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“She doesn’t like to spend time with me. Or anyone else. I annoy her. She wants to be alone. She wants to be with me, but she wants to be alone. She likes to be by herself. Other people make her anxious. She feels like she’s pretending all the time, she feels like she’s turning into someone she’s not. But she said she loves me. I think she still loves me. I have hope. Maybe she needs some space. She said she can’t see me, it would be too hard for her. That she would want to kiss me. I told her that she should, then. She said we should just be friends. I’m going to tell her I can’t do that. I can’t be her friend. I’m going to talk to her. I think it will be okay. I’m going to see her tomorrow.”

The dark, sad boy talks to me on the phone. It’s been a long time since anyone has ever called me to talk. People don’t do that anymore. People don’t have anything to say.

It all sounds like everything I’ve ever heard before. He wants to talk to me, he wants me to listen, and I want to help him. It’s not good. It’s not a good situation for him. But he’s young. He doesn’t really listen to me. He wants it to be okay. He wants people to be better than they are. He wants his solution to be simple.

I’m not very good at this. I stutter and mumble and he laughs at me. But he understands. He catches on. It’s all simple, really.

He says “fucking” a lot. He uses it as an adjective, all the time but still unexpectedly, and I wince. “Yeah, the fucking phone.” “My brother is a fucking asshole.” “This guy is fucking funny, fucking funny.” The cursing increases when he’s happy, and decreases when he’s sad, along with all of his other words.

I decide, during the phone call, that I like this about him. I like people who are different, people who have things to say, people who say things in their own way.

“I fucking love Mega Man.”

“What is Mega Man?”

“It’s a game. It’s fucking hard.”

We talk for a few hours. I look at the clock and the time is passing and he says, “Wow, it’s midnight already.” A button is pressed and we leave each other. I become alone. It is quiet and dark.

I think about him, and people. How easy it is to enter someone else’s life. How easy it is to affect them. To care about them. To worry about them. To help them. It’s simple, really.

“It’s going good, so far,” he says.

 

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First of all, hopefully you didn’t just skip the picture above to start reading. I mean, I totally get if you did, because, let’s face it, the writing here is usually great or whatever. (HA!) But, let’s get on with it.

Ok. So. I love pictures. I think they’re magical. They can be terrible (especially when I take them/with my ipod, omg pixels err’where). But mostly they are wonderful, magical things. I especially love really old pictures, from hundreds of years ago. It’s a peek into the past. No matter how ‘past’ it is. (Throwback Thursday, y’all.)

And I love quotes. Probably less than I love pictures, but I still love them. Many of them are meaningful, inspiring, interesting, etc. And I like to share both of these things, pictures and quotes, like most people, with other people. However, like selfies, there are terrible things out there. And sometimes, like selfies, these things can be, well, lived with. You can scroll past them and it’s over. But SOMETIMES, it’s so DREADFUL, you just have to stop what you’re doing immediately, save the hideous thing, and write a long, drawn-out explanation of why you personally think it’s so bad. Ok, so, here goes!!

I want to make a list of complaints against this THING. I want to meet the person who wrote this down, face-to-face, and tell them how horrible they are. (In a kind way.) I want to make signs and go on strike with my eyes and brain because we all had to look at it.

“Do not fall in love with people like me.”

What, why? This statement totally makes sense if you’re some murdery, stabby, horribly mean person. But! From the definition you give of yourself — I’m totally throwing this all at you, unknown writer! — you sound great! Perfect. Too perfect. Is that what you were going for?

“I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place…”

Ok. Let’s go. You’ve talked me into it.

“…so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth.”

What the fuck? You just ruined that beautiful picture. Also, aren’t those called memories? Aren’t those great things to have? Aren’t experiences wonderful? Aren’t they what make us the people we are? Who cares if places remind me of you? What makes you think you’re so very EPIC, anyway? Why are you trying to BREAK me? Aren’t you a good person? Isn’t that the picture of yourself you’re trying to create? On that note…

“I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible.”

