Macoris. Classic Lou. Vallenato.

“Giordano’s.”

“Ew, no. Too much cheese.”

“What?! That’s the best part. You’re not a real Chicagoan if you’ve never choked on Giordano’s deep dish cheese!”

“That’s not even right. You’re not a real Chicagoan if you’ve haven’t had Lou Malnati’s.”

“Now, that is gross. For that, you might as well say UNO’s is the best and we both know that lying is just, plain… WRONG!”

“Hey, hey, now. UNO’s isn’t bad. I do prefer Pequod’s over UNO’s though. No lie.”

“The pizza place on the corner is better than UNO’s…”

The classic Chicago debate would have continued had they not seen a band walking out and into a venue.

“Wonder what’s going on there tonight,” asked Sam, the Classic Lou fan. His taste in food was extremely picky. His taste in music worse.

“Let’s go check it out. I’d be down to see some music tonight if you are,” said Mac, the Giordano’s supporter. He was a foodie, loved to taste a bit of everything and had a pristine sense of musical taste. His choice in friends– questionable.

“Only if it’s some rock shit. I can’t take that indie pop that’s going on nowadays,” said Sam. “Or EDM. Who invented that?”

“Dude, I keep telling you,” began Mac, “you have to open up your musical horizons and interests. It makes you a more well-rounded person.”

“Blah, blah, blah. As true as that sounds, in the end, I know what I like.”

“Fine,” said Mac. He learned when to stop.

The duo walked into the bar where the musicians were setting up. Musical instruments native to Latin American countries could be seen all over the floor getting their mics added on and getting hooked up to the sound system. The musicians shook hands with others in the venue, smiled, laughed, chatted.

Mac felt like he was walking in at a personal moment. One of the artists with a hat on came up to him and shook his hand. The hat he wore was a traditional Colombian piece called a sombrero vueltiao that Mac recognized from his excursion to Ecuador, a bordering country to Colombia.

“Rey Márquez,” said the musician.

“Macorís Rojas,” said Mac.

¡O! ¿Dominicano?” asked Rey.

Mis padres, si. Yo nací aquí,” said Mac, who didn’t really speak Spanish most of the time but did only because the conversation started that way. Sam didn’t speak Spanish either, even though his family was Puerto Rican.

Hola, Samuel Ramírez,” said Sam, in his butchered Spanish accent.

¿A que hora van a tocar y que tipo de música?” Mac asked what time and type of music they were going to play.

A las 9. Regresen para escuchar vallenato. Aquí estarémos,” said Rey. Vallenato, along with Cumbia, were the most popular and native types of music originating in Colombia– hence the hat.

OK. Luego volvemos,” said Mac, promising to come back.

Hasta pronto, entonces,” said Rey.

The friends walked out and decided to get some pizza from the local spot. It was better than they expected.

“Do we really have to go back?” asked Sam. “I don’t even know what valle… valleviejo is. Is it like tribal music?”

Vallenato. Vallenato. Vallenato,” said Mac. “And no, it’s very similar to Cumbia. I actually kinda like it. It’s chill.”

“More crap I can’t stand,” said Sam. ” You might be going back alone.”

It was 7:30 and they were venturing around the neighborhood, so calling other friends and letting this guy wallow in his Latin ignorance wouldn’t be a problem.

“That’s cool. I actually might just go back alone. It’s not too often that you get this type of music in a Mexican-identified city, you know?”

Sam ended up walking home and Mac texted one person– a girl he’s had a thing for for the past couple of years. They were friends but she never picked up on his good intentions. He wondered if she’d be interested in the show.

“Hey, Sara, what are you up to tonight?” He texted.

He started walking around the small neighborhood he lived in. The air was warm and the sun was setting– almost too romantic, he thought, that he’d might just say hi to Sara instead of actually asking her to come out. He didn’t want to scare her away.

His phone buzzed: “Hey Mac! Not too much. Just hanging out with my brother and sister. What’s going on?”

Should he ask? He was going to bite the bullet. The worst that could happen was getting a no and if there was anything Mac was used to, it was getting rejected– from girls, schools, jobs, sometimes life– but it was good for growth. At least, that’s what his mentor said.

“There’s a Vallenato show happening on 19th. We were walking by and met the band. Would you like to check it out with me?” He sent it.

