short stories

David Marcu, Upsplash

The Other Women: Lean Cuisine

*The Other Women is an original short story series, with inspiration from Naomi Wood’s fiction novel Mrs. Hemingway.

The cafeteria smelled like Chinese food again. A lot of women in my office were notorious for bringing soggy leftovers, stinking up the entire room with the smell of chicken and MSG. Any other day I could stomach it, but today it wasn’t going to happen.

Marci and I always ate lunch together around 12:30 p.m. Brandworth, the small marketing firm where we worked, allowed us an hour for lunch, and she was the only person that I would want to sit with for a whole sixty minutes.

Besides the low-pay and obnoxious reminders to clean out the refrigerator every Friday, I enjoyed my job. It helped being able to talk to someone every day. Marci helped me stay a little sane – in between paper filing and the occasional inappropriate back pat from a corporate executive. Today was another day in the office, only instead of hitting the lunch truck outside of the building, I was brown-bagging it and Marci was heating up something frozen.

“Lean Cuisine?” I asked her in between the beeps that told her the meal was ready.

“Yeah, Justin wants to go to some riverside camping trip so that means I gotta lose the extra baggage,” said Marci as she stirred low-cal microwavable pasta primavera. “If I have to spend a whole weekend with his nerdy college buddies and their dull girlfriends, I at least want to have the body of a bombshell.”

“You’re right, if someone sees you shitting in the woods you’ll want to make sure you look nice and toned,” I smirked.

“You’re so annoying.”

I looked down at my own food, a pathetic sandwich and potato chips that was leftover from a budget luncheon last Wednesday. I had yet to go grocery shopping, probably because this week was the first week that I had actually been hungry. I heard breakups do that to you.

“What are you eating?” Marci asked, mid-bite mushrooms and noodles.

“Uh, peanut butter and jelly.”

“What are you, twelve? Did Mommy make it for you?”

“Screw you,” I got quieter, noticing the old women from finance were looking over at me. “Sorry, it’s just all I felt like eating.”

“Sarah, if you need some help you know you can just ask me. Justin’s mom is always bringing me over casseroles, which leads me to believe is the reason I’m on a temporary diet,” she picked up her plastic fork and let the contents drop back into the plastic container. Drops of reduced sodium sauce splattered onto the table.

“I’m fine. Just not all that hungry,” I munched slowly on a few stale potato chips to convince her.

The problem with breakups is not just the loss of an appetite. When you’re the one left, you just wander around and wonder what you did wrong. Then, you realize how much your life revolved around the other person. Everything reminds you of them. Street sounds, movies, commercial jingles, the weather—even a crappy last minute lunch shared over a work-break with your friend.

“You know what my ex used to do with potato chips?” I smiled a little, hoping that talking about him would make me get over the breakup.

“Hmm.”

“He would put his potato chips on his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I always thought it was so gross but once I tried it I thought it was genius.”

“That’s childish, and a perfect example as to why you shouldn’t be with him,” Marci pointed her fork at me, and more sauce dribbled onto the table.

“I don’t get how that matters,” I looked woefully at my sandwich, deciding if the stale chips between the white bread would make me feel any better. “Do you know he could only eat the crunchy kind?”

“Is talking about his favorite foods really going to help you feel any better, Sarah?”

“Probably not, I guess” I finished the last bite of my sandwich, feeling, remembering our last minute trips to Trader Joes to pick up peanut butter and the bread pickles I used to eat. Thinking of him only drew me closer to the gaping hole somewhere in my heart.

“Chin up, buttercup. He was boring and he deserves to get hit by a bus,” Marci scraped the rest of her primavera into her mouth and wiped up the mess she had made.

We packed up and headed back to our cubicles. Marci and I sat next to each other, with thin walls separating us, giving each employee a small and drab space to work their eight hour shifts. The first time I had spoken her, she had poked her head over the cubicle to mutter, “Hey new chick, ease off the Chanel, it gives me a headache.”

I thought about how we became instant friends, wondering if nostalgia would cheer me up, but even though I had Marci I still couldn’t help feeling as if a part of me was missing. I was spiraling into a dark place known as depression, although I lied to myself as I opened up my email, and blamed the pit in my stomach on the lack of sustenance of my lunch.

