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Individual Beauty Essay

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Sometimes, when I lie on my back in the solitude of my room and the carpet bristles my skin, the ridges in the ceiling spread like daddy-long-legs in port-o-potties. Sometimes, when I lie in bed in the hush of the night and the moon is precisely angled outside my window, the global light streaks across my pillowcase like tadpoles in silver ponds. Sometimes, when my mind wanders…

I’m fearless and flawless.

And sometimes, at these dreamy times, I am not an eighteen-year-old prom junkie standing in the middle of my floor, facing my mirror, and whispering to the butter-fairies in my stomach to buzz someplace else. I am not spending thirty agonizing minutes shaping one frizzed curl with half a bottle of Green Tea Styling Gel or
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Yet just when my jitters begin to fizzle away, my mom hollers from the bottom of the stairs,
“Nicole, did you remember to put mints in your purse?”
I don’t respond. Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone.
“Nicole, did you—
“Yes, mother. I filled the gray box with wintergreen Altoids ten minutes ago,” I croon sarcastically while gracefully stomping down the steps in my bronze high heels. Well, I wouldn’t quite call them high heels. I didn’t want to tower over my date.

“You look gorgeous,” my mom breathes as I approach the last step. Intently searching her eyes, I recognize her sincere love, and my muscles immediately relax. She is impossible to stay angry at for an extended amount of time. I ask a mental prayer of forgiveness—she never deserves the venom of my frustrations. My younger brother breezes by us with an amused, self-assured smirk, his silver bracelet tinkling as he flips a sports coat over his shoulders.

I open the refrigerator and pull out the standard cream-colored boutonniere from Dandy’s
Flowers and turn to practice pinning the roses on my brother’s lapel. My mom has always done the honors for past dances, but I figure this is my senior year. I should know how to pin a boutonniere.

“Wait, does it go on the left or the right?” I ask.

My brother tenderly shakes his head, “The
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