Scabs

Sorry for the delay! Here’s the second part to the last post!

Scabs

I decided to finally try during one of these races. I was off to a good start, but I couldn’t keep my balance as I flew down one of the hills along the bike path. I felt my handlebars shaking and knew I was going to go flying. I hit the front break by accident and went right over the handlebars. My friends said I slid at least ten feet on the asphalt. I screamed as loud as I could when I saw the blood dripping down my arms and legs. My elbows and knees were completely scraped up.

When I finally got back to my house, my mom freaked out. She yelled for my dad and frantically asked what happened. “I fell,” I said. She rolled her eyes. “Again?”

My father heard me sobbing in the kitchen all the way from his bedroom down the hall. “Come,” he said. My cries grew even louder. I’d been down this road before. He had a bottle of peroxide in his hands.

“You’re going to need gauze strips.”

“But, Dad!” I yelled!

“Regular band aids won’t work, Nick. You really did it this time.”

“But, Dad! It’s going to hurt when you rip them off!”

I was a big cry baby back then, but my father was right: the cuts on my arms were filled with dirt and rocks that needed to be cleaned out. I would have rather dealt with the infection. The stinging was unbearable. My father always told me to be careful, and I would listen, but every time I didn’t, I paid for it. Every part of this process hurt.

Ripping the gauze off was next. As soon as I started feeling good, that was when we knew it was time. “Take a deep breath,” he said. I feel partly responsible for his hearing issue.

Bike Rides

This is a short, slightly exaggerated memoir piece. Anyone who knows my friends and I knows that we used to go all over our neighborhood on our bikes. This is also the first part of a two-part story. There’s a little bit more substance to these, so I’m spreading them out. Be sure to pay attention!

Bike Rides

I was racing through the streets of Farmingdale, New York with my friends at the time. We often tried to beat each other to the end of the block; however, we sometimes had marathon races around all of South Farmingdale, where we would start at the local park and drive to Boundary Avenue (a busy road which required us to ride in single file on the sidewalk, so positioning prior to reaching the road was significant), then go down a hilly backroad that went along the Bethpage State Parkway bike path, up another steep hill to the west on the Farmingdale/Plainedge border, and then back around to the park. In other words, it was a giant, horribly-shaped circle similar to what a four-year-old could do at preschool. I always remembered “Slow and steady wins the race,” so I would try to pace myself because I often saw my friends tire out right at the very end of these long races. The reason, though, why I saw them tire out right before the end, wasn’t because I was watching from the finish line, but because I came in last regardless. I always underestimated what my friends were capable of; I never learned that if I wanted to get better, I would have to try; I couldn’t rely on my friends to let me win. That wasn’t how life worked. “You’re ten now, Nick,” my father would always say. “You have to start doing things on your own.”

Escape

I had a crazy meltdown before, so I took a last-second trip upstate to clear my head. It was a successful trip and I’m feeling better again. Writing this post was a big help. It kind of reads as a stream of conscious, but it’s more just a reflection on what happened while I was away. Hope you enjoy.

Escape

I’m a prisoner of my own mind. Music blasts the entire ride upstate. I sing as loud as I can. There are times where I want to pull over and break down, but I press the gas pedal harder. The sooner I get there, the sooner I’ll feel better. It’s been a long time since I had a weekend to myself.

She lingers in the background. I see her everywhere. I can still hear her voice as clear as today. But I’m thankful there’s closure. I regret how it got to this point. What are you going to do? Nothing. Because it already happened. We all know the story; there’s no point in telling it. All that’s left to do is let to time do its job.

The music doesn’t do much. Towards the end, it just becomes a nuisance. I’m thankful to get out of the car and breathe the fresh country air. The place, like myself, needs to be taken care of. We both do our best. The walks out back, and the view of the mountains turned to gold from the sun. Breath taking. Without thinking, I reach for my inhaler that’s still in my bag back in the bedroom.

When I get back, my cousin and his wife and their newborn baby are watching tv on the floor. I’ve seen the baby before, but I didn’t get to hold her. I was sick with bronchitis at the time. As soon as the baby settled in my arms, and I saw its big blue/gray eyes staring at me, I melt. So much innocence packed into such a small baby is tough for anyone to handle. I can’t imagine how lucky my cousin is to be the father. Samantha’s big smile is infectious, like my brother’s. She’s a beautiful baby, the type of baby where you can look the parents in the eye and not have to lie to them when you say how beautiful she is.