*

Ralph had ended it about a month ago on a steamy August morning, not long after I finished up the dishes that had been piling in his sink. The roaches in his city apartment would have a picnic with leftover Ramen noodles and buffalo sauced chicken wing bones, and yet he never seemed to mind the mess, or the bugs.

I had always called him “Alphie” because it sounded cute and fit the soft-spoken man who had a love of Star Wars collectables and spearmint gum. He never seemed like a “Ralph.” In fact, the name reminded me of a wire rimmed glasses, fifty-something year old man with graying hair and a pedo-stache. Not something you exactly want to be moaning under a knitted afghan.

And who knows, maybe this had something to do with my inability to be serious and my desire to find something in men that just didn’t exist. That thought left my mind quickly. It definitely was about not wanting to have sex with a guy named Ralph.

Something had been up with Alphie for about a month, I could just tell. He was as readable as a children’s pop-up book. But this time, he was as readable as a map in Spanish; I was hopelessly lost and the only thing I could say was, “Te amo.”

We didn’t live together, so I guess it was easier for him to become distant and make excuses during the final weeks of our relationship. Our after-dinner phone calls became scarce and my text messages would go unanswered for hours. How did I not see this coming, I had thought between the hot tears as he sat there — the bearer of bad news — stone cold and without any hint of sadness or regret.

That’s what angered me the most, besides being dumped and having no one to turn to but a co-worker and a bottle of cheap vodka. No one prepares you for that moment where you are left dumbfounded and alone, scraping your brain for an answer to try and realize what you did wrong.

Then, when you find the answer, you wish you never did.

*

“Hey Alphie, I’m going to be stopping over just to pick up the last of my stuff, so um, I’ll leave my spare key in your mailbox, and then um, that’ll be all. So um, thanks and maybe I’ll see you later. Okay, well, bye.”

Voicemails had never been my strong suit, and then again, neither were breakups. I only had one more box left of my things at his place—a sports bra, a Nicholas Sparks book, bobby pins, and three half used shampoo bottles—and then I would have no reason to speak or see Alphie again. I decided that after I stopped by his apartment I would hit the liquor store for a rebound date with a handsome man named Jack Daniels. Or, maybe even a ménage à trois with a chaser of Mr. Samuel Adams.

Marci had volunteered to go with me to Alphie’s apartment, but I decided it would be easier to go by myself. Plus, I was afraid I would start bawling and get snot all over her blouse.

Walking up to the apartment alone only brought up what little bit of sandwich and stale chips I had that afternoon, but still I managed to jiggle the key into the lock and enter a place that I used to spend time with him in, holding my breath as if smelling where he lived would bring back every memory we ever shared.

The door opened and I saw my box of things in the corner of the living room. I didn’t even want any of it; it was just another part of the process that everyone was telling me about. This process involved crying late into the night and packing on foundation early morning so people at work didn’t know you were an emotional wreck. It involved deleting pictures off of your Facebook page and changing your relationship status to private so no one would know that you were single, even though everyone would figure it out. It involved what I was doing right that moment, sitting in your now-ex’s apartment with a box of shit you didn’t even want, but you had to pick it up because it was part of the process of getting over him.

I sat on his couch and brought my knees up against my chest. The couch embraced my weight, its worn upholstery inviting and familiar. If only there had been one other imprint next to me—the way that felt normal to me.

As if to interrupt a forbidden moment, Alphie’s door rattled and someone was rapping three soft times. Startled, I knocked over the box and the shampoo bottles hit the ground with a hard thud. The stranger on the opposite side of the door heard my clumsiness and called out, “Hello? You there?”

My stomach dropped and my palms began to sweat. The voice that called out belonged to a woman. It sounded sweet like a soft church bell. Knowing all of Alphie’s neighbors, none of which were this angelic voice, I felt a pang of jealousy thinking maybe he had found the company of another woman.

I was overreacting, but I scrambled for the items that I had dropped and threw them back into the box, shoving it under the end table by the couch. I could have easily stayed silent and pretended no one was there, but I had to see her in case she had an intimate relationship with Alphie. Why else would she be at his apartment at 8 p.m?

