Recollections of You..

I can't remember the first time I saw you.  Perhaps it was on the playground in second grade, perhaps running around kicking a ball with all of your friends--I'm not really sure.  You were just always there.  I can remember the first time you spoke to me, however.  You were playing catch with your friends, like always, and you accidentally hit me with the baseball.  And your face was red as you apologized.  The next day you sat beside me at lunch, even though your friends made fun of you at recess.  But pretty soon you and I were best friends, and I was accepted as part of your pals.  Things sped up quickly--I really don't know how it all happened that fast.  But we were still in high school when the U.S. entered the war.  And you insisted you had to help, to enlist.  I argued, tried to persuade you against it, but no, you wouldn't listen.  If only you had...

And I can still recall that day––that bitter day with the cold sun shining through the clouds, dead grass crunching underneath my feet.  And you just grabbed both my hands with your own, and blurted out the question, going very quickly for fear I would say no.  And when I did say yes, your ears got red and you breathed a sigh of relief, seeming to forget I was standing there for a moment.  Then you gave me the engagement ring: a single band of cheap metal, saying that later, when you came home from fighting, you would be able to afford better.  And then we could get married and buy a house somewhere and settle down--you promised me, you promised.  And then you kissed me, pulling away rather quickly and coughing, but very pleased with yourself that you had had the courage.  

I begged you not to go--not till we could graduate high school and get married.  But no.  You enlisted, lying about your age, and at seventeen went to war--a flyboy, a pilot.  You would make me proud, you said.  I would be proud to be your girl, and later, your wife.  And I was, really, I was.  Until I got the telegram...that accursed telegram.  You were wounded, but I was thankful.  I thanked God you were alive.  And then they sent you home to a hospital with a severe head injury, warning me that you could suffer from amnesia.  I visited you every day, praying that you would live.  And you did, you did live!  But you had no idea who I was, where I had come from, or what I had meant to you...  And never did remember, ever.  You had promised me that we would have a life together, but you broke that promise.  You broke it.  And you'll never know how much I loved you.  You love someone else now.  She has the life I always thought of as mine--still think of as mine.  It should have been mine.  

And do you know that I still have that old ring you gave me?  I still keep it on my finger, reminding myself of that boy with floppy ears and unkempt hair who was so shy and awkward around girls.  And who swung me around in his arms till we both got dizzy and fell down.  That boy went off to war...and never came back.  That boy is not you.  You are not yourself anymore.  

And for some crazy notion, I almost wish you would read this--but that is impossible.  You will never love me again, never look at me the same way.  And I'm still crying inside, but it's time to move on.  And so I will, with everything I can muster.  

But if it makes any difference, I still love you...and always will.  You just don't love me back.  



Wanderlust.  That word just is so mysterious and beautiful.  When defined in the dictionary, it means "a strong desire to travel."  A strong desire to travel...  Such a simple definition for such a strong word.  But wanderlust means so much more than just wanting to see places.  It means wanderer, rambler, roamer...  Wanderlust ties two words together: Wander and lust, to create something that means so much more than its definition.  To have wanderlust is to have a strong need to escape reality at home, to travel to different places, to experience new things.  

You hear of wanderers in all the stories, permanently on the move, never staying in one place too long--and you wonder, how do they do it?  Are they forever outcasts?  And then you ask yourself, do they like it that way?  Are they fond of living the life of a nomad?  

Or do they have the wanderlust deep in their hearts, never able to ignore it, but never really able to accept it?  

Wanderlust...a longing, yearning, a hunger to see what lies beyond the horizon--to explore the uncharted waters, comb the uninhabited mountains, searching for something...something to fill the cavity in your heart: a space that can never be filled.  



Down the road...

I walk, the leaves crunching under my feet, breaking into tiny filaments of flaming crimson, orange, gold, brown...  And still I walk that well-known path, the trees casting fingers of shadow over my course, what is left of their foliage rattling in the breeze.  And I can't sort things in my mind.  I can't make sense of it all.  The brook plays soft music to my ear, trying to calm me, sooth me with the sounds of the forest.  

Will he remember me?  All our visits, me making tea, him telling stories--all written down in the red-bound journal clutched under my arm.  Will he recall my face?  How he used to laugh at my blunders when trying to make the perfect cup of tea?  "Boil the water first, then measure the tea.  Let steep for exactly three minutes--any longer and it's too strong, shorter and it's too weak..."  I can hear his voice clear and plain in my head as his wrinkled hands poured our drinks into cracked mugs.  His hair was grey, would it be white now?  And would he even remember my book?  The one I was writing...the one he helped me discover...?  Or has age addled his mind so that I'm just a face in a sea of unrecognizable faces--no one of consequence...anymore.  

