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Read all of Zach Brokenrope's pieces for The Tattoo

Zach Brokenrope in Aurora, Nebraska in 2006

Journalism suffers a blow in Indiana

April 30, 2007

Rock and roll high school

January 8, 2007

A wicked cool record company

January 8, 2007

Rock and roll renegade

January 8, 2007

The gangster of rock and roll

January 8, 2007

Springsteen could tour this summer

January 8, 2007

Meet the author: Alex Sanchez

May 15, 2006

What it truly means to be young and gay

May 15, 2006

Rockin' Omaha

April 5, 2006

Spring lightning on the Pioneer Trails

April 2, 2006

Santa at Macy's makes the season

December 12, 2005

Who knows all this stuff?

November 28, 2005

Truly a pop quiz

November 28, 2005

Getting paid for playing around

November 21, 2005

Get your game on

November 21, 2005

Company thinks outside the box

November 14, 2005

When death strikes a boy of 16

November 7, 2005

How Rosa Parks changed the world

October 27, 2005

When Alex Briner ran away

October 24, 2005

He conceived a birth control clock

October 24, 2005

Author Beckerman makes a living with a bad attitude

October 10, 2005

S.L.U.T. not based on truth

October 10, 2005

Why I got my new blue do

October 3, 2005

Victory over vending machines

September 26, 2005

Essex steam train rolls through time

August 8, 2005

 The Boss in Bridgeport

August 1, 2005

A breathtaking 'Rose' takes to the stage

August 1, 2005

Ships give glimpse into America's past

August 1, 2005

Mystic Seaport photographs

August 1, 2005

Finbacks, humpbacks and sharks, oh my!

July 25, 2005

It's all possible in P-town

July 25, 2005

Saying goodbye in the cold Nebraska rain

July 18, 2005

Marsh walk on Cape Cod

July 17, 2005

Dancing until I nearly dropped, then walking home

July 4, 2005

The gut-wrenching choice to come out

May 16, 2005

Legal at last with my learner's permit

April 25, 2004

My wild Saturday night at Wal-Mart

April 18, 2005

Principal's cell phone hang-up angers students

April 18, 2005

Paying respects to Arthur Miller

April 11, 2005

Singled out as a geek on the first day of high school

September 13, 2004

High school years are finally here

August 30, 2004

The real children of the corn

June 21, 2004

A monster of a sequel

June 11, 2004

A classic for today's teens

June 1, 2004

Not your average documentary

May 27, 2004

Betrayal and confusion

May 15, 2004

Goodbye, yellow brick road

February 26, 2004



-- Journal --


February 28, 2010




By Zach Brokenrope

Senior correspondent, Youth Journalism International




BOSTON, Mass., U.S.A. -- I never thought Iíd make it to 20 years old.

I donít really know why, but when I was younger I always felt like 20 was impossibly old. That is, of course, the wise position of a 13-year-old.

I woke up on the last day of my teen years much like any other day.

Sunlight filled my dorm room and I could hear my roommate in the shower singing along to his iPod. As usual, my room was messy and the previous nightís clothing was scattered across the room in pieces: a single shoe in one corner, its respective sock wrapped up in my faded blue jeans.

Since my room gets unbearably hot at night, my bedroom window was open a crack and for a second I closed my eyes again and let the cold Boston air run across the curve of my checks and across my lips. It tasted a bit like steel and dried leaves, the crunchy kind that somehow manage to survive fall and into winter.

On mornings like this, I canít believe the life that Iím fortunate enough to lead. I can say that I donít mean to be clichť when I write things like this, but thatís a lie. Itís the only kind of writing that Iíve ever really been good at.

I started my teen years in rural Nebraska, coming of age in the kind of small town that people pass through without thinking about on their way to greater destinations. At least thatís how I always felt about it.

Read all of Zach Brokenrope's journals.

When I was younger, my friend Miriam and I would sit on the edge of one of the less used overpasses in the country, watching the cars drive by on the interstate below. Weíd talk about where they were going and how we were just like them: just passing through.

Nebraska was not an easy place for me.

I was overweight, uncoordinated, and gay in a fiercely conservative town. I saw many of my friends die, some through suicide. I seriously considered taking my own life on a number of occasions, once even taking a gun with me out to the country, determined that it was going to be the end. I somehow made the choice to live.

I also had braces, which just accentuated my horrible acne.

I cannot pretend it didnít have its good moments, though.

There were midnight trips to Wal-Mart and stolen first kisses, the first rushed and hesitant traces of love. There were days when we skinny-dipped in the river, completely unashamed of our bodies and afternoons that we spent working in cornfields under the hot, Nebraska sky.

In those moments Iíve never felt closer to the earth and the beginning of creation.

Iíve stayed out till dawn, snuck out of my house, and had times I just wanted to feel like a bad ass. I learned to drive and then crashed my car Ė twice.

I came to Boston when I was 18 years old because I wanted to change my life.

And I did.

My dorm room is riddled with moments from the past seven years. There are picture I keep hidden and those that I display proudly. I look at myself and I see that on the outside Iíve changed, but in reality Iím still in the same person Iíve always been. I just found the place where I finally fit.

On my 20th birthday, I spent dinner with 23 of my closest friends, including my new boyfriend. They laughed and took pictures, ate, and sang me 'Happy Birthday.'

I have never felt so loved and so much a part of humanity.

I do not know how I will change in the next 10 years of my life.

I do know, however, that I am incredibly lucky for everything Iíve been given so far.

And that makes me feel like everythingís going to be okay.

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