Planning on Forever — prologue…

—Killian

Five, four, three, two, one—Happy New—

Instead of listening to Auld Lang Syne echo through the streets of mid-town Manhattan, while the eagerly awaiting sea of humanity erupts with hopeful joy, I sit in silence alone in my condo. The remote control falls from my hand onto the empty cushion next to me, as my head rests heavily against the back of the sofa. I can’t watch millions of complete strangers’ sweet nostalgia dissolve while they embrace their ambitious ideas for the new beginning that just presented itself. Something about this time of year leaves me feeling bitter. Maybe it’s because it’s always the same me in a new year.

My phone display continually casts a white glow on the ceiling from where it lays on my glass coffee table. Without looking, I know it’s best wishes for the new year. Probably messages from my sisters and Laken, Emerson, and maybe even the guys, too. They’re all together tonight at a big party at Gage and Laken’s new house. I declined. Just like I declined the invitation to the country club’s New Year’s Eve bash. Historically, I never miss NYE at the club; it’s a great time and the party always continues with whomever I bring home with me. Last year was especially exciting. I couldn’t decide who was the better kisser—the brunette or the redhead—so I brought both of them home. The self-images each of the pretty ladies had of themselves made this bullshit ego I exude seem like nothing at all. But that’s the beauty of the club. We’re all the same kind of people… at least that’s how I make it appear anyway. I thought for sure 2017 would be a fantastic year based on the way I brought it in, and it was. It was a damn good year for everyone around me—engagements, weddings, babies, new homes—I watched amazing things happen for amazing people. I watched.

2017 left me changed—softened by the people who had welcomed me into their lives and made me a friend. People who forced me to realize I was a person who could be so much more than who I had become. The past year also left me hardened toward the people—who in one way or another—shaped me into the cynical son of a bitch I’ve been for most of my adult life. I know the actions of others aren’t really credible excuses for where I am in life. No, I’ve made my own choices that have been—at some point—exactly what I wanted.

Yes, I’ve made my choices and now I live with the consequences. For the second time in my life, I loved someone and I let them go. I convinced myself it was for her own good. I would only cause her pain. I was successful. I’m sure she’s not hurting—not because of me anyway—she never knew how I felt. I’m the one who’s hurting. I live with the idea of what could have been. While everyone looks ahead, especially now on New Year’s Day—all I think about is what or rather who I’ve left behind.

© 2018 Victoria Monroe

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still…

Love breaks our hearts and complicates everything, and still—we love. Despite every plan we derive against it—love finds us and we’re powerless to stop its splendor, or its torment.

—Victoria Monroe

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love is…

It’s the little things that so often go unnoticed…

Everyone sees trees when they’re lush with beautiful green foliage; however, they fail to appreciate when the buds cast trees with a red glow in early spring.

This is the mentality that plagues people—go big, or go home—superior expectations, demand superior results. But all the while, amazing things are happening all around us—even happening to us—and somehow they fall outside of what really matters to so many people. In the end, those little things are everything that matters.

That tree wouldn’t become so magnificent if it weren’t cast in that incredible red glow of spring.

Everything means something…especially when it comes to the heart—who you love, who you don’t love—falling in love, falling out of love… Here’s a love story: he loved her, that’s what he said. Loving him is exactly what she did, but she didn’t meet his expectation of how he wanted her to love him. So, to him, she never loved him at all. That man is a fool. Love comes to us in ways we can’t explain, in ways we can’t understand. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone, but still we try to give our love the best way we can. The fault doesn’t lie in loving someone. The fault lies in the illusions we create about love. The problem with illusions is they have no mistakes, they’re perfect. Nothing is perfect about love—it’s messy, it’s complicated, and it’s difficult.

Everyone wants love to be that brilliant, verdant green tree standing tall in an open field, but they fail to remember that it’s the thousands of tiny red buds that allow it to grow.