His stomach turned a bit and he was already thinking of “cool” ways to accept the rejection text message. “Oh, no problem. Maybe next time.” Or how about, “Oh! That’s cool. No worries. We’ll chat later.”

Buzz. Buzz. It was her.

“Sure! What time? And where do you want to meet?” He smiled wide.

“I’ll swing by to get you,” he texted back.

By that time it was already 8:30. He took the walk to her place. By the time they’d get back to the bar, it would be around show time.

His arrival to the house was not a secret one. The giant pitbull next door started barking as soon as he turned the corner. With that, there was no need to knock on the door, since Sara came out before he could get to the stoop.

“Hey!” she said, giving him a hug. “How’s it going?”

“Not to bad,” said Mac. “Ready to get going?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

As they walked they talked about Sam’s lack of culture, the pizza battle and music.

“Oh, I’m so down with a classic Lou Malnati’s pizza,” she said. “My uncle took us there for the first time. It’s like a Chicago staple. You have to have Lou’s. But we get the thin crust.”

“Hey! Me, too!” said Mac, a little too excitedly. “I love it and although there are a lot of places that give it a run for its money, it’s still my favorite.”

“Plus,” she added, “real Chicagoans don’t even eat deep dish all the time! Thin is the way to go.”

They arrived at the bar and upon walking in, Rey came up to greet them.

¡Hola! ¿La bonita es tu novia?” he said asking if Sara was Mac’s girlfriend.

No, no. Solamente una amiga,” Mac said nervously.

Pues, hombre. ¿Qué te pasa?” Rey asked what his problem was– basically egging him on.

Soy Rey Márquez, mucho gusto,” he said extending his hand to Sara.

Hablo un poquito de español,” Sara smiled shyly. “Soy Sara Pérez.”

They sat down and ordered mojitos waiting for the music to begin, carrying on a conversation about how they’d never been to that bar for as long as they’d lived in the neighborhood.

As the music started, the night crept up on them. The music was calm, the storytelling was impeccable and the essence took Mac back to his excursion to Ecuador.

“This is great,” said Sara. “Thanks for inviting me.”

“Anytime,” Mac said.

It was the perfect way to end the day.

“It Is What It Is.” Blind Man and His Deaf Dog. Sahara Desert.

Robert never felt like he was at a disadvantage. No matter how people treated him or what they said, he shrugged it off. How was he supposed to know what he was missing if he never had the opportunity to see it? Being blind was something that affected about 39 million people in the world. If they could get by, so could he.

Growing up wasn’t so hard. He did almost the same things as other kids, besides of course being physically active in the sports field. His favorite activity though, was flying kites. It didn’t matter what it looked like or if it had a design. It could have been made for a girl and it would have meant nothing to him.

It was a spring day and at 10 years old, he was sitting outside reading and enjoying the breeze when his dad came out to ask if he wanted to fly a kite. Being limited to a lot of other things, Robert said yes to whatever was presented to him, especially if it was something he had never done before.

In the middle of the park, he could feel the open space, smell the fresh cut grass, feel the breeze through his hair, over his skin and in his hands he could feel the pulling of the kite. “What color is it, dad?” The kite was a bright orange, “so people all over the neighborhood can see it and know we’re here. Maybe they’ll come join us.”

It was those simple pleasures in life he enjoyed. He didn’t ask for much because of his ability to withstand being alone and revere in those moments. Sometimes, though, he wished he was Daredevil because even blind kids had superhero idols. He read the comic books in braille using his imagination for all of it. He was convinced that his version of the superhero was 10 times better than what the rest of the kids saw.

At 12, he got a seeing eye dog, Charlie. He loved Charlie with all he had. They did everything together, even flew the bright orange kite. With Charlie, he was able to be a little more independent– allowed to go to the park alone to fly the kite with a few friends. Charlie went everywhere with Robert and he talked to her all the time, as if she were a person.

When Charlie turned 12, she started to lose her hearing. Robert’s parents thought that he would be devastated. “It is what it is,” said Robert. “I’m not going to stop loving her or even talking to her. She knows me. She feels me. She’s my girl.”

Robert was now 23 and looking for a job. Charlie was now fully deaf, but still lead him where he needed to go. Instead of talking to her, he always placed his hands on her. He felt closer to her that way.

Recently, he had itched to travel. Maybe it was his procrastination from looking for an actual 9-5.

“Where are you going to go?” said his best friend Jaime. “What are you going to do? You know, you are blind, so it’s not like you can go see the Wonders of the World or anything.” Jaime chugged the coke he was drinking with his Jimmy John’s Gargantuan. He had a way with words.

“You’re funny,” said Robert, petting Charlie who was leaning between his legs. “I don’t know where I want to go, but it has to be some place I feel.”

Jaime laughed. “You can feel everything, anywhere. You have to go someplace that has good food! Like China or Tokyo.” Jaime also liked to eat.

“What if I went someplace like the Saharan Desert? I mean, if I wanted to visit even a piece of it, I could go to Egypt, Algeria, Libya. Those countries would be amazing to visit,” said Robert.

“Really? Egypt? Isn’t it like, falling apart?”

“Don’t be ignorant, Jaime. That was like 10 years ago.”

The thought of traveling seemed even more adventurous for obvious reasons, but the fact that he had never been out of the country irked him quite a bit. Nothing else had ever limited his ability to do things, not even his blindness and it wasn’t going to get in his way now.

Later in the week, Robert decided to do a little research on flights and countries. For some reason, the desert countries called out to him and he decided to scout those out first. Charlie was also getting old and taking her on a trip to a foreign country that didn’t chow down on pups was ideal for him.

That night, he called his mom. “I’m going on a trip overseas, mom. I’ve decided.”

“Oh yeah, Rob? Where are you going to go?” She never limited his abilities even in theory.

“Well, I’m looking that up right now and am checking out the best places I’d be able to take Charlie…”

The Watch Salesman

People like to talk to me. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, sometimes I get ladies and gentleman opening up to me about the most personal things– and I listen. I catch and take in every piece of what they’re telling me because, if I don’t listen, who will?

Take for instance, the watch salesman I was effortlessly chatting with yesterday as I was deciding which watch to get my father for his birthday; leather strap or metallic? Black or brown? Rose face or gray? The options were endless and simple– no bells and whistles added.

“Why do you need all the bells and whistles?” asked the salesman. “I really like this one. What does your dad do? Because if he works hard, the metallic may work better for him.”

I have to say, he knew his watches. As I told him about my father and what he did for a living, I also said, “I know whichever watch I get him, it’ll probably sit there until he has something nice or fancy to go to. This won’t be his every day watch.”

“I know,” said the salesman. “My dad used to drive me crazy with things like that. The man had shirts to last him years, had a lot of clothes, but he always wore the same shirt.”

The salesman, a hearty man, not too tall but very friendly, grew animated as he talked about his dad. “One day, my mom ended up using his old t-shirt to clean, the same shirt he always wore,” he continued. “He walked into the house asking, ‘Where’s my shirt?!’ He ended up looking under the sink where my mom left it after cleaning with it.”

“Did he wear it again?” I asked, completely captivated.

“Oh yeah, he grabbed it and washed it and put it on again,” he said in full seriousness. “And, you know, he thought he knew how to use the washing machine.” He motions adding way too much laundry detergent to the load of laundry– or what I imagined to be only his shirt spinning ’round and ’round.

I laughed. He obviously took after his father– that’s where he got his ability to talk to people and where he got his crazy.

“Who do you take after, your mother or your father?” he asked me.

“I got a good mix of both,” I said. “I got the crazy from my mother, but the also the calm side from my dad.”

“That’s good,” he confirmed as he grabbed the watch I decided on; leather strap, black face with a diamond at the 12 mark.

From the way he talked about his father, I already knew he had passed. He ended up telling me about how he wanted to make his father happy in his last days.

“My father loved to be out in the sun,” he said matter-of-factly. “He had melanoma. The last thing he wanted to eat was a Krispy Kreme doughnut and it had to be hot.” The salesman rolled his eyes.

“You know where that Krispy Kreme used to be on Archer?” he asked me.

“Yup,” I confirmed, “next to the Portillo’s.”

“Yes! That one! You do know what I’m talking about. Well, it was the middle of July and this man wanted a hot doughnut. From picking it up and getting it back to where he was, that thing wasn’t going to stay hot. So I blasted the heat all the way there and drove with the windows down,” he explained as if it were yesterday. “I got it to him, but in the end he couldn’t eat it.”

I didn’t know what to say. Sometimes, I didn’t think it important to say anything. “Sometimes it’s just out of our control,” I told him. “At least you tried.”

