James

I was at my friends house who I met on the lacrosse team. She was having a mixer with the guys team at her apartment above a local pizzeria on the corner of Main and Harrison.

He caught my eye when I saw him first walk through the door. I remember wanting to talk to him, but I was just a freshman at the time and he was older; handsomely intimidating. Then I saw him walk over to me. His black rimmed glasses matched his dark hair and dark eyes as they glistened when he smiled and held out his hand.

“Hey I’m James. It’s nice to meet you,” he said. I shook his hand and told him my name.

“I’m Lexie. Nice to meet you too…” Our conversation didn’t last long.

“Who was that?” I asked one of the girls on my team.

“Oh, James? Yeah he’s super nice. I think he has a girlfriend though.” I was shocked. I mean I know that nice guys can have boyfriends (and most of them do) but there was something about James that made me think that whoever this other girl was, it wasn’t forever.

So that was the first night Jame sand I ever met. I was a freshman, he was a junior. Since then we’ve had many encounters from which I have become quickly infatuated with him (as any freshman would). He was a nice, superior, attractive lacrosse player.. who wouldn’t?

To my surprise the girlfriend rumor was true, but that didn’t stop me from thinking it was only temporary- even if they have been together for two years and she’s in grad school at Columbia. After all, a girlfriend is never permanent as my aunt would say. Life has a funny way of happening.

The next encounter was sober at a wrap place on campus. I remember thinking it was strange he was there, because he was a junior and still had a meal plan in which he was ordering shitty on-campus food.. but hey I didn’t question it. I loved this shitty wrap place for all that it offered and until that day I didn’t know that apparently he felt the same.

“Hey James!” I said when I walked in. I asked him why he was here, and I found out he actually loved Croutons. I replied that I’m too poor to eat real food, and then he suggested that I apply for a job at the gym – where he works.

“Yeah I’ll totally put in a good word for you, here take down my number.” I was kind of freaking out at this point. Is this what boys with girlfriends do?! For some reason I didn’t think so.

Next encounter: boys lacrosse mixer. At this point it was at least a couple months after our original encounter and my growing fascination has only gotten bigger. So, I did what any hopeless romantic would do. I took a penny, and I started spinning it on the counter (all by myself, might I add). I told myself that if it landed on tails something would happen down the road between us.. if it landed on heads I’d let it go. I watched as it spun in rapid circles, slowly slowing, slowing, slowing- SLAM. I looked over. James’ hand.

“What are you doing?!?!” I said in a frantic panic as his hand came crashing down on my spinning penny.

“What are YOU doing?!” he said, throwing the penny into the bathroom off the hall. My heart was racing. I quickly ran into the bathroom and searched for the penny, which I ended up finding behind the toilet- tails up. I smiled so big I couldn’t feel my cheeks.

The whole rest of the night, I would look over at James from across the kitchen and catch his eye looking my way. I don’t know if he was just drunk, but for some reason he had this stupid smile on his face that I can still see clearly- and he wouldn’t look away. It was definitely weird, and I noticed that it was weird.

That night he walked me back to my friend’s house where I was staying the night. It was all of three blocks away, but he walked me to the corner and offered to walk me the couple houses in. The whole time we talked about our love for Croutons and how all of our friends thought we were so weird. Then we got to the corner.

“Do you want me to walk you to the door?” He said, and I respectfully declined, although I wanted with all my heart for him to do that.

“It’s really okay, thanks so much for walking me home though, you’re not far are you?”

“Nah, this was on my way anyways.” I smiled and we hugged goodbye. He told me to text him, and I did. But the message didn’t go through.

Weird.

I thought it was a sign, and after all.. he IS in a relationship, even if it is long distance. I was going to leave it at that, but I was a little drunk and I really wanted to talk to him, so I sent it again. Still didn’t deliver. That’s when I decided that it really wasn’t meant to be. At least not now; not tonight.

Since then, I got the job at the gym. As my sophomore year creeped around we started working more and more shifts together. He was always my supervisor, and although he could be serious when he had to be, we would always joke around.

I have never had more fun on shifts than when I was with James. I looked forward every week to those Tuesday morning shifts we shared together.

I remember distinctly there was one specific shift where we were laughing and joking around the whole time- I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much. Three hours straight and I just didn’t stop. At the end of the shift he clocked out and left. I remember watching as him and his black backpack and khakis walked out the door.. that was the first time I realized I was actually going to miss him. He was only all of six feet away from me and I already missed him being there.

And now he’s in Boston. Grad school at Suffolk Law.

There was something different about James. I know I say that about a lot of guys, but with James we call each other names and laugh at jokes no one else understands. He’ll send me weird pictures of funny memes everyone else thinks are weird and I’ll have a good time simply by just being in his presence.

Since he’s been away at law school he’s texted me, he’s said he’ll miss me and my weird sense of humor when I wished him the best of luck at Suffolk. I remember the first day he moved in this semester he texted me saying “My roommates from Jersey.. I just can’t escape you people”. I laughed.

I just don’t know. He’s friendly towards everyone- he’s a nice guy, and as far as I’m concerned he’s still dating that girl from high school.

How can I feel so emotionally connected to someone if they’re in a relationship? Is it possible that those feelings can be omens that later on down the road reveal themselves as a reality? But at the same time I can’t hold onto the idea of us ever being together- especially when I’m 13 miles away, and I’m not getting any younger. I need to go out and experience life without being caught up in this preconceived dream of me and James somehow falling for each other one day.

I still think it will happen, but I just don’t know when or where. I hope that it’s sometime soon, though.

To be continued…

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Contemporary Art Gallery Online Announces a Call for Artists to Participate in the “ALL Animals” Art Competition & Exhibition

Contemporary Art Gallery Online

Giraffe Bonding “Giraffe Bonding” by Terry Meyer

Contemporary Art Gallery Online announces their 2nd Annual International “ALL Animals” Online Art Competition for the month of August 2015. Contemporary Art Gallery Online encourages entries from all 2D and 3D artists regardless of their experience or education in the art field. A group exhibition of all entrants will be held online at Contemporary Art Gallery Online during the month of September 2015. Awards will be given for the top 5 chosen winners. In addition to the winning images, depending on the amount and the quality of the entries received, Honorable Recognition awards will also be presented. This competition closes August 31, 2015. Winners will be announced on September 14, 2015.

Prizes include Lifetime Memberships to Contemporary Art Gallery Online, Radio Interviews, Inclusion in the Year End Anthology Publication, Extensive Marketing and much more. Our Radio Shows have had more than 100,000 listens and the…

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Broken and Breaking

The snow floated down from the sky like bits of cotton but I only noticed the way it slowly drifted when I looked up at the street lamp. In the darkness of the February sky all I could see were the solid yellow lines on Sally’s narrow street and the snow pelting my windshield. It was nice to take a break from the chaos and look up into the light. The difference was unreal. I suddenly felt a rush of calmness wash over me as Taylor Swift softly rang through my ears. But her lyrics quickly became poison as they brought my mind back to a time I longed to be my reality. It reminded me of how frequently my mind thinks back, and how often the opportunity is brought up for it to drift into the past.

When Gunner Minotti asked for a ride home from school earlier today I couldn’t say no, even though I barely know him. He’s too friendly to turn down and even though I’ve only maybe said all of two words to him my entire life I figured I’d say yes on a whim.

“So where do you want to go to college?” he asked from the passenger’s seat a little while after Maddy left. I searched my brain for the right combination of words to say in order to sound not as tense and awkward as I was feeling.

“Well my top choice was Virginia Commonwealth because they have the best art school and I kinda wanna go into art…” I trailed off as I tried to make the conversation casual but then realized I was rambling. I heard him chime in here and there with a “that’s cool” or “nice”, and I continued on. “If I got into JMU though I’m pretty sure that would be my top choice but I’m definitely not going to”.

“At least you’re going to college!” I took his comment the wrong way I guess because he was confused by my response.

“You didn’t get in yet?” Although I knew he did because the first half of the car ride we spent most of the time talking about Bloomsburg. Well, that and weed.

“What? Oh yeah, I got into Rider too.” He said another college but I can’t remember what it was. Ironically enough we passed Gary’s house only seconds before the words came out of his mouth. I didn’t necessarily see Gary’s house, but I knew we were on his street and we probably passed it.

