Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Things I {Hate To} Love

Things I {Hate To} Love

I don’t know if it’s just because so many things I love fall under that famous “stuff white people like” list, or because some of these things are just embarrassing, but I felt the need to add the “I hate” to this. We all feel that way sometimes, right? We hate to love the pop song that won’t stop being played everywhere we go -because what’s more unoriginal than liking something that the whole world apparently does, too? People like to be their own person. I totally get that. They like to be “the first person to love that band/song/product and now everyone does and it’s so annoying.”

But here is my unashamed list:

1. Twilight

This is a blog about writing and fiction, so here you go. I’ll admit it: I have been to more than one Twilight party, okay? The first time I read the series was my sophomore year of college. Greg and I were doing long distance (he was living in Nashville going to Belmont University) and all you have when you’re doing L.D. is phone conversations. Though I still missed him terribly, I pretty much ignored him for two weeks while I read through the entire series non-stop. I’d be half way listening at night… and he’d say, “Okay, just finish the book. Goodnight. I love you.” Which was great. I’m glad he was so understanding! I love a good love story. And Edward… the Edward in my mind, not the one on screen, is the best looking person in the world. (besides Greg ;)..)

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My first Twilight party… notice how we’re doing the book cover pose!

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My first premier! We were so tired!

HOWEVER: I couldn’t read the series a second time. I tried… but I got too bored during New Moon. It is actually pretty cheesy.

2. Gotye: Somebody That I Used To Know

I know, I know! Somebody please get the radio stations to stop playing that song! I have a special love of this one for many reasons. Not only does it evoke so much emotion in me that I almost WISH I could relate to the song (almost…), but it’s one of the few things I can say I really did like before it got huge… I mean, I first watched the you tube video when maybe only 1 million had watched it. Ha Ha. I got to it before it was on the radio, at least. I love it! It’s emotional! He’s shouting at her! His teeth are huge! I love it! He looks good with paint on his face! She is like a better version of Katy Perry! I loooove it.

PLUS: His other stuff is great. Check out Save Me and Heart’s A Mess… amazing songs!

3. Miley Cyrus: Party In The USA

I can really sing along to this one. Plus, I have been to numerous weddings where this was the song that made the dance floor come to life. It’s awesome! Also: Miley looks great after cutting out wheat and getting engaged.

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My friend Jeremy and me… actually dancing to this song at our friend’s wedding!! It was awesome we got a picture!

4. T. Swift

Don’t we all? Mean is my theme song (I wish it had come out when I was in high school!). Ours is another (don’t even get me started on the music video!! tears!!). And the songs about horrible relationships? Well, I can’t exactly relate, but they get to me! {As long as the word “princess” isn’t in her song, I’ll probably really <3 it. (that theme was something I found way too cheesy and overdone and didn’t like at all!)} She’s great. I don’t necessarily want to love Taylor, but I do. She’s cute and always looks like a Pinterest picture. PLUS: She met my older sister at a spa in Minnesota and told her she was beautiful, which Jessica most certainly is :)

5. Jane Austen

I’m not exactly sure why it struck me to add her to my list, but when I took my Jane Austen class in college there were a lot of haters. Some people prefer the zombie versions of all of her books, but not moi. Her books make me cry and laugh. I get so swept up in the suspense of the love she evokes… Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are my two favorite Jane Austen books! I understand that some people hate the cliched love. Some people think her stories are filled with swooning women who are forced to stay at home and men who take advantage of the situation. But man… sometimes that whole way of life just doesn’t seem all that bad. Why not have a man ride up on horseback and ask permission to speak with you? Why not curl your hair, wear beautiful dresses, and speak properly? I like that romantic way of life. It’s not perfect… but neither is the way of life now.

6. Whiskey

I actually don’t hate to love this at all. I just love it. I was recently introduced to a fine rye whiskey and I sipped on a tiny amount for about an hour (thanks, Will!!) … and YUM!!! The aftertaste was like HONEY!!! Which just so happens to be my favorite food of all time. No getting drunk for me- I don’t have to get past “warm and tingly” to enjoy some of this alcoholy. {I just might be sipping on some right now. Don’t judge me… my house is freezing.}

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My first spirit purchase

7. Tattoos

Don’t hate this one at all, either, actually. I love them. I live vicariously through anyone who has them. They’re beautiful and daring and stylish…. I just haven’t had the nerve to get some ink. {If I ever do, it will say “two and two are four.” Read 1984, people!} All who have- you are my hero. Don’t be surprised if I approach you and ask you about your tattoo. I do it all the time.

7. The Wire

I already cuss a little bit too much, but this show put me over the edge. And Bodie…and Omar… don’t even get me started on how much I love them both. I had never even heard of this show before a friend let us borrow the DVD of all five seasons. Apparently it’s something that “everyone loves and is overrated…” but I just don’t see it.

8. Organic Food

Really, it’s pretty much all I buy. It’s always shocking, but some people love to give me a hard time about this one. Why? Why is it so crazy that I want clean and healthy food, which preferably didn’t use up millions of gallons of oil to get to my kitchen table? It’s important! I don’t want to be preachy or anything, but after I read Michael Pollan’s Ominvore’s Dilemma I was like okay. I get it. If you want something a little lighter… Food Rules by M.P. will do just fine, too. These books changed my life. Literally, I could hardly function in society for almost a month after reading them. I eventually settled down a bit, but I still feel very strongly about the food industry. Did you know? …Other countries (think France…) spend up to 20% of their income on food. That’s compared to our very low average… some as low as 6%. Greg and I made a very conscious decision to spend more of our income on GOOD food, and less on other things. For instance, I’m not a TV hater (shout out Cindy! haha), but we do not own a TV at the moment. We are saving money by not paying for cable or the actual TV! We dress like onions (layers and layers!) in order to keep our heating bill down. We don’t make meat the biggest portion of any meal, but get our protein in there, as well as our veggies. The outcome? We feel great and we have fun buying the ingredients for every meal we make. :)

9. Tea

It’s just funny, because right when we started saying “I am just really into tea right now!”, someone showed me that dang “stuff white people like list,” and that quote is basically on there. I love it. Green and white are the best!!

10. My Husband’s Beard

I guess this made the list because it does make us a little more hipster-y than we already are. (Greg’s brother gives us a hard time… but I’ll always deny the fact that Greg and I are hipsters. I don’t have quite that much energy to wear that type of clothing every day! But my older sister did give me a birthday card that said “Hippy Birthday”… hmmm. Oh yeah, and Greg works at Whole Foods, plays in a folksy americana band and wears Clarks. Haha) Anyway, back to the beard. It’s kind of messy and food gets trapped in it… but it’s cute! I encourage it. Bonus: I have this weird obsession with Abe Lincoln, so there’s also that appeal! However, Greg just trimmed it this week, so we have a while to go again before it’s quite up to Abe standards.

