One Way Road: a short story.

Today was like any other day for Samson, except for the fact that today was the day that he had decided to tell Rachel how he really felt about her.

It was around 7 pm, when he decided to drive his old rusty pick up truck over to her apartment. He had pumped himself up for it all day at work, but now that he was executing his plan,  he was starting to have second thoughts.

Talking out loud to himself on the way over, he practiced his lines, “Listen Rachel, there is something I have to tell you,”

Too serious, he thought.

Maybe I should just be blunt, “Rachel, I love you!”

“Yeah, right”, he laughed, “she would flip out.”

Rachel was the type of girl who disapproved of even the word love. There had been a time in her life when she wasn’t so jaded, but heartbreak wore her thin and now she shuttered at the thought.

She was actually engaged once. They were together four years, but after she caught him cheating, the marriage was cancelled. She was never the same.

She would always say, “The only person I will ever love is myself. I’m the only person worth my time.” Samson knew it was just her way of avoiding the potential of  another painful break-up.

Over time she became the mysterious type, never had much of anything positive to say and refused to cloth herself in anything but black. Her explanation was that she felt bright colors to be “camouflage for her dark soul.”

But she wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the light in her eyes shined so brightly it could light up the room. Even now, if one were to look hard enough they would see a tiny glimmer of a spark hiding behind the scars of the past and the fear of moving on.

That is when he first fell for her.

They met through mutual friends in high-school, but never really spent much time getting to know one another. After graduation, she moved out west on a quest to find herself and he stayed behind and hooked up with his first love. She left him broken and bruised. A state he thought he would never recover from.

Until he ran into Rachel some years later. She was back visiting from one of her many adventures and just happened to show up at a party hosted by Sam’s best friend. The moment she walked through the door, he felt something he never thought possible again. How had he not noticed it before…the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled, the warmth that ran through his body when she laughed. Her nearness to him felt like home.

They spent the rest of the night side by side. Sharing stories of the past and all their future plans. She left that Sunday, not to return for another three years, when she considered herself ‘found’ and moved back to the town where it all begin.

It had taken eight years for him to muster up enough courage to tell her how he felt and for how long. He wasn’t sure how she would react, but he had to get it off his chest.

Pulling into the parking lot, his hands began to shake as his loyal mutt, now hanging his head out of the passenger window began barking.

“Gunner hush!” He scorned at the little pup. Gunner gave him a whimper of disapproval and began barking again.

Sam opened his door and took his first step onto the scalding summer pavement. He looked the same as usual, wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt just tight enough to show off his nipple piercings, something he was very proud of! His sleeves were rolled up in order to compliment his muscular arms and to serve as a place to hold his smokes. Rachel always teased him about that, “What? Do you think your as cool as James Dean or something?” she would squawk.

His long black hair was swept up in a tousled bun and a rugged goatee fit itself strategically around the metal skull piercing in his chin. As he opened the door for Gunner, his legs began to shake. This was it, the moment of truth.

He and Gunner walked up the driveway slowly, Sam’s stomach at his feet.

There was a large evergreen tree blocking the view of Rachel’s door until just before you reached it, so he took this time to psyche himself up in case she happened to be outside.

He knocked on the door quietly as to almost avoid her actually answering it, as he heard her yell, “Just a sec Sam!”

When the door finally opened, he found himself speechless.

He wasn’t sure if it was the build up from the ride over or the fact that in just a few moments everything could change, but in that moment she was more beautiful than she had ever been before. She was breathtaking, her long brown hair was pulled back in sheer chaos and the makeup around her eyes looked darker than usual, although her porcelain complexion may have helped to exaggerate it. She was wearing a low cut black tank top and skirt that just barely covered her knee-high army boots.

“Hey Sammy” She said with a monotone grin. “I see you brought Gunner, I swear you never go anywhere without that mutt!”

Samson shrugged and said, “Rachel, we need to talk.”

“Well come in you idiot, I’m not stand’n out here all day!”

Samson gulped, his stomach located a bit more uncomfortably now in his chest. He knew that the next time he walked through this door his life would be changed and the scariest part of it all was that he didn’t know if it would be for the better or for the worse. But he couldn’t keep living in silence anymore, so he put fear aside and followed Rachel inside.

Her apartment was as dark and dreary as usual, the radio playing some Gothic medley in the background and he noticed that Rachel seemed a bit edgy.

