To this day, Matoaka is a bird. I’m not sure what kind of bird—maybe a sparrow—but whenever I thought of people I knew as animals, Matoaka was always a bird. Miranda’s cousins were chipmunks and rabbits, Maddy was a cat, but Matoaka was a bird.
Matoaka was in “The Pajama Game” with me and I adored her. She knew who she was and wasn’t ashamed of it. Secretly, I had a wish to be exactly like her. From the moment we met, I looked at everything with a “WWMD” attitude—What Would Matoaka Do? She was exactly the kind of person I wanted to be. Basically everybody loved Matoaka—I wanted to be loved like that. Matoaka was interesting—I wanted to be interesting like that. She was wonderful.
Matoaka was sweet, even to the freshmen. She was pretty much the sweetest person in the play. She remembered your name and called you by it. One day, I was staying after school and waiting for my mother to pick me up to drive to Pennsylvania. She said hi and asked why I was still there. Apparently, my tiredness came across as sad, because Matoaka looked at me with a small smile and said, “Do you need a hug?”
Of course, I accepted.
Matoaka also had a beautiful voice, singing and speaking. It was different, sweet, and just interesting. Like Vanessa Carlton or Regina Spektor—the kind of voice you rarely hear, especially in a high school play.
But most of all, Matoaka was unique. She wore things that most people didnt know existed, like a pair of grey sweatpants with the words “hey, it’s me” written across the butt in a cute font. Like leggings with gold studs along the outside calf. Like thin, loose knit sweaters. She also had a nose piercing—a simple silver stud. You wouldn’t notice it at first, but it was cute. A nose piercing like that—it was something I didn’t realize I wanted until I met Matoaka.
Although my father threatened to cut my nose off if I ever got one, I didn’t care anymore. I was going to be like Matoaka. And he would get used to it.