“Oh nice, yeah Phoebe got into Rider too looks like you have a higher chance of going to school with her!” (The two of them often talk about Bloomsburg because they both got in). I slowly pulled into his driveway and put the car in park as he reached into the back seat and grabbed his backpack.

“Haha yeah I mean it’s Rider, anyone could get in.” I laughed but not for the reasons he thought I did.

“Yeah true,” I said through a smile as I finished laughing.

“Well, thanks so much for the ride seriously if you ever need a ride anywhere I got you.” His eyes squinted at me through his warm smile.

“Haha it’s no problem don’t worry about it,” I replied.

“Blaze sometime?” I guessed this was a joke because he said it as he was climbing out of the car and didn’t bother to wait for a response.

“Haha yeah hit me up!” I said after him. We laughed and he closed the door. I turned off the radio and plugged in my Taylor Swift as I backed out of his driveway. When I got to the end of the street to my surprise Gary’s house was directly across from me.

There were no cars coming from either direction but I didn’t pull out. I just sat there. Staring. My eyes grew watery and I thought back to what Gunner said. Why does everything have to lead me back to here?

I finally developed enough strength to close my eye lids and blinked back the water that began to build up. I took a firm grip on my steering wheel and looked both ways before pulling out of the street. Frustration built up in my chest. The same frustration that builds up whenever I think of Gary, whenever I hear his name (which is very often now that Gary Sardona is in my Psych class), or whenever I hear or see something that has to relate to him (Phoebe’s Rider pen, her acceptance folder to Rider which she keeps on display in her kitchen, every song by Matt Nathanson or Taylor Swift..the list is endless).

The snow was tranquil. It fell down with such careless ease. I wish I could be the snow. The way it floats down, light as a feather, and lands where it may on the ground. It doesn’t care where it winds up, it just goes where the wind takes it and hopes for the best- or so I like to think it does. I wish I could be as careless as the snow. I would be so much happier.

I pulled into my driveway and put the car in park. I sat there for a few minutes as I often do just to finish belting out the last few verses of whatever Taylor song I was listening to. Finally, I turned the keys and pulled them out of the ignition. I sprinted into the house clutching my wallet and phone because the cold was too painful to endure for more than two seconds. When I got inside, I hung my keys on the hook in the mudroom and walked into the kitchen where my mom was sitting at the counter reviewing her notes. She studies a lot.

“Hey hon,” she said from behind her reading glasses and cup of tea. I wasn’t in the mood for conversation.

“Hey, I’m really tired I think I’m just gonna go to bed.” She took a sip from her tea and continued to absorb herself in her text book.

“Alright, goodnight.” I walked upstairs and changed into sweats, throwing my clothes on the ground. This is something I often do because why would I bother putting them away? It’s just an inconvenient waste of my time.

After brushing my teeth and washing my face I crawled into bed and pulled the covers up to my chin. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

I was sweaty. Either that or I was dripping wet from the rain that passed – but just me. I left my car at Gary’s because I stopped there earlier for some anonymous reason that had nothing to do with him. I asked Brain to pick me up and drive me there to retrieve it, but when she pulled into my driveway she was not driving her green buggy, but a dark blue jeep wrangler without the hood on – similar to the one Maddy just got. When I walked outside to get into Brain’s car I saw my silver passat sitting right in my driveway but not the spot I normally park it in. I thought to myself that I must have not seen it when I checked if it was there earlier. I got into the jeep with Brain anyways and Sally was in the back seat. As we were turning out of my driveway, Gary was passing by and slowed down with his window open to talk to us. As he continued to drive off I heard him shout to Brain: “She’s cute, her face is a little shiny though!” Upon hearing this I turned around quickly and shouted to Sally: “Who is he talking about?!” -in a voice so loud I was almost positive he heard me. She responded, “you!”. I knew he was talking about me. I looked like shit. “Ugh I look sooo bad…” I said.

Later, Gary was with his girlfriend, Shannon Sanders. We were all lounging in some room with a bunch of couches. Shannon was on a couch by herself and Gary was sitting on an arm chair right next to her with a dog on his lap. It was a small pug dog, but big for a pug. The arm chair was big enough for two, so I went right up and sat down on the edge of it. “Hi!” I said. He answered the same. The dog was him and Shannon’s. I picked it up and put it on my lap, making it stand on its hind legs. “He doesn’t like that-” Gary chimed in as he took the dog from me and showed me its reaction as he did the same. We laughed. Shannon didn’t say anything, she was just there. She wasn’t pretty like I remembered her either, she was kind of chunky and just large in general.

Even later, we were all having some sort of camp out in the backyard of someone I’ve never seen before. There was a bed/couch with a canopy over it where Shannon slept. I watched from a distance as Gary tucked her in and then continued to set up a sleeping bag for himself on the ground behind the couch. As I watched I knew that he still cared about her so much in a way he would probably never care about me. A sinking feeling came over me. I flash to the next part of my dream. Me and Gary are in his sleeping bag but we are just cuddling and talking. He was over me and I looked up at him as we talked about something I can’t remember. I knew he was about to kiss me but I didn’t lean in, unsure if I really wanted to. When he kissed me there was no tongue – it was a simple kiss, but he held it there and the whole time I wanted to cry because it wasn’t how I thought it would be. His girlfriend was right next to us sleeping. He was a jerk for doing this to her, and I was never going to be anything more than the girl he cheated with. I was unimportant. I pushed him away. “You’re a jerk,” I said.

I woke up in a daze. I was sweaty and my head was spinning. I quickly reached for my phone in it’s dock and recorded down every detail from my dream I could remember. I have never had this forward of a dream about Gary before. It made my heart race and then fall. It was all so meaningful. I watched my emotions unfold towards the end I realized that is how I have felt ever since the last time we talked, that I would never be the only one he cares about and I would never be special to him like Shannon is. It hurts.

I laughed as the rest of my dream rushed back to me through feelings and emotions I subconsciously felt. My gym teacher, Ms. Cox, was trying to kill me and I was diving in and out of swimming pools as she tried to torpedo me through the water. Then when I got out I locked myself in a bullet proof room and dropped my phone outside of it. There was no door knob on the inside and I looked at her threw the glass of the door as she banged on it with her fist then tried to shoot through it unsuccessfully. She seemed frustrated and then found a latch on the bottom of the door that she could fit her hand through like a mail slot. I was afraid she’d find that. She stuck her hand through it and began shooting sporadically. Then I was suddenly in my driveway with Ms. Lemon and Cox. Lemon was my old gym teacher, but since it’s the second semester our classes switched around. Lemon was there to consult Cox and arrest her, but I was upset because then we couldn’t do yoga anymore. I’m so weird.

After having a good laugh about that part of my dream, my mind kept going back to the other part. It’s funny how sometimes when you’re sleeping your mind knows more about yourself than when you’re awake.

I looked at the time. I’d already wasted ten minutes reflecting on my dream – I had to get a move on if I was going to pick up Maddy on time.

In the car I told her all about my crazy dreams and we laughed until there were tears in our eyes. I love retelling my dreams. It’s like a chance to share my feelings in a crazy, fictional story and watch the reactions as I tell them. They are priceless, especially when the dreams are as good as the ones from the other night, which is rare.

My day was long and strange. By the time fifth period came along I was exhausted and had no interest in changing for gym, especially because Cox was apparently out to kill me with guns and torpedos… Sally is in my gym class now, and so is my other friend Addie. I haven’t seen Addie in so long I was so glad she transferred into our gym class. Maya is in our gym class too, she’s good friends with Gary. Maya Confetti is one of those girls who is exotic and bubbly with big boobs and a tiny waste. I used to go to church with her when I was younger, but we never really became good friends although there were many opportunities for us to be. We were always just different I guess, she was funny and loud and I was quiet and shy. Although I’ve come out of my shell since then, Maya has come out of her shell too (if she even had a shell to come out of). She has sex a lot. Not that I mind or judge, everyone’s opinions are different about sex. Even though I know she’s had sex with Gary I don’t resent her for it or hold it against her – or even care really, and I can’t seem to put my finger on why this is. I guess she’s just too friendly to hate. She’s not a very hate-able person.

We walked into the warm, sweaty wrestling gym, took off our sneakers, grabbed a mat and found a spot in the back. Cox takes yoga very seriously. She takes everything she does very seriously. She is probably the most up tight and in shape person I know, but although everyone hates her I kind of like that about her. I wish I could be as confident as she is. She’s one of the few teachers at my school who radiate confidence and youth, enough for guys to drool over her yet respect her at the same time. She’s vicious. She likes me though because I have always done exceedingly well in pushing myself at lacrosse (which she was a prior coach for) and in her gym class (so far).

