The small pink tube is pressed into the palm of my right hand, in my left there is a brown bag filled with greasy food, the scent of which fills my nostrils, teasing and taunting me. My feet are continuing along in forward motions, with home as the only goal, the only salvation. I am not drunk, tipsy perhaps. I can taste the mixture of Fireball and tobacco at the back of my throat, a lovely taste, until morning comes at least. But I’m not drunk.
I walk with conviction, my boots hitting the pavement hard as I march along. I am fumbling with the little tube, realizing I don’t even know how to work it, and how effective is mace that isn’t going to spray when you need it to? It isn’t even mine, the small pink tube, it’s my roommates, but tonight I just had a feeling, some small voice in the back of my head, telling me to grab it. Maybe it was the fact that I knew I would be walking home early, leaving my friends at the bar to prepare for my 8am wake up call, or maybe it had to do with the crime- the face in my bedroom window; the man in the basketball jersey caught at 3am as he was walking out of our house.
There is something in the air tonight, the wind is heavy and sweet, it ripples across my legs, a small reminder that the seasons are changing, that summer it coming. The world is dark, quiet, muffled. The way it only is when the peaceful are sleeping and the restless are prowling the town, poisoning their bodies and stirring up faded emotions. You shouldn’t be walking down a back road, I think to myself. Go down College, with all the cars, it’s safer. But I don’t turn. My feet carry me along their usual path, feeling as if normalcy is what I need right now. You’re just being paranoid. I continue to fumble with the small pink tube, wondering where to press down, until it becomes evident to me that the hard top flips up, revealing a red button below. Ah ha.
I take another turn; I am close now, just a few blocks. The street lights flicker in my mind, the warm glow they give off pulses like a heart beat, spurring me on. I hear the group of girls before I can see them. Giggling, chatting, all dressed up. They are getting into a car. Ask them for a ride. No don’t be stupid, you’re house is two blocks away. Exactly they wouldn’t care. No, no that’s so embarrassing. The internal battle continues until I am passed the girls, passed the car. Too late. I am on my street now, the final stretch, familiar buildings surrounding me.
I see him before he sees me, the man on the bike. I can feel his eyes boring into me as he passes. I continue to walk, strong, with conviction, a snarl on my face, the small pink tube at the ready in my hand. He passes by, but then I hear the wheels behind me, I hear them change course, just as I knew I would. I step to the side just as he pulls up beside me, too close for strangers.
He has tanned, withered skin and dark, dripping eyes. All the colors on him are the same- dark, muted, dirty. In this moment I feel as strong as I ever have. This is what you have been waiting for, you knew it was coming and here it is.
“Get the fuck away from me,” I say, as I hold out the mace in front of me, finger on the trigger, armed and ready.
“Ah, don’t be scared beautiful.” He says in an unfamiliar tongue, his voice as poisonous as his intentions.
“No,” I say, my voice rising, the fire building in my chest, “You get the FUCK away from me.” I turn on my heel and walk as fast as I can, not willing to break into a run for fear of loosing face, down to the nearest street light. His voice follows me,
“You fucking punta cunt,” he yells behind me, his frustration evident as the string of profanities continues to stream from his ruined mouth. I don’t look back; I know he won’t follow me.
My body is buzzing, shaking. My heart is pounding inside of me, a mixture of pride and pure fear pulsating through my body, through my blood. But my feet continue to carry me, down the last block, through my front door and into safety. The truth is my house doesn’t even feel safe anymore, but it is safer than what awaits me beyond closed doors. I place the brown bag on the kitchen table, now stained from the greasy meal inside. I get out the ketchup and I begin to eat. The food is slightly cold now, but it still tastes just as good as I knew it would. I’m still shaking, but I will not cry. Nothing terrible happened. You did it. You stood your fucking ground. I am so proud of you. The small pink tube rests beside me. I look at it and wonder what might have happened had I not had it. Would I have turned on College, would I have asked those girls for a ride, would I be sitting here right now? Because when it comes down to it, that small pink tube was my first line of defense.
I am born to a mother and a father, I have one sister and one brother, but my family consists of each person in the world. We are all here for each other, to listen to each other, to support each other. Some are friends, some are lovers, some are there for guidance, others are there for play. But the thing we have in common is our love and respect for each other.
