fitzgerald

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[This was a Personal Response to Text assignment for my English class, written in response to the film “Midnight in Paris” regarding the conflict between illusion and reality.]


 

And all I could do was dream. Because isn’t that all we can ever do?

The leaves have fallen and the days have grown shorter; the nights longer. I liked it that way. With every shortened day, I could taste the satisfaction that comes with knowing that there was a definitively decreased chance of things falling apart. And in those hours that were lost, I would dream.

I would dream of the days dominated by light, the nights run by some wild and youthful recklessness. The days that were filled with some kind of naively invincible version of myself; the version void of responsibility and expectation. The days that were as full as the blossoms on the trees tasting sunlight for the very first time; the days I craved before everything began falling apart.

The days before the world began chipping away at my heart, molding it into something that it was never meant to become. Before I turned to mend my heart with barbed wire, stringing the pieces back together with a needle and thread.

The days before I stared endlessly into the mirror that I so desperately wanted to believe would pull up the corners of my mouth and leave drops of stardust in my eyes. Before I turned to an inevitable state of oblivion; floating amongst the stars that I could only hope that one day I would become.

The days before my heart would be numbed, floating in a bath of alcohol, in some desperate attempt to be like the greats. It worked for Fitzgerald after all, floating in and out of some alcoholic depression; believing in some intoxicated illusion that everything would be alright. And despite the world falling apart outside of those bloodshot eyes, I suppose everything would be alright.

Because in a parallel universe,

things promise to not fall apart the way they always tend to.

Maybe this time Fitzgerald and I won’t die believing ourselves to be failures.

But all I can do is dream. Because isn’t that all we can ever do?


Photo Credit: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/364087951108068199/

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grade one

Southeast elementary. South middle school. High school.

There’s four elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.

A northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, a north and a south, and one city.


I met him in Grade 1.

I remember all of the controversy about how to say his last name and all of the girls having those Elementary School Crushes on him. I barely talked to him in Grade 1, I only remember two encounters we had that year:

On the side of the classroom, atop a counter stood a red plastic basket full of books. I was much too short to reach it, but tried anyways. The basket tilted, and the books began their journey to the floor, sliding out, threatening to hit my face. He came over to help me, and propped the basket back upright. I thanked him, that was all.

One morning, the school bus didn’t come. My mom waited with me, his grandma waited with him. My mom tells me that his grandma talked to her as we waited, “He went to get a haircut, and the lady doing his hair cut it a little too short. He is not very impressed.” We ended up driving him to school that morning. I remember trying to create conversation to cut the nervous atmosphere of two elementary acquaintances sitting in the same car. We walked to the Grade 1 doors, talking, the atmosphere less awkward now. Once reaching the doors, we dropped our backpacks in the line-up and he told me, “Sorry, I have to go find my friends.” and then ran off to find them, as I walked towards mine.

I don’t remember the next time we spoke.

Grades 2, 3, 4, we unknowingly coexisted, nearly speaking but never quite. I saw him in the hallways, as he saw me, and his classroom was always just a few doors down, if not, right beside mine.

Elementary school came and went, and middle school began.

Grade 5 and 6 our classrooms were close, next door even. At breaks we saw each other in the hallways, but I can’t ever remember speaking with him. Grade 7 he was in the partner class to mine. We passed each other, switching in and out of each classroom each day, as they progressed.

We continued to coexist and maintain knowledge of the other’s existence without ever directly interacting. Almost speaking, but fate preventing our lives from overlapping too soon I suppose.

Grade 8 we were in the same class. I didn’t really notice him at first, it’d been a while – just as I’m sure he didn’t notice me. I was more excited about my friends being in my class anyways, as I am sure he was. Our class consisted of small groups, but it also had a feeling of unity, as though we were really just one big family.

As the year progressed, and him and I acknowledged each other’s existence more frequently, we began to talk. I can’t remember when or how, but his friends and my friends molded together and became quite close. After ups and downs, and times when questioning the so-called friendship that existed had passed, by the end of the year, we all considered ourselves close friends.

It was a good year, Grade 8. Within our group, we had made friendships that we knew would continue into High School, and these friendships were with people that we knew we could count on. My friend and this guy even had the most infamous relationship known to the eighth grade.

And as I realized that I had grown up with and known him since Grade 1, it was strange to think that the last time we had talked to each other was the first year of elementary school, and the next time we truly began to get to know each other was the last year of middle school.

The next year, our group remained just as tight as we had been. He was on my bus. Despite having none to one class with the odd person in our group, we were always together at lunch, keeping up to date on each other’s lives and the school’s. As the year progressed, we realized that as our friends applied for other schools, that our group wouldn’t remain the same forever.

