Information

A conversation is just an exchange of information.

We trade words, we display facial signals, sometimes without meaning to. We use our bodies and our tones to communicate what we want to say and don’t mean to say outloud.

So I’ve discovered (quite a few times by now, but it’s still surprising every time,) the way I really communicate is nothing like the way I feel like I’m communicating.

I feel loud.

I feel expressive.

I feel like an extrovert when I’m talking to people.

But tonight I realized yet again that I am none of those things, for the most part. As far as I know I’m not stone. But I hear things like this:

“Oh my gosh, you’re so quiet.”

“I can’t hear you.”

“Aww. You’re so little and mousy!”

“You’re just a soft personality.”

“I still can’t hear you.”

“You should be a kindergarten teacher!”

“…still can’t hear you. Whatever it is, I don’t want any.”

______________________

 

Today I went to work.

This isn’t anything new, I go to work quite a bit. It feels like I’m always at work. But today as I was walking towards the bathrooms I glanced down the hallway that leads to the breakroom I saw a familiar face. It was a coworker who had vanished to Hawaii a few months previous. Here, we will call her Vanny. Vanny’s hair is always flat-iron straight, and she always wears crazy hairbands. You get the sense that she’s a tough chick. This sense is correct.

Though, the toughness of a coworker doesn’t stop them from getting hug attacks.

And so Vanny got one, along with a “NO FREAKING WAY!” from me.

Vanny is back for good, it seems.

There’s only one downside, which is that Vanny hates another coworker who I’m a huge fan of. This other coworker will be called Adele, because she is Adele’s doppleganger.

Adele also gives you the sense that she is a tough chick.

Your sense is also correct, and this does not save Adele from hug attacks as well.

_________________________________

So, A Poetry Show is dead.

Well, dead-ish.

I left the project because I disliked the people. No one was in love with what we were doing, and I thought that I was going to work with people who were in love with something. And to be honest, I am lazy. Anything I do, sincerely, anything I do or get involved in, is something I am in love with. I won’t get out of bed otherwise.

And so the knowledge that what we were doing was very quickly a chore to those folks quickly frustrated me. And I felt that the ship would sink if I jumped, so I stayed, because I loved it for its potential. But my desperation for the project to become a success was not taken well by the group, because I was controlling and anxious. I wanted big plans, bigger plans, I wanted excitement from these people. And there was none.

I suddenly created one enemy, and then the next. The project made me anxious and I fumed at the laziness and carelessness of the people I worked with. DAG NABBIT, WHY CAN’T WE ALL BE IN LOVE, HERE? Why get involved if you’re not? If it’s such a drag, such a burden?

I left the project, knowing it would sink without me.

And I admit that when I realized it had died without me, I felt a burst of…gosh, I don’t know, pride? Smugness? It had confirmed that my love for the show was the thing that gave it life, that my love for a project could be the thing to mean life or death. It boosted my confidence in my ambition.

And then I realized that no one wanted any part of the project…the problem pieces, the people, were leaving.

Which left only the thing I had loved, the thing itself, the show itself. The idea as it was at square one.

Plans, dozens of them, started bursting into life in my brain. The things I can do. Will do. I never wanted it to be something that can be brushed off, or ignored for weeks. I wanted to build it, and make it grow and become huge. I wanted to expand.

The only problem, though, once I realized that I wanted to take A Poetry Show back, was that I remembered that I suck at poetry stuff. I appreciate it, I enjoy it, but I can’t write it or discuss it. I need people who know what they’re doing. And now I’m working that out. Overall it may take longer than expected to start up again, but I think it has too much potential to not be worked on by someone.

I’m also working on another project with a former Poetry Show-er. Someone who is pretty much a male version of myself from the Netherlands. A brilliant fellow who we’ll call Willam (pronounced vill-um.)

This one was Willam’s baby, the idea entirely his, and what a wonderful one it is. I’m not sure how much he’d be comfortable with me saying, but I’ll just say that I have huge hopes for this one. It’s an idea so weird that it has to be successful, even for just a wave of attention.

And then there are two more, one is a miniseries that will be filmed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, hopefully in 2015.

The last one is a project that is entirely mine. It has a very cozy, important place in my very INFP heart. It’s just going to be called The Honesty Project. Hopefully I can start that up by late 2014, I dearly want to do that the right way the first time.

And I just realized I’m tired and just felt like typing stuff. So I’m going to go now and sleep…unless I can’t, in which case I’ll just have to stay up and watch the new episode of Breaking Bad.

Goodnight, folks.

~Hannah-Elizabeth

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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

