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Someone Like You
Rumor has it (1) that Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most archetypal works. Hm. But what does that mean? Well... according to the Oxford English Dictionary, archetypal means 1. Of the nature of, or constituting, an archetype; of or pertaining to an archetype; primitive, original. Original, hm. okay then. So Shakespeare was the original creator of the story. He didn’t adopt it from someone else. The man, God rest his soul, was obviously not lacking in the creativity department. But I’m here to tell you a different kind of love story. A story about forbidden love, complete selflessness and total trust. A story about the strongest, deepest kind of love that you can imagine. Don’t you remember (2) how the first Romeo and Juliet went? They were products of feuding families, doomed the second they met, for alas, they fell deeply, passionately, completely in love. It was all right as rain (3) until Juliet got this absurd idea that Romeo, her sweet, her true, her one and only (4), had met death’s doorstep. Because her love for him was so selfless and so sincere, she killed herself so that even in death, she would not be apart from him. But, as fate would have it, Romeo was not dead after all, but only sleeping. When he awoke to find Juliet dead at his feet, he was so overcome with grief, his world changed to many shades of black (5), and he couldn’t bear to be apart from she who was his own. To make a long, tragic story short and and as sweet as possible, he ended up committing suicide, and so endeth one of the most well-known and beloved tragic love stories of all time.
When one reads Romeo and Juliet , one can’t help but yearn for that kind of love in their own life. A love so true, so deep, so selfless that even death cannot destroy it. Of course, one would prefer to have this love for as long as possible and not have to die in order to reach the climatic ending. Still, it is only human nature that everyone thirsts to be loved by someone. Not everyone will come right out and announce it to anyone who will listen, but still, this longing, this desire, it is embedded in our very beings.
The story begins on a brisk spring day; one of those days when the whole world seems a little bit cozier, a little bit quieter, but a little bit more lonesome. The clouds cover the sun like a blanket and drops of rain fall occasionally from the sky. A young girl, not yet a woman but no longer a child, was slipping out of her car, pulling her bag onto her shoulder, and locking the door. There wasn’t necessarily a direct need to lock the vehicle, but she was a sensible type, one that knew if she didn’t go with her instincts, she would end up regretting it. She breathed in the cool air blowing in from the coast, and suddenly, memories spilled into her mind. She felt like she was drowning in them, rolling in the deep (6), deep waters of yesterday.
She hadn’t asked for it to happen. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t totally against it either; it was more of a not-expecting-it kind of thing rather than a planned sequence of events. Looking back, she realized that she should have known it was coming. Everything had pointed in that direction. She had been born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it. She had failed at most things she started until she had eventually given up making goals because she didn’t want to disappoint herself by not reaching them. She was a true extrovert with introverted tendencies that seemed to consume her when she felt lost, lonely, or neglected. She craved social circumstances and she had impulses that grazed on the crazy side of the field, but as she had gotten older, she had started to keep to herself, holding her feelings inside, and not opening up to anyone. She wasn’t exactly out there but she wasn’t a calm or collected type, though she kept her crazy side buried deep and instead let it shine through her art, her writing, and her role models. She wanted to express herself in the way she wanted to express it. She didn’t want to be judged, but she was quick to judge others when they weren’t in her league.
As she thought about her recent past, leaning on the hood of the beat-up blue Toyota, she realized that she had been, well, almost prejudice at first. Not against different races or colors, but against different ideas and ways of life; different habits and values. “I wasn’t a saint, but I sure as hell wasn’t a demon”, she thought. Her parents had decided to send her away to school. At first, she had been terrified at the idea of leaving her comfort zone, and she had cringed at the thought of not knowing what to do with what she was given. As the months wore on, she had warmed up to the idea, knowing that if it was totally wrong for her, she could come back and start over. That summer, she had turned sixteen, a magical age. The age that every piece of young adult fiction claimed was when everything happened, the year that she would remember for the rest of her life. The last night (7) before her birthday, she had taken off with some of her cousins, speeding through the hills and breathing in the smell of freedom with a spark of rebellion. “This is what it’s like to be free”, she had thought, “this is what being sixteen means.” While she had liked the sound of it, and repeated this mantra to herself, she hadn’t exactly taken it to heart. Yes, she was one year older and she had a bit more freedom, but besides the newfound “almost adult” status she had received, her life had remained fairly normal, whatever normal was. She stepped onto the lawn, her feet sinking a fraction of an inch into the dense, soggy earth. The wind whistled and her hair blew into her eyes, causing her to close them, tired (8) from another sleepless night. Sleep didn’t come easy to her anymore. She wanted to be set free, she wanted it to stop haunting her. “I want to stop hiding my heart (9)”, she whispered, knowing that someone, somewhere, could hear her. She wanted the dark curtains to be thrown open so she could wake up and realize that everything was a wild nightmare, that he wasn’t gone to a place she couldn’t follow. But she couldn’t. It continued to haunt her, and she couldn’t wake up from the dream because there wasn’t a dream to wake from.
