Chris gave me a pretty cool prompt idea based off of a post that he wrote. "Write about an important decision you have made in your life, but go back as far into why you made this decision, and what affected it as you can." I've been giving this some thought, so here is my first stab at it--there might be more in the future.

(Note: This is going in reverse chronological order, ending with the decision. I'm sure you can figure that out, but I just wanted to make sure to clarify!)

"We're going to live together," Drew says laughing as he shakes his head.
"You and me," I ask with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah us, you weirdo. When we're in recruit school, we'll get an apartment or a town house, and we'll split rent. You can't complain about any loud noises when I bring girls home though." I roll my eyes at him and he winks good naturedly.
"Alright, fine, but what makes you think that I want to live with you?" He looks himself over, smiling a little as he does.
"Come on, Sam, I'm like...priceless. Girls will envy you. Guys will be jealous. Besides, it's my duty to take care of you." I punch him in the arm and he laughs.
"I don't need anyone to take care of me." Rubbing his arm, he nods.
"Yeah, that much is apparent. We're getting a dog."
"Fine," I say, essentially resigned to the idea of us being roommates, "but it has to be a big dog. I don't want any wimpy dogs in my house."
"See, now that's why we'll be great living together! Small dogs suck!"
"But you're a girl," the kid says to me with a twisted face, "girls can't be firefighters."
"You can still write," my mom says.
"Doubtful--when will I have time!?"
"You make time now, you'll make time then. You're a great writer. Don't give up that passion."
It hits me like a ton of bricks. All of a sudden, I feel my chest grow tight, and I feel a little bit dizzy.
Oh God...what am I thinking?
I'm pretty sure I don't want to be a high school English teacher anymore, and it scares me to death. What about my major? What about my dreams of inspiring students to write and embrace literature just like my favorite teacher had done for me? I sit down and pull out my phone, texting Drew.
"I need your advice," it reads, and as I send it I think how monumentally important this might be.
I've wanted to be other things in the past--Pediatric Radiation Oncologist, Trauma Surgeon, Forensic Scientist, Obstetrician; deciding on a new career path is nothing new for me.
My dad always joked that I'd never be an English teacher. "You have a scientific mind, Sam," he'd say after I asked a question like whether or not we could be sure that we were seeing the same colors or experiencing the same things. I asked him why we could recall smells and tastes, but not the sensation of hot or cold if we weren't currently feeling it. "Good question--maybe you should be the one to figure that out."
He and I both knew that I'd never be happy unless I was doing something sciency; I guess I was just in denial.
Where is the mail, where is the mail!?
I know it's coming. I know I passed. I'm going to be an EMT; I'm going to save someone's life.
"You have to take your position very seriously," my EMT instructor says. "You have to learn everything you can and do the best that you can--every time, no excuses." I nod my head as we eat the meal her partners prepared for us.
Running on the ambulance with her has been the coolest thing ever. I feel like a real EMT, a real provider. I get to put my skills to use and suddenly everything I've learned matters.
"I really love this stuff," I say as I shovel down some pasta.
"No kidding. You're the best I've ever had in one of my classes." I look up at her and roll my eyes. She laughs, because we both know that this is the first class she's ever taught.
"Gee, thanks," I add, laughing.
"But really, Sam. You have this natural zest and love of EMS, and you're good at it. You know the information, and you aren't street-stupid. You ever think of going career?"
"I...not really."
"It's hard being a woman and trying to prove it to these guys that you can do it; but there's no feeling like it when you succeed. I know you can do it if you put your mind to it."
I am taken to meet my lieutenant, a tall and skinny man in his thirties who appears to have had too much caffeine. He introduces himself to me as Alex Andrews; I calmly hold out my hand and say, "My name is Sam," plain and simple.
Enrolling in my University, I am invited into the Leadership program.
"What can you bring to this program?"
"A desire to help people."
"How do you plan to help people?"
"I'm not sure yet, but I know that I will."
I'm five years old, and my mom and I find a dead bird as she walks me to my first-grade class room. I cry when I realize there's nothing I can do to save it.
"But what about its mommy and its daddy and its friends," I ask my mom with tears spilling out of my big brown eyes. I'm only five, but I know that she doesn't have the answers.
"Do you want to have a funeral for it?"
"No, I want it to be alive!"
"Well honey, there's nothing we can do for it now." I sniffle and wipe my nose with my sleeve.
"I want to have a funeral for it."
And after we bury it in the ground behind the playground, I put a flower on top of it and say, "I didn't know you, but I'm sure you were a good bird. I hope you have fun in bird heaven, and I promise that I won't let any other birdies die if I can help it."
When I return to class, I draw in my journal. There's a dead bird in the ground, but next to it is me in my new bird hospital. There are birds all around, and they're thanking me for saving their lives.
I'm going to be a firefighter/paramedic.


Chris said...

Sam - you're awesome.

I wish I could write like that! Come to think about it, I wish I understood myself as much as you understand yourself - you seem to have an awesome grasp of how the little things affect you.

I don't even remember when I was 5.

Oh, and "whether or not we could be sure that we were seeing the same colors or experiencing the same things" - I've always wondered that too!

(I failed the word verification a minute ago - didn't think it'd be so hard a human struggled!)

John-Michael said...

Priceless! Absolutely beyond measure ... You nailed it, My darling! So very perfectly done. Thank you for "a moment!"

I do love You ...

tracy said...

i wish i knew what to say...that was just beautiful.
The part about the bird almost made me want to cry, so touching and at the age of 5, wow.
i remember, m a n y years ago, my ninth grade scince teacher going around the room and asking us what we wanted to "be when we 'grew up'" or whatever...i said, even way back then, "an emt"....finally getting around to trying to get there...again!
Too bad i can't put it eloquently like you : )

Thank you for a lovely entry,