The world we live in is vast, limitless. But the place of my birth is in the center, with the world sprawling out around me from all sides. From my front porch I see the ocean, beautiful, blue, teeming with life and colors. Behind me are the vast mountains, which tower up towards the heavens, home to mystery and wonder. In other parts of this world exist the jungles and the desserts, the great plains and the valleys of ice. If you want to go there you must simply go. The way in which you get around is up to you, you may fly, or swim. For as beings of this world you are able to do both. Or you can sail or take a helicopter, it’s your choice; It depends on the journey you would like to take and the experience you wish to have.
In my home the four seasons are equal in length. There is just enough of each to appreciate the beauty and splendor that the season’s possess, but they do not extend long enough so that you become resentful of them.
As children we play and laugh and live and learn as children do. Our imaginations run wild and our hearts are full. We imagine to be anything we want to be and we grow with our dreams, towards the future we imagine for ourselves. As we grow older we begin to discover our passions and we are encouraged to do whatever it is that makes us happy. For me, I dance. I learn to make beautiful movements with my body, I learn to appreciate music and to turn those sounds into something physical, with my body as my instrument. I learn to sing and to play instruments; I learn to paint and draw and make art using nature as my medium. I learn to read and write and I spend hours outside, immersing myself in the fantastical worlds laid out before me. Stories of alternate universes- of aliens and princesses, of robots and dinosaurs, of magic and dragons; all of these are worlds that exist just beyond our own.
When the time comes for me to move away from my parents I explore the rest of the world, independently. I see different languages and cultures. I live in huts and castles, I dwell among the creatures of the ocean and I hike to the top of the highest peaks. My body is strong and lean, for not only do the humans on this planet move as often as we can, we eat only food that nourishes us. Delicious substances which come straight from the earth, chemicals and preservatives do not exist, no one would ever think to add such poison to something that enters our bodies.
When I feel as if I have lived enough of my independent life I come back to where I was born, back to my family and loved ones. I have a lovely home, the one overlooking the mountains and the sea. A home bathed in sunlight, with places to think, and read, and write, and do yoga, and laugh, and sing, and relax. I have a wonderful man by my side. He is not my husband, he is my partner. He is the one who will help me form a family and carry new beings through the first part of life. He is soft and strong and the same time. He is the warmth which lights a fire inside my chest and the dependance I can count on at the end of the day. He has glistening eyes, which make my heart melt, and each time we kiss the rest of the world sinks away.
We have beautiful children, boys and girls. They have curly hair and full, round eyes. They live each day as if it were their last, because they never believe it will be. They are carefree and curious and each day they remind me of the magic in the world. We teach them to laugh and we teach them to fly. We help them when they fall and we show them how to swim. When they have grown and moved on, my partner and I continue to explore the world. We have homes in many different places and we move as we feel.
Old age comes to us slowly and we feel our bodies becoming tired. We begin to search for restfulness instead of adventure; this is fine with us, we have had plenty of adventure. We talk and reminisce of days gone by, we find pleasure in the simple things- a warm cup of tea and the blowing of the wind. We visit with our children and soon enough their children. We see the circle of life continuing on.
Throughout my life I have found many passions, but writing is the one that brings me the most joy. I have written short stories and long novels, memoirs and fantasy. My writing has been read throughout the world, the small lessons I have imparted have inspired change and conversation. I have learned more about the world and myself through this writing and it will remain long after I am gone.
When it is time to leave this earth my partner and I will do it together. We have a party the night before, bringing all of our loved ones, and anyone else who wishes to say some final words, about the time we’ve shared together on this earth. It is a great event, with dancing and laughter, and smiles, and perhaps a few tears- but not too many, for we will all see each other again. When we close our eyes that night, hand in hand, we depart this life, but our souls will fly onto the next world. Perhaps next time we will be dragons, or maybe butterflies floating through the sky- we will not know till we arrive, and when we do another wonderful life will begin.
And yes it’s an outlet for me too, of course it is. A place where I can bitch and moan, and think and complain. A place where I can heal, and a place where I can discover more about myself. But there’s no way in hell I would put it out there if I didn’t want people to read it.
It can be a little dangerous at times, because I’m no expert. I definitely don’t hold the answers to life (I’m 21 for Gods sake, I’m still learning to say no to that final tequila shot). But I do have some experience, and that is where my writing stems from.
