She asked me how I could see forever, how I could tell that she was the one in my heart. I told her that I just could. It wasn’t something I could put down on paper or make anyone believe but in my heart I saw it. I saw the wedding day and the life after. I saw the children in the yard and the ride to soccer games. I saw the nights after work and family dinners. I saw the minivan and the domesticity. I saw her smile greeting me as I opened my eyes in the morning, her hands in mine and her lips being the greatest thing in the world. I saw it. But the difference was that I believed it. I felt it and I found myself never wanting anything more. I’m young, I have options yet in the grand scheme of things how young is too young and how much time is too much time? But the love, the spark, the hope all faced a greater enemy that I could not control. If I could I would write endless words to bridge the gap between us, to pull your arms around me and press my lips to yours. If I could I’d walk the whole earth just to see your smile and to hold your hands for a little while. If I could I’d make the whole world light up with your name in the sky and let you know that even now my heart is still in your hands. If I could I’d be yours forever and you’d be mine.
When I was a kid I used to think New York was America. I used to think that no other place mattered but New York. I was a spunky, short-haired, bright eyed little girl who wanted to be a judge, chef, lawyer and a singer all at the same time. I left my house with a bright orange shirt and red shorts, not caring if someone thought I dressed weirdly or not. I saw the world as being full of possibilities. My parents instilled me with the belief that I could do anything I wanted. It’s why I cut my hair and wore basketball shorts. It’s why I wore snow boots in the summer and played basketball instead of wearing dresses or taking ballet. My parents gave me the ability to do what I wished. They showed me that New York wasn’t America, that this world was full of wonderful places. Full of opportunity. That I didn’t have to just be a chef, lawyer, judge or singer, I could be a basketball player too or even a teacher.
Being away at college and away from my family while hearing about the incident at Sandy Hook is more distressing than I could ever believe. Even when you’re older, there’s something about being able to run into your mothers arms and cry, or having your fathers strong and secure arms around you that lets you know that despite all the evils in the world you are safe. I cannot even begin to fathom how the families directly affected by this feel right now. But I know that it is unimaginable pain. I look around me and see how much we are all affected by such events. The realization that even though we live relatively secure lives that nothing is for sure and our time can always be cut short even if we don’t believe it.
When things like this happen we have many types of reactions. There are those who immediately begin to find a way to blame someone or something. Whether it is, “This country sucks,” or “I don’t want to live in this country anymore.” Some of us express shock, “I can’t believe such sick people exist,” or “I can’t believe what kind of cruel world we live in.” Others simply express sadness and pray. Others find a way to act whether it be signing petitions to change laws on gun control or getting people to sign a petition. Some totally miss the concept and start to compare us to starving children in countries that they have never done anything to help. Everyone has his or her way of coping. I don’t have the authority nor the want to argue or tell you what is or is not the right way. I don’t even know myself. My way it seems is to write. Because that is the only way I know how to act or express.
Whether it is a shooting that happened years ago or this week or one that happens in a month. It is still happening. Some may say that there is nothing we can do. But there is always some type of solution. Many of us sit back and simply shake our heads, feeling powerless. But if I have learned anything it is that your voice is one of the greatest powers you can have. Whether it is through writing or public speaking. Or if it’s recognizing that mental illness is not something to laugh at or make fun of. It is something that needs to be more heavily addressed than it has been. Everyone can make a difference. Whether it is now or years from now. I am not going to tell you what to do. I don’t even know where to start. But more can be done than just prayers and mournful sighs. More can be done because this country is not the small one that I thought it was as a child. It is so much bigger and so much more powerful than people realize. And one does have a voice whether they realize it or not.
My purpose for this is not to start an argument or to make others feel bad. It’s my own personal form of expression because my heart feels far too heavy with sadness. I’m only 18 now and I have a long way to go, and a lot more to learn. Now I want to be a writer, possibly a lawyer. I don’t know. But the fact is I still have the option. I still have the opportunity. And now there are twenty young children who won’t get that chance. Who won’t get the chance to realize the way I did that there is more beyond my home and my state. And if that is not enough to tell you that something needs to change. Then I don’t know what is.