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I heart his beard! <3

11. Single-Origin Coffee

See 9. Tea

12. Being A Good Wifey

I’m old fashioned in this way. I’m not quite a feminist, at least in terms of what that usually means in this day and age. (don’t pretend like you don’t know what I mean!) I like the idea of being the best wife I can be, having kids (eventually), and cooking meals, but just as long as Greg does all of those things too! (minus having the kids part, of course!) I know some women who really loathe the idea. I say, as long as I’m happy and laugh at least 20 times a day, life is good. Also, if I get my share of stuff done, Greg will, too. A good marriage means being a team, and I like playing my role there. I don’t really care if that’s buying into some trick that our society has ingrained in me. I like it anyway!

13. Natural, or “Eastern” Medicine

Now, let me start this one by saying that I do love Western medicine, too. I wouldn’t be alive (a few times over) if it weren’t for modern Western medicine, in fact. (I was born blue. I had my appendix taken out my Sophomore year of college. Thank you, very much!) However, I am totally against over medication and over dependence on over-the-counter drugs. I am terrified to O.D. on Tylenol. Seriously. I grew up with a mom who only really gave us Bayer Aspirin (“…because it’s been around the longest!”) and only when we really needed it. In my (very non-medically educated) opinion, there’s hardly anything that a good night’s sleep, kale, and some hot tea with honey and lemon can’t cure. The last time I thought I was getting sick, Greg made me our “Be Well” soup, and voila! I was better right away. We pretty much throw anything healthy we can think of, and mostly kale, into a mostly water broth and eat it for a few days. It’s absolutely amazing. I like the idea of herbs and healthy eating… I love the idea of prevention through what we eat, rather than using drugs to cover up the damage done. Being dependent on a massive amount of pills makes me so sad for people. I think there are other options in some cases (but definitely not all!! remember… I know it took more than kale to get my almost ruptured appendix out of me!!). Food dye, pesticides, and over usage of drugs is more of a medical problem than most people would like to admit.

Okay, I think I’m done. There are lots of other things I love, but I’ll probably make a “part 2” for this topic. I wanted to write this post for a few reasons. One is that I have had some great people in my life who were unashamed to love what they loved. Take my older sisters, for instance. Emily loves Hanson, from the moment they first struck it big, all through people hating them, and even now. They ARE great. If you think otherwise, take a listen to some recent Hanson stuff. I saw them in concert and it was one of the best shows I’ve been to!! Also, Emily likes the band One Direction. Sure, they’re very poppy, hardly real musicians, and their songs all have the same sort of ring to them. But they’re cute, their songs are fun to listen to and they’re British! She likes them! She isn’t afraid of it! AND she won a trip to New York to see them in concert!! So cool!!!

Then there’s my sweet older sister Jessica. She loves faeries (spelled that way!) and glitter and anything girly and beautiful. She has always been herself. Growing up, there were times when I thought, “Wow, that’s odd…” but now I always think, “Wow, that’s so cool!! She’s doing what she loves! She doesn’t care what other people think!!”

Meredith and I have looked up to them all our lives and found inspiration and bravery because of their fearless love for whatever they, well, loved.

It’s fun to sing along to songs on the radio, no matter how overplayed or popular the song is. It’s fun to read a book, even when there are people who want to say it’s stupid and only for silly girls. I love getting lost in something. And hey… there’s a reason those things get super popular! For the most part, they’re great!

<3

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Go Pokes

writer, short stories, author, oklahoma state

Lou n Lou.. Go Pokes!

{This was not a weekend trip to write, read, or eat healthy food… all of which I usually do on a daily basis! This is purely about football, chili cheese fries, and bright orange.}

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not much of a football fan… I don’t like watching it on TV and I don’t understand half the rules (I know- I sound like a painfully typical gal.) HOWEVER, when it comes to Oklahoma State University, I am now a fan by marriage. I say that not because I don’t actually like the team, but because I literally probably wouldn’t even have heard of them if it hadn’t been for Greg’s family. His parents went there, his brother went there, and the entire family has been going to the Homecoming games every year since before Greg can remember.

I have been going to games since I was 18. This year was my FIFTH Homecoming trip. (and I’ve been to at least three other OSU games)

I feel so integrated into the Williams family and this tradition has no little part in that. It has a huge part in that.

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Last year’s Homecoming!

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TWO years ago!!!

My first time in Stillwater was fun, exciting, and intimidating. The entire town was wearing orange and I, somehow missing or underestimating the “EVERYONE WILL BE IN ORANGE” memo, was wearing a blue shirt. It was one of my first times with Chris and Melissa, Greg’s siblings, and I was overwhelmed. There was more than one moment when I turned to Greg, told him I needed a hug, and started crying in the middle of the grass on OSU campus. I think he was worried about what kind of girl he had taken on the trip. His family is not full of criers, and I cry quite a bit.

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THE blue shirt. I cried about five minutes after this picture was taken.

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just for fun… Greg and me. AGES 18 AND 21!!!!!! oh, how time flies.

This time of year and going to the game has become a tradition for me and something I really look forward to. Stillwater is a cute little town and I love Greg’s family. It’s amazing how time flies. When I was seventeen I already knew I’d be marrying this funny bald guy… so I am not surprised that this is my sixth year as a Poke fan. However, it is crazy how fast it all went. I didn’t really have a grasp on what we would look like (figuratively and literally!) at this point in time.

College is over, I’m trying to be a writer, Greg is in a cool band, and life has never been better.

Turns out, life just keeps surprising us. I’ve let things slide that I never thought I’d be able to. I’ve taken risks than turned out to work really well in the long run. I’m a completely different person than I was on that first Homecoming trip. Greg is, too.

The thing that is most similar is how much we laugh!!! I swear. It’s the number one reason why I married him :) but enough about that…

ANYWAY- this year was so fun. The Pokes won!

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In the stands watching the game!! Melissa, me, Greg, and Chris :)

We all got to hang out and have a good time!

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Before some horrible shots were passed around…

We ate some delicious food! (I didn’t let myself feel like crap for eating entire pizzas, bunless [I do gluten free!!] fried onion cheeseburgers, chili cheese fries/tots, and ice cream. I simply ENJOYED it. It tasted damn good, too.)

