The Story

Okay. Here’s the story. Where I’ve been and what I’ve done since you last heard from me (ya’ll know who you are.)
When my family returned to California in September of 2012, I decided to move out and stay in Texas to create a life for myself. I decided to figure it all out on my own.
First I lived in my best friend’s home in Decatur, and then in December I moved into an apartment in Roanoke where I had a roommate who was 50 years old, but looked and acted much younger. A wonderful, supportive woman who wanted to be a mother to me, and tried every day to be one. I didn’t like this, though, I just wanted an apartment, I wanted independence, I didn’t want a mother figure, especially when I was having difficulty enough with my real one. My roommate had a dozen and one medical problems that I was given the details of on a regular basis, she was always either discussing celebrity gossip, her boyfriend, her long-dead husband, her physical ailments or her daughter. She was a charming, annoying, hardworking, impossible individual who refused to be ignored without realizing she was refusing to be ignored.
I got a job at the nearest Wal-Mart as an overnight inventory control specialist within a week of moving into the apartment. I didn’t have a car. And Roanoke does not have a bus system. This meant that 5 nights a week I walked in the cold/rain/snow 3 miles to work, clocked in at 10pm, and then clocked out around 7am and walked back home so I could collapse in my bed before I had to go back to work. Some nights I sincerely felt like I just wasn’t going to make it, I wondered at how I was going to keep going on like that, and then I went on like that, because there was no other option.
That job…there are many things to say about that job.
I had one coworker who I loved, my gosh, he was one of my most favorite people in the entire world. He was a former cop (moved from one Tennesee to Texas, and he was working on becoming a Texas cop) and a father to me. In the stuffy, miserable back room that was filled with exhausted, perverted men, Tim was a very bright light. He was a Christian fellow, in his late forties. He looked out for me, and made me laugh so hard every single time I worked with him, I couldn’t breathe or stand up straight. My goodness. What a man. He called me “Miss Hannah.” and eventually, “Punkin’.”
I worked at Wal-Mart for only two and a half months. Something happened that made me realize many things at once. But mainly:
1. My life wasn’t going anywhere in Roanoke, every penny went to rent and food, anything I saved was so tiny…it would take years for it to be of any use.
2. I wanted to feel safe again.
There was one night when I was walking back home from my second job at a candy shop in the downtown, when I found myself disoriented on some train tracks. At my high school graduation someone’s parents had bought these little keychain flashlights for everyone, so I took out my keychain and used the light. I still had a small canister of pepper spray attached to the keychain, my mom had bought it for me when I got my first job ever at a furniture store in downtown Keller. I had my pepperspray and flashlight aimed at anything that moved or made a sound. It was freezing and windy. There were trees everywhere. It was so dark. My light made everything look so creepy, it looked like a horror movie. Everything seemed to lose its color in that light. It was sharp and drained and heartless. With each minute that passed I became more and more certain that someone was going to attack me. There was graffiti on any surface that would support it, and I had seen needles and homeless folks near the tracks before. I have never been more terrified in my entire life. I was stiff but shaking, freezing and constantly bracing for impact. I was spinning and jerking, whipping my flashlight from one part of the trees and tracks to the next. When I found my way back onto a real road, and the apartment was in sight, I relaxed so extremely that it surprised me, it was like every muscle had contracted and was now released. I didn’t snap until I had put away my things, said goodnight to the roommate and sat down in a marvelously hot bubble bath. I just saw, and heard, and felt the word ‘safe’. And that’s when the sobbing started.
I am a hug person. And nothing in the entire universe seemed more absolutely wonderful or more comforting than a huge hug.
I was hungry so often in Roanoke, and so tired. I easily lost 15+ pounds just because I couldn’t eat because I always forgot to eat when I got home, and never ate at work, and I spent my nights walking and lifting things. I remember one morning when I went inside Donut Paradise, Roanoke’s main doughnut place, and bought waaayyy too much food, I was freaking starving and they had these cheese danishes…oh my gosh. She’d pop them in a microwave for ten seconds before she gave it to you, and it was AMAZING. And when I got home and ate pretty much everything I sincerely thought to myself, “I love not being hungry.” It was such a true thought then, I mean, no one likes being hungry, but when you’re hungry all of the time, and then suddenly not hungry at all for a while…it is amazing. Just amazing.
I knew something had to change after ‘the thing’ happened that has been mentioned before, and when I told myself to think of a place where I would feel safe a person appeared in my mind. So I decided to go to where this person was.
Three days later I was in the Fort Worth AmTrak station, and two days after that I was in Pittsburgh, getting on a bus to West Virginia.
It was snowing.
I love snow.
Roanoke definitely had snow, yes Sir it did. It was snowing so heavily one morning as I walked home from work that a police officer offered me a ride home. And you can bet your boots I took that ride.
But this snow was different.
This place was different.
It was beautiful. Just looking at everything made me happy.
I was so happy, a very simple happy that I had never felt before.
Just looking at those trees and that river and those buildings. They made me happy, and I just looked at the freaking things. What the heck. And the courthouse…oh my goodness. Ya’ll. It had corinthian pillars. Corinthian pillars are my favorite. They make my heart happy. And the courthouse had them.
I appeared in the kitchen of this person. This person has had my complete trust and respect ever since the second I knew they existed. They were surprised to see me, as I had not told them that I was coming.
I’ve never seen so many facial expressions in a single second.
Oh, yes, and this person had never seen me in person before. They had only seen me in tiny profile pictures on WordPress and Twitter.
But they had seen enough to recognize me.
And to know I was a very, very long way from home.
My very simple move became very complicated very quickly.
My very presence made a huge mess.
No one knew who I was, a few people didn’t trust me and didn’t believe me. Everyone had questions, they wanted the story.
And I didn’t want to tell them the story, because it was a long one, and I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell them I had no plan, or try to justify moving halfway across the country on a whim because I believed someone who I had never met before could make me feel safe. I didn’t want to explain my stupidity, my complete and utter stupidity that landed me in a corner with a very drunk fellow reeking of cigarettes as he forced a kiss on me.
I didn’t want to tell my story.
I wanted to murder it.
I wanted to murder every memory of every stupid mistake I had made. I just wanted to be warm and be simple-happy. I wanted to stand really close to this person I trusted and stare at awesome stuff like corinthian pillars and talk about Donut Paradise cheese danishes.
I wanted a future.
But I had to tell everyone about what I did. I had to explain myself. Because life doesn’t work the way I had assumed. People don’t accept the unfamiliar when it has the potential to be dangerous. And everything about me seemed to scream either psycho or on the run.
The three weeks I spent in West Virginia were the happiest of my life. Truly.
They were also the most emotional. I was so anxious, and angry, and joyful.
This person who I trust more than anyone else convinced me to come to California, where my family is, and make things right with them. And get everything in my life lined up, and do everything the right way.
No one else could have done that.
My mom has taken to calling them ‘The Hannah Whisperer.’
I now work at Toys R Us, and spend my free time at the Clovis library and in the Old Town melting over the antiques that I find. I have no friends in this state, I hang out with no one. But I don’t mind in the least. I have ya’ll, and I have my books, and I have this person.
To be continued.
(Hopefully…I don’t plan on my life being a very brief one.)
There are many people I met in my adventures that I haven’t mentioned here…I’m not sure how to mention them smoothly. And there are many moments I’ll never forget, but that I don’t know how to explain. Anyway…that’s one way of saying, “This was the short version.”

~Hannah

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How Shall We Make The Next Exit Dramatic?

August 20th, around 8:00PM

I waited for Heather to pull up for a sudden Starbucks run and hurried to finish my make-up in the downstairs bathroom. My purse was filled to the brim with any extra small thing that couldn’t fit into my suitcase, so finding the tube of mascara I sought proved to be a challenge.

Heather had sent me a text minutes about five minutes prior and said she was in town at her parent’s house, and suggested we grab a cup of coffee.

I looked like a bit of a mess, I had been packing and cleaning all day and didn’t expect to be going out. I heard the truck pull up and tried without luck to get my purse to latch, there was simply too much in it, so I quickly pulled out a book, the stuffed animal squirrel Heather got me for my birthday and several large pieces of jewelry and finally managed to shut my bag as I made my way to the front door. I stepped out into the night to discover it was pleasantly cool for this time of year, and looked over to the truck to see Heather moving a few things into the back seat to make room in the front. I shut the front door and tried the knob to make sure it was locked before walking over and getting in the car.

“Hey.” I said, jumping in and closing the door.

“Hi.” She said. There was something different about her. She looked positively flawless.

