I was going to have a career in sports.
All throughout high school I knew that I was going to work in the world of football. I wanted to be a coach, or in a front office, or just have some sort of role on a team in the NFL. It meant something to me. It still means something to me. When I am involved with football I feel like I am in with something bigger than myself. It’s almost a religious experience for me. Life would have made sense that way for me.
After high school I successfully made my way into a FBS (Football sub division otherwise known as division one) program and worked as an equipment manager there for four years. I learned so much and was living my dream. I got to see football being taught at one of the highest levels in the country and I felt that sense of self amplified to levels beyond previous comprehension. I was doing what I wanted. I was headed where I wanted. How could anything have gone wrong?
The college I went to, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, was more than 2200 miles away from where I grew up. I was leaving my scenically quaint and almost Utopian home town for the desert. For a place where I knew no one and no one knew me. I was a blank slate and ready to start the next chapter of my life on my own terms – away from my parents and away from anyone who ever knew me. I was excited.
My initial major in college was Business Administration with a concentration in Sports Management. I figured if I didn’t find a way to become a coach I could work in a front office. It was a pretty good fall out plan.
The next year of my life was pretty textbook. I got in crazy good shape because I spent my entire day outside catching and throwing footballs or moving and setting up drills. I was meeting a bunch of different and cool people from everywhere around the country – I worked on a football team that recruited people from California, Texas and Florida among other places. My dorm mates were pretty cool (although one jackass stole my computer) and after a rocky first semester academically, I turned things around in semester two.
But then the summer came and I met “her”.
A little back story about me up until this point. I was (and still am) an avid movie watcher. I jumped roped between fat and thin so many times in high school that I never really felt comfortable with anyone but myself. While other people read books and plays or various forms of poetry, I watched an analyzed movies. That’s how I got into English or writing and, arguably, into college.
The movies that always resonated with me the most were romantic comedies. I think they balance me out. Because the other part of me spent so much time with a high-adrenaline activity like football, I think I needed (or need) romantic comedies so I wouldn’t turn into one specific thing. What I enjoyed the most about them are the characters: I wanted to be the dude that got the girl, the guy that made someone their world and immortalized her in almost Shakespearean standards. I always viewed myself in that light.
Going back to UNM, I met her outside of my dorm. There was a group of us who would hang out in a courtyard and that is when I first saw her. We connected over our shared interests in music, english and movies – I had never meant another person who liked, or even knew of, Jonny Lang (let alone a girl). I was enthralled. We spent all of our time together. My life became a country song of forgotten friends, cleaning up the corners of my life and over-strung emotions.
Fast forward to about a year after that and her and I lived in an apartment we couldn’t afford a couple of miles away from school. She dropped out of classes because she couldn’t afford it anymore and I started to fail everything. Like ev-er-y-thing. My GPA looked like a Cy Young winner’s ERA. It got low. We also started to resent each other. The thing they don’t tell you about those romantic comedy leads is that the flip side to that is a guy who can be clingy, jealousy and spiteful. I became that dude. I never wanted to be that dude. Eventually she just left.
I believed in true love. I believed in love at first sight, storybook endings and people who would be together forever. When that didn’t happen I could not operate. I couldn’t function. I threw myself into a deep, dark, twisty shell and I stayed there for a long time. In some ways I still might be there.
So, heartbroken and sitting in our old room, I put on a movie: Moulin Rouge. Let me stress to all of you healthy, well-adjusted people who still exist in the world, Moulin Rouge is NOT a movie you (or anyone) should watch after a breakup. The movie is about a writer who falls in love with a singer who is sick. They, along with a bunch of other people, put on a musical and, by the end of it, the singer dies. The writer then, in a drunken, absinthe-filled stupor of clarity, pens their story as a means of working out whatever was in his head. I cannot understate the level to which this movie has affect my personality, creativity and overall life.
In a desperate need to be Ewan McGregor (the writer), I started writing. I wrote about everything. I tried different writing styles and poured my heart into everything I did. That level of perpetual sorrow created everything I know about my literary self. Bad and good. It was my building block. It was my creation moment. That was when my Bruce Wayne morphed into Batman, when my Peter Parker became Spider man, when my Walter White became Heisenberg (lol, can’t believe my head went there last).
From that negative bloomed a positive. I became a writer. I am everything I now know because of that.
I think I will end with one of the sub-prompts from the overall challenge and hopefully it won’t sound too cliche because of the aforementioned story. I write because I want to try to encapsulate love in the various ways I see it. I write because I like to create a character who can love someone so unconditionally – especially in a world in which we seemingly drop people from our lives so seamlessly. I write because I’m afraid the concept of love I grew up believing in doesn’t exist and I want to do all I can to breathe love into that ideal.
So that’s me.
Update 5/31: Friday’s prompt was about what you wanted to be when you grow up. I figured adding the link to this would give the best example.
I hope you enjoyed my response to this prompt. Read how these people became writers: