As people always say, the grass is always greener on the other side.
When I say "small town" what do you think of? A cute little corner shop, friendly neighbors, little kids playing outside, everybody knowing each other. Maybe that's exactly what you picture when I say "small town," maybe it's nothing like it.
But when I say "small town" I think of lost ambitions, smothered dreams, countless dead-ends but most of all a big black gate.
I've been living in this little town for nearly 17 years. A quiet little suburban job with meadows and neighbors and when you go outside in the summer you can hear all this little kids playing outside. But for 16 years, I've been living one big dead-end.
It was a pretty little night in late April. I sat in my bedroom, sitting on my bed with my iPod. Just waiting.
The glass in my window rattled.
I took of my iPod and looked over at the window. Without thinking I smiled.
Matt was my best friend. He lived a few blocks away and almost always came by. But he almost never came in the door. It's not that my parents didn't like him, but I definitely don't think they trusted him. But Matt was one of those kids who everyone was just looking for a reason to call the police on him.
I got and and opened the window.
"Your always welcome to come in the door..."
He just laughed and climbed in the window. I closed the window behind him which felt almost normal at this point.
One of the great things about Matt was that he always had the same feeling about living in this little town. We never got the homey, little town, cozy feeling that seemingly everyone else in town got. He turned around to face me, looking excited as if he had some grand idea.
"I hate this town a little more every day."
I smiled and laughed. Told you.
He sighed and started walking around the room even though I'm sure he knew it inside and out.
"No one's ever gonna find us here. Opportunity doesn't just walk around small towns looking for undiscovered talent. It doesn't matter if you were the star in your junior high musical, that's not gonna change anyone's life." He suddenly looked serious and almost too cute to resist. "I wanna change someone's life with music the way music changed mine. I wanna make hope out of absolutely nothing."
Even though I had heard this speech a thousand and one times, it still left me amazed.
Matt and I wanted to be singers. Not when we grew up... now. Matt had always pushed me to pursue my dream and made me believe in myself and my dream. I always felt guilty that I was never able to do more for him.
We had been friends for 3 years and I had never even been to his house. I never heard about his family, but I always worried about him. I tried not to pass judgment on his situation but he lives in the poorer part of town and unexplained things would always happen but by know I knew the "it's about my family, don't ask" look when I got it. And whenever I thought about Matt and his family memories always came flooding back...
I remembered once he disappeared. When we were 15. It was really random, too. He didn't say anything to me the day or even the week before it happened. But he came to my house a few days later and it was terrible. He looked bruised and battered and it was the first time I'd ever seen him cry. I've seen him cry since but that was the first time. He wouldn't tell me where he went or what happened or really anything. But I was just so happy he was back, I didn't push him any further.
He snapped his fingers in front of my face.
I shook my head, breaking away from my trance.
He crossed his arms and lean back. Now this was the face of a Matt with an idea.
"You haven't heard the best part!"
"The best part?"
"The best part." He put his hands on my shoulders and looked at me, pleadingly. "I wanna run away to New York City. And I want you to come with me."
Out of all the things he could've said, I never would've guessed that. He had joked about it before but this wasn't a joke. It was all in his eyes.
"I wanna be where somebody might find me. Where I can find myself."
I slightly smiled. I won't delay telling you this any longer. I love Matt. I loved his smile, I loved his voice, I loved his everything. I put my hand on his cheek.
"You know who you are. You have such a strong sense of self, how could you even say that?"
He looked serious again. Serious in that "please believe me" way.
I shook my head. I really did love him. Running away with him would be like a dream come true. Like a fairy tale. But I couldn't let my heart rule my head right now.
"This needs time, Matt."
He nodded seeming to understand. But I still just wanted to say I would go with him. That we could go together, right now.
"I'll give you time. But promise me you'll think about it."
I heard footsteps coming up the stairs and suddenly being here with Matt felt more sinister than it probably should have. But this wouldn't be the first time this happened.
"Hide or bail?"
"Bail." He kissed me on the cheek. "Think about it."
I opened the window and smiled. He almost always kissed my cheek before he leaves. I'm sure it's just a friendly gesture but it always made me turn into such the 16 year old girl.
"I will. Promise."
"You better." he said jokingly and climbed back out of the window. I closed the window again and rushed over to sit on my bed. As if something never happened.
But we knew better.