I told her about meeting with Jon, she told me about life in the new house. Within ten minutes we were sitting by the window in Starbucks, sipping our drinks.

There was something different about the entire situation, though. For the first time since the day we met, our conversation was difficult, awkward, polite and slightly forced. There was an odd tension that I had never felt in Heather’s presence before. Suddenly she asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” She was referring to leaving the next morning for West Virginia.

“Of course I am.”

“It’s just…you seem more scared than excited these days.”

“Well, I am-”

“Did you really think this through?” She interrupted me. I read her face and realized that she asked to get coffee for a specific reason, she was going to talk sense into me.

“No, I didn’t.” I answered honestly, “Things came up that I didn’t expect, there was no way to be fully prepared.” I was extremely curious, Heather had offered to help me in so many ways when it came to leaving  Texas, I didn’t understand this new side of her. I wasn’t angry or hurt,  just, curious.

“Okay, I know you’re probably not going to like this.” She said, pressing her hands together in a praying form, a signal used when someone is trying to explain a very specific point, “But you could live with us.” Whatever expression I had in reaction to that made her suddenly speak faster, “Just until January! With us you wouldn’t have to pay rent, you could get your license, I could drive you to work and you can save up money until you leave. It’s just four months.”

“I don’t know, Heather…I just can’t, I need to go.” I replied weakly. Several different emotions and a dozen different ideas were flying about my mind. The last thing I wanted was a new reality, especially a reality that involved staying in Texas.

“Why?”

“Because that’s somewhere new for me, and I just need to begin. I-it’s just- I don’t…I’m so behind already, Heather.” Out of nowhere I felt myself choke up, “Right now everyone I know is off at college and what am I right now? I’m a kid, with no job and who isn’t working on her education. I just don’t want to rely on anyone for anything anymore, especially since I have nothing right now, no life. I can finally start things if I go.”

“Hannah,” She took a breath, “I know it’s not the big, dramatic exit that you wanted, and I know Decatur isn’t really that great of a place. But you do realize, four months from now Shepherdstown is still going to be there, everything you want to start you can still start, but it doesn’t have to be tomorrow. And how long can you be financially stable before you’d run out of money need to come back anyway? The job options there are just as bad as California and you have no guarantee that it’s going to work out. Do you really think you can manage working just to make it by and work on your projects and eventually try to go to school, all at once?”

“I know it doesn’t make sense, I don’t make sense. But I just can’t stay here. I know it’s going to be difficult but I just-”

“Can’t wait for a few months?”

I thought of the train taking off without me, I thought of what the air at the station at the Martinsburg would be like when I’d arrive. What the weather might be like. My heart sank when I realized that I was starting to agree with Heather. I started shaking my head, it was too much change, too many new plans. I was angry with myself for being an emotional sissy, it just hurt, the change. Saying goodbye to one dream and plan, and then the next. I didn’t want any more change. I wanted to get on the train and deal with whatever happened when it happened.

She spoke again when I didn’t reply, “This is the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and you know it. It may not be how you wanted to leave, but it’s the better way.”

We spoke for about two hours and eventually there came a moment when I interrupted her and said, “Okay, I’ll stay.”

She looked up at me with complete and utter shock, “What?”

“I’ll do it, I’ll stay until January.”

The brightest smile appeared on her face and she jumped up and hugged me and jumped around for a few seconds, knocking over her latte in the process. She acted like it was the best thing to happen since sliced bread, and her enthusiasm has always been infectious, but for once in my life I felt…numb. I tried to seem happier, but I could only smile. We cleaned up her spilled coffee and talked about what arrangements to make and exactly when I’d move in.

I stepped back into my home in a daze, wondering if I really just let go of my plan…and then wondering if the AmTrak site was serious about my ticket being non-refundable…I walked up to my loft and opened my partition to see the mess that my room has become due to my frantic packing and searching for favorite clothing items to stuff into my nearly bursting suitcase. Everything spoke of who I was before I left the house three hours ago. I walked back downstairs to my mom in the kitchen and told her the news before quietly walking back upstairs and crying for a bit. I decided I needed to tell someone and logged onto my e-mail to see that Madame Emily was online. We talked about it for a while until I started drifting off and decided to go to sleep at around midnight.

I don’t regret not getting on the train, but I will always wonder ‘what if?’.

I suppose a few months won’t make a difference in the long run, and I’m still planning on starting a vlog series based on my People Who Read People posts next month. 

Everything is going to turn out just fine, as things usually do. Though it is sort of a shame that I didn’t get my dramatic exit, the timing was rather perfect. I suppose this means I need ya’ll to help me find a way to leave dramatically, that shall be your homework for the week.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth

Swayed By The Moment

We stepped inside the church and Austin headed for the youth room. I turned to meet Jon. From a distance Jon is the doppelgänger of Toby Flenderson from The Office, but up close one sees that he has larger eyes and a soul patch.

He led me to his office, which had a Canadian flag on the wall to my left with hockey jerseys covering the rest of the surface, the right wall was a similar case. The other two had photos of Canadian hockey players, signed. His desk chair was signed with silver ink and a sports logo directly above it.

“Oh! Canada.” I chuckled.

He seemed like he went on autopilot for just a moment as he explained why we were meeting, and I remembered that Jon, being a pastor, has probably played the part of counselor quite a few times.

After we sat down Jon spoke,

“I don’t know much about you, or anything about your current situation. So before I say anything I’d like a rundown of what’s been going on.”

Hm. Let’s see. Might as well give any new readers, and my newest subscribers a quick description of the shindig they’ve signed up for. As well as the update I promised in May. I’ve been writing down a little bit of what has been going on every day since mid-June, so I’ll paste any relevant entries inside the following post.

Something you should be warned about if you’re a new reader – I write painfully long blog posts. So if you plan on reading the full story, I would recommend getting comfy, it’s going to take a while.

On a day in early June I was sitting in a booth at a nearby Chili’s with my best friend, Heather Madame.

“June 9th, 2012

We were talking about our fears and giving each other advice. Usually the goal of these dinners is to forget what is worrying us completely and just laugh and have fun, but more often than not (that is, every single time) we take turns being each other’s therapist and staring off into oblivion before going into complex monologues and self-deprecating jokes. Don’t get me wrong, we do laugh, a lot. But mostly laughing is just our way of cherishing what little time we have left being active parts of each other’s lives.

I sipped my coffee and Heather talked me through what I was thinking. Throwing in, ‘You are going to get there’s and ‘Everything is going to work out’s while managing to keep me sane as I came closer and closer to reality. Eventually I verbally faced a difficult truth, that the odds were miniscule that the stars would align and I would make it Shepherd University. I had a feeling that something like this would happen, that’s why I had tucked away a second plan, titled, creatively enough, Plan B.”

Plan B, in a nutshell, involved saving up as much money as possible, renting out a room nearby Shepherdstown (where the university is located) and going to the closest community college in Hagerstown, Maryland.

“June 26th.

When my decision to switch to Plan B was not completely settled, I consulted two of my greatest friends – Heather Madame and Madame Emily – to help me decide for certain. Since both of them have always told me how things really are without hesitation, I feared that my ideas would be shot down by logic and common sense. But I admire their unfailing honesty, and if I had to face a difficult truth I would prefer to hear it from them. So when they both responded with enthusiasm matching my own and encouragement greater than I could have ever anticipated, it was so overwhelming that as soon as I was alone I actually cried.

I had been nearing a sense of impending doom and failure, the stress mirroring the tension of piano wire, and to have them lift up the idea instead of explaining the impossibilities, especially when I hold their opinions in such high regard, was the thing that caused me to feel such relief.

When you want something so badly, and you think about it so much that the imagined images become as vivid as memories, and you start seeing pieces of it in your dreams in the night and your ears perk up at the slightest mention of it anywhere, and your chest tightens from anxiety because of the uncertainty, you can’t imagine life any other way than the way in which you’ve been hoping. Any other road just doesn’t exist, if it cannot be done, you’re left standing alone in a mist of nothingness.

But I have something.”

So, I made the arrangements. Originally I was going to find someone who needed a roommate and split rent, and there was one place in particular that I would have loved living in. It was an apartment right down the street from downtown Shepherdstown. The reason I chose Shepherd University was because of Shepherdstown (as for why I chose West Virginia, that’s another post altogether), the town is tiny, and the oldest in the state.

Something rather important that also happened in the past few months, I’ve decided that I’m not going to med school.

