Sometimes I think to myself, “How did I get here?” Then the pain hits and I remember…it’s because she’s gone. I now live in a new town, go to a new school, and I’m supposed to be moving on with my new life. Only, I no longer know who I am anymore. Dancing is all I have left and every day I feel completely alone. Silence has become the theme song to my life. She said to find some joy and light, but I don’t know how. Mostly, I feel surrounded in darkness…that is until I meet him.
I have only one goal, in 298 days I’m going to drive away from this small beach town and never return. People are always watching me closely, too close, and I’m tired of wearing a mask. I need to be free. Swimming is my ticket out of here and I remind myself daily to fly under the radar, stick to my routine, and under no circumstances let anything distract me. I’m not as perfect as they think, most days I am drowning in guilt. I’m not sure I will ever be able to escape the feelings of shame, worthlessness, and just being unwanted…that is until I meet her.
She said that she was my best friend and then one day she wasn’t. Every day I live with the visible scars, but it’s the invisible ones that hurt the most. They are a constant reminder of everything I’ve lost as well as all the things that I’ll never have. I should be over this by now, it’s been years, but I can’t escape the memories that haunt me. Everyone around me is moving on with their life, so now I need to do the same. Tennis brought me to Columbia University, and I am quickly proving that I will not let anyone defeat me, past or present. I am in control now. Life has taught me the hard way to remember that. But after all this time, I’m still searching for an answer to the one question that is constantly burning in the back of my mind…why?
He said that he was my best friend, and then one day he wasn’t. It took one moment to change my entire life. What I thought I knew became a lie and nothing was ever the same. Slowly, I picked up the pieces and focused on what I could control…me. I live in New York City and attend one of the world’s most prestigious fashion and design schools. Day after day, I am getting closer and closer to making my dreams come true. I did this all on my own and no one can ever take it from me. I know my future is bright, even if my heart is destined to stay in the dark. The dull ache that still lingers is my daily reminder to rely on no one but myself. Although, after all this time, I still can’t help but wonder…why?
I’ve never really been included. I’ve never felt like I truly belonged. But then again, how could I? Living on this island, I’ve seen and heard too many things. Lies. Secrets. Lies I’ve been forced to tell and secrets I’ve been forced to keep. They keep me locked to myself. They’re the reason I stand on the edge of the horizon and watch from afar. Other people’s lives have evolved, but not mine. It’s exactly the same. Day after day, the sun rises, and every time its rays penetrate my skin, I’m reminded that no matter how desperately I don’t want to be, I’m trapped. I want to live. I want to breathe. I just want to be . . . free.
If I had my way, I would have walked off the catwalk and straight out of the public eye years ago. Never-ending contracts and obligations have kept me prisoner until recently. Now it is fear that has me trapped and running from my life. I’m now hiding in a tiny beach cottage in my mother’s hometown, praying no one will find me. No one understands. The demands, lack of control, threats ... I just want it all gone. I want to escape. When do I finally get to be me? Free.
About The Author
I was once asked to give a three minute presentation describing who I am and here’s what I came up with…
Over ten years ago my husband and I were driving from Chicago to Tampa and somewhere in Kentucky I remember seeing a billboard that was all black with five white words, “I do, therefore I am!” I’m certain that it was a Nike ad, but for me I found this to be completely profound.
Take running for example. Most will say that a runner is someone who runs five days a week and runs under a ten minute mile pace. Well, I can tell you that I never run five days a week and on my best days my pace is an eleven minute mile. I have run six half marathons and one full marathon. No matter what anyone says, I am a runner. I do, therefore I am.
I’ve taken this same thought and applied it to so many areas of my life: cooking, gardening, quilting, and yes…writing.
I may not be culinary trained, but I love to cook and my family and friends loves to eat my food. I cook, therefore I am a chef!
My thumb is not black. I love to grow herbs, tomatoes, roses, and lavender. I garden, therefore I am a gardener!
I love beautiful fabrics and I can follow a pattern. My triangles may not line up perfectly…but who cares, my quilts are still beautiful when they are finished. I quilt, therefore I am a quilter.
I have been writing my entire life. It is my husband who finally said, “Who cares if people like your books or not? If you enjoy writing them and you love your stories…then write them.” He has always been my biggest fan and he was right. Being a writer has always been my dream and what I said I wanted to be when I grew up.
So, I’ve told you who I am and what I love to do…now I’m going to tell you the why.
I have two boys that are three years a part. My husband and I want to instill in them adventure, courage, and passion. We don’t expect them to be perfect at things, we just want them to try and do. It’s not about winning the race, it’s about showing up in the first place. We don’t want them to be discouraged by society stereotypes, we want them to embrace who they are and what they love.
After all, we only get one life.
In the end, they won’t care how many books I actually sell…all that matters to them is that I said I was going to do it, I did it, and I have loved every minute of it.