I admit: I’m a pathological complainer.
But hey, I have my moments. Let this be one of them.
Thank you, Mom, for breathing life into me. You’ve sheltered me every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every year. For disciplining me when I deserved it. For teaching me life lessons and some school ones, too. For putting up with me when I wasn’t the most pleasant of human beings. For encouraging me to get up when I fell.
Thank you, Dad, for putting everything into giving me a good life. I know that, for a time, we spent years apart. I’m so glad that we’ve gotten close over the last few years. For telling me stories and the occasional conspiracy theory. For reassuring me that everything’s going to be alright.
Thank You, God, for sacrificing Your Son for humanity. I know that we don’t deserve Your unconditional love and compassion. For Your justice. For Your sovereignty. For Your holiness.
Thank you, Jesus, for the reconnecting me with Your Father. I am far from worthy. For being the Voice that I hear above all others.
Thank you, body, for being in relatively good health. For two strong legs that take me down unexplored trails. For ten fingers that dance their way across black and white keys. For two eyes that breathe in the beauty of the Earth. For two ears that delight in the serenade of sweet music.
Thank you, nature, for your sheer beauty. For the early-bird chirping. For oxygen-providing trees. For being an escapade, a safe haven. I will do all in my power to make sure you stay this way.
Thank you, school, for giving me a two-for-one package of pain and pleasure, tied up with a bow. For giving my life purpose. For giving me a future to which to look forward. For providing an environment that promotes curiosity, inquisitiveness, and constant learning, questioning, and pondering.
Thank you, teachers present and past. For being mentors. For challenging me. For making me think. For encouraging me. For reprimanding me. For comforting me after poor performance. For acknowledging me after good performance. For making me laugh. For believing in me.
Thank you, music. For understanding in ways another human being never will. For putting words into my mouth when my mind failed. For exalting my happiness, my sadness, my anger, my jealously, my love, my hate, and everything in between.
Thank you, Auschwitz, for showing me the lowest of the lowest points of humanity. For bringing tears to my eyes, coldness to my entire being, disbelief to my mind. For making me feel as I’ve never felt before. For reminding me to do the moral, just thing. For exposing all of the vulnerabilities of a people who endured infinite pain and suffering. For reminding us why you ought to never happen again.
I had never, ever felt so low for a non school-related reason.
I went to Europe back in late-October with my school. Of course, I had the best time of my life (it’s Europe, for crying out loud!) but there were definitely parts of that trip that I wish I could erase.
He is everything I could ever want. His love of music. His call to adventure. His velvety baritone. His lit-up eyes when we were astounded by the timeless beauty and culture of Europe.
The bounce in his step as we uncovered new ground. The way his eyes rolled back into his head from tasting foreign ice cream. The way he kept a conversation going when words escaped me. His excitement when he heard Chinese tourists conversing in Mandarin, encouraging me to initiate conversation with them (eyeroll.)
I’ll never forget that night.
My friend and I had a falling out over him. Not because we both liked him or anything like that. Because I liked him.
She said that I should give him some space. Well, I wasn’t attached to his hip 24/7. She said that I’d have kept him from going where he wanted to go. Well, when our tour guides gave us free time to explore, he would always ask me, “which way?” to which I would reply, “You decide”; horribly cliched, but I would follow where he lead me. She said that I was keeping him from his other friends. Well, he always went off alone, anyway, being the lone wolf that he is.
I admit, I don’t get mad as easily as I did when I was younger. Whatever she said to me didn’t give me the right to lose my temper the way I did. But, all was said and done, I did lose my temper, in tears, and ran out of the hotel room, leaving some of my other friends in the dust, too.
I ran down the hotel hallway, down a staircase, into the hotel lobby. It wasn’t horribly late, but the only people present were the concierge and one of my tour guides on the hotel computer. Bless her soul, she left me alone.
I bawled on a red couch. I was in my pajamas, at probably 11 or even midnight, and I was in my nightclothes, sprawled over an unfamiliar couch, crying my little heart out.
Then I heard the footsteps.
"Oh, Lord," I thought, "Please don’t let it be him.”
The Lord answered my desperate prayer.
It was another teacher - female. I had her for history last school year in Grade 10.
She sat down beside me, asked me what was wrong. Still in tears, I violently shook my head; I could not bear the embarrassment and shame of revealing what had happened, who I liked.
She gently told me to take deep breaths and turn off the waterworks. Surprisingly, I did as she said. (When I start crying, it is nearly impossible to get me to stop.)
Ever the curious child that I am, I asked her, “How did you find me?”
"I heard sobbing down the hallway."
Oh. That means that he probably heard me, too, unless all my of school’s hotel rooms had been split up to cover two floors. Ah, well…
Again, she asked me what was wrong, and somehow, I spilled everything.
To my dismay, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Not only that, but she was completely understanding and sympathetic. “You don’t control who you fall for,” she said simply.
She offered me a hug, which I wholeheartedly accepted, and trudged my way back to my room to catch some sleep.
The next morning, I got ready quietly and slipped out the room before my roommate had awoken. I made my way down to the breakfast area.
I grabbed a mug of coffee and some fruit and took my seat, alone.
Before I knew it, I heard his “good morning” as he sat down across from me, along with some of my friends from the previous night - obviously, not including the girl from whom I had cowardly escaped.
I didn’t know what to do. I could feel the tears rising to my eyes again, that sinking, gnawing demon at the pit of my stomach, tearing my heart and head apart.
Ever the stupid fool, I looked up from my java. I met his eyes. His concern flashed before my vision. Then I ran, again.
I ran to the ladies’ restroom, which, thankfully, was a short distance away. My hands gripped the counter until my knuckles went a ghostly white. The European lady who was admiring her reflection in the mirror dashed away.
I gave myself a couple of minutes, let the tears flow. Then, I turned on the tap, wet a paper towel, and wiped my eyes - to no avail, they were still evidently red.
I walked out of the restroom into another female teacher, this time, my civics teacher from summer school.
She let me cry on her shoulder. We talked things out. She was not at all dumbfounded by my confession. “Come on, hun, I was a sociology major.”
At that, I had the wind knocked out of me, “Is it really that obvious?” Her silence and pointed look sufficed a response.
For the next couple of days, I gave him the cold shoulder. I was trying to deal with my internal struggle.
However, my guilt got the best of me; it wasn’t his fault for all that had transpired between my friend and me.
"I’m sorry," I said dumbly.
For some reason, I can’t remember what he had said in response to that - or, his lack of response. I really can’t.
To this day, I wonder if he understood my implications to those two words.
You probably wonder, as do I, if I still like him.
Well, after returning from Europe, I seemed to had lost interest for him. My ears no longer perked up from hearing his name. The butterflies in my stomach disappeared at the sheer glimpse of him.
However, he’s currently overseas, and I find myself missing him all over again.
Fortunately, or tragically, I’ll be graduating not this school year but the next.
I’ll be headed off in a completely new direction. Like everything that had once captured my soul, he will be a mere, distant memory.
Why must forbidden fruit taste the sweetest?