“June 22nd

Heather and I have gotten into the habit of text-messaging everyday, even if it’s just a short message every few hours. From the moment we wake up, to the minute we go to sleep. It keeps both of us sane and the friendship close since we don’t see each other very often these days.

I’ll save you the rundown of the complete conversation, as it spanned about four hours and hundreds of messages, but the message that was the domino that set this huge decision into motion was this one from Heather Madame right before our ‘G’nite’ texts:

You know you don’t have to be rich or famous or have a Ph. D or a Wikipedia page to be good enough or to prove yourself, right? You said you want to do what you love, so do! But not for attention or approval from the world, just do it for the love of it. After all, the world’s gone mad, my dear Sherlock.

Again the looming monster that is med school pricked at my thoughts. Fifteen years trying to cram my mind full of things I find so dull. Anything relating to the body below the atlas vertebrae I don’t care much for. I just want the brain and the face and the eyes. You can have your heart and pancreas and pectoralis and phalanges. They’re just responders to the signals thrown out from the master commander that is your brain. I started to entertain the thought of forgetting med school when I remembered a note that I had written in one of my little black books.

I don’t want to go to med school, but I’m afraid of my future self being angry at me.

Of all things, I then remembered a speech by Salman Khan (creator of Khan Academy) at Rice University this year. He mentioned a thought exercise that he uses sometimes. Put simply, the exercise goes like this:

Imagine you’re in your later years, seventy maybe eighty. And you’re thinking back on your life and the things that you did. You think about your career, about your children, about everything that you’ve done. And then you think about your regrets. (We all have an idea of what those might be, we didn’t tell someone often enough we loved them, we didn’t spend more time with people who mattered, we didn’t do something or say something or take a risk.) Now imagine that a genie appears, and he says ‘Well, I’ve been listening to you reflect and I’ve been listening to your regrets, and they seem valid to me. So what I’m going to do is give you another chance. I’m going to take you back to 2012, and you get to do it all over again.’

I remembered what my ‘regrets’ were, and I knew what I had to do.

Why am I going to fight for fifteen years for a sliver of happiness at the end of the road? I asked myself. I don’t want to. I thought. So don’t. I impulsively answered myself. That is the advice I would give to anyone. Not once did I ‘regret’ not being perceived as intelligent, or proving myself to people who probably can’t even remember my name. Life isn’t just a sequence of waiting for things to be done, so do I truly want to wait for fifteen years when most of the job will be paperwork anyway? What’s wrong with just being a forensic psychologist instead of psychiatrist? The word ‘psychologist’, if I’m being honest. But I’ve discovered the past few years that 90% of people have no idea what the difference is between a psychologist and a psychiatrist (to put it simply, the latter has to go to med school and has the ability to prescribe drugs…oh, and makes massive amounts of money.) And a bit of it is just being able to say that I went to med school.

It means so much to me that I don’t feel like a fool, I want it to be undeniable that I am intelligent, and sometimes I think I can’t prove that to myself unless I have it in writing. I’m afraid of not being above average, everyday I worry about not being enough. Not patient enough, not logical enough, not experienced enough…anyway, I’ll save you that rant and tell you that I let go of med school. A giant burden was lifted off of me and I suddenly felt extremely giddy to start classes. Good news is, I’ll still be getting a doctorate in the end, but in clinical psychology instead of medicine. I’ll get to spend ten years studying psychology nonstop, ten years!! Just the thought is heaven to me.”

Soon after Shepherd University confirmed that I was no longer enrolled, I received a scholarship in the mail.

“July 14th

I opened the front door to be met with a gust of hot wind. Summer in Texas is in full swing. I walked out to the mailbox, for once most of the mail was for yours truly. One letter was from the Keller library – it was about my $98.00 in late fees…and even from my periphery I recognized the Shepherd University logo on another letter. I winced.

I stepped back inside the house, tearing open the envelope from Shepherd out of curiosity.

Dear Hannah,

Congratulations! You are being offered the Executive’s Scholarship-

The blood rushed from my head. I read over the letter, and then I read it again, and again.

“My goodness.” I sat down at the formal dining room table.

“What?” Austin (my brother) called from the kitchen.

“I, ah…it’s a scholarship.” My mind started spinning. My plans! I had finally managed to get my wits about me and accept my new life going to a community college and paying rent for a room when this darn letter arrived. It was something added to the mix that I hadn’t expected, or wanted. I thought about how I was finally excited to start classes at HCC and that I was proud of myself for not calling it quits even when everything seemed impossible and I was scared out of my mind.

I folded the paper back up, walked into the kitchen and tossed the letter into the trash.

“Was that it?” Austin asked, turning towards me from the stove where he was cooking something in a large pot.

“Yes.”

“You’re literally throwing away a scholarship?”

I walked upstairs and into my loft, but my mind was pulling me back to the letter.

No. I thought. That is that.I sincerely wished that I hadn’t gotten it. I had accepted my new reality without Shepherd.

I stared off into space for a moment, then took a deep breath and cleared my head.

What do you want? I asked myself. Pushing aside what anyone else in the world would think.

Well, I thought, the community college is cheap-

No. I interrupted myself, what do you want to do?

I nearly stomped my foot in a pitiful temper tantrum against myself.

I walked downstairs, opened the trash can, and pulled out the letter.”

And so I accepted the scholarship, only to find out that there wouldn’t be enough time to get a student loan to cover the rest of the tuition bill. And so began the process of returning to acceptance of plan B.

Which would have been much easier, if I hadn’t discovered that it was too late to apply for Fall classes.

Well, phooey.

Accepting this new-new-new reality has been a bit of a challenge. I don’t like knowing that I won’t be in school, and for some reason this fact has made me think less of myself. At least this means that I will have a few months to work on some exciting projects that I’ve been planning over the Summer, and some that I’ve been waiting to start for some time. Including a vlog series based on my ‘People Who Read People’ blog post series and an experiment similar to the Rorschach that I conducted some time ago. I shall never be idle.

I used to be afraid of changing, even the thought of one part of my personality becoming something new and different seemed like a terrible thing. I suppose because mainly what I was afraid of was becoming a serious, unenthusiastic adult with no more daydreams and no more plans.

“June 27th,

It’s moments like these when I am happy that I shut down my blog for the Summer. Because my goal was to think through everything about myself – my intentions, my interactions with my family, my relationship with God – sincerely and honestly and try to process the next steps. I’m so scared of ruining everything. I am chaos. I wish for simplicity but I can never let things be simple. My nature, it seems, is to take a perfectly good square and try to make other shapes out of it, and add colors and dimensions. Until it’s just a mess. 100% of the time growing up I was the reason for the classic line being said by my mother, “This is why we can’t have anything nice.” I drew on walls and tore up the mail out of boredom and put soap in my mom’s mini fountain and carved shapes into her dresser and even tossed a lightbulb off of the counter just to see if it would bounce. Things that were plain and simple I couldn’t resist ruining. Sometimes I’ll hate something that I wrote sincerely, and I wonder, if I usually fix my behavior by thinking and speaking honestly, then what do I do when I’m already being honest?”

I saw Heather’s new home for the first time, the home she would be living in after her wedding,

“June 29th,

I woke up at 5AM and texted Heather. She arrived by 5:15, and off we went on our journey to Decatur.

On the way we picked up coffee and donuts. Several songs played on the radio that I knew I would forever associate with the drive to her new house. I knew when we pulled into the gas station, the sky still black and the radio still on a soft volume, that I would always remember that feeling. That half-awake state of consciousness as I stared off into the distance and popular tunes played to fill the silence, the completely comfortable silence.”

I went to Heather’s graduation from her surgical technician program in Fort Worth,

“June 30th,

Heather graduated from the surgical tech program today. I’m more proud of her than words can express. She fought so hard to get into that program, and she worked her way through while maintaining the highest grade while being the youngest one there and gaining the respect of those around her. She just graduated college at 18. You can be in awe now.”

I marked off something on my ‘Things I Want To Do Before I Leave Texas’ list,

“July 1st,

Today Heather and I went to the lake. Grapevine lake, to be precise. We brought along some dollar store inflatable rafts and filled my little picnic basket with food from the gas station. We got out of the water just in time, a storm hit suddenly, making for a rather doomsday-ish scene. A fog danced upon the surface of the water and winds whipped across the dust and created little tornadoes. We left the parking lot as the rain started crashing down in buckets.”

I thought about what I was afraid of,

“July 2nd,

I’m still afraid of the dark.

I’m afraid of hurting people.

I’m afraid of becoming arrogant.

I’m afraid of being unable to recognize good opportunities when they’re right in front of me.