Behind the door she was standing with her back towards the entrance, looking off down the hallway. She turned around with a lit up face, as if to see someone familiar. Her face dropped when she saw me, and she pushed up her dark square-rimmed glasses.

She seemed confused and scared, to see another woman in his apartment, especially one that looked like a homeless person with red eyes and business attire.

“Oh, I um…?”

“Oh uh, sorry to startle you. Um, Ralph isn’t here.” I was surprised I could even speak, all I felt like doing was vomiting.

The woman walked cautiously toward me as if I was an unleashed Rottweiler. Two women now stood near Alphie’s apartment—one ex lover, and one most likely, current.

“Um, can I ask who you are?” she was playing nervously with a dark hair strand that had fallen in front of her face.

“Oh, I’m just here to uh, water his plants,” I lied. “He forgot to so he asked me to stop by. I’m just a neighbor.”

“Okay, I was just knocking to see if he was here. I had a key anyway, but thanks for letting me in. His door is always jammed,” she giggled.

I eyed her up to see what Alphie might like more in this woman than myself. Her hair was decent, straight how he likes, but her glasses made her eyes too-huge and forehead small. She had a tight button-down blouse that buckled around her breasts, and a long brown skirt to pair with her oxford sneakers.

“I just came to pick something up I left last week, so I’ll be right out,” she said as she walked towards Alphie’s room.

Thinking quick, I moved closer towards his room and waited until she emerged, a sweater in hand. She jumped upon seeing me moved, and gave me a weak smile.

“So, you his girlfriend?” I asked, adding a smile to make me seem somewhat sane.

“Oh, no,” she laughed. “We’ve only been dating a few months, I don’t think it’s anything serious, yet.” She gave another weak smile.

My heart thrummed in my head, but something seemed weird about this relationship. I kept trying to get more information and hoped my casual conversation seemed not-so-creepy.

“Like actually dating? Or just friends?”

“Well, we met in May and have been dating since then,” she said, still twitching with her hair in her hand. “I just didn’t want to rush it because he seems like a great guy, you know?”

The woman stared at me because I hadn’t answered her question. I hadn’t said anything because I was doing mental math. In a minute, my fists started to clench. I’m sure my face was red, my eyes welled, and maybe I even looked like I was going to kill her. I’m not going to lie, it crossed my mind.

This chick had been dating Alphie since May, but so had I.

As if my life didn’t already suck, sure enough the doorknob turns and in walks Alphie. Really? Is this a sit-com where everyone is laughing at how pathetic the protagonist’s life is?

There he was, the simple man with simple tastes, decked out in his usual jeans and a button up shirt exposing a goofy t-shirt with a cheesy graphic. What does a man do when he is presented with his current girlfriend, his ex-girlfriend, and the act that both of them know he is a good ol’ cheater?

He says hello, or, at least that’s what Alphie did.

“Hey guys, uh what’s going on?” he tried to put on a smile, but I saw right through it.

“Well Alphie, I just met your new friend here. Did you tell her about me?” I was getting angrier. Alphie looked sweaty.

“Um, well Sophie. This is my um, ex-girlfriend Sarah.”

I started getting snippy. Sophie looked way too calm and collected and all I wanted to do was dump my box of shit on Alphie and then set him on fire. He wasn’t going to get away so easy.

“Yes Sophie, and I have a question for you, how good at little brain games are you?”

Sophie looked confused. “Um, pretty good I guess.”

“Well Sophie. Alphie and I broke up in August. Officially. And you and him started dating around May. Do you know what that means?”

I have to say, I had to give this chick some credit. She was totally unaware that she was the other woman, hell, she probably didn’t even want to be the other woman. But when she found out, you could say she didn’t take it lightly.

“What’s going on? Why didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend?” Sophie’s voice cracked.

“Yeah, Alphie, I must ask the same question,” I said. “Why didn’t you tell  me you were cheating on me?”

Alphie looked at the two women in front of him – and then turned to look directly at me. I had hoped to see some sort of regret, some torn look realizing what he had done wrong. But when he looked at me, I saw his eyes narrow as if he was disappointed in me. The same eyes that used to look at and whisper “I love you’s,” and the eyes that used to look at me lovingly. Eyes that I adored and now these eyes looked right past me to this other woman. The one he really wanted to console and hold and love was her. It hit me hard but I knew right then and there that it was over…as if the whole cheating thing didn’t seal the deal for me.