The said infamous relationship and the friendships within our group strengthened and were cherished as the realization set in that next year, the only people left would be me, him, and his best friend. What we clung to, I think, was the ignorance. I think we pretended that everything would go on as it were forever. For a while the thought of our best friends leaving was a distant possibility in the future. But as the end of the year neared, it became a haunting reality.

At the end of the year, some of us hugged and said goodbye through tears, while others said an indifferent goodbye, trying to ignore the fact that we wouldn’t be the same friends as we once were for the rest of high school. We said goodbye as though we would see each other again next year, everything unchanged.

But now it’s just me, him, and his best friend.

All on the same bus, all still friends.

Now the group that once sat in a large oval in the hallway at lunchtime, can sit in a booth in the cafeteria with lots of room to spare. And no matter how annoyed we might become with each other, we’ll always have each other.

Over the summer, my mom told me about these weird coincidences.

When she was a child, she went to the same church as his mom. His grandpa was the pastor. His grandpa had almost married my parents. How some of the decorations in our house came from his grandma’s garage sale.

It’s strange to think that even before the individual paths of our lives overlapped, our lives had been destined to overlap.

And maybe he thinks that I am annoying. Maybe he thinks I am a terrible friend. Maybe he thinks I have no life. Maybe he does. Maybe he really doesn’t want hang out with me at lunch after all.

But he still shows me his favourite movie, and introduces me to his church friends. He still accepts me as I am and offers to be my wingman. He’s still there for me when I need him the most, with opinions and advice about the stupidest of things. And I know I can trust him, just as I hope he knows that he can trust me. And he is still my friend just as I am his. And I’m glad.

Now it’s us applying to a new school, and continuing our journey together. And it’s us driving around in his car, and ditching the bus to ride to school. And it’s us who start and finish, enter and graduate school together.

As time passes, lives overlap and paths cross, and the coincidences and true intentions of life reveal themselves. Fate has terribly intricate yet meaningful tendencies.

It’s strange to think that I have known him since Grade 1, and he has known me. It’s strange to think that we’ve watched each other grow up, whether realizing it or not. And it’s strange to think about the way our friendship came about. But everything that happened, one could argue, happened for a reason. And the reason for our friendship was all a result of a multitude of events that had occurred, just as they intended to.

Fate and destiny have a way of intertwining themselves in one’s life. Once you realize that they have, in fact, impacted your life, coincidences you hadn’t realized existed begin to pop up, and over time you realize that fate and destiny have an incredible capability to allow the cliche “Everything happens for a reason” to be proven true.

In Grade 1, he was supposedly my “character role model”.

He knows it too.

We joke about it and laugh, just as we do about countless other things.

It’s almost Grade 11 now, and we are still friends. Good friends I like to think.

I met him in Grade 1.

the man in the moon

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[This was a Personal Response to Text assignment for my English class, written in response to the following prompt: What do these texts suggest about the interplay between an individual’s ambition and his/her ability to leave a legacy?]


He told me that every time a soul was laid to rest, a star would burn in remembrance. We walked along the sand, the arms of midnight held open in an attempt to embrace our presence. The grains of sand rearranged themselves to trace the soles of our feet, as if in an effort to obtain some kind of proof of what once was.

I suppose a lot has changed; valleys are beginning to be dug from my cheeks, and rivers carved from my eyes. Him, however, his skin remains that of a porcelain doll, untouched, and his eyes sparkle with the same intent that they always had.

And I couldn’t help but notice how insignificant the amount of stars seemed compared to the grand scheme of the universe that night.

He always brought a scroll of parchment with him, to map out all of the souls as far as the eye could see; I always thought him to be peculiar. I always thought it strange for him to name all of the dots he had mapped, as if in some effort to know them, to befriend them.

I guess I always knew I was different.

And as we walked, I couldn’t help but notice that his footsteps were the first to be taken away. And as the tide receded, with all of the knowledge it had come into possession of, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Man in the Moon would know. If somehow by dictating how the ocean rose and sank, it was all in an effort to deliver one’s memories to Him.

We climbed the stairs of the old lighthouse that perched itself on the edge of the precipice. Once we reached the top, I would stare into the eye of Night, and he, he would look up, in awe, to the stars that shone as bright as the souls who had once possessed them. It had been well over a decade since the lighthouse had last operated, but the only memory I have of the statute that epitomizes my childhood, was one in which it shone.

Now, however, I find the idea of sailors navigating the wide and the nameless by means of stars to be quite romantic. And I find the character of the undistinguished to be astonishing, as one might describe the ability to suppress the lonesome nature of Night.


