So this year I met a girl named Emily and she completely changed my life.
I found Emily in January. She had picked up a job at an Olympia Sports store near her school to show her parents she was well aware of her financial situation based on the decisions she’d made.
She donned the athletic pants and company tee shirt every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night. We ate dinner together at 9:30 p.m. in the dining hall, but sometimes she didn’t have time to eat anything at all. I watched her type texts to her Ex boyfriend when she got lonely and kissed someone else just to feel something.
Emily avoided talking to her parents, avoided going home. Waking up and having the motivation to get out of bed became a struggle. But I kept her company.
I helped her squeeze into her senior-year prom dress, and then we drove to the venue for the 2013 Military Ball and met up with Ex, even though she had told him beforehand that, should he want to take someone else as his date, it was perfectly okay. He responded with, “I promised I would take you,” and avoided the question.
They talked during dinner and discovered they were both “seeing” different people. Then he introduced Emily to his new girl because –– of course –– she just happened to be at the ball, too. New girl squeezed the absolute shit out of Emily’s hand.
I think she was trying to prove a point.
And just as everyone else kicked off their heels to dance, Emily kissed Ex on the cheek one last time and left alone, wishing the windshield wipers on her car could work for her eyes as I drove her home.
I get it. She broke his heart, he returned the favor. They’re even now.
That night, she ran from what had been instead of running from what could be like Cinderella did. Then, unlike Cinderella again, we drank together to forget. Unless Cinderella did get belligerently drunk after losing her slipper and riding back in a carriage-turned-pumpkin.
I know I’d need a drink after that.
But that breakup –– which happened over a year ago, now –– was the best thing Emily ever did. It’s taken nearly a year, but she has FINALLY realized just how much Ex hindered her.
Held her back.
Pumped her up with too many empty compliments.
Accepted her behavior when he damn well shouldn’t have.
Emily scored the right internship, the right scholarships and the right connections. She lived on her own over the summer and learned what personalities the group she fits in with consists of. Her baby-blue Schwinn helped her escape an air-conditioned hotel room and explore a new place, a new city.
She opened up so many doors her 17-year-old self was all too content on keeping closed. She’s ready to open more.
I’m ready to open more.
In October, she cried over a childhood friend’s open casket.
Later that same night, those tears helped her reconnect with colleagues from high school she hadn’t spoken to in years.
She traveled to Pasadena, Calif., to accept a $5,000 scholarship she’d won by entering the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s annual sportswriting contest.
…Emily doesn’t have trouble getting out of bed anymore.
I don’t have trouble getting out of bed anymore.
So I met this girl named Emily. She’d been sheltered and smothered and I helped her live again. I helped her find her independence again. She ditched her pessimistic thoughts and began seeing the future’s many possibilities.
Together, we plan on opening more doors.
I submitted an application to the Los Angeles Times today because, in 2014, I will remain open to possibilities and seek out exciting opportunities. I won’t let anything –– or anyone –– hold me back. Cheers.