She looked toward the monkey bars, with eyes defiant, with eyes that beat back the fear, the anxiety. Climbing the rungs to reach the first bar was already a new adventure. I had passed the timed write to enter the presence of the real class, the actual AP Language and Composition.
Her soft, pink fingers stroked the bar on top—rough, the rusty green paint was peeling off, the work of the forerunners. She was a little too short, and her hands were barely able to grasp the bar, but she knew—she had come thus far, and now she would have to go on. It was not only her, there were others too, all unique in sizes, but all coming to the same challenge. Oh, and there was also the parent, that would not let them fall, that would encourage them to go on. My entering of the classroom allowed me to observe faces of people I knew would all pursue excellence, would all fight to the end. We had different abilities in different areas, but the class was for those that sought to overcome the AP Language and Composition class, ready or not, there I went.
Hanging on to the bar above was daunting—her hands began to sweat, her feet were dangling in the air, her body swinging back and forth, back and forth. The yellow soles of her sandals could not find firm ground any more. It was challenging to begin a class of many essays and books to read, to annotate, and to analyze. This ‘challenge’ was not necessarily un-enjoyable, but it was different than what I had done previously. The fear of something new brought forth both dread and excitement.
She took off a hand from the first bar, pausing for the moment with her fingers in the air, and quickly grabbed the second bar. She was moving on, slowly, but she was. The third bar had fewer breaths that had to be taken to move on to—although it was not swift, nor was it easy, but she was, in a corner of her lips, enjoying herself. Through the many assignments that I was given, I could see- it was not easy to improve, but through practice, it could be done. The reading, the writing, evolved slowly throughout the year, but I do think I have gone at least a bit farther from where I had started.
The fourth rung was just another bar, only until she realized a certain stinging in her palms. The fifth rung let her whimper out a silent cry out from under her breath, and she let go. Timed writes were a surprise to encounter. No writing of the same scale had been done before, and was many times devastating to realize how weak my writing was.
Her eyes shut, trying to protect herself from the sand below that had looked so distant. However, she did not fall and fail, to become too afraid to ever try the bars again. She was caught, by the gentle but firm arms of the parent. Placed back on the fifth bar, she was to start again. Even with my many faults, including the timed writes, there was always ‘the parent’ that picked me, and surely all my classmates, back up to face another challenge. Encouragement and detailed methods for improvement have been so helpful to achieving more in the class.
The blister did not stop her. She had someone to fall back on, and she had everyone else, encouraging her with their eyes that were fixed to the last bar. Through this year other people have been great in setting my eyes back on the learning, the goal on improving. As I look back to the ten-minute write that I had written in the beginning of the year, I see that I had wanted to develop my communication and language skills. I have received so much more this year—I have learned, and I have enjoyed. I have come to find more of the wonder of reading and writing. Though I have not yet forgotten the many of my failures, I know I have gained much from them.
She reached the last rung, her arms straining, her hair matted to her forehead—and with a grand swing, her toes could rest back on the bottom rungs. She was exhausted, but she had a wide smile of triumph, and a small giggle managed to escape her lips. Then she heard the voice urging her to go on, as she was turning. She did not need the encouragement, she had already learned the joy. Her blisters did not matter anymore, though more were forming, still cutting through her tender skin. She knew she would go farther, she knew she would reach again, she knew she would let herself go.
Coming to the end of the year, and after having taken the exam, I know I will have to go farther. Even if I will walk with feeble steps, weak and slow, I have learned enough that I will not stop. I will try to read more, think more, and write more, whether that will be in school or not, for I know will find beauty in the world through these ways.