(Chris, pictured here, is the one who introduced A Prayer for Owen Meany into my life. We bond over a few drinks and talking literature. He’s the best! I will be forever in his debt!!)

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Chris and the Lous!!! Eatin’ some Eskimo Joes

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I have the funniest husband in the world.

I got to hang out with my hilarious and amazing sister (in-law) Melissa, aka Melissy, aka Billy pop, aka Bills

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Bill and Lou

And best of all… I finally had an entire wardrobe of orange to take along with me. It was my most successfully orange year, in fact.

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my father-in-law Frank. Biggest OSU fan on the planet!!!! He always wears orange.

Going to the games has given me a good perspective on relationships and accepting the fact that we all have very different interests. Just like I’ve mentioned before, I hate the word “let” in a relationship. I don’t “let” Greg watch the games every week with his dad, I like it when he does. When else can he scream like a maniac, bond with his dad, and have pure guy time? This is the best outlet. And the game? I can get just as into it in person. Yup. If I’m there and in the stands, I can cheer and yell and high five along with every other Williams (oh, and every other Poke fan, too!). It’s FUN. It’s fun to get into something that I otherwise would never have had an interest in.

Because it’s not all about me. It’s about Greg’s interests, his family, my family, bringing our traditions together, and having a good time!

Bonus: I didn’t even cry this year.

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:)


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Proud Mothers

Proud Mothers 

By Melinda Williams

 

GABRIEL

He’ll come home,” my mother said. She nodded her head. She whispered it again. “He’ll come home…”

“He has no choice, Lilly. Too much work to be done for him not to come back. He’s got to.” My father patted mother’s shoulder and went outside to start chopping wood to warm the house. I stopped in the hallway and watched them from the shadows. I already had my bag in my hand. I heard the screen door slam open and slowly creak its way back closed.

“Already got too much to worry about, what with Beth sick in bed most days. Daisy coughing up a storm. And what in the world will we ever do with Emma…” My mother’s voice continued on softly as she started heating the water. It was one of her greatest wishes in life, that my sister Emma would know how to keep a house the way she could. The task was a difficult one. Emma often daydreamed. Sometimes we couldn’t even find her. Only I knew why.

I stepped into the kitchen and tried to step lightly as to not startle her.

My mother turned and saw me when I cleared my throat. “Gabriel. Good morning. I’ve, well, I’ve just now started fixing some coffee. You’ll need some, won’t you…” Almost everything my mother said trailed off in this way. Sentences were rarely finished because the work to be done was never finished. My own tired eyes stung and I blinked.

 

It was the year 1776 and I’d done what every boy my age wanted to do once they became a man. I turned 18 and signed up. I sure felt like I was still a boy, no matter how grown up it had felt to pick up the pen and write my name down.

I stood in line, nervous, and waited my turn. Once I got up to the front I squared my shoulders, set my jaw and did what was expected of me. In shaky and unclear writing that would have had my mother cringing, I wrote Gabriel Tanner down in black ink. The choice was made. I couldn’t take it back. Not a minute later, right beside mine was the name Ephram Lee, which made me feel better at the time. We would protect one another, I thought, keep each other safe.

“’Bout time you caught up to me,” Ephram said and shook the top of my head with his hand. He was a few weeks older but had waited for my age to catch up with his to do this. We were like brothers.

As we walked away Ephram took off his hat, shook it out, and put it back on over his curly hair. He was always tan, always had longer hair. I kept my light hair short and my skin burned easily. We didn‘t look alike but somehow, growing up, people got us confused. Maybe it was the way we moved or the way we talked. Our words were always very different, though. I watched him while he kept his eyes on the road in front of us.

“I mostly just want to be a hero,” Ephram told me. “Come back here, get some respect.”

“It’s not about us, Ephram,” I felt the need to remind him. He may have been older but his ideals were often far from selfless. “It’s about the country. It’s about being a Patriot.”

“Well, either way, it would be nice to come home a hero. Just think of all that the world would offer us.” We were walking home and he kept pulling at thin tree branches, picking at the bunches of leaves, kicking dried up brush in our path. Ever since we were kids he had a kind of restless energy. His words were animated and his eyes shined with excitement. Once he looked at me I kept mine down on the road in front of us.

“You have to see something awful in order to become a hero, Ephram.”

I knew he wanted to get away from White Plains. I was content with what I called home, whether it be the field or the actual structure of the house my father built. Ephram’s house was smaller and his family was poor. They lived on the same hillside as us but were always wanting. Ephram was an only child. I was the oldest of four. That gave my family six extra helping hands, but also made for three more mouths to feed. I don’t know how or why, but my family never did without a meal. Ephram rarely had all three meals in a day. There were times when I saw the resentment in his eyes. Heard the bitterness in his words.

When I arrived back at the house the day we signed up I could see Emma had been crying. Ephram’s dad stopped him on our way back and already, he was out chopping wood. It was probably a good thing, because if Ephram had walked in by my side Emma would have completely lost it.

“Don’t be sad for me,” I told her. She was only a year younger and we’d grown up together, too.

“I’ll miss you both,” Emma told me before turning way from me and back to the food she was preparing. Her shoulders shook but she controlled her crying. I already knew she would miss Ephram. My entire family would. His parents would miss me, too. He and I truly lived on the field in between our two homes. It was where we played and fought and spent our time growing up.

 

As I stood in the kitchen and drank my last home brewed coffee I thought of the day before. So much had changed in such a short period of time. My two youngest sisters had held on to me and cried at the thought of me leaving. I’d be gone before they awoke. I woke up this morning to a different life and I knew I wouldn’t be waking up safe in bed again for a long, long time. Before making it to the kitchen I entered their rooms without my boots on and kissed their small foreheads. I would miss them just as much as they would miss me.

My mother sounded eerily calm. “Shall I go wake Emma? She wanted to say goodbye…” At the words, my heart pounded and my palms grew sweaty. I couldn’t face her; my closest sister.

“No.” I shook my head. “Let her sleep.” She needed it.

“Come back home, Gabriel,” my mother told me as we said goodbye. She kept from weeping. She gave me one short embrace and kissed my cheek.

“I’ll come back home.” I was entirely confident in what I said. I was a survivor. I had Tanner blood in me. Every grandparent, aunt and uncle had lived a long healthy life. I’d help win the war and even come home with something to my name, just as Ephram wished for.

