I was just eleven years old when my uncle bought me my first set of Nicholas Sparks books. I ripped at the snowflake Christmas wrapping paper and The Rescue, The Notebook, and A Walk To Remember shifted in my hands. I had no idea who the author was at that time, but I was excited. They looked like “adult books;” accounts of mature scenarios like the Danielle Steel novels I used to “borrow” from my mother’s library and read well into the wee hours of the morning. The gift was a rite of passage, an indicator that I was finally old enough to delve into topics such as love and physical chemistry and matters of the human heart.
The words spilled off the pages as I immersed myself in the lyrics that Nicholas Sparks so poetically described. I will forever blame that man for my lofty view of magical happenings, real life fairy tales that paint pictures of “over the moon, move in tomorrow, grow old together” instances of love. His literary illustrations had me feigning for his next novels; Every couple of months I’d be at the bookstore, pining through the “Bestseller” section to purchase my newest easy read. My eyes devoured every line, my heart yearned for a love story of my own after every last page.
Yet Nicholas Sparks always started his books in “medias res,” in the middle of an ordinary day in an ordinary life. He never fully described the pre-fairytale journey of his characters, and it was hard for me to understand that these people did not just meet the suitor of their dreams and live happily ever after.
Enter me, front and center. I fell in love at thirteen, hard, with a man that I had a crush on since the fifth grade. It was my first beautiful account of true romance, perfect infatuation… We read those Nicholas Sparks novels together and vowed to create our own stellar story. At a very young age I experienced kisses in the rain, love poems filled to the brim with promises, red roses on anniversaries and white ones just because. This boy convinced me that I was the luckiest girl in the world, that I had found a love so great, that nothing, no one, would ever be able to penetrate the solid protective haven that we had created.
But he was just that, a boy… and I was a girl. We were two kids building dreams in our treehouse, unaware of the power of storms. Uninformed about the realm outside of our comfort zone. Once high school ended, we tried everything possible to combat distance, time, people, places, and our own evolving personalities, but growth is inevitable. And as time wore on, we grew apart.
Exit my high school sweetheart, stage right. I was a college freshman with a dream of one day becoming the next Nicholas Sparks. I had enrolled in Roger Williams University for creative writing, a passion that that become a part of me, infused in my blood stream and burning in my core. I still craved my own story, something beautiful amid a chaotic mess of a less than glamorous college lifestyle.
Beauty surrendered to the chaos rather quickly. Accounts of love were fleeting, parties were excessive, papers and exams wreaked havoc around me…
Switch the scenery.
I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Marketing Communications, a far more practical and stable choice, lived in Rhode Island for another year before returning home to my parent’s abode, worked two jobs through my internship program to afford travelling, near and far, landed my first job at the nonprofit I interned at and worked my ass off until the organization transferred me to their New York City location.
I look in the mirror today and know that I am not the girl I once was, sitting under the covers with a flashlight reading “A Message In A Bottle” cover to cover and imagining myself at 25, married with children, cooking in a kitchen while staring out the window at a white picket fence on my front lawn. I am a woman about to return to my desk on the 3rd floor of my office in Midtown Manhattan, with my hair in a high bun, tattoos on my wrists, and flats on my feet to bear the metropolitan commute. I have lived in my dream city for two years now, have put on over a dozen successful events, and have enjoyed every moment of this crazy journey.
The quest for that love story has not diminished over time though, and although each relationship to date has acted like a rolling tide, moving in with intensity before fizzling out to sea, I have been tossed around like a piece of glass, riding the waves and allowing them to mold me into something wonderful. With each fleeting romance, I have learned about myself: My favorite songs, my favorite places, my favorite foods. I have figured out which traits I favor over others. Which flaws I can tolerate and which acts I find inexcusable. I have learned to trust my intuition, have adapted to many surroundings and have fled from the scenarios have that stunted my ability to grow. It has all been a lesson of self-discovery, a perfect blend of incredible highs and educational lows, in retrospect.
It’s an ordinary life, filled with extraordinary instances, and I live for those stellar moments that I can string together and weave around mundane backdrops. I am often consumed by my day to day, content more or less, guarded but not quite jaded. I am easily amused, entertained by city lights and seduced by sunsets, still… Waiting patiently but not actually looking for another soul to sit beside me and watch the sky shift from cotton candy colors to shades of gray.
Enter you… stage left.
It’s almost as though fate looked on from the sidelines and anticipated this moment, where two lives would cross in medias res, after years of running parallel. I remember you as the quiet one in high school, mysterious behind a dark cloak of bangs, shuffling by in the hallway with no more to say then a hasty “hey.” I was the girl on the field with a loud mouth, bouncing about to no music on the track, in line with my high-ponytailed friends. I had no idea that you played lacrosse and was voted homecoming king, just like you had no idea that I went home after practice to read my Nicholas Sparks novels in bed until my mother came in and turned out my light.
I had no idea that you went to Roger Williams University and were mere doors down from me, also playing beer pong and listening to the Outfield’s “Your Love” on Tuesday nights.
But now… here we are, worlds apart yet at the same place at what seems like finally the right time. And this blog entry, it’s for you. I’ve had this diary of sorts since 2009, situated in a quiet corner of the internet yet easily accessible to the curious onlooker…
Today I realized that I don’t need it anymore.
I have you, the beginning and end of everything. The inspiration, the voice that fills the silence, the haven I turn to when I have a secret to jot down. You now are the safety net for every fear, the memento box for every accomplishment, the online journal for my thoughts.
You are my Nicholas Sparks story, and now I realize that not all things are meant to be lived out loud. They don’t need to be open to ridicule or scrutiny or any judgment whatsoever, but can live inside our memory until the story has aged enough to be passed down and enjoyed.
And so today I say goodbye, for now at least, to one of my most prized possessions. It doesn’t mean that I am going to stop writing, but am choosing to close the door to a part of my life that I wish to keep private and sacred. I don’t feel compelled to “check in” with the world anymore, but am getting use out of the paper journal that travels with me wherever I go. For the first time in my life, the pages are weathered and worn, stuffed with photos and ticket stubs and words that mimic the ones that Noah and Allie, Landon and Jamie, Miles and Sarah used in all of my favorite tales.
Until my next creative venture is discovered… Exit, stage right.
Just the two of us.