This Was One of the Hardest Thing To Write Because of How Emotional I Got, I Hope You Like It

I was looking up at the sky today, and this, like, strange emotion passed over me. Kinda like a blanket thrown over my head, running from my head to my toes. It was very sudden, and as I stared up at the cloudless, clear blue sky I grew teary. One thought passed through my mind:

It’s weird to look up in the sky and know you’re somewhere beyond it.

Two and some-sort-of-time-length years ago, I went on tumblr (a social network, for my aunt who reads these) like I did every day back then. I scrolled through photos of boys, poems, music, the works. It seemed like it would be a normal day, until a message popped up in my inbox that I hadn’t been expecting. It was one from the user I had followed that morning, someone who liked twenty one pilots and was named Daniel. His message thanked me for following him, and naturally I replied because I was a lonely little ghost and he looked pretty cute in that profile picture. To my complete surprise, he kept the conversation going. It got to the point where I woke up expecting to have a message from him. Time passed, and we started Skyping each other, and I think his laugh when he saw my face after I discovered he was British is still to this day one of my favorite sounds in the world. He lived in Britain! How perfect is that for someone obsessed with all things BBC? He had a buzzed head, like someone who had just enlisted in the army and wanted to get a head start on preparations. He was really skinny, too, and I remember thinking he had very bright eyes. Back then, I really didn’t have any great friends. My now-best friend Sean and I had only just started communicating, and my lovely Ashley was going through a lot of stuff she didn’t want me to be a part of. I was pretty much alone, and so of course I grew attached to Daniel, the boy who cared about me and stayed up late so that he could call me before school (“show those punks up, Fi, they don’t know what they’re missing”). It wasn’t long before I was calling him my best friend, not much longer after that before I called him my crush.

I’ve been told by the people I’ve relayed our story to that it’s tragic and beautiful (cue Taylor Swift song), that it was adorable and something that should be published in a book. When I think back on it, though, that we be such a boring book. Sure, I wouldn’t trade a moment with him for the world, and the whole forbidden-to-hold-hands-thanks-to-state-lines-and-oceans thing is sad, but other than that we did normal people things, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read that. I would come home from school and we would watch Doctor Who together through Skype, or just keep each other company by setting our cameras up and doing schoolwork. For two kids that lived worlds apart from one another, I talked more to him than anyone else I knew in my town. We talked about what would happen if we ever got to meet each other for real, little corny stuff (like those run and hug ordeals that’s in all the movies? yeah, that was our idea dream). We weren’t Bella and Edward, there was no driven plotline. His mother called us an old married couple, just doing normal everyday stuff with each other. I didn’t even find out he had cancer until it got really bad.

He had stopped the chemo not long before we started talking, which is why he had his hair. He didn’t want to talk too much about it with me, and I took offense to this at first (he calls me his best mate, for Pete’s sake! this is definitely something I should get to hear about) until he told me his reasoning. 

“You’re like my one constant normal thing in my life,” he told me somberly as he sat on the sofa in his living room, iPad propped up in his lap as he faced me through the screen with tired eyes and a black stocking cap on his head. Always so close, always too far. “You don’t look at me and think, oh that’s Daniel, the sick kid. You don’t. And I love that, I love having that. I love being just Daniel to you, someone that you’re kind to for no other reason than for my personality.”

And how could I deny him that? So I stopped asking questions. Around Christmas time, though, when he told me that he only had months left, I started to panic. How would I know he was gone? I mean, obviously I would get the gist after months of silence, but what kind of closure would that be? So he assured me that he’d left the information to his social media accounts for his parents so they could log on and inform me. It’s all so morbid, but it put my heart at ease.

I think that’s still a big thing that sticks with me. I was the one in a constant state of insanity over the whole ordeal, not Daniel. He was content that there was small group of people who would love him and remember him, and that was enough. “It’s a pretty good way to go, if you ask me.” I’ll always admire him for that, because God knows I wouldn’t be the same way.