I’m afraid of the people I care about being disappointed in me.

I’m afraid that the opinions of the people I care about will stop me from pursuing the things that I want to do.

I’m afraid of my emotions ruining everything that is good in my life.

I’m afraid of making someone miserable.

I’m afraid of being so hard on myself that I become selfish to the point of not acknowledging the needs of others.

I’m afraid of letting go.

I’m afraid of talking to my father.

I’m afraid of dying.

I’m afraid of telling you what I’m afraid of.

I’m afraid of not feeling loved.

I’m afraid that my need to feel loved will make me selfish.

I’m afraid of being alone.

I’m afraid of waking up one day and giving up on my career, and my wonderful plans.

I’m afraid of no one having faith in me.

I’m afraid of discovering no one has faith me, and in turn discovering that the only faith I had in myself was based upon their confidence in my abilities.

I’m afraid that I’m too weak. That I’ll come to edge of where I want to be and realize that my fears are greater than my determination.

‘Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me, I still love them, I still give them chances and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.’ –Ze Frank”

“July 4th,

We just threw a pool party.

Well, what I mean by that is, Heather couldn’t decide what we should do and after bouncing ideas off of each other Heather suddenly decided that we should buy a kiddie pool, some cheap pool party stuff and have our own personal par-tay in my backyard. So we did. Just the two of us…I brought out my radio and we listened to maddingly popular songs (odds are you already have ‘Call Me Maybe’ stuck in your head), singing along purposely off-key. It was fun and carefree, and lasted not nearly long enough. So far I’m proud of our last Summer, we’re making it count.”

On the 21st of July we had one of the best days of my life,

“While we scrubbed her kitchen the radio played in the livingroom…

I have a feeling I’m not giving you an accurate description here. Allow me to try again.

Heather’s new home is directly next to a freeway, and every few seconds massive trucks rush by at 70+ miles an hour. Upon stepping onto the grass in her front yard, one realizes that the earth is alive and hopping, hundreds of grasshoppers make themselves known with your every step by shooting into the air. A part of the corner of her front door is missing, be it from termites, a dog trying very, very hard to get in or some other cause, one can see her hard wood floors from the outside. The inside is a work in progress – the home was built in the 1950’s, and the previous renters had no mercy on the carpets, doors, walls ect., countless stains mark the ancient carpets and crayon and sharpie marks are on every door and threshold. Giant black widows and wolf spiders are near some doors and clinging to the outside of windows. Roaches scurry along the floor, the walls and the ceiling. And countless dead insects are inside the cabinets and drawers. The previous renters also had a horrific sense of style. The beautifully designed livingroom had navy blue carpets with dark blue walls. The carpet has thankfully been torn out to reveal some lovely wood floors, but the darkness of the walls dims its appeal a bit. One must first peer inside a doorway before hopping inside and checking oneself for killer spiders and flying cockroaches. Outside in the backyard there are snakes – venomous and harmless alike.

The home is beautiful, though. The way it’s designed suits Heather perfectly, and the laundry room, kitchen, dining area and spare room are all very well sized and it will no doubt be great fun to decorate. Madame knew it would be a great effort making the house into a home, and because of the bugs we both squeal like little girls at the sight of the smallest movement in our periphery or the tap of anything that is obviously not human.

So, there we were, scrubbing the cabinets and counters and oven while the radio played, when ‘Radio Love’ came on. It was the song our zumba instructor played the most during classes (the last class we took was about two years ago). Heather remembered a few moves, and so did I. The next thing we knew we were dancing in perfect unison in the middle of her roach-infested kitchen with bleach and dirty rags in our hands, singing along off-key to the song. We thought that was the end of it until ‘On The Floor’ came on, another favorite. Somehow we ended up in the middle of her livingroom jumping and clapping and dancing the good old routine (what we could remember of it, anyway.) By the second chorus we lost track of the order of the moves and ended up bent over laughing, joking about going to a club one day and breaking into a well-organized and perfectly timed zumba routine on the dance floor.

___________________________________________________________

“Hey, Heather.”

“Yep?”

“What did the frontal lobe say to the temporal lobe?”

“What?”

“‘I am superior.'”

“You’re a nerd.””

“July 14th, 10:32PM

There are many stories that I will tell people one day, stories about my life in the next decade. My life five years from now will eventually be nothing but a memory. My mind won’t hold on the majority of the moments I’m about to experience, because a healthy subconscious is one that knows what to toss out, as well as what to hold onto. To think that many details about this very moment, this moment when I’m pressing certain keys to form words, and this moments right now as you’re reading my very same words, this is a moment where you are completely unaware of what your other senses are experiencing. You aren’t paying attention to feel of your clothing or your posture, you aren’t taking note of the sound of the clock or, if you’re lucky, the sound of the rain hitting your window, you aren’t paying attention to how bright each light in the room is – or how bright the sun is beaming through your window in this moment. At least, not until I just helped you along. Not noticing these things all at once means that you have yourself a healthy mind (also – that you’re not currently on drugs…) and that you find my words interesting enough to lose focus of your surroundings for a moment. It’s just thinking that so many textures and sounds and sights will go unnoticed because I cannot absorb the next ten years completely. I cannot bottle time, I can’t mentally photograph every detail of every moment, I cannot in any way slow the passing of time or make myself cherish it more than I already intend to. And I’m going to meet people in the next ten years. I’m going to forget their names, and I’ll slowly forget their faces. I may reminisce of a moment I had with them, when their faces will twitch for a moment in an expression the world wasn’t meant to see, or when their voice took a turn for the skies or the tile that I had not expected. But their face will fade from my memory, and their name will lose relevance to my life.

If only we had the option to relive our most precious moments. If not to relive them, then to remember them in the most accurate clarity when precious moments are few.

But instead we have a beautiful thing called the human memory, and though the images become blurred and unsure of themselves, we remember how we felt. And what greater way to remember something, than to remember how we were swayed by the moment?”

Something happened that had never happened before,

“July 20th,

Tonight Brother Dearest and myself had our first heart-to-heart…we both cried. It was, frankly, weird. Beyond weird, actually, it was downright bizarre. And I cannot remember how it all began.

I was shocked that he actually listened – at least to a few things I said – and nearly begged me not to go. He asked me to do something for him – to talk to a friend of his at the church, one of the youth leaders who is currently stuck in Canada (long story) about, well, me.

I told him that if I’m still in Texas when Jon (his friend) gets back, then I’ll talk to him.

What an odd day.”

Three days before Heather’s wedding I completed yet another thing on my list of things I want to do before I leave Texas, stay in a Hilton hotel.

“August 5th,

I stayed at a Hilton hotel in Grapevine with Heather Madame, it was amazing.

I talked Heather into wearing something classy and moving the contents of her purse into something a bit more expensive-looking. We were at the DFW Lakes Conference Center and from every photo and video clip I had seen I knew that our usual outfits wouldn’t cut it…also, it was a golden opportunity – the sort of thing that only arises once or twice a year – to make Heather dress up, do her hair and wear more make-up. Heather is beautiful without a trace of foundation and mascara, but I’ve always loved dressing up and doing make-up, and it’s more fun when Heather goes along for the ride.

As soon as we walked into the lobby we were surrounded by the scent of some sort of perfume in dry, cold air. There was a wood staircase on the right and a help desk on the left. The rest of the lobby was comfortable seating and businessmen standing around confidently talking about something or other.

The executive suite we stayed in was on the seventh floor. The night consisted of cheesecake, random videos on YouTube, creating towers with the many fluffy feather pillows and running to the vending machine for a midnight Sprite. But, that’s ahead of the story. After we checked in and walked around our room, commenting on every single feature, Heather opened her gifts. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I bought Heather several gifts as late bridal shower gifts and a few ‘goodbye’ presents, little things that sort of represented our friendship…like a keychain whoopie cushion, and a metal sign for her kitchen that said “Fresh Coffee”, and a little coffee mug with a country design on it from our favorite antique store. Also, her Nook. When she found out I had sold mine, the chick tried to slip me hers as a birthday present, so I slipped it back to her as a going-away present.

Then we went to Downtown Grapevine. We walked to La Farina’s to discover it was filled to the brim, and live music was being played inside, which would have made conversation impossible. We found out the wait was thirty minutes, and stepped outside to think about it. I was disappointed. I had been daydreaming about coming back to La Farina’s one last time. Heather would’ve waited for a table if I asked her to, but I knew that if we went inside it wouldn’t be the same in the least. I didn’t want La Farina’s, I wanted a piece of that day back. The day we went and had that great waitress and the place pretty much to ourselves. When Heather wasn’t anxious because of the wedding and we had nothing pressing to discuss except how we wanted time to move quicker. And so we walked along main street until we came across a little Italian place. It ended up being perfect. I just kept thinking that those moments would hardly be memories, I thought about how we would blink and we would be walking out of the door and back to the hotel.