“Imagine your spine is a wet cloth. Ring out that wet cloth,” her voice is soft yet stern as she instructs the class. Although my eyes are closed I could feel Sally smiling next to me. Who relates spines to wet cloths? She is awesome. I feel her walking around the room as her voice moves from one corner to the next. I am on my stomach with my knees spread out to the side and my hands outstretched in front of me. My forehead is on the mat and I can feel the stretch in my groin.

“Really try and push down on your hips, you want to release all of that stress and tension. A lot of that tension can build into your hips. Feel it all melt away into the mat.” Her voice gets closer and closer until I feel her hands on my butt. I was confused and slightly freaked out. “Push your hips into the mat,” she said again. Okay like I heard her the first time, but that was as far down as my hips would push and her hands were on my ass. This is weird. I thought to myself, especially because she was previously trying to murder me in an alternate universe known as my imagination.

After yoga, I rushed to Psych. Cox always lets us out so late so I’m forced to sprint to the upper five hundred wing to a class I dread going to. Ted’s in that class. So is Mike Zingarelli.. and yes… he is still gorgeous and I still can’t help staring every now and then. Awkward because Ted stares at me. Cock block… Thank God Phoebe’s in that class too because I would have zero friends without her and be forced to sit through forty five minutes of listening to Mr. Munari’s stupid jokes that are both awkward and uncomfortable.

The first day I walked into that class Phoebe and I were late (it became a usual thing). Immediately the class exploded with laughter as Ted’s friends Mike and Brendan shouted “Bakerrr”. Boys are so immature. Ted and I can have the most casual conversations outside of that class and act like civil friends. But in Psych, we don’t know each other. Brendan Mangino is the nicest kid ever but even he stoops to the immaturity of his kind around Ted and I. That first day, the only one who didn’t make some sort of immature outburst out of the guys in my grade who are in that class was Camden.

“Camden Templer?” Munari said as he peered up from his attendance sheet and squinted through his glasses.

“Here,” a voice said from three rows back.

Camden Templer is absolutely gorgeous, even though people nowadays rarely admit it. When he moved to our school district in middle school he was all everyone talked about – he had Justin Bieber hair before anyone even knew who Justin Bieber was! But his crystal blue eyes and dreamy blonde hair quickly faded as he got into high school. He was over rated and started hanging out with his older brother’s friends which lead him down the wrong path. Now I’m not really sure who he hangs out with, but he talks to younger girls. His social status may be confusing, but one thing I know for sure is he is still gorgeous to me even though he cut his hair and is no longer in the spotlight. Now, he is ironically underrated and despite how every girl would probably shrug their shoulders and say “he’s alright” if asked about him, they probably have a secret crush on him along with everyone else in the school.

Judging by his name, Mr. Munari is not at all how one would picture him. He is a young, somewhat scrawny, white man presumably in his late twenties or early thirties. He’s young, that’s all I know. He also tries too hard to be young even when his jokes may come off as offensive. He is kind of an ass hole; one of those guys you can tell was weird in high school and now tries to redeem himself. When he makes jokes and no one laughs he will call himself out and say something that only makes it more awkward such as, “that’s just me trying to be funny, you don’t have to laugh, I’ll laugh for you”. He’s said that at least five times since I’ve started taking that class.

I tried my best to look straight ahead at the board even though I was inconveniently placed at the first desk all the way in the right corner so I have to turn my head to the left to see anything on the board. The problem is I can always catch Ted staring out of the corner of my eye when I look to the left. Sometimes I just look down at my hands and pick my nails to avoid glancing over at him to check if he’s staring, only to find out he usually is. I leaned down into my backpack and checked my phone. A text from Andrew Barker.

Barker: Can u give me a ride home

He bothers me. The last time I asked for a ride home he said – quote – “I could”. Like oh… can you? He was lucky I was in a good mood that day. Besides, I never really thought Barker was into me for real until I talked to Maggie McAdams upon running into her at the gym. She’s good friends with Barker and the first thing she said when she saw me after that day (because she was in the car when he drove me home) was “sooo, you and Barker huh?”. She gave me a look with a smile and I was kind of confused. I wasn’t sure what she knew or where she was coming from, but she said that Barker was a really lovable guy. Before then I was convinced he was just using me so I didn’t really care about him, nor did I want to hook up with him again. But afterwards I got kind of confused. She said he didn’t talk to any other girls but I wasn’t sure if she knew that for a fact, so I didn’t know how to take it. Nonetheless I decided to give him a chance. I accepted his offer even though I was second guessing where it might lead to.

Me: Surely!

See how easy that was??

Barker: What?

Me: Saying yes right away instead of “I could”

Barker: Hahahahaha true

I didn’t feel the need to respond. Instead, I looked up at the board and tried my best to tunnel vision my gaze at its blankness. There were things written up there from different classes so I just distracted myself by reading that. There were names listed on the board for some reason, and as I read them I saw Andrew Barker. I looked up at Phoebe until I made eye contact with her. Ted sits next to her on her left so it was hard to mouth the words “ANDREW BARKER” and motion towards the board without him seeing. Plus, mouthing and understanding words from far distances is not really Phoebe’s forté. Strangely enough I was able to complete this transaction as Phoebe and I laughed to ourselves from our seats.

“Something funny?” Munari called us out as he was mid-pace in front of the class. I just shook my head. Dammit – I try so hard to stay under the radar in that class but he always manages to call me out.

After seventh period, my day was over. I walked out of the school and approached my car as I waited for Barker to text me. He didn’t, so I was debating on just ditching and assuming he didn’t need one. But that felt mean of me, and I’m not a mean person.

Me: Do u still need a ride?

I got to my car and unlocked the door. No answer. I threw my stuff in the back seat and sat down at the wheel. Still no answer. I texted him again.

Me: I’ll take that as a no…..

After checking my appearance in the rearview mirror, I plugged my phone into the speakers and put on some John Mayer as I backed out of my spot. My phone went off.

Barker: No I do wait for me!!!

Me: Fineee hurry up

I started driving out of the parking lot until I saw him. It was a nice day so I had my windows open and I heard him shout at me as I passed him.

“Hey, hey! Wait!” I stopped my car and watched him run over.

“Well hurryyy!” I responded. I clicked the rest of the doors unlocked and he opened the back door to throw his stuff in, then he got in the passenger seat. My heart was racing but not because I was nervous in an excited way, more because I was nervous in a nervous way.. as in I did not want to go over his house and hook up with him but the other day he said I could come in if his dad wasn’t home. I don’t really know how I feel about Barker, but there was a part of me that wanted him and another part that didn’t. That day I was feeling more towards the part of me that didn’t.

“Sorry if you don’t enjoy my choice of music,” I suddenly felt self-conscious that John Mayer’s Heartbreak Warfare was playing. I can never find the right songs to put on when I have boys in the car. It’s one of my many awkward flaws.

“Yeahh.. I don’t…” he said sarcastically serious as always. I told him he could unplug my phone and put his in because I didn’t feel like searching through playlists of Taylor Swift and One Direction only to put on another disappointment. At this point I embrace my weird music taste.

“Not anything too ghetto please,” I said. He put on Daylight by Maroon5. This bothered me because I have that song on my phone and why I didn’t think to put that on was a mystery considering it was one of my favorite songs. I sang along as I turned up the volume to drown out my voice. We held up a casual conversation for most of the ride and then I brought up how I was visiting Rutgers that night.

“I’m just so torn I don’t know what slutty top to bring!” I whined sarcastically (but yet completely serious). His sense of humor rubs off on me when we’re together I suppose.

“Why don’t you just go naked? It would solve all your problems,” he said with a straight face as I glanced over at him and laughed.

“That’s what I told Sally but Jared would kill her!” Sally and I were planning on visiting Rutgers so she could visit Jared and I would stay over my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter’s dorm, Alexandria.

“Like tell Jared I say hi..” he said. I laughed.

“Oh yeah I forgot you’re like good friends with him because of Carl.”

“Yeah I’m the third son, quoted straight from Mrs. Cabrera,” he said and I glanced across at him for a split second.

“Haha that’s like me and Sally!” I changed the subject when we got closer to his dad’s and he put on Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble.