 

Ephram and I were to meet outside by the tallest pine outlining the field. Regardless of coming home a hero, I’d known enough to be certain that the fight we were headed toward was a good one. I’d heard our fathers speak of freedom. I’d never been to England and couldn’t fathom the thought of someone sitting on a throne. I could, however, imagine a home where there was no more fear and anticipation. All we wanted to do was farm in peace and keep what we earned, which wasn’t much to begin with. Still, I couldn’t help but fear. The war I fought in my own head raged on stronger than the one I was about to go join. Ephram was more energetic than I’d ever seen him.

 

 

EPHRAM

Remind me again why we only have one son?”

To that, my mother looked over at my father, Ephram Sr., and sighed. The sun had yet to rise. I was in the next room starting the fire to keep the house warm. They must have known I could hear them but it didn’t matter. Our family wasn’t one to take precaution of feelings. We were truthful, even when that meant saying something unpleasant. I remained crouched down, listening intently.

“Because two of them died after they were born. One of them died in me. We should be thankful to have one. Ephram is brave.” She paused and continued through the silence, “He’s strong. He’ll come home.”

“Our record on keeping kids alive isn’t so good, Gale,” he said before going outside for the day’s work. It was the first time I didn’t join him.

I walked the small distance from the fireplace and into the kitchen to stand beside my mother.

“Don’t worry,” I said, touching her back. “This is one kid who won’t die.”

“I can only pray, son.” She said, turning to the pot of oats she’d made for breakfast. I only had a few minutes before walking outside and onto the grass.

Ever since I signed up I smiled even when I knew she’d be looking at me. She wanted me to be sad for this day. My parents didn’t want a son to die in battle. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear, thinking of how I’d come back and make them proud. I wanted my mother to see me brave. I could save another man, perhaps. Kill fifty redcoats on my own. How hard could it be? No way winning this war would be harder than chopping wood every day since before I could remember, carrying hay across a field, or pulling the weight meant for a horse in the heat of the day.

Though I was glad to be given the opportunity, finally, to prove myself, I was too tired to do much thinking. I’d spent all night with my eyes staring at the ceiling above my bed. My eyes watered not from crying, but with the healing tired eyes must put effort into. Few days ago all I wanted was to prove to everyone in this town I was made of something. I wasn’t afraid.

I just hadn’t planned on having a reason to stay. But I had one now. All my life, and we chose this week. Of all weeks.

 

 

EMMA

When I woke up this morning my older brother was already gone. I thought I’d wake in time to say goodbye. I was angry at my mother for letting me sleep. I was even more angry at Gabriel. How could he? He and I were best friends. We’d spent our entire lives being almost inseparable. I needed to have a chance to speak with him. I wanted to tell him everything before he left. But suddenly it was too late. Time passed and in the moment of blissful ignorance that is dreaming, I lost my chance. Now I could only wait until he returned home, for I would not be able to write a letter that did justice to my thoughts.

“Emma, come help me peel potatoes…”

I was glad to have the interruption. I would need to keep myself busy working. Otherwise I’d be far too busy worrying.

My eyes were glazed over, staring out the window in front of me at the pines out on the field. All my life I’d spent running through those pines. Chasing Gabriel. Gabriel chasing me. Ephram joining in when he could get away from the chores that forever kept him apart from us in more ways than one. Now it was only Gabriel and Ephram…walking away through those same trees while I slept in my bed, safe and sound and dreaming of a different life.

 

 

GABRIEL

I had only the coat my mother sent with me to keep me warm. I couldn’t help but wish I could go back. Back home. Back in time. I tried and failed to imagine what it was like to sit inside by a warm fire rather than sitting on the ground with frozen fingers. I was surprised how certain memories faded so quickly. I wasn’t sure what colors were on the quilt my mother made me; the one left behind on my bed. There was no longer a definite shape to the rocking chair beside the fireplace in my memory. Even my father sitting on it was but a shadow of what I could once recall. Out here we had no chairs. We rarely had fire. This coat was my only source of warmth. A blanket would be heavenly.

Despite myself, I could only remember growing up with Ephram by my side.

We’d just gotten word that tomorrow morning we may run into the British.

I bit my tongue when Ephram was around. He hardly noticed my chilled silence. He spoke with a smile as if nothing was wrong with the situation we found ourselves in.

“Can’t wait to see how many we can kill. I wonder if it’ll be like my dreams, with them as close as what I imagine. No, maybe they’ll be further… I don’t know.”

I kept my eyes down, unable to accept his smile, and mumbled, “I imagine we’ll find out sooner than we’d like, Ephram.”

He opened the small booklet I noticed him keeping in his breast pocket. Opened and closed it and seconds later sliding it back into its place. The motion was automatic. I’d been noticing the habit for weeks now. I shook my head and rubbed my hands together.

Ephram ignored my comment. Instead he sat back and breathed into his hands.

“Can’t believe that for once I’m actually wishing there was wood to chop!” He laughed. A few men around us looked up. Laughter was rare. Ephram confused everyone with his behavior, including me. I kept waiting for him to tell me the truth. Patience was a virtue and lately, I’d been more virtuous than ever before. And as for the war, I was no longer afraid. Since Ephram and I walked away from our homes my fear had subsided. When another war begins, the other seems non-existent.

I found myself with an excited nervousness at the thought of battle. I imagined the dusk that would make the scene dark and cool with dew. I could already hear the thunder, the cracks of it that sounded with each and every pull of a trigger. I saw the light that would come with each blast. In war, storms came this way, with the thunder and lightning as a simultaneous pair. My war would be a silent one. It would be hidden by the darkness of the morning and the shouts of soldiers fighting on a field.

We marched on through the night, cold and unsure of what lie ahead. Ephram grew quiet. It took him the longest of all the men to realize that his was the only voice to be heard. Hours later and we stopped in a thick patch of trees. We marched on. We stopped again.

It took me a few more miles to realize where we were.

 

 

EPHRAM

Gabriel and I used to play soldiers. I’d grab the largest stick I could and he would try to find something, anything, to use as a shield. When it was time to trade Gabriel would chose his own weapon and make it something light and sharp. One time he even poked me by accident and it punctured my skin, causing my shirt to stain with blood. The battle wound was impressive. He felt awful.

Occasionally Emma would want to join us. She would put on one of Gabriel’s hats and come to play with both hands out, her fingers in the form of guns.

“I just shot you. You’re dead!” She told me once.

“Girls can’t even play this! I’m not dead, you are.” I shoved her to the ground and she ran home crying. Gabriel didn’t want her hanging around, either, but he did warn me to never push his sister again.