“I’m not going to remember those grapes.” Heather said, looking at the grapes and vines painted on the walls (Grapevine takes pride in its wine, there’s even Grapefest once a year.).

“That’s true.” I said, looking where she was staring, “But now that you’ve realized it, you’re going to remember them a little bit better.”

It was like I blinked, and we were walking out of the door, back to the hotel.

It was now nighttime in Grapevine. Warm breezes swept across the streets, the lights of the Palace Theatre were all lit up – it’s very old fashioned in style, and the place shows classic moves every Friday night for $5. As we were approaching a bench with a statue of a man sitting on it, I suddenly felt sad. The night was going by too fast, I wanted everything to freeze for a second.

“Hey,” I said, “Let’s take a seat for a minute.”

She sat down next to the statue and I took a seat at the end.

“It’s so lovely here at night.” I said, looking down the street at the lights and the people. It was rather quiet for this time of night, though on a Thursday not much was happening in Grapevine.

We sat in silence for a while, we were across the street from City Hall. It’s such a beautiful building. Pillars and a bell tower with a statue of a man at the very top holding a lamp to the darkness. We talked about little things here and there, for a while we talked about Heather getting married in a few days, and how odd it will be, when things will be so different.

“I just can’t believe you’re really going to West Virginia…”

I thought about it for a moment, and I looked back down the street. The lights and the people – it’s something nice to look at, its people being social. But what I loved the most were the buildings, the businesses, the feeling walking down the street. Everything was so interesting and slightly Victorian looking in some places. And that gorgeous City Hall with the bell ringing every fifteen minutes. I had been looking all over the country for places like this.

“You know something,” I said, “I love Bass Hall, I love Fort Worth, and right here, I love Grapevine. I was looking everywhere for places that had this feeling. The antique stores and restaurants and a theatre. I looked up what folks thought of Shepherdstown, I mean the people actually living in the place. And a lot of people hate it, they just hate it, and they want out. It’s little and unknown and everything there is to do in the entire town is down this little street. And I’m not even there and I adore it, I want to be there, I dream about being there.” I sighed, “If I had been born in West Virginia, if I were living in Shepherdstown right now, it’s possible that I would have found out about these places in Texas, and I would adore them, and I would daydream about being here. I would have my sights set on it and nothing could keep me from coming here.” I watched a group of people come out of a nearby restaurant, “I’ve recently realized that one man’s prison is another man’s freedom. Sometimes it’s not about the size of the town or even the location, it’s just that it’s somewhere new, and you know nothing about it. Even if it’s difficult, it’s worth it because it’s a fresh start.”

From Heather’s response I could tell she didn’t understand, but wanted to.

While we were talking a few folks used the crosswalk. Turns out when you press a button in Downtown Grapevine to cross the street, there are yellow lights that brightly flash in the road as you cross. It looked like a runway! And so, eventually when we got up and used the crosswalk, I couldn’t resist rasing my hands and skipping. I know, I could’ve picked a motion more glamorous, but there were a lot of cars waiting and that would have taken too long. And I could wave just used the peace sign and still felt like a rockstar for a second. Either way, I knew that the people in those cars were either amused or annoyed.”

And the next big thing to happen: Heather’s wedding.

“August 6th

12:30PM

Hannah-Elizabeth here, coming to you not-so-live from Heather’s fiance’s truck as we head to Kemah, Texas, the location of Madame’s wedding tomorrow night at 7:00PM.

There are a few hours left in the trip, so out of boredom I have decided to whip out my netbook and tell you how things are going so far.

Well, so far:

  • We have been pulled over because Madame’s fiance drives like a madman.
  • Stopped in a combination gas station/Wendy’s and have been perceived as tourists from another state.
  • Have nearly died because Madame’s fiance drives like a madman.
  • Have passed by the famous Houston statue.
  • Have had multiple near-death experiences because Madame’s fiance drives like madman.

Madame’s family and Carlisle’s (as he has been known on my blog) family are arriving in other vehicles…I shall keep you updated.

_______________________________________

11:20PM

Heather and Carlisle are on the pier fishing.

The rehearsal went smoothly, everything is ready and set for a wedding tomorrow.

August 7th

12:39AM

Heather is showering. She needs to wake up in a few hours to start the busy schedule of her wedding day.

How did it arrive so soon?

We sat out on the balcony (our room is on the top floor, overlooking the pier) and stared at the moon across the water. It sank in tonight, folks. Everything sank in. Heather is getting married tomorrow night, and I won’t see her again until the 21st, when she drops me off at the AmTrak station. Our life together is over – she’ll be in her new world, and I’ll be in mine.

What the heck am I doing? I’ve never taken such a flying leap before in my entire life. I’ve never even left town without someone with me. I’ve never been on a train before. What are we doing?

Even during the car ride here it didn’t sink in, not until the wedding rehearsal. Then it hit me full-blast. This is happening tomorrow. This is really, really happening.

__________________________________________

August 8th

10:05AM

The night before Heather’s wedding, we sat on the balcony and watched the moon reflect on Galveston Bay. The water seemed to go on forever, earlier that day we had seen cruise ships in the distance.

“You know,” Heather said, “Nothing could capture the depth of what I’m seeing right now.”

I agreed. I had never seen anything like it. Boats passed in the night and lights far off twinkled. The moon was framed with clouds and light breezes made the humidity bearable. We talked for a while. We could see her future husband on the pier with his friends and brothers fishing at midnight.

“Things are going to go wrong tomorrow.” Heather said, running a hand through her hair.

I nodded, “Yep.” She looked up with light surprise on her face. I continued, “With every wedding there must be at least three things that go wrong on the big day.”

Little did I know that I was precisely right. Three things went wrong.

One – we walked to three different nail places on the boardwalk and couldn’t find one that worked. One of them was having A/C troubles and was closing early, one was unexpectedly busy and the other one told Heather on the phone that they had four manicurists that weren’t busy, and we ended up waiting for half an hour before Madame decided to do her nails last-minute.

Two – four hours before her wedding the hair salon that Heather had made an appointment with a week ago suddenly decided that they wanted nothing to do with styling Heather’s hair for her wedding, Madame’s mother tried calling another place and discovered that they didn’t want to do it, either. I ended up styling her hair, and it looked perfect…ditto for the make-up, not to brag. Actually, I’m bragging. I made my best friend look drop-dead gorgeous on her wedding day.

Three – The cupcake tower (instead of a wedding cake, Madame had a tower of cupcakes) wasn’t tall enough for the cupcakes to fit properly. We found this out 40 minutes before the wedding.

Now, for something quite interesting that happened on her wedding day – a story that Heather says she will tell her children one day:

Finally we found a nail salon four hours before her wedding, it was right next to Ci Ci’s Pizza – where the wedding party was having lunch. We ran in so Heather could get french nails, and while the manicurist (a very friendly girl by the name of Megan) was working on her, a woman who was also get a manicure right next to her struck up a conversation about the wedding. She looked like she was in her late 50’s – grey hair, soft eyes, warm smile. She seemed like a very young woman in an older woman’s body.

We headed over to Ci Ci’s and mid-meal is when Heather’s mother got the call about the hair salon. Madame’s fiance was surprisingly angry, though he does have a bit of a temper on him that shows itself quite frequently, except when he’s with Heather. After we decided that I would do Heather’s hair, and after her mother had returned to her seat and things were back to semi-normal, the woman from the nail salon walked in and headed straight for their table.

“I knew you two were coming here, and you really are one of the special ones.” She said to Heather, then looked to both Madame and her future husband, “So this is my wedding gift, to you.”

She then took off her hat (did I mention she was wearing a tan bucket hat?), got on one knee and sang in an angelic, operatic voice, an a capella version of “True Love” by Elton John. After she finished she stood, spoke something softly and kindly to both of them while resting a hand on their shoulders, and made her exit. I was in awe at the entire situation, I knew awe-inspiring things would happen that day, but I never could have imagined that.

The wedding was on the boardwalk, the water directly behind us. Everything happened so perfectly, so smoothly that you could not blame anyone for believing firmly for a moment that it was all a dream. Despite my best efforts, I cried during the ceremony. Silently, thank goodness, but the tears were still there. I was standing two feet away from my greatest friend in the world as she became a new person. After they were presented as man and wife, one of Heather’s brother-in-laws played the exit song – “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything”, Relient K’s cover. Garrett (formerly known on my blog as Carlisle) took Heather’s hand and they ran up the steps to the room where the reception would take place.

Photos were taken outside with the bridesmaids and groomsmen. I became better acquainted with everyone in both families, and I felt like a part of it, a part of this giant family they now have. Garrett’s mother and I are both very emotional and love hugging and complimenting people, so quite a few times we ended up hugging each other with tears in our eyes and telling each other how beautiful we looked.

One of the songs Heather and Garrett danced to was one of Heather’s favorites.

Something I’ve never mentioned on my blog before – ever since Heather was a kid, she has loved 60’s and 70’s music. In her car and room she has uncountable CDs with nothing but disco songs on them. But her favorite of all of them, the one song that can completely bring out Heather’s true Heather-ness, is “Play That Funky Music”. There’s a video somewhere on YouTube of Heather doing karaoke in a gold suit and blonde afro wig, singing that catchy song.

And so, as soon as the song started playing, everyone made room as Heather in her elegant, flowing wedding gown and Garrett in his classy, perfectly fitted suit danced like they were wearing bell bottoms, peasant blouses and peace sign necklaces. I remembered what I adore so much about Heather. Even in that striking dress and her perfect make-up and carefully styled hair, her true self, her bubbly, energetic, silly, giggly, bust-a-move Heatherness seemed top contradict a dress that communicated stillness and fragility. And as for Garrett – Garrett was being the same person he has always been around Heather. He’s a bit of a tough guy with an ever-serious expression and contained emotions. But when he’s around Heather, his eyes light up and he looks at her the same way he always has, like she’s the most stunning, wonderful creature on the face of the planet. He can’t hold in the widest smile you’ve ever seen, and he can’t stop himself from catching her joy and energy.

To send them off, everyone lined up at the bottom of the steps outside (where the wedding took place) and instead of throwing rice, we blew bubbles. As they reached the end of the human path and bubble forest, I saw her pause and hug her parents goodbye. Panic rose in me when I realized this was it. I wouldn’t see Heather again until the 21st, when she’ll drive me to the AmTrak station and we won’t see each other again indefinitely. I ran up to her, hugged her and tried to freeze time, just for a moment, in the middle of the fabric of that second that consisted of laughter and clapping and cheers and bubbles and waves crashing and starts twinkling and ships crossing in the night. In the middle of the smiles and stares and tears and joy. And I feel that I succeeded. Such a significant moment, so certain, so final that it will forever stand out from uncountable other moments for the rest of my life. That moment marked the end, and the beginning, of everything.”

“I don’t know much about you, or anything about your current situation. So before I say anything I’d like a rundown of what’s been going on.”

I was at a loss for words. So much had changed so recently, I had changed so much recently.

I realized my chair was taller than his, so I pulled the lever until we were eye-level. He asked if I would be alright with us starting the meeting with prayer, I said yes.

And so began one of the strangest, most uncomfortable yet most profound conversations of my life.

I’m not certain what I should say, or if I should say anything. Predictably there were tears on my end, as soon as the first one fell I wiped it away and with a choked-up, frustrated voice said, mostly to myself, “Bother, this is starting already.” I hate how easily I cry sometimes. Seriously folks, I’m an emotional sissy.

The conversation lasted I believe about two and a half hours. He gave me his card and ended the meeting with a prayer, and off I went. I checked my make-up before I left the church and discovered with horror how bad it was. Every time I cry it ruins my eye make-up for the day, there is simply no helping it post-tears.

I suppose for now exactly what was said will remain a mystery.

I’m leaving in two days for West Virginia. Two. Days. And in case ya’ll are curious, I am going to copy and paste part of an e-mail I sent to Madame Emily with my schedule of those oh-so important three days.

August 21st, 8:00AM

Heather picks me up from my house in Keller and we go to Wal-Mart so I can get last-minute items – small umbrella, toothbrush and a miniature sewing kit.

12:45PM: Heather drops me off at the Fort Worth AmTrak station. I wait for the train

2:20PM: Texas Eagle Train 22 departs.

August 22nd, 1:52PM: Texas Eagle arrives at the Chicago Union Station.

4:00PM: I’m bored out of my mind waiting for the next train and wander out to find a Starbucks I looked up using Google Maps.

4:01PM: I walk out into the streets and realize I’ve stepped into a cold, cruel world alone struggling with one suitcase, one bookbag, one tote bag and a large purse filled to the brim and I imagine being murdered by mole people.

4:02PM: I run back inside the station and find that safe, comfy bench I was on before. Who needs food and coffee anyway?

6:10PM: Capitol Limited Train 1030 departs.

August 23rd, 10:30AM: Capitol Limited arrives at Martinsburg AmTrak station in West Virginia.”

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth

Explaining ‘Dazzled’…

William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910)

William James (aka, the unofficial love of my life.)

Hello All,

I am currently at The Center.

I just realized how difficult it is to work up a post whenever I’m here. Usually when I write a post I’m in my room with the partition shut, hunched over my desk with green tea or a cappuccino nearby. It’s personal, comfortable, closed in, certain. But being here I completely access my school ‘social self’.

I suppose I should explain what I mean:

William James (a man who is considered to be the greatest American philosopher and psychologist. Longtime readers of The Last Classic will know that I am very much smitten with this particular dead guy,) believed that we have a different ‘self’ for every situation, beyond just one self that is ourselves, that is, myself. Have you ever noticed that you act and think differently with your family than you do with your friends? You could say that one is your ‘family social self’, and the other would be your ‘friends social self’. James believed that we have a self for every person and situation we encounter. James once said:

“Properly speaking, a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind.” (If memory serves, this is from The Principles of Psychology. I wrote down the quote in my little black book but apparently didn’t see fit to write exactly where it is from.)

Also, it has been proven that certain memories are more easily retrieved when certain stimuli is present. Like when a scent or song gives you a flashback from childhood. All of that to say – the state of mind that I am normally in while I write my posts is not easily accessed while I’m at The Center, which would explain why my writing seems a tad odd (at least to me.)

____________________________________

I am back home, sitting at my desk, with my green tea…ah, all is right with the world.

I had a brief conversation with Kyle. I really hope that we stay friends after I leave Texas, I can’t quite put a finger on why I feel an odd admiration for him. Not a romantic sort of admiration, just…I’m not certain how to describe it, I feel respect for him and, I suppose, very intrigued. He seemed much more comfortable around me today, hopefully I’m growing on him. He wore a blazer – a navy blue blazer with gold buttons on the cuffs, it looked like a smaller version of one that I had bought at a church yard sale last year ( the one I bought is very large, probably meant for a rather, ah, wide, grown man, it’s just the fabric is very lovely –  like the sort of fabric that can be found on the 1950’s blazers at Whistle Stop or Memories & Treasures, the world’s greatest antique stores and two of my favorite places in the potential multiverse…anyway, I used a seam ripper and removed the shoulder pads so it would look a bit better on me, turns out I just look like a child who decided to play dress-up.)

I was sitting in the study hall reading through my notes for anatomy and physiology when my blazer-radar (I’m convinced that by now I have a blazer-radar, don’t try to convince me otherwise!) caught the smooth movement of fabric in my peripheral. I looked up to see Kyle starting up the steps to the cafe.

“Hello, Kyle.” I said casually. He whipped his head around and grinned when he saw me. “How have you been?” I asked, watching for any signs of discomfort.

“Very well, how are you?” He said in his usual composed manner. My impulse was to be blatantly honest and say You look very charming today! And particularly handsome! But something (common sense, perhaps) made me feel that it would be a bad idea…

“Great.”

He turned back to the door for a moment as one of the managers asked him a question, and I thought the conversation was over. Next thing I knew he was leaning over the table, shockingly close to me, scanning my notes and asking, “And what is it you’re studying today?”

I had forgotten exactly how piercingly blue his eyes were. He must have been raised in an area with a large population, he just has a smaller space bubble than you. I told myself. Still, it was more than a bit unnerving having that smile and those eyes and, most importantly, that impressive blazer suddenly a mere five inches away. (I was sort of extremely jealous, his blazer was obviously of superior quality to mine.)

“Oh,” I said, “Just something I should have studied last week.”

I looked up at him again, feeling not intimidated, but somehow nearing overwhelmed (perhaps ‘dazzled’ is a better word.) The tables had been entirely turned! My shoulders were raised and I could feel a sheepish smile on my face the entire time. I continued the sentence when I had already completed it, “For anatomy and physiology today. How is the day so far?”