I wrote this today after an especially difficult and personal sociology class I had today.
When I was in 8th grade my mother’s cousin, who I now refer to as my uncle came to live with my family. At the time all I knew about him was that he had been in prison for 16 years and that my mother cared for him a lot. I had met him once before and even exchanged letters here and there and to me he seemed like a great guy. And he is. But at the time I didn’t know the impact and the value that my mother bringing him to New York from Florida really meant. I know that it required a lot of work. A lot of plane rides and tiring phone calls. A lot of tears and pain from worrying about not being able to do what was needed. And not only my life but also my family’s life was changed for good. We didn’t know what we had agreed to, we didn’t know that it would lead to an experience that would give us all a new view and a new way of going about living our lives. One thing I will always admire about my mother is that she never kept my brother and I in the dark about many things. She never treated us like we were too young to know something, or too naïve to think a certain way. And while our family dynamic changed in a big way, I believe that it is stronger and better today.
“Oh my god you did not just serenade me with One Direction!” I get up from the chair with a laugh and walk over to her as she looks up at me with a wide smile. “Hey! In all fairness it was written by Ed Sheeran and he’s your favorite so you can’t judge. Plus, its a good song.” I smile down at her as she pulls me closer, her arms wrapped around my waist as I lean down to place my forehead on hers. “I guess I can accept that this once. Since you did sing it really well Miss Charming.” Laughing, I place a quick kiss on her lips as I move away and towards my desk. “Now, you’ve got a new article to turn into the magazine and I have a deadline to me my little fashionista.” Winking her I turn away as she laughs and moves toward our small kitchen. I sneak a glance as she hums the song to herself as she makes herself something to eat. The way her eyes shine with happiness, he nose crinkling a bit as she focuses on what she’s doing. My heart still jumps at the sight of her after all these years. It’s incredible really. Getting up from my chair I walk up to her and wrap my arms around her from behind and kiss her cheek lightly. I had waited for this moment. When I knew that it was right. “Marry me,” I whisper as I feel her freeze all of a sudden, turning around to look up into my eyes in order to see if I’m serious. She smiles wide and pulls me in for a kiss, whispering a yes against my lips. And everything is just..perfect.
I squeeze my eyes shut as I hear my alarm go off, just wishing for a little more time inside that perfect world. Reaching out to turn of my alarm, I turn towards my wall and sigh, letting my mind wander back to the good thoughts. I roll out of bed and open my computer, selecting the song and raising the volume as high as I can as I get ready for the day. Taking a deep breath, I brace my hands on the desk and listen to the song one more time. I let my self escape for another moment as I let the words fall out of my mouth I will let these little things slip out of my mouth. But if it’s true. It’s you, it’s you they add up to. I’m in love with you and all your little things”
I want to write a story that makes you believe in the world again. He stared at the paper and sighed, pushing himself away from the desk and running a hand through his hair as he walked over to his small kitchen. Leaning against the counter he thought about all the ideas that had seemed to just be pouring out of him lately yet none of them seemed right, or even that good. He wrote endlessly yet was never satisfied with it. When he would show her she would give him a small smile, tell him it was good and move on to the next topic. The light in her eyes hadn’t returned, it hadn’t been there in months, not since he had met her. Had he made it go away? Shaking his head he looked back at his desk and then too his watch before running off to his room to get dressed. “Fuck, fuck, fuck I’m late again!” Looking around his room one last time he grabbed his wallet and his keys and quickly locked the door behind him as he ran down to his car and pulled out of the parking lot, praying that he wouldn’t get a speeding ticket this time around. He pulled up to the restaurant, tucking his shirt into his pants as he adjusted his sports jacket and ran a hand through his hair again, smiling briefly at the hostess as he spotted her towards the back. “You’re late again,” she said without even looking up from her menu. “I know, I’m so sorry. I was writing and I got caught up and I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” She sighed and finally looked up at him as he flashed her his best smile. She rolled her eyes and gave him a smile as she finally put down her menu and reached across the table for his hand. “Okay, okay I give in. Tell me Michael, what’s this new story about?” He laughed and shrugged. “Not sure yet. I think this one might be the one though.” She gave him a small smile again and pulled away. “Yeah, well, lets hope.”
Michael Jennings and Viola Walters had been together since their sophomore year of college. Which was eight years ago. At 28, Mike was still a struggling writer trying to find his big break while writing little freelance pieces here and there and Viola was a successful lawyer, gaining quite the reputation for herself as NYC’s newest and best kickass lawyer. Michael and Viola were in love or at least they had been. They were best friends and no one had ever understood each other like they had. With them things were just comfortable and neither seemed close to ready to let that go.
Lunch went just as it had been going for the past couple weeks. Small talk, Viola complaining about a new client and how she needed to get back to the office and Michael pretending as if he had another deadline to meet when he was actually going home to stare at his computer screen again, hoping he would have found some inspiration on the drive home.
Three hours Michael found himself doing exactly that. He rubbed his tired eyes and shut his laptop, jumping when he felt his phone vibrate. He sighed as he saw the text from Viola saying she would be home late and grabbed the take out menu from the pizza place nearby off the fridge as he quickly dialed their number. “Another night alone.” He felt stupid for pitying himself. He didn’t want to be that guy. He didn’t want to be that writer who blamed girls and the world for his problems. He wanted to write more than some stupid stories about how he showed all the popular girls back in high school how cool he was by getting his book published or becoming rich. But he was that guy. Staring at his drafts and the discarded pieces of paper on the floor, everything screamed tragic love story or sappy feelings everywhere. It was what he was the best at. He paid for his pizza and took out a slice as he walked around his small apartment, the one that he and Viola had stayed up countless nights dreaming about, planning the future together. He paused as he spotted a picture he kept on his side of the bed. It was of him and Viola on their graduation day. They were holding each other close, foreheads touching as if nothing mattered, all of their class running around behind them, celebrating the fact that they had made it through all 4 years at the University of Chicago.
His sister had taken the picture as their friends yelled at them from the side, pretending to make fake gagging noises. They had just gotten word on being able to get the apartment in NY, she had just heard back about law school and he had gotten a promising internship at a publishing company. An internship he would lose two years later and a law degree that would start her more than successful career. Finishing the slice of pizza in his hands, he cleaned them on his jeans and stared at the picture a little longer. Sappy and lovey. His specialty. If he couldn’t write a fictional piece about it then maybe it was time he tried a non-fiction piece. Running back to his desk he pulled out one of Viola’s legal pads and his favorite pen and started to write the most heartfelt and honest piece of writing he had ever written. A letter. To Viola. Something that would make her believe again.
Two hours later, his hand cramping and throbbing with pain, Michael had written a 17 page, handwritten letter to Viola explaining why he loved her and why he believed they would be together forever. He smiled as he read it through, his heart truly believing that it would fix everything. She would smile again. The light in her eyes would return. It had to. Folding up the letter and placing it in an envelope he placed it on the counter for her to see when she got home before deciding to go to bed, positive that he would be woken up by Viola’s kisses and happiness come morning.
Morning came and Michael found himself alone in his bed, the other side of the bed still perfectly in place. He got up and walked to the kitchen to find the letter still where he left it. He checked his phone to find a voicemail from Viola, “Hey Mike, I know you’re probably asleep but its really late and I really don’t want to take the train home so my dad is going to come pick me up and I’m going to stay there for the night. See you tomorrow. Love you.” Sighing he grabbed the letter off the counter and plopped down on the couch to read it again. He felt embarrassed as he read over the jumbled mess and crushed it in his hands, throwing it into the trash. This was one thing he could not do in writing. He had to tell her in person. Feeling a new spark of motivation he jumped off the couch and headed toward the bathroom to take a shower. “I can do this. I can do this.” As he was about to get undressed he heard the door closing and ran out into the living room to greet Viola. “Baby! You’re home.” He gave her a bright smile and kissed her softly, not noticing how she pulled away. “Are you drunk?” she asked, her eyebrow rose, as she looked him skeptically. Shaking his head he laughed and looked at her. “No. I’m not. I just realized I have something to tell you.” She seemed to get nervous at this and finally set down her purse. “Do you? Oh good I have something to say too.”
