Can You Find Me? II: Exordium

Disclaimer: Mature Content

I always knew there was something fucked up in my head.

It wasn’t like I was really destined to be this way. Mom and dad were in the picture from birth. Neither of them ever raised a hand to me that was too harsh or spoke a word to me that was too cruel. My mother doted on me for every minor achievement I made growing up and my father was your typical suburban dad, dead-set on making me the king of football or baseball while teaching me life lessons on how to be a man. We had money, we had a nice house, and I never went for longer than a day without something I asked for. Sure, I was a spoiled kid but I wasn’t a spoiled brat. My best friend in high school was even more well-off than I was and anyone would call him a good kid. A good friend, a good guy, a good son, yet his only faults were a short fuse and a tendency to be over-protective. At least his mistakes never hurt anybody; Mine did.

In regards to the “Nature vs. Nurture” argument I have trouble seeing where my nurturing failed me. I mean, maybe my good life was the reason for my problems, but then I remember my best friend and that he doesn’t have the same issues I do. In fact, he doesn’t have any of the same issues that I do. He had his emotional outbursts so that it was no secret what was going on in his head. I was always calm, cool, and collected. My demons rarely came to the surface.

I grew up being everything my parents wanted me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to play baseball and take photography classes, I’m just lucky that I wasn’t stuck doing anything that I hated. I was being cultivated into the perfect little plant for all to see. Once I hit high school my GPA and sportsmanship spoke for themselves. By junior year I was good-looking, I was successful, and I was popular. My future seemed unlimited to everyone else but me. My paraphilia was the demon hidden inside of me, waiting for me to slip back into his clutches at any moment. I started over-stepping my boundaries as a child. Many young children are caught and disciplined for certain behaviors before it can get worse. Sadly, I was never caught and never disciplined. Because of this, what started as simple curiosity morphed into a complete obsession. That obsession took me down an unforgivable road that put some of the most precious people in my life in danger.

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It Takes A Year: Part Six

[Updated: 2/15/17]

Tara and I played a few more songs together before she stopped to answer the texts that she’d gotten. While she scrolled through her phone I pulled out my own too, wondering if the vibrations I was ignoring were from Will. One of my messages did turn out to be from him but it was just a generic reply to our earlier conversation about his annoying new coworker. I was kind of used to it by now to be honest. I also saw that Tyler had texted me asking what was up. I hadn’t seen him since the first time we met and I honestly wanted to hang out again in a less tense setting. He seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. We texted pretty much daily and it felt nice. Will didn’t really bring up personal things in our conversations anymore. The more casual he kept it, the easier it’d be for us to move on. At least I suspected that’s what his plan was. It’d be just like last time, except now we weren’t looking towards a reunion.

“My friend Lana just invited us to a party at her friend’s house, you wanna swing by?” Tara asked.

My senses perked up a little. A party didn’t seem to bad, it’d be a nice way to unwind and meet Tara’s other friends. Alicia’s crowd was getting boring and predictable. I could use some new faces in my life.

“Yeah, I’m down,” I said.

Tara put her guitar aside and closed her laptop. We both agreed that we needed to change clothes. I headed to my room and started flipping through my closet for something extra cute to wear. I had to admit that I was slacking on my appearance as of late. Will used to tell me that I looked sexy with messy hair and no makeup on but my recent mornings in the mirror begged to differ. Tara, on the other hand, seemed to look flawless all the time. I couldn’t decide if it was her chic hairstyle, her healthy amounts of sleep, or her enviable body. She had youthful skin which she could probably thank her mother for. I remember her coming over once to drop something off for Tara. That’s when I found out that Tara was half Vietnamese. I knew she looked mixed.

It was easy to notice that Tara’s eyes were bright and lively while my lids seemed to be heavier than before. It took a decent amount of concealer to hide the darkness cradling my sockets. They always got worse when Will left.