Maybe she didn’t love him the way he wanted her to love him, but the love she has is beyond being labeled, and she gave it to him in many ways. It just wasn’t enough for him. While he seeks and finds love in the way he wants it, he’s missing the thousands of tiny ways she gives him love in her own way. Yes, he’s a fool. He threw love away because the reality of it, couldn’t compare to his perfect illusion. He resented that his superior expectation wasn’t met, but it was her love that gave him such high ideals to begin with.

Love isn’t rumpled sheets dampened with lovers’ sweat. Love isn’t wet panties and throbbing hard-ons. Love isn’t in grand gestures. Love isn’t in rings, or on legal documents…

Love is in the beauty of all the little things that go unnoticed… Love is in our hearts. Love is in our thoughts. Love is in our hopes and dreams. Love is in the worry that she’ll be okay. Love is wondering if he’s happy. Love is in the sadness of knowing they deserve so much more. Love is in the regret that the love she gave wasn’t enough to keep even his friendship. Love is in the disappointment that he forgot her. Love is in the acceptance that they will never be, and that’s not even the saddest part. Love is in the realization that she feels so much love, but he’ll never know.

Love is meant to give, not keep—and so, love is in the pain of letting go. That’s the worst part.

Love breaks our hearts and complicates everything, and still we love. Despite every plan we derive against it—love finds us and we’re powerless to stop its splendor, or its torment.

© 2018, Victoria Monroe

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the girl in the mirror…

Well, this is the year. 2018 – the year I’ve been dreading…

It all started in April of 1978… yeah, that’s when I was born. FORTY years ago, (I’m taking short breaths into a paper bag).

Let’s go back ten years to 2008. I worked in corporate America back then (vomits into mouth). It was a pretty spring morning, and during my commute into the city I was trying to not think about the fact that when the sun came up earlier that day, I was no longer in my twenties. It was weird. I was finally at that age – that at one point – I thought people were old. I wasn’t old, was I? I had six years of marriage under my belt and two beautiful kids. I had a mortgage and two car payments… life was pretty good. Anyway, back to the morning of my thirtieth birthday… I pulled into the parking garage and walked down to the ground level. Then I walked to my office building and climbed the six flights of stairs to my floor, just like every morning. The difference comes into play when I turned the corner to my little corner (ahem, cubical) of the world. Birthday decorations, office pranks… you name it. Oh God! Yeah, I was thirty.

A lot of work, snacks and happy birthday wishes later, I was taking the trek back to the upper levels of the garage to begin the tortuous rush hour commute home. There was a woman on a bench outside the garage who smiled at me and my balloons and said, “Oh, to be thirty again!”

Where I didn’t share her enthusiasm, I rebuked that I was old. She said something that stayed with me, something I’ve heard in my mind over and over… “Honey, you’re a baby. I’d do anything to go back to forty. That’s when life really started – the kids were older and I was still…that’s young. You still have growing up to do at thirty.”

Well… here I am, staring down the barrel to the big 4 – 0. I don’t know if this is where life really starts, or gets better, but stay tuned… I’ll let you know. What I do know is that for the last eighteen months I’ve busted my ass – I mean that literally. I have reinvented how I eat, what I eat, when I eat. I have journaled, walked thousands of miles, ran hundreds of miles, done thousands of squats, I’ve planked, pushed, crunched, lunged, jacked… and through it all, I have transformed my body. I struggle to recognize the girl in the mirror. Her neck is long, and her arms are toned. She has a butt that shows the growing results of diligence to lower body, glute, and posterior workouts. Abdominal muscles are starting to peek through, since nearly twelve inches has come off of my waist. My boobs are where they were in high school – and nestled in a bra that looks foreign to me because it’s dainty. I bought a size medium jacket three weeks ago, because I had a hard time accepting, the small might have worked. I started trying-on at size extra large, and was quickly reminded that the girl who struggled to find tops to fit in this particular store, doesn’t exist anymore.

See, years had gone by and I woke up one day and I couldn’t recognize the girl in the mirror anymore. As I stared at the bottle of a new prescription medicine I was prescribed. The doctor said I would likely be on that medicine for the rest of my life. I decided that day, the rest of my life wasn’t going to be dependent on prescription medications. I was thirty-eight years old. I promised myself that when I turned forty, I’d be in the best shape of my adult life, and I vowed I wouldn’t need to be on a maintenance prescription.

