A few weeks ago, I was taking a walk. A nice long walk. In the ridiculous heat and humidity that Ohio’s been experiencing lately (so I was using this walk not only as exercise, but to get used to being out in the heat and humidity for Dublin Irish Festival). As I usually do, I took my iPod along with me and I was listening to Smart Mouths, a podcast I’ve gotten rather obsessed with over the last few months. It makes me laugh and think and it’s great to listen to while I’m at work.
I was listening to an old episode of Smart Mouths, because I was still trying to get caught up. They were talking about the earthquake in Haiti and what everyone was doing to help, how our generation is so into activism and isn’t that great.
Then…bang. That one bit, just as I was turning the corner to go down another street…I got an idea. Really, the idea was kind of unrelated to Haiti (actually, ENTIRELY unrelated to Haiti), but fully related to the activism of my generation. Idea. Really exciting idea. As I normally do when I get really excited about a story idea, which hasn’t happened in quite a while now, I started talking myself through narrative. A character popped into my head, a story, an attitude. By the time I got home…I was psyched. And anyone who had probably passed me during that last part of my walk probably thought I was insane, because I’m pretty sure I was actually mumbling to myself…lips moving and all.
Since then, I’ve written a good 6k of this new idea, most of that just over the last week or so (it took me a little while to get the ideas sorted out in a notebook). I’m REALLY excited about this idea. I haven’t been this excited about a novel idea since I was writing Nor the Battle’s sequel. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t really find that buzz again. I have now.
And, just for your listening pleasure, here’s a bit of what Smart Mouths is like. There’s probably a smidgen of language in this clip, because there almost always is, but I can’t remember. This is from their YouTube account.
Well, look at that. Day 30. I can’t believe this is the last letter. It’s been quite the experience. I’m really glad I did this. It got me writing something on a daily basis. It got me thinking. And it got me posting on here regularly, which I’d been kind of failing at before.
So, without further ado…the final letter (it’s kind of short…sorry).
Look how far you’ve come since a year ago. I can’t believe that just a year ago, there were 100 extra pounds on you. And in just a couple of months, you’ll look even better. I’m so amazed when I look back at pictures of how you used to be.
Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop trying to reach your goals. If you can lose 100 pounds in a year, you can do anything. You can be happy with how you look. You can be the person you want to be. You can have the courage to put yourself out there. You can find love.
It’s just a matter of time. Just you wait and see.
There’s something to be said for fear. Fear means hesitance. I think we’re all afraid to say what we really think, because we don’t want to hurt you (or, perhaps, we don’t want to hurt ourselves, as the case may be). The sad thing is that you really don’t notice anything. In all of this, you’re pretty much blissfully unaware.
This makes it particularly difficult. Maybe if you truly noticed something, then I could really talk to you about it, because I wouldn’t be so afraid of hurting you. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to be the one who tells you the truth, the one who breaks the illusion. But out of all of us, I’m one of the ones most likely to want to clue you in. Which is quite the burden to bear.
Maybe someday down the road, I’ll tell you. But for now, I like you best when you’re unaware of all this. There’s slightly less drama.
When I was in eighth grade, I had the honor of being chosen as part of the West Central Team. I knew it was going to be the experience of a lifetime. I knew it was going to change my life and my view of the world.
What I didn’t fully expect was how attached I would grow to you. I knew I would be very fond of my buddy, but you were quite something else. You taught me more in that one year than I ever could have anticipated. Your smile brightened my day more than anyone else’s ever could.
It never mattered that you couldn’t talk–you communicated in a way all your own. I loved spending those days at the school just sitting with you, helping with your therapy. The day I remember most of all, though, was your class trip to the pumpkin patch. You rode on my lap during the hayride. You gave me the most brilliant smile that day. It was a bittersweet afternoon, because that was the same day I learned you’d be switching classes. I was heartbroken when I thought we’d be separated. But I got to switch with you in the end.
You probably don’t know how much you meant to me–and still mean to me. You taught me how to be happy with the very simplest things in life–singing silly songs and rollar skating in a rink. Laughs shared on a playground. Playing with blocks and taking a hayride though a pumpkin patch. A smile. Even if you don’t remember me, know that I remember you and still think about you. I know I always will.
Your family stayed a few days at our church once a few years ago, during the church shelter cycle. You probably are all on your feet by now, living a great life somewhere. I hope you are.
Anyway, one of the nights you guys were staying at the church, I was part of the youth group that was helping out. There were a few of us there that got to help entertain all you kids. Somehow, you and I ended up doing arts and crafts together with a few of the others. Which was fine by me, because I love arts and crafts. You made me smile–you were so cheerful and liked talking a lot. I had a lot of fun that evening hanging out with you and everyone else.