When I looked at Tara on those days that she sat cross-legged on the couch, hair tussled and guitar in lap, I wondered if that’s the way he used to see me. Existing beautifully in my own little world, gently in focus. Back when happiness actually shone through my skin instead of hiding away in hollow bones. The perfect candid.

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It Takes A Year: Part Two

[Updated: 4/20/17]

“So what are we?”

“I don’t know.”

I was irritated. It had been three weeks after our first kiss and we were sitting in Will’s room again on the same bed where it happened. Many more things had come to pass in those three weeks. We saw each other often, we went on dates, we fell asleep together, and he started grabbing my hand in public places. I couldn’t deny that it was a blissful time. Things just felt easy. Natural. I’d shower at his place and he’d knock on the door, saying he had to come in. Truth was he just wanted to sneak me wet kisses on my skin and hold me from behind while I combed my hair. He blew up my phone while I was gone and it didn’t bother me at first. I just got used to it. I got used to Will.

But that week he’d been questioning me. He was eager for us to be something more tangible. I just wasn’t sure yet. Even though I liked him a lot and he sent my heart in a flurry I was scared. Looking back now I know that I was afraid of committing to him.

5 days after I kissed Will I kissed a boy who I’d liked 2 years ago. The boy had finally expressed his interest for me at a party and I let a mix of vodka and nostalgia wrap my body around his. I felt a writhing in my gut, a sickness that burned my throat and tore me away from him momentarily. He found attention from another girl for awhile before finding me again. I still smiled at him after, still hugged him and hung off of his arm that night while he sneaked me kisses on my drunken mouth. We passed out together on the couch.

I didn’t talk to Will for a few days after that. I shut up in my room listening to slow music and a buzzing phone. I wanted to be distant. After he became almost frantic in his calling I finally told him I was coming over. He asked me how the party was and why I didn’t ask him to go. I told him it was just a spur of the moment thing and that I wasn’t really thinking about it. He assumed I just wasn’t thinking about him at all. He had seen the pictures of me grinning and hanging over the other boy’s shoulder. I didn’t know an old flame of mine was going to be there. Will didn’t know our lips touched. I just got up and went with the same freedom I’d been used to having. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

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It Takes A Year: Part One

[Updated: 2/9/17]

It took a year to destroy his heart.

And I’ll never forget that year.

He came to me with a wide smile and a worn out soul. I was high on freedom and he was lost in loneliness when he stumbled through the haze. I had just gotten to the venue and headed to the bar to grab a drink with my friends. We returned to the floor and leaned carefully against the rails in front of the stage, a gaggle of pretty faces and dewy skin. I saw him among the crowd. His brown hair was swept back away from that handsome face, the face I’d see covered in tears many times after. Who knows why my eyes didn’t wander to the other men for the rest of the night? I suppose destiny wanted to play games with me.

I noticed a couple of girls and guys tagging along with him. I nudged my friend and nodded his way.

“Check this guy out.”

“Oh my god.”

“Right?”

“Go talk to him!”

The other girls and I turned into a giggling mess. I agreed to go talk to him if one of my friends went and talked to some blonde gym junkie nearby. It was only supposed to be a spectator sport. It was never meant to spiral into the depths that it did. A year was never supposed to start here.

When I started heading his way I was glad that I had taken a little extra effort to do my hair and makeup that night. That was back when I flaunted what I had when I had to. He’d later hold those nights against me.

As I approached him I had the shallow hope that one of those girls wasn’t his girlfriend. Even if one of them was I hoped that it was the one with the big nose and the baggy jeans, someone who couldn’t immediately hold a candle to me. I’m not going to act like I was a nice person back then. I wasn’t. I never was.