She’s out, for now. But it won’t be so bad next time. I believe it, so it must be true.

I find my book for class and walk out back. I never read a book back there before. The land is too beautiful to not pay attention to. Birds dance across the meadow, hunting for seeds. Butterflies flutter in the wind. I open the book and get to work. Baby birds chirp for their mothers. They’re hungry. It’s dinner time. I realize I only had ice cream. Peanut butter cookie dough. And Chips.

Something is moving in the grass close by. Way too close for comfort. I close the book and wait. A head pops out. Then a second. A fawn and its mother. They don’t see me in my green shirt, or they’re in disbelief. How could they not see me? What are they going to do? I wave my arms and talk to them. I wake them up. I let them know that I am here, and that I exist, and they are too close. I’m looking out for both of us. One runs behind me, the other runs back towards the mountains. I go back to my book.

Another rustle. I’m about to finish at this point, but I have to see what’s coming towards me. A small grey dog. A coyote, I think. But it’s by itself. They travel in packs. But it’s not a fox, either. The nose isn’t pointy, the tail isn’t bushy. The fur is wrong, too. Why is it by itself, though? Is it? I can’t believe I’m seeing one in person. I have to go. I don’t want to stick around and find out it’s not alone. Never get in the way of a mother and its child. Whatever happens, you asked for it. I read the last few lines of the short story. The narrator shows her lover a letter his wife sent him. The narrator was pregnant with the man’s second child, her first.

When I get back to the house, I decide I’m going to spend the night and leave early tomorrow. I call my father and tell him about the coyote. I tell him it was one of the most frightening and most exciting moments of my entire life. I knew they were in the area, but you don’t believe it until you see it with your own eyes. He tells me seeing something like that wouldn’t have ever crossed his mind when he was my age. Times are changing. I’m blessed to be a part of it. I realize all I have to do is give in to it, and things will work out in the end.

What Makes Me Smile

This is a simple prompt: Write about something that makes you smile. What makes you happy?

I have a feeling this post is going to be a huge mess. Hopefully I can keep it together and turn it into something nice, something that will make you smile.

What Makes Me Smile

The first thing that comes to mind is the quote: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” The truth makes me happy, even if it’s something sad. With truth comes trust. If you can’t trust someone, that someone might not have been truthful to you in the past. If you assume that someone is lying all the time, you’re not happy. No one is thankful for being lied to.

Now if that someone feels that they have to lie to you, they don’t trust you, either. Why is that? What did you do? Are you a pushover? Is it just who they are? They learned it from someone. Everything we know comes from someone else. You might not have done anything to deserve being lied to, but that’s all that someone knows. That’s how they get by. There’s no other way. All you can do is forgive and forget.

Does love make me smile? Sure. I haven’t felt it personally, but I love looking at people in love. The innocence that pours out of their eyes and bodies is overwhelming to the point of tears. What makes that love for each other possible? Trust. Truth. There is no doubt in either person that they love each other. The eyes always give them away. Any hesitation, any surprise, anything hidden comes out whether they notice or not. If they don’t trust each other, they might choose not acknowledge it, but deep down know it’s missing. Without it, they can’t go on.

Money: the root of all evil, and yet, it makes me smile. Why? I earn it honestly. What does that mean? I go to work, do my job properly, and get paid accordingly. When I spend it, I spend it wisely. I spend it on myself, on someone I care about, or something I want, and it makes me happy. I’m a very materialistic person. I spent the vast majority of my savings on a Macbook Air. I could have bought a cheaper Windows laptop, but it wouldn’t have made me happy. It upsets me that I had to spend a thousand dollars on a laptop, but I love it. I expect it to last a long time. It inspires me to take better care of it than the last one. I believe my money was well spent, and that’s all that matters. I can truly say I earned something in my life. There are very few feelings that are better than this. If you don’t earn your money honestly, you don’t feel you deserve it. You feel bad about having it. Maybe you did something illegal to get it, and then you get caught. Now you’re left with nothing.