Michael smiled again, the smile Viola had once told him she fell in love with. “Okay, okay just let me get this out first okay? Okay. Well I was sitting here last night and I thought about a lot. You mostly. Or us rather. You and me. All we’ve been through and I realized that I have never loved anyone as much as I love you. And I’m sorry okay? I’m sorry for the rut I’ve been in but I’m going to try harder I promise. I’ll get a non-writing job in the meantime, Go out and get some experience. I’ll write better. I’ll be better. We’ll travel more. Go see your parents more. We can stay up late and work together, like we did back in college. I mean I know it’s hard to believe but Viola we can do it. You see I wa-“
“Vi let me finish I’m sure this will all sound great once I finish I’ve been preparing this speech since yesterday. Now like I was say-“
“Baby I swear you’re going to love this. I mean we can go to Me-“
“Michael I’m moving out!”
“I even wrote this long letter yesterday, here I threw it in the trash but you can still read it. I…you’re doing what?”
He slowly rose from his hunched over position, the crinkled pages still in his hands as he turned to find Viola standing there clutching her purse with tears in her eyes.
“I’m…I’m moving out. Michael I love you. I have since we were in college. Since I met you. I’m just..I’m just not in love with you anymore. You’re not the same ambitious guy I met all those years ago. We had all these plans. And well…I’m the only one who’s followed through on them. Please. You have to understand.”
She moved towards him, placing her hand softly on his hands as the papers fell to the floor. His own teary eyes met hers and turned his hands so it fell into hers. “Vi..vi I’m trying. I’m going to try harder. We can do this. Please just give me a chance. Viola Walters I love you. You and me are forever remember?”
She took a deep breath attempting to hold back more tears and whispered, “It’s too late Michael. I’m sorry.” She took in a deep breath and wiped some of her tears away, leaning in to kiss him softly before her hand slipped from his and she started to back away. “I’ll come back for my stuff later tonight. When you go to see your sister. I’m going to be staying with my parents until I find a new place. I just can’t anymore Mike. I just can’t.”
With that the girl that Michael Jennings was sure he was going to marry one day walked out the door, never even looking back.
Mike spent the next couple days on his parents couch as they tried to cheer him up and make him think that it wasn’t so bad. He was miserable. Lost. And though this heartbreak should have fueled some heated, and hateful writing it didn’t. When he finally went back to his apartment he felt as if he had been punched in the chest repeatedly. All of her things were gone and it was as if no one had ever even lived there. He sat as his computer and pulled up one of his old files and started to write a he didn’t stop.
Two months later he had sold his first screenplay, finally sucking up his pride and calling and old buddy from college to help him out. Film hadn’t really been his thing. But it was a start. They wanted him to come to LA. Move there. Said his future seemed bright there and they would help him get settled.
Three days later he was packed and ready to go, realizing that he really didn’t have much promise left for him in New York.
Michael sat in his car, his windows down on a cool summer day in New York as he realized how much he would miss New York. His radio was turned up high and he could feel his heart aching as Love Lost by The Temper Trap came on the radio. It had been one of Viola’s favorite songs. It had been a little over two months since their break-up and it still felt fresh. Listening to the song he thought about their relationship. He hadn’t even gone after her. He didn’t even fight. As the song picked up he looked around him and suddenly turned his steering wheel, making a sharp uturn as he sped off towards Viola’s office. This was his big moment. His dramatic movie scene where he got his girl back.
Running up the stairs to her office he could still hear the song pounding on his head as he reached her floor and ran past the receptionist who called out his name. He slowed down as he walked into her office and his heart jumped at the sight of her sitting at her desk. He had missed her so much. At the sound of the door bursting open her head snapped up and her eyes widened to find her ex-boyfriend standing in her doorway. “Michael what the hell are you doing here?”