I’ve paid a price in a way, there are relationships that I neglected, phone calls I didn’t make, books I didn’t write… but, I was focused on me. I was making myself better. I did it by myself – for myself. I did it quietly, I didn’t announce it, publicize it, or ask if people noticed any changes in me. I didn’t have help. I didn’t do any fad diet or exercise regimen. I changed. I changed me, I changed my lifestyle. Now instead of sitting and watching my kids play sports, I’m coaching my daughters running classes. I finished my first 5K in the top twenty percent of all runners. My second 5K is coming up and I’m training to improve over the last one.

Yeah, I’m turning forty in a month. I’ve been off medicine for almost a year. I’m not in the best shape of my adult life – I’m in the best shape of MY LIFE (to this point). I still have a month to go, but my goals have changed, because as someone once told me, life really only begins at forty! I know the best of me is yet to come, and I can’t wait to meet her! And when she gets here, I know she’ll be here to stay! 💕💪🏻

Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Victoria

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Goodbye Friends

I’ve grown up hearing the expression, it always happens to the good ones. An innocent, resilient  child doesn’t understand that statement. What always happens to the good ones? I’m a good one, aren’t I? Although I didn’t quite understand the meaning in those words, I never forgot the expression. The child in me who always heard those words, could never have fathomed the truth they hold… it’s something that life had to teach me. But, as I’m becoming older I realize the sadness of that truth, it does always happen to the good ones.

There were two amazing people who spent their lives living to raise their six beautiful children, three of whom have physical disabilities. They were philanthropists who helped disabled people get what they needed from medical equipment, to a home they could call there own that suited their needs. They were friends. It didn’t matter if you knew them five minutes, five years, or a lifetime. You were their friend. They’d do anything for anyone. They were in love, after thirty years of marriage they were completely head over heels in love.

But, you’ve heard that expression, right? You know, it always happens to the good ones. It was just a short ride before dinner… they were only going to be gone a few minutes… all they had to do was look at house that might be perfect for a disabled person who wants to live independently and needs help getting a place… a short ride on the bike… all the kids were at the house… dinner is almost ready… we’ll be right back.

It was about six o’clock in the evening… a sport utility vehicle hit them head on.

She died at 7:24 pm. He died at 7:30 pm.

Be kind. Do good things. It doesn’t matter what color we are, what religion, what our goals are… if we only have one thread in common, that’s enough. If we can all be kind, this world will be better because we were here, just like it’s better because they were here.

You see, it happens to everyone… it’s just the good ones who leave an impact.

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a peek into Planning. . .

~KILLIAN~

I know this guy isn’t my biggest fan. Not by a long shot.

“Ashe?” I knock twice on his open office door at Scott Construction.

“Hey, Killian. What’s up?” He looks at me expectantly from where he’s studying blue prints rolled across his workspace and gestures to the chairs on the other side of his desk.

“Not too much. How’re you?”

“Good, Killian. Great, actually. I couldn’t be better, well, I’d be better if I were in the company of the beauty down the hall, no offense.” Ashe smirks and I can see the happiness in his eyes as he thinks of Emerson.

“None taken. That’s great, good for you.”

After a pause, Ashe gestures with his hands, “Well, it was awesome talking to you, bud. Thanks for—”

“I’m into Brinley.” I cut Ashe off and just say it aloud.

“Excuse me?” Ashe appears bewildered, I think, to say the least.

I sit with my head in my hands and my elbows on my knees, “Oh fuck, Ashe, she drives me crazy. It was one thing being business partners with her, now I’m her, her, her fucking boss.” I hear Ashe move his chair, then navigate through his office before he latches the door closed. He sits back down and I lift my head to look at him.

“You’re fucked, man.” Ashe preaches matter-of-fact like its gospel truth. It is.

“Tell me what I don’t already know.”