It all started well, and then it got weird, and now it’s just over between us! Destroying people is not beautiful. It sounds poetic, I suppose, but it should NOT be your relationship goal!? Treat people like people. Always. Go to beautiful places, do beautiful things, make great memories. Don’t revel in the fact you hurt someone. Or WHATEVER this means, exactly. You are not a beautiful destroyer. THERE is a quote for YOU!

“And when I leave you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.”

OK FIRST OF ALL why is that comma there?! Next, naming storms after people is STUPID, so what do you have to say about that? This doesn’t make sense. Not that any of this made sense. But this really doesn’t make sense. It’s not cute. It’s not romantic. It’s harmful and creepy and gross!

So, moral of the story: Don’t fall in love with people like you because you’re crazy!

 

 

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1. I hope you are happy.

2. People are still living their lives even when you can’t see them.

3. You are beautiful, you know that. Tell me why you need to keep posting poorly-lit pictures of yourself to prove it.

4. Our planet is both the largest and smallest thing that exists; the largest hunk of rock you’ll ever live on, a tiny speck in the universe. You can be thousands of miles (kilometers?) away from someone, and yet they’re just at your fingertips, on your computer screen, in your pocket. Big and small, near and far, finite and infinite.

5. Yes, Frozen is amazing. But think of all the other great Disney songs young kids are missing out on! Someone dig out the Lion King/Aladdin/Little Mermaid VHS!!

6. If you appear to other people to be what you dream of yet becoming, what are you? Who are we all trying to be, anyway? Are we even trying to be anything?

7. For the love of all that exists, please can we stop saying “literally“?!! Even if you actually truly really mean literally. Just don’t. Get a thesaurus. Stop. Stop. Stop.

8. Someone save me from my apparently über-Canadian fate. Irish? Italians? French? Is anyone out there?! It’s me, Margaret. Wait, what?

9. It makes me sad that when someone asks a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the only socially acceptable examples are, “A doctor? A lawyer? Scientist?” No one says artist, philosopher, barkeeper — whatever. It’s 2014 and we still can’t speak the truth.

10. You’re not alone. Even when it feels like it. Even when you physically are. You’re just not.

1. Take what you can get. Something is definitely better than nothing.

2. It all depends on proximity and timing.

3. People are never going to act the way you assume they will. If you stop expecting people to live up to your expectations, you’ll be a lot happier, and live a better life.

4. Nothing lasts forever. Including friendships/relationships. People leave, or move on, and it’s ok. Even if you KNOW that the person you’re spending time with won’t be in your life for too long, you should still be happy and be with them and treat them like a great human being who you’re happy to be with, for however long you’ll be in each other’s lives.

5. Do something today you’ve never done before.

6. Seriously, I am super funny. I just wish you could understand how funny I am. I am so funny.

7. “Smile! Don’t look so depressed, it’ll be OK!” – guy outside the drug store, to my retreating self. Uh, two things. First of all, no one smiles all the time, so why should I be smiling as I walk out of a rite aid? Second, rite aid does not carry muffins, so why the hell would I be smiling/not looking depressed as I walk out of my local rite aid at nine in the morning, muffin-less?!

8. I’m (re-)learning French on this super cool app I just got on my phone (Duolingo). Je suis une femme blancheSo useful! I’m off to France!

9. Do people really listen to the radio these days? I don’t believe it. Who are you?

10. The closest anyone can come these days to visiting another planet is to go to any Home Depot late at night. Just try it. This sort of thing you just have to experience first-hand.

There is a very specific conversation I’ve had before with people I loved or cared about at the time, or with people I had wanted to love or care about in the future, when they were leaving, or when I was leaving (but usually the former), leaving for good, and I’d have this conversation knowing I’d never see them again or speak to them again, etc. It’s only happened a few times, this conversation, maybe only twice that I can remember clearly. Once was in second grade, when the girl I called my best friend moved to West Virginia, and I knew I would never see her again, even though I wrote down her new address on a scrap of paper I then proceeded to lose, and now I’ve lost everything of her: her name, her face, and her address.

