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Getting to Chapter 23

I’ve always loved writing.

My first journal was pink with a ballet slipper in the center of it that Meech bought me from All Things Dance when I was getting sized for my new leotard. I took it everywhere, even though most of the pages were just filled with drawings. My first computer was a Dell that Esco & Meech bought me where I spent most of my free time writing stories that I thought were genius. Ask Sharon . She endured a reading of every short story I ever wrote…even when they were awful, but I swore they were best-sellers (😂I love you, Shanners. truly. we've come a long way from stories only you & I know exist.)

In 4th grade, I watched Mrs. Mary Tebbs (I love this woman to this day. One of the best teachers I have ever had the privilege of learning from) sit at her computer & type at least 300 words in a minute. I was so impressed & equally as frustrated because I wanted to type just as quickly. Me & Mavis Beacon became best friends in computer lab that year. I ended up being the faster typer in my homeroom, as stated by Mrs. Sowash, the computer lab teacher.

In 7th grade, my teacher called Meech after receiving my standardized-test scores because she was concerned with the results. She said that, “I rushed through many sections so I could write in a notebook instead.” I still have that notebook. The story was called “Birksman.” I regret none of it.

My freshman year of high school, I was placed in Honors English, but because of a schedule conflict, I ended up taking regular English with of my all time favorite teachers, Ms. Regales. She reminded me of the reason I loved to read and write, & she was always in my corner. (I love you, JRegs!) Later that year, I was asked to write an article about my school visit to New York where we watched our alum, Nicole Ari Parker, perform in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” I wrote my heart out about how much I loved it, & to my surprise, I got emails from several teachers that I didn’t think knew of my existence. I took AP English my junior year & fell in love with #ToniMorrison & her ability to craft such beautiful work. By senior year, most of my schedule was English electives.

When I first entered college, I thought I wanted to study Dance & Psychology. But, English was on my heart, so I went with it. & truly, it was the best decision I think I’ve ever made for myself. I had a lot of professors during those four years who praised my writing & even told me that they thought highly of my words. I was asked to publish a piece for the #BalitmoreSun after taking a journalism class with a writer from the paper. They were persistent in making sure I considered publication & that I continued to write after college ended.

You read that, & you probably think that I’ve always known writing was the career I wanted to pursue. But, truthfully, I had no idea. Writing, for me, was always just something I loved to do. It was a hobby, if anything, & I thought it was dance that I'd pursue & make a career out of. Here I am, though. Being a writer, blogger, & an author.

I’m still in shock that I’m published right now. That my words have been printed. That I will live in the homes of many. & all I keep thinking…is thank you.

Thank you to every, single teacher & professor of mine who has believed in my abilities to write & believed that I would be a published author.

Thank you to my parents for everything, really, but mostly for supporting my decision to study something that I loved. Thank you to my siblings for being my Right Hand & Anchor & for always reminding me that I’m dope enough to do anything.

Thank you to Shanners for reading AND listening to my writing for the past 16 years. Thank you to Alayna for letting me run most of my poems past your eyes, for helping me run inventory, for reminding me to breathe through all of this, & really, for being my backbone.

Thank you to Ollie for not only being my motivating best friend, but for being the inspiration behind the project & for really being the person to get me to publish.

And lastly, thank YOU. for all of the support & love you give me. Words will never do the way my heart feels justice. I hope to see your name on that order list soon.

May your day be ever filled with love, light, and of course, an abundance of chicken tenders💜🌻✨

Cheyenne Pajardo

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