My English Lit textbook always seemed to want to hide just before I needed it. It was a thick chunk of a book and I liked to tuck it into my closet, out of my line of vision as soon as I walked into my room. So here I was once again, on my knees, digging through a closet that was overflowing with the omnipresent piles of crap I had managed to acquire over time. The challenge of finding my book was presenting itself to be more difficult than usual; I must have thrown it particularly hard the day before. I reached into a pile of tangled clothing, feeling for a hard surface. I became distracted as my fingers wandered over a soft, unknown texture. Reaching deeper into the heap, I disentangled the fabric and retrieved the soft red of my favorite plaid shirt.
I smiled and took a step back from the closet, leaning against the end of my bed. Class could wait. Bringing the flannel to my nose, I breathed in the smell of campfire. This flannel shirt, originally purchased at the Good Will, carried with it not only an odor of summer but the memories of BBQ’s, first kisses and inside jokes.
Closing my eyes, I dug out the details of the first day I had worn this shirt. I had paired it with a ragged old pair of jean shorts, using the shirt as a source of warmth as the hot July afternoon became a slightly breezy night. After coming to the conclusion that this garment was the perfect weight for summer temperatures I adopted it into my collection of most worn items.
I traveled back to the time when this shirt and I had been thrown into the river and had come up only to find a group of laughing friends. And the time we had attended the Sasquatch music festival, swaying our limbs to the sounds of MGMT. I traced my finger over the singed black end of the sleeve, where I had once gotten too close to a fire. Running my hands against the grain of the fabric I pictured all of the things I had encountered and experienced with this shirt, finally arriving at the night this shirt and I met you. My mind stumbled into the words you had said that night that I knew I would always know by heart.
I took a deep breath in an attempt to discourage the weight that pushed on my chest for a moment. Relief flooded through me as the pressure dispersed.I moved back towards the closet putting the flannel shirt back into its pit, remembering again why it had been banished there in the first place.
There are couples everywhere. I see them connected by the hand as they walk to class. I see them laughing over the intimately small tables of local restaurants. I see them on first dates, second dates and maybe even sometimes last dates.
Some couples are attached at the hip, some seem more independent. Some look perfectly matched for each other, while others contrast with their partner, whether in height, age or style. Although all couples vary in their aesthetic, the one thing that I seem to notice is an air of comfort between the two. Whether it’s a women being guided by a gentle hand on the small of her back, or the ease two people exude when they are around each other.
I see these couples and feel astonished, almost dumfounded, wondering how they reach this level of comfort with someone who was at one point, completely unknown to them. In class, in coffee shops, at grocery stores I see boys that I don’t think I would mind wrapping my arms around. I think about what it would be like to take goofy pictures with them or to know them well enough that I could predict their thoughts. But quickly I discount these visions as fantasy, and move my focus back to something more realistic.
It seems completely unachievable to me to reach a point of such relaxation with the opposite sex. I have been at that place before, but the occurrences of those two years now seem almost fictitious, as if at one point I read a romance novel that wound round and round until it came to a sad end. Sometimes after seeing these boys that I want to see more of, I sit and rack my brain trying to figure out how the main character of that story was me. I dig through memories and images to try and sort out just how I at one point was half of a whole. In an attempt to uncover the mystery, I rehash things I did and said, but always come up blank.
I feel completely and utterly independent; I have hard wired myself to believe that I need no one to rely on but myself. This new me seems to stumble over words and questions, never really sure of myself around these boys I encounter. I enjoy their company, but I fail to understand how the seal on a conversation is broken, how it’s pushed deeper. How does talk of music and older siblings tumble into a dialogue that actually reveals something vulnerable about yourself?
I know that at some point, I will once again be a part of a couple, and I will feel comfortable enough with someone to kiss them in public and ask them blunt and honest questions. I am aware that there are far more stories that are yet to be written about me. I find myself worrying not about whether or not the story will be written, but that I won’t know what to do once the pages begin to fill.
I had bought it from a small bookstore in the neighborhood above my school, its cover was now worn down and the mauve page marker was beginning to fray at the end. It traveled with me nearly everywhere I went, sitting in the deep pocket of my backpack, sprouting from the confines of my purse. When I was antsy or uncomfortable I would pull it out and snap the elastic with the tip of my thumb.
This notebook was the first notebook I had purchased as a writer. After being a concealed visionary for many years, I came out of the closet as a literary nerd late last November. I had pushed down my creative urges, feeling that my practical career path had no business coinciding with the endeavors of a writer. But after realizing that my need for putting words to a page was much more than a vice, I let myself succumb to my passion.
I wrote for a long time on my computer, this computer actually, before I caught onto the fact that a laptop was anything but portable. After thinking a while, I came to the conclusion that only a moleskine notebook would suffice.
Taking it upon myself as an immediate need, I scoured Amazon, looking for the best deal. I drove to a few office supplies stores, before finally walking into an obscure book shop, tucked behind a café. This moleskine, my moleskine fit perfectly into the palm of my hand and was just the right size for my almond brown shoulder bag. Taking these as signs, I brought the book home with me. This was more than a notebook; more than pages bound between two slats of leather. It was a world-traveler: it came with me across the country to Boston and New Hampshire, and across the world to Guatemala City; it has ridden the New York City Subway and been to the top of the space needle; it has voyaged across the Atlantic and enjoyed a swift Vespa ride through the cobblestone streets of Italy.
