Expiration date

As the chill in the outside air grew colder and everyone around me bundled up. As the colors of the leaves began their last marvelous show and everything became pumpkin flavored, I knew it was time. The date of expiration was nearing me. I remember the issue date, or to a 16 year old me, the best day on planet earth. Though I was sneezing and coughing and had the worst kind of flu, nothing could rain on my parade. After the nerves settled and I managed to park the car back in the lot, I knew that I finally earned my ticket to the freedom my 16 year old self so desperately desired. I ran inside, and with a nod of my head a mob of screaming, hugging, and excited family members surrounded me. I had the largest smile any human could have produced and that smile stared up at me until my 21st birthday this year. Something I also remember thinking about that day was the big, bold expiration date listed at the bottom of my pink ticket to freedom. I remember thinking of the year 2014 as if it was a land far far away, a time so distant and so unattainable I had no idea what the world had in store for me. Of course I had the bigger questions of things like, would my country still be in war, how would technological advances affect the children of the time and would we be able to cure cancer, but lets my honest here I was 16 so I mostly thought about me.  I remember spending hours upon hours attempting to imagine what exactly the world would be like for me in the intimidating, far off year of 2014. Right before I went to go exchange that picture of a doe eyed child for an adult woman, I was forced to reflect on the time spent between issue and expiration. At the ripe age of 16 I would not in a million years have pictured my life how it is today. I would not have seen any of it coming. The struggle of losing my grandfather with such speed in knocked us all off our feet. The way my mother and father can now be in the same establishment and even shake hands. The car I am driving, the place that I work and the nearing end of my college experience. I would not have foreseen the loss of some friendships and the making of new glorious ones. The meeting of the love of my life and my very best friend. That by the time the expiration date grew close I was planning a June wedding and looking forward to the challenges and adventures life has in store for a 21 year old me. At 16 I had the world at my feet, no fear in my eyes or dreams that were too big. And, while some realities of the world have set in as I am crossing over into my 21st year, I am proud that I still have  large dreams and an optimistic outlook on life. The things that I have accomplished in those years between those bold dates make me proud. The things I have in store for my future, the goals and dreams I am working toward achieving and the understanding that there is no way I can predict what my life will be like between issue and expiration makes be believe that in some distant universe where time is endlessly existing, I have made my 16 year old self very proud.

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Always

Sometimes the words flow easy. A thought drifts causally across my mind and like a Polaroid, within moments I am able to compile my every thought and do so with drastic detail. I am able to showcase the exact way I am feeling at an exact moment. The way the sand felt on my sunburned feet that one perfect summer, the way the chill in the wind whipped through my hair bringing to attention the first glimpse of autumn. Sometimes I am able to capture a moment and a place and a feeling. Sometimes I can effortlessly be completely present in the moment. To laugh easily and cry with intention and dream without boundaries. Sometimes the days are so smooth they run into weeks and weeks into months and months into years. Sometimes the doors always seem to open and the path always seems to be one of little resistance. Sometimes there is always rainbows after rain and a silver lining and a friend to talk to. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is hard. The words don’t come easy and it is as if I am a wily child again spending hours upon hours upon hours with a shiny net running across grassy yards trying to capture a butterfly, getting rather close but never quite having the ability or agility to fully capture the creature I so long for. Sometimes I cant focus or perfectly recall an outstanding moment. Sometimes the school work adds up, the bills become mountains, the long hours at work begin to take its toll. Sometimes I cant describe how I feel, or what I want, or who I want to be. Sometimes the loss of a loved one comes back with a force unknown by any creature except humans. Sometimes I lose my way and the doors always seem to close and the path always seems to have the most resistance. Sometimes I questions the goals I have set for myself and the ability I have to achieve them. Sometimes it just rains and there aren’t anymore good friends left. But always I pick myself up and try again. Always I take the blow and the rainbow-less rain and get right back up. Always I take the punch in the gut and the confusion that follows and dust off my fabulous clothes and stand tall again. Always I find an open window or an open crack if all the doors are closing. Always I refocus my intentions and refocus my life. Always I continue to chase that sneaky, cunning butterfly. Always I try again.

