugh.
The Dress Most girls dream of their homecoming dance experience. They plan out the dress they will wear, how they will wear their hair, their make up, shoes, and accessories. And, of course, the date whowill ask them to the dance and what he will wear. Coronation dresses are a big deal, choose the wrong color or style and it will not look right on you. My mom, grammie and I areshopping for what I will be wearing to “Icoronation” . It is a couple days after the coronation assembly. We have walked from store to store hoping to find something that wouldbe just right, but nothing catches my eye. I am loosing hope and we are ready to go home and try again another day when I see the most beautiful dress on a dummy in the window. “Look mom, it is my favorite color.” I say, unsure if I like the style. I stand looking at it, contemplating trying it on. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? If you don’t like it, we’ll go to more stores or try again another day.” mom says as she grabs a size two off the rack and takes it to the dressing room. Once the door is closed I stare at the dress for a while trying to make a decision on whether or not I liked it. I put on the dress, it fit like glove, I open the door and have the biggest smile on my face. My mom looks at me like I was a beautiful sunset, “You look beautiful.” she said, “It is the perfect color for you, it makes your eyes pop.” My grammie makes me turn in a circle so she could see the length, to make sure it is appropriate. My grammie leaves and minutes later returns with a pair of gold heels, “Put these on.” she says handing over the shoes. I obey and put on the gold sparkly heels. The teal silky dress and gold sparkly heels together seemed as if they aremade for me. My legs turn into the trunk of a tall palm trees, long and slender. Bam!, then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I have just found my coronation dress. We walk it to the cash register, now it is mine, the perfect dress ismine.
Through the Halls and Tunnels Walking through the hallow halls of El Segundo High School can be intimidating for any student, especially a freshman. The halls of El Segundo High School is similar to a tunnel, you keep going through until you get to where you need to be. Along the journey make pit stops along the way at your locker to pick up what you need for class- unload your bag making it a little lighter. We each have our own personal tunnels taking us to where we are destined to be. Throughout the journey we will take little stops before we reach our goals lightening our loads, maybe making it heavier with relationships and families. When you walk down the halls people are focused on mainly one thing, getting to class on time like an adult is focused on his or her job’s deadlines. “Wham!” A locker door is slammed shut by a student in a hurry not caring if their roughness left the door hanging by only one hinge. When going through our tunnels we neglect to stop and look around, not slowing down instead we plow ahead not caring about the scenery or connecting with people. Whether the scenery is ethereal and beautiful, with green grass, a white fence and a white house or the darkly lit cream and white hallways of a school, we should take time and look at our surroundings.There will be times in our lives when the scenery will not be great but we will have to endure this and keep pushing through, just like the halls at El Segundo High School. We will not be here forever the these halls- they are just a section of the tunnel that will lead to great success and happiness. These tunnels will tell of our accomplishments and is our path to the future. Do well in these tunnels and you will succeed in life. Everyone at one point will go through the high school tunnel- it is unavoidable.
Getting Ready for the Next Chapter As you grow older you realize that time flies by way too fast. One minute your starting kindergarten unsure of what lies aheadahead in that brown classroom and the next your learning your locker combination. The world seems to become your oyster, you have endless possibilities, you can become whatever you want to be and travel the world. My name is Alexis Brittney Anneke Oakley, it took three weeks for my mom to name me, I fractured my growth plate when I was thirteen and made the El Segundo High School Cheer Team when I was fourteen. Now that I am a Freshman I have started to think about life after the next three and a half years. Where do I want to go to college? What do I want to be? Over Christmas Vacation my mom and I walked around the New York University campus. I fell in love. The campus spoke to me, telling me that, if in fact I was accepted here and chose to become a part of this campus,I would have an amazing experience. The school of phycology is a place where I would study my chosen career fieldas well as be comfortable. My future is up to me and for now remains unwritten. After high school I would like to attend New York University, as well as travel the world. Go to places I have never been before, and learn about different cultures. Forrest Gump has taught me that, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one your gunna get.” Life has many twists and turns, you never know when there will be a fork in the road. Enjoy the scenery and take it slow because no one wants to get to the final destination any time soon.
And the Critics Say… Kelsey Wood- Growing Up allowed me take a look into Alexis’ life in a way I had never before. I was able to venture into her world and see what her interests are outside of school as well as the time and dedication she puts towards dance. “Fabulous job!” Nolan Sharp- I could tell that Alexis spent a lot of time on her vignette project, Growing Up. Her sensory details made me be able to see the stories she was telling for myself. “Two thumbs up!”