“I got tickets to see her!!!!” I said with a huge smile. He didn’t respond so I looked over at him. I reached over and patted my hand on his thigh. “Be excited for me!” I laughed and he looked over at me and pretended to be over excited until I approached the driveway in the small complex area. He sighed in frustration.

“Ughhh my dad’s home,” he said and my hands loosened their grip around my steering wheel.

“Aw man…” I responded with a little bit of false emotion but I hoped he wouldn’t sense it.

“Thanks Laceyyy,” he said with a squinty smile that was super adorable. I confuse my emotions a lot. He took his stuff out of the back and we said our goodbyes. As I turned around in a parking spot he made his way to the front door. I looked over at him as I was pulling out and he was trying to say something to me that I couldn’t necessarily understand so I just smiled and waved. When I as pulling out of the complex and passing him on the street, he was still struggling to communicate something to me.

“HE’S NOT HOME!” I realized he was trying to say. I slowed down my car but I already passed his house. I wasn’t about to turn around, so I just continued driving home. I tried calling him but he was calling me so it went straight to voicemail. I tried again. Same thing. I put my phone down in the cup holder and just waited for him to calm down so I could call again. When we finally got on the phone I had a good excuse for why I couldn’t go over.

“What if your dad comes home while I’m there!” I said. I was genuinely concerned and glad I thought about this concern so I could use it to keep myself home. I wasn’t really in the mood. I told him I’d text him and hung up the phone.

I felt bad. I said he could come over if he wanted to because my mom was at work and my brother and sister don’t usually get home until 2:40. Part of me wanted him to, another part didn’t but a part of me thought about what Maggie said and I was kind of curious about how it would go.

Barker: kk coming

I was sitting on my couch in the family room watching the Amanda Show when he walked in through my garage. He didn’t even knock, he just walked in which I found kind of funny.

“…Hello?” I shouted as I waited for a response.

“Shit I wanted to scare you!” I laughed and he came over and sat next to me on the couch. I was suddenly embarrassed I was watching the Amanda Show. Soon enough he got up and made his way over to the kitchen.

“I’m thirsty,” he said. He opened my fridge and took out the pitcher of iced tea. “Iced tea?” I got up and walked into the kitchen, confused. I nodded. He really wasn’t afraid to make himself at home and I kind of liked it. He didn’t even bother asking where the cups were he just started opening up my cupboards.

“They’re not in there,” I said as he opened up the cupboard above the toaster oven. He took out this cup that was supposed to be a part of a mini blender.

“Found one!” He poured himself some iced tea and took a sip as I laughed. He started walking around my house and observing everything. He walked into my dining room and saw the giant painting I finished for Mrs. Kirchner, Maddy’s mom. It was a modern piece so all it was, was a giant canvas filled with random squares of color. Not my usual choice of painting, but it looked pretty simple to execute.

He took a clean paintbrush and dipped it in a bowl of something I had out and threatened to paint it.

“Nooo!” I screamed playfully as I ran over and grabbed his hand.

“Hahaha I’m just kidding,” he put the brush down and wrapped his arms around me from behind. He squeezed me and lifted me up off my feet as I laughed. He put me down and then walked into my piano room and pressed a few keys attempting to play.

“Give me a tour of your house,” he said as he walked around and then leapt up the stairs. Shit. My room was so messy. He walked into my sister’s room and saw posters of Justin Bieber littered all over the walls. “This is definitely your room,” he said as he walked in.

“HA- no, nice try. And that’s not my room either,” I said when I saw him walking into Sammy’s room across the hall. I stood in front of my door and barricaded it.

“Come on, let me in!” he said as he approached me.

“It’s soo messy..” but that didn’t stop him. He opened the door and immediately pointed out the box of tampons laying on my floor as he whipped them around in this fishing net I have as decoration. I thought it was cool at the time I bought it at Home Goods, but now I realize it was probably the biggest waste of ten bucks. “STOP!” I demanded as I made my way over to him. Mid-step I stopped as my eyes locked on a piece of paper I had stuck up on my vanity mirror. Thank God he didn’t see it or question me when I took it down. It said:

Reasons Why You Should Look HOT (with a doodle of flames coming up from underneath the word HOT).

1. Gary

2. Summer

3. College

4. Prom House

5. Gary (yes, I said Gary twice).

Then at the bottom in smaller print…

*If you don’t diet then you will be really fat and look like Julia Goldberg and Mike Z. will never get with you*

Throughout the entire page in colorful bubbles it had little notes like “you can do it!” and animated arrows that pointed at Gary’s name that said “so worth it ;)”. I am so pathetic.

He moved along my room after picking through my things and then jumped onto my unmade bed.

“You’re bed is so bouncy,” he said, bouncing up and down as he sat. I laughed and joined on the bed next to him.

“I know right it’s soo comfy!” He laid down on his back, put his head on my pillow and looked up at my ceiling.

“What are those…” he pointed up at my ceiling quotes. SHIT.

“Uhh..inspirational quotes?” I am officially the biggest loser.

“HAHA – what do they say?” He read them intently as he craned his neck to see them. They were all about moving on and I am pretty sure he caught on.

“What the fuck these are all about Ted!” he said and laughed. Little did he know my heart is stuck way before Ted.

“No they’re not?!” If it’s Ted he wanted to try and tell me I wasn’t over, I could honestly convince him I was no longer interested. Gary? Not so much. In a way he kind of looked like Gary. Maybe not his body, or his adorable cheeks or eye lashes, but his features are kind of similar. Then again I think fifty-year-old men at the gym look like Gary too.

We laid on my bed for a while, just talking and laughing. He turned me over so I was on my back and put his hands on my shoulders, then he told me he wanted to try something on my bouncy bed. I was confused and slightly excited. Then he started pushing me up and down and I was laughing so hard. I tried telling him to stop but he wouldn’t. I sounded like an idiot because whenever I bounced back up my laugh got louder and softer and I couldn’t control it. He was laughing so hard at me but finally stopped. All I kept thinking was that he was definitely about to kiss me. Finally he leaned down and did it, really soft and slow. For a really short time too. Then we went back to talking.

I never saw this side of him. After everything I talked about with Maggie I was kind of convinced maybe he actually wasn’t as big of an ass hole as I thought he was.

My phone started ringing. Sally. I shushed Barker and picked up.

“Hello?” I said as Barker started going up my shirt. She started asking me questions about later and what time we would leave for Rutgers. She said something funny and was being weird, thankfully at a convenient time because Barker started going under my bra and tickling me. I laughed and tried to kick him off of me and Sally laughed on the other line too. Then she caught on.

“Are you at Barker’s?” she asked. I looked at him and he smiled.

“No..” I answered truthfully.

“Is Barker at your house?” I smiled really wide.

“Maaaybe…” and I laughed and he said loudly so she could hear him: “Sally is so annoying! Give me the phone.” It was weird for me to see him like this because usually he hated when people knew we were together. It was even weirder when he started calling Carl on the end of my bed.

“What are you doing…” I said as I heard a ring back tone playing on the other line.

“I’m calling Carl, I missed his call,” he said as Carl picked up. “Hello?” Barker said into the phone. Then he started cracking up – literally dying laughing. I had never seen him laugh so hard but it was kind of funny and made me laugh too even though I had no idea why he was laughing. His eyes got so squinty and he stood up from my bed and laughed into the phone and was like “dude what the fuck are you saying slow down!” Then I heard Carl ask what he was doing. Ugh, the dreaded question. He would probably just say nothing and change the subject like he always did.

“I’m at-” he almost finished the sentence but got interrupted by Carl again on the other line. I heard him start to say Baker’s, but it was faint and at the end of the sentence after he got cut off. I wasn’t sure if he even said it, but it sounded like he tried. I can’t believe he would say that especially to Carl of all people.

Before we knew it, it was almost time for him to go because my sister was going to be home from school. Then he asked the annoying question right when I thought everything was going so well.

“We have five minutes, bj?” It was kind of sarcastic, but at the same time not at all. The usual comment by Andrew Barker, what else was new? I played it off as sarcasm, but then felt bad. All we really did was kiss, he went under my shirt once and even kissed me there but it wasn’t really for that long. I liked it though, it was simple and I didn’t feel pressured to do anything I didn’t want to do even once. Until that moment he just had to ruin it and ask.