As he checked me out, he entertained me as he helped me with the credit card screen. “It’s just a bunch of crap that comes up on here,” he said tapping and double tapping on the screen.

He handed me my receipt and information on the new credit card I opened (he got me!). “Don’t forget to buy something for yourself, now,” he said. “The discount works on makeup, even though I know you don’t wear any.”

Little do you know, I thought to myself.

As I grabbed the bag and thanked him for his help, I couldn’t help but notice a little line he said to me that had a little more emphasis than all the others:

“Remember to come back and visit now.”

And when I hear that, I’m more than compelled to stop by, but I rarely do. I usually just write about it.

The Thought Process of Losing

L&E

“You’re not a family. You’re a Tribe.” –Fr. Jack Hurley

Last week was rough on the family. Things were strangely coming together, however for some it was falling apart. The impact that losing a loved one, older than any living person I know, can be a devastation and for my family, it was something that (how can I put this without it sounding horrible) we were used to.

He was a 94-year-old World War II Veteran with two daughters, a handful of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, two sons-in-law who adored him and friends that he’s had longer than I’ve been alive. About 22 years ago, he lost his wife to cancer. Last week, he lost his life to it.

“But he was 94!” We all keep telling ourselves. But little do we ever think of the negative to that positive. Think about it: That’s 94 years of memories. Thank God he still had his mind fully intact. That was 94 years of history, experience, life-threatening situations, violence, travel. Ninety-four years of creating habits and breaking them; of making people laugh and crying tears of sadness; of hugs and kisses for and from everyone he loved; years of missing his loving wife and partner; years of losing those he loved and being ready for when God called his lucky number. Those years hold much more than we know, previously filled by an incredible man, 10 times as big as the void he left!

Those 94 years held a lot. LEe We saw it in my uncle’s memories of him; he is living proof that his father-in-law had a strong impact on individuals. We saw it in the pictures all over the funeral parlor. We heard it in my cousin Donna’s loving words at the funeral mass. We heard it in the sobs of people who were related only by association and experiences with him, as the Marines played Taps while they folded up the American flag that covered his casket. We remember how much those 94 years held, by remembering him; his raspy voice telling us his stories.

His name was Lee. His full name was Leonard Wojnarowski. Clearly Polish. Lee was a quiet man who I remember looking exactly the same since I was a kid. He always had a cigarette in his hand, his white hair combed back, wearing sweater vests, khakis, white shoes, collars– showing off his unique sense of style. “Hey, how you doing, babe?” he would say as we went up to give him a kiss hello. The way he spoke carried the old neighborhood accent. You know, that Chicago “dem, dees and does” Bridgeport accent. He was a straight-up Chicago guy… with a twist!

I can hear him talking to my dad, too. “How ya doin’, Chucho?” Slow, pronounced. “Good, Lee. How are you?” my dad would respond. The two quiet men could sit next to each other in comfort and not speak the rest of the evening. It made me laugh.

I’ll never forget the time I got to sit down and talk to Lee by myself about his experience in WWII. He fought in the South Pacific, engaged in hand-to-hand combat and survived it all to tell me about it. The stories were intense. Out of the millions of the people who died during that war to end all wars, he made it. Fighting the Japanese soldiers, being in a ditch as they surrounded them, the close calls and the scares he endured were all stories that made it into a report I wrote for school: “My conversation with a WWII Veteran.” It got an A+. Well, sure it did. It wasn’t about me. It was about Lee. I told his story– documented it, in a way– and that story deserves an A+++. I guess it was an introduction into journalism for me.

Obviously, there’s a secret part of Lee and a private side that the larger family didn’t get to experience. But it left an impact on my cousins. He was always there for them and for my uncle, especially since we lost my grandfather back in ’72. I mean, like they said at the wake, he watched as my aunts and uncles grew up.

Our Tribe is vast, but we stick together. As in-laws started marrying into the family, not having as large of a family as we did (my mom was one of eight), their parents and siblings have always been invited to join us. We would literally swallow up families and expand because of it. But each little family within our Tribe has their quiet alone time; sacred and separate from the rest of the group. And I can only imagine the stories there.

Driving back to the city from the cemetery, I cried thinking about the other family members we’ve lost. But along with that, I thought about my own morality and that’s where it gets you. The lump in your throat forms and you feel pressure in your eyes. What’s it going to be like when I pass? I don’t know but it’s not my time yet.