He smiled widely at her as he walked towards her. “I did it. I sold my screenplay. I’m moving to LA. I made it Vi. I did it. This is what we waited for right? What we always talked about? You and me moving to LA. We can do it. You can start your practice, and I can write for the big leagues. Viola I know you still love me and I still love you. So lets do it. Lets just get the hell out of here. You and me we could change the world. This is me fighting for once. I know it took a while but I can’t lose you. I know it’s late. I know I’ve lost my chances but Viola I love you more than anything in this world. You’re my biggest fan and critic. I need you and I know you need me too.”
Viola was speechless as she stared at the man she had fallen for so many years ago. She would be lying to herself if she said he didn’t look good. He did. He had shaved and he was even wearing a suit for once. His eyes shined with promise and she could see the man that she had wanted back for so long. And for a moment she considered it. Going with him. Dropping everything and just being Michael and Viola again. Working on them and getting back to the dynamic duo that they were. And then there was a knock on the door. “Hey babe you ready for lunch?”
Both Michael and Viola’s heads turned to the door to find a very handsome looking man standing in Viola’s doorway, his eyes shifting back and forth between the two as he entered the room. “I’m sorry am I interrupting something?” Still smiling he walked over to Michael and stretched his hand out, “Nice to meet you, I’m Robert. Viola’s boyfriend. Are you new here are have you just been hiding under a pile of work?” He laughed to himself as if he had just told the funniest joke in the world and Michaels eyes moved to meet Viola’s and he knew that she was settling. She knew it too. But she was also doing the best she could for herself.
Viola grabbed her purse and took Roberts hand as she led him out of the office. “Let’s go,” she said quietly as they walked. This time she did look back and she smiled at Michael. “I’m really proud of you Mike. I really am.”
Suddenly his suit felt too big and the office felt too small and Michael ran as fast as he could until he appeared on the sidewalk in front of his car and threw up in a nearby trash can. Wiping his face clean he slowly got back in car and pulled out of his parking spot, continuing on the way he was going, hooking up his iPod and turning it to California by Phantom Planet. He looked in the backseat, his belonging piled up, his favorite college sweatshirt hanging out of one of the boxes. Images of Viola in that sweatshirt..and just that sweatshirt flashed through his mind and he knew that things were finally over. Looking around at the city, the song still blasting, he knew he had become that guy. That guy who wrote stories based off of his own love life disaster, making stupid jokes about the girl who had shattered his heart to pieces. He was the guy at the start of every romantic comedy who’s life was headed nowhere. “Let’s just hope there are happy endings up ahead,” he said to himself as he turned up the volume on the radio, trying to drown out everything else. Heartbreak. It was what every good writer wrote about….right? And maybe one day he would be able to write a story that would make her believe again.
She moves in perfect time. All I want is for her to be mine. I’ve been trying to let her know that I’m falling so fast. The way she smiles at me, the way her brown eyes shine. It drives me crazy. But I’ll never be the right one for her. No I’ll never be the one she loves. Cause we’re two wandering souls, traveling down separate roads.
I took her hand and said let me show you the world. But she pulled me back and said baby I can’t be your girl. You deserve better, I’m such a mess, I must confess that I’m not good enough. So I looked her in the eyes and said kiss those worry goodbye because I don’t want anyone else. But I’ll never be the right one for her. No I’ll never be the one she loves. Cause we’re two wandering souls, traveling down separate roads.
So I’ll sit her wondering if I’ll ever be happy again. Cause all I wanted was you. You were all I though I needed. But I guess fate hat a different plan, and that is something I will never understand.
But I’ll never be the right one for her. No I’ll never be the one she loves. Cause we’re two wandering souls, traveling down separate roads.
Face the music
Face the noise.
Let the girls dance with the boys.
Let’s be free,
Just you and me.
No limits tonight,
We’ll party till daylight.
Set yourself free,
Be who you want to be.
Don’t slow down,
We’ll shake this town.