He had been her first love (10). The first person to understand her. The first person she could be her total self around. The first person who saw who she really was. They had met the very first day, while she was hustling to put her notebooks and pencils away in her squeaky, ancient locker. Her pencils had been the mechanical kind. She didn’t like ones that had to be sharpened; they were coarse and broke easily and they smelled like wood. She didn’t mind the smell so much as the fact that they never seemed to work completely, like a child with only one leg. Maybe she was just picky, but she had refused to use normal pencils. She had slammed her locker, and the sound had echoed down the halls, which were close to deserted except for a few students pinning up announcements on the boards lining the walls, with “Have a Great Year” and “Kick Butt This Year” and other cliche sayings that she couldn’t stomach when she looked at them. She had walked into her first class, Intro to Shakespeare, and had been introduced by the middle aged teacher with a slight Irish accent. She remembered she had found this comical, seeing as Shakespeare was English and the teacher was Irish, but she hadn’t mentioned it to anyone else for a few reasons. One, she didn’t have anyone to talk to, and two, she didn’t think anyone else would find it ironic. He had been sitting behind her, wearing a gray polo shirt and dark washed jeans, his hair cut short and neat and his face clean shaven. His chin was still pink from the edge of the razor and his eyes were a sparkling green with flecks of brown. She had found him attractive right away, but hadn’t given him much thought until the teacher, Dr. O’Reilly, had announced that the first assignment to kick off the new year was a partner research-paper on one of Shakespeare's plays. “You don’t get to pick the play, but you can all choose your partner,” he had said, and she remembered he had eyed her for a split second. Everyone had scrambled around, picking their best friends, their stepsisters who had transferred, and the tanned lifeguards they had been crushing on all summer. She had remained seated, reading over the assignment synopsis, oblivious to the fact that he had gotten up and was standing beside her desk, looking down at her. “I guess they saved the best for last (11)” he had said, and only then had she glanced around the room, realizing that they were the only two left. “Would you do me the honor of being my partner?” He had smiled then, and she recalled how the lines around his mouth had curved ever so slightly and his eyes had twinkled just a little bit more.
She continued walking across the freshly mowed grass, her feet sliding inside her shoes, the strap of her bag digging into her shoulder. She reached the desired plot of ground and sat on the nearby bench, looking at the stone in front of her. Even now, she could still feel him all around her. “He won’t go (12)”, she thought, “he’ll never leave me.”
They had been given Romeo and Juliet and had arranged to work on the project during study hall, which, she had found out, was the same for both of them. They had spent the first few days doing research and taking notes on battered lined paper with the unfailing mechanical pencils. They had become friends quickly, and she had become more and more comfortable around him as the weeks wore on. After they had completed the project, he had asked her to join his lunch table. She had hesitated at first; he didn’t have many friends from what she had seen, but the few that he did have, while polite and friendly, were of a whole different genre. They were the ones who didn’t care what anybody thought about them, the ones who were secretly geniuses, but never let their true talents shine through. They were the ones who hated the preps and the drama queens, who kept to themselves, who didn’t bother anyone, but who received glances and gossiping whispers every time they walked the halls. She was nervous, but the unfamiliar thrilled her, and she consented to sit with them the next time he asked. Months had gone by, and he was driving her home, and picking her up, giving her hugs when they parted ways, and greeting her with his dependable smile. It was another two months before he asked her to take a drive with him. “A date?” she had asked. “More of an outing”, he had replied, “oh, and bring Jules and Rom.” They had come up with the nicknames for Romeo and Juliet on one of the many days they spent reading aloud lines from the romantic tragedy, and they had used them ever since. They had set out after school, and driven out of the city, down to the ocean. She remembered how the wind had blown her hair into his face and he had reached for her hand when she slipped on the sand. She could still taste the salty sweetness of the water and hear the seagulls crying in the distance. They had sat on a blanket and watched the sunset, reading their favorite scenes from the play, and eating peanut butter sandwiches, stopping every so often to just look out at the horizon and listen to the silence. “I’ve been waiting for someone like you (13)”, he had said, and that’s when she had felt it. No, not just felt it, she had known. It had been the start to a beautiful thing; she smiled as she thought of the night he had first kissed her. They had gone to the beach, which had become “their spot” after the first outing, and they had been walking hand in hand by the water, watching their breath turn to fog in the evening air, and quoting Marilyn Monroe. Even though she had been bundled up in one of his sweatshirts, the wind had chilled her insides like a knife splitting through her ribs. They had walked back to his car, and had sat on the hood, listening to the radio through the open windows, and she had sung the words to each lovesong (14), explaining why the classics would never go out of style. “You know, I can’t make you love me (15), but I can definitely