I looked up with a smile, another potential customer hoping to change their fate or discover their past had arrived. It was a man in about his mid-thirties, with brown hair speckled with a hint of red. His thick pair of glasses framed his face and covered his golden eyes.
"Yes, how may I help you?" I requested politely.
"I'd like to book a trip," the man fidgeted nervously.
"To when? Might I suggest one of our more popular options, or would you prefer to tailor it to a specific time?"
The man nervously wrung his hands, seemingly not knowing what he wanted.
I gave a small smile. These were the kinds of customers that we were warned about, indecisive.
"If you're unsure of where you'd like to go, would it be best for you to come back later and decide?" I suggested kindly.
The man nodded and briskly walked out of the store.
Everyday since then he's entered the store anxious and confused, unknowing of when and where he's wanted to go. And everyday I send him back out and tell him to think on it.
I don't know when exactly I started falling for him, despite not knowing his name. I grew to look forward to his visits, to his hand wringings, to his lip bitings.
Then I found out his name. His exact age. His alma mater. We talked and talked on each of those visits, and slowly we came to knew everything about each other. I wanted more from him, kisses and dates and sweet whispers of nothings. However, I knew he would never want the same. I hoped that his comings would last forever, I longed for him to just keep appearing with his little twitches and habits.
But one day he walked in with a purpose. The shy guy I fell in love with was gone, replaced by a strongly willed man.
"Hello." He nodded to me.
"How may I help you?" I said with calm clarity despite the fluttering crazy trips of my heart. What happened to him?
"I request a trip."
"When and where would you like to go?"
He gazed into my eyes as he said it with much sincerity and conviction.
"To our wedding day."
They’ve Got It Worse
Listening to my friends' problems had me realize what an idiot I was. How could I have even possibly entertained the idea to talk about my own problems? Ramona was going through depression, David's mother had died, and Hannah was being forced to move across the country. Compared to them and all the wrongs in their life...what was I to complain about my measly abusive uncle? Everyone had it worse giving me no right to complain. So I put on my sympathetic face as always and prepared to listen both to my friends worse off and the screaming to come later at home.
Hey Thomas? I hope this letter gets to you. It's me Hannah. You know, the girl you said that you'd go to Paris with in a few years once you got done with law school. This isn't a letter of sadness but...
Guess what asshole I'm dying.
Yeah, that's right. I'm dying. So those wistful dreams we made on the beach senior year about all those places we'd travel, and all those people we'd meet, and all those memories we'd make, they ain't happening.
Don't believe me? Well guess what you bottom-barrel shithead I sent a transcript of my medical records to prove it to you...you know I always liked to prove a point.
Why are you writing this?? You may be asking. We haven't even talked in years and I have a wife and kid now I thought we were done and over??
See the problem with this is that I never got over you. You may have gotten over me, but I was infatuated with you and you were my first love. My only love really. High school was more than just a stepping stone for me, I was lost there. And you were the one who kept me captive.
I loved you to the moon and back, and it had felt like you loved me too.
So when you left for college half-way across the country, I thought you would actually come back. After all, you did say you would. Instead you married a bottle-blonde harlot, and had two kids that should be mine, and live in a literal white. Picket. Fenced. House.
Guess where I've been?
I've been working in that same damn coffee shop that I said I would keep working in until you came back-which you never ever did-and I've been living with my parents as they slowly decline into sickness. Mother died a year ago and Father won't be lasting much longer either at this rate.
You didn't care though did you? No letters of condolences came from you, Thomas. Only the silence of your words to tell me your answer of what you truly thought of me.
So yeah. When I got the diagnosis from the doctor I really regretted my life choices. I'm a 35 year old woman working in a run-down coffee shop with no dating prospects and stuck in a rut of a job. The only highlight in my life has been the promotion to lead cashier 7 years ago. While you've been living the dream life I wanted to have with you, I've been left behind.
And. I'm. Mad. Maybe I don't have the right to, since I very well could've just up and left and got on with my life. But I am stubborn. And I was going to just wait until you contacted me, whenever that would actually happen. But at this rate, I'm going to be dead by the time you come back to this small-ass town.
Oh by the way, I'm leaving my burial to you. Do whatever you want with my body I honestly don't care. Burn it in a bonfire while getting high off your ass and pissing on me if you wish. And I'm leaving all my stuff to you. I don't have a family much longer to give it to nor any descendants anyway. Might as well make you feel as crappy as you can because you god damn well deserve it. Those things about patching things up with others before you die? Yeah, no, not me. I'm going to the grave harboring these feelings of hate, anger, and yes forever unrequited love.
So feel guilty you little Shit.
What do I find lovely?
It's going to sound a little weird but I love people's flaws. The flaws of people are what make them unique, different, and special. And I love them.
The little dimples that people have,
A dapple of freckles spread across cheeks,
Laugh lines crinkling the eyes,
Scars anywhere and everywhere,
Stretch marks showing how much your body has handled,
Little to lots of bits of chubby fats holding in a warm heart,
Birthmarks captured in time from the very beginning...