There are countless ways to be famous today. I want to be remembered for being a good-hearted person. I always put others before me. If people around me are happy, I’m happy. The only way to do that is to live an honest, respectable life, a life that inspires others to do the same. I don’t seek fame. If I ever become famous, I don’t want to see it coming. I want it to be a natural result of my actions. I don’t want to be famous for being a murderer, a thief, or any kind of criminal. I don’t want to bring anyone down and force my way to the top. How do you want to be remembered? Your actions will determine that. Some say it’s not in your hands; that’s a lie.

So what makes me smile? What makes me happy? Life, ultimately. If you’re truthful, if you’re trustworthy, you feel alive. When you feel alive, everything comes alive. I’m happy to be alive. We all deserve to be happy. A smile goes a long way. Start there. They’re contagious.

The Fog

Fresh haircut yesterday, clean-shaved today. I’m feeling good. Things are going in the right direction again. Exception to this is that I’ve had a bad cough for over a month which isn’t getting better. The doctor thinks it’s either bronchitis or asthma. If it’s asthma, I’d be really upset about that. I’m such an active person–always have been, too–and I hate the idea of having something like that constantly looming over my head. Hopefully, everything will be alright, and it all goes away as soon as possible.

So, to take my mind off all that stuff, I found a pretty cool prompt: write about not being able to see in front of you. This will be inspired by a true story.

The Fog

The weather said there would only be a small chance of rain, but if it hit us, it would hit us hard. Most storms get blown out to sea around here, so we took the chance.

“The sun wants to come out,” my cousin would say, pointing to the small white orb barely glowing through the dark gray clouds.

“It looks like it,” I replied, a little suspect.

“We’ll be fine,” said our uncle.

And for the most part, we were. Soon after we got on the water, we forgot about the weather. We talked about movies we saw recently, sports, the economy, everything. Every once in a while, we even caught some fish. Sea robin, mostly, but also some fluke. Nothing we could keep, though; not with the ridiculous limits in place thanks to overfishing.  But even with the odds stacked against us, we went out anyways and had a good time.

We were only in the bay, but the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean was in sight. You tell what’s ocean and what’s not by the roughness of the waves. An invisible wall seems to separate the two.

After about five, six hours on the water, we decide to head back in. The sky was looking darker than usual. A few minutes later, it started to drizzle. Fog rolled in right after. We’ve fished in the bay a couple of times and had a decent sense of how to get back, so we didn’t worry too much. But the fog kept getting worse, to the point where we can’t see more than five feet in front of us in every direction.

“Take out the compass,” my uncle said to me.

It was an old compass he used when he was my age. I remember being surprised it still worked. The issue was that me being a millennial, I had no idea how it worked. I felt worthless, that I would be the reason we get lost, or end up in the ocean, which would be a disaster. Our skiff wouldn’t last a minute. I didn’t want to admit I didn’t know how to use it, but that would be our one-way ticket to the bottom of the ocean.

“Where are we headed?” asked my cousin.

“North.”

“Are you sure?”

“No.”

He takes the compass from me and shows me how to use it properly. Not as embarrassing as I thought.

“West,” I yelled to my uncle. The right direction.

Soon after, Gary, the guy that runs the boat dock, found us. He tells us to follow him back. At that point, the rain was pouring. We were all miserable even though we were being rescued. No fish, soaking wet, we felt so small on the water. The experience was eye-opening, and one we hope to never experience again.

Somewhere With You

I know I said I’d have a big story, and that I’d be writing all day, but it turned out that that’s not how it’s going to work. I started writing this morning with those intentions. It just didn’t work out that way. I said what I had to say. Lately I’ve been feeling like shit. I still do. Things aren’t getting better. This is my last chance. It’ll break or make me. I have no choice but to write. All I’ll say about this story is that my favorite song by one of my favorite singers inspired me. Enjoy the ride; it will be bumpy.

Somewhere With You

It takes everything he has in him to pretend that she doesn’t exist, that every little moment they’ve had together meant nothing. Sometimes he believes it, but his heart knows better. He’s up into the early hours of the morning hoping she’ll answer. If he actually falls asleep, he’s up before the sun rises checking to see if he missed her call.

He fills his day with things he loves. Writing is number one. He can write all day. Never sci-fi, never fantasy. He can never connect to the stories and no one connects to them either. He needs the connection. Most of his stories are fiction, but he puts so much reality into them that they dance on that fine line between fiction and nonfiction. The more he writes, the more he learns about himself. The longer she’s gone, the more he realizes that each story is not just about her, but for her.