The point is, I can be wrong. And although I try to write when I feel like I’ve learned a lesson, when I feel like I have some bit of helpful knowledge that I can share with people, there are some lessons that I just haven’t learned yet.
You see my writing can also be a good way to get back at people. A way to passively say, “fuck you” to the people that have screwed me over and that’s a dangerous game to play. Let me give you an example: the other week I wrote an article from that negative mindset. It was called ‘Severing Ties’ and maybe you read it. It was about ending relationships when they aren’t working, about not settling for something if it isn’t perfect, about waiting to find the person that can do absolutely no wrong in your eyes. But in this case, I was the one who was wrong. I didn’t know I was wrong at the time, but that’s another thing about life: you keep learning lessons, even if you think they are ones you have already learned.
I knew I was wrong when the two people in my life, who I respect the most, my sister and my mom, told me that they didn’t really agree with my latest piece of writing. That had never happened before, so I knew I had made a mistake. There are many relationships around me that I truly respect, but the two that I admire the most are theirs. Both of these amazing women are in relationships with great guys, and I always thought it was just because they were lucky enough to find their soul mates. And yes, they are with their soul mates, and by that I mean two souls that compliment each other, but there is more to it than that.
As my sister so wisely put it, life is a lot more like Frozen than it is like Cinderella. And no I am not going to give you a pitch on why Frozen is a good movie, I think the Internet has done enough of that, but it has a good message. Perhaps the person, who sweeps you off your feet and dazzles you with the possibility of a storybook ending, isn’t the person who is really going to struggle through the hardships of life with you. Maybe it is the person who you wrote off for whatever superficial reason, the person who you can laugh with, the person who you truly connect with, the person that wants to work to form a real relationship with you, who is meant to be your prince charming.
The thing is I had actually deleted the post before either of them talked to me about it. That’s another thing about lessons, for you to truly learn them, you have to learn them for yourself. I wrote ‘Severing Ties’ because I was angsty. I was sick of dating guys who didn’t want to put in the effort. I wrote it from a place of anger and not a place of understanding, and that was where I made my mistake. I knew that ‘Severing Ties’ didn’t convey what I was really trying to say and that is this: if you find yourself SETTLING in your relationship, if you find yourself wanting more, but you are too afraid to go and search for it, or if you feel like whoever you are with isn’t really trying anymore, then definitely sever those ties. But if you really want to be with someone and you are willing to work a little bit at your relationship, then that is what love is really all about.
If you end things with someone too soon, if you don’t try and work together to figure things out, and if you let your fear outweigh your better judgment then you might never know what kind of relationship you could find with someone.
So yes, I make mistakes sometimes, I’m a blogger, not a therapist. And no, you shouldn’t agree with me about everything. I write from my own experience, and each person experiences life in a different way. But I don’t write to air my dirty laundry. I’m not aiming to be the Taylor Swift of the writing world. I am writing to try and better the world, and that is why most of my writing ends with a lesson. And yeah, maybe I’ll lose a few potential suitors, a few guys who would never want to date me, for the fear of having our story written down someday. But I don’t think I’d want to be with a guy like that anyways.
I write so that people will think. I write because every once in a while I get a Facebook message from someone who has been going through a similar experience, and who really appreciated feeling like they weren’t going through it alone. And of course, I write so that people will read. And if you have read this whole long ass post, then congrats you have read more today than most of our nation and maybe you even have something new to think about. Maybe you are starting to look at your own relationships and consider how much effort you are actually putting into them and if that effort is being reciprocated. And maybe, just maybe, if your love life isn’t where you want it to be at, you will be inspired to make a change.
Thank you for taking the time to open your mind, and read a few thousand words. <3
BY Izzy Martens
"Love isn’t always perfect. It isn’t a fairytale or a storybook. And it doesn’t always come easy. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define, and impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, love is realizing that every hour, every minute & every second was worth it because you did it together."
Leslie Van Grove Photography
For brief moments I’ll forget her name. Granted, it always comes back. But the fact that I can forget, for even a second, is encouraging. I’ll never forget her face, no that’s grained into my mind. And comes back to visit me sometimes in bad dreams. The truth is it wasn’t all her fault, of course it wasnt, but she holds some of the blame, that’s for damn sure.