“What’s your problem Sam? Your making me nervous. Hit this and chill out,” she said as she playfully glared at him and handed him a freshly packed bowl.

Smoking pot was Rachel’s answer to everything. She considered it the cure for any ailment big or small and she exercised her beliefs daily!

Samson took the pipe and began lighting it. Wondering if it was still a good idea, he filled the chamber and cleared it. As he exhaled, he reminded himself that he would have to say something soon, before the drug took hold of his courage.

“Rachel, we have known each other for a long time right?”

“Are you trying to get to something Sam, cause you’re sure taking forever!”

“Just hush and lemme say this, smoke another and chill out.”

Rachel glared at him with her big green eyes, fiddled with the black choker around her neck for a minute and cashed out the pipe. “Okay, I’m waiting!”

“Would you just stop? I’m tryin’ to tell you something important! Why do you always have to be such a bitch?!”

“Screw you Sammy, you have no right to say that. You’re the one being an idiot. I don’t really give shit what you have to say!”

“Yeah well, I don’t have anything to say now, I was mistaken!”

“No one could love a self-centered bitch like you anyway, forget it”, he muttered.

“What did you say? Please tell me you didn’t use the L word in my presence. You know I hate that shit.”

“Well forget I said anything! I didn’t mean it anyway! It’s the pot talking”.

“No, you said something alright. What the hell are you tryin’ to say?”

And before he could stop himself, he blurted, “I love you Rachel! I always have, but I can see now that it is not even worth it”.

Rachel put her head down and began fiddling with her necklace again. “Ugh, you are so dramatic. I need a cigarette!” she huffed.

“Well then I’m leaving, good-bye Rachel!” Samson yelled and stormed towards the door. Gunner followed, but the door slammed before he could make it through.

Rachel dropped her head and covered her face with her hands.

Then suddenly, something inside of her snapped, the levy broke. Emotions she had fought for years to keep buried deep within her soul began rushing to the surface! The bricks and mortar she had pieced together around her heart, crumbled at her knees.

Not sure what to do, she peeled her hands from her face and looked up to see Gunner staring up at her. She smiled.

“Come on Gunner, let’s go after him!”

The amount of enthusiasm in her voice startled the dog, but once the door was open, he was outside faster than Rachel could move out of the way! Spinning backwards to avoid him, she laughed and turned to close the door.

She walked down the driveway slowly, her stomach at her feet.

Thinking she was quite clever, as she passed the evergreen she yelled, “Sam! You forgot your damn dog!

But it was too late. He was already gone. It was just Gunner, sitting in the tire tracks he left behind.

She knew he’d be back eventually. It wasn’t like this was the first time they had argued.

Besides, she thought to herself, he loves me! She smiled, and…I love him.

“Come on Gunner! Let’s go call that goofball and tell him he forgot you!” She laughed.

She didn’t know it then, but this very moment would be the one that defined the rest of her life. It would be the moment that changed her. The one she would come to lean on for comfort in the days to come.

It would be the day she learned to love again, but it would also be the day she lost the love of her life.

When Sam stormed out of the apartment that day, all he could think about was getting as far away from Rachel as fast as possible. Far away from the rejection, the disappointment and the embarrassment of the last few minutes. Tears rolled down his face, his foot pressing harder and harder on the gas pedal with every sob. He drove and drove and drove until he was clear across town.

It was getting dark now and the familiarity of his surroundings was fading. He had no idea where he was going, but it was away from her so it was fine with him.

And then he realized, he forgot Gunner!

“Damn it!” he yelled as he hit the steering wheel with his fist. “I am going to have to go back and see her.

The tears started again…but…I want to see her again. There is nothing else I want more. What the hell? He thought as he laughed at himself.

Turning the car around now, he decided he would find the nearest interstate, drive back to her as fast as he could and demand she hear him out!

It was raining now and there was construction everywhere! Where was he? How long had he been driving? And then he spotted it!

Through the glaring lights of oncoming traffic, there it was, the sign for I75!

He cranked the wheel, slammed on the gas and in an instant, he was gone.

When the news came, it was from Rachel’s sister, Sarah. She and Sam’s best friend married a few years after the party where Sam first fell for Rachel. Sarah always knew how Sam felt and she also knew that Rachel felt the same way about him, though she would never admit it.

Sarah also knew that this was the kind of news you deliver in person and she worried that this may be something of which Rachel would never recover.