I keep walking, crumbling the leaves, crushing them into fine dust to litter the forest floor--mere shadows of their former glory...

I lay down my pen and stare out the window.  Leaves are beginning to fall, swirling around in tiny eddies akin to whirlpools as they tumble to the ground.  I sigh and stand up, leaving my paper on the desk, half finished--the last sentence scrawled in a nearly undecipherable hand.



Life is good...

Chocolate ice cream on a cold night, sitting on my bed writing...life is good.  Now, reveal your secrets to me, Scottie O'Cleaveland, so that I may put them onto paper with ink--crafting a story like on one has ever heard before, recording your world for all eyes to see, creating a narrative full of adventure, betrayal, and danger.

If only you would cooperate.



Be Yourself

What does that mean?  How can you be anyone else?  Who else would you be?  But being yourself is so much more than just living your life.  It means not succumbing to peer pressure--all kinds, not just from your friends.  What about the media?  Celebrities?  News?  All of these can influence how we live, how our attitude is, what we look like.

I have problems with this, just like anyone else does.  But if I like my worn-out converse even though  people say they look terrible, I still wear them.  If I like a vintage skirt even though it's out of style, I'll still wear it.

But doing what you want to do is still hard.  What if you want to embrace a career of acting instead of  your parents wishes for you to become an English teacher?  What if you want to be a writer, a traveler, a messenger of words instead of respectable lawyer?

I recently watched the movie Billy Elliot, and in it Billy lets Mrs. Wilkinson (the dance teacher) read a letter that is very special to him.  The letter is from his dead mum, and in it she tells Billy how proud she was to have known him, for however short a while--and how she will have missed his growing up, and missed telling him off.  She signs it with "Always be yourself.  I love you forever, -Mam."

And this scene just touched me so much, because even as Mrs. Wilkinson is reading aloud, Billy is reciting the words as well--and you know he's memorized the whole letter by heart.  And it is so sweet and such a touching scene with beautiful acting that it almost makes me cry.

Being yourself means dancing like no one is watching.  Singing like no one can hear.  Acting like nobody cares.  Writing a book you'd like to read.

So go on.  Dare.  Dream.  Believe.  And make it happen.

Be yourself.




Water everywhere, around you, caressing your hair, pushing in on both sides, holding you captive with its force.  Muffled sounds reach down to you from up above, on the surface where air and light...and pain abound.  And you take comfort in your water solace, wanting to block out everything else--embracing the silence.

When I was little, I wished very badly that our whole room would flood with clear, crystal water and I could just swim around in it without any restriction.  Even now, I think that it would be totally awesome.  And down there, out of the reach of sights, sounds, and hurt, I would wrap the heavy water around me like a mantel and forget about everything.  Swimming is like a therapy for me--diving down clear to the bottom, then sitting there for as long as I can hold my breath and just revel in the feeling of being rocked back and forth by the liquid cloak enveloping me.

Out of the way.  Free from everything up on the surface--responsibility, expectations.  Lying there forever, and ever.  Escaping reality.

But if you stay down too long, the water will engulf you and become your watery grave.  You will drown.  And I can't help but think, that this is an illustration of life.  You can't escape things forever.  You have to learn to face them sooner or later.  But if you wait too long, everything will suffocate you.

And you pull your fingers through the water, kick with your feet, your lungs bursting, and break the surface.  Breath in the cool, sweet air--hear the sights and sounds assault your senses once again as you leave behind your place of solace and step into the real world.

Ultimately facing yourself.  




...to jump!  Be free!  Don't let anything hold you back.  Looking over the brink, into the abyss, the dark, terrifying chasm--and you feel your heart in your throat.  You close your eyes, and bite your lip, trying to force yourself to take the leap, the jump that will change your life.

And I leap.  And I fall.  And I reach out my flailing arms, hoping that someone will catch me.  The fear chokes in my throat, and I keep falling, grasping at anything to keep me stable--something, someone, to break my fall.

But you know?  They always do.  No matter where you fall, how you jumped, or when you leaped--someone will always be there to pick you up, even if you don't see who it is at the time.  So let go of all restraints, don't let life get you down.

Dance in the street.  Sing in the rain.  Count the stars.  Let the balloon float to the sky.  Watch the delight on a child's face.

Live.  Dream.  Love.

Be yourself...and soar!