This notebook and all the notebooks that have followed represent to me a place where it is appropriate for scribbles to cover the page, and for observations to be truthful. In this book it doesn’t matter where I am headed with my career or my current level of practicality. All that matters to my moleskine is that I am filling it with the words of a writer.
Sometimes I wonder how different things would be if I had never met you. I look back at our first conversations, our first touch, our first kiss, and I wonder where my life would have lead had we not been introduced. What if Hannah had never told me to add you on MySpace? What if I had insisted that it would have been crazy for me to send a friend request to someone I didn’t know at all. At the time you were simply a mysterious boy they called Moe. I had first been turned off by the name, but then secondly captivated by the picture Hannah had shown me on her old beat up phone. You had been smiling cheekily into the camera. Thirdly, I heard your voice over the loud and crackling speaker phone. I laughed hysterically as I sat across from my best friend at a Dairy Queen, embarrassed by her attempt to drag me to a dance with some friend of hers. Little did I know that the voice on the phone would someday become my best friend.
Its funny how those things happen isn’t it?
At that moment you were nothing to me. I had laughed that night, and then forgotten about it the next day. Secretly, I had wanted Hannah to talk to you about me, but I turned it into a joke. I laughed about it with my friends while measuring out materials for a chemistry lab. I forgot about you eventually, that is until I decided to take the plunge and add you on a social networking site. I clicked the request button without even the blink of an eye.
You were nothing to me then.
And then soon, you were everything.
Sometimes I do roll over the sequence of events in my mind and think of how one different decision could have kept us from ever meeting. If Hannah had not been going to that dance with a boy who perfectly represents what it means to be socially awkward then she would not have thought to try to drag me along. If I had deleted my MySpace like my mother wanted me to then I never would have added you. If I had not gained the courage to insist that we should hang out, then you never would have laced your fingers with mine that night.
But I think I would have met you somehow anyways.
I think that you were meant to be placed in my life. Although I learned the hard way that not all loves are permanent, I believe whole heartedly that loving you was something necessary for me to become the girl that I am today.
There was a long time where I couldn’t think of your face without gasping for breath. And sometimes I still miss you. Every once in a while, I can feel your touch and can hear your voice. I mimic sounds that I could have picked up nowhere else but from you. When I brush my teeth, I move in an up and down pattern because that is what you taught me to do.
But now, I can look back at those hours that we spent talking on the phone and the days we spent tangled in each other’s arms and the way that you showed me off like a prize, and I can smile. I can smile because I know that love does not appear in our lives simply to fill us with warm, fuzzy feelings but also to push us towards the future. I learned from you, and I know that even as you fake ignorance, you also learned from me.
I loved you, and I don’t anymore. And although this sounds sad, it is not. It is a statement; it is not full of longing or regret. It is simply a sentence that encompasses into seven words the joy I felt when my heart was yours, and also the joy that I felt when it once again belonged to me.
I have an inclination towards a strong cup of black tea. The kind of tea that rolls down your throat with rhythm and a taste that lulls on your tongue afterwards. Tea is appropriate for any sort of occasion, and today I was drinking it simply to enjoy its aroma.
It was an average Seattle day: the air had decided to dance around the 40’s, the sky was painted a solemn gray and the clouds carried with them the omnipresent chance of rain. I sat on a couch that was a faded hue of blue. Its covering was worn and the cushions formless; I kneaded the corner of my seat between my fingers as if it was soft dough.
My book felt comfortable in the embrace of my left palm, its matte cover sat smoothly against my skin. I had been in the middle of reading a sentence, a particularly good sentence in fact, when I had felt a sudden urge arise to simply sit and think. I deciding to explore this compulsion and was now sitting with said book face down in my left hand and a warm cup of tea in my right. The view from this lounge was beautiful; a landscape of Seattle was laid out before the balcony, the neighborhoods of Wallingford and Freemont blending into the vastness of the University District. The aurora bridge sliced through the scene of buildings and trees.
Setting my book down, I lifted the mug to my lips, reveling in the affection I felt from the warm rim of the cup. There are times in your life when everything seems to somehow fall into place. Sub sequentially; there are also times in your life when it all seems to fall apart; being in a time of the former causes you to revisit memories of the latter.
Today was one of those times. I felt myself overflowing with gratitude that arose from deep in my gut. My heart sat quiet and content, thinking back to times when my hope had been carved out and left dry. I understood the value of an inner peace only because I had fought against the opposition of it.
It was then that I realized that I had more to give. I had grown in my habits and ideas; I had expanded in my knowledge and matured in my relation to others. Where before my life could have been described with adjectives and nouns it could now be encompassed by a single verb: bursting.
I envisioned myself as a flower whose stem had grown limp and whose branches had become fragile. But after being watered and having my dead ends trimmed, I had been able to flourish once again. I now wanted to give back to the world the goodness that I had received; I wanted to meet new people and experience different things; I wanted to bask in the warmth of the sun and find joy in the way a particular sentence rolls off of the tongue; I wanted to appreciate good books and songs that can articulate just exactly what you are feeling.
I then caught onto why I had suddenly felt the need to stop reading and think over the sensation that had tangled itself inside of me.
Someday, I wanted to find a someone.
Someone who will sit with me on an old beat up couch and revel over just how marvelous it is to sip on a strong cup of black tea.