I told him it was time for him to go because my sister was going to be home any minute so we made our way downstairs and I stood in my kitchen as he went to get his shoes by my couch. I stood there with my arms crossed and he pretended to just walk out and pass right by me but then he smiled and made his way back over to me.

“Byeee,” he said with a smile on his face. He leaned in and kissed me gently. I smiled with satisfaction and he walked out of the door and then opened it again and screamed “THANKS FOR NOTHING” then closed it again.

“FUCK OFF!” I screamed after him. I stood there smiling for a little and then walked back over to my couch and sat down. It was all of five seconds until I heard the door open and slam shut again as he raced back into my house.

“Hahahaha oh my God that was so awkward!” He was all flustered and didn’t know what to do with himself. I was confused.

“What are you doing?!” I asked as he walked over to me on the couch.

“Your sister was walking up the driveway and I heard her singing and I didn’t know what to do so I just ran back inside!” I started hysterically laughing at him. He sat down on the couch next to me as my sister Jamie walked in. I’ve never seen him so flustered I was just giggling to myself as she walked in and looked over at us.

“Hey Jamie.. this is Barker..” Jamie knows about Barker because I always talk shit about him to her and about how annoying he is when he asks me for rides when he’s drunk. It was sufficiently awkward that she saw us together on the couch, but she didn’t know what to say so she just took out her headphones slowly and was like, “hi…”.

Barker looked up. “I’m Andrew, actually – my name’s Andrew”. I wasn’t sure if this was more sarcastic-serious attitude but I suddenly felt embarrassed I had just introduced him by his last name. That’s all I called him, maybe I should’ve called him Andrew? That would’ve just been weird though. I pondered on this for a second as Barker went on to try and make awkward conversation. “I heard you singing, it was nice”. Jamie looked confused and slightly freaked out.

“Um.. Thanks,” she said with a slight smile. We both wanted to laugh pretty hard but I could tell she was containing it, I wasn’t as good at that though. She walked upstairs to her room and I looked over at Barker.

“Well uh, thanks for helping me with my homework..?” Barker laughed when Jamie was out of sight. I didn’t know why he had to be so weird, he just fucked everything up and made it awkward for all of us. After he was out the door I spent a good five minutes laughing.

He texted me after that but he was annoying as shit.

Barker: So awk hahahaha

Me: Hahahahaha I was laughing for a solid 5 minutes after u left

Barker: Lol

Me: LOLOL

Classic

No response. He usually always responds. I would text him an emoji face and he would respond. I was confused. I tried to shake it off.

The next day I was at work. It was around six when I texted him because I was bored and wanted to see what was up because he was being weird. I texted him “Hi”. He didn’t answer at all.

By the time I got home from work I was so exhausted from being up at Rutgers until four in the morning and still slightly hungover that I passed out on my couch. When I woke up at three AM I checked my phone. Barker. I slid my thumb across the screen and typed in my password half asleep but still happy he finally texted me.

Barker: Take me to cluck please!!!

I stared at the text for a good minute just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I blinked rapidly. Was he fucking kidding me? I slammed my phone into the couch. Then I realized I wanted to go up to bed so I grabbed it again angrily and stomped up to my room. I didn’t even bother brushing my teeth, I just climbed into bed and fell back asleep.

I should’ve known he would’ve been a disappointment. I shouldn’t have even tried.

Gut Feelings

I was mid-run on the treadmill.  My face was dripping sweat at twenty-two minutes in.  Halfway there.  I focussed my gaze on a barren branch in the distance; one of the many in the thin strip of woods that separate the YMCA from the highway behind it.  My music was blasting through my headphones as I steadied my breathing, focusing in and out on Gary and how whatever song I was listening to related to something, anything, that somehow had to do with him.  This was a daily routine of mine; thinking about Gary as I ran to keep me motivated to push through my dripping sweat and collapsing lungs.  But this time what motivated me was not my yearning for the past to become a reality, but rather the change that I said I wanted to come of the New Year.

Almost instantly my mood switched to anger and frustration.  I didn’t want to miss Gary anymore.  I didn’t want to wonder what he thought about me, if he even thinks about me at all.  I wanted to know.  I wanted to know if he does or doesn’t – and more than that, I needed to know if I ever wanted to move on.  I needed to let go of this dead weight that’s been nothing but a pathetic, unrealistic idea of the reality that would never be true.

A bead of sweat dripped off my nose and I frantically wiped the back of my hand across my face to get rid of it although I knew it would be back in five seconds.  Regardless, I found my hand reaching for the trigger to increase the speed.  I picked up the pace by .2 miles per hour, then another, and another.  Before I knew it I was running 7.5 miles per hour and I still had another twenty minutes to go.  If I finish out these twenty minutes on this speed, I am texting Gary and asking him how he feels about me.

A promise is a promise.  Not only had I proven to myself that I have enough endurance to make a step towards my new years resolution, but I had proven myself to be a stronger runner than I expected.  I finished my forty-five minute run at eight miles an hour and ran a total of 5.36 miles.

The treadmill slowed down and I ran for an additional couple minutes to cool myself.  I did it, it’s done.  I felt better already.  At that point there was no doubt in my mind that my promise was going to be fulfilled.  There was no going back and by some amazing stroke of luck or fate or whatever it may have been, I was completely at peace knowing that his answer could potentially put me out of my Gary days forever.  Yet at the same time I knew in my heart this would not be the case.  I knew he still thought about me.

I made my way off the treadmill and over to my cubby where I left my things.  I unscrewed the top of my water bottle and took a long, much-needed chug.  As I put on my jacket and walked out, I whipped out my phone.  I opened up a new message to Brain.

Me: Hayooo can I have Gary’s number?  I’m ending my obsession.

Hours passed without an answer.  I tried not to think about it.  I didn’t even tell any of my friends what my plan was – other than Phoebe because we got smoothies that day – and that was mainly because I didn’t even know what the plan was myself.  Then finally, after three long hours, Brain finally responded.

Brain: OOPS just saw this

Hold on

Me: Ok thanks

My heart was racing but my head was steady.  I knew exactly what I was doing and I was full of the perfect balance of confidence and fearlessness needed in order to pull it off.  As soon as she sent me the number, I opened up a text and didn’t waste any more time.

Me: Hey Gary it’s Lacy Baker!  I just needed to let u know that idk why but I can’t stop thinking about you and I know this is totally unfair to say to you bc u have had a gf for forever, but I needed to let u know so I can get over u if that’s how it has to be.  Am I crazy or is there hope that we will ever be the way we used to be?

(Holy novel)

It took all of thirty seconds to develop that text.  Everything I needed to say had been building up in my head for months- all I needed to do was get my fingers to write it out.  As soon as I had it typed in my phone, I pressed send.  I then proceeded to lock my phone and place it on the table next to me.  Then, I casually continued to do my homework.  I knew that no matter what his answer was going to be it would make me feel better than I had before; better than longing and wondering what he was thinking.  I would finally know.

My phone vibrated and I quickly looked down at it.  Gary Fitzgerald.  God it’s been a while since I’d seen that name flash on my screen.

Gary: Hey Lacy you’re not crazy I think about you too sometimes!  You have a boyfriend too right?  But ya for now things are pretty good with my girlfriend but I would never say never.  And I know that’s not necessarily what you wanna hear but it’s better than me saying never right?  Maybe you wanted to hear no it’s never going to happen though so you can move on?

My head was spinning.  It felt like the Fourth of July in my stomach.  I couldn’t hold back the smile that spread across my face.  I knew he thought about me too, I knew it.

Me: Hahaha yeah sorta.. But me and my boyfriend broke up back in September!  I hate to say all this to you because of your girlfriend haha.  I’m glad things are going well though 🙂

(Naahhhht)..jk

Gary: Yeah I understand its okay.  I hate to talk about it too because I feel guilty but don’t rule it out.  I think you’re really attractive still haha

Good to know all of those times at Brain and Sally’s parties weren’t all in my head; I guess he really was staring.  And his girlfriend would totally kill me if she knew about this convo.  It made me smile.

Me:  Hahaha fuck well the feeling is mutual.  I’m just glad I could get that off my chest

Gary:  Yeah well we should keep in touch.  Where are you going to college

He sent that last message at around 5:45 and we continued a solid conversation until he had to shower (was he trying to kill me?) at around 7:00.  It was a really good feeling coming out of that conversation knowing that my gut was right.  He did think about me, he did sometimes wonder about how I was doing just like I wondered about him (although maybe not quite as often), and he did still think I was attractive!  Amongst all the butterflies and exploding firecrackers in my stomach, reality began to sink in.

