This I Believe

Victoria - Rumson, New Jersey
Entered on June 12, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: love

I kneel down on the small pew, avert my eyes from the sight in front of me, and fold my hand as if in prayer. I’m not religious, but what else can I do? I close my eyes and feel tears start to develop. I try not to let my emotions show. Images repeat in my head like a broken film reel…he’s slinging his arm around my waist and singing “The Sound of Music” to me; he’s grabbing me and hugging me; he’s pushing his blonde hair out of his blue eyes as he looks at me while we conjugate french verbs…

I used to be quiet–the girl who only really talked around her close friends, the girl who liked to blend in, the girl who never met people’s eyes. Somewhere between the beginning of my freshman year and the start of my sophomore year, I changed. It could be that this change occurred because I entered a new school with new people and more opportunities. It could be that I was just naturally not supposed to be a quiet person. It could be–and I truly think it was–his influence. He made me feel special, even though I was a lowly freshman, and he an exalted senior. I observed him and realized that I wanted to be exactly like him: funny, outgoing, intelligent, and, maybe mot important, well-loved.

I started trying things I never would have considered in grade school: I ran for class office and won, joined the school newspaper, and founded a club. I began to seek out more and more people; no longer was I the quiet girl that no one really noticed. Even he seemed to realize that I was changing, perhaps by his example. I remember walking down the hall one day; instead of greeting me with his customary salutation that included a hug and a song, he slapped me hard across the back and encouraged me to “keep up the good work.”

He didn’t just make me more outgoing, he truly shaped me into the individual that I am today. We talked about everything from our vegetarianism to our plans for the future. He shared my love for literature and, surprisingly enough, I inherited his job at the local bookstore after he left for college. During one of his winter breaks, he returned to one of his old posts and worked with me. We spent hours examining all the books in the store, laughing at the frantic customers, and making prank phone calls…

A noise draws me out of my reverie. I involuntarily open my eyes and force myself to finally look down. Someone I don’t recognize lies in front of me; a mere shell of the young man who impacted me so greatly, someone who lacks his energy, his humor, his spontaneity, and his love. I taste salt as a single word escapes my lips “Brendan.”