Eventually she stopped playing soldier and started playing nurse. If I fell to the ground, claiming my leg was shot, she’d rush over and pretend to bandage me up. She patted Gabriel’s forehead. Somehow, she got us to lie down on the grass and listen as she sang, which she told us was the only truthful way to play soldiers.

“Soldiers always get hurt,” she said. “They always get sung to, too. Now lie still. Or it’ll hurt more.”

We weren’t older than seven when I was afraid for the first time in my life. We’d allowed hiding in our battle, which was a new thing. I hid so well, Gabriel never found me.

“Ephram!” I heard Gabriel and Emma both shouting off in the distance. Their voices grew softer and I grew more smug because of my cleverness. That was until it grew dark. Then I actually was scared no one would ever find me. I had traveled so far into the woods. I can still remember the panic surging through my body. The gasps of air I breathed in roughly as I cried and cried and walked through the night, sure that I would never make it home. I called their names. Emma and Gabriel. Finally I heard Gabriel in the distance.

“Ephram!” He was calling my name. Once I heard him I didn’t want to yell back. If I did, he might hear the quiver in my voice and know I was crying.

“Ephram!” I could tell which way his voice was coming from. I ran toward it. I saw his lamp in the distance.

“You really hid well,” Gabriel told me once we found each other. I wiped my nose and eyes and still said nothing. I didn’t trust myself. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and thank him for not giving up on me. At the time I felt I would have died, had it not been for Gabriel. We walked toward our houses and there was Emma, too, waiting for us.

“Soldiers can freeze at night,” she told me. “Let me warm you up so you don’t lose any fingers.” Emma grabbed my hand and I didn’t protest. She rubbed my hands in between hers, looking down with intention. “That’ll do. Now don’t get lost again.”

“I wasn’t lost!” I shouted and ran home, leaving Gabriel and Emma in the darkness.

 

EMMA

Come here, kids, come here…”

My mother led my sisters away and I followed behind. They crawled into their bed and I watched from the doorway as my mother tucked them in and pulled the covers up tightly.

Prayer was automatic; a ritual for every night. Daisy and Beth took turns and they never forgot to pray for Gabriel.

Beth, the youngest, began tonight.

“Lord,” she said, “watch over Gabriel. I- I know he’ll do a good job. But even strong soldiers must feel lost sometimes. I wish he were home. God, please let him find his way home, even if it has to take a while. Thank you for his letter. I liked hearing about the pretty sunset he saw. Amen.”

My mother covered her mouth with her hand and I put the back of my head against the door frame, holding back tears. Beth whispered again. “Oh ya! And bless mommy, daddy, Daisy, Emma and me. But especially Gabriel. Amen.” Daisy laughed at hearing her own name and the girls gave kisses and my mother met me at the door.

“Girls, don‘t be afraid if you hear a storm tonight. It‘s just the thunder…”

I wondered how it was so easy for my mother to lie. She had always taught me to tell the truth, but a lie was permissible in this case. She didn‘t have to tell me why.

“We’ll go on down now…it‘s time…”

My mother stood at the front door now and I watched on from the window seat across the room. Hours passed. We waited and waited. It was dark, but morning approached sowly. My father’s boots were soft against the floorboards and the door opened and closed with hardly a whisper. I knew without looking that he had his rifle. I knew he was out on the porch, just in case.

The three of us silently watched what was before us. Down on the field, just behind the trees lining the bottom of the hill, was the war. One of many, many battles. The men were there. No one had fired a shot but they were there, waiting, biding their time. My heart yearned to know if my loved ones were down there, too. Was Gabriel there? Was he alive? And Ephram…the thought of death took my breath from my throat. My forehead pressed against the glass and I closed my eyes. I kept thinking I saw them. Each silhouette looked like Gabriel. Every man was Ephram.

I couldn’t sit there and wonder. My heart raced, but I knew what I had to do. I stood up and covered my face. If my mother noticed me leave, she would only think I was retreating to my room. She would believe that I couldn’t stand watching. The truth was, I couldn’t stand watching from such a far distance. I had on my night dress, which wouldn’t do at all. Not in this cold weather. I walked barefoot to the hall closet and pulled out my father’s long coat. Then I slipped my feet into his boots and grabbed his dark brown hat. I was gone out of the house in moments. Out the back door, around the back yard and shed, and out of sight of my father who was keeping guard. I hid behind each tree I passed, stopped and breathed. I could feel my heart beating in my neck. My fingers were frozen but I kept moving. I kept walking down the hill, thankful that the fresh snow made for soft steps rather than crunchy, as it often is with the morning frost.

I was closer to the field than I had planned. That’s when the thunder and lightning began.

 

 

GABRIEL

My home,” I nodded up the hill, through the pines and toward the old wooden house we could barely make out in the distance. Another soldier, Tommy, stood beside me while we waited. He nodded his head in understanding. You see, every man wished he were home. No man wished home to be that close. It was the having it near and not being able to be there that made the longing worse. I knew my family was watching; knew my dad would be on the porch. Knew Emma was most likely alone. I knew that no matter what, my mother was proud.

The first shot fell upon us. I heard the shouting. I felt the men marching toward us. The morning was still dark and dawn was breaking over the field. We were still silhouettes. I could hear my own breathing, almost hear my own heart beat all through my chest and up into my neck. I still had time. I needed the noise and chaos as much as I needed the shadows.

I saw Ephram. He was trying to find me. I knew he’d be making sure I knew where we were. Our homes were just up the hill. We were just in front of mine; his was further down the field.

 

 

EPHRAM

My neck ached from looking over my shoulder. My small house might be looked over in the night, but I grew up there and knew every tree and every curve of the field. Of course I knew exactly where it was, and we hadn’t reached it yet. Instead we were almost straight in front of Gabriel’s house. I tried to imagine what his family might be doing. What Emma might be doing. I knew my parents would be in bed, unable to move or speak, and still in the silence until the noise of war began. Yet my mother would be lying there, proud with what she knew lay beyond the home. Gabriel’s family would most likely be watching. His mother wouldn’t be able to look away. And Emma…surely, she would be watching, too.

It was still too dark to see the outline of my own small house, but the shadows were coming and with the slowly rising sun I knew I’d see it soon.

 

 

EMMA

Adrenaline began to surge through me when I saw that Ephram was close by. I could see the curve of his shoulders and the way he stood there, observing the area. He was being patient with this battle. He wouldn’t rush into anything. I wanted to run away but I was trapped there with legs that would not move. Eyes that refused to blink.

A mind that would always remember.

