Hurricane

Have you ever loved a hurricane

Sirens warning of the impending force

Waves poised to break all you hold dear

Wind gathering to wreck your sacred vessel

Have you ever loved a hurricane

Thunderous it storms onward

Paying no heed to your sandbags or prayers

Cast skyward like a fisherman’s net

Over the starboard side of his life savings 

Hoping the waters are merciful to him

Have you ever loved a hurricane

That beautiful unavoidable disaster 

Her Intensity is measured in categories 

But she’s a class with no equal

For ever salty sea captain knows

This storm will pound in your chest 

So better to ride high the waves

And bask in her serene eye

Than making company below decks

With the rats who cannot understand

Love and lightning will kill you

In the most beautiful way possible

Have you ever loved a hurricane 

Sometimes its good to forget things

Sometimes its good to forget things.

The jolting reality of the picture in your head of how life is going to look in the next 5 years, and then when you look around you and see how it’s not at all like you imagined, can be overwhelming.

I did something that is either a fantastic benchmark or incredibly foolish, but I felt needed to be done. From 2006 to 2012 I had a Facebook account, that I ultimately deleted because my life literally fell apart and social media was exacerbating everything. However, true to the Internet Age, nothing is ever truly gone, and with simple muscle memory I knew the email address and password combination that had not been used in over three years.

Laughter.

Confliction.

Joy.

Pain.

Love.

Hurt.

It was like walking down the halls of your elementary school.
Memories don’t age, so as I maneuvered my way through a friends list with a plethora of new last names, it felt almost surreal. I could click through their timeline and see how they had moved, married, grown, loved, lost, and ultimately changed. People I hadn’t though about in years, with a simple keystroke suddenly invaded my consciousness again. From sports teams to the honor society, all these faces felt familiar and foreign at the same time.

Memories don’t age.

As I scrolled through my friends list, I kept praying there was one name I wouldn’t have to read. I knew the moment I saw it, I’ll be forced to stand against a torrential blast of emotions I was praying desperately I had the strength to withstand. As I reach the bottom I breathe a little easier realizing she had blocked my account, a wise move indeed. But an even greater lump lodged itself in my throat when I went to look at my own profile, a time capsule preserving years of my life in words and images.

“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got” -Robert Brault.

Every new picture transported me back to the instant it was taken. The sounds of the conference room, the cool snow on my face, the waterfall in the background, the wonder of the museum, the bitter coffee, the kneeling down in front of the chapel steps…all so vivid.

I’ll never know what changed for her. I’ve had to come to the realization that I won’t get answers for questions that will forever be etched into my memory. As I remember where I thought my life was headed, it caused me to stop and look at where I’ve come since then. I’m the youngest person in my department to be promoted to this position, I have a company I’m actively developing and another business idea cooking. I travel the country, meet amazing people, and have experienced things few people can relate to.

Life is like driving a car. We must keep our eyes on the road ahead of us, and only glance on occasion in the rear view mirror to see what we leave behind. I have an ocean of opportunity and experience before me, and the ability to continue to make a difference in the lives of those around me.

Sometimes it’s good to forget things, but always remember the lessons they taught you.

Do Not Fall In Love with People Like Me

I recently posted the modified lyrics from a poem one of my best friends shared with me, below:

“Do not trust people like me. I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth. I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you will finally understand why storms are named after people”

They are taken from “Do Not Fall In Love With People Like Me” by Caitlyn Siehl. When I posted that on my Facebook, I had people ask me what was wrong, or if they detected a hint of scorn, etc. In all honesty, there was a little bit. I’ve had a fair share of heartbreak, and I try to think of myself as a pretty good catch (according to my parents at least). So what gives, why am I single?

Let’s take a step back. My culture is obsessed with relationships. We are inundated with messages about how your life isn’t fully complete until you find your special someone. We have movies and music videos and music and books and shows and social media and anything else you might think of, all with the same message. Being single is bad. Heck, even the government punishes you for being single (tax breaks in favor of married couples, for example). Even in my family, my dad was already married by the time he was my current age. Not to say I didn’t try to follow in his footsteps. In fact, all my serious relationships have all had the same post-breakup story: she marries the guy she met right after me, usually within two years. I can’t make this stuff up folks.

