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I’m an aspiring writer and photographer. Currently I’m working as a grounds keeper at a college. I am enrolled in classes for creative writing and photo journalism, at the school as well. I’m also an avid guitar player, hiker, and lover of live music. As much as I can, I volunteer in my community to pay forward for the blessings I’ve received my whole life.
Dear Dad, I often wonder if it's weird to miss someone you've never truly met. You were gone before I had the chance to crawl to your feet and grab hold of your leg. Before I had the chance to labor through saying the words "da-da". I wonder did you cheer me on from way up there when I scored goals in soccer or when I had my first kiss? I know I've messed up countless times but have you forgiven me? I wonder if you're proud of the man I've become. The person I am today. A while back during probably the darkest part of my life, someone said to me. "You are the way you are because you grew up without a father." I wanted to punch him, scream at him, tell him he was wrong. I wanted to tell him to try walking a mile in my mother's shoes. To suddenly lose your soulmate with one late night knock on the door. That he'd collapse within steps from the weight..but what was the point? I was the way I was because I was lost, and that was nobodies fault but my own. I just want you to know, I did have father figures and good role models, that taught me right from wrong, but they came in the form of my mom, uncles, aunts and grandparents. I can take a piece of each of your amazing brothers and wonderful sister and put them together to see you. To know the incredible person you were. Your mother and father were always there for me unconditionally along with my mother's parents. I just want you to know how much my mother misses you. She's brave and tough as nails but there's a sadness in her eyes when we talk about you; when she's sees you in me. Almost an acceptance that she'll never have, with anyone, what you two shared and that always makes me sad. She always told me if I wanted to know where you were, to just look for the brightest star in the sky. I would go out at night and find you, picturing you soaring around in your jet, watching over us all and smiling. Lastly I want you to know, I'm proud to be your son and I hope you're proud to be my father. We will meet again someday and you can tell me all those little things a dad's supposed to tell his son. Hopefully I'll already know them by then but I'll still sit and listen and cherish every second. I miss you. -Ryan
Sometimes I envy the leaves. Getting to start over every year. Awoken by the warm winds of the spring, whistling past the budded branches of the tree it will call home. Growing into the dewy summer mornings, where the sweltering heat dries its surface, until the beauty of "golden hour" beckons in the cool relief of nightfall. On rainy days a wonderfully chaotic symphony ensues. The pitter-pattering of the drops on the leaves, as each fills until spilling from the weight. A collaboration of oaks, maples, cedars, birches all contributing their own unique voice. The winds a conductor unleashing his masterpiece for all to hear. Finally the fall comes and begins a truly beautiful transformation that ironically signals the end of life. They cling on with all their might, colors morphing with each passing day, forming a technicolored dream like landscape in the sky. Then cold winds try to force winter upon us and holding on becomes futile. Eventually they fail, their descent graceful and beautiful, like a feather in the wind. They land softly in the place they will rest until the snows blanket the ground and winter takes hold. Only to wait for those warm spring breezes to revive them once again and start all over. Now all leaves may seem similar but pick one up and examine it. Each one tells a story; Scars from storms. A roadmap of veins that reveal changes in direction, in spirit, in health. The strength of its stem, the roughness around its edges. A unique story of three seasons of life, one of rest, and a fresh start. Sometimes I envy the leaves, not always, but sometimes. "The more things change, the more they stay the same"
I sat alone on a isolated stretch of beach, knees pulled tightly to my chest, staring out at the vast, alluring ocean. I was mesmerized by the sunset kissed swells as the last breaths of daylight slipped past the horizon at my back. Wind whipped off the water and past my cheeks. The smell of salt induced nostalgia that enveloped me like a warm blanket. I reached down and grasped a hand full of sand, squeezing it gently. A controlled flow slid out of my clutch like an hour glass, each grain a tick of a clock as it spilled back to the earth. I've always loved the sea. It's beauty, the sound of the waves crashing, transforming the shoreline with each crest and fall. I remembered running alongside my cousins from the sprawling foam as it washed away our footsteps, leaving behind a beautiful, glistening clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning. As a person grows many venture further into the water. Some dip a toe, others may wade out to their knees, but many go deeper. Unfortunately as beautiful and majestic as it is, the ocean can be both unpredictable and dangerous. A riptide can tear your legs out from under you and pull you out to where it's so deep your feet no longer reach the bottom. A huge wave may crash over you and send you through a spin cycle. You'll lose track of which way is up, down, left or right. When you finally reach the bubbling, white aftermath on the surface, you're gasping for air, your strength and will depleted. Simply praying there's not another one coming. However, If you know anything about waves you'd know it could have been different. You'd know that very same one which destroyed you, through strength, timing and embracing its power could have carried you all the way to the safety of the shore. You may skim your chest on the sand but soon enough the sun will dry your skin and in no time you'll be swimming again. Maybe you'll stay closer to the shallows but that's ok, you're different person now. The last of the sand trickled from my palm. I stood while rubbing my thumb and forefinger together until I felt the ridges of my fingerprints meet again. I walked slowely off the beach as the last crest of the sun dipped behind the bay. I took one final look over my shoulder as a wave receded. What it left behind was a beautiful, glistening, clean slate. A new beginning. And I couldn't help but smile.