He smiled with his incredibly white teeth, “It has been great,” he said. Cue intense eye contact and suddenly extremely sincere sounding voice, “how about yours?”

“Fine.” I said pleasantly, I could tell I was blushing. Before I could say anything else someone asked for his help in the bookstore.

“Do excuse me.” He said before promptly leaving.

I looked over at the only other person in the room, a girl who I had never seen before. She was watching me and grinning. I chuckled uncomfortably and tried to focus on my notes with little success.

After his sort of shy behavior the past few weeks the last thing I had anticipated was his response today. Perhaps what struck me was how incredibly sincere and unguarded he was. I have a feeling I’m forgetting part of the conversation, usually I’m much better at recalling things people have said. I suppose the only way I can possibly accurately describe that minute or two, is, put simply, intense. I pride myself on predicting behavior. When I’m out in public I always eavesdrop on conversations and I’m able to predict where the tone of the conversation will go. So Kyle completely breaking from his pattern of behavior was completely unexpected. This brings to mind something Heather Madame said to me when we were talking several years ago about me being unable to wrap my head around why Ryleigh left:

“I guess people aren’t as easy to figure out as you like to think they are.”

I was offended at the time, because I still thought that no one was unreadable to me. I now know that everyone is unreadable sometimes, and some people are just unreadable to me.

Sometimes I have so much to say that I can’t seem to start on a topic before another one is much too eager to make itself known, so I find myself in a rut with a headache… I have a feeling I’m going to be up late writing a massive post. Because this one doesn’t feel even nearly complete.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Nothing To Be Admired

So, there I was, cheerfully slicing apart a sheep brain and rattling off information for Jenna to scribble on the notepad given to us by Teacher Madame, when a thought occurred.

“Hey, Jenna?” I asked, aware that the pool of formaldehyde was beginning to make me a tad light-headed.

“Yep?” She looked up, her eyes framed with the required goggles.

I couldn’t believe the words that came out of my mouth as I finished the cut directly posterior of the hippocampus, “This is freaking awesome!”

Jessica, who had been nearly silent this entire time, stared at me as though I was a madwoman, “You’re not serious.”

“How are you guys not ecstatic right now? This doesn’t exactly happen everyday! Heck, look!” I held up the newly severed portion of brain, the cerebellum hanging limp like a little, pink, squiggly half-tennis ball connected to the brain by a few layers of tissue.

“Oh, gosh!” Jenna put down the notepad and walked away for a moment to compose herself. It was then that I realized I should give up on trying to get my classmates excited over slicing and dicing the organs of a dead animal.

A note about me: I love the brain. I love the entire setup, the symmetry, the utter oddness and complexity. I used to constantly read about psychiatric drugs (still an excellent book to have around: The Consumer’s Guide to Psychiatric Drugs, also, Anatomy Of An Epidemic.) But then, I love anything about the head in general. Facial muscles, bones of the skull and face, the eyes. So when I came into a&p on Friday and discovered we were going to dissect a sheep brain and eye, my entire world lit up.

Jenna, so we discovered, has a rather weak stomach. As soon as I completed the cut around the eye (I ended up doing nearly all of the hand work while the others observed and took notes,) she coughed and gagged. Not that I could blame her, I had to turn my head away (my hands were still poised over the eye, my gloves dripping with formaldehyde and vitreous humor, so I couldn’t exactly excuse myself) because of the piercing odor being emitted from the eye.

“That’s so gross!” Jessica turned to face to the window behind her (Teacher Madame had opened every window in the classroom, thank goodness.)

Melanie, the only other person who showed any interest in the dissection, and the wonderful human being who helped me remove the very unpleasant fatty tissue (the color, thickness and overall texture of which reminded me of an uncooked chicken) surrounding the sclera, stood and leaned over the table to better view the retina. “Ooh, pretty colors!” She commented. Teacher Madame, pleased at our interest, came over to our table and explained the layer covering the back of the eye.

Madame noticed the anatomy booklet I brought along that contained photographs of cadavers in various states of dissection. She flipped through the book and we spoke for a moment on the contents of the booklet.

“Please tell me you’re going into medicine.” She said.

Cue giant smile. The band of my goggles started slipping off of my ponytail and I had to ask Jenna for help to fix it.

After class, I was still high on the experience (maybe it was all the formaldehyde, there’s no way to know for sure,) and walked to the cafe with a skip in my step. Claire (the world’s greatest barista) was behind the counter finishing up with a customer as I stepped inside, Kyle was behind her refilling a water bottle. She glanced up and smiled the smile that never fails to light up a room, “Hi girl!”

“Hey!” I said, I looked over to Kyle, who looked up to see who Claire was talking to, “Good afternoon, Kyle.”

He nodded as he passed by, “Good afternoon.” He nearly mumbled, he didn’t make eye contact. I’ve started to get the sense that I unnerve him for some reason. This disappoints me. As I mentioned in a recent post, I was looking forward to establishing a friendship with the fellow. He’ll watch me for a few moments while restocking a shelf in the bookstore, or when he needs something from the cafe, but he never initiates conversation.

As soon as I shut the car door I started a ramble about class, but was quickly interrupted by my mother. As I mentioned before, my mother is what the Taoist monks would call a Fire person. She likes having fun and keeping conversation light, she loves to daydream about a different life and plan shopping trips. The last thing she wants to hear is a long-winded description of a sheep brain (and how freaking awesome it was.) Halfway home she suddenly asked, “What’s that smell?”

“Oh,” I said happily, “That’s just formaldehyde.” Teacher Madame had told us that the scent would stick to our hair and clothing.

“Formaldehyde?”

“From the brain and eye.”

“What brain and eye?”

“From class.”

“Oh.”

Last night (Saturday) me and mom took a stroll around the lake down the street from our home.

I

I listened to mom talk about what she missed most about California, I commented here and there, asked questions I knew she would want to answer, and threw in the equal advantages of going to the university I want to go to. She still wants me to go to college in California, and I haven’t changed my mind about going to the other side of the country. She announced yesterday morning that as soon as a legal matter clears up, she wants to move. Not a month goes by that she doesn’t mention her dream of ‘moving back home’, and after I told her about an article I read in Psychology Today that explained the number one regret of the dying is that they didn’t have enough courage to live the life they wanted to when they had the chance, she seems to have a greater drive to return to California. I get my stubbornness from my mother. That fact alone is enough to let me know how serious she is.

This morning I woke up bright and early for church with Heather Madame. This week we tried out a church in North Richland Hills.

We were once again the youngest people there by our own free will. Hundreds of eyes watched us when we stepped inside the building, we quickly made our way to the sanctuary, which was nearly empty ten minutes before the service.

After the sermon we high-fived out of the success of surviving yet another dull church experience, and made plans to try yet another new place next week. Today we never found ourselves in deep conversation, even when we were sitting back at Starbucks sipping our overpriced beverages. We’ve both been so stressed out that a day of nothing but an uneventful church service and sitting in a Starbucks with nowhere to be was a much-needed therapy. On the drive back to my house I found myself starting to talk about the same old things, but I let it die out, it wasn’t worth it.

Alright folks, tomorrow is Monday, and so we shall do it all over again.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/ Classic

P.S. I do realize the dryness of this post. My every spare moment as of late I find myself writing down any truth about myself, about everything I feel. Because I’m afraid of discovering I’m a fraud, the truth about how I feel about every single person and event in my life, I feel the need to just write and leave in the open. And so tonight when I found myself writing out a post, I found nothing to discover or despise. Any lies that I’ve told myself I have cleared up, any notion to deceive the people I care about is gone for tonight. I want to be an open book, and I want to be fair in my judgement, this post ended up being nothing more than the residue of my creativity, and it is nothing to be admired.

Suppose I’m Crazy…

Like a light switch.

That seems to describe my decisions as of late. I was awake late last night, thinking. Just thinking. Changing my mind about one little decision, and then another. Asking myself questions that I thought I had answers to. Eventually I just started pacing, my mind spinning like it did when I was so infatuated with Josh. But over so many little things.

Until the first of June I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep a secret from all of you. Part of the reason I couldn’t sleep was because I knew I wasn’t going to write about it here, I couldn’t. I can’t. Because this decision will entirely alter where my life goes from here, and I haven’t even told Heather my real reasons for doing what I’m going to try to do. Because it’s complete and utter insanity.