But we’re set up to fail. With teenage hormones raging, we are cast into a society that has a brutal message: if a girl doesn’t like you, there is something wrong with you. You’re undesirable, unattractive, and that’s a bad thing. So growing up, this message is skewed and mutilated, especially by the media. Movies paint a picture of unattainable romance, but that’s because they are multimillion dollar investments designed as such. We think love works out because around an hour and a half into the movie, she realizes all the crazy stuff he’s doing is because he truly loves her, and the music changes and she falls back into his arms and doves fly and fireworks go off and blah blah blah. Like it or not, these story lines whisper softly in our ears as we think about love and romance. Real life doesn’t work like that, so we’re never going to be satisfied.

However, how much is fantasy, and how much is misguided reality? Can there actually be gentlemen out there who would make a woman feel all these things society tells her she should be expecting? I think yes, but only if we realize the bigger picture. Women need to have higher standards, and men need to work on exceeding those higher standards. I’m placing the responsibility on both parties here for a reason. Men, take the first step and go above and beyond, consistently. Plan dates in advance, with thought and purpose. Pay attention to what she says; don’t just listen to her, hear her. Above all, be sincere and respectful. Ladies, don’t settle for anything less than his best. Enforce the Rule of Wednesday. For those unfamiliar, a guy should ask you out for a date that weekend, before Wednesday. He also needs to have plans. Because the closer you are to being asked Friday night around 8pm, the less effort he’s put and the less he’s respecting your time. Of course, this isn’t always ideal, but it’s a good start.

I firmly believe love and romance exist. We have the potential to meet wonderful people who compliment and amaze us every day. It’s not always butterflies and roses, but few things are as fulfilling as knowing and embracing someone who truly brings joy to your life.

“But Dustin, you’re single. You write all these things like you know what should be done, and you’re a great guy. Surely any girl would love to be on the receiving end of such effort and affection. Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” Well, thank you observant reader. I am single. And I’m finally ok with that. I’ve gotten to a place where I can take my broken past and use the lessons I’ve learned toward the future. Above all else I’ve learned that if you don’t first understand who you are and what you want, and what you can offer to a partner, you are never going to be fully satisfied.

Mouth

I believe the mouth expresses
what the heart has suffered
those who kiss deeply
have suffered heavily
they kiss another’s lips
as if for the last time
like every breath
is a second chance

Caitlin

During one of my communication courses at TCU, we were asked to read aloud a piece of literature, either self-composed or already in publication; the singular prompt being it ‘had to have personal meaning’. This is what I wrote.
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Background: when I was 16, my older sister lost a very aggressive and sudden battle with AML, a particularly vicious form of leukemia for younger girls. The anniversary of her death is December 1.
The following reading is the stream of consciousness of a boy who just experienced pain that few men ever know, and fewer ever fully understand.
Confusion. Anger. Choking on pain and fear. As I hang up the phone a wave of disbelief and numbness washes over me. “How can this be? She was just fine yesterday. I gave her a hug, told her I loved her.” My mom calls me, says she was on her way to pick me up. I sink to the floor and sit there for what seems like an eternity, though it is only 15 minutes. My mom arrives, and I close the car door with a heavy, sickening thud.
The waiting room. Cold, as all sterile rooms are. Plastic chairs, metal arms, short carpeted floors with strange patterns. For a place that promises life, the rooms you bide your time feel like death. Nurses come to check on me. “Is there anything you need honey? How are you doing?” I lose the fight with the urge to snap back in anger. “I want answers! What’s going on! Where’s my sister! What’s wrong!” Their face doesn’t change. “She’s in a medically induced coma. The doctor acted fast because he didn’t have much time.” Time, fast, these words buzz in my head like an angry hornet. The nurses leave me as friends and family arrive. I’m embraced over and over again, but it doesn’t register. I go through the motions, repeating back the words first uttered by individuals in scrubs. People rub my shoulder as if I was cold and shivering. Embraces and “it’s going to be ok dear” continue throughout the evening.
The next morning my dad and I get breakfast at the nearby golden arches. I’m eating hash browns that are too hot for human consumption as a man in a white jacket walks over. “Your sister is on floor 13, right?” I nod my head in reply, as words fail me. “They have some amazing doctors, she’s in the best care possible” he promises me. They all made promises that week.
No one could keep them.
Thanksgiving. I haven’t eaten anything of substance for nearly 6 days. I’m weak, but the thought of food sickens me. People invite us to their house for company and nourishment. They ask me questions I can’t answer, don’t want to answer, don’t want to discuss. My peers, our friends surround me constantly. I hug back now, because I see tears in their eyes as they stare into mine. “this hurts them too” I think. My mom pulls me aside “you have to be strong for them”. Her words resound deep within my chest. “Be strong for them, be strong for others.” “But who will be strong for me?”
The roller coaster of her condition finally came to an end. She doesn’t wake up. The cancer spread to her spine, doing irreversible damage. She’s kept alive by machines, present in body only. As I walk into her room one final time, her lifeless body radiates with an angelic glow that defies medicine or logic. I place my hand on hers, kiss her forehead, and whisper ‘I love you’ one last time. I want to cry, scream, explode with emotions that I don’t know how to process. But I can’t. “Who’s going to be strong for me?”
The cold rain cuts into my face as I stare at the fresh, damp pile of earth before me. “Blessed are the dead the rain falls on, as heaven weeps for our loss.” I sink to my knees, my heart ripping asunder. I miss you.
I realized that day that life is beautiful and wonderful, but unpredictable and delicate. I made divine accusations and demanded answers I will never comprehend. But I know this: cherish everything, love deeply, and never, ever, take anyone for granted.