And although it did not break her fully, there was a certainly a piece of Rachel that died along side him that day.

However, what he left her with was so much more. It was not just the courage to love again, but the knowledge that tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Had it not been for fear, the two of them may have had a love story like none other or maybe not.

Her greatest loss was that now, she will never know.

 

 

“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

Maybe Today

Every morning before I open my eyes, I wonder if this will be the day.

The day when I no longer have to fight to be strong, save face and pretend that everything is okay.

The day when I say everything is great and I actually mean it.

A day when my heart is no longer broken and the idea of love no longer makes me sick to my stomach.

A day when the memories of almost lovers no longer circle my mind

Leaving me wondering if I will ever get it right.

And for that matter if any of this is really even worth it.

Every day is a struggle

This internal battle between what I want and what is right.

So I take a deep breath and hold on to the prospect of a new beginning.

As my feet touch the floor, I can feel the heaviness begin to abound.

Creeping slowly through my veins like the venom of a snake

Tears of loneliness bubble to the surface

As I gaze in the mirror at the broken girl on the other side.

You are strong I tell her, you are powerful, intelligent, and beautiful.

And with a smile, I grasp ever so tightly to the peaceful hope that if I can just make it through one more day…

That maybe tomorrow everything really will be okay.

 

Until That One Day Comes

Last night for the first time in a very long time I experienced an extreme amount of anger. It sounds like a bad thing and maybe it was at the start, but amidst the rage came a great clarity.

And today, I woke up changed.

You see, I am not one to get mad easily. Sure, I get frustrated quite often and emotional from time to time. After all, I am only human.

Otherwise, for the most part, I am generally pretty laid back. I like to think that I do my very best to be as forgiving and understanding as possible. I realize that no one is perfect, certainly not me. We are all just doing our best to get through life given the challenges we are faced with.

So for that reason, I try to do anything within my power for those that I care about. I will even endure a massive amount of mistreatment from them and still allow them back in my life over and over and over again.

Until that one day comes…

There is no telling when or what will cause it, but for one reason or another the moment will come when everything changes and there is no going back.

For, by the time I reach this point, I no longer care about the consequences of speaking my mind. The words I utter still come from the heart, but they are no longer sugar coated for fear of burning a bridge.

They are instead, blunt, straight to the point and comprised only of my final thoughts; my way of saying farewell.

No matter how much love I have for this person, in this moment, the love I have for myself over rules and anger becomes the fuel for a positive change.

The few people who have managed to push me this far, should consider themselves very special. For the depth of love needed to cause me to feel this level of anger is a rarity. A rarity that if treasured will lead to great loyalty and if abused…well there is no going back.

However, this does not mean that I will ever be nasty towards that person in the future, should our paths cross again. To be nasty would mean that I was still harboring the anger that pushed me to the breaking point in the first place and that is simply not possible anymore. Besides, it would be counter productive not to forgive and taste the freedom of moving forward without ill feelings lingering from the past.

I have said it numerous times before and I’ll say it again…we are all flawed. There is no telling what someone else is going through at any moment in time and we can only help them as much as they are willing to let us. Part of the growing process is knowing when you are no longer wanted/needed and to learn to bow out gracefully. It is not our responsibility, or within our power for that matter, to change people. Any time spent trying to could surely be better utilized.

Doesn’t it seem like it would be in our best interest (and theirs) to find a way to forgive them, accept them for where they are and come to a place where we are able to genuinely wish them well with no ulterior motives?

 

 

Clarity

Sometimes the thing you don’t want to hear is exactly the thing you need to hear in order to find clarity in an otherwise confusing situation. I think we all keep things to ourselves that we think may hurt someone else, but is that really the best course of action?

I am not talking about little things like keeping the fact that your friend’s new haircut is less than flattering to yourself. I am talking about the big stuff…life changing stuff.

Our time on this earth is so precious and any time spent worrying about something that could have otherwise been prevented is a waste. The truth is that honesty is what really sets you free. Seeing someones true colors can change your opinion of them in an instant. An instant that may never have come if they had always stayed hidden.

People in our lives come and go, that is just the cold hard truth about life. Not everyone is going to stay your friend and not every relationship is going to work out.

We see things the way we want to see them. We hear things the way we want to hear them. And when our expectations are less than what we hoped, we are left wondering why. We pick apart the situation and ourselves. When the truth is right there in front of us.

