Mitchell Richards [Words]

Month: July, 2010

the text

“It looked something like sunflower yellow, but clear. Yes, translucent sunflower yellow.”

“Put that on the side of a Crayola.”

“Translucent sunflower yellow? You mean radioactive apple juice, don’t you?”

“No, that was two days ago, this was a little lighter, but had a darker undertone.”

“You know you’re not making any sense right?”

“I know! It’s your urine for God’s sake! It’s darker than normal, you’re dehydrated!”

“Yes, I know, but isn’t it more fun to name the colors? It’s slightly different everyday, like a flushable monochromatic paint set.”

[Ba-da-da-ding]

“What was that?”

“My new cellphone, just got a text message.”

And on this day, with this text, I stopped naming the colors of my pee and started naming the colors of my vomit instead. This text message, on the heels of a eight month relationship, changed my life forever.

First of all, I just want to go on the record as saying that no one should ever be dumped via text message. Ever.

Secondly, I would like to add that woman ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden first. It wasn’t until Eve offered it to Adam that man ate it. And I think that she probably flashed him a little cleavage and gave him the look just so she wouldn’t be the only screw up in the beginning.

I’ll let that statement stand for itself.

But, I digress. The first one, that’s me, Alex, the one who was naming his pee. The second one, that’s Jeff, he’s a bit dry at times but you warm up to him. And the third one, his name is Darryl and we’ve been friends ever since we were little. We were all sitting around at a restaurant when I got the text from Juliet. Oh the nerve of that woman. She should be sitting with Eve someday, roasting apples over a fire somewhere.

“I think Juliet just dumped me.”

“Why would she do that?”

“Yeah, I thought things had gotten better with you two?”

I had thought so too, but you see, when you let your guard down just for a little bit (and in this situation, by guard I mean stop being romantic everyday, you know, no dates just “going out” type of stuff) there seems to be a little room for someone else. This someone else, apparently had slightly more charm and bravado than I did.

I chose my response to her text very carefully.

“What should I say back? Should I even say anything?”

“Say, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow.’ I think she’ll love it.”

In this scene, Darryl says nothing, only offers a quizzical and slightly confused glance in Jeff’s direction.

“Excuse me?”

“Romeo and Juliet.”

“Oh brother.”

“I cannot quote lines from Romeo and Juliet to my now ex-girlfriend.”

“Looks like she’s going back to being a Capulet.”

Yet another stare from Darryl.

And another from me.

[Ba-da-da-ding]

And this, this moment right here, is where technology gets you every time.

“My phone must be glitching, I just got the message again.”

“That, or you haven’t responded yet.”

“Yeah, she is probably re-sending it to make sure that you got it.”

“But what do I say then? And no Shakespeare this time.”

“You got me, say…”

“Tell her you’d like to talk about it in person or something.”

At this moment our food came, and in a moment of desperation and lack of inspiration I replied:

Not exactly my smoothest move ever, but what can I say, I was hungry. And, for the record, there was no fruit on my plate that evening.

The next day was laundry day. I went to the laundry room in my apartment complex alone to did my bi-weekly four loads of laundry. During this time I received four text messages. Each one of them was the same thing from the same person:

Even though it was day one of the single life, being constantly reminded of your ex is a bit enraging. Never mind the fact that I grabbed her toothbrush this morning, which was eventually thrown out with the rest of her stuff, I also had to deal with the fact that her mp3 player was sitting on my shelf.

What is the proper etiquette for this by the way? Do I return said mp3 player? E bay? Re-gift?

It had been 24 hours since the original text, and in that 24 hours, I had received the same text message nine times. Of course, I had responded to a few of those, but the only text I received back was the original. She left me no explanation of why she was doing this, or if it was even her doing. When I woke up to seven more messages the next morning, each one of them the same, I suspected that she had little to do with this one.

I wasn’t able to go to the phone store for three days, and it is in this three days that everything changed. I was still receiving the texts at an annoying rate, and each one stung a little deeper. You can’t spend eight months of your life with someone, flirt with discussions on marriage and baby names, and then expect to feel warm fuzzys the day after you can’t talk to her anymore. Or for the next week. Or by the way I was feeling, ever. And each [Ba-da-da-ding] was just a poking of the wound.

Even when that cute girl walked in to do her laundry, I just couldn’t even muster up the chemicals in my brain to even check her out.

I’ve noticed a trend in the girls that I have dated. Let’s say, hypothetically of course, that I was dating a red head. Once the relationship with that red head ended, most likely because she was crazy, as most red heads are, I would not date a red head next. Red hair would lead to a brunette. Brunettes are probably my favorite, as Juliet was a brunette. You can go back-to-back brunettes, but not back-to-back-to-back, if that makes any sense. Blondes are a bit more tricky. The ideal is a mix, not too blonde and not too brunette. The same philosophy also goes with interests, life goals, and most importantly personality traits. Say I was dating a girl who was very outgoing, you know, really chatty and friend-friendly. This will get on my nerves after about three months. So the chatty girl leads to a shy girl. Shy girls usually lead to artsy girls. Artsy into homely. Homely into chatty. It’s the circle of lady life.

I haven’t quite found the perfect blend of personality, though I am hopeful for a artsy/shy 50/50 blend.

But just as the sting of a break up can return with each glitched, painful, irritating text, the opposite can be found in something new.

[Ba-da-da-ding]

Another text. But I noticed a girl reach into her purse and check her phone only to find no messages. It was the same phone as mine, but she heard my [Ba-da-da-ding] and thought it to be hers. It was this moment that some sort of weird cocktail of the fruits of heartbreak and ache blended with the alcohols of desperation and desire. Possibly sprinkled with the zest of revenge.