“Look, Killian, I’ve been there, it’s tough.” Ashe finally shows the signs of empathy I hoped I’d see in him. Coming here to talk to him isn’t easy to do, but despite everything, he’s the one person who can understand.

“How did you do it?” I need a lifeline. I need to figure this shit out, everyday gets more and more difficult.

“Amazingly fucking well, as always,” Ashe responds with a devilish, prideful grin. After a moment, I realize the disconnect in our conversation.

“Not sex, Ashe. Em, your relationship, work… how did you keep it from getting weird?”

“Who said it didn’t get weird? Christ, man, I wanted to fucking devour her for months, since day one when I first laid eyes on her. I used to bring her coffee every chance I could and ask her about her thoughts on global fucking warming just to talk to her. I tried like hell to work her out of my system…the gym, women, drinking, anything I could think of to get her out from under my skin. I tried to convince her and myself that since we worked together a personal relationship was unacceptable. Then one day, she shows up at my door looking so good…fuck, man, I swear, I could have cried, she looked so beautiful. I knew right then and there; I was fucking ruined. One touch, one taste. I was gone. I didn’t even know then, but I was so fucking in love with her, there was no coming back. Then she left for several months. We had a falling out when she wasn’t even here. She came back as I was trying to move on…that’s when I learned about the babies, well, baby, my sweetness was daddy’s surprise.” Ashe’s eyes light up when he mentions his babies, especially Cashen, who was a surprise twin to her expected brother, Leif. “It was a fucking mess. I avoided the office, I couldn’t stand to be near her without being able to touch her. One day, it just hit me. I accepted the fact that she was it for me, and no matter how much she tried to shut me out, I was it for her. I decided to fight for us. That was it. Gage and Laken may have helped wake me up. I don’t want to go dishing too much credit to pretty boy and my sister—his soon-to-be bride—though.” Ashe smiles and he can’t hide the love and respect he holds for his family.

*****

I’m kidding myself. I don’t stand a chance at winning the affection of a woman like Brinley. It’ll be Laken all over again, only our working relationship will prevent us from forming a close friendship. It’ll be too weird. I can’t effectively fulfill my objective judgement if I’m biased. Maybe Ashe couldn’t get Emerson out from under his skin because she’s meant to be there. Perhaps Laken couldn’t take me seriously because her heart has always been the heart in Gage. They’re all meant to be. It’s obvious. They couldn’t fight what’s written on their hearts. What they share has always been there. I don’t have that problem, not at all. The only thing I’ve always had—the only thing I will ever have—is the cold, empty pit inside me.

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almost… (an excerpt from Falling Forever)


“…Her name is Renée. I told her I’ve seen her coming to watch the sunset for a very long time. I asked her why she watches each sunset from that spot. She said, ‘There was a man who came into my life, many years ago. I was a young woman then, like you are now. He and I, were… We made love only once. We were here, right on this beach. Back then, privacy was easier to come by. We were on the beach and we made love with the setting sun watching us, but keeping our secret. He was moving to Europe the next day. He told me he loved me. I almost said those words back to him, almost. He asked me to come with him, maybe not the next day, but he wanted me to go. I almost followed him. I went to the airport to see him again; he didn’t know I was there. In those days, you could go anywhere in the airport without a ticket or without someone checking your bag. In the end, I was too scared to talk to him again and so I watched him, unbeknownst to him. He almost didn’t go. At the last minute, he handed over his ticket. I almost stopped him. If one of those things would have been different. If one of those things would have been more than just, almost… And so, honey, I come here each day and sit to watch the setting sun because in those moments, I can almost feel him again, I can almost see him again, I can almost hear him again. Almost. As soon as the sun is gone, the warmth fades away into a chill and it’s back to my truth. We didn’t make it. Almost doesn’t count.’ 

“I asked her, why she returns each day if it causes her pain? She replied, ‘Because when I close my eyes, I relive the moments we shared. They come alive. For just a time, it’s us again, together. In those moments, we’re together.’ Her smile turned into a frown and she closed her eyes. We exchanged a few more words before I left her to watch the sunset.”

Learn the whole story in Falling Forever… xoxo

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