Bus Rides and Retina Screens

In honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we are turning the blog over to a teen voice this week! Ashley Loc is a member of our Peers Against Violence Leadership group and this is what she wanted you to read:

I stood there, with light blue chiffon grazing my feet and black lace framing my collarbones. If you were curious enough, I could even tell you which necklace I was wearing, which rings I slipped on, and the ingredients of a smoothie I had just thrown in the trash. But more importantly, I would describe that moment as an ethereal paradox, in which I felt both alert and oblivious.

Half of the seats were left unoccupied, but I always preferred a respectable distance from the strangers I would quietly admire. And so, I focused on the speed of fingers flipping through adventure novels, the joyful tears of an expecting mother, and a man’s steady gaze out the window. I didn’t even hear the whirring of overhead lights or the bus lurching at another stop.

So, when a group of college students entered the bus and disrupted the perfect harmony I had been enjoying, I couldn’t help but be slightly indignant. As if they knew I wanted temporary isolation, they all crowded in the seats in front of me, and spoke in decibels that were socially unacceptable.

In vain, I searched for the man who seemed so introspective as he watched the passing landscape, but even he had to return to his life at some point.

All there was left to do was stare at my fingers and block out the slurred conversations, which worked perfectly for a few minutes. But then, images of brilliant blue flashed in the corner of my eye. I was immediately drawn to the retina screens in front of me, and could feel my breath catch as I saw image after image of a beautiful couple that traveled the world. Hawaii, Mexico, the Maldives. All these beautiful corners of the world, and yet, not nearly as beautiful as the two teenagers pictured there. Her glossy blonde hair and 23” waist. His body reminiscent of a Men’s Fitness cover.

The four women envied how the two kissed each other, held each other, gazed at one another. And I couldn’t blame them. The pair looked perfect, they really did. And I like to believe that they are happy, and they do bring out the adventure in one other, but how much can a photo gallery actually capture? Sure, there are many social media users who vent about personal problems, but for the most part, we only share the more flattering aspects of ourselves.

We see status updates for anniversaries, the change from “single” to “in a relationship” and Instagram posts for “what my amazing boy/girlfriend bought me.” We don’t know if someone’s partner criticizes his/her culture, makes him/her financially dependent, or pushes boundaries in the bedroom. All we know is that person A physically complements person B, and for that reason, we will like their photo as a nod of approval.

And considering all of this, I immediately felt sorry for my initial distaste. I didn’t know a thing about them, aside from a startling statistic that applies to our age group: that 2/4 will probably be in an abusive relationship during college. And I glanced around that bus again, at all the men and women that I had been romanticizing in my head, because again, you’ll never really know.

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