I wrote her a letter before it happened. Or as it was happening…I guess that part I’ll never know. The letter asked her to back off of him. I explained how much we had been through; I told her that our relationship deserved this fighting chance, but with her in the picture it was making it impossible. I told her that I was actually a pretty cool person, and that I was sure she was as well. She must’ve been a cool girl, because he was a cool guy. I told her that it wasn’t fair of me to come back after so long and steal him away again. I said we hadn’t planned on getting back together, which was the truth. Love makes you stupid sometimes. I acknowledged that it wasn’t really fair of her to get pushed to the side, but I was asking her to respect the love we shared.
I never sent the letter. I should’ve. Maybe it would of made things different, but maybe it would have made me hate her even more. Knowing that she read it, and did it anyways. I even knew where she lived. I had dropped him off there before, it was where all of his friends hung out and I was trying to be trusting. Trying to be a cool girlfriend, even though it tore me up inside. I was so tempted to just drop it on her front porch, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I thought about egg-ing her house a few times after it happened. I probably should’ve done that as well; I’m sure it would’ve made me feel better for about ten minutes.
Cheating has always been the lowest form of betrayal in my eyes. I guess it’s because guys have always done it to me. You see cheating doesn’t make the person you cheated on feel very good. No shit right? It makes you think that it was your fault somehow. That you weren’t hot enough, sexy enough, smart enough, etc. It makes you think that there was something you could have changed about yourself; some fundamental problem that could be fixed, when in reality it usually has nothing to do with you at all.
It’s a two way street-cheating is, and it seems like most people struggle on where to place the blame. I’ve seen it go down multiple ways. Either it’s all the girls fault: she was a slut or a tease, she tempted him too much, she knew he had a girlfriend and she urged him on anyways. Or that she enjoyed winning him over, she enjoyed knowing that she was the straw that broke the camels back. On the flip side„ and in most cases this is the best way to go about it, the blame goes to the guy who cheated on you. The guy who, by asking you to be his girlfriend, by saying I love you, and by kissing you morning after morning, promised he would be faithful to you, then wasn’t.
The truth of it is cheating goes both ways. Unless you weren’t aware that the person you were about to sleep with was in a relationship, of course. In that case I’m really fucking sorry you let a d-bag like that under your sheets. But if you know someone is in a relationship, and you do it anyways, than you have to take responsibility for the fact that you probably just hurt another person pretty badly. You may not know that other person, you may not want to think about the other side of it, you may only be focused on your wants and your desires, but that’s the way it works. And if you are in a relationship, and you aren’t happy, and cheating looks like the easiest way out. Or if you see a girl at a bar, and she is looking at you like she would bang you until the sun comes up, and you just can’t resist the temptation. Then words are usually a better first option, rather than unzipping your pants and letting the rest go to shit.
You see words save you from all the messy stuff. They save you from looking like a total fucking asshole in the eyes of a person you once really loved, or liked, or even cared about. They save that person from all questions of “what did I do wrong?” and “I’m just not good enough.” They allow you to maintain your dignity, your reputation, and your conscience. Cheating is not an easy out. Saying the words “I just don’t want to do this anymore” is. Or if you still want to be in a relationship than the words “Hall Pass?” might help you out. You might get slapped in the face, but it’s worth a shot, apparently open relationships are the wave of the future.
And on the flip side, if you know that someone is in a relationship, and you still are planning on hooking up with them, than think about the roles if they were reversed. Think about the person who is really going to suffer from your actions. Think about the pain you will cause, and then think about whether or not it would actually be worth it.
I think respect for one another as human beings is something we all need to work on a lot more in this world. I think placing yourself in someone else’s shoes is something we need to be doing on a daily basis. Respect is something that needs to be practiced a thousand times more and by thousands more people, but respect for relationships is a good start.
So yeah, maybe I never will forget her face. A face I’ve only seen once, in a picture the size of a dime, on the top of an Instagram account. But one day maybe I really will forget her name. Perhaps one day, when my mind draws a blank (as it sometimes does when I feel like saying her name and cursing a little) the words just won’t come. And maybe one day I’ll look back on all this and only remember it as a learning experience. Perhaps sooner or later I will write it off as a lesson learned and I won’t think anymore about the person behind the scenes.
"The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too."