Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 4:40:23 AM
"Life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table./ No one can find the rewind button, boys,/ so cradle your head in your hands,/ and breathe." ("Breathe," Anna Nalick, Wreck of the Day)
We were best friends, but Jared burned too bright for public school. See, in seventh grade, all I knew was that Jared was smart. I was too, but I didn’t realize it. We were the newspaper kids, with the A+’s and all-honors course loads. Jared burned and taught me to be hungry. When we first fell in love with this song, we heard only the first part of the verse. "Life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table." We were impatient, thinking we were wasting our time with mediocrity.
Mid-August, we found it: the best New England boarding school, with brilliant teachers, the world’s brightest students and a 14% admission rate. There’s a light at each end of this tunnel became our rallying line. As the only intelligent ones trapped in a school of jocks and stoners, we had to get in.
We applied in the fall of eighth grade. We whispered to each other the things we wanted from Devon Academy. He wanted leadership opportunities, a challenge. I wanted seminars and room to grow. Writing ourselves into an application, we let our wants describe us to an admission committee that we had no doubt wanted us as well.
Until, that is, they didn’t.
In the spring, when I received a thick envelope of promises, Jared was left with a thin sheet of condolences. He was too good of a person to hate me, but not quite strong enough not to cry. I told him I would do everything we had wanted for him. I would join theater and write for the newspaper all at the same time. I was silly, thinking I could make up for it. In Nalick’s famous lyrics, I thought, "Breathe… just breathe," Jared. Please, just don’t cry.
We grew apart not because we went to separate schools, but because neither of us were happy with each other. "Breathe" is still my favorite song. Now when I listen to it, all I hear are these words:
"Here in town you can tell he’s been down for a while,/But, my God, it’s so beautiful when the boy smiles."
That’s what seeing Jared now is like. He is different: sadder, unsure. Every time I see him or listen to our song, my heart breaks for him. Because of those lyrics, I am more resilient, aggressive. I want the same for him: to keep going and burning like he used to.
On days like this I miss him the most; when the sky breaks open, like a glass ornament or a heart, and drenches us with our regrets and mistakes. I wonder if he’s listening to the song too. I hope that this time, he hears:
"These mistakes you’ve made, you’ll just make them again/ If you’d only try turning around."