WARNING: This is more about the author than about the book.
I'm a teenager, dreaming about maybe becoming a writer someday. My real name isn't (hopefully this is obvious) Born2bBrit. I'm really into music and traveling, and and movies, and then fangirling about all of those things.
My inspiration for Dearest Love came mostly from a boy, but also from my love of traveling and music. I've never had an experience even close to Naomi's so I'm sorry if the information given in the story isn't perfect.
If' you'd like to learn more about me and see into my crazy mind you can travel on over to my twitter page @Born_2b_Brit . It's just about everything that I am, so yeah. Thanks and I hope you like my story.
"Our stories are never complete. Not now, not once we settle down, not until we take our last breathe. You can rewrite your story and make it your own. It's no one else's to create or change." I take a deep breathe as I glanced down at my speech, prepared to finish on a high note, "I want you to remember that as we graduate this evening, our lives here at Jefferson may be over, but our real lives in the real world are just beginning." I blurted the rest out and end with a simple thank you to my advisers, teachers, and fellow peers.
"Thank you Miss Reid. What a beautiful and inspirational speech. Now if would please turn your attention to Mr. Whitney who will be announcing our graduating class of 2014." Our class stood as we'd rehearsed a dozen times in the past week as we were called, in alphabetical order, up to the stage. Being from Emerald Isle, NC (population 3,700) our graduating class was just over 100 students and most would leave the small town for college and to meet new people and have greater experiences that Emerald Isle just can't offer, but most if, not all, will return within 10 years to settle down and raise children of their own who will do the same, the cycle that's been repeated for generations.
87 names and countless hollers and cheers later, "Naomi Reid, our school valedictorian graduating with a 4.98 GPA--" Mr. Whitney took a double-take at his notes then continued, "Miss Reid will not be starting college in the fall." You could hear the shock and disappointment in his voice, along with a small gasp from the crowd. Very few people knew of the decision I'd made, as that's how I wanted it. I was already well-know for my knowledge and I didn't need any more attention brought upon me by it.
5 months ago, only 3 months after sending in my last college applications, I received a letter from Oxford University requesting that I come to England to tour the campus with promises of scholarships and a guaranteed acceptance, but what I committed to was so much more. Just 2 months ago I committed myself to 4 years at Oxford University studying Psychology, but I won't be starting in the fall. The contract included a gap year-- very common among students from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe--which involves traveling around the United Kingdom and some of Europe throughout the year of no classes. My gap year will be completely funded by The University of Oxford along with most of my education for the following years. I leave for London just 2 short weeks after this evening.
I stroll gracefully up the steps, shake hands with Mr. Whitney and the short line of teachers. A few of them give me concerned glances, but my English teacher, Ms. Reese, simply smiles and gently squeezes my hand. She was the only teacher that I gave the information about my future plans to besides my councilor who wouldn't let me out of her office until I told her what college I had enrolled at, Ms. Reese is the only adult at Jefferson High School that I could trust with such big news. I move to the end of the stage turn to the crowd, find my parents, and give a sweet smile and delicate wave.
After several minutes of snapping photos with my family, I file through the crowd to find Emma. Besides my parents and Ms. Reese, my best friend Emma is the only person who knows my weaknesses and every way in which I am not perfect. Emma and I are polar opposites: she has long flowing golden hair, and a beach body with the perfect tan, even in the middle of winter. She parties on the weekends and barely scrapes by with strait C's, but for some crazy reason we've been best friends since 2nd grade when we were paired together for a class project. We couldn't do anything without each other, I keep her grounded and she keeps me sane.
Once I reach her, I find she's posing with her college boyfriend, Elliot, for pictures. Elliot is the perfect guy for Emma, he's strong, tall, romantic, yet gentle and caring. Elliot goes to NC State and plays for their football team as the starting quarterback. Emma and Elliot have been together and in love since Freshman-year's (Elliot's Sophomore-year) homecoming where they danced the night away.
I stride up slowly and wait for the flashes to stop before running in to give my best friend a bear-hug. Emma just simply smiles and nods toward her parents who pull a small box with an attached Hallmark card out from behind them. I give them a confused look as Emma's mom hands me the small package. "Open it!" Emma shouts. I start with the card, the outside is simple with Congratulations written in a fun font and lots of colors. On the inside is a message scribbled in Mrs. Brooks' loopy calligraphy:
Thank you so much for putting up with our daughter for these past years. You have no idea how much she's learned from you and how much we trust you to take care of her. We don't see you as our daughter's best friend, we view you as our second child. We hope you have fun in England and that you can come back and teach Emma a little British etiquette.
With lots of love and hope for the future,
The Brooks Family
By the time I reach the closing I have a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. I glance up and everyone is watching me with smiles of delight on their faces. I glance back, behind me and my family is standing in a line with the same looks of compassion on their faces. I hand the card to my mother to pass around the crowd and move on to the package. It's about the size of a fist and wrapped in black paper with the design of streamers and balloons all over. After I get through the paper I see a jewelry box from Macy's. I open the box and find a locket in the shape of half a heart. I turn my attention to Emma, with the need for an explanation in my eyes. "Open it," she says with much less excitement and more calm, gratitude. I hold the locket in my hands and can see two little magnets on the broken side of the heart. Using my fingernail, I pop open the locket and inside are two small pictures of Emma and I, one from 2nd grade just a little while after we became friends, we had paint all over our fingers with the biggest smiles on our faces, and the other picture of just a few months ago from Emma's birthday party where we both ended up with cake all over us after a food fight just between the two of us.
