I began to notice that our relationship dynamics had changed, but maybe it was only apparent in my eyes. Around the middle of Summer in 2003 we spent more tmie together and I began to look at her with a different pair of eyes than I used to. There were of course times when I was just being myself and said something stupid that she didn't like, but she never let that affect our relationship. I always did my best to try to stand out for her, so maybe she could see me the way that I saw her. It made us closer as friends, but nothing more, that is until I decided to step it up and straight out tell her.
This wasn't going to be an easy task. Back then I wasn't exactly the poetry king that I am now. I barely read the stuff and couldn't write a poem worth a damn to save my life. That's who I was back then, but it changed in November of my Sophmore year when I got a really good idea. I wanted to do what all guys try to do, and that is to woo the girl with a heartfelt and emotionally charged love poem. Since I had no talent in that arena I sought the help of my close friend, who just happened to be a poet savant. He made me write down an exstensive list of reasons why I liked her, words I would use to describe her, the way I felt about her, and so on. With my help he sculpted a stunningly beautiful love letter that to this day makes me tear up. I also managed to get a lovely piece of jewelry to go along with the note that I folded into the small box.
It was early December when this task was completed and I needed the perfect opportunity to present her with this small token of my affection. I knew just handing it to her and walking away wouldn't be enough, I needed something more grand and romantic than that. And it just so happened that there was to be a Christmas party held at her house on December 22nd and I was on the list to attend. "Perfect" I thought. "I can give her this present at her house in the privacy of her room and see where it leads from there" But, life doesn't always take us down a path we choose ourselves.
So this party comes and I have the gift stowed in my deep inner jacket pocket, awaiting the time when I can give it to her, but as the time draws near I get more nervous. It was the picturesque evening. Spending time with friends, enjoying a good meal, sharing laughs and stories of fond memories ,as well as gifts. My time was running out and I needed to do it soon, or I would leave and never get an opportunity as perfect as this again.
I almost missed my chance too, but right before i was set to leave I pulled her aside to her room.
"What do you want?" she asked as she gave a heavenly smile. "Everyone is ready to leave. You need to hurry up and get outside before they leave you"
"I know." I said, giving my own smile, although it was a far more nervous and awkward one. "I just wanted to say, I had a great time tonight, and I wanted to give you this one special thing." I handed her the bag which contained the box and the letter I poured myself into for her. "I think you'll love it." I leaned in and gave her a hug and then turned away and exited the house before I could gauge her reaction to all of this.
I got into my buddies car and we headed off into the cool December night. I knew I had screwed up, that no good could come from what had just happened. I knew I had blown it, I knew I had ruined my only shot with this girl. I didn't talk for the first few minutes, I let my heart rate go down and my breathing to return to a more normal state. My friend knew what I had done and he gave me time for me to be ready to talk about it. Finally I let out a frustrated groan, slammed my hands into the dashboard, and said, "I am such an idiot"
My best friend Tomas just rubbed my back and said, "Hey man, it's not as bad as you think"
"Easy for you to say there buddy," I said through clenched teeth. "You didn't just pour your heart out to some girl, and then chicken out before she could say anything"
"How do you know she's not going to love you back"
"I can't, but why would she want to love me?" I asked as a tear rolled down my right cheek, followed by one from the left. "Obviously I just proved how much of a coward I am. I am also not the prettiest flower in the garden if you haven't noticed." I lowered my head and in a low tone, lower than my friends could hear, I said, "I don't even deserve to love someone like her"
"It's going to be fine, Evan," my friend Kevin said. "The worst that could happen is she doesn't like you. You might lose your friendship with her, but that's about the worst"
"No," Tomas butted in, "The worst that could happen is that she could file sexual harassment charges on you"
Kevin had to stifle his laugh and he swung back at Tomas to shut him up.
I was in no mood to laugh and said, "Thank you Tomas for being yourself in all of this, but even you, my best friend, cannot heal the wound that I feel now"
"But you act like she has already said no man," Kevin said with a tone of optimism. "Maybe she will love you back. Maybe you will start to date and have a wonderful life with her"
"Yeah," I muttered. "Maybe if this was a movie, but it's not Kevin. This is my life and I just screwed up a perfectly fine part of it"
"Maybe so," Tomas said, "But you still have us"
"Thanks for that." I said sincerely. "I guess it would be even worse if you weren't here to help me through this"
"Always glad to help a brother." Kevin said.