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Carmen

She was a bold beauty and a careful madness. A willowy storm filled to the brim with honey-coated words and sensual desire. I had been to hell and back with that girl and I could honestly say that she was nothing but an angel to me with the devil’s charm. The boys in town could brag all day about having her, but we both knew better. I was the only one who gave a damn enough to show her that she was worth more than a Gin Rickey and a pricey night at the motel. I never made myself out to be a hero because of it. I thought it was just common decency to take her away from dirty men and cheap drugs. I didn’t even recognize her at first, what with a few years of disaster taking away the light in her eyes. But sure enough I knew after a few words that it was her; That sweet girl I dated back in high school with her wavy blonde hair and her full red lips. God I missed the sparkle in her eyes. She took a few drags off the cigarette I gave her, saying she’d just been working as a waitress and living with a friend in L.A. I should have known better from the darkness under her eyes and the frailty of her frame. I’d come to find out that she was living in her car making money off the next customer that saw her strolling down the boulevard. She thought that was all I wanted at the time.

“Let me guess, you’re here to fall in love with me too huh?” she said, flashing me that Hollywood smile.

“Don’t flatter yourself honey.”

I took her out to dinner a few times. One night we sat in the diner talking until the sun rose. She was going on and on, laughing and smiling at me, reaching over for a playful nudge to my shoulder every now and again. Finally she rested her hands on mine.

“I feel like I could tell you anything.”

She looked at me with such dreamy eyes. There was no faking that look.

“Sweetheart, you know you can,” I said.

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Forever and Always

“I bend and bend until I break.”

Those words stuck with him. The first boy I loved was told that by the first girl he loved. I idolized them when we were friends, thinking that they really were perfect for each other. I was jealous of it until they fell apart. I had never had anything except hopeless dreams and fruitless crushes before that. And when he came to me to be mended, I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. It was the first time someone had said “forever and always” and I believed it. And I believed in it with all of my heart for over a year. The first time he left was the first time I felt a pain in my chest and tears running endlessly down my face. My mom heard me crying out, she told me it’d be alright. Surely it was when he confessed his feelings the next morning. I was back to “forever and always” again. But it would later fall apart as first love so often does in it’s naivety and infancy. Someone else with the same sweet words found me but soon revealed that their true intention was to own me, not love me. I bent and broke. My first love found me again and ignited the fire that had died months before. “Forever and always”. The flame died out and we drifted apart, hurt but not lost like the first time. I was alright for awhile and other men had inspired the hopeless romantic in me, but in the end they would keep me at a distance. It made me bitter at first in my youthful desire for love but I would find that everything happens for a reason.

I found that my next “Forever and always” would be somewhat more tame. The pain I felt from harsh words and confusing nights would be heavy but not unbearable. I gave my all as I always do and I took him back each time, be it from another woman’s lips or a crippling argument on the ride home. Doubt grew in my stomach and left me with sleepless nights wondering “Why?”. When the roots took hold I finally said goodbye, sitting in this very spot as he was beside me. It became easier as the anger set it. I bent and I broke. Again I was picking up the pieces that I had morphed out of shape and snapped just to say I was a “good girl”. They would try to return again and leave me wondering: Why did you have to lose everything in order to change?

I don’t know how to be worth something unless I am lost.

This would be my life story.

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Finding Home

“She’s just so moody you know…”

“So was I.”

I rubbed the handle of my coffee cup as my eyes traced the lines of the wooden table. He sighed again as he looked at me. A single breath traveling the lengths of many seasons to finally come to rest. I looked up.

“I know you. You get lost with people and you think you have to look beyond them to fix it. You think that talking to a girl who isn’t moody will make up for it. You’re not a boy anymore, it’s time to stop the games.”

This whole afternoon had become a game. From the embrace of our greeting to his eagerness to talk about all the good times we had. What was he trying to remind me of? What did he want?

“I’m not playing games, it’s just I know an ongoing problem when I see it. I feel like she doesn’t even try anymore.”

“Don’t you talk to her about it?”

“Of course I do.”

“Hm.” I pondered taking another drink. His eyes were pleading with me, looking for guidance. I had coddled him for so many years of our friendship. I had dipped sweet words into his heart when I called him mine. I was used to being the wrong one, the “moody” one. He was rarely keen on his own reflection. I wondered when he’d learn.

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