“BORN INTO IT:
Confessions of a Rebellious Philly Heiress in Search of Everything Around the World.”
By Ariel Rose Parker
Many may say I’m way too young to release a memoir. I say nonsense.
We’re here for such a brief time: a beautiful blink.
I’ve always been super in touch with that. This blessed me with a precocious and acute awareness of what really matters most to me: the moments, the blissful moments.
In my eyes, moments of bliss are all that’s ever really promised. Having realized this, I always follow mine.
Bliss is an unpredictable and uncontrollable thing. Ceaselessly following it without permission or apology can raise eyebrows, inspire judgement, provoke confusion and cause outrageous controversy.
If we like though, we may all make the choice to follow it anyway. I have found that as I do that, it never leads me astray. It always leads to more bliss.
This book is like a literary musical album or photo book, each entry a song or a snapshot, a captured twinkle of bliss. This memoir is many memoirs: a collection of my own real-life, blissed-out moments: bite sized, vivid and completely out of chronological order.
Each one is celebrated and true.
They’re here for you to read in whatever way and order you like. They’re here for you to draw bliss from too. They’re here to invite you to follow your own bliss too.
All names have been changed.
Ariel Rose Parker
First Kiss With #2
The second great love of my life was my first human infatuation. Presley had piercing ice-blue eyes and the undeniable handsomeness of a young Brad Pitt. His appearance , intelligence and charm were hardly it though. Hardly. We already had talented, brilliant, sporty, connected, acapella-singing, charming Greek-god look-alikes abound at our competitive private prep school in the elite East Coast suburbs of the Main Line outside of Philadelphia. Those things were nothing new. I dare say almost everyone in every grade at my school and at the surrounding private schools was either attractive, destined for some extraordinary success, or both. Usually both. The second great love of my life, Presley, #2, was no exception.
But no. Neither Presley’s looks nor his “status” were the thing. Not at all. The main thing was his soul. His soul!
“My God,” I thought, starry-eyed, watching him walk down the hallway for the first time in his puffy vest, barely within the bounds of our school dress code, “that kid’s soul is 100 times older than any soul I’ve ever seen besides my own! Look at that!”
I had been waiting for this, wanting this, praying for this, missing this. What was this? This was depth, a brand new kind of depth, the feeling of lightning striking every cell.
He was the new kid in school and we were only sophomores, but I saw oceans of soulfulness in those ice-blue eyes. Despite my wildness, sense of adventure and many charms and gifts to date, these were oceans I had never chartered. This was ice I’d never seen.
I instantly knew that he and I would be a we. I didn’t know what we was. I didn’t need to. I didn’t know how it would happen. I didn’t need to. The only question instantly and relentlessly on my mind after the first time I saw Presley was:
When? When would we, whatever “we” was, be?
I wanted it, whatever it was, now.
I had never before had a real crush, not really, not if this was what a crush felt like. My best friends since grade school always consisted of one or two girls along with all the guys. I never spent my nights up late talking about boys. I spent my free time playing, creating, having fun. The boys came to me.
So far, I always chose the boys I wanted deliberately and with delightful detachment, sweetly enjoying only the cutest, coolest and kindest for only as long as it felt wonderful, uncomplicated and exciting. So far, it all felt like a game.
But this guy? No. Nothing like that would be enough with this one. I wanted more.
I had no interest in commitment. I was already sure “monogamy” was a sham. I wasn’t sure what I even wanted. All I knew was that it was more.
I wrote love letters to Presley, pretended they were jokes. He knew they weren’t. I became Presley’s friend, got as close as I could. I listened to his stories about other girls. He listened to me talk about other guys. Only with my eyes did I tell him all the things I wanted to happen between he and I. Only with my eyes did I tell him everything we had, in my mind, already done.
We were the cool kids at school and Presley was instantly one of us, sitting next to or across from me at the table every day for lunch. Though repeatedly challenged at first by other alpha males in our group, Presley never wavered or took the bait. Presley always just laughed. Presley made it clear from the start that he knew that he was one of us, one of the cool kids. The look in Presley’s eyes told me he knew that he was maybe even the coolest of us all, the coolest besides me, of course.
The first time we kissed was many months, several million years in high school time, after the first time I saw him. Presley chose the perfect moment.
We were still just friends and we were on a giant and glamorous yacht for my perfect and perfectly over-the-top sweet sixteen. The enormous, glorious, ritzy, triple-decker boat was fully packed with guests, an entire wedding on the first floor and Ariel’s Sweet Sixteen filling the entire second two floors. We were cruising around the Delaware river.