An Ephram who took his time with me, too. Why either of us waited, I now wondered. I could hardly believe that the Ephram I grew to know was the same that I grew up with. At one point in time I resented his confidence and proud stance in life. I thought he was too far gone and would never be humble. But I was wrong about him. Ephram turned out to be a strong man; a man who could take care of a woman he loved. Gabriel was always wrong about him, too.

“He’s a great friend, but a no good soldier. He’ll get himself killed with the arrogance he has. I’ll go. I’ll keep him safe.”

“You don’t think he’d even make a good husband?” I asked my brother. At the time I had no thought of Ephram as my husband. I was simply curious.

“Never.”

And now, as I held onto the branch in front of my face and the freezing wind whipped the hair around my neck and across my cheeks, I wished Ephram and I could run away together. The dream of running to him, telling him to come with me, and rubbing his cold hands was too much. I watched with tears that threatened to turn to snowflakes, a man who could be a husband. A man who would be mine, should he return home safely. I shuddered, but not from the shivering in my bones. I shuddered from the way my heart beat watching him. He pulled on his neck, looking up at our homes so often. I wondered if he was thinking about me. I wondered if a small part of him could sense my presence so close.

Then I saw Gabriel.

 

 

GABRIEL

My first instinct was to save Ephram. I’d been saving him all our lives. I saved him from being lost in the woods. I wanted to save him by coming and joining the Militia with him, knowing that he shouldn’t go without me. He’d get himself killed. Even as a young boy I had the inclination that I would someday save him from a man angered by Ephram loving a girl he shouldn’t. I knew I’d have to. I could see it. What I was blinded to was the man I’d have to save him from. I hadn’t expected it to be myself.

I had my chance, there in the field. In the midst of the first cry of battle and the terror surrounding us.

Because I came across Ephram with her. I heard him kiss Emma. I encountered more than I ever wished to. It was obvious all along wasn’t it? She always warmed his hands up first.

It was the night before we left. Now, so long ago. I heard voices coming from the shed out behind our home. It was my job to kick out anyone who might have stumbled in drunk or homeless. I stood outside the shed, listening to make sure I’d be safe in entering. Then I never did enter.

“You’ll be leaving tomorrow. Why did you have to sign up so soon? Both of you?” I heard my dear sister ask. I almost fell over when I heard the voice which responded.

“It’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s expected. What would people think if I hadn’t-”

“I don’t care what people think.”

“You can’t understand. It’s not as if you and I have the same expectations.”

“You don’t have to be a hero,” she said, parroting what she had heard me say about Ephram so many times. “I just wish that you and my brother hadn’t written your names down at all.”

“I know. But it’s a war. It’s always been a war.”

After a short pause Emma said, “Why did it take you so long to tell me?”

“I didn’t know it. I’m sorry to say it, but I honestly didn’t feel this way until recently. You were the girl we didn’t want playing in our shadows. The pest. Now? Oh, Emma, now you are the only one I want. You are the one I want to live my life for.”

Great, powerful words. The only problem was, I’d heard that before. Ephram had said the same thing to Amy. To Becky. To Carol. Trying to win over my sister in the same fashion was too much.

Ephram continued, “We’ve been able to spend so much time together. It’s all I could have asked for…”

All those times we couldn’t find her.

Emma must have thought his words genuine and unique. For she was speechless. The silence was filled and I was glad I hadn’t found a way to look inside. I didn’t want to see.

“Ephram…” I could hear Emma cry.

“I love you.”

I don’t know if Emma said it in return. She could have said it too softly for me to hear.

Then I did hear what she said.

“It hurts. Ephram… don’t…” She cried out but this time it sounded as if she were in pain. The anger I felt toward them both, but especially Ephram, shot through me and I was rendered helpless. I couldn’t save anyone.

How could he? What he was doing then, and what he‘s doing now…I should be able to defend my sister. But I heard her words, too. She’d been sneaking out to see him. Behind my back, both of them.

When I heard more than I could stand, I wanted to get away, and get away fast. Once I found my legs again I ran. I ran into the woods, trying to get myself as lost as Ephram was when we were so young. I felt like a coward. But that night, walking back toward the house alone, I came up with my plan. I figured I could do something. I could defend my sister the way I was too shocked to do that night.

Now, on the field, my thigh ached from where I was shot weeks ago. I could hide my pain from everyone, even myself. I’d even laughed with Ephram from the morning we left until today, pretending for the greater good of my own personal war, that we were still best friends. Instead of the pain or the memory of that night when I heard his attack on my sister, I kept my mind on other things. But I always kept my eye on Ephram. I knew his habits and the way he was. I knew he’d stay out of this battle for as long as he could. He’d wait and cower until a moment came for him to be the hero like he’d always wanted. Which meant I had to be ready at all times, too.

I found him in the hazy dark morning. I made my way toward him and before I was close, Ephram turned around to find me. His eyes searched and I shouted his name, but there was no way he could hear me. For a long moment I watched him, fumbled through the crowd to get to him, and I saw the look of the boy who was lost in the woods. The muscles in his face were tight with worry, then relaxed as soon as his eyes found mine. We held eye contact for what felt like an entire minute. I shouted his name again, the same moment he shouted mine. Our mouths opened, moved, but the sound didn’t register. I saw dirt fly up in front of him. I saw someone fall out of the corner of my eye. When he looked away it was to turn his gaze toward our home. The realization that he might be thinking of my little sister only gave me more enthusiasm for what I had to do.

 

 

EPHRAM

Before the battle began a younger soldier with blond hair and an upturned nose looked to me and asked, “What day is it?” He was shaking.

I knew exactly what day it was, for I had been counting the days spent apart from Emma.

“October 28.”

“I need to date my letter to my mother. I need to put a date on it. I- I need a pen…” He looked at me, the men and boys surrounding him and each one looked away out of courtesy. I looked away, too. Any man should be given space when a weak moment falls upon him. This boy needed us to look toward something else. I hadn’t seen Gabriel all morning, but I figured he was close enough. I wasn’t worried.

I didn’t think it was possible for time to pass so quickly. Before any of us knew it, we were about to embark upon battle. It was my moment. I could shine. My adrenaline surged. I smiled to myself. I knew I would not be able to stay out of the thick of battle for much longer, which was fine.

Until a man fell beside me. Blood splattered on my cheek and the man grunted as he slumped onto my shoulder before falling onto his face in the grass. I frantically looked for Gabriel again. I couldn’t find him.

“I need a pen,” I could hear someone yell over and over. “I need a pen!” Suddenly the voice was silent. But so many grew louder, making it impossible for me to hear my own shouting. The morning was still too dark to see clearly.

