A Change in the Weather

Sitting on a park bench

An older gentleman sat down next to her on the park bench. She kept her eyes locked on the open book she had been reading, but she kept him in her peripheral sight. Instinctively she noticed the classic snow-grey, wool newsboy cap that was perched on top of his head. It covered the bare spots that his few remaining silvery wisps couldn’t reach anymore. She continued reading.

As she reached her hand out to turn the page, the man spoke. “You don’t see many young people with books in their hand. Goddamn cell phones are ruining the planet. Can’t even have a goddamn conversation with anyone I tell ya.” His hands moved as he talked, but he kept his gaze on the surface frozen pond that sat in front of them. The girl marked the page where she left off and closed her book. She paused to see if the man would go on. When it was apparent he had no more words, she cleared her throat and responded with what she had been thinking. “I like your hat very much.”

He smiled as he bowed his head down toward his feet.

“Do you mind if I ask where you got it?”

He turned toward her and rested his arm on the back ledge of the park bench. “How bout this, I’ll tell you where I got my hat, if you tell me what makes you happy.”

She looked at him, puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Tell me what inspires you. What makes your bad days bearable, and your good days extraordinary? What makes your brain electric, your body alive and somehow manages to make the world stand still?”

The girl was awestruck. What should she say? A million thoughts swarmed the inside of her head, yet none could sting her tongue. After a few moments of silence the man kindly said, “I’ll go first.”

He told the girl that his hat had a previous owner and that it had just recently come into his possession. He described the previous owner as a self-important, greedy and high tempered nuisance that he had been cursed with knowing his entire life. Although his face gave nothing away, she could just barely detect a hint of fondness in the way he spoke. He explained how their discussions always ended in arguments, and months would pass without them speaking to one another, but he recalled, there was one instance that had been different.

The two of them were in their late twenty-somethings, both clueless, both trying to navigate the separate worlds they lived in. They met for coffee, and went on a walk through this very same park. He didn’t know if it was the bitter, winter chill that kept their mouths frozen, or if they feared once they started speaking, the peace might end. They stopped walking for a brief moment to watch the skaters on the nearby ice rink whoop and whirl around in circles, their cheeks rosy from the bustling excitement and the raw, arctic air.

She was the one to break the silence. “I thought things would be different. When we were children I would imagine my life, what it might look like, what I might look like…,” she trailed off. “It’s all wrong.” She was visibly unsettled, but more than that, she was somber.

“I feel the sun shines too bright for my eyes, the relentless wind blows my hair in every direction, cold rain soaks through to my skull. My mind is weathered.”

He didn’t know what to say, he had never been good with words when others were upset, especially when it was so unexpected. Certainly, he never expected this. He stayed quiet the remainder of their walk, if she minded, she never said so.

A few days later a package came in the mail. Upon opening the box, she found a handwritten note:


Underneath the folded tissue paper there was a gift in the shape of a hat.

Years passed much like the ones that came before, neither that day in the park nor the gift were ever mentioned. In fact, he said to the girl he’d just met, he hadn’t given it much thought until a few days ago when a package appeared on his doorstep.

His twin sister, younger by mere minutes, had passed on no more than a month previous, leaving behind a piece of shimmering armor and a memory.

When the man finished his tale, the girl knew her answer. What she had known all along, but needed a reminder to melt the ice and let the words float to the free flowing surface.

“A good story,” she replied.




The Words I Never Said

There you are, stunned. Frozen to the very ground you stand on like a man made of snow who’s been left alone after all the cheerful, rosy-cheeked children have gone inside.

Muscles immobilized, heart or stomach (at that moment it’s uncertain which) beneath your feet, limbs hanging on by thin threads…

In the middle of a winter snow storm, everything stops.

The only sound is the silent, suffocating, choking on all the words that refuse to release themselves from your throat.

Have you been there?

Before any one clear thought or emotion can bubble itself to the surface, feeling as if you’re trapped inside a tumbling, swirling snow globe filled with a thousand emotions leaving you simultaneously nauseous and paralyzed…

I have.

In my circumstance, I was hurt by someone with whom I had shared a very close bond. When I had my last and final conversation with that person, I found that I was at a loss for words. Overwhelmed by shock, anger and grief it seemed the only words I could find were, “What happened?! Explain to me what happened!” I spewed them on repeat like I was an improperly programmed robot.

I replay that conversation in my mind over and over again until I feel sick to my stomach, haunted by the words I never said. I feel ashamed, I feel foolish. I feel smaller than a speck of glitter floating around the inside of that snow globe. I find myself wishing that I could have a do-over.

If I could push the reset button and my interaction was played out just as I wanted, would I feel better? Would that bring me peace?

For anyone who wishes they could go back in time and say the words that needed to be said, I can’t give you a time machine and I can’t bring you peace, but I can give you comfort and acceptance. Comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone, and acceptance from one who has endured the same method of torture. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 20 years since, or 20 minutes. Your words have infinite value. Your words matter because they matter to me.

I don’t know who you are or your individual situation, but I promise you, your words are precious stones. Not all those you encounter deserve to hang them on a chain around their neck.


Sleeping Beauty

In the darkest room
warm puffy cheeks
eyes beneath closed curtains
ripe lips sealed
perfect pristine figurine lying unaware, untouched

Come, crawl into bed with your Sleeping Beauty

I’ll dream I’m awake
that I have wings, that I’m soaring
and I turn my head and see you flying beside me

I’ll dream I’m awake
that you wrap my hands carefully and intently with yours
and your sweet, assuring voice
recites the indisputable equation
two plus two can only equal four
no more

I’ll dream I’m awake
that you see me, and I see you
and we are both alive

I’ll keep dreaming
And you keep sleeping


Yes, I’ll have the retrospect with a side of introspect

Dear 11 year old self,

Don’t worry about the kid that takes advantage of your quietness, because you don’t know how to stand up for yourself yet. Don’t worry about the girls standing in a giggling bunch by the bleachers, jeering because you’re not allowed to shave your legs yet. Don’t worry about feeling different, like you’ll never fit in.