The second time was many years later, in High School, with the boy I (secretly) called my boyfriend, that someone else would call my crush; a strange friend-like-but-not-friend-like relationship. Relationships get more complicated as you get older, but the simple moments of leaving stay simple and stay with you. He was just changing schools, but I knew that our strange fragile relationship wouldn’t last, wouldn’t survive the separation. I knew I would never see him again, and I told him so in our very last conversation, and though he denied it, though he said we’d see each other again, hang out, talk, go places, we didn’t, we never did, we never have, we never will.

I feel another of these conversations approaching, but I feel like the next one will be different, possibly won’t include a conversation at all, and it might be directed at or include the city I live in, was born in, have spent most of my life in, as well as all of the people I’ve ever met, or seen, or spoken to on the streets of my childhood neighborhood, in the state and region and road I grew up in and on and around. I’m leaving, moving, growing up and taking off, and saying goodbye to people and places, or maybe not saying goodbye at all, maybe just thinking back, reflecting, taking it all in once more as someone drives me to the airport, or as I cross the state line in my little black sports car, trunk full of belongings which will be my material memories of this place I’ve been in for so long. And maybe it’ll be different this time, this goodbye will be different than all the rest, won’t be for forever; we’ll still have holidays, and funerals, and maybe a couple months in a few years if I lose my job and my apartment and move back home for a while. I won’t lose everything from this relationship, although the faces will fade, and I might get lost on the side streets next time I drive on them.

You walk in and air the feels heavy, thick. The overwhelming sound of the concert is like fog – covering everything, everywhere, making it difficult to function. Your senses adapt: your ears cower from the assault, your eyes widen and take in the scene. Your mind melds into the crowd, becoming a different beast.

The people stand side-by-side in lines of strangers. Friends greet beneath the multi-colored lights; screams in ears become whispers, barely heard through the amplified beats of the kick-drum and strums of the bass.

The men stand with feet shoulder-width apart, gazing. It is unclear if this has happened as a concert-goer agreement, or by chance alone. Perhaps this is some natural rock concert evolution.

The women huddle together, or stand in the front, moving to the beat. Many hold cameras, and snap pictures as they dance, surely blurry.

The band on stage is another monster. They flow together like their music, moving with each note, smiling, screaming, sweating. Sips of water between songs and awkward jokes to the crowd as they tune their guitars briefly reminds the room of their humanity.

Men with beards and women with long earrings. Teenagers with backpacks. A water bottle pulled from a coat pocket. Lights and sound. Band members leaning casually against cement walls. Tattooed arms and greasy hair.

A concert. A show. A moment. A memory.

I think people really want to love one another. I think that’s all we really want to do. It’s what the good people want, anyway – the ones you want to hang out with – not the psychopaths or corrupt politicians.

It’s a great, lifelong struggle, though. It’s hard to love people. People that aren’t your family – people you haven’t lived with your entire life. It’s hard to get to know someone to such a great extent that you feel like you know them, that you can trust them. It might take months or years before you can love a person. Or, maybe you just can’t love a particular someone. That stuff happens, too. It just doesn’t work out – you don’t get along well enough, your personalities clash, you don’t think the same things are funny, your world views are too different, you like different music – whatever.

How much do you have to know about a person before you can love them? In any sort of relationship – friends, in-laws, romantic partners. Can you ever understand a person enough to love them? Won’t they always be able to surprise you, to hurt you? Do we even understand ourselves? Maybe not. Maybe you don’t understand why you didn’t laugh at the cute Starbucks barista’s joke even when you thought it was funny. Maybe you don’t know why you averted your eyes when that black-haired girl was looking at you in the hall.

Maybe you don’t really have to know a person to such a great extent in order to love them – maybe you just need some level of basic understanding, some I-get-you.