I knew I was still shouting Gabriel’s name, and then I finally saw him. He was making his way toward me. We’d save someone together. I could do that- share my glory with him. As long as Emma knew I’d done something worth being proud of, I’d be okay. I touched my pocket and imagined her face. Gabriel was almost close enough to hear. I turned to look at our home. Men ran past me, someone bumped into me, and I saw a shadow of Emma, there behind a tree. I wanted so badly for it to be her. It wasn’t the first mirage I’d seen in war. I watched for too long. I kept my eyes up the hill.

Then I felt the pain surge through my own stomach. Down, below my rib cage, and at first I thought it to be a bullet. When I looked down I saw the bayonet sticking out the front of me. Watched it pass through me further with wonder. It was sharp and red. Dark red. I choked, and the world moved slowly around me. I looked up to the house again. Again, I imagined Emma sitting at the window looking down and seeing me, too. I was afraid for myself, but also afraid for Gabriel. If they could get me, they could get him. If I couldn’t be a hero, there was no way he could be one.

In an instant I thought of Emma. The last night we spent together. I touched her jaw with my fingers and she kissed me…every part of me. She was delicate. I had to learn, as I was prepared to do with such a girl, someone I truly loved, to be patient and gentle. We held onto one another. We promised marriage.

Emma’s face left my head when I saw Gabriel again. I saw his lips move, but I couldn’t hear a sound. His hand was under my head and the further I fell into him, the further the metal stuck out of my chest.

Then he fell, too. Without Gabriel’s support I landed on my side, eyes closed and hearing the noise grow faint around me. Something strong fell over me and I opened my eyes one last time. There in front of me was Gabriel’s face. His eyes bore right into mine. The hole in his head was the reddest thing on the whole field.

 

 

EMMA

I watched from behind the tree as the battle grew and grew. I saw men fall, I saw blood all around, making the snow red and pink and purple with the thickness of it. I watched as Gabriel, with a look I couldn’t recognize, made his way toward Ephram with his bayonet held in front of him. I knew it was Gabriel, even though I couldn’t make out his face. The morning was still too dark, for not much time had passed. Though it felt like a lifetime.

I will never know if I was truly close enough to hear their words. I may have imagined it out of my own guilt, knowing that I had kept something so important from Gabriel, my best friend and brother.

“You should have left her alone,” he said through gritted teeth.

I watched as he shoved his bayonet into Ephram. Watched Ephram’s shoulder crumble and fall. Watched his feet move, and then grow still in a moment as he fell to his side. I watched as Gabriel held him for a moment, with the tortured look of realization in his eyes.

I watched a Redcoat aim toward Gabriel. I may have called out. Again, I will never know.

I saw the boys die. I stood helpless, unable to be their nurse, the one to help save their lives. I saw my love, my brother and best friend, die. I watched as the man I wanted to marry died as well. I would never speak of what I saw that night.

 

 

Both families sat in church. We all wore black.

“Mr. Tanner, I’m so sorry about Gabriel. We loved him.” My father nodded his head and remained silent.

“Mr. Lee, Ephram was quite a boy. Quite a boy.” The man who would never be my father-in-law nodded his head in silence.

“Lilly?” Ephram’s mother asked my mother as she sat beside us both.

“Yes, Gale?”

I watched as women looked wearily at one another through their black veils made of lace.

“At least they died as heroes.”

My mother agreed. “Yes.”

 

 

 

 


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At A Loss for Words- On Giving Advice

On Giving Advice…and Consoling the Afflicted.

Lou- trying to give advice.

Lou- trying to give advice.

When we are well, we all have good advice for those who are ill.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I never want to be associated with this quote. Here’s why.

Advice.

I am horrible at this. I’ll spout out generic advice like:

rip that band aid off!“

follow your gut!” &

oh my gosh get out of that situation now!”

but that’s about it.

I am even worse at consoling someone who is crying or has just told me something awful. My good friend Tiffany (known her since we were 13!!) laughs with me and she admits it- I’ve pretty much been really awkward whenever it came to a sad moment of hers.

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Tiff and me at least 4 years ago… luckily she has remained my friend!! :)

The one thing people are most liberal with, is their advice.” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I just don’t know what to do. Some girls are so great with words. They start the confident and ever-so-sure ramblings of, “Oh, girl, you can do soooo much better! Just wait- he’ll get what’s coming to him. You are amazing. You will move on from this and not even remember it! HE’S STUPID!” or “I’m so sorry for your loss. Just know that God needed another angel. You’ll see them again someday. They’re watching over you….”

Yikes. I just can’t do that.

So if you’re coming to me with an issue, this will most likely be my reaction…

Wow- I’m sorry. I really don’t know what to say.”

Then I will pat your back. I might give you a side hug. If we’re at coffee and we have to stand up to hug, I might make that a very awkward moment, too. Basically, I feel so, so sorry for anyone who comes to me with their issues. I feel so much empathy, I will most likely cry later- after the moment has passed. I recently saw a friend who told me something so heartbreaking that I cried on my way home. I was bawling in the car like a fool and making the road a more dangerous place.

The reason why I think this is okay:

I don’t think people really want that advice.

Yes, I guess it’s nice to hear all of those things about whatever guy just broke up with you. But honestly? Maybe he is a good guy. Maybe he got good grades and isn’t really stupid at all. And I can’t promise that you will move on or not remember this moment of hurting. That’s a silly thing to promise someone, isn’t it? (please tell me I’m not the only one thinking of Dori in Finding Nemo… “Hmm…that’s a funny thing to promise….Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”) I don’t control your emotions.

But yes… someone can always do better than someone who hurt them. Of course. I really hope that girls (and guys) realize this, but for some reason I rarely feel as if it’s my place to tell them.

And I will always be sorry for someone’s loss. Always. Again, I’ll most likely cry and be in this weird, somber-like mood that drives Greg crazy for a few days. God didn’t need another angel, angels are already there and we don’t get wings when we go to heaven. There goes that. I have no idea if dead people are watching over us, but I, too, would like to believe that that’s the case. I don’t want to lie to anyone who is going through something so serious and life changing. What are my words, anyway?

I like advice from Little Women.

When Jo asks Friedrich, “What’s going to happen?”

He says, “The inevitable.”

Simple, concise advice.

And later, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he’s the right one.”

Simple wins again.

Here’s a great example of why sometimes [unsolicited] advice is just silly. Every high school and college graduate has been told to “take the road less traveled by,” which has been misunderstood altogether. If anyone were to look at the rest of the Robert Frost poem, they’d see that:

…Though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same.”