Sophie huffed, red-faced and darted down the hall. Alphie, of course, ran after her.

“Sophie wait! Don’t leave!” I had never seen or heard him so enthusiastic and desperate. I was pissed.

“Alphie you asshole get back here!” I screamed as I ran down the hall.

They were too fast though, and Sophie was already halfway down the block by the time I ran down the stairs trying to catch Alphie. He had already begun crossing the street when I reached the corner.

I darted out into traffic dodging a taxi, and screamed. It wasn’t because of Alphie, though. A bus came to a screeching halt right in front of me, and like they say, I saw my life flash before my eyes. Can’t say I was happy to see that I had such a pitiful life, but at least I had something before I died a slow and horrible death.

*

I was being a bit dramatic. I didn’t actually die a slow and horrible death. I just figured that sounded better than, “I almost died chasing after my ex who was cheating on me and chasing after his other-woman in the middle of traffic.” The doctor laughed when I told him that. I however, wasn’t chuckling, due to the fact that three of my ribs were broken, I had a black eye and broken arm and leg. And a broken heart. There was no cast for that, the doctor said. Just Prozac.

Surprisingly when I awoke from too much pain medicine, the nurse told me someone wanted to see me. Alphie came walking in and for a brief moment, all I wanted was for him to hug me again. He didn’t though, just awkwardly stood at the foot of my bed.

“Hey,” he mumbled. “How are you feeling?”

“Which part of me? My heart that was smashed into a million pieces or the several bones in my body that now need mending?”

Alphie’s face looked hurt for a brief moment. I wanted him to feel bad even though I knew he really didn’t care about me or my feelings. Or my broken bones.

“I’m sorry Sarah. Really, and I know it’s not going to mean much but I think that maybe once you had some time we could be friends.”

“Is that literally all you have to say?”

The nurse came back in with a tray of food. I felt like throwing up and I didn’t know if it was the smell of something frozen or the thought of Alphie and I remaining friends after our disastrous breakup.

“Think about it,” Alphie said, and he gave my casted foot a tap before he left.

The nurse walked over with the tray and plopped it down on the table next to me.

“Here sweetie, you should really try and get some food in that body so the pain medications won’t zonk you out again,” she said.

“What is it?” I poked a fork around.

“It’s kinda like a Lean Cuisine, you’ll like it.”

I leaned over the table and puked.

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Destination

I sit alone in a vacant train station, but its vacancy is only my perception. It is semi-crowded, yet I have this feeling that everyone seems to be far away from me. I try to occupy my mind, but the lingering smell of oiled tracks and trash that has yet to be emptied only adds to the lump in my throat. My iPod shuffles music, and I have the urge to turn it off because every song pulls his face into my mind.

I hope for my train to come on time, anything to get me off of the cold bench that I sit on alone. I’m surrounded by hand-holders, married couples, and young lovers. I avoid looking at them, and instead glance at the clock that seems to keep saying 12:47 p.m. There are billboards across the track that I begin to take notice of, and I realize I’m doing more than just surveying what is around me.

live fearlessThe advertisement I focus on is for affordable health coverage, emphasizing that if I have this insurance, I can “live fearless.” The point is obvious. I’m supposed to think that if I get this health insurance, I can surf the seas, jump off of cliffs, explore the world, or be as reckless as I possibly can. I can live fearless with nothing to worry about.

I realize how often I worry as I stare at this advertisement. I worry about this idea of being fearless. I worry about my life in two years, I worry about where my family will go, I worry about my friends and what road they take, I worry about money and grades and opening my heart to someone new.

I hate worrying, and I hate using expressions about the heart because it seems cliché. The heart is just an organ that beats and pumps blood and keeps us living. So frequently we talk about the heart in pain, the heart swelling, the heart flipping and turning, the heart growing warm, the heart feeling love, his sympathetic heart, her aching heart.

Their hearts beating.

