The Search Begins
September 23rd, 2013
I have always wanted to write a book. Fiction, non-fiction, autobiographical; never have I considered the type of novel that I would one day like to publish. My reverence to historical accuracy is lacking, so maybe fiction would be best. The term, “based on a true story” seems to fit my preferences well. Like any writer, I enjoy my coffee black and struggle to meet deadlines. Much akin to the great Hamlet, procrastination is my tragic flaw. Most would say my thoughts are interesting but I do not like to exert the effort required to express them. Maybe I am lazy.
Truthfully, it is less difficult for me to put pen to paper than it is to verbalize my ideas. While speaking, the words that adequately convey whatever it is that I’m trying to communicate, seem to get muddled, misinterpreted or completely misunderstood by the subject of my awful, blabbering attempt to connect with another human being. Writing is obviously superior since any fool with a thesaurus can sound intelligent if they practice hard enough. I applaud public speakers for their ability to address an audience with gusto and improvise if things do not go according to plan. Unlike a speech, its impossible to plan a conversation; this is where I begin to fail.
It’s not that I am unintelligent by any means. Uneducated? Maybe. I simply feel that during an everyday conversation there is not enough time or depth of character to communicate anything other than, “What do you want for dinner?” The irony of the situation is that I should feel as if I have all the time in the world. I am young and have almost my entire life ahead of me. Yet, I choose to isolate myself and continue to believe that dialogue is overrated- when I should be out discovering who I am and who I truly want to be. Of course, all of this changed the day I met Jacob.
He was not your typical drifter. At first glance, Jacob looked like an average young man; he dressed simply and classically and appeared to be in his late teens to early twenties. His speech was eloquent and his grammar impeccable. Jacob seemed as if he had everything I didn’t, but my unskilled observation did not reveal to me any implications behind the fact that his leather jacket was slightly shabby, his jeans were a size too small and his Calvin Klein knit was of a season long past. He wore a saggy black beanie and a scruffy beard; his entire appearance screamed, “hipster.” I was immediately intrigued.
Our first encounter was a memorable and important step in human interaction for someone like me. Every day after school I would go to the local library to study, but really it was to escape the company of my mother and father-whose expectations I could never meet. Jacob’s look was one my mother would never approve of. My subconscious desire to rebel was most likely the true reason for my initial attraction to the strange male specimen before me.
As an eighteen year old, socially inept individual, I quickly and completely eliminated any notion of approaching him. In fact, I frequented the library in order to avoid these types of Catch 22 situations since generally, the only group who regularly visited the public domain were of the sixty-five plus age demographic. Jacob definitely wasn't a senior citizen and an air of confidence simply oozed from his pores, so what was he doing in a library?
In my curious wonder I had spaced out staring directly at the subject of my interest and he was gazing just as intently right back at me. Jacob looked like he was waiting for something but whatever it was, he certainly didn't get it. He pulled out the chair next to him and gestured to the seat. I did not accept. Instead, I swiftly stood and tried to walk gracefully towards the farthest aisle of books. In my peripheral, I noticed him begin to follow. I had just hidden behind a large shelf when I noticed a copy of “50 Shades” sticking out along the social and literal barrier I did not want to cross. I glanced at the sign that dictated the section name. Just my luck, it read, “Romance/Erotica.” I was red before he even spoke.
“Shy?” He asked. Before I could attempt stammer out a reply, he put a strong finger to my lips and whispered, “Don’t say a word, we’re in a library.” My nervousness was incredibly obvious but I didn’t think he would save me the embarrassment of having to speak. He pulled out a notepad and a pen and began to write, I waited patiently until he was finished. The final result was a note that disclosed his entire life story, thoughts on the world and personal values. It started as far back as he could remember and ended with losing his mom, being kicked out of university and getting thrown out on the street by his father. I assumed at the time that the story had ended because there was nothing left to tell. I later learned that the rest was just too painful for Jacob. He concluded his tale with a question to me, “I’ve told you my secrets, what are yours?”
When he gently placed the pad of paper and the pen in my lap, I felt the burning sensation of shame reach my cheeks. Jacob had faced more hardship and trauma than I could have imagine and still maintained his zest for life. I had a roof over my head and two parents that love me, so why couldn’t I find my smile? My response to Jacob expressed all this and more. As previously mentioned, writing down my thoughts comes easily to me. The scary part was allowing someone else to read them. Still though, I told Jacob all about my parents as well as my insecurities, fears, hopes, dreams and especially, my loneliness. The entire time he read, Jacob focused solely on the message before him. He was so intent that he appeared to be entranced by the words on the page. My intriguing new companion waited a long moment before he picked up the pen again. As he wrote, I began to relax. Although I felt completely and figuratively naked, I felt as if I could trust Jacob with my deepest, crushing, emotions. Finally his message was complete, it read:
I am truly taken with your quiet exterior and witty insight but instinct tells me dormant fire lies deep within you; I can feel its heat. Own your fear, prove yourself wrong and let nature take its course. How will you find passion if you live life only half invested? Go all-in and discover your confidence. Mystery is fascinating but too much of it will drive others away. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you can trust me you can trust yourself.
This was the first time I’d learned his name. It seemed too simple for someone so complex. I lay down the pen and paper and decided on a bold move. Before I could rethink it, I leaned into him and whispered, “Thanks for taking the time to investigate me and try to remember, trust is easy to break. Call me.” As I stood up and walked away, I noticed him neatly fold up the paper I had slipped him. It contained my name as well as seven simple digits that would allow us both to solve the mystery of each other.