Hey, what’s up you guys? Yes! I’m Malena Esposito, Social Media Editor for the Heritage. This is my second year on staff and it has been nothing short of a phenomenon. Like any 16-year-old, I am currently making my way (downtown) through junior year. But it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.
No matter how much I scramble through homework, I have the two most supportive parents in the world. In fact, these two parents adopted me from Russia. No, I am not kidding.No, I do not remember anything. And no, I do not speak Russian. Being adopted, you don’t normally here “you look so much like your mom!” or “your dad does the exact same thing.” But, for some reason, that’s exactly what I do hear. I have some of my mom’s facial features and my dad’s left-handedness ,yet it goes so much farther than that. My mom and I both go above and beyond in our work ethic, and she taught me how to always present myself through how I do my makeup and how I dress for school. With my dad, I share his tendency to see through the exact object I’m looking for in the pantry, his commitment, particularly to the gym, and the ability to write things out to make a plan. It’s pretty funny how it works out, even though there is no blood connection. My parents really are the best, and I’m so lucky to have them. They do everything in their power to help me and I don’t think I could ever pay them back. Although I try.
I also have a brother. His name is Jaron, he’s a freshman, and as of a few days ago, only possesses 9.75/10 fingers. Like any pair of siblings, we fight, we bicker, but I lowkey love him. Like me, he is also adopted from Russia, but we share no blood connection. Despite this, we too have similar characteristics, mostly our sense of humor. I can’t count how many inside jokes we’ve had since we were younger, or how many times we’ve looked at each other across the dinner table and burst out laughing when our parents do something as simple as pronounce a word wrong.
Although I was born in another country, I was only spent my first ten months there, proceeding to live in New York for the next seven. I remember everything about New York, from all the small businesses to the family gatherings to the acres and acres of property. But a contributing factor to my memory may be the fact that we visit at least once a year. Where we lived, it was very rural, nothing like the city. We lived near my mom’s side of the family, where everyone is just a street away. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. My brother and I are the babies of the family, with 11 older cousins and 8 aunts and uncles, so we got spoiled a lot. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, you name it, we got it. And luckily for me, the cousins I was and am closest to are all girls, so I got lots of life lessons, clothes, shoes, and trips to the mall and the movies. That part didn’t change much. While in New York, I went to school from preschool to first grade, and made friends that I still have to this day.
On my dad’s side, however, we were the oldest. An equally big family, but not too many kids. Full of Disney lovers and foreign travelers, I always admired Mickey and Pluto, and carried an ambition to explore Europe, just as that dream had been carried out before me. Unfortunately though, they lived a bit farther away, causing visits to be less frequent, even nowadays. But, for a positive spin, that just means that every time I do see them, it’s more special.
But all good things must come to an end, and in September 2008, my family of four packed up our things and moved to North Cackalacky. To be completely honest, I don’t remember how I felt about moving. I was only seven, so it was pretty easy for me to make new friends, starting second grade at Heritage Elementary. Around this time, I started Tae Kwon Do. I loved it, and continuing sparring, competing, and mastering moves until seventh grade. Also in middle school, I had started playing soccer, and it had gotten kind of hard to balance the two. By then, I had achieved my dream goal of becoming a black belt, so it was hard to see any continuation.
Another highlight of my middle school life; my Harry Potter obsession. It’s the coolest thing ever, with only a tad of “please get a life.” Reading the series for the first time in fourth grade, I fell in love as soon as I saw the words, “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” But my love escalated in middle school, to what some would call, an “unhealthy” level. I’ve read the series nine times, two of them being within a two week span (which is 526 pages a day, in case you were wondering), stayed up 21 hours straight to watch all eight movies, completed a “Harry Potter fact book,” which I have redone a few times, totaling to about 800 categorized facts. I also have all of the Lego Harry Potter sets, have a London-themed room, finalized with the Union Jack, a telephone-booth door, two 3-D models of the Hogwarts castle, and a Hogwarts crest plaque. I’ve also went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was a dream come true. There, I was chosen by Ollivander for my own wand, got the privilege of tasting Butterbeer, riding on the Hogwarts express, dining in at the Leaky Cauldron, and soaring through the sky on a broomstick. It was the most magical experience ever, and my 14-year-old soul was completely captivated. But unfortunately, I grew out of my fantasy phase, though I still keep myself up to date on whatever spells at being casted.