Still waiting for the clock to turn to 1:16 p.m., I picture his face, again, in the window as his train started to pull away from where I stood. My heart feels like it’s breaking, I thought. If my heart feels like it’s breaking, then does that mean being with him is when it is whole? Does it mean my heart is complete when I am with him?

My train pulls up, interrupting the thoughts I had. I still do not know if I can be fearless, but perhaps with him in my life I can begin to have courage and forget about being afraid.

I sometimes wonder if I will find the answers I am looking for. But, in this moment, I am sure of one thing, and that is that I am ready for a new destination.

Solitude

Recently, I’ve been taking time out of my day to just stop and think.

That seems like such a silly thing to say because I am always stopping and I am always thinking. But I think what I mean to say is that I’m finding how truly refreshing it is to just let myself be.

Freshman year, I took a Psychology course where my professor taught us how to meditate. At the end of every class, we would take the time to let go of our thoughts and find the space inside of us where we can have inner peace. I always enjoyed these end-of-day rituals, despite that the kids around me thought it was weird we were meditating in a college setting.

"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." --F. Scott Fitzgerald

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sometimes I think back on that class. I liked the way I felt when I could actually stop and let go of what was bothering me. These feelings linger with us; make us exhausted and nervous or uptight and frustrated. I think especially now, in this world we live in (fast-paced and unable to slow down), that it is important to take little moments to myself.

I never used to be alone, and rarely do I choose to be alone. I prefer to be in the company of others, hear the sighs of people in a library, the computers tapping around me, or maybe the sounds of a train station with bustling passengers, with the pages of newspapers turning or music coming out of too-loud music devices. I choose this over the silence.

Now, I try and relish in these moments of solitude. If the sun is out, and it isn’t too chilly (now that fall is here, and staying) I try to go to a small bench in a patch of woods on campus, or visit a bench swing down by a gravel path. These spots are normally vacant, and students rarely pass by. I like to sit in these secret spots, and whether it is a moment I am working on homework or writing for myself, I have started appreciating when I take the time to be alone.

Recent events in my life have expanded my boundaries of writing. One reason is the college course I am taking on creative writing; learning everything from poetry to prose, film to fiction. From this class, I feel more accepting of unfinished sentences and thoughts in the form of broken lines and rhyming stanzas.

I think some of this creativity has come from these moments when I am alone, when I can focus on what I actually want to write, what I have to say and what I want to make meaning of in my world. Most importantly, I think this ability to reflect stems from the idea that I may very well be unbelievably full of bliss. The idea that one person can make me feel this way is eye-opening, life altering, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. While I am beginning to focus more on taking time to be alone, it’s in these periods of isolation that I think of this happiness, and the person that has brought out everything good about me, including giving me the strength to explore writing even more than I thought I could.

Embracing the Change

I haven’t posted in over a month. I always write to clear my mind, to make a point, to bring meaning to something in my own life or others. It’s painful knowing I have been neglecting my passion, a part of my life.

If I am being honest with myself, I have been afraid. I have logged on several times to this account, hoping that these feelings I have had will come out. I have been hoping to find the answers to questions that have been left for me figure out.

I don’t think I will ever have the answers to some of these questions. However, I have come to terms with one thing, and that is change is inevitable and no matter how hard I try, I cannot determine what the future has in store for me. My experiences over the last year, the last month, have changed me more than I could handle, but I think now I have an understanding of where I am in my life.

Where does that leave me? If I start back in the beginning of college, I realize how young, stupid, naive I was. This is not to say I didn’t have a good head on my shoulders, I really did. I worked so hard, knowing every hour spent studying was a dollar worth spending. I made relationships, kept relationships, broke relationships, experienced heartbreak, drama, and a whole lot of bullshit. I tried to add onto the person I wanted to be, the person I was becoming.

It’s so unbelievably hard to become “someone.” We all have this grand master plan that we shoot for, and we end up falling hard with disappointment. We want the perfect job, the perfect scores, the best GPA, great friends and the guy/girl of our dreams. We want this house and that car. We want to live in close proximity to a school so our kids are safe. We want some life that we don’t know if we can have.