Magic

I remember
Sitting in the booth beside you
Playful kisses exchanged
In front of friends
In the crowded room

I remember the look in your eyes
When I could turn and stare
And in the bustling bar
Or crowded room
Silence the noise for a moment
And just see you

That no longer happens for me
I go out and see couples
I know their magic
I see their passion
I understand what they have
Because of what I had

It’s an old wound
That will one day I’ll heal
I’ll look into her eyes
With a newness I didn’t think possible
And I’ll once again
Believe in magic

Remember

The following is a collection of one line messages my friend Yazmin and I sent back and forth to each other one evening, without really discussing any premise or planning it ahead of time. The ideas and the memories just flowed naturally.

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Remember…
…when we played hopscotch, then we vandalized the streets with chalk?
…when you sat on top of dad. us with the steering wheel and dad with the pedal because we were not tall enough to reach them?
…when it was cool to go down the slide head first? …when we wished the slide had more steps?
…when we had swinging contests, but we were afraid of going over the bar?
…when we didn’t want to get off the swing and asked the girl/boy/mom/dad/friend behind us to keep pushing and you still wanted to reach higher?
…when we went exploring in fields and woods like it was the deepest jungles of Africa?
…when we thought being on tv was soooo great?
…when we thought we would be best friends for forever?
…when we wanted clowns and a bouncing house for our birthday party… when we got the clowns they freaked us out so we kicked them?
…when hot dogs and lemonade was our main summer diet?
…when all we wanted was to go swimming? …when we first noticed girls/boys?
…when we thought life would last forever and it was barely starting?
…when we thought kissing made babies?
…when all we wanted was a tree house fort to spend summer afternoons in?
…when we wanted to grow up?
…when we valued simple things? …when sharing was caring?
…when all we knew was colors, multiplication tables, and fairy tails, and that didn’t bother us because we didn’t know that we didn’t know and we didn’t worry for not knowing?
…when we learned science from Beakmans World and Bill Nye the Science Guy, and loved learning it too?
…when we didn’t know about death until we lost our pet?
…when we knew better and acted accordingly? …when we looked for a rabbit on the moon?
…when a pinky-swear-cross-your-heart-hope-to-die promise meant something?
…when you thought getting your ball back would solve all your problems?
…when we were innocent?
…when we were afraid to take off the extra wheels on our bicycle?
…when we went to our mom after a nightmare and pleaded to sleep in their bed?
…when we pretended to be asleep when mom or dad checked on us?
…when we begged to stay up an hour past our normal bedtime?
…when mom would put a jacket and some gloves on us before we went outside?
…when we gave our crushes notes with check boxes, and still have them?
…when we had to ask for something every time we walked into a store?
…when we played outside till the street lights came on?
…when we spent hours playing Mario Bros in our Nintendo… and then we asked Santa for a Super Nintendo?
…when older kids could do no wrong in our eyes?
…when we blamed it on even younger kids? …when we cried before we had a reason to cry?
…when we were losing our baby teeth and believed in the Tooth Fairy?
…when a band-aids and kisses made all the pain go away?
…when we didn’t know about locking cars or hiding feelings?
…when we didn’t care how our clothes looked on us? …When we navigated paper boats?
…when we were excited for Santa on Christmas morning and sleepovers were the highlight of our week?
…When we’d take really long showers and sleep 10 hours every night?
…when a Happy meal toy was the greatest thing since cartoons?

…when we asked questions unafraid of the answers?