Did you know that last year, Rihanna got on a plane, taking with her a handful of her most devoted fans, and flew around the world for a couple of days? I did. I knew that because I thought quite a bit about what it would be like to be on that plane. At first, I thought it would be wonderful-those lucky fans would be boarding a flying utopia! I imagined dozens of people drifting off to sleep, while Rihanna harmonized above them. “Yes, Rihanna. Of course I would like to stand under your umbrella” they would murmur to themselves, their eyes heavy with sleep, under her never ending chorus of, “Ella, ella, eh eh eh”. They would sleep and she would sing and it would be beautiful.
Now, I have been walking about this dystopian hellscape for eighteen years, and in those eighteen years, I have learned one thing about the world: almost nothing is ever as beautiful as you imagine it to be. Despite this fact, or maybe in spite of it, I wanted Rihanna’s trip to be wonderful and beautiful and perfect (for no reason in particular, because I don’t really like her music that much, but still I prayed that everyone on that plane would fly off into the sunset and *ahem* SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND).
Alas, it was not to be, for almost as soon as they took off, people began tweeting about how horrible the experience was. Yes, what had once promised to be an all-expense paid trip to happiness had become their winged prison: Apparently, Rihanna had provided them with an inadequate amount of food and water, and made only sporadic appearances with them before locking herself away in her fancy plane-suite. All the while, her fans withered away, becoming empty husks of the people they once were, shedding their souls the way an anaconda sheds its skin. Then it ended, and Rihanna emerged to bid them adieu, her eyes glowing radiantly with a spark of life that had left their own so long ago, and they shrugged their shoulders and returned to their normal lives as receptionists or bankers or telemarketers, and then the story of how one time, Rihanna held them captive in an airplane became just that- another story.
Months later, I was sitting in my high school graduation practice. Next to me, the worst boy I’ve ever met was talking ceaselessly, his words a never-ending torrent of ignorance.
“Hey,” he said, as he nudged me hard in the side, “What should I change my middle name to on my card? As a joke, you know?”
“Do what feels right,” I answered, avoiding eye contact with that foul beast.
“I think I’m gonna change it to something ghetto. Like Lashanda…or KIANA LOL!”
“That’s actually really offensive. You could upset a lot of people. Hashtag me.”
“I don’t care.” He said flippantly, while scrolling through his phone.
“Well, maybe you should. Maybe you-“
And that’s where the conversation ended because he looked up, startled at my rage, and coughed into my mouth. I REPEAT: HE COUGHED INTO MY MOUTH. This is Kiana reporting live from the scene to say, MY LIFE IS A CONSTANT CYCLE OF PAIN. He didn’t even apologize. He just continued scrolling through his phone like my entire existence hadn’t been shattered right before his eyes.
And then, graduation practice was done, and I went out to eat with my friends, and then I slept until it was time to go to the actual graduation and I took pictures with my friends and also people I barely knew and then I sat in the ceremony and then I got in the car with my family. As we drove to my aunt’s house to celebrate my escape from the womb that was mandatory schooling into the harsh reality of the ~*REAL WORLD*~, I thought again about Rihanna’s plane.
I thought about how happy those people must have been to be free, at long last, from Rihanna’s manicured clutches, about how now, they would probably think about their lives in at least two definite parts (Pre-Rihanna-hell-flight, and post-Rihanna-hell-flight). For a while, I’ll probably look at my life, and think about the day I graduated high school as a split in my life, a division between my childhood and my entrance into artificial adulthood. When I began that journey, I was wide-eyed and hopeful, like Rihanna’s voyagers. I’d expected great things for me and my future. I expected too much. Over time, however, I became more and more frustrated and cynical, until it was over.
Now, here is the thing, and the thing is true: Almost nothing in this world is ever as beautiful as you imagine it to be. You’ll build something up in your mind, ever higher and higher, until a boy you hate coughs into your mouth. And at the time, you’ll be really disappointed and maybe a little bit angry. But then, like Rihanna’s flyers, you’ll shrug your shoulders and go back to living your life, and you’ll make better memories and that moment will become just another story to tell.
And that is either really beautiful or really terrible. I haven’t decided yet.