You will learn to speak your mind. One day you will know what it means to have a voice and to speak with conviction. One day you will be able to make your own choices. One day you will choose compassion over ridicule because you know what it feels like to lumber in those shoes. You will know that you are different from all others, and you will learn it is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

Dear 27 year old self,

People will come into your life strangers and familiar faces, and not all of them will be with you for the duration of your journey. It won’t always be clear why your path crosses with theirs, why you walk alongside one another for however long it may be. Sometimes it won’t be easy, parting ways with a fellow traveler when your paths diverge.

Know in your heart that this is truth: you have been walking for *27 years. For 27 years you have lived, learned, loved, suffered, experienced, fell onto your hands and knees, got back up on your feet and kept walking. You have made the choice time and time again to put one foot in front of the other. Out of all of the people that walk with you—those that no longer do, the ones that continue to, and those that may in the future, not a single one could ever take those steps for you or from you.

No matter the events that transpired you have never stopped walking. You’ve come a hell of a long way and you’ve got a lengthy stretch of road ahead of you. Persevere my dear, YOU have built this person made for conquering.


*Now 28, I wrote this prior to waving goodbye to 27. The timing was perfect.

For those of us still having birthdays

This is the first birthday I can ever remember feeling unsettled about my age. Does everyone go through some sort of crisis as they draw nearer to 30? I’m certainly not where I thought I would be nor where I want to be. I’m not necessarily unhappy with the way things have turned out up until this point. It’s just that all of a sudden it feels as if someone flipped over the hourglass labeled Brittni’s Life kickstarting the steady, streaming descent of sand. I don’t recall signing any paperwork authorizing this. I demand unlimited flips for the rest of time, thank you very much. No? That’s not how this works?

Previous birthdays were spent celebrating milestones with each new age giving rise to exciting new found freedoms and independence. What now? I find myself frustrated and at times sick to my stomach because not only do I feel so far away from my goals, but my birthday is a bright yellow sticky note stuck to the inside of my eyelids reminding me that I have less time to reach them. I have less time to be young, less time to have new experiences. I could worry myself into a mental institution obsessing over lost time, or a more likely scenario, hinder my progress taking active steps towards my aspirations.

Here’s where I try to turn my thinking around: Why am I putting so much emphasis on what I have not yet accomplished, rather than celebrating the life that has been lived thus far? Your birthday is a celebration of the experiences you’ve had and lessons you have learned. Instead of fixating yourself on turning another year older, celebrate the person you’ve become.

Celebrate with the people who love you, the ones who think you’re great even when you’re not. Celebrate not the years, but the moments that have come to pass. Celebrate solo. Truly celebrate yourself. Feel the weight of what you carry on your back, good and bad, all that you are is worth celebrating.


The Pursuit

How do people measure self worth and the worth of others? Is it measured by how much one has contributed to their community or to society as a whole? Number of friends? The amount of money in a bank account? The number of languages one can speak? The number of beautiful, traveled places one has seen? Perhaps, the amount of love and understanding one has given?

Happiness, success, peace; together these ideas become a framework for greatness. Individually, each have different meanings for different people. Are they something to strive for in a way as to attain an overall state of being when we reach a certain age? Or are they feelings we experience from single moment to moment spanning the timeline that is our life? Combination of both?

What does greatness mean to me? Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I find myself worrying that I’m not doing the right things, or the right things quick enough in order to achieve my greatness; greatness always being a vague concept with no legitimate target at which to aim my arrow. As if one day I’m supposed to wake up and feel like I’ve made it—*Opens eyes, sits up in bed, raises fist in the air, exclaims: I am finally the person I’ve been working my entire life to be! Sounds silly doesn’t it?

The older I get, the more often I feel as if I’m starting over. Like if my life were a novel, as my story progresses, there are increasingly more and more chapters. More beginnings and endings. More answers, but always the uncovering of more questions. I have a very strong sense of self and yet I feel as if I’m destined [or doomed—if you’re a glass half empty guy or gal] to walk a path of self discovery for the remainder of my days. Can greatness be achieved by someone like me? Is it within my wide eyed wandering that I find it?

I have been taught, I have been guided and I have been molded. But I have learned with my head in a book, I have carved my own walking stick and I have picked clay from beneath my finger nails. I cannot be anything other than what I am. I do not choose to be. I choose to grow. Let me be me. Let me be orange and yellow and red, but let me brighten my petals. Let me catch fire. At the end of this life, the only thing I take with me is my soul. Let my soul be vivid.


The Spirit of a Redhead


At times I am so angry I lose my ability to put letters into words, words into sentences.
And when I can’t write, I run.
I run until I can no longer breathe, a reminder of all the times you sucked the life out of me.
I run until my limbs go numb in the hope that my emotions might do the same.
I run until my head can think only of the way my body feels working underneath me.
I feel the science of it, a brilliant machine with parts designed perfectly and purposefully for this unique action.
I feel the beauty in my self inflicted suffering, the satisfying thrill of seeing what I’m capable of.

I run because I am desperately trying to chase down the girl I let you take from me.
I know she is there.
Her spirit burns proud and unyielding as the Olympic flame, for not even the Greek gods could extinguish it.
I run until my feet catch fire on the pavement, swallowing me up.
Wholly engulfed, that is where I find her again.