He has a girlfriend, he goes to college, I’m going to be going to college (most likely in Virginia or some other far away state), and – it’s Gary Fitzgerald!  Aka biggest flirt, aka guy who built me up and dropped me down, aka guy who will most likely do it again.  Aka…I can’t go back.  Not again.  I know I shouldn’t.  But it’s not simply a matter of knowing, it’s a matter of wanting; a combination of knowing what’s good for me and wanting what’s best at the same time.  The only problem is I don’t want what’s good for me.  If I did I would have never ended things with Ted.

My internal struggle continues to fester as time goes on.  The longer it’s been since we’ve had that conversation, the more I know that he won’t keep in touch even though he said we should.  But then again, what did I expect?  We live different lives and he has never been one to keep a promise anyway.  He is notorious for letting me down whether it be unintentional or simply a lack of caring.

I wish I didn’t care.  I wish I wanted to get over him.  Until then I will pray to God when this summer comes around and the opportunity arises, I pray that I won’t give in.  I pray that I develop enough love and respect for myself to turn him down; to shoot down his expectations just like he has done to me ever since I’ve met him.

Until then I will dream of the day I meet another guy who will make me feel the way he did.

Daily Prompt: Clean Slate

Daily Prompt: Clean Slate.

I do not remember painting my nails this blueish-turquoise color, and as it seems I do not remember sitting on this leather couch in this family room – nor do I recognize any of it.

I glance at the wooden coffee table in front of me that my feet rest on.  There is a book on top of a spiral ring notebook upon the coffee table.  “The Softball Pitching Edge”; as I look down at my t-shirt I see the word softball printed in all caps across my chest.  My mind is spinning.  “When did I pick up softball?”

There is an elegantly painted tissue box that brings about a rustic vibe throughout the room.  Its use of deep, red, velvet pillows and hunter green accents in the floral carpet and matching drapes fill the air with a warmth that sets a comforting mood.  It is cozy.  Old, antique-looking cabinets sit on either side of the long, leather couch I am sitting on.  I am facing an enormous, oak cupboard with what I would assume to be a television inside; the doors are closed so I would not know unless I got up myself to open it.  But I am too frightened and light headed to do such a thing.

“What is going on?” I find myself saying out loud.

Although I did not have any remote recollection of ending up in this location, it occurs to me that I should not be as frightened as I am.  That warmth that vibrates through the very walls of this room tells me I should not be afraid.  I am safe here, in this stranger’s home, sitting on their sofa with my feet resting on their coffee table.  There is no harm that can come to me, because these are nice people and, for that matter, have a decent taste in sports and velvet pillows.

Out of curiosity, I reach over and open up the spiral notebook.  It looks old and the pages are wrinkled from a lot of use.  As I open the front cover, there are quotes and different post-its and memorabilia tucked away carefully within the folds of the manila divider.  As I continue to turn the pages I realize it is someone’s diary.  I am quickly intrigued as I realize this person’s talent and passion for writing.

I feel empowered as I read through its pages although I know I should feel guilty.  “Why do these thoughts seem so familiar to me?”  My guilty conscience is MIA, but my gut tells me these feelings are mine.

Unrequited Love

Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space.

-Kate Winslet

2013

I grip my Canon Rebel T3 in between my clammy hands and keep my freshly manicured finger pressed halfway down on the shutter release – ready to capture the beginning of a new year.  As I peer through the viewfinder and slowly focus my 300x zoom lens on the crystal ball, a chill goes through my spine.  It is dark and everyone is crammed into the small room that has the one view with the window looking out at time square directly facing the New Years ball.  The countdown starts at sixty seconds and everyone in the room explodes as the crystal ball slowly moves downward on its prestigious pole.  I can feel the two peppermint raspberry martinis in my stomach float up to my head; they bring me with them until I am slowly out of my body and looking down at myself from above.

I see myself from a different light; one that cannot be shed by a lamp or the sun, or by looking at a reflection in the mirror or a picture someone else has taken of me.  I see a girl down there, with her blonde hair draped over her shoulder, standing on her tippy-toes to try and get a better look at the ball.  I see through that girl and her polkadot stockings; through her lip gloss and purple eyeliner.  Right through those expensive, leather boots she asked for for Christmas and the way she tries to wear them now to make others think she is someone more than she really is.  I see that girl’s soul and all of her innermost secrets;  her deepest thoughts and dreams that come to life through the hope of a new beginning, through the lens of her Canon camera, through the drop of the New Years ball.

“3, 2, 1!” I am brought back down to Earth at an alarming rate.  “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”  Confetti streams in through the open windows from my Aunt Karen’s 9th floor office and I snap a quick picture of what I have been aiming at for what seems like hours.  I look back at my camera roll.  Shit.  The picture was taken just a millisecond too late – the enormous “1” that appeared for a split second on the billboard has turned into a blurry, white screen with sparks and confetti fogging the view.

Then it hit me.  Like a meteor shooting through space and pulverizing Earth to a thousand, tiny pieces; I don’t want to miss anything anymore.  Not the New Years ball, not the giant one on the billboard, and not Gary.

Crash Course: Senior Year

Although it might not be one of my wisest decisions, I have decided to start reading “Fifty Shades of Grey”.  My love life is currently so unexciting that it has come down to living through other peoples’ sex lives in order to make mine more eventful.  The more people I told about starting the book, the more I realized it must be more sexual than I thought.  And oh, was I right…  If I had known sex could be like this I would have broken up with Ted a long time ago! (Just kidding…but really).  As I read through the juicy pages, my eyes sucked up each and every word and my stomach got butterflies.  I realized I was biting my lip.

Even though sex with Ted might not have been like Christian and Ana’s, some of the things still reminded me of it.  A ping of sadness stung my heart as I read how his eyes met hers as he kissed down her stomach.  I slammed the book down on my bed and brought my hands to my face.  My eyes started to water but the butterflies were still bouncing off the walls of my stomach and my teeth still held my bottom lip in place.  It was the most mixed up emotions I had ever felt.  A mixture of missing and needing; remembering and wishing.  Not to mention I was horny as fuck.  Stupid E.L. James.  Who even is this bitch anyway?  I turned the book over and looked at her picture.  How does one woman know so much about such good sex?

I shoved the book into my nightstand drawer and turned off the light.  I curled myself up underneath my sheets, closed my eyes, and tried to go to bed.  An image of Gary popped up almost immediately out of nowhere.  I almost stopped breathing as an old memory stopped all other brain function so it could play clearly in my mind.  It was like the time I was watching the food network and just as Paula Dean was about to pull her chocolate cupcakes out of the oven, the news station interrupted with an important message from the president; it was annoying and uncalled for.  All I saw in my head was Gary’s big, brown eyes.  The way he kissed all the way down to my hipbone and gave me the weirdest sensation I had never felt before, and never felt again.  The way he looked up at me through his lashes, just as Christian did to Ana, and we locked eyes; neither of us looked away…

“Time to get up, Lace.” My mom’s soft voice entered into my sleepy thoughts.  I cracked my eyes open to see her silhouette standing in between the light from the hallway and darkness of my room.  “It’s 6:15,” she said as she started to walk towards me.  I shifted in my sleep and groaned to let her know that I was up and she didn’t have to shake me.  As I lifted my body off of my mattress I glanced over at my clock.  6:13.  That liar.  I slammed my head back on the pillow and took advantage of the two extra minutes in which I could have been dreaming of my Christian Grey.  At that point, however, falling back asleep for a couple of minutes would probably just bring me to have some crazy realistic dream of me brushing my teeth only to realize I haven’t even left the comfort of my own bed.

As soon as my phone vibrated with a text from Madelaina I was out the door with my cup of tea before my mom could start lecturing me about college deadlines.

“Oh- bye hon, have a good day!”

“Thanks!” –and I was out.

The brisk, December air smacked my face just from stepping into my garage.  I made my way over to Madelaina’s gold, Honda CRV and opened the door.

“Haiii,” she greeted me with Michael Buble’s Christmas track as it played softly through the speakers.

“Hiii,” I slid into the passenger’s seat and put my tea into the cup holder as I settled in.  Maddy and I have a mutual agreement on jamming to Christmas music/Taylor Swift in the car from now until Christmas.  It’s one of the many things we have in common.

