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Houses

I could write you a book on my story.
(who i am, the places i’ve been)
I could tell you about all the times I’ve laughed;
Or about the shoulders I’ve cried on.
About the dreams I cross my fingers and wish for.

(but, that’s just me)

I live in a grey house with blue shutters.
Behind all the doors and windows, I live my life.

(this is the kitchen stove where my mother makes her green bean casserole)

(this is the old record player i used to switch on and dance to when I was three)

(this is the old telephone through which i’ve shared countless giggles, shared

countless secrets)
This is my life.

Every day I wake up, drive down the street, go to school.
This is my life, my routine.
What’s funny is that I like to read books, write stories.
I’ve always got some new novel stashed in my backpack, waiting to open it and meet

the characters, explore their world.
But sometimes the best stories are unfolding in the real world. Right under our noses.

As I drive past the red house perched on the corner,
The man inside has just gotten a phone call that will change his life.
This is his first stroke of bad luck, and he has a huge fight ahead of him.
I drive past the red house in 2 seconds.
So I would not know this.

An elaborate mansion stands at the intersection.
It houses an old woman who’s seen and heard more things than I could imagine.
One couldn’t count
The number of times she’s loved and lost;
The number of places she’s been in search of some miracle;
The number of fears she’s conquered;
And still she stands strong
With more wisdom and more life stories to tell than the library.
(but these are stories i will never hear)
Three seconds is all it takes for me to speed past the old mansion.

Paused at a stoplight
I glance outside, neat white house nestled in a landscaped yard.
I see the face of a little girl, nose pressed against the upstairs window.
She waves, I smile.
The light turns green. Two more seconds and I am gone. On with my day.

(i will never know that she was lonely, lost)

(looking for a friend, any sign that things would be okay)
She will one day realize that the whispery-pointy girls in the school hallway
Can’t hurt her if she doesn’t let them;
And she will shrug off their knife-tongued words
And learn to love herself.
And she will find a boy who loves her for everything she is.

(all of this will happen twelve doors down from my house)

(but i will never know her)

Crammed into traffic,
I am humming along to the radio while my father drums his fingers on the dashboard.
Inside the car in front of me, a woman and her children are smiling,

Because they are finally headed to a home of their own for the first time in six months.
Inside the car beside me, a girl is halfway on her way to the local college,

Checkbook perched proudly on her lap,

Because after three years of penny-pinching and mumbling “Would you like fries with that?”
She finally has enough for tuition.
There is a man inside each of the two cars in back of me.

Both are headed to the nearest hospital.

Fifteen minutes from now;

One will find out that he has a beautiful, healthy son weighing six-point-two pounds,

And one will find out that he has lost the love of his life.
But fifteen minutes from now, I will be tucked safely into a classroom
With notebooks and paper,
My day as usual.

One street, fifty houses, two hundred people.
Two hundred characters, two hundred separate storylines.
And I am only one of them.

Our storylines may never cross.
But each of us deals with the same villains, the same plot twists thrown in at random.
So why deal with them alone?

Because there is one thing about our stories:
There is no happy ending nor tragic climax all scripted out and set to happen.
This is my life.
This is my story.
And I will decide my own ending.
And so can you.

My name is Jackie.

(this is my story)
Tell me, what is yours?



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