So, just a little fact: if you think that long-distance relationships are hard, try having one where half of the relationship is literally dying. We’d be Skyping, and I’d look over and see he’d fallen asleep from how worn out he was. Our episodes of Doctor Who had to be watched with subtitles because his headaches were too bad for sound. Some days he wouldn’t answer, and those days of me in school were the WORST. There’s a lot of time in class for my mind to fester. Because with a situation like that, a no-call gets a thought nagging in the back of your brain: this is it. He’s gone.

I almost never let myself cry in front of him. He didn’t need that, he had enough to deal with and I knew that it would make him feel guilty for causing me pain. There was one time, though, when I couldn’t control it. It was Valentine’s Day during my sophomore year, and he was on the phone talking to me. He hadn’t done anything. He’d lounged around the house all day, and I just started thinking and thinking. This was his last Valentine’s Day ever and he wasn’t going out. He would NEVER go on a Valentine date. Not only that, but he’d never drove. He’d never gotten completely trashed with his friends after a girl broke his heart.

And he never would. It was then that it really hit me that my Daniel would soon no longer exist. Can you really blame me for crying? It just wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that I was fifteen and dealing with the boy I love wasting away while other girls at my school were going on dates with theirs, and it wasn’t fair that a sixteen-year-old boy had to have the sad look of knowing he wouldn’t be seeing me for much longer in his eyes.

He died in April of last year. I didn’t find out until May, when his sister was logging into his tumblr to take it down. They had all forgotten in the midst of the chaos to tell me (nice, right? but I can’t really blame them). Somewhere deep down, I already knew. We hadn’t talked in a month, there was no way that if he was alive he wouldn’t have found a way to contact me. But hearing it confirmed was devastating. I guess when you love someone your mind will make up the most ridiculous of excuses to convince you that they’re okay. It was such a blunt message, too. At least, it sounded blunt to me. I guess it was just hard to see the end of your best friend’s story in one single paragraph. I didn’t get to look at it for long, because soon his entire profile was deleted. I hadn’t been expecting that. Beep beep boop, and he was gone. Deleted.

This whole thing made junior year hell. Sean and I grew kind of distant for a while because I thought I was bothering him, and I felt really alone again. I hated my birthday this year, because I had grown older while he would always remain stuck at sixteen. Since his birthday was 16 June, he didn’t make it to seventeen, and I was seventeen now, and he should’ve been too but he wasn’t. And I missed him so, so much. I hadn’t told hardly anyone about him, even while he was alive (unless I was talking to one of my friends and gushing about this joke he told me or how I loved his smile), because I was terrified my mom would get super over-protective and forbid me from speaking to him solely because he lived in another country, so I had to cry in my room because no one understood. It was nothing short of hell. Sometimes going to see my grandma was even hard, because I’d see older men and remind myself that Daniel would never get to experience that.

A lot of time, when I think of him, I’m constantly riddled by a million of those pesky what ifs. What would have happened, if he wasn’t sick? If he hadn’t died? Would we stop talking eventually, or would we be a cute romantic movie couple that finally got our run and hug in the airport some day? (I think about that sometimes. I like to imagine what it would have been like when I’m sad. I like to imagine what his little arms would have felt like around me, and how he would’ve laughed while I undoubtedly would’ve cried. It’s a nice image.) And, you know, even if I got the what if that ended with us never speaking to each other again I still would have chosen it over the one we did get in reality. Anything would have been better than him having to die.

It’s true what they say, it gets better with time. When he first passed, I talked to his “ghost” all the time. When I got my driver’s license, I went on drives alone all the time because I liked to pretend he was in the passenger seat  with me, and we’d listen to music and I’d laugh like he was really there. I knew that it probably wasn’t healthy, but it was the only way I could cope. That has stopped, though I will admit I did it when the new twenty one pilots album came out. I went on a drive and played it for the first time, and “we” discussed what we thought. I even got two coffees from Starbucks. Sometimes it feels good to induldge in your insanity. I wrote a story that I posted on Wattpad called Worlds Apart that’s kind of like my fantasy of all that could have been. When the story was over, I wrote this long note about Daniel and what had happened, and I was overwhelmed by the response! I found people who related, who had lost someone to cancer. Those people helped me so much! And of course I have Sean and Amber and Ashley now, all who havebeen vital roles in my healing process.