She feels she needs to be alone. There’s a lot of stuff going on in her life. Every day is a struggle. Her own idea of happiness doesn’t involve him. Deep down, the flame might still be lit. She’d have to blow on the embers to wake them up; she might have to go out to find wood to keep it alive, but the fire certainly isn’t done yet. The will to keep it going needs to be there, and she sets out to find it.

If he’s not writing, he’s reading. He read Ethan Frome in one night waiting for her to call. The call never came, but it helped put his own situation into perspective. The book destroyed him. He knew how it would end, but it still shocked him just as much. Sleep wasn’t on his mind after that. He knew they would never be anything like the characters in Ethan Frome. Sledding into a tree is a horrible way to do something horrible like commit suicide.

But he was able to relate to Frome. He fucked up every chance he had, and not just with her, but with every other girl before her, too. He’s a walking shit-show, but he never stops caring.

One of the prettiest girls he ever had a chance with invited him to a party. He went and they had a good time until her ex showed up. She asked him to go outside with her while she smoked a cigarette.

“I like you, but I don’t know how it can work,” she says.

She starts getting into her life with her ex, how it sucked, and why he’s her ex. He payed no attention to anything she was saying, until she rested her head on his shoulder. He does nothing. Doesn’t wrap his arm around his shoulder, nothing to say, just smiles. It wasn’t enough. He knew it right away and still did nothing. She resented this and he picked it up in her eyes. The next morning, after driving home from Queens at four in the morning, no texts from her. Nothing. Last time they spoke, she told him about the guy he was seeing.

His anxiety comes from a number of places. The origin is still fresh in his head. In high school, he met his one and only girlfriend. They were never happy together. There were always accusations of her cheating. He didn’t believe them at first. Haters are always looking to bring others down. What he didn’t realize was that those “haters” were his friends actually looking out for him. One day she told him while she was on vacation, she was with three guys in one night. It destroyed him, but he didn’t break up with her on the spot. When they did break up, he also found out his best friend at the time was with her while they dated. Now every time he starts something new, he has make himself believe that not all girls are like that. It usually works out, but it always comes back to haunt him.

She’s different, though. Being around her doesn’t give him anxiety like any of the other girls. The opposite happens. He can talk to her and know she won’t judge him. If she’s upset, he doesn’t immediately assume it’s his fault because he’s too focused on doing whatever it takes to make her feel better. When he finally gets that smile, he believes that there’s nothing else to live for than for her.

But there’s something in her that keeps her from climbing up the last step. They can be together. He wants it. He believes she wants it. But something’s in the way. He won’t push it, though. It’s for her to figure out. She knows she can go to him at any time. His phone is always on. Things are still fresh enough to start over if they commit to it. They barely started in the first place, but something is there.

If he’s not reading or writing, he’s at the gym or running through the woods. He’s been sick from the stress for the past week or two, but he never misses a workout. He has to stay busy. Destroying himself is the only way he knows how to do it. Luckily, people look up to those that are committed to physical activity, so they assume I’m doing well. If he keeps telling himself he’s doing well, maybe he’ll believe it himself and things will turn out okay. It motivates him to run faster and lift more.

When he gets home, he immediately goes to the shower. He turns on the water, and with it comes all the memories of her. While he runs, there’s no time to think. In the shower, thoughts rush out faster than the water. The shower has always been the one place outside of his writing where everything can escape.

He has a dream of taking her to his house upstate. They walk through the wildflowers, picking them as they go along to put in a vase. The flowers they pick are the ones he grew from seed. In his mind, they were always for someone else. He’s lucky that she’s the one that gets to enjoy them. She deserves to be happy, and he’s happy he can be the one to provide her with it. He’ll cook her pasta with sauce on the side and build her a fire from nothing but paper and twigs to keep her warm. He’ll scare her by throwing a christmas tree on the fire so the flames go as high as the house. They’ll share a bottle of wine and watch a movie and go to bed. Or they’ll go out to the bars and listen to the crazy fucked up music at Snug’s, and meet up with the guy that buys pitchers of cider for himself, the one that does coke with his mother and thinks acid is safer than shrooms. It’s very romantic.