“Laina put on Trouble- put on T-Swift,” Maddy’s sophomore brother, Gunther, beckoned from the back seat.  “Laina, Laina put on-“

“Shut up Gunther!  We’re listening to my Christmas Pandora!” Maddy was obviously not in the mood to deal with Gunther’s pestering, although it was entertaining for me as I sat in the passenger’s seat and laughed into my tea.

After waiting on the car line for about five minutes as we discussed how much of an ass hole Emmett was being lately, (one of my ONCE good friends who I am no longer friends with anymore due to his ass hole behavior), we finally pulled into the senior parking lot.

Just to back track for a moment, Emmett and I started getting really close at the beginning of this year.  He was always close with our group of friends because he’s always been a nice guy and easy to talk to.  I never saw Emmett as anything more than a friend, so when he started coming onto me after I broke up with Ted I wasn’t sure how to take it.  I was pretty horny from feeling deprived after going from everything to nothing practically overnight after the break up, so I tried to see myself hooking up with Emmett but I just couldn’t do it.  I think Emmett is a cute kid- I really do.  It’s just…it’s Emmett…  Whenever I think of hooking up with him I wince because I feel like it would be so awkward.  For starters, his teeth are big and although he has a great smile, I feel like he wouldn’t know how to maneuver his tongue around his teeth.  Just recently he has been coming onto me a lot more than usual.

Ex. #1:  I received a text at around nine one night when he was at the Dave Matthew’s Band concert.  This was our conversation.

DEC. 1ST, 9:11 PM

Emmett:  I miss u 😦

Me:  :,( What’s up?

Emmett:  Nothing just chilling

Living life right now

Me:  Haha same just eating some cookies hehe

Emmett:  That is pretty nice

Me:  Haha ik it’s the Pillsbury sugar cookie kind with the pictures 😀

Emmett:  Any peanut butter?

Me:  Sadly no :/ I’m stuffed

Emmett:  Well my weekend isn’t as good without u.

Me:  Haha what?!  That can’t be true.. Vlad (his dad) is such a party animal.

Emmett:  Nah good thing im not anywhere near him

Me:  Why do u say that

Emmett:  Not home haha.  He is

Me:  Haha ohh where r u?

Emmett:  At the dmb concert *insert excited/constipated emoji here*

Me:  Haha ohh really?! How is it?

Emmett:  So fucking good.  Could be better 😉

Me:  Haha I doubt it.  Dmb rox *insert random emojis here* (PS. That statement is sarcastic, I do not like Dave Matthews).

Emmett:  So do u

Me:  Lol.. Drink a little too much tonight??!

Emmett:  Of course not

Me:  High? *insert cigarette emoji here*

Emmett:  Of course not

Me:  Hahah are ya sure..?

Emmett:  Positive J

Me:  So you didn’t smoke or drink at all tonight..

Emmett:  Maybe a little

Me:  Haha that’s what I thought

Emmett:  Still…

Me:  Still…….

Emmett:  I miss u

Me:  Haha miss u too?

!*

Emmett:  I was a little scared with that question mark

Me:  Haha sorry it was a typo

Emmett:  *insert happy emoji here*

After I didn’t respond to his last text, he ended up Snapchatting me with suggestive captions that started out harmless, such as “What r u doing”.  Then I would answer “in bed” and send a really disgustingly ugly picture of myself with multiple chins.  Then, he would respond, “I’m coming over”.  And I would be like “..no”.  Then he would be like “if I had my car I so would”.  Then I frantically tried to end it with, “I’m tired, night!” before he decided to Snapchat me a pic of his dick.

So after all of that went down, as if our friendship that I so carefully tried to preserve despite his hormonally rash behavior meant nothing to him whatsoever, I found out the next day that him and his friends refer to us as LG’s, aka: local grenades.  I wanted to fucking murder him.

DEC. 2ND, 11:00 AM

“Me: You’re an ass hole

Emmett: Why? Ur the one that rejected me last night…

Me: Why would u have even come onto me I’m a local grenade

Emmett: What is that?

Me: Apparently what lg stands for

Aka what you call our friends

Emmett: Aka who told u this nonsense?

Me: Sally heard it from Sadie and Cheryl

I knew it was something bad you just would never tell me.  You can’t even tell me it’s not true because I have a pretty good idea it is something bad like that

Emmett: And where did they acquire this misconstrued info?

Me: Stfu I’m not kidding you’re so annoying

All of you are

Emmett: Alright this is why I never wanted to tell u

Me: ?

No** this is why you should have never said it

Who invented it and why

Emmett: Not i

Me: Idc who was it

Emmett: Idk

Me: Ok then you can fuck yourself and feel free to tell Weeter, Paine and everyone else the same.

Emmett: *insert crying emoji here*

WHAT A FUCKING ASS HOLE.  The nerve he had to come onto me so much the night before and then not even act as though he cared.  A crying face.  That’s all the response I got.  Not even an apology or explanation.  He hasn’t texted me since then, or tried to talk to me about it whatsoever.  I flipped him off in the hallway and he smiled at me and told me to stop.  I just kept walking- he didn’t even try to stop me.  Then I received a Snapchat of a Mexican he works with, with the caption “only white person working..help”.  I hope that Mexican raped him.

My first period class passed slowly as Jen and I struggled to make it through Calculus, then we were both off to art.  Art is my favorite class and I wish it lasted all day.  Especially through Health…

My health class consists of me, and basically every boy in my grade that is cooler than me (besides Dylan Trainer, my immature yet adorable ex-boyfriend), and a bunch of weird girls who I’m not friends with.  That being said, I am forced to sit amongst stupid boys and listen to their sexist remarks and immature comments that make me want to punch a wall.  Stupid boys: Blake Tamburino (somewhat attractive football player/wrestler/flirt/anti-gay/ass hole, status: not relevant), Mike Zingarelli (super attractive hockey player, status: taken), Saul Hamden (funny, friendliest of the group, status: taken), Damon Ramer (old crush, hilariously weird and adorable, status: single), and then there’s Dylan.  Oh Dylan, whenever I think he might be cute again he just opens his mouth and all hope is lost.

Although these boys are stupid, as most boys are, I mostly point that derogatory label towards Blake who continues to amaze me with his offensive remarks every time he decides to speak.  Like the time Ms. Lemon made us look up ads that were sexually persuasive.  Blake looked up an ad with a girl in a bikini bending over with a picture of potato chips in the corner.  Then, when he described it to the class he had the whole clan laughing up a storm.

“So…there’s a girl…and uh…she’s…attractive…in a bikini…and uh…”

“And what is she doing?” Lemon interrupts him to try to encourage his brain mush to form some sort of language.

“She’s bending over…” he has to stop here before his laughter completely deteriorates his ability to form a sentence.

“She’s got big cans,” Mike says plainly as he continues to play Subway Surfers on his iPhone.  Why is he so hot?

I blinked rapidly and looked away from Mike, wondering if I actually just thought that.  Must’ve been my inner E.L. James.  He is really hot though, too bad he isn’t single.  Not like he would get with me anyways…or would he? (aka: my thought process every time I look at him).  Then again, reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” has really taken a toll on my imagination– every guy I look at fantasize about.

Ms. Lemon does not seem the least bit phased by this random outburst.  She was always a pushover.  Lemon and her sleeveless turtlenecks..  It’s funny because she wears sweaters over them and you would think they have sleeves, naturally, but when she finally takes off the sweater– BAM.  No sleeves.

I was partnered with Damon after Lemon told us to partner up because he was the only one left.  The guys usually jumped to partner with their friends, but this time there was no jumping because they knew it was awkward with me obviously not having someone to jump too.  Well, Dylan didn’t quite catch on.

“Mikerrrz,” he said as he turned around and smacked Mike’s desk before Lemon could even finish giving instructions.  After mentally breaking down over the humiliatingly dramatic situation at hand, I turned around in my desk to face my doom.

“I don’t really care who I’m with,” Blake said almost to me. Although he is stupid and an ass hole, he is kind of nice if that even makes sense.  Or maybe he’s just an habitual flirt.  Either way it’s irrelevant because he wound up being with Saul.