"For the rest of the ride I think we should just sit in silence." I said.
"Indeed." Tomas added.
I stayed quiet for the next two days and brooded about my situation. I tried to think of only postive results, but the negative always found a way to slip into my mind. I would not say I was depressed, or even sad at that point, I was merely concerned and anxious. I didn't find out what she had to say about my little gift until December 25th.
I was visiting with some family that I rarely see, maybe three times a year, when I suddenly got a heartbreaking text message from her. It read "It was really sweet, but I dont Love you Evan. I'm truly sorry"
At that moment my heart sank and I couldn't figure out which was worse, that I was receiving this news by a text message and not in person, or the fact that it was Christmas day. Well, it didn't really matter, because the answer was no.
I was devestated. All that work, all the times we shared, all the hope that I had, all the love I thought I felt for her burned away in that instant and it left the charred remains behind to rot in my mind.
I didn't let it show that I was deeply affected by this. I kept it inside, fueled the fire by dwelling on it too much. I don't even think her and I ever even talked about it. I still spent time with her, she was kind and didn't completely shut me out of her life, which I am very grateful for. She, after all is the reason I became interested in poetry and writing in the first place. Without her as the catalyst for my writing I imagine I would be a lot less fulfilled than I am now.
So when the new year came around and school started up again I had a new passion for English that was never there before. I payed better attention, I got better grades, I won the approval of my amazing teacher. I fought my way back from the depths of mental despair and turned my raw feelings into some impressive written work. At first it was small. An essay here that was well written, fully thought out, and right on topic. Then a poem there that was lyrically flowing, emontionally rich, and wonderfully crafted. I fooled around with the art of poetry for the rest of the semester.
Then in mid August of 2004 I had a wonderful idea for a book and figured I was at least worthy of giving a novel a fair shot.
Everone in my life at that time didn't know about my poetry endeavors, for I had failed to mention them to anyone, even to my closest friends Kevin and Tomas. I started the process of writing the novel on August 14th. Things were going great until my grandfather landed in the hospital on August 17th. He had been to the hospital before for cancer of the lung, and it was thought to have been removed. Apparently there was still more, and this time it was impossible to remove. They gave him less than a week to live. I went to the hospital to visit him all day on the 18th. I needed something to occupy my time with and I brought some paper and a pen with me.
I guess since I started my novel writing quest just a mere three days before my grandfather was admitted into the hospital few of my extended family knew that I had begun a novel. My parents of course knew about it, but I don't think they told anyone. After all I was a 17 year old kid, a Junior in high school with what looked like a silly dream, a grand task that would be left unfinished like so many other dreams kids have, I don't think they really expected this writing thing to go anywhere, but I wasn't going to let that happen. Not to me, not to this little dreamer.
So as I sit in the hospital room where my grandfather was lying on his deathbed I tried to churn out some pages of my book. Maybe it was to make my self feel better, maybe it was to impress the adults, maybe it was for my friends. My family asked my questions about my project and seemed impressed, and ever since then they have supported me. I enjoyed the attention of my family, it made me feel like I was more that just a lump of clay formed into a body. I felt like I could make a difference in the lives of those who I could touch, but sadly there was the one I loved that I couldn't touch, my grandfather. I don't know if people in a coma can understand the conversations of those around them, I don't know if they can feel. I really hope they can, becuase that would be the only way that my grandfather could know before he died. I think to think he knows, but I can't be sure. I only have one regret in all of this. That I could never hear my grandfather say, "I am proud of you and I love you." he was too far gone for that, but I know he feels it up in heaven, even though he could never say it to me directly.
My grandfather died the following evening, Monday, August 19th, 2004. I am deeply filled with sadness that the start of my career of writing is also marked by the death of my much loved and missed grandfather. The start of my new life was the end of his.
A/N: Most of this actually happened, although some of it is improvised because I couldn't remember exactly how it went down.