Years later, there’s some odd familiarity that comes with the nostalgia that I allow to wash over me in waves.

I remember him telling me that every time a soul was laid to rest, a star would burn in remembrance. And we would walk along the sand and we would climb the stairs of the old lighthouse and he would alway bring a scroll of parchment with him and he would map out all of the souls as far as the eye could see.

And now I hold it before me, the names faded, the ink smudged. And now I stand, looking out from the top of the broken lighthouse; I stand looking from the map to the sky, (voraciously, frantically, desperately) searching for a star that hadn’t been so meticulously recorded. Because I was sure that he would have, in all of his records, reserved some sort of spot for himself.

And I couldn’t help but notice how insignificant the amount of stars seemed compared to the grand scheme of the universe that night.

Looking out amongst the stars, I suddenly felt so overwhelmingly engulfed in the abyss to which I stared. And I imagined that this is what sailors must feel like, with no light to guide them. And I thought about how wide and nameless the ocean was, and how so is Life.

But as I stared into the eye of Night, I could have sworn a flash of light, unlike any other but that of a lighthouse, compelled me to look away.

And I imagined that this is what sailors must feel like, after they had been so incredibly lost, to meet a light inviting them to embark on some journey away from “here”.

And as I drew my eyes to what shone with some kind of tarnished iridescence, I realized that it must be Him: the Man in the Moon.

But all that I saw on the face of the moon that night, was a reflection of my very own.

 




 

To explain the basic construct of the symbols in the context of the story, the man who was mapping the stars (which symbolize the legacies that are widely known or ”lasting”) was obsessed with the idea of leaving a legacy (thus explaining his tendency to map the stars). The reference to there being an insignificant amount of stars is meant to portray the idea that a legacy is not always something you leave to become widely known. Despite being obsessed with this idea, the man’s ambitions were left in the past (his footprints), being washed away/overpowered by doubts (which is symbolized by the ocean). 

The night symbolizes fear, and the fact that the stars shine at night conveys the idea that these people left a legacy by pursuing their ambitions even in the face of fear itself. The lighthouse symbolizes comfort, and the idea that the lighthouse shone in the narrator’s childhood, and the fact that they stared into the night as the man stared to the stars, suggests that they have learned to face “fear”, and have since pursued their ambitions. 

The sailors are intended to, to some extent, represent ambition. As they navigate the ocean using the stars, they are left without comfort, using solely the idea of a legacy to guide them in times of fear. The moon controls the tides of the ocean, and it controls the waves of doubt in the story, but when the moon is mistaken for the lighthouse, and the narrator identifies their reflection in it, it is realized that you serve as your own lighthouse, ultimately making the choice whether to succumb to fear, or allow it to suppress your ambitions. The narrator’s relation to feeling like a sailor (identifying with their ambitions) allow them to realize that they are the one who must suppress the fears that stand in their way to achieve such things.


Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/sky-full/

thank you

Thank you for the memories:

the good and the bad,

because god knows there’s been both.

 

But thank you,

for standing up and stepping back down

when I needed someone else to put my suit of armour on for me.

 

And thank you,

for not putting it all on correctly,

because I like to think that is what keeps my skin tough.

 

So thank you,

for being the kind of friend that no one expected you to be:

the one who is brutally honest but never fails to keep my heart laughing.

 

The one that keeps all of our pinky promises.


Photo Credit: http://m.lovethispic.com/image/21140/pinky-promise

for just a moment

And the sun had set that night, taking all of the yesterdays with it,

and has since risen with all of the possibilities of tomorrow.

But sitting next to you, for just a moment,

it was some perfect balance between the two.

 

It was some realization that time is just a concept,

and that, for just a moment,

it felt like the world had stopped for just the two of us.

 

And there were moments where I didn’t expect to feel the way I did,

the same way I did last night, and the same way I [hoped] that I would tomorrow.

The way I would after my heart was held so tenderly by the boy who stood breathing in the cold night air

listening to me ramble on about God knows what,

while bouts of laughter filled the stretches of silence that come with new beginnings.

 

And for just a moment it felt like the world had stopped for just the two of us,

and it scares me how you can make me feel this way,

without any promise of the future;

the future that comes with all of the possibilities that my mind has thought up.

 

Because they have been telling me that words are just words

that supply glasses half filled with empty promises,

and the hauntingly beautiful impression that everything is alright in the world.

 

And for just a moment, I thought that maybe,

just maybe,

we could sit here for a while longer,

with the world stopped for just the two of us.