Today, I was lucky enough to meet a lovely, elderly woman named Joyce.\n\nI was doing the same thing I did every day; absent mindedly driving home for lunch after my morning work routine was finished. I was a few miles from my house when, ahead of me on the shoulder, I noticed a small, fragile woman, in a white dress. A white crochteed shawl covered her shoulders in an attempt to escape the unpredictable chill of the late October mountain winds. There was a raggedy blue backpack secured across her hunched shoulders. She struggled to pull a set of unmatched, rolling suitcases along the side of the roadway. As I passed by, like so many other drivers, I watched her large bags collide and topple, nearly taking the woman with them. \n\nI continued driving like so many others because I needed to get home, feed the cat, eat breakfast, and watch a bit of TV before heading back to work. I needed this break halfway through my day, I had Mercedes Benz owners complaining their HED headlights didn\'t seem even, or their heated seats needed adjusting before they headed to their winter resorts. You know, the bare necessities. \n\nWithout even thinking, I made a U-turn. I slowed when I was close enough to realize the woman was once again struggling to upright her suitcases. As I pulled onto the gravel shoulder behind her, she looked up. I feared I\'d frighten her but I was met with a beautiful smile of relief and gratitude. I rolled down my window and her kind eyes greeted mine. I asked her if she needed a ride and she said, \\"Yes, to Port Jervis or as far as I can get\\". \n\nI paused. Port Jervis was about an hour round-trip and getting back to work caused me to vacillate. My hesitations were short-lived and I hopped out and opened my trunk. When I lifted her first suitcase, I joked, \\"What do you have rocks in here?\\" She let out a laugh so infectious it will stay with me forever. Beautiful as it was, the sad truth was in the next thing she said. \n\n\\"These is all my earthly possessions, sweet man. Keepsakes, photos, everything, is in these three bags.\\" \n\nI realized this woman was homeless, only managing to let out an \\"oh\\". I continued loading her belongings into my trunk. She smiled, oblivious to the lump in my throat. Joyce went to climb in the back-seat but I opened the passenger door and bowed like a chauffeur. She obliged and although I saw her falter, she called me silly and giggled. \n\nWe drove.\n\n\\"So Joyce, what's your story?\\" \n\nShe went on to tell me she was on her way to a loved one\'s funeral, she\'d use the 50 dollars she started with the Lord allowed and planned to walk as far as her legs would take her. I asked about her family. No family, just distant folk, husband died in Vietnam at 20.\u201dBless his soul\u201d was all she said on that matter and then she asked about me. I told her I was a single guy in my thirties with a decent job. I was happy because to feel any different was to be a spoiled brat.\n \nTogether, we admired the last remnants of fall and the harsh debut of winter. We talked about our love of reading and writing, and how we didn\'t care much for arithmetic and what was a 401k anyway? We bemoaned paying taxes for the numerous construction workers we observed leaning on shovels. I didn\'t think about my job or my cat or even my sweetheart. If I\'d ever lived in the moment \u2013 it was at that very moment. \n\nWe grew quiet for a spell and I started to wonder. This woman, who had her life in three bags, was about to walk 20 miles to say goodbye to a dear friend and still wore grace and dignity like a second skin. I wanted to ask her her secret. How she did it, got up every morning to so little with a smile? Joyce was a strong and brave woman and I found myself envying her fortitude .\n\nWe finally made it to her stop: a bench in front of a library just a few miles from an old friend who worked at the library and agreed to let Joyce stay a spell with her. I helped her with her bags and then instinctively reached into my wallet, handing her 35 dollars, which was all I had. She looked at me as her rich, watery brown eyes betrayed when a lone tear that ran down her cheek. She reached out to shake my hand, a gesture of gratitude but instead, I felt compelled to embrace her. As we hugged, I whispered in her ear, \\"Thank you, Joyce.\\" \n \nI left Joyce on the bench that day, surrounded by everything she owned in the world, and she seemed content to just be. I slowly drove off and she waved. She wore that same contagious smile from ear to ear and she possessed a shining in her eyes that I envied but I knew was only earned. You're beautiful Joyce and the world needs more people like you.\n\nOkay, back to work. Some guys wiper blade is slightly bent in his $100,000 G-wagon and it smudges when it rains. \n\n \n\n
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