Yet, how do you come to love people – come to understand them – when they are so far away? There is such a great divide between people. It’s hard to bridge that gap. It’s hard to be brave or foolish enough to do it. And yet, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to ask someone how their day is going – it’s even easier to simply make eye contact and smile. It’s easy even to walk up to a stranger and ask them if they’d like to have coffee with you sometime.

Why is it that what we want most is to love each other – to understand, to support, to be happy together – and yet it is the hardest thing to do, and the easiest? Is it all really so complicated? Have we just made it complicated? Why? 

We are all interesting, unique people, with dreams and plans, things that inspire us, things that motivate us, things that make us cry. We are all so together here on this planet, and so alone.

So there I was, wandering around in a slightly unfamiliar building on campus, searching for a lady I was supposed to be meeting. (Spoiler Alert: She had forgotten about the meeting and was already at home with her children as I circled the first floor, searching for her – someone I had never met or seen before.)

She was late. Or, was I in the wrong spot? I thought we said we were meeting at the chairs in the front lobby. But, maybe to her, the front lobby is what to me is the back lobby.

I wandered around. I went to the back of the building. There was a lady sitting there, who looked like she could be who I was looking for. I still had my doubts, though. We said the front lobby, right by those squishy chairs! She must be talking about the same place as I am. Maybe she’s just late.

I walk past the lady sitting in the chair. No, that can’t be her. My eyes search among the other people sitting around the high tables and chairs of the school’s cafe. I make eye contact with a black-haired boy sitting against the windowed-wall.

I don’t look away. He doesn’t look away. It feels like I know him, though I don’t know him. He looks at me like he understands. It doesn’t feel like I am looking at a stranger, though I am. I could walk over to him and it wouldn’t be weird. Instead, I walk away.

I go back to the front of the building. No one new there, only a few high school students still waiting for their parents to come and pick them up. (Yes, there is a high school inside of my University. It’s where I graduated from.)

I check the clock on my phone. She’s almost 15 minutes late now. How long should I wait? Maybe she actually forgot.

I check my email. Nothing. Where is she? I wonder how much longer I should wait for her. I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever – 25 minutes. How much time does she need?

I wait. My mind wanders to that boy. I should have went up to him. I should have said hello. I should have asked him if he felt the same way – if he felt like I wasn’t a stranger, though I was.

I wander around the front lobby, as if changing the location of my body, and my line of sight, will make the woman I’m waiting for suddenly appear. It doesn’t work.

I decide that I need to double check that that woman sitting in the back lobby isn’t actually the lady I’ve been searching for all along – I’m trying to be professional, here. I don’t want to leave without making sure. I don’t want to leave her sitting there, waiting for me.

I walk back around to the area where she’s sitting. I walk in the same direction around as I did before, intentionally avoiding the place where the black-haired boy was sitting.

The woman is still there, sitting, reading something in a folder. This could be her, I think.

I walk up to her, a stranger. She looks up at me as I approach.

Are you M.?, I ask. No, she says. Sorry, I say. No problem, she says, and smiles.

I walk back to the front, passing the boy again. We look at each other. I do nothing. I walk away.

Back in the front lobby, I’m about ready to leave, though I still have some hope that the lady I’m looking for will appear.

She doesn’t.

I leave.

I exit the building out of the back door. The boy is still there, watching me. I ignore him. I can’t do anything else.

As the door closes behind me, I think of him. Who is he? Why is it so easy to look him in the eye? That doesn’t happen very often. Why didn’t I say anything? Of course I didn’t say anything.

Later, I wonder. Our eyes keep meeting in my mind. I remember only his black hair, and his eyes, and how he looked at me, and how I felt. I remember how he was sitting alone in the cafe near the window. I wonder who he is, where he is now. I wonder what would have happened if I had been brave enough, or curious enough, to walk up to him. A stranger. A stranger who didn’t feel like a stranger. A stranger with the eyes of a friend.