Making A Universe

I love starting over.
I really, really love starting over.
I love trains, I love my memories of being on trains. It was cold, extremely cold in Chicago when I stepped off of one train and into the next in February, a day before I suddenly appeared in the kitchen of a dear friend.
Whenever I feel horrible, or wonderful, or nothing at all I daydream of starting over. Of hopping on a plane, train or automobile and running off somewhere. I love feeling like I’m not limited in the least. I can become anything, go anywhere, see anyone, do anything. I could go anywhere I want to.
For the longest time I’ve been inspired the most by the potential of people and situations. That has been the driving force behind so many of my actions.
This means I have a short attention span, and that I’m impulsive and impatient and immature and selfish and emotional and unfair.
It’s incredibly easy to put other people before myself as long as I get a taste of the good outcome. A hit of dopamine, an opportunity, money.
This means I always feel guilty, and paranoid. I trust people very easily and end up disliking them when they don’t meet my expectations of being wonderful people. Everyone starts out as a superhero in my mind.
If I know you, there is something about you right away that I wanted to imitate. It doesn’t matter if I don’t want to have what you have now, or if I dislike you now, at some point very shortly after I became aware of your existence, I saw something about you that I wanted to add to my personality so I could improve myself.
My life has been wanting things. More than that trying to get them. Trying to get recognition and approval and beauty and wit and security and love and happiness and greatness. Mostly greatness, followed by beauty.
When I turned eighteen I was terrified. Because I was suddenly old. An adult. More was expected of me. The little things I did that seemed to impress and amuse people were now no use. I had to develop a real brain and real skills and a real personality.
Potential still drives everything I do, because it still inspires like nothing else. I start to curl in on myself when I imagine something I create just wilting or getting beaten beyond recognition with well-deserved criticism and then finally dying off after countless useless attempts at reviving a very dead idea.
But then I imagine what it CAN be, and holy crap. It could be something that just shocks people with the emotional impact, it could inspire other people, it could become something great and massive and different, it could grow and change, awesome people whose words I gawk at could get involved. People I’ve never met and will never meet would know about this thing I made and feel things that you only feel once in a very long while. It could be a universe of incredible creativity and a force of emotional steel that no one would forget, that they couldn’t help thinking and talking about.
I just love that idea, of just wrapping people’s brains in this creative universe.

~Classic

The Difficulty of Want

I’m so tired from wanting things so badly it hurts.

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.

–From my post, “Swayed By The Moment”

The past year I’ve learned how deeply I can feel, and I started dreaming bigger dreams. My imagination has never been so alive, my creativity has never been so present.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to wake up and be completely alone. What would I do? I would find ways to connect with people, because I can’t live without the knowledge that I am not alone. And then the thought repeats itself and the idea turns into a Groundhog Day-esque idea, what if I try again and again to start friendships and make connections and wake up to discover that any place I had in anyone’s heart vanished overnight?  These people would recognize me on the street and know my name, but I would mean nothing to them. If I were run over by a bus they would mention to their mother over the phone that they knew me, but they would not miss me.

There are so many things I want to say here.

I feel everything so intensely that it has started to become beyond draining. Because of my dreams I have a lot of wants, I have a lot of expectations for myself. More than anything I just keep waiting and hoping and dreaming of things. And I’m so restless and tired and the past few nights the feeling has turned to something like heartbreak. And I find myself wondering what it would be like to just buy a ticket to anywhere and run. Just run. Just go and drop off the face of the earth for a few days. Don’t worry about a thing in the world, just run and simply exist somewhere for a little while.

I’m sick of my emotions. I’m sick of wanting things so badly it hurts.

I’m proud of my massive imagination and my drive to accomplish something meaningful that I love, but I just can’t do it right now. I can’t take this absurd constant intensity that is always building and building and know that I am incapable of doing anything about it.

I just want to go numb for a while, find a way to silence the constant crowd of different thoughts and stop the wheels from spinning for a bit.  I just want peace.

I want simple.

Anything is simple if you look at it from far enough away. Like a pointillist painting with thousands of tiny dots that all morph together as you back away. I know my situation is simple from afar. I’m just too close. I pace all day and work on my project ideas and clean and pack and wait until I move into my best friend’s home and get a job. I’m just going mad and I’m tired.

As it usually goes, I will feel better in the morning.

Goodnight,

–Hannah-Elizabeth

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

The Last Post

This is my last post on The Last Classic until August.

While the blog URLs have changed repeatedly, the title of the blog, and my username have remained the same. The Last Classic is my anchor. My source for comfort and advice. A place where I can tell stories, my stories.

This is the end of a giant chapter in my life. I hate change. I truly, truly hate change. But this is what I want. This Summer I turn eighteen, Heather gets married and I leave the state. I’m leaving because I want a clean slate, a fresh start.

This whole thing started for a lot of reasons, but I can’t deny it started simply because I was a kid with some time on her hands, a computer nearby and a knack for writing.

Ya’ll know how to get in touch with me – I have a Twitter, and my e-mail address is on my Gravatar profile (contact me any time!). I’ll probably comment on your blogs throughout the Summer using my other blog account, so just look out for Hannah-Elizabeth, instead of Classic. My other blog, unlike The Last Classic, is not going to be a secret from my family, so I won’t be writing as freely as I do here. I will be posting and continuing the People Who Read People series on the other blog. As soon as some recent personal difficulties have cleared up, I’ll start posting on the new blog and tell ya’ll the URL.

I’m sad. Today I’ve reached the point of no return. I hate change – have I told you that? I hate knowing how soon I’ll have to say goodbye. And I’m afraid of how scared I’ll be to leave everything behind on my own. It’s one thing when it’s all just an idea, just a notion, just a pleasant thought to escape to on difficult days. But when it’s real, when there is no turning back, it’s easy to just wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, and just keep looking around my room at familiar things. Over and over and over. I know that wall. I arranged the books on that shelf. I stared out of those windows for hours during the last heavy storm. And I begin thinking about how one day I’ll wake up, and I can’t look around at familiar things. I can never again wake up to the sound of my alarm and tell myself I need to get ready for church, because Heather will drive up soon to take us there. I can’t be annoyed at the sound of my brother playing his guitar at two in the morning. I will be alone, but I have no regrets.

Until August,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic