This I Believe

Morgan - Lexington, Kentucky
Entered on May 17, 2007

I Believe in Second Chances

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and change something you did or didn’t do? Most of us have been faced with a situation where we did something we regretted, or didn’t do something that, in hindsight, we know we should have. Unfortunately, time travel isn’t possible yet. We can’t change the past. We can’t go back in time and right our wrongs. But sometimes, we get an opportunity to make up for our mistakes. Sometimes, life gives us second chances.

I enjoy life, I enjoy the way I live my life. But every now and then, I do something that I regret. Worse than doing something I shouldn’t, though, is not doing something I should. My boyfriend and I have been going out for almost two years, and our relationship has, like most, had its ups and downs. A few months ago, our relationship started to fall apart. I knew he didn’t trust me, and I didn’t trust him. I knew that he thought I never listened to him. The sad part is that I wasn’t listening to him. We both walked around carrying these emotional weights like sandbags, drudging through our days together. I felt that our relationship was coming to a close, and I regretted that I hadn’t done more to make things work. And then life came through and decided to give Jon and me a second chance, in disguise.

I went over to his house one day in a bad mood, to find him in an equally bad mood. We started talking, trying to be nice, and then we started joking. The jokes got nastier and feelings started to get hurt as we each let out our secret resentments. Dark clouds seemed to drift over the ceiling, mirroring how we both felt. The clash came in an explosion of voices, each of us trying to be louder than the other. Eventually we were tired of screaming and we had both bared ourselves, let each other know how angry we felt.

I thought it was over. I was sad and wanted him to know how I felt. Staring at my hands clenched in my lap, I apologized for the things I hadn’t done that had hurt him and told him that I wanted to try again. I waited, tense, for his answer. My stomach was full of molten lead that anchored me to my seat on the couch. I couldn’t feel my legs, except as a buzzing, crawling sensation. As the silence stretched out, I looked up. He was still staring at his hands, silent. Finally, he opened his hands and said, “I forgive you,” very quietly. It was hard at that point to ignore the warmth shooting down my legs and the bubbling in my stomach, fighting its way to the rest of my body. He forgave me. We could get past this, try again. The clouds on the ceiling parted, and the room seemed to lighten. That day we started talking in calmer voices, being kind just because, and I started to listen to him, instead of just hearing him. Another chance was all we really needed, and now our relationship seems new again, full of trust and kindness.

There are second chances everywhere, if you can only recognize them. Just look around in your day-to-day life and you’ll see them, ways to make up for your wrongs. I skipped most of my freshman and sophomore years of high school and about one third of my junior year. But as a senior, I see the end of my free public education drawing closer and closer. I’m getting yet another chance to bring my grades up and now I see that I should have been trying all along. So I do try harder now. I come to class everyday even if I don’t want to; I do my homework before playing games. It took me a while to realize the importance of education, and once I did I almost felt lost, like I had been thrown off of a ship to tread water. But then I just started working, digging in with both hands, and I’ve improved in a lot of ways. My grades are better; I’m looking at colleges. I’m happy to go to school most days. Chances are all you need. If you mess up, look for a way to do better next time. I can’t change what I did in the first three years of high school, but I can make this one count. And really, I should make every day count. I’m lucky to be alive. We all are.

Everybody makes stupid mistakes in their life. I’ve made stupid mistakes that could have been fatal. I feel lucky every time I think about it; my life could have been over in one night. But once again, Life stepped in and gave me another chance to do right. My friend Stephanie and I had snuck out of my house to go hang out with her ex-boyfriend, Patrick. His friend Kyle was there, as well, and picked us up in his Volvo. We drove out to Patrick’s farm and started to drink, except Kyle. A few hours later Stephanie and I were ready to go home, so we asked them to take us back to Lexington. I still don’t know why, even when I think about it now, but for some reason Patrick asked Kyle if he could drive and Kyle let him. The only sober person there was in the back passenger seat, while I was in the back driver seat, Stephanie in the front passenger seat, with her ex-boyfriend driving. I know that I should have never gotten in that car. That I should have said, “No Patrick, you’re drunk. Let Kyle drive his car.” I guess the only reason I can think of is that I was younger and stupid, because even drunk I should have known that you never get in a car with a drunk driver.

Everything went fine for a while, until Patrick started to speed up. Stephanie was telling him to slow down, but as a young male with testosterone obviously coursing through his veins, when a girl you still like says, “Slow down,” that is obviously the cue to show her how macho you are and continue to speed. We took a curve, I don’t know what speed, and suddenly a tree seemed to fly at the windshield. It was all you could see in the headlights, and a breathtaking crunch echoed through the fields as we hit that first tree. Then two more trees rushed the Volvo, with two more sounds like a car being crushed at a junkyard. Then we were on our side and screaming filled my ears as Stephanie and I flipped out at the same moment.

I looked to my left and saw the ground; I looked to my right and saw the sky. Stephanie was in the front screaming, “I can’t get my seat belt unbuckled, help me! What if the car blows up?” I was in the back screaming, “Kyle, get out or I’m climbing over you!” as I tried frantically to help Stephanie with her seatbelt. Finally it came undone and by then Kyle was out and I scrambled out after him. Patrick was the last one out, and the first one to get screamed at once we were all safe. His dad came to pick Stephanie and me up and take us home. That was the last time we ever hung out with Patrick and Kyle. That was the last time I ever got in to a car with a drunk driver. I don’t think I will ever forget the trees rushing that car or the sound of metal crunching on raw wood. I just know that I was lucky to walk away from that crash. I could have paid for a horrible mistake with my life, but I was given another chance.

It’s a chance to make my life worthwhile, to make choices that aren’t going to hurt me or anyone else. That is really the best feeling in the world, knowing that the entire world is open to me, and that hopefully, I will be able to make things right if I mess something up. It doesn’t excuse the mistakes that I’ve made, and I know that I’ll make more. But I also know that for many of the mistakes I make, I will have a chance to make up for them, whether it is given to me or I make it myself.