 

And for just a moment you could make me believe

that the glass is in fact half filled —

filled with all of the promises that I’m ready to believe you will keep;

and no longer is there any room for words that are said but not done

to echo against some kind of meaningless filler.

 

And I thought that maybe,

maybe for just a moment, 

this feeling could last forever.


Photo Credit: http://vintageistheonlyway.tumblr.com/?route=%2F

 

o k a y

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It’s okay.

I’ll sit here and brush stardust off of my shoulders, while you climb your ladder of popsicle sticks and toothpicks only to steal the stars that dance in my sky.

That’s okay.

Because it’s just a matter of time before they die anyway, and their ashes will fall from the sky, and I will try and catch them, like snowflakes, on the tip of my tongue.

And I know you’ll like it better that way, being in the dark, because you’ve always liked it like that. And I’ll pretend to like it too, but under the glow of a street lamp, because the stars don’t shine around here anymore.

It’ll be okay. 

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway, because it’s cold out, and my mama said to bring a jacket but I didn’t listen. And now he’s standing there, darkness filling some void that I had tried to fill, but never could.

And now I’m standing under the glow of a street lamp and I’m cold, but my mama said that it isn’t my fault. She said that it was never my job to fix him; but I’m not trying to fix him, I’m trying to save him from himself.

But it’s okay.

I suppose there’s always been something romantic about a good girl falling for a bad boy, but not all love ends with a happily ever after. Because sometimes I could’ve sworn that he would catch me, but all I ever do is fall through the void that I so ruthlessly loathe.

And now I’m sitting here, brushing stardust off of my shoulders, while you climb your ladder of popsicle sticks and toothpicks only to steal the stars that dance in my sky.

I’m okay.

But I want him to be.


Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448037862904130317/

16 years

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Over there is a girl, falling asleep to the glow of the artificial stars that remind her that her dreams are a part of something much bigger than the confines of her ceiling.

And the rain is still falling where she is, but with every rain drop that glides down her windowpane, she’s reminded that she is just as small as a drop in the eventual ocean.

And over there is a girl with big blue eyes, and wide outstretched fingers, waiting to catch whatever life has to offer her.

And between the scabs that litter her palms from the shards of glass she’s caught and the fork in the road attempting to feed her lies about her destiny:

She’s ready.

She’s hesitant.

Because over there is a girl who still has to remember to remind her heart to continue to trip over the beat of itself, and her lungs to empty.

And over there is a girl who’s skin is much lighter than the ink of the pen that carves words onto her heart. The pen in the hands of the ones who shouldn’t be allowed near it, but are let in regardless; for the superficial appearance of such genuine words remind her that their meaning could never seap through the shell that encases something that they could never understand.

She talks in either blunt understatements or elaborate run-on sentences because there is always something being underthought or overthought and she can’t seem to find the middleground where she can stand rooted in what she says without the resistance from behind and ahead and from either side of her…

And she is a girl who doesn’t like having her picture taken, because if a picture speaks a thousand words, then why couldn’t she just write them instead of having to stand here trying to mimic the muscles of her face that are strengthened only by authenticity.

And over there is a girl who’s confidence level is second-guess yourself until the second thoughts you had before are the ones that keep the gears of your mind a well-oiled-machine well into the wee hours of the morning.

She has a short-term memory on a long-term plan, and she needs to be told again and again and again to validate her first thoughts: because they are the ones that don’t deserve to become second-hand.

And she is a girl who holds her ridiculously immature jokes in one hand, and her knowledge of the cosmos in the other, wondering if they can coexist or if they rebut each other so much that together they have the capacity to label her as a hoax.

And over there is a girl who is still struggling to know what she believes in, even though all that oozes in and out of her is love.

She has high hopes and low expectations, with only the assumption that the next day her shirt should match the colour of the food she’ll be eating.

And she is waiting for the boy who has his nose in a book rather than stuck in the air. The one that takes her hand and makes her feel like the superhero instead of the one who needs saving.

She’s hesitant.

Because over there is a girl who looks just like she does.

With the same big blue eyes, and wide outstretched fingers, waiting to catch whatever life has to offer her.

With all of the perfections and mistakes that come with her 16 years of experience.

With all of the confusion and contradictions of a fish swimming upstream.

With all of the words in the world, but the only ones that come close to describing her being: pretty damn naive.

But she’s ready.

The rain is still falling where she is, and with every rain drop that glides down her windowpane, she is still reminded that she is just as small as a drop in the eventual ocean.

But she’s ready.

Because there she is, over there, a girl falling asleep to the glow of the artificial stars that remind her that her dreams are a part of something much bigger than the confines of her ceiling.

And so is she.


Photo Credit: Brianna Dyck