“Alright, who doesn’t have a partner?” I decided to be courageous and take matters into my own hands, despite how much they were shaking.  Mike looked up at me with a trace of sympathy in his grey eyes, yet jokingly stated for the sake of his manhood;

“I don’t think Paljeet has a partner,” surely this one got a couple chuckles out of the group.  Paljeet is an Indian kid in our class with a turban and a thick beard and mustache to match.  He could pass for forty at least.  I felt terrible that he didn’t have a partner, but he is very creepy and I was not about to discuss my sexual ad with him of all people.  I looked nervously across the room as my heart rate quickened.  I spotted Damon in the back and quickly called him out.  He was minding his own business, pretending not to be quick to jump in and be my partner when in reality I’m sure he wanted to be my partner just as bad as I didn’t want to be Paljeet’s.

“DAMON- do you have a partner?” I said loudly to make sure I got his attention on the first try.  His brown eyes peered up from his paper and away from his doodles and locked into mine- but only for a quick, timid second before looking back down.

“Nah,” he responded.

“Wanna be mine?”

“Sure.”  Damon is funny.  And although I mean literally because he is probably the funniest kid in our grade, he isn’t funny in the way most kids are.  He is seriously funny- not the joke-cracking kind, or sarcastic kind either.  His sense of humor is quiet and serious, the kind where you can never tell if the person kidding or not.

Being partnered with him in health that day brought me back to sixth grade again.  I would be shitting myself right now, who would’ve thought; me, Lacy Baker, asking Damon Ramer to be my partner..in health…discussing SEXUAL ads.  I silently praised myself on my sixth-grade-self’s behalf.  That day was one of the few – very few – good days in health.

When the bell rang, I was off to Forensics to spend a solid forty-five minutes with Phoebe.  I would have killed myself by now if Phoebe wasn’t in that class, considering Amanda Stein is one of the only other girls I’m even remotely friendly with and I strongly dislike her.  Plus, I’ve come to the realization that I have hooked up with two of the guys in that class and one of whom no one will ever let me forget.  Carl.

It was around this time junior year when Mitch had a party at her house.  The one and only party she threw and I got with Carl Cabrera.  He’s Jared’s little brother (Sally’s boyfriend), and has never stopped liking me since I was his first kiss.  We’ve had a love/hate relationship ever since I also got with his best friend on that same night, Andrew Barker.  It was more of a forced rape that he refuses to have enjoyed.  I was really drunk…  but I know he liked it.  Barker is confusing like that.  His sense of humor is so sarcastic he will be joking 100% of the time, so you’re forced to be sarcastic back, even if you’re actually serious.  He’s adorable and currently on my “TO DO” list for Christmas break 😉 not literally of course, but he’s really cute and I can’t help but wonder if he flirts with me sometimes.

So I walked to Forensics with Phoebe and Sadie Poet.  Sadie P and I have become really close this year ever since she broke up with her ex, Roger Ferranti.  After going away to boot camp all summer, he came back a total army freak and didn’t give her the time of day.  Now he shamelessly tries to get in all of our pants.  Bottom line: he is a douche bag.

I told them my story about health and how Mike is so hot and Damon and I rekindled our nonexistent-flame.

“I have a feeling there will be a lot more health stories to tell…” I said to Phoebe whose face lit up with excitement.  She loves my stories, and I love telling them.

After suffering through a period of looking at hair follicles under a microscope, the bell finally rang and I was off to the parking lot.  Maddy and I get to leave right after seventh period because we both have lunch and study hall during eighth and ninth for the first half of the year.  It’s kind of awesome.

As we walked up the hallway towards the auditorium I couldn’t help but notice Barker has early dismissal too.  I caught his eye from down the hall as we turned the corner and he squinted his eyes at me with his sarcastic attitude.  I squinted my eyes and gave him a dirty look back.  As Maddy and I continued walking I felt a tap on my left shoulder and then Barker came up from behind me on my right.  Typical.  I faked a punch at his shoulder and he was quick to move out of the way.

“HEY WOAH!  Watch it!!!” he demanded, seemingly annoyed that I would ever do such a thing.  Then he continued to walk on past as if I didn’t even exist.  He’s so confusing, but I know there’s some attraction there.  I know that Barker is notorious for that kind of flirtatious behavior with everyone, and he may even take it further with other girls but I don’t know- I feel like it’s different.  He texted me once last weekend at 1 AM and just said “Hey Lauren”, like come on, that has to mean something.  No matter how sarcastic that kid is it isn’t enough to hide the mutual attraction between us, let’s be real!  (Or so I wish).

Maddy and I jam to Taylor Swift as I get into one of my typical quiet moods and feel as though I am a part of one of Taylor’s depressing music videos.  We both sing out loud, but I sing softly.  I look out the window and although this may seem over dramatic (which I can sometimes be), I think of Gary as I sing.

I’ve gotten past the point of cursing myself for thinking about him because I’ve come to accept the fact there will most likely never be a time where I won’t.  Especially when my hormones are raging.  So I just learn to accept it.  Somewhere deep down inside my gut I know that two summers ago was not the end between Gary and I.  There will be another moment in time for us, whether it is just a moment or whether it is a lifetime; I know there will be.  And I am excited.

I look out the window and I feel sad but know that I shouldn’t.  Amongst the sadness, however, there is excitement.  I know that something wonderful is waiting for me just around the corner; I just need to get there.

Love is Magic

“Life is so interesting,” she said to me as we sat at a little round table in the back of Starbucks.  “It all comes together in the most magical ways.  I can’t wait for you to find that magic with someone.”  I tried to hold back tears as she told me how her and my uncle met.  How she broke up with him because she was bored then ended up getting back together with him later on down the road.  “We would always talk, I would give him advice about girls and he would be there for me when I needed advice too.  He was dating Anna at the time, and they were dating for a while.”  Her blue eyes twinkled in the dimly lit coffee shop.  Her brown hair hung lose around her fair face and landed just below her shoulders.  She held a faint smile on her thin, glossed lips.  “I asked him if he loved her, he said he didn’t know.  He said they haven’t had sex and he’s not sure how he feels about her.  So, I told him to take her away for the weekend and have sex with her!  See if he loves her or not, test it out…”  She paused for a moment before she continued, her eyes fixed on something distant behind me.  “When I hung up the phone I knew.  I still loved him.  God, I was a wreck that weekend.”

I listened intently.  Intrigued about every word that came out of her mouth, craving the ending to the story that is her life.

“When he got back from his trip I asked, well, how’d it go?  He said it went well.  I asked if he told her he loved her and he said no, so I said well why not?  He said, because I love you.”  My eyes filled with water and I tried to hold it back, but I knew that the real reason I was crying was not solely because of how touching that story was.  My Uncle Thomas was her Ted.  In every way shape and form he is to her what Ted is to me.  I wondered if that meant Ted and I were destined to be together, because I too broke up with him out of boredom, but miss him at the same time.  She told me how Thomas was not her soulmate, however.  She went on to tell me about the electricity she had with her old boyfriend from Ireland and how they could never be together because his mom wouldn’t let him move to America.  It was magical love.  She told me how she had dinner with him last summer and he started crying.  When she asked why, he said she knew why.  Because she was the one he was supposed to marry.

Life is interesting.  Although my Aunt Karen loves my Uncle Thomas, she said that it’s a different kind of love.  “There are many kinds of love,” she says “they are all different, and all wonderful.”  She knows that Thomas isn’t her soul mate, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t supposed to marry him.  She fascinates me.  I could have sat in that Starbucks for hours upon hours talking about how our family came to be the way it was, and how love is a truly special thing that you have to be sure you experience at least once in your life, and never settle for less until you’ve had it.

“Did it hurt him when you broke up with him?” I nodded my head as the tears swelled up in my eyes and began to pour down my cheeks.  I looked down at my lap and she reached her hands across the table and took mine in hers.  “Did it hurt you?”  I nodded again.  My shoulders shook as I cried softly, I couldn’t hold it in no matter how hard I tried.  I couldn’t believe I was crying so hard in public.  There is just something about Aunt Karen that inspires you, makes you believe that there is a magical fairy tale waiting for you and gets you excited to find it.  She is the wisest person I know, and she sat there and held my hands in Starbucks until I stopped crying.

I cried because of Ted.  I cried because I know Ted is not my soul mate, and I cried because he is too good to settle for anything but the fairy tale he deserves, as am I.

“Maybe Ted won’t love someone again the way he loves you.  But that’s kinda cool.”  I laughed as I wiped my sleeve under my eyes.  “There are many kinds of love out there.  Don’t settle for anything less than magic.”