All are unique and lovely.
But it doesn't have to be just physical attributes.
The struggle in trying to find the way to solve a problem,
Liking some weird far-out non-mainstream object or idea,
The ability to trip over air,
Rapid change of emotions,
Harsh honesty expressed by people who don't realize what they're doing,
A funny/cute burp or laugh or sneeze,
A person's infatuation over food.
All are special and pure.
Most of these are considered flaws by the general public...but to me they're cute little adorable characteristics that make me love you or a person all the more...or lovely.
Do you like me?
My hand hovered over the phone as I internally debated sending the message that I knew I wanted answered.
Three dots inched across the screen and a text was delivered to me.
Melanie just tell me what's on your mind.
My face without my permission forced a half-smile at the message. She'd always said that. She always sent that text when she was worried about me.
I rapidly deleted the message I was so ready to send and instead wrote something else.
I think I like someone...Rosaline...
I paced around the room clutching my cell phone in anticipation. What would she say? Did she know? If she did know was she disgusted with me? A bing of my ringtone awoke me from my thoughts.
Really? Who is it? Is it the new boy Chance? I thought he was pretty cute too! You don't need to be worried about liking someone haha.
Concerned I bit my lip. She didn't know. She didn't realize...but do I tell her? Do I really want to risk my friendship with her that way?
No one really important I doubt you know them lol.
I chose to lie.
Melaniiieeee I'm your best friendddd righttt? Don't I , the most gorgeous princess of Unicorn Kingdom (lol), deserve the right to know who you like? I won't judge you ya knowww even if it's that really creepy guy Lane I think in our Honors English?
Hiding it and internally pushing it deep down is the way to go right? That way I don't need to risk losing her, our friendship, or any of her thoughts about me. I can put up a facade...I can reject it...
I don't want to lose my best friend just because I want something more. A bittersweet smile crossed my face as I replied with a lie.
Haha true...you guessed it the first time lol I like the new kid Chance, I thought he was pretty cute...
I pushed bile down my throat at the thought of even kissing a guy and decided to pretend I was straight for Rosaline.
Falling in Love
I feel like falling in love with...
...rain as it lands
...little shops and their pastries
...warm sun rays as it kisses my skin
...big monuments reaching toward the sky
...crisp wind while it blows past
...ambitions of the people
...flowers when they lose their petals
...long lazy road trips with my family
...soft grass that tickles my skin
Home is home.
Home is lots of things:
Home is the warm dinners that draw everybody together,
The long nights lazily gazing up at the stars,
The crystal clear lemonade served during the summer,
The everlasting barbeques that are with a side of family,
The high school sweetheart that you still wonder if you could've worked,
The extended family.
But it's also
The broken hearts of ex lovers,
The sorrow of high school victims,
The crushing irritation of wanting to get out,
The split personality of betraying friends,
The sadness of long lost relatives that you'll never see again,
The desperate anticipation of your younger years.
Home is lots of things.
But home is home.
Did you know that if you force yourself to smile you'll become happy? That's what they say, at least. I've been trying it and I think it might be working...
It worked when my dad died. His body refused to move for him anymore and all that was left was a husk laying in a hospital bed. I was there when his life left his eyes, still smiling. And I was the only one grinning from ear to ear at his funeral.
It also worked when my step brother attacked my mother. While I called the police and while the screaming was going on, I was smiling. Afterwards when I was writing a witness report, I smiled then too.
It worked when I was uprooted from my home of 10 years and forced to go to a new school. Just keep smiling...
Every time I felt like crying, or breaking apart, or just plain wrong, I smiled. It didn't matter that tears would stream down my face while I did it, or that my hands shook, or that I couldn't speak because I was so choked up with words. If I kept smiling it would be alright. I was always told that by so many people...my mother, my father, my siblings, my close friends. "Just smile. It'll get better, we promise," they'd say. Oh how I believed them. How naive I was...
Smiling isn't working anymore. I don't think it ever did. I don't need to smile, I need help. I don't know why my family prevented me from attaining that help, but I need to reach out and grab it. Smiling isn't the way to become happy, smiling is the end result that you want. I want a life where I don't have to force myself to smile...it just comes naturally. I want a life where I wake up and am filled with utter joy at how excited I am to be up and alive.
I want a life where I'm happy.
In order to achieve this I need help. I get that now. I get that I need to go out and talk to someone, get someone to give me advice. And so I'm going to call Dr. Martin and see if he'll check me in to his counseling office.
But a tiny thought has fluttered in the back of my head for a while now.
Are there others forcing themselves to smile? Others going through this same pain? I think about how many years I've forced myself to smile. "Just a little more, keep up your happy face Jocelyn," I'd tell myself.
If that's the case I wanted to make sure that they knew that it's okay to go out and get help. Which is what I'm doing, and why I'm writing.
This is the first step. Admitting I need help. And whenever you're ready, whenever you can't hold up that smile anymore, go get yourself some help too.
And if you don't need it...be glad. Not everyone has that opportunity.