I’ve realized dreams are something that should pinned on a bulletin board, tattooed on an arm, plastered on a wall. They should be engraved in our brains. At the same time, I have realized that these dreams or goals or whatever, shouldn’t stop you from taking a chance on something new, exciting, different or scary. I can still have goals, but I can also be a risk-taker, a go-getter, a spontaneous woman ready to live her life.

I had this plan that I would marry this guy. Everything was great, wonderful. We never fought, well we never would, but I would nag at things I wanted to change. And they never did change. They got better at times, but still these things that I wanted to change remained the same. That’s so unbelievably wrong of me to think I can change a person. You can’t change anyone. They can change themselves, but ultimately in the end, people will be who they want to be. If I could only say every racing thought I had in that short span of time when I broke his heart, maybe he could understand. Maybe he could not hate me, his mom could stop telling everyone at work that I broke up with him out of the blue. It’s not my fault….I didn’t mean to change. How can you get a person to not change? I’m sorry for hurting him. I’m sorry I couldn’t be sad, that I moved on so quickly. I had this unrealistic idea that we would graduate, I would work in the city, so would he, and then we would live together, followed by marriage. Seriously. What the hell was I thinking? I sound like a 13 year old girl cutting pictures out of magazines of bridal dresses and cakes saying, “This is what my life is going to be like.” No one knows what life is like, it just happens. So, if I had to tell him anything, which I promised him I would (and I never did out of more fear of hurting him, and the sheer fact that I don’t think I owe him anything), I would say I am sorry for becoming a different person. This is the best thing to happen to us because if we continued walking down this comfortable, no-thrills path, I surely would regret the person you are and the person I had become. You have given me a special time in my life, one for which I am grateful of, and I will never forget it.

There’s love that falls apart in relationships and then there’s love that falls apart in friendships. I can’t say which I hate most, losing a relationship or losing a friendship. Friends are intertwined in our lives, at least they should be. The worst part in any relationship is giving 110% and receiving less than that. I always try and do my best to be a good friend. I don’t even know what a good friend is, and I don’t know if there needs to be a specific definition. I do know that I don’t regret leaving behind any of my friendships. I refuse to be walked on, have no self-respect, and be treated like a fool. I am willing to go to the ends of the Earth for people, and I sometimes think they wouldn’t even go to edge of the water for me. I was supposed to be in a special time of my one friend’s life. I tried so hard to mend the cracks in our relationship, some created by me and some created by her (although she’s so perfect she won’t admit she did anything wrong). All my effort was overlooked, all my cries for attention buried under an enormous mound of lies and laziness. Thank you, for teaching me to stand up for myself, something I don’t know if I ever will fully be able to do on my own. If it wasn’t for my mom, and the actual friends I had, I would have stood next to you and listened to you say, “I do,” and have to put on a happy face, knowing I am filler, an object to fill a space that you couldn’t care less about. You didn’t care about me, and in fact if I wouldn’t have tried to text, Facebook, email….whatever….you would have just let it fade. I’m sorry that I ruined your night, but you ruined countless of mine and made me think I was a worthless friend, and a worthless individual. I’d rather be self-centered than a liar.

Then I had this crazy rebellious stage. They say college is all about the “college experience,” and you know what? They are right. Kids need to get out there (being smart about it) and drink, have sex, do drugs, run around, stay up late, eat bad food–all of it. I think we all have this feeling, this urge, to just do something. You don’t know what it is until you are in the moment. I don’t even know what this “something” is. I just know that when you feel it, you just want to be so spontaneous you couldn’t care less about the outcome or the time of day. You just want to flirt and be with everyone you come in contact with, or at least that’s how I felt. I guess I didn’t want to be alone.

That’s when I met him. He had his “eye” on me for a span of time. A couple dates, a couple kisses, some late-night flirtatious texting and I thought maybe, this could be something. Then I realized he wasn’t going to treat me how I wanted to be treated, and what’s the point of seeing someone who doesn’t make the fireworks go off? Reminds me, I still need to text him.

When I think about sparks, I think about this guy. It’s a crazy love story, almost taken out of a Nicholas Sparks book or maybe just a cheesy rom-com on a Saturday night. He’s ridiculous. If I could manufacture the ideal guy, it would be him. He’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in someone, and more. We met while working in the same town, and thank goodness he decided to have some courage that day. Every time I pass that corner I think about him. It’s crazy, it’s just a corner! Now he’s back in my life. Let me tell you, this time I can be honest about my feelings for you. I wish I wouldn’t have held back. I hope that you and I can make this work. I don’t care about distance, labels, time.

Honestly, I want to see you be brave. Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.”*

I know you’ve had bad experiences with a situation like this, but maybe one day I can change your mind. In the meantime I’m willing to do almost anything for you, because a connection like this is what everyone is searching for, despite how cliche it sounds, I think it’s that whole “missing puzzle piece” thing that everyone talks about. My music professor said, “Don’t be with someone you love, be with someone you can’t live without.” I think that fits for us.

Not every learning experience I have had has come from something bad. I’ve met a few amazing, inspiring, funny, and easy to get along with people so far this year. One young woman, who I hope will be my friend long after college, has opened my eyes. She just has the same morals, same ideas, same goals and dreams as I do. I don’t know what I would have done during this time of change, this time of confusion, without her. And as always, my mom has been a huge help and a huge supporter of everything I do. She can play devil’s advocate pretty well, but more often than not, she is always on my side. I am thankful to have another close friend, who may not be close in age, but she is someone so close and dear to me, I cannot imagine life without her. She’s just a great example of someone who has struggled in life, but continues to give and help even though she needs it more than I do.

I’ve heard people say change is good, and I’ve heard people being afraid of change. I can say now, that I can embrace anything that comes my way. I’m ready to be daring, different, spontaneous, loving, mindful, and at peace with myself and the people around me. Much like the journey to discovering myself, I am constantly traveling down new and exciting paths that tests my understanding and love of the written word. Without writing, there is no meaning. Without change, there is no future.

On the Train

Before she left for work in the morning, she would think of what he would say to her on the train.

They were strangers. She had been sitting in a seat meant for two and pressed her body close up against the sticky walls of the train. She didn’t normally like to be close with people on the train, and she tried to avoid conversation with most commuters. She didn’t like strangers prying into her life, with only 15 minutes till her destination arrived she found it pointless to try and become friends with anyone. Who knew if she would ever see them again?

He was different. He commuted the same way as her, but got off at the stop after her, the last stop. As she was pressed against the train’s side, he walked onto the train. His clothes looked like they were taken off a mannequin, with a blue button-up tucked into his slacks neatly, like her mom used to do for her in elementary school, right before picture day. Hair mussed slightly, he looked like a baby chick with its new fluffed up feathers peeking up on its head. His dirty blonde hair fell close to his eyes, and he pushed it out of the way as he boarded the train and searched for a seat.

She knew there were other seats on the train, but he chose to sit next to her.

He politely asked, “Can I sit here?”

She moved her bag aside and inched closer to the wall.

“Sure.”

He plopped down beside her, too close, and handed his ticket to the conductor. Turning to her he said, “Do you ride all the way to the end of the line?”

The rest of the conversation was idle chit-chat. Where are you working? How do you like the town? This weather is crazy, right? Even though she knew it was silly, she couldn’t stop talking to him. She didn’t even know him.

That’s why she woke up in a hurry every morning, heart racing, and made sure she never missed the train again. She never knew when it would be the last time they would talk on the train.

Text This, Tech That: Where’d the Conversation Go?

It is safe to say that a majority of people have cell phones.  At&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint; they are huge companies for a reason.  Snail-mail is beyond dead.  We have the fastest way of staying connected, and it is something we should value.  One would think that because communication has become easier, staying in touch with friends and family would be simple.

Well, it’s not.

I’ll have to start at the beginning.  There are some people that I know, most of whom I do not speak with anymore, who cannot stay in touch with me even though their cell phones are glued to their hips (as the older folks say).  They have these fancy phones with huge screens, chic cases, and they are always tap tap tap-ing the day away.

It certainly is a challenge to try and strike up a conversation with people like this.  I try to make eye contact with them, but instead their eyes are popping out of the sockets to look at their tiny screens, nodding at the appropriate time just to make me think they are paying attention. 

Since the person appears to be readily available to answer a text, call or an email, you would assume getting a hold of them would  be a walk in the park.

No answer.

Maybe then you try again?

No answer.

After frantically typing profanities or calling them endlessly, you give up.  They finally realize you exist and reply with something like, “Lol sorry I didn’t have my phone on me :D”

You would think that since the person always sesms to have their phone out at any social gathering, meeting, school, or car ride, answering you would be no problem.  Yet, they seem MIA when you try to get a hold of them.

Have you known someone like this?

I have had acquaintances that groan to me about how “we never text anymore.”  Since I care about the relationships I have, I had decided to text my “friends” more often.  Yet when I would reach out to them, their messages were so mundane I wanted to hurl my phone across the room and never speak to another soul again.  We didn’t even talk about  anything.  It’s just “hahahah” this and “omg i know” that.  What is the point of making my fingers work for no reason?!  I’m tired of hearing that we don’t text anymore.  What about conversing face-to-face?  Where did it go?

I guess perhaps the reason I am so disgruntled with the texting world is because my major requires a somewhat platform of communicating with others properly.  I believe in correct grammer and work choice, and it’s a shame to see what is becoming of me because of my texting.  Everything is abbreviated and slang, and all we do is laugh.  I normally don’t “hahhahahaha” to all of my friends, but what else is there to say in the text-o-sphere?  I have no desire to waste my time talking to someone who won’t talk back.  “Lol,” “haha” and “okay,” is not a conversation in my book. 

Like my dad always says in his old-man-manner, “Cell phones are ruining the generations.  No one really wants to talk to each other, they just can.”

Dad, I may have to agree with you.  All we care about is what is happening online, or virtually, and when it comes time to talk face to face, everyone seems clueless.  Believe it or not, there is a world outside.  All we need to do is look up from our phones every once and a while.

Where’d All the Patience Go?

Yesterday I had to go to Walmart to pick up a few odds and ends for school.  I only had about five or so items, and everyone else had a lot more than me.  What made it worse was that there were only three registers open for checking out.  As I waited, I started tapping my foot, impatiently.  Then, I deeply sighed to myself in frustration.

Where are all the employees?  I have places to go.  I have to get to work.  I only have five stinkin’ items.  

That’s when I realized I was demonstrating a stereotypical American individual; rude and impatient.

This made me wonder, why are we so impatient?  Why is waiting in a line for more than five minutes life-altering?

Our lives are too fast.  Everything as at the tip of our fingertips, or sent to us in a fraction of a second.  Waiting in line for five minutes now seems like an eternity because we are used to our daily lives being super speedy. This makes me nervous because as time moves forward and our technology changes every month, we are continuing to grow more impatient, and lazy.  I really do not want this to be our future.

So what are we to do?  It’s easier said than done to just “stop being lazy.”  It’s actually impossible to some people.  In Walmart when I acted like waiting in line for a few minutes was the worst thing in the world, I just thought about how ridiculous I was being.  Instead, I thought to myself, “Well, it was my decision to go to Walmart on a whim so I have no right to be complaining.”

Like I said, easier said than done.  I know several people who would not be able to alter their thoughts into positive thinking.

I also think that our fast-paced days makes people develop rude habits.  For instance, obeying the rules of the road has now become faux pas.  If you drive the speed limit, you see a car riding your butt.  If you stop the appropriate amount of time at a stop sign, the car behind you rides your butt.  If you are going the speed limit in a lane, the car behind you zooms angrily in the next lane to get around you.  No one stops at stop lights when they turn yellow.  People constantly run red lights, and go too fast on the roads.  No one stops for pedestrians, even if they have a cross walk.  People yell profanities, and flip you off if you reprimand them (by casually beeping the horn the car came installed with) for disobeying the law.

Everyone needs to get to their destination lickity-split.  When they have to wait in traffic, dear Lord, it’s a madhouse on the roads.  You have to always anticipate the worst in life, and I think people are failing to forget to do this.  Some days you will encounter unfortunate events on the road, but this certainly does not give us the right to be rude and impatient.  You are endangering not only the safety of yourself, but others.

Sometimes you have to have patience.  It is really difficult at times, but I think developing patience is something that everyone should try.  You will see yourself becoming more relaxed, and notice others around you to appear more calm than usual.