But anyway, back to the blanket and sky thing from earlier. I don’t get really super emotional about him unless it’s an anniversary of something between us, but looking up at that sky… I don’t know, it’s super cheesy, but I felt like he could see me too, or at least knew I was looking. I thought about something I hadn’t before: what his final moments had been like. Was he scared? Or was he in too much pain to feel fear? Or was it just peaceful? What was he thinking about? There is this song by Sarah Bareilles called The Light that brought me a lot of comfort, but for all his talk about being content with his fate I bet he was at least a little scared. And it almost felt like he was there telling me that even though life was really hard right now, I would get through it. If he could go through what he did, I could do this, and I better be damn graeful for every moment of life. So I went downstairs and ate something, hugged my mom, and smiled.

I’m not as angry about the whole thing anymore. I’ve moved from screaming about how unfair it was to talking about how grateful I am that I got to know him at all. It is still weird to know he’s not here anymore, but I just know that when my time comes and I see him again, we’re going to do that run and hug. And it’s going to be wonderful.

This is going to be my last post on this blog. My new blog is called this: sofiaspillari.wordpress.com

Thanks for giving this one the love you did.

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Little Things

You hold up the dress, the black dress with a white lace collar. You love this dress. You hugged a hero in this dress.

You hold up the shirt, the white band tee shirt that you had one of the best days of your life in. You adore this dress. You hung out with your very best friends in this dress, creating memories you will never forget.

You hold up the jeans, the black pair that now have a hole in the knee. You think these jeans are comical now, but you’re still going to wear them. You got in a fight defending your best friend after someone used a gay slur to describe them. You didn’t throw the first punch, or any punch at all, really. You just mouthed off after all was said, and the bully shoved you to the ground. Your best friend then picked you up off the ground and hugged you, muttering about how much he/she hates you. You know that’s your guys’ code for “I love you.”

You hold up the shoes, the ratty white Converse that have tears in the sides. You don’t know what you would do without these shoes. They’re the one pair that haven’t been stolen out of your gym locker, and have carried you through the high school halls. They were the things that kept your feet moving even though you couldn’t breathe, they were the ones that helped you escape to the bathroom when the classrooms grew to be too much and you just had to let a few tears fall before continuing on with your day.

You hold up the cardigan, the torn grey knit one that you’re pretty sure only has one button left. You obsess over this cardigan. It’s the one you were wearing when you ate out with your grandfather and were okay with it. When you went out to dinner, and you didn’t longingly eye the restroom sign while picking at the lettuce on your plate. When you ate french fries AND dipped them in ketchup.

You hold up the dress, the shirt, the jeans, the shoes, the cardigan. You love them all so much. You want to keep the memories perserved, keep the items just as they are in this moment. But they are dirty, and they need to be clean. You are somber over the bittersweet moment that is taking them into the laundry room to shove them in the washing machine. They will now be scrubbed of all those moments, the ones of  hugging heros and being one to your best friend ad laughing and crying and eating.

But that’s okay. You’ll wear them all again. And new memories will be made.

The Twelve Hour Day

What have we learned?

That we should not stay up until near dawn writing when you know you have to work from noon to midnight the next day.

Also, eat a healthy breakfast. Do not shovel down two hash browns and wash it over with Diet Coke. Eat some freaking oatmeal. Just because it’s gluten free doesn’t always mean it’s good for you. 

That is all. Let’s do this day.

My Experience With Neon Trees

So, I can wholeheartedly say that yesterday was one of the best days of my life.

I’ve been listening to Neon Trees since eighth grade. They’ve gotten me through a lot of times in the way that their music makes me happy. I can be having the worst day and put on an album, then suddenly I’m dancing. And it makes me feel better. I saw them my freshman year of high school for my birthday with my two best friends Anna and Amber, and we had an absolute blast. So, naturally, when I discovered that they would be coming back (FINALLY) to my city this year, I bought tickets. They actually ended up serving as a birthday present for both my friend Sean and my cousin Anna, and we were all really excited to go. We’ve all been so excited for the show, but we didn’t really expect for what happened to happen.