The point is that he wants to be with her. Everything he does, he wants her there with him. He wants her at her best and worst. When he runs that stupid twelve-mile race, he wants her on his mind the entire time. He wants to believe he’s doing it for her. He never expected to feel this way. He thought the age difference would be all the difference. In reality, it means nothing. She knew that. She told him. He nodded his head, and didn’t believe her. He does now. He admits he’s wrong. Age is just a number. How they feel means everything.

He can go out any night of the week, hook up with anyone he meets, and it’s just a temporary high, but when he closes his eyes, he’s somewhere with you.

I Just Remembered How I First Became a Writer

I was thinking about how I first got into writing a couple days ago. I thought it happened in college, when I decided to major in English, when I realized that I was taking more writing classes than surveys. It was a big part in me becoming a writer. If it wasn’t for college, I wouldn’t have realized I had a talent for it, but it wasn’t the first time I wrote.

The first time–naturally–has a story to it. Here it is:

Growing up in my family was–I don’t want to say tough–very difficult. My father isn’t easy to please and is incredibly strict. My mother was my source of safety, but there were times where she had no choice but to back my father up. And in my family, if you are upset, you can’t express it. Incredibly tough, nearly impossible for someone not even ten years old, me.

If you’ve read some of my non fiction work, you’ll know I have a brother with a severe case of autism and down syndrome, and another on the spectrum, but for the most part, normal. We won’t focus on the latter.

My brother, Peter, feeds off our emotions. He doesn’t need to know why we’re happy or sad to laugh or cry. Innocence at its finest. I’ll always love him for it. But it also ruined me in the long term. I was always very emotional. I always cried. And I always got in trouble for it, or was told to go away and cry so my brother can’t see.

One day, when I was very little, I don’t remember exactly what I was doing, but I know I hurt myself playing in the house. It was enough for me to cry. My parents rush in, making sure I’m okay. I remember that I wasn’t so I started crying louder. My brother was in the room next to me and heard me. I was told to calm down, so I don’t upset Peter.

It was already too late. He heard enough. Tears started coming down his face, and my mother tried to comfort him, but he started yelling and scratching. When she backed off, he got worse and started hitting his head against the wall as hard as he can. It was loud enough to hear through the wall and into the living room. I was still upset, but that no longer mattered.

My parents went from trying to comfort me to being forced to yell at me. My sadness immediately turned to anger. I never hated them more in my life. But there was no way to express it. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t yell back. I needed a way to let it out. I couldn’t bottle it up anymore.

I went into my basement and started to draw. I was always horrible, I still am, and never enjoyed it as much as I wished I had. I don’t know what happened after, or what inspired me–a muse found me, maybe–but I just started writing. The paper was messy and I couldn’t find any looseleaf. I didn’t want to check my father’s desk and mess anything up, so I used computer paper. I even drew my own lines on the paper with a ruler. I was dedicated, in another world where something like this is normal. I wrote down everything that happened, similar to what I’m doing right now.

I poured my heart out onto that piece of paper. I couldn’t stop it. I was even scared at how easy it was. I knew I had to, though, if I wanted to feel better. When I was done, I read it over, and liked what I had done. I couldn’t throw it out, but I couldn’t just keep it lying around for someone to find. So I hid it. Near my dad’s desk, of course.

I don’t know how long it took for them to find it. But I know they did because the next time I got in trouble, my mother decided to call me out on it, telling me not to do that again. At the time, it was just an idea. I had no urgency to write again. What I hated more was the fact that she found it. Telling me not to write wasn’t a big deal. I was I can’t do what I want my entire life. So that was the last time I wrote for a long time. Not until college, did I start writing again, and not until a year after I graduated, did i realize that this was the original reason.

Why did I write this now? I bet you can guess. Something shitty just happened, again. I’m not going to get into it yet. If I’m not too tired when I get home from work, I’ll write something for you guys. This is going to sound terrible and depressing and cliche, but you really don’t learn who you are until you hit rock bottom, where things get so bad, you truly believe there’s no way out. But then you find a way out. My way is with paper and pen–in this case a keyboard, but you know what I mean. I won’t let what happened get to me because I know what I have to do. I will move forward because I have no other choice. It’s a constant battle not feeling selfish for having feelings. I haven’t won yet, but I will.

When did you first realize you were a writer?