I snap the locket closed and the tears start streaming. Emma stepped toward me and held up her charm bracelet. On it was a new charm I hadn't noticed yet: half of a heart, one that perfectly fit with the curves of mine. With tears streaming down both of our cheeks and large grins from ear to ear we embrace in the longest hug of our life-long friendship.
The rest of the night was a rush with a surprise dinner party planned my parents for Emma and I, including all of our families and closest family-friends. Afterward, we head back to the school for the graduation dance, our last school-held-event ever at Jefferson High. The celebration is bitter-sweet with lots of hugs, smiles, tears, and goodbyes. There are a few people that I'm sad to have to say goodbye to, but most of the people don't pay much attention to me other to question why I won't be starting college in the fall. My simple answer to them is that I'm taking a year off of school to travel. I know that this answer doesn't fulfill their curiosity, but it's all I'm willing to offer to them at this time. When I finally return home it's past midnight and I'm drunk off soda and sweets from the dance. I strip off my shoes and dress, barely remembering to wash my face and brush my teeth before plopping down and curling up in my bed, finally ready to end my life in North Carolina and begin again in Great Britain.
I wake to my dog licking my face and a sore throat. I acknowledge Benny and he instantly curls up beside me to sleep deep into the late morning. I check my phone and find only 1 text from Emma and 1 voice message from my grandmother, whom could not make last night's celebration. I open the missed call first:
"One have one unheard message," the monotone voice croaks out. "First unheard Message."
"Hi Nimi--" her old nickname for me that I swear I will never get rid of, "I really hope you had a wonderful time last night. I'm so sorry that I couldn't be there, I really wanted to be, but I probably would have just been a party-pooper anyway. I guess I'll talk to you more tomor--Oh! Did your mother tell you that you're all coming over for dinner tomorrow? That way I can give you your gift and I made a cake special, just for the occasion! Okay, I'll see you tomorrow! Love you!" Nana loves to talk. I think that's the main reason why she didn't come yesterday as all of her talking would have taken away from my special day, not that I care, my nana is the greatest and I love her with all my heart.
I set my phone down and stretch my arms with a big yawn. Benny stands, turns and lays back down, grumbling the entire time. I sit up and adjust my pillows and grab my book to continue my Saturday morning tradition of reading as soon as I wake. Normally I have an assigned reading book from English or some other book that has to be read for school, but as I am no longer in school, I restart my favorite book of all time To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first time I read the novel was in 7th grade when it was required to be read along with a book report about it. Since then, I've read it at least a dozen times, it just never gets old or dreary.
50 pages and numerous sighs and grumbles from Benny later, I'm standing over our 20 year-old toaster waiting for my waffles to pop up, hopefully without smoking out the whole kitchen. After slathering them in syrup and flumping down on the couch, I changed the channel to TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress." My mother comes around the corner into the media room, stands in the corner, leaning up against the wall, its clear that she's been crying. "What's wrong mom?" At first I'm startled, the worst thing comes to my mind: Who died?
"Oh nothing I'm fine," but clearly she isn't. "It's just so hard to believe you're growing up and moving out." She starts crying again and I stand to embrace her.
"It's okay Mom. I'll always be your little girl, and I'll be home for the holidays. And the counselor says if anything happens I can be on the first flight back home. You can call me whenever you want. It won't be that different. Promise." This brings a smile to her face and a glisten to her eyes.
"I know, but it's just not going to be the same without you home all the time. Who's going to make midnight popcorn runs during our movie nights? Will we ever even have another movie night?" My mother never really like change and I know this is going to be the hardest change of her life.
"I promise that every single time I come home we'll have a movie night and we'll pull an all-nighter binge-watching 'Sherlock' before I leave." This calms her down and I know that she knows everything will be okay.
Following lunch, Emma and I meet up at Starbucks to relax and prepare for the next week and a half. As soon as we knew my travel plans for Europe, Emma started making a list of things to do before I leave, what she's going to do while I'm gone, what I should do while in England, and how she's going to meet up with me in the UK. "Okay lets start with Monday night, are we still going to binge watch every Zac Efron movie ever released?" I tell her of course and that we had to start by going to see Neighbors at the movies and then work backward ending with High School Musical 3 as it is the last of the series. "Agreed." Emma starts naming off movies making sure that every movie was either owned by one of us or available for rental.
I'm, of course, the one doing all the math, "If we start at 7 o'clock and add a 10 minute break in between each movie," I quickly do the rest of the mental math, "that will put us ending our movie marathon at around noon the next day."
"That's perfect, then Tuesday we can sleep it off and I have plans with Elliot on Wednesday so we can't do anything till Thursday night, maybe." Emma gives me a nervous smile, and I know she's hoping that I won't be offended that she's spending time with her boyfriend and not her best friend who's about to leave for a year.
"Perfect. I promised my mother that we could have a Sherlock marathon so we can do that Wednesday night. We can meet up Thursdays night for dinner or something. I think Friday we should camp out on the beach."
"With or without a tent?!" Emma never really liked my idea of sleeping out under the stars so, I assured her that we would have a tent. "Great, sounds like a plan." We finish our drinks while filling in all the little details and then walk the mall, window shopping with polite conversation and small gossip.