The Decision

March 7, 2011
Sitting at my desk, I had a choice to make. I had to decide between two options and choose my future. Lying on one side of the desk was a picture of the man I loved; Jayden. He was a caring, sweet, and funny guy who loved hiking, rafting, swimming, basketball, and me. We had been together for the past four years. We were the perfect “high school sweethearts,” except I never thought of us as being a stereotype. We were just Jayden and Emma. On the other side of the desk was a brochure for a tour of Europe for the upcoming summer, paired with it was another brochure for the study abroad program offered by Stanford. I had to pick between staying here in Colorado or moving on to travel Europe for the summer and then start college in London in the fall. A choice between staying with Jayden and going to college at Colorado State before settling down to start a family; or traveling, starting over, and leaving behind everything I had ever known.

Jayden and I met the first day of freshman year. I had been so nervous to start high school, yet excited to see what the future had in store. The first part of the day passed by in a blur and by last hour I was ready to get out of the school as quickly as possible. Nothing had been going the way I planned. I didn’t have any of my best friends in my classes and the teachers were already assigning tons of homework-things weren’t looking good for the next ten months. As I walked into English class I didn’t see anyone I recognized. This wasn’t a big surprise. I found my seat according to the seating chart and started counting the minutes until 3:30. I was so caught up I didn’t notice someone pull out the seat next to me and sit down. When the bell rang, the teacher took her spot at the front of the classroom and waited for the noise to settle down.
“Hello class,” her nasally voice rang out, “we are going to start off the year by getting to know your partner.”
“Woo hoo,” I thought, “another first day icebreaker.” I turned to face my partner and was stunned to see a guy with dark brown hair, piercing emerald green eyes, and a smile that could light up a city.
“Hey, I’m Jayden,” he said, “I just moved here this year from Arizona.”
I was honestly too shocked to respond and just sat there gawking.
“So…” he said, “what’s your name?”
After a few more embarrassing seconds I pulled myself together and answered, “I’m Emma.” Well that was smooth, I thought. According to Mrs. Jones we were supposed to interview our partners to find out more about them. So Jayden and I spent the next forty-five minutes asking each other all sorts of questions. I found out his favorite color, favorite movie, biggest fear, best memory, and he also asked me out on a date for that Friday night.

Now it was three and a half years later. Our senior year was coming to an end and I had to choose a path for my future. There were two weeks left of school and procrastinating wasn’t making this any easier. I felt like no matter what I chose to do, I wouldn’t be happy. Just then my mother called out my name and told me to hurry up. It was Monday morning and I had to go to school. Lately it was getting harder and harder to keep up with my homework; it honestly was the last thing on my mind. I got up from the desk, grabbed my backpack from its place beside my door and headed down the stairs.

When I pulled into my parking spot at school, there was Jayden, waiting by his truck in the spot next to mine. It was part of our morning ritual that I had come to love. As I stepped out of my car Jayden came over to give me a hug.
“Good morning Beautiful,” he said.
“Oh stop,” I replied blushing.
I never quite got used to the idea that someone as amazing and perfect as Jayden could love me. We walked hand in hand into the school and headed toward my first class. As I settled in my desk I started thinking about how I could possibly ever leave this behind. I had become so used to the little idiosyncrasies that made up my life; I couldn’t imagine not having them. My thoughts were interrupted by the bell and I had to shift my focus back to the present.
Later, during study hall, I found myself thinking once again about what I should do. I had tried explaining my situation to Jayden but he didn’t understand. He loved everything about Colorado so much and had no desire to see any other part of the world. I had much different views. I loved history and would love to actually see the things I had only read about before. I dreamed of traveling Europe and experiencing everything the world had to offer. Most people thought I was crazy, except my parents. They supported me and wanted me to take this opportunity of a lifetime. Even though I loved Jayden, I wasn’t quite ready to settle down and start a family. This is where we started having problems. He just couldn’t grasp the idea that I wanted more than what Colorado could offer to me. Our fighting had gotten more frequent lately. With the added pressures of school and the looming deadline for college, it was getting even more intense.
After school Jayden came over to my house to do homework. We were up in my room and he asked if he could borrow a pen. I was sprawled across my bed surrounded by textbooks and notes so I told him to grab one from my desk. Of course, I had forgotten the brochures sitting on top of it from this morning.
“What is this?”
Suddenly I remembered and my face flushed a bright red.
“Oh that’s nothing,” I said trying to play it off. But he wasn’t letting me off the hook that easily.
“This is for that stupid traveling thing this summer isn’t it? I thought you had already decided not to do that.” I didn’t know what to do. I knew another argument was about to start and wanted to avoid it.
“I told you I was still thinking about it. You know it’s something that I really want to do.” The anger that seeped into his eyes at that moment was enough to make me look away.
“So you want to leave just like that? Go off and do who knows what in Europe all summer and just expect me to stay here and wait for you to come back? What if you decide to stay over there for good? What about me?”
All of these questions were so overwhelming, and I really didn’t know the answers to them yet.
“That’s why I’m still thinking about it. This is a big decision and I don’t want to rush into anything. You know how much I want this. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a little girl.”
“You didn’t have me then. You honestly want to just drop everything and leave? I’m glad I mean so much to you!”
Jayden was shouting at this point and all I could do was stand there and look at him. He was never going to understand.
“Please,” I said, “just try and understand where I am coming from. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! To see things, experience things, live things that I would never ordinarily get to do. I know in my heart that if I don’t go, I will always look back on this moment and think: What would be different if I had decided to go through with it? I just can’t live with that for the rest of life.”
After I said this, silence enveloped us in the tiny space of my bedroom. Jayden took a deep breath and then said the words I was dreading.
“Well then, I guess you’ve already made your decision. I wouldn’t want to hold you back.”
The sarcasm in his voice was painful and my eyes watered as he started packing up his things.
“Jayden wait,” I started but he walked out of my room, down the stairs, and out the front door where he got into his truck and drove off. I stood watching him go through my bedroom window. This was the same place where I had watched him dozens of times before, in completely different circumstances. This time I had the sinking feeling in my stomach that this was different and maybe he wasn’t coming back.
The next morning, I woke up and everything felt hazy. The previous day seemed like a dream. If it was possible, I now felt even more confused than I had before. I called Jayden five times after he left but, he wouldn’t pick up. I fell asleep crying, and didn’t feel much better today. I got out of my bed, walked into my bathroom, and looked in the mirror. A girl with puffy, red eyes and tangled hair stared back at me. Who was this girl? When had I turned into someone that was so co-dependant on someone else? I guess over the last few years with Jayden, I was so focused on us that I forgot about myself.

Suddenly, I felt something change inside me. I was ready to pick myself up and move on with my life. I loved Jayden, and a part of me probably always would, but I needed to discover who I was and enjoy myself while I was still young. I wanted to explore the world and experience all that it had to offer. My dream of traveling the world could finally come true.

I walked over to my desk where the brochures were still strewn about from the
fight the day before. I gathered the application back together, put it in the envelope, and sealed it. After I finished getting ready I put it in the mailbox. My decision was made.

“Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak; sometimes it means you are strong enough to let go” –Anonymous

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