In a twinkling tiara and an ice-blue little party dress that matched Presley’s eyes, I was the gracious star of the elaborate, playful, moving party. Pretty much anyone I’d ever known or met in my life was in attendance. It was already the perfect night. And now, it was winding down. With music, moves and cheer, the boat was headed slowly back to the dock, the stunning Philadelphia skyline sparkling over the water, getting larger in the distance.
I was on the dancefloor when Presley suddenly appeared out of nowhere and approached me, looking handsome as ever in his suit. He also had a new look in those ice-blue eyes.
“Come on,” He said, “Let’s go.”
My whole face lit up and glowed a rosy pink as Presley’s hand took mine, leading me quickly across the dance floor, through the crowds, past all the festivities and other fancy kids and adults, past any strays or curious eyes, all the way outside.
Suddenly and effortlessly, it was just Presley and me: just us two and the sea.
The wind howled. Waves roared. Water splashed. My ice-blue dress flew around as I held it down with one hand.
And then time all but completely stopped as I allowed the first thing besides friendship to finally happen with Presley, the boy who would later be the second great love of my life: One of Presley’s big hands cupped my cheek and pulled me in for the sweetest kiss I’d ever tasted, the softest lips I’d ever felt. The most electric chemistry I’d ever imagined ran all through me.
Endless magical minutes and galaxies passed as we kissed before Presley gently reached his other hand under my dress.
At that, the whole scene went white into the most utterly perfect bliss.
I was in middle school when I first saw Heaven on Earth in its full glory. That heaven was a tiny island off the coast of Australia: “Hayman Island.” Regardless of what the internet says, I still swear I can hear the island referenced in the iconic song, “Orinoco Flow” by Enya, which they were playing all over the resort when we were there, appropriately.
One of my Australian cousins was getting married and she had invited me and all my sisters to be little mini brides maids and flower girls. Deeply valuing family, my parents had said “yes” and decided to make a whole vacation out of it, taking all of us out of school for several weeks to fly across the world. We would spend a few blissful weeks on the magical Hayman Island bordered by the majestic Great Barrier Reef. Then we would head over to Melbourne, Australia for the wedding.
Best. Family. Ever.
Hayman Island was a small tropical island with no residents except for the people who actually ran and worked at the resort. We dined at buffets in the morning and scuba-dived all day. We road on little speed boats and fished with our hands for fish as big as my head. We flew in tiny little sea planes with giant headphones on to protect our ears. We played basketball at the resort courts, swam in the massive pools and did our homework at night. Creative as I was, I had never dreamed of anything so perfect. Every moment contained more bliss.
While I was there, I wrote a postcard to my future self to read after we got back. I still have that postcard, now archived in a photo album. I’ll keep it forever.
Marked “AIR MAIL” and stamped with an Australian stamp of a little wombat, handwritten in handwriting that is still exactly the same, the postcard reads, verbatim:
Hey Chiki Babe! What’s up? How are things going? You’re probably in school right now. Yeah that sucks, doesn’t it. Plunge right back into cold reality. Well, I’m still in paradise as I’m writing this. P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E. You get that? Yeah, dat’s right, sandy white beaches, rolling blue waves, tropical birds and palm trees, a swimming pool 7 times the size of an Olympic one! Not bad, huh. No, more like H-E-A-V-E-N. I could live here. I really could. Well, sorry to make you sad. It must be really sad though. The dream vacation of a lifetime. Gone, over. It finally happened. Something that was too good to be true. Enjoy the rest of 8th grade though, because it’ll be sad when that’s over too. Love you forever, you know it of course.
In middle school and high school, I was on a mission. I had grown up going to Eagles games with my dad and hearing him give me the most amazing and empowering advice.
“You always wanna be a player.” He would say, “Not just a…cheerer, on the sidelines. Remember that.”
I was super young, a little tot, the first time he said this to me at a game. He said it as the cheerleaders were literally cheering and dancing around on the field in front of us during halftime. Despite all of this, I knew Dad’s words weren’t meant to be taken just literally. Dad was talking about life in a big way.
Dad was telling me to always take a responsible, active role in my own life: to make moves, to take risks, to train, to get in the game. Dad was telling me not to just stand by on the sidelines in cute outfits and watch as other people moved around and made things happen in my life. He was telling me to own my power and really be a part of things, to be a part of the core of things, to be a part of the fun things.
Dad often talked to us in parables and riddles like this as I was growing up.
You know, like Jesus, Gandhi, Lao Tzu and other profits.
It was always very effective.
A bit later in life though, at the beginning of middle school, despite this advice….