The Midnight Burglar

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Screw Cancer. It’s like a burglar that comes at midnight. It comes in the middle of an unsuspecting night, while you lay fast asleep cozy in bed next to a loved one, or your favorite stuffed animal. Whether it tricks the lock or scales the windows and doors it somehow manages to slip through the smallest unexamined crack, and finds a way in to the place you always assumed would be safe. It defiles your home and leaves you feeling vulnerable and confused. It comes swift and bold and strong. It moves silently, slipping into every room without you having a chance. It ransacks your life, it goes through your belongings and it makes sure you don’t hear a damn thing while it carries out its selfish intentions. It works tirelessly, to gather all the things you hold dear so it can take it for itself.  And, by the time you wake up and roll out of the warm comfort of your bed, by the time you walk down the stairs, by the time you catch it, it has removed everything that holds any real value and leaves not a trace of evidence behind to have a culprit to blame. Screw Cancer. It takes your TV and your curtains and all the money you have ever saved. It takes your peace of mind and any idea of security you have ever had. It takes your favorite necklace and your favorite shoes and any favorite you have ever had. Just like the midnight burglar it is needy and silent and fast. It’s only motivation is to take all the things you love and leave you feeling helpless. It has no remorse and no conscience. It is quiet and cunning and destructive. Screw Cancer. If only we had a vague sketch artist drawing of you that we could pin down Criminal Minds style and lock you away for life. If only we had a leading witness to testify against you in trial. If only we had a face to blame. If only we had a way to get all the things back you stole. If only you weren’t the best thief there ever was.

An old poem.

My rearview mirror fills,

With a skyline I once knew,

Though I know the skyline remains the same,

What’s different can’t be viewed.

The memories fill my mind,

As I take a look around,

Of the trees that changed from green to gold and all the buildings that don’t make a sound,

A smile creeps upon my face,

As I think of our time in this place,

Our laughter that once filled the streets,

When time came easy and love came free,

With every brick I step upon,

Your memories fill my mind,

Of a time that was so magical it forever changed my life.

So when you’re down and lonely,

Or you happen to stumble across downtown,

Remember though surrounding change,

What we have remains all the same,

A time when the future was only tomorrow,

The past just yesterday,

A time when we came together and simply enjoyed one another,

The skyline slips out of view,

As I drive away,

But the happiness we once shared and a smile still remains.

 

 

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Hope on the Move

One million U.S. adults are living with a blood cancer. Every 4 minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Every 10 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer. Unfortunately these facts are real. But, Organizations like The Leukemia and Lymphoma society help these number drop dramatically. We need your help, I need your help. My team, Hope on the Move, is walking for the end of blood cancers on October 12th. My family is living proof that this society helps saves lives by funding research programs, like the one my mother chose to participate in, that has saved her life. This group not only saves lives of cancer patients, it saves families from having to deal with an incredible loss. These are the facts in our modern world, but we have the power and the tools to change them if only we work together. Anything will help. Just click on the link below and click on my name, Ashley to donate under me. Isn’t using the old, faded one dollar bill you have in the back of your wallet to help end the fight of cancer more of a use than letting it lay around? 

Time.

Aside

Even after all this time,

I crave you like the crackling soil of earth craves water after the summer of no rain,

I miss you like the sun will forever miss the stars,

I long for you like the trees long for the warmth only spring can wrap them in,

I need you like the wind needs a forest, because after all, if it wasn’t for the shuffling of the trees on a cool autumn day how would anyone know that the pure existence of a breeze,

I desire you like the soft arms of the ocean desire the rough hands of land,

and I thirst for your soul like the poor lad that has gotten lost in the desert searching for anything to quench his undying thirst,

Even after all this time.

Sunset

Not many things give me the same feeling as,

driving toward the orange sun and feeling the warm glow of the sunset wrapping me up in light like a blanket in the fall,

seeing the sky turn from ocean water blue to deep purples and cotton candy pink,

hearing the husky voice of Ray Charles singing about that crazy kind of love waft out of my radio,

knowing that I am driving toward home where the stars shine a little brighter and the trees a little greener,

having the windows cracked just enough to feel the cooling temperature of the evening whip through my hair and take away the pain of the today,

But oh my darling, you always do.