Hidden meaning? It doesn’t really matter which way you go. Both paths could lead to good or bad things. It’s cynical, which isn’t usually my style, but I think it’s honest.

At the end of the day, I’ll leave you with this quote:

It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’” -Aldus Huxley 

Or perhaps understood silence is better.

I sure hope so, or I’ve been a pretty awful friend. 


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Wilde Wood Saloon

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WILDE WOOD SALOON

By Melinda Williams

COME WITH ME

Howdy. What would ya like? We got beer, any beer a man could want. Finest whiskey in town. You look like a whiskey guy.

What’d you just say? Say you in here lookin’ for Luke Reems? Aw, shit. I tell you one thing. That’s one too many goddamn city kids comin’ in here, lookin’ for Luke Reems. Was the first time, too. You’re mighty special, bein’ the second one. You best not ask another soul.

Oh, you say you gotta good reason, is that right? Well, so did that last kiddo come in from the highway. That your shiny car outside? No business drivin’ that shiny car on our dirt roads. An ol’ Wilde Wood? He don’t much like shiny cars parked outside a’ his saloon.

Why don’t you jus’ shut yer mouth an’ come back here with me. Goddamn. Come on back.

That’s right, I keep Wilde Wood happy. You talkin’ in particular ’bout cleanliness of this here bar, well, I tell you right now you ain’t never gonna find another bar clean as this one. My towel’s fresh. The cleanin’ water don’t never get murky. The glasses shine, never a smudge. I mind the bar. But you talkin’ cleaninless of this here saloon? Ain’t never been a more dirty, low to the ground place in all of the west. The happenin’s in here, they’ll bring a soul down to the hardwood ground squeekin’ un’erneath your feet, there, city boy.

You ask lots a’ questions. That’s for damn sure. Why don’t you jus’ shut your mouth, ‘fore I do it for you. Now, I got a lil’ story for you. A diddy.

Oh, you know. Jus’ a good ol’ story for entertainin’. I think you’ll find this one entertainin’ enough. But here’s the catch. It’s up to you to tell me if you think it’s a story to laugh at, or one to run your behind home to mama with.

You stupid or somethin’? Just when did I ask you ’bout yer goddamn mama!?

Let that be a lesson. Don’t you dare move. I’ve shot on less fault than a question dumber ‘n squat.

Now I tell you what. You’re gonna sit there. Yeah, just like that. You sit there, city boy, and listen to my story. Oh, I’ve been longing to tell it. I didn’t think I’d get my second chance so soon here! Warn’t but a week ago I had this same opportunity! You’ve gone n’ made my goddamn day! I thank ye’. Continue reading


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Pull the Band Aid Off

Why Listening to Your Gut is the Way to Go

I’ve always been an impulsive person.

My sisters still tease me about the day I texted them all about my boyfriend (in high school) and said, “Guys, I need to break up with him STAT!” Most likely, the day before I was naming our future kids. I just woke up one day, realized that he really wasn’t the one and that I shouldn’t waste my time or his, and broke up with him.

(if you know me then you’ve definitely heard me say this:)

My motto: Pull off that band aid. FAST!

It might hurt A LOT, but it’s sure as hell better than pulling it off slowly, taking hair and skin and time in the process. Just pull the damn thing off. Get it over with. It only hurts for like a split second, I promise. Listen to what your gut is telling you. It’s the strongest instinct we have and we were given instinct for a reason.

I listened to my gut:

-when it came to a boyfriend in high school.

-when it told me that I was not meant to teach, but I was meant to write.(def. more blogs about that…yikes)

-when I bought that awesome scarf at Forever21.

-when I added more butter to the recipe and it turned out to be even tastier….

-when it told me that Greg was the one to marry.

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My dad and me… I’m hyperventilating …

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Mr. & Mrs. Williams AKA Lou & Lou

-when I quit my first job, and then was asked to work at the same bakery as my sister.

new writer, writing, regret, bakery

I think I’m still in my TEENS in this picture :) ahh.. back in the day

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Meredith holding up a yummy berry bar!! Great Harvest is awesome!

And again when I chopped off all of my hair AND dyed it for the first time ever (you got me, that wasn’t such a great success story, but still… I got past it. It was okay in the end. It grew back.)

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Yikes times a million. But Greg still loved me!

You get the picture. I’ve lived a life of hardly planning for a thing. When something pops up on my road, I decide whether or not to take it. I decide quickly, too.

OUTCOME:

I may not have tons of money. (yet)

I may not have a job with benefits or retirement plan. (which I NEVER will, if I can help it… and I’m sure as hell happy this way, so it’s all gooood) (also, I quit the bakery in order to become a chocolatier -watch the product video!-… and that was also an impulsive decision!!)

I may have a touch of guilt when it comes to that boy I broke up with because he cried more than I did for no good reason. (but I think we are both happy today- I know I am)

I wake up every day to an existence that I chose and that I’m okay with…that I LOVE, actually…with this guy:

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We’re at a high school football homecome game! Talk about memories!! And regrets!! And being happy we never have to return! ha

I’ve learned from many a mistake, and that’s okay, too

BUT I DON’T REGRET VERY MUCH.

Where does this fit in with writing or reading or anything, really? Well, I guess it comes back to characters again. Think of your favorite character of all time. It can be from a movie, book, tv show, comic strip… anything! (of course, mine is Owen in A Prayer for Owen Meany!) I’m guessing he or she had some sort of life struggle that they went through. I’m guessing something happened in their life that they wound up regretting. Isn’t it an inevitable part of the growing up process?

The thing we can control is how we respond to that regret and how long we let it last. I’m not saying I don’t have guilt. I keep that guilt tucked away until it comes out at the worst times, actually. But at the end of the day, I think that feeling of regret is even worse. Guilt can come along even when you know you did the right thing. Regret often comes from a time when you know you did the wrong thing.

Regret and guilt are often what propels a character forward.

Where would Hester be without the mistake that changed her entire life? The one that led to a daughter and a willpower stronger than she knew? (The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Where would Captain Ahab be if he didn’t regret the day he let the whale get the better of him? (Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

And where, oh where, would Rachel be if she hadn’t made a huge mistake… one that left her feeling guilty for a very long time, but ultimately changed her life for the better? (Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin)

As the main characters in our own lives, it moves our stories along. It’s the mistakes in someone’s life that can really be a part of who they become.

So I hope that if you have any regrets, you are quickly letting them fade.

I hope if you have any guilt, that it passes and your heart is peaceful!

I also hope that if you haven’t read A Prayer for Owen Meany, you so do ASAP!! ;)