I’m not going to go jumping off of a bridge or join a cult, I can assure you that those would make for far more interesting posts than the one that will be posted June 1st, but it’s still something I can’t get off of my mind, and you can’t blame a teakettle for whistling a bit under pressure. I’ve flung various rants throughout little notes in my books and blogs, because the fact is that last night I discovered there is no way I can stop writing how I truly feel. It is part of my very being. I need to tell the world what I think, know and learn. I suppose we all know what this means:

1. I can never join fight club.

2. I can never be trusted with matters of national security.

I react too strongly to people, to their presence in my life. Everything they do and say I take into account, I think on it, a lot. I tell people who I care about that I care about them, it feels unnatural not to.

But I react much too strongly. Like the presence of the earth in the cosmos, the fabric of space and time being steady and flat, until the existence of the planet causes the fabric to bend in compliance, forming a valley around which the moon dances. That is the effect that every person in my life has. A massive impact that changes my life in an instant.

I suppose this is just me trying to explain to myself why I’m doing what I’m doing.

_______________________

I think about how emotionally open and vulnerable this blog has made me. I’ve decided that I’m ‘over’ Josh, it hurts to think about him, but I have decided this, he is my past. And no matter what it takes, I am leaving Texas. My future isn’t here. My life will not be here. And for the rest of my time here I won’t be pursuing a relationship with anybody. I’m tired of being an adoring puppy, clinging to every word they speak, aware of their every move, losing sleep over them. There is someone worth it, but (and say what you may about this) I refuse to find him here.

I know that this post is senseless and I must seem at least a smudge crazy or unstable. I feel crazy and unstable at the moment. An increasingly familiar feeling of just wanting to run away from it all has returned stronger than ever.

This is just the way things are, and I know that it’s going to pass. I know that it’s all going to work out. My mind is simply spinning nonstop, as it does in times of stress, and eventually I’ll reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

I don’t know if any of this made any sense, I suppose I didn’t try very hard, but I needed to say all of this. I’m feeling so overwhelmed, I just want to walk outside right this second and go for a walk in the wonderfully cold air to the little playground down the street, and sit on the swings while staring up at the stars. That is truly what I want to do.

I try to avoid posts like this. I do write impulsively, and I do write when I’m in an emotional frenzy, but I’ve never written in this sort of state of mind before. And I have no doubt that tomorrow I’ll want to delete this. But I won’t, because it would be the same as lying.

I suppose, in a nutshell, the entire point of this post was to say that for the first time in a while I am really not alright. I’m young and I’ll ‘get over it’, but it doesn’t make my present feelings less real. I don’t like the word ‘feelings’, at least not when I use it, because it seems so immature and petty and it seems to threaten to take away any weight that my words hold.

I’m going to try to get some rest.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Better Than I Know Myself

“It’s quiet.” I whispered. Everyone had wandered into the study hall, leaving me and Kyle alone in the cafe. Show tunes could be heard being sung by Claire (the world’s greatest barista and an old friend of mine.)

He grinned and took a seat nearby, “I know. Theatre people.”

“They’re grand fun, though.”

“They are. So,” Piercing blue eyes looked in my direction, “Why are you here this evening?”

“Anatomy and physiology.” I realized I was resting my head against the wall and sat up properly. “I suppose it’s obvious why you’re here.” I gestured to Kyle’s name tag, he grinned again. Today was the first day that an opportunity arose to have an actual conversation with the fellow. Eighteen or nineteen if I had to guess, and a former boy scout if I had to guess. Blonde hair of a sensible length, broad smile, strong jaw, symmetrical features. Overall nothing notable, except that he was wearing a gray v-neck long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows and casual pants (my previously mentioned favorite look on a guy.) Oddly enough, when I noticed this I almost laughed out loud. I was so accustomed to seeing Kyle in his signature white button-up shirts and robot-like stiff movements that seeing him dressed so casually was enough to make me double-take.

We spoke for about half an hour before my mom pulled up in the Fit (on a side note, I drove us to The Center today and I managed to not kill anybody!) As she was walking towards the door he suddenly stood and opened it for her.

I smiled at her, “Hi, mom!”

Kyle looked over at me, then my mom, then back again. I grabbed my things and made my way to the door.

“Nice meeting you, Kyle.”

“You as well.”

We shook hands and as I stepped out he added sincerely, “Have a wonderful evening!”

I glanced back, “You too!”

As I shut the car door I realized this meant I had a new acquaintance, I smiled the rest of the trip home.

The rest of the day has been rather dull, tea and cappucinos with mom, reading an old Star Telegram (I personally prefer The Dallas Morning News,) and catching up on a few favorite blogs that I’ve missed out on as of late. I’m currently plotting how to make my mother play chess with me. I love chess, but mother madame finds it too tedious.

I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if I end up staying in Texas. I’ve started having dreams about the drive out of state, and writing down potential playlists for a long trip whenever there’s a pause in activity. It’s my petty impatience, I just know it. I could never wait for Christmas morning before opening at least one present, and I was always the annoying child who always asked ‘Are we there yet?’ In my defense, those drives to Disneyland felt like they never ended, the drives seemed so long that it feels like a part of me is there still. Clapping and yapping and bouncing around in anticipation.

I suppose, whatever the result, it will be a lovely state of existence when I at least know for certain what the future holds.

I must say, I’m rather disappointed in this post. ’tis a rather dull one.

I know, I know, a writer (even a simple blogger) is supposed to never be disappointed in that they write if it’s from the heart. But folks, let’s face it, this wasn’t exactly prime entertainment. It would be lovely to always say that I’m proud of what I write, but many times it’s an embarrassing, teeth-pulling-esque process and I know that my writing at times is downright crappy. I don’t say this with pride, I just say it so that I know I’ve said it.

The general mood of my posts as of late seem to be inching further downward, as though I’m notably unhappy. Obviously there have been positive posts nestled in between the (for lack of a better word) stale ones, but, skimming through the past couple of months through my posts, I can’t ignore a pattern that seems to be forming.

Now, I have no idea what any of this really means, or what should be done/if anything should be done, but allow me to play this thought out.

Everyday I still decide on something to be happy about, sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s something to look forward to that day, and sometimes when I can’t come up with anything, I just settle with ‘Today is going to be a good day.’ This has lightened my overall mood considerably, I’m an entirely different person than I was when I posted my decision to try to be happy. It has changed me completely. But it’s starting to feel as though the steady tension in my life as of late is turning me back into the person I once was. Serious, overly focused, selfish and impulsive. Alannah said something to me in a comment once upon a time, because I had mentioned that I felt guilty for being too sensitive. She told me that she had always seemed to ‘feel too much’ as well, and said something to the tune of ‘When we feel so strongly for so long, selfishness is only natural, because our focus is only on ourselves.’ An invisible tug of war seems to be going on between me and the people I care about. Because a part of me does want to stay because Heather wants me to stay and I could see myself going after Josh again and meeting more new acquaintances and not having to read my mother’s face when I bring up leaving. And then the complete and utter uncertainty regarding whether I’m leaving at all being decided entirely on where I get accepted.

I’m a control-freak when it comes down to it. I love being in control of my environment and knowing that I can create order where disorder so annoyingly sits (often rather crooked or on the wrong shelf, I might add,) I love being in control of my surroundings and my future and my actions and my plans. But I can’t control the approval of Heather Madame and my mother, I can’t control where I’ll get accepted, I can’t control whether it will rain or shine and the bossy little child in me doesn’t like it one bit. All the worrying is doing is about as much as pushing against a steel door. I can wear myself down trying to shove it open, but until it opens or locks on its own, nothing will change.

I’m truly happy when I’m here, telling the truth, at least some of the time. But something that this little website has proven to me, is how blind I can be to things right in front of my face. Right in front of me. I’m sincerely afraid because of this fact. It’s part of why I’m afraid of making somebody miserable. Because I know how foolish I can be, how thoughtless I can be. I know I have a lot of love to give, but I know that, while I’m trying so hard everyday to hold back from doing anything to hurt anybody, the battle is one that will never end. We hurt people. It’s a part of life. And heck, my heart hurts even writing that. It’s my worst nightmare. I am so entirely full of faults that I know it’s inevitable. I don’t know how or when or who, I just know that there will come a day when the thought will run across someone’s mind that they will wish they had never met me.

I know I can never stop making mistakes and I can never stop being blind to obvious things until later introspection, I need to get over any sort of notion that I will somehow condition myself against human nature. The battle will never be won, because everyone is battling something, and suppose that fight dies out, another is waiting at the threshold of the morning to take its place.

…Well, alright then.

Until I Write Again,

–Classic/Hannah-Elizabeth