Over the few days between his death and funeral, I realized that I would rather celebrate the life of an old person than mourn the loss of a young one. LIke I said, my grandfather passed at 45, my cousin at 12 and my uncle at 35 and those were rough. Really, really rough. It was sad to see them go so early, with years of experiences they’d never get to enjoy before them. The reason you cry at young persons’ funerals is because they didn’t get to live as long as they could have.

This one, wasn’t bad. This wasn’t a losing game. This one was a “It’s time to come home now, you’ve done it all.” That, in and of itself, made it all OK.

I cried tears of joy when I heard that my cousin’s little boy Emilio had a dream about him. They come back in dreams and bring you messages and let you know things. I’ve been there. It is comforting and consoling, and because Emilio experienced that, he’s going to remember his great-grandfather happy along with all the good times. When remembering this time, Emilio won’t remember being sad.

To this day, I still have dreams about my loved ones. And each time they come to me in a dream, I remember that they’re doing much better than us and that they’re happy.

When we talked about people who have passed at the wake and funeral, we mentioned the in-laws and the family members who’ve gone along before us. Remember how I said we’re a Tribe? Well because of that, we all knew that the receiving line after entering the gates of Heaven for Lee would be lined with nothing but family. Blood related, or not, but definitely part of the Tribe.

Wild Imaginations

My imagination runs wild. It’s normal of writers like me. Especially as a writer who doesn’t write for a living. My mind is preoccupied with other things, so much that as I let it go, I start developing stories in my head, creating my perfect world of the ways people talk to me, of lovers who never want to let me go and of a world where it is easy to make people happy.

It’s when you think like this, that you start to see the daily imperfections of the world and what’s going on around us all the time. And only in the imagination can you change what you see and make it into what you want to see. When you have a wild imagination, nothing is really real. There are only certain things that you know for certain– you are alive and breathing and you need to eat and use the bathroom. Everything else comes and goes at your disposal. Every element of life is what creates your perfect world.

You are the writer. You choose the characters. Whenever you are tired of a character or no longer want a character around, you can erase them, pretend they never existed and carry on, building a new plot and re-writing your happy ending. It’s a power that must be developed as a person with a wild imagination and if it comes out right it makes you partly delusional.

No one can mess with my world, especially when it’s down on digital paper. Stories are told and everyone is a part of it. If you know me, have some interaction with me, your pieces of life get poured into my mini-world.

This is why writers are crazy. Look at all the movies, books, biographies about writers. They have issues. Or do they? Maybe they were just really good at developing their own world and believed it that it made them so good yet so troubled. Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson and the list goes on. All so good yet, had troubles of their own; pained experiences that allowed them to write and write, creating a world that was impenetrable yet brilliant for others to partake in.

I don’t write books, however. I write stories. Stills from my every day life that make such an impact on me that I don’t know what to do with them all. Exaggerated stills that I could only dream to turn out the way I wished and then the imaginated stills. That’s right– Imaginated. Those stills of my life that I wish existed. Those human feelings, human emotions that I wish I could express without getting sweaty, nervous, stuttering or feeling inferior than for being vulnerable. In my writing, I’m nothing but vulnerability.

I give pieces of myself for readers to identify with; for friends to explore a bit more; for lovers to know the impact they made. Because sometimes, it just doesn’t come out smoothly from my mouth, but via my imagination it does– again and again. I say the most powerful, impacting, vulnerable words that make people feel connected to the human spirit– whether it’s mine or their own.

In my wild imagination, my words are witty and smart. I’m smooth and considerate. Everything I say is the right thing at the right time in a way you understand because I’m THAT good. It’s rational and reasonable. It’s lovable and kind. It’s everything that I ever wanted to be in real life. I’ve always wanted to release everything in my head, but in writing and through my wild imagination, I have time to think about it and make sure it’s perfect.

In my wild imagination, my world slows down so that I can grasp all the pieces and make sense of it all. In my wild imagination, people think the best of me, I love everything that I do and those whom I love, love me right back. In my wild imagination, all my pieces come together, the world makes sense and I’m a child having fun. In my wild imagination, I’m always in a beautiful place and sometimes I get to see those who have gone before me, having conversations I would never be able to have here.

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m living is the actual dream, while what I’m creating is actually my life.