If you know me, you know I am obsessed with music and concerts. It’s what I live for. And I like to get in line early. So, I picked my friends up and we headed to the venue and eleven thirty in the morning. It was already up to eighty degrees by then, and after only half an hour we were dying. I have a troubling breathing condition, so I couldn’t even stand up for more than a few minutes at a time. There was one guy who was walking around all over the neighborhood, talking about how he KNOWS the band and how he’s “on the guest list” (my friends and I have decided to get shirts with that phrase on it because he repeated it over and over and it was so obvious that he was lying). Other than that, nobody else got there until two thirty, and I think my friends wanted to stab me.

When the first car pulled up, I immeidately felt my heart drop. I never get along with other fans. Like, ever. I get very jealous and possessive of the bands because I’m a nutcase. This was actually not the case with these girls. We had a blast with them, and they immediately morphed into our group. We hung out and danced with them all night, got each other’s numbers, and are planning to meet up a couple more times this summer. That was really neat. It was easier to pass the hours bonding with each other. Sean and I tweeted the lead singer, Tyler Glenn, all day, showing him pictures of our horrific sunburns gained as battle scars during the wait.

We met both opening bands, and they were so impressed we knew who they were. Alex Winston is literally my queen, and she was such a sweetheart when she saw we had tweeted her how badly we wanted a picture. Our large group got in a line with her, and it was great.

Eventually, after a pretty non-productive day, seven rolls around and we are finally let inside. I’m up right where I want to be, dead center and against the barricade. The opening acts both gave our group shout outs for being their first fans, and it was so awesome. We were all already having so much fun.

Neon Trees came out about two hours later, and I lost my mind.

When I saw them last, we had pretty far away seats. Now, Tyler was so close that when I reached out I could touch his leg. He grabbed my hand a couple times, and it was so great. I was having a really hard time staying conscious, though. I think because of all the heat and screaming and standing, I was seriously testing my limits. I didn’t wanna miss any of the show, though, because I mean they could see me and I wanted to show off how much I loved them. So I breathed heavy and did this half-hearted dance while mouthing the lyrics but not actually singing them. At one point I started crying (shocking) really bad. I’ve been having a really, really tough time with life lately. I wake up and do everything I can to go back to sleep. I have dark thoughts. And it’s like hearing Tyler say that if I work hard enough I can achieve anything, I felt better. I realized that in this moment right now, I was so happy, and as I remembered all of the times this band has made me happy when I was in a terrible mood… Hearing the songs made me super emotion. The bassist, Brandon, saw me crying and blew me a kiss, which was adorable and made me cry harder. He then brought over his sweat rag and handed it to me, and I was shaking. It was crazy. Tyler grabbed my hand and had me bring him up so he can stand on the barricade. I was on cloud nine.

When the show ended, I sobbed more.

we went outside the tour bus, and honestly I didn’t really expect anyone to come out and say hey. I knew they were exhausted. But lo and behold, out steps Tyler Glenn, and then he’s hugging me super tightly.

i was shaking uncontrollably.

He grabbed my ticket and wrote “courage!” on it, and it was great. He got a picture with me last, and as I was waiting Amber grabbed my shoulders and said, “DONT CRY YET. GET YOUR PICTURE FIRST.”

And I did. And then Tyler gave me his sweat rag and said he appreciated our tweets.

and I’m still dead.

When You’re Drowning

By the title, I don’t mean water-wise. I mean I have a horrible cold, and with my breathing issues it feels like I am drowning inside of my own lungs. It’s a great experience, let me tell you. I’ve been keeping myself busy by listening to good music on Spotify and studying for the ACTs (WHICH ARE TOMORROW AND I KEEP HAVING NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS ABOUT IT).

Every Friday, my Enriched U.S. History teacher asks us a question after giving us the rundown for the day.

“More importantly,” he’ll say, “how is everyone doing today?”

Usually, we’ll all grumble. “ErggUUHHH.”

“Well, you should be good,” he’ll reply. “You know why?”

By now, we do, but we humor him and ask, “Why?”

Then he lifts his arms and does this dance as he speaksings, “‘Cause it’s Friday…” This past Friday, he added to this little song. “‘Cause it’s Friday and we don’t have school again ’til Monday but sike we have Monday off hashtag thanks Pulaski and then you guys technically don’t have school on Tuesday because you’re taking a test that will affect your entire lives hashtag no pressure.”