It is humbling to find that you have been a pawn in someone’s deceitful game of cat and mouse. However, the knowledge of this can be just what you needed to move on. Sadness and confusion becomes anger and from this comes strength. You no longer spend your time wasted on someone that doesn’t deserve it. And when faced with the same situation again, the memories of the pain is what keeps you from making the same mistake.

So the next time you think you are doing someone a favor by keeping the cold hard truth to yourself, think about that. Are you really helping them or just delaying the inevitable pain that could set them free.

Getting Back to Basics

Well I must say, I am in a really amazing place right now! I hope it’s contagious 🙂

I have taken a step back from the chaos of the past six months and it has given me great clarity.

I can see now how easy it can be to lose sight of where we are headed in life. Even when you think you have it all figured out, life has a way of derailing you down a path you never planned.

Sometimes it is a complete dead end and you end up having to track back through the mud and the muck of past lessons you have not quite mastered.

Other times it is simply a detour…you get lost along the way for a bit, but eventually you begin to recognize old patterns and you manage to follow the breadcrumbs right to where you were meant to be.

I wouldn’t say I hit a dead end…it was more like I picked up the wrong trail of breadcrumbs for a while, went in circles for a bit, but eventually ended up back where I needed to be.

It was a humbling experience.

I thought I was an expert at positive thinking. There was no way I would ever fall back into feeling negative all the time! I was wrong, but it was a good reality check for me. I discovered a lot of areas in my life that I still needed to work on and old self defeating behaviors that I thought I had mastered.

I learned that I still have a tendency to take on more than I can handle sometimes and that I have a very  hard time admitting that to anyone…especially myself.  For me, failure in any form is perhaps the feeling I hate the most. Rejection is right up there with it, but that is easier to swallow because it is more like an incompatibility than something you didn’t succeed in. When I interview for a job and I don’t get the position or I go out with someone new and it doesn’t go quite well, I simply chalk it up to not being the  right fit. Failure on the other hand carries all the weight of the expectations associated with the goal you did not reach or the relationship that didn’t work out. Moments of failure are like poison to my normal routine of positive thinking.

It is easy to stay positive when everything in your life is going great, but the real challenge is finding a way to do it when everything seems to be falling apart. But once you do, you will find strength you never knew you had and  discover all the  power to change your circumstance within you.  You are no longer filled with anger and sadness, because you are too preoccupied with finding ways to better your life and the life of those around you.

After this recent reflection, I have a greater appreciation for my life and all of the people in it, regardless of their role. I believe that everyone enters our lives for a reason. Some may treat us poorly, but in most cases those people are the catalyst for some major growth.  I think that is why forgiveness is so freeing. When we place all the blame for our circumstances on others, we carry around the weight of all the pain we associate with them. Replaying significant moments over and over in our mind, stirring up old negative feelings, until it completely prevents us from ever moving forward.

But when we forgive, it is like purging the mind. We are able to look back on those moments with gratitude because we know the role they played in helping us become the person we are today.

Sure it is easier to sit around and bellyache about the painful things that have happened to you in the past, but you are only wasting the small amount of time we have on this earth. Nothing will ever change until you step up and take charge of your own life.

It is not the fault of previous lovers that you are afraid of love or the fault of your parents that you are insecure. It is yours.

Your life went on after those experiences and every day you had a choice as to whether or not to try and move forward and you didn’t. So year after year, you not only carry the weight of the past, but you add to it. Until one day, you begin to accept your fears as simply being a part of who you are. They become an excuse for you to take the easy way out and just settle for your life instead of creating it.

And that is all fine and good if you are happy, but are you? I mean really happy? Or are you just settling for the life you think you have to live?

I know it sounds a little harsh, but it’s true. It would be very easy to blame my mother for all of my insecurities, abandonment issues and fears of failure. And I am pretty sure most would agree she played a role, but that was then and this is now.

Recently, I asked myself those questions. I took a long hard look at every aspect of my life and made myself answer honestly.

And I am not ashamed to admit that my answer was NO for a lot of them. And that was okay because I took it as a challenge. I moved my energy from feeling bad about the less desirable aspects of my life to figuring out what it was that bothered me and finding a way to turn things around.

The difference it has made in me has been transformative and still expanding every day.

I am not saying I won’t run into another detour, but let’s hope this time I make a few less circles around the trail!