On the Rainy Days

The rain fell outside, buckets of water being thrown against the building. The thunder rolled, making her believe that the world was being cracked in half like an egg in a frying pan. The trees swayed, long and green, allowing for the shadows to dance more feverishly on the white walls of the apartment.

Between the first and second storm, he walked over to visit for a while. Over a bottle of red wine, candles lit and music playing, they talked and caught up as old friends should. They laughed, talked about music, talked about their families and the past as well as the future, individually; together. Plans were made, laughs were exchanged.

The second storm came to pass and no one could hear the couple anymore in solitude between the walls. No one knew the exchanges being had, and those few hours played out like only 15 minutes together. She didn’t want to let him go and told him so repeatedly.

The wine unlocked the words from her heart; she spilled secrets that she would never have told him before. I’ve written about you, she said. You’re in my stories. He was surprised. She would never show him though. She couldn’t. I like you here, she said. He grinned a wide grin. She liked to make him smile. He was halfway through the doorway saying he should let her sleep. It was late. She pulled him back, hugged him some more. He stepped away and she pulled back again just to look at him. She liked looking at him. She made a memory of him in her library of faces and times and places. This would be one of them.

He walked down the stairs and she smiled at him. I’ll see you later, he said. And it was true, she would see him later. She knew that for a fact.

The next day, she could still smell him– on her hands, on her clothes, in her hair. And although their adoration for each other was sporadic, undefined and emotionally intense, it left a feeling of satisfaction, hope and love in a place where it didn’t exist all the time. For those moments, each other was all they needed. And it was good.

An Open Letter To The Man Who Let Me Get Away

To the Man who let me get away–

What can I say? I tried.

When it started, like the others that let me get away, you were attracted to my looks. I say this, not out of conceit, but I’m nice to look at. I’ve heard it repeatedly and other men have made the mistake of thinking that because of the way I look, my personality had to follow suit. You like the way I looked in pictures, you asked me to send them your way and I did. It was cute. Women never get tired of hearing they are lovely, especially from someone they think is lovely as well.

From day one, you were different. And because of that, I told myself that this relationship was going to be different. I wasn’t going to let things get the best of me like I had in the past. I wasn’t going to let jealousy overrun my mind and I was going to be understanding because if I wanted things to work out smoothly, I had to be. I wasn’t going to get angry; I was going to let things slide off my back and I was going to care. You weren’t going to get the baggage. You were going to get a clean slate.

I’m educated. I guess that’s the stereotype of the wo-MAN. I take pride in myself and what I do and I’m driven. I thought you wanted someone independent and driven. But little did you know that the woman inside me wanted to care for you immensely and did things so lovingly and out of desire to take care of you. I was there for whatever you needed.

As the fun of the first months began to fade, I decided I wanted to be a part of your life and started to care even more. I was proud to be with you. You were mine and I couldn’t have been happier to have someone like you in my life. But you saw that as needy. Like the other men who let me go, they too, saw that I was more than just a pretty face and they either said they weren’t enough for me, or decided to take matters into their own hands.

Did anyone ever give me a chance before they pushed me away? No. Instead, I was just the needy one that wanted too much from a man.

When you had bad days, I wanted to make it better and when you said you “couldn’t” I understood and let you be. When you didn’t understand, I wrote to you. When you let me, I spoke to you about what was on my mind. Every time you got angry, I put myself in your shoes and didn’t say a word. When you were too bothered to talk to me, I took into consideration what I knew and how I knew it and patiently waited for you to come around.

I grew to know you very well. I understood your method of communication. I knew what you meant when you said certain things and most, I understood your actions. I didn’t get angry, I didn’t get upset, all because I told myself I understood you. You talked to me. As much as you didn’t like to, you told me your secrets, you explained things to me and I valued that. It helped me understand you more.

I grew to love you. They say that love is patient and I learned that with you. For a very impatient, jealous person, I was able to harness that and put it aside– just for you. I was able to see myself with you for the long-haul and I told you that. If there was anyone I wanted next to me all the time, it was you.

However, as easy as I laid it out, it wasn’t enough to make good. It didn’t work and that’s OK. You’re not the first and you probably won’t be the last. After all of this though, I’ve grown stronger and more knowledgeable about what I want out of my next partner. I’m happy I tried. I’m happy you were in my life for the time period that you were. We had great times and I know I’ll live past this.

Regardless of all that, in the end, I say Thank You.

With all my heart,

Christina Elizabeth