We all went from laughing to hushed as the dark mood settled over after that. I don’t think anyone is prepared, personally. I know I’m not. Also, here’s a fun fact: the writing portion doesn’t show up on your final score, and the English portion is rumored to not really matter at all anymore! Yay! The only part of school I’m good at means absolutely nothing on this huge test that I’m going to fail!!!

Also, I’m going to be sick while taking it. You’ll probably be able to hear me coughing and blowing my nose from miles away, since it will be dead silent in the bingo hall we’ll be at.

Ugh.

In other news, I’ve sent a copy of my novel Worlds Apart (which is on my Wattpad profile, if you’re curious) to my aunt. This should be exciting…. I’m kind of really nervous about it. I’m still trying to get used to the fact that it’s okay to let people you know personally read your work. It’s just so….uck.

How is everyone else doing today?

Daring Enough?

I don’t think I’ve ever had as hard of a time with writing something as I have with this book.

I will sit here on my creaky bed, leaning up against my propped pillows as I stare at my computer screen and/or notebook, wondering if I should just press delete after highlighting the whole last paragraph or so. I worry about offending people, mainly. I’m dealing with writing about psychiatric wards (of sorts) which is sort of a big no-no in the writing world, I’ve begun to notice, even though nobody has actually come out and said it. It’s not that I don’t have a lot of knowledge about it, because I do. My mother was a nurse in a psychiatric unit for a while, and I’ve spoken for a good two hours or more to someone close to me that was actually a patient in a psych ward back in the sixties or around that time, and they’ve both given me very helpful information and answered any questions I had. I think what I’m really scared of is different audiences that will criticize me for how I wrote different scenes or what those scenes contain. I have scenarios that talk about things that maybe not everyone wants to hear about or are really touchy about. Here’s the thing, though: when you’re writing about a psych ward, you’re going to have characters with touchy subjects in their lives. That’s just something I have to deal with.

When I am about to delete sections of the book that I am worried someone may not like, I remember what one of my main characters has said (as cliche as that may be): “Well, you’re supposed to write for yourself.” Right you are, Z. I have found that if  I want to write anything anywhere near decent quality, I cannot sit there sipping my tea and debating whether or not a stranger I don’t know will get ticked off by the words on the page. I have to write what I want to write and how I want the story to play out for now. When I’m finished getting through writing it, I can worry about changing things because they’re not necessary to the story and/or because my audience won’t like it. Until then, I must march through.

Writing Movies

I feel like, if this book I’m currently working on is ever published, I should have a whole page dedicated to thanking the movie Julie & Julia. I have watched this movie so many times during my writing endeavors. I don’t know what about it makes me want to watch it over and over. Maybe it’s because it’s a very inspirational story, maybe it has to do with New York and France (two of my favorite places), maybe it has to do with Amy Adams (adore her), maybe that it has to do with writing, or maybe it’s the fact that every time my mother and I watch this we put our lives aside for a little while and enjoy it together and I remember that.

It’s not necessarily the best movie to be watching over and over, because every time I watch this I want to eat food. Looking at these actors and actresses doesn’t help, either, because they all maintain their same weight even though they’re eating all of this heavy cream and whatnot, so for some reason I get it into my mind that I too can eat bread and desserts and whatnot and maintain the same weight.

It’s gotten to the point that I’ve watched this while writing so many times that I’m starting to hear Amy Adams reading off my main character’s narrations.

Anyway, I will leave you with one of my very favorite quotes from the movie: “You are the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life.”

Heart of Losing

I have been in the same spot for so very, very long

Nothing has changed

and it’s driving me crazy

 

It seems like you’ve always been gone

Neither one of us to blame

but the hurt isn’t fading

 

Why is it

that I can’t help but love you

when you don’t even see me?

 

Why is it

that I care so much though, even if you did know,

we would never be able to be?

 

I sit here alone,

always wishing you were here.

 

I put my head in my hands

open my mouth to scream

but nothing comes out

the sound gets lost with the wind in the trees.

I put my pen to the paper

in attempt to get it all down,

always end up putting it off for later

because the words could never be found…