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

 

 

 

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What is your biggest fear?

What is your biggest fear? What is the one thing above all else that just the thought of gives you chills?

A thought crossed my mind.

I was sitting on my balcony contemplating what my next post should be about and reflecting on all of the positive thinking and philosophical seminars I had listened to throughout the week. I started trying to figure out what I would consider to be my ultimate goal in life. Once I was pretty sure I had nailed it, I asked myself what was blocking the achievement of this goal? You know what it was?

It was my biggest fear.

And then this question popped in my mind.

What if the path to our destiny is conquering that fear? The biggest one.

By overcoming what we fear most, we open the door to true fulfillment in life.

How about them apples!?!

What is it that I truly desire you ask?

It may sound corny, but I am bound and determined to make a difference in this world. I will not be satisfied until I feel I have truly done my part to create positive change.

My hope is to achieve this through writing and mentoring young adults who wish to express themselves artistically. Whether it be writing, painting, music, whatever. Growing up, creative expressions like these provided a much-needed outlet for me. And I know how influential the encouragement of a stranger can be in helping you overcome the obstacles before you.

It just takes one person to believe in you to help you gain the ability to believe in yourself enough to persevere.

I want to be that person for as many as people as possible.

Unfortunately, I am pretty sure this will require me to speak publicly a time or two.

And…my biggest fear is public speaking. 😦

Sour…apples.

So you can see, in order to pursue my dreams, I must conquer my biggest fear. Yikes.

It’s funny, looking back I can think of numerous times that I was face to face with this fear and I usually managed a way around it. It’s like the universe has been trying show me the road I needed to take, but I have be too afraid to walk it. 

I have only had to do three speeches in my entire life. And speech class was a requirement in College. I managed to find a summer research class where we gave all but one presentation in a group and it fulfilled my speech requirement.

So you see, I have found a way to sidestep this obstacle my entire life.

Maybe it is time that I finally stop avoiding it.

I know I have it in me. I can stand in front of a group of my friends and speak freely with no hesitation. Sometimes I am actually pretty darn funny 🙂

So why is captivating an audience of strangers any different? I guess because I know my friends love me and I have no worries about whether I will be judged or not.

I guess I should start there.

Maybe I just need to learn how to let go of my worry of judgement.

Does anyone else have this dilemma?

The Journey – Part Four: The Fear of Success

The Journey feature this week reflects on the moment I came to terms with the possibility of success and whether or not I was truly ready to embrace it.

This next post was originally posted to Success in the City on March 16, 2015. It’s hard to believe it was just a few months ago that I was sending in the final manuscript submission for Insane Roots!

As you will see there was quite a bit of procrastination happening on my end. At first I didn’t understand exactly why I was having such a hard time taking the next big step in the publishing process, but I soon realized that my actions were stemming not from the fear of failure, but rather the fear of success. It was a nice moment to reflect on. I hope you find it entertaining.

The Fear of Success

Originally Posted: March 16, 2015

I received my final manuscript back from my editor this weekend! The only thing left for me to do would be to make some minor changes and send it to the publisher. I had the whole weekend to do a task that would literally take less than an hour and could possibly change my life. So why didn’t I do it?

I spent the entire weekend thinking about doing it and I even sat down at the computer with the file open and every intention on completing it, but instead I made plans to immerse myself in a slew of lovely distractions. I reasoned with myself that I should enjoy the 1st warm weekend in months and get myself out of the house. After all, I could always do it on Sunday night.

So, I spent Saturday exploring the city and at night, I avoided my computer like the plague. Deciding to reorganize my room, explore raw food recipes and daydream about where my life would be after the book is published.

On Sunday, the temperatures were estimated to hit 80 degrees. I decided it was a perfect day to check out the Zoo. One of my other passions (that I have set aside for many years) is photography. When I lived in Seattle, it was rare to see me without a camera in my hands. My friend Krista (a very talented photographer) and I would go on adventures around the city, pretending to be tourists and spend the whole day trying to capture that one beautiful shot! One of our favorite places to do this was the zoo, so I figured what was a better way to reconnect myself with this pastime than to do just that. Only this time, I would spend the day at the Denver Zoo rather than the Seattle Zoo.

I woke up bright and early yesterday, grabbed my gear and jumped on the bus! I made it to the zoo entrance just as it was opening. I was surrounded by families and groups of excited children struggling with their parents to put sunscreen on before they entered the zoo. Something I should  have done myself, but did not.

I explored the grounds until around two in the afternoon, when my roommate called and asked if I was still interested in running those errands we talked about the day before. Great, another distraction! I made my way to the exit, ordering a Frappuccino on the way out, and started the 18 minute walk to the bus stop. The bus arrived within minutes, which was great considering I had not joined in the ritual of putting sun screen on like the other families did before entering the zoo and I was starting to feel the burn!

My roommate reminded me yesterday that we are in the Mile High City, hence closer to the sun…I think I will be sure to make use of the sunscreen next time!

Anyway, we ran our errands and didn’t get back to the apartment until after 7:30 PM. I decided that it was too late to start on the manuscript and besides, the Walking Dead was on and that is pretty much my favorite show, what better reason did I need to push the publishing venture off on to another day?!

As the day drew to an end and I lay in my room (now neatly organized as the result of a weekend’s worth of procrastination) waiting for sleep, I began to try to rationalized my behavior. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I was aware at an early age that this may be an unreachable goal, but I never gave up. I took the advice of my mentors and pursued a “more promising” education in psychology and I even went as far as earning the degree, but I never put the fantasy of someday publishing my very own book out of my mind. Now that this has become reality, why was it so hard for me to move forward?

The most obvious reason, is that by publishing a memoir (if one does so honestly as I have), I am really putting myself out there. In the pages of this book, I recount the events of my early childhood and there are many stories and feelings in this book that I have not even openly discussed with many of the people in my life. So there is that, but I still can not see this as the only source of my procrastination.

I know I hold a certain amount of anxiety about the criticism that I may face from those who are not pleased with the book and the fact that my mother has no idea the book is coming out, but I have readied myself for that, so again that can not be it…

On the way in to work this morning I asked myself very bluntly, “What is your problem? Your lifelong dream is right in front of you and you’re ignoring it. Come on Tiffany, get with the picture here!”

As I write to you now, I think I have finally figured it out. I am not procrastinating due to the fear of failure, but rather the fear of success. I am not afraid of nobody buying the book or someone buying it and hating it. I am terrified of everyone buying the book and loving it. Sounds silly right?

I am a simple person, living a very simple life. I have never had riches (quite the opposite actually). I have never known success and the idea of it scares me. I have been told that if the book is a hit, I may be asked to do radio interviews and local television…What?! I have social anxiety just going out on the town by myself, let alone being the center of attention of hundreds of people…Yikes!

But is this not the desired outcome? My dream is to inspire and my hope is that this memoir (and the resulting memoir series if it takes off) will do just that. It seems very silly to be afraid of something you truly desire. Truth be told, regardless of my fear of it, I want success. I want to be able to share my message and inspiration with others. Therefore, I have made a promise to myself that tonight the procrastination is over. When I return home, I will not allow myself to do anything until I send in the final submission of the manuscript. This is a time to celebrate, not hesitate.

Besides, there is a chance that success will not find me after the book hits the shelves and will I not then find myself disappointed? Of ‘Course I will. However not as disappointed as I would be in myself if I didn’t bother to try. I must overcome this self-doubt and rise to the occasion. I have been given an amazing opportunity and I will not procrastinate it away!!

May you all be inspired today to take a step forward even when you find  that you are pushing yourself behind!

Thanks for reading!