I wanted to go up to her and use every line in the book. I wanted to offer to buy her the cocktail of chemical reactions racing around in my head. But I guess somethings are better left unsaid.

[Ba-da-da-ding]

After 48 hours, you begin to learn a few things about being broken up with every hour or two. You learn that you can reset any bad feeling or ache by simply doing something that makes you feel good. It sounds cheesy, but you could wallow in the mess that is building up around you, or you can make something from it. If you didn’t notice before, my friend Jeff really loves Shakespeare. He was kind of a drama guy in high school, I would usually use the word “nerd” instead of guy but the word nerd doesn’t really apply to him.

“Jeff, why do you think this is all funny? I am essentially getting broken up with by the same girl in the same way ten times everyday! It’s not funny! It’s killing me.”

“Alex, why do you not think this is all funny? You know, Shakespeare mostly wrote two types of plays: tragedies and comedies. The difference between the two? None really, only that some characters look at their lives and the things happening around them as tragic and others somehow pull joy out of them. A comedy doesn’t necessarily mean there are jokes in every scene, it’s really about how the characters see the outcome. In tragedies and comedies, bad things happen. People die. But the difference in comedies is hope…”

“What soap box did you just get on?”

I usually hate it when Jeff talks about Shakespeare, but this actually made sense.

“So what you’re saying is that you can’t really understand what it’s like to live in a comedy without first living in a tragedy?”

“Precisely. Insert hope into a tragedy and you have a comedy.”

“Well, well, well…Look at you Jeff…a regular Dr. Phil.”

[Ba-da-da-ding]

We were all sitting around in my apartment having this conversation about Shakespeare and comedies and tragedies. We went on to talk about adventure stories and romances. I couldn’t take it anymore, just sitting there. Jeff and Darryl decided to put me through a little rehab: for every breakup text that I received I would have to do something that I had never done before. It sounded easy at first, I think they just wanted to get out of the apartment for a bit. After trying foods that I had never tried a couple of times, Jeff suggested that we see a ballet.

She even misspelled “kiling”. Way to go Juliet. Jeff would probably talk about irony in the fact that what was “kiling” her wasn’t killing me at all, in fact it was giving me life. Each text sent with rejection and betrayal behind it, was fizzled with new life and hope. I could be sitting alone in my room reading message after message, wanting to dial her number after each one, but instead I was alive. What was once a look of disappointment to a phone message was now a moment of excitement and creativity to decide what to next.

I skipped my appointment to get my phone fixed because I was too busy jumping out of a plane. I was too busy going to museums, too busy handing out food to the homeless. Too busy having picnics with foods I’d never tried, too busy laughing at the memories my friends and I were creating. Each breakup text began to breathe hope into my life, and once I began running out of new things to try I was forced to give myself away to others. Each text was me finding myself. You will never know anything about yourself until you forget about yourself.

What started out as something that destroyed me, each [Ba-da-da-ding] soon became something that re-created me. And this re-creation of myself eventually turned into the re-creation of my friends. I would eventually ditch the phone, because I no longer needed reminders of when I needed to live…it just became habit. When I got a new phone I swear I could hear the [Ba-da-da-ding] go off every hour or so. Each time, it was a subconscious reminder of the need to live.

I couldn’t wait for the next laundry day…

Because I wanted you to know the story of how I got here. I wrote you this to let you know what you would be getting yourself into. It’s been a week and a day since my life changed, and a week since you walked in. I’m not dropping to a knee and proposing, just simply asking you if you would like to join me in life. So, cute girl in the laundry room, what do you say?

Sincerely,

Alex.

(555)918-2342

[Ba-da-da-ding]

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Despicable Me

This weekend, I went to go see the movie, “Despicable Me” and absolutely fell in love with the story it told. I have gone on record saying that I am not a huge fan of kiddy movies because the stories they tell are usually no good. But this…this movie proved me wrong.

I obviously don’t want to give anything away, but movies that make me think about their themes for days after viewing are obviously worth mentioning. Take your typical super villain, insert some child like cuteness and chaos, and voila, you have the basic premise of the movie. Now, again without giving anything specific away, the main theme of the movie is redemption. I learned from watching it that we must become the redemption in the world that we are so longing to see. If we want people to become redeemed we must show them redemption. How can we expect someone to “buy in” to their sins being forgiven by an invisible God in the sky if we cannot ourselves visibly redeem them here first? How can we expect someone to love their neighbor if we aren’t loving them as well?

Why are you looking at me like that? What? Never seen a hypocrite before?

The only way people will find redemption is if they see it. The only way people will find grace is if they see it. Hope. Peace. Rest. Comfort. They have to see it.

The only way for them to see it is you.

The beauty in all this is that you can also find it for yourself. You don’t exactly have to believe it to find it, you just have to see it. What I mean is that, like athletes, we as Christians are never 100%. We have doubts and injuries and there will never come a day where we don’t wake up sore. But I have found that the best way to fight discouragement and lack of hope is to go be it. Whenever I can’t quite find the rhythm God has for my life, I hand out grace to someone in need. Whenever I feel like I am just a number to God, I go find the people or are just numbers to us. Life is a beautiful circle, a constant breathing, a giving and a taking. One thing cannot exist without the other.

Which reminds me of another kiddy movie I just saw.

Before the movie “Toy Story 3” they played this short film:

It paints another beautiful display of redemption and offering it to other people. Now, we can flaunt it or share it. We can be selfish or we can share the beauty, and often times the heartache, with someone.

If you need redeeming, I hope you find it. But if you don’t, I hope you give it away.

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Buy my new book, “Definitive Blurs”.