You crocheted a chain for me while trying to teach me how to crochet with no hook. I didn’t learn how to do that, but I still have the chain hanging out my bulletin board. It meant a lot to me coming from you. I’ll never forget how content you were with a life most would imagine as hell. You were content with the minimum, grateful to have a safe haven for that week and movies to watch and yarn with which to crochet.
I don’t know you’re actually the last person I made a pinky promise to, but I’m willing to make an educated guess that you were. You were my best friend right around that time that we would have been growing out of that particular ritual.
We–the whole group of us girls from that time–were big fans of secrets and promises. Not a bad thing. It amused us all at the time. But I wonder if all that dependancy on each other for those few years is why we so willingly grew apart in high school. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but I do wonder why we grow apart so effectively. Remember that little secret “club” we formed for the group in seventh grade? That cause more drama than good. I doubt it really had to do with the “club” exactly, but it made things about fifty times worse during disagreements. Ah, drama. Our group was so good at it back then.
I promise I wrote this last night. But after the spontaneous roadtrip I took with a couple friends yesterday, I pretty much only had enough energy to scratch this down in my notebook before passing out.
I don’t know you really as well as I should, considering we worked together for as long as we did. You’ve always seemed so quiet and reserved. That doesn’t change how sorry I am about your mom, though. I was pretty shocked when I found out last week. That’s a terrible situation to be in and I wish there was more we all could do for you.
This is really short, but I honestly don’t know what to say. Your mom, you, and your whole family are in my thoughts and prayers. I know that’s probably cold comfort, but it’s all I can do. I hope things get better for all of you and that you can at least cherish the time you have together.
I’m such a band geek that I would choose this as my favorite memory. I admit that. But, seriously, the memory of that Bloom-Carroll contest just really can’t be beat. It was the perfect addition to that amazing season.
I can still remember the feeling of standing off to the side with all of you before and during the awards presentation. At attention. It was our last chance to qualify for States that year. I remember how loudly we cheered with the other bands before the ceremony started. And then we just had to wait. We on one trophy, then another. We knew we’d gotten 1st Place AA about thirty seconds before they announced it simply by process of elimination. We could hardly stand still right then and at the same time we could hardly dare to believe it. And that was great. But then we won Grand Champion, making WKHS marching band history. We couldn’t stop screaming. I think the only thing that made us scream louder was getting that One rating. I remember that all pretense of order was lost at that moment and we rushed the directors. I seem to recall blowing out my voice that night.
That was one of the most exciting moments of my four years in that band. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the nerves turning to excitement, the feeling that nothing could go wrong. No matter how hard we tried to recreate that moment over the years, nothing else came close.
You were my first kiss. You were also my last kiss (romantic, I mean. I can’t really remember which family member or very close friend I last simply kissed on the cheek in greeting or farewell or congratulations or any of that). That sounds really lame, because we broke up so long ago. You were also my last boyfriend. It was after you broke up with me that things started going a little downhill for me health-wise, although I didn’t realize it until just a couple years ago. I just kind of gave up. I don’t really think I really had a broken heart. I feel like I got over the initial sting too fast for it to be a legitimately broken heart. Maybe just a slightly cracked heart. Whatever happened, I just seemed to give up after you. It would probably take some painful talking/writing/therapy to really figure out the why and it just doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore.
Perhaps I lost my confidence. I was never a huge instigator in romantic or potentially romantic relationships. You kissed me first, not the other way around. I don’t remember who instigated the last kiss, but it was probably you too. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to kiss other guys since you. I just feel stupid starting it. Who knows? Maybe now that I’m getting control of my life again I’ll find someone else. Maybe my confidence will grow and I’ll instigate something in a relationship for once. Whatever happens, thanks for being my first kiss. I just hope you’re not also my last for much longer.
You might not believe this, because I don’t think I ever told you, but there was a time when I kind of avoided hanging out with you alone. It wasn’t that you weren’t a great friend (you were one of my best and I was very sad when you moved away). It wasn’t that I didn’t like hanging out with you at all. I did. It was just usually better if there were others around.
The reason why this was might seem stupid, so here goes. You always invited yourself over, which was annoying. We always had to play with the dollhouse, which felt silly. We were in middle school. I got tired of playing dollhouse pretty quickly, but you didn’t. You always insisted. I don’t know why, but you were very demanding about it. Sometimes it seemed like your way or the highway.
But you were a great friend overall, don’t get me wrong. I loved having you as a friend. You watched out for me and kept a couple girls in our year from harrassing me. You made me laugh. I loved hanging out with you most of the time. We kept in touch for a while after you moved away. We got back in touch recently and I’m glad for that. I just wish those stupid feelings regarding the dollhouse and the you-inviting-yourself-over didn’t always taint the fonder memories of the other times so much.