Posted by: Staff | 01.25.2010

College Essay XXIII: Riki Adams ’10


Stranger in the Frosting

August 6th, 1999: knife in hand. I slice through the frosting, starring abashed at the image on my cake. As I look at this photograph taken at 12 Old Farm Road, I am taken right back to the very instant. Darth Maul glares with golden eyes as the artificial blood drips down from my name. My parents had chosen the wrong character from Star Wars to put on my cake, and it put a damper on my whole night. I had wanted Ewan McGregor, on whom I had grown a crush since the film was in theaters. But unfortunately I was stuck with the red-skinned Sith with devil horns on his head. I was nervous that my guests were going to judge me; think that I was some weird 7-year-old girl with a strange obsession with sci-fi villains.
Ten years and four months have passed since the photograph was taken. I have evolved from this pre-teen stranger to someone about to make a monumental decision in her life. As I apply to schools, I find myself asking who I am, what my role is, what type of person I want to become. I find that whenever I answer any of these questions, I have already become a new person. It’s like there is a rate of change of my psyche. The derivative of my life is obscure, and whenever it looks like there aren’t patterns in my statistics, the common trend lies in myself.

 The longer I stare at the photo, the more I recall about the very moment. My mother is standing next to me. Her face isn’t visible, but I know it’s her. I was still sour that she picked the wrong character, so I demanded that I cut the cake, as if having control of a sharp object would give me some power over the situation. Her hand is reaching out as if to direct me, but slicing the cake seemed necessary for me at the time. The little scrapper that I was could barely reach the other end of the table. My white blouse was too big and the straps fell off my crisply burnt shoulders – souvenir of the summer of ’99.
I was completely in love with that long sold house on Old Farm Road. There I could escape from all those feelings of inadequacy that came from being the youngest child in my family. My neighbor and I would play make-believe for hours together, pretending to be Merlin and King Arthur— therapy for powerless children. Our creativity ran wild, and we would pass the time away during 80° weather.
My seventh birthday party was magical. It lasted all through the night, and there must have been 100 people. The invitation list would seem foreign to me now, and the boy standing next to me eying the Sith is unfamiliar, but at the time I couldn’t have felt more comfortable. That once-adored group of people could never be gathered again. For example, my cousin is standing across from me, sticking her tongue out at the deliciously frightening cake. Over the years my family has lost touch with hers. Other relatives would also be missing in action; most of the older ones are ill or have passed away.
            Four months ago, my family and I had dinner at a nice restaurant. I wore a new outfit and had a delicious meal. However, I did have one wish as the singing waiter came over to our table: I would prepare my lungs, look down, and see Darth Maul yet. What was once my embarrassment is now my frosted comfort – a baby’s blanket that wraps around and reminds me of past glory days where superficial screens weren’t placed over my innocent eyes; enjoyment derived solely from the love of the people with me, without letting the trials of school or social politics spoil my evening.
Taking my last glances at the photo, I can’t help but wonder which new photo I will be looking at in ten years.  Which story will I excavate out of the hidden caves of my memory? Furthermore, what will I learn from it? I know now that wherever I am next year and whatever self doubts I may have about this college process, I will be fine. The girl in the photo has triumphed over sickness, sadness, and SAT’s. I am confident that I will overcome any obstacles I will face next year and contribute to the institution where I am. I can’t return to 12 Old Farm Road and have the night of my life. I am only able to reminisce about what I once had and let the stranger in this photo teach me more about myself than she ever thought she could.



  1. Riki Adams, This is truly amazing. Hope you get into whatever college you like.

  2. [Like]

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