By high school, I was determined for a fresh starts. I had a great group of friends, pretty good grades, and an impending addition to Netflix. But I didn’t know who I was. I was only 14, how could I? And like any 14 year old, I wasn’t overwhelmed with school work, didn’t have a job to worry about, didn’t think about driving. I mostly cared about when the next episode of Gossip Girl was coming on, what my plans were for the weekend, and whether or not a guy liked me. I know, it was pathetic.
But all of that changed Sophomore year. I had gotten accepted into the Newspaper staff and after a long, rough, summer, was eager for a change. I happened to be one of the two underclassmen, I was worried that my lack of English experience would show, therefore determined to give it my best effort. I loved writing, it gave me an outlet, and words came to me like projectile vomit after a hangover (not like I would know what that’s like).
Continuing tenth grade, I made the most impulsive, yet the best and tremendously life-changing decision I could ever make. I became a vegan. But what could have ever motivated me to give up omelets, muffins, mac and cheese, shrimp, and crabcakes? Well, in the weeks and days leading up to my decision, my Agriscience class was on the animal science unit, while in my French class, the classmate next to me went vegan for two years, often talking so highly about the experience. I hated how the animals were being treated, and I wanted to feel as good as it was rumored, so there it was. Though, I must confess, like any newbie vegan, I had some doubt. I considered waiting until after the holidays (I literally decided this a week before Thanksgiving) or to just abstain from meat and dairy, while still incorporating fish and eggs. But ultimately, something inside of me clicked, and I decided that I wasn’t just going to dip my feet in, I was going to make a splash. I dived in, becoming a cold turkey vegan practically overnight.
It wasn’t easy at first, I must admit. I hardly did any research beforehand, and my parents, although supportive, thought it was just a temporary phase. I had no clue what I was doing, living off of oatmeal, frozen food, canned soups, and salad for quite sometime. Yet, even without knowing how to cook, I felt and looked better than I ever had before. But the new year was coming up, and I was determined to make getting into the kitchen a resolution to keep. And boy, did I stick to my word.
In the many months since, I’ve made more dishes than I can count, experimented with all sorts of seasonings and spices, and know how to use so many kitchen appliances, from ovens, to stoves, to food processors, to blenders, to avocado slicers. To my mother’s terror, I’ve also learned how to use many several knives, knowing what knives are for which food, and which aren’t… Kidding.
All in all, I love being vegan. I wake up everyday feeling like a better, more rejuvenated version of myself. My hair has never been longer and stronger, with a more vibrant and curly texture than I’ve ever had before. My nails are unbreakable and long, my acne is incredibly clear. Being vegan is a big part of who I am today, So, who am I today? I am Malena Esposito. I have a great group of friends, some from this year, some from last year, and some from years ago. I love conspiracy theories, which you already know, and I am willing to challenge anyone who says that the Titanic wasn’t switched. I’m talking to you, Backwards Three Bland Density. I also love coffee, either hot or cold, but always bold and black. I have a job, too, at the best grocery store I know; Sprouts Farmers Market in Raleigh. I’m very lucky to be working there, and am even luckier to made connections with people I never would have otherwise met. I like history and english, but APUSH and AP Lang is making me question my talents. As for science and math? We don’t talk about those. I write for and am the editor of the Heritage Herald. I post the articles, write on the whiteboard, pair people up for Wednesday check-ins, and do not cry. My dream job is to be the editor of a vegan magazine, preferably in Australia, but a more attainable goal is major in nutrition to become a dietician or in English to become a journalist. I also love love love pugs, even though I do not have one. But I will, one day, because kids are not for me. When I’m not drowning in homework, grinding at the gym, or making or eating food, I like to watch Shane Dawson YouTube videos (if you understood my intro, I love you) or the TV show Once Upon A Time. I also love being alone. I love having time to myself, because I do not have that often. I would rather go to lunch with a friend than go out all night with people that only care doing something for a snapchat story. My favorite place to eat is Chipotle, and a second favorite is The Juice Bar or Mod Pizza. I also have a love for makeup, even though I’m not that good, and even though my obsession tends to go through its phases. My favorite stores consist of Lush and H&M, and in all honesty, Sprouts.
So, there you have it. That’s me. Hopefully I didn’t bore you. But thank you for reading, or, if you’re right in front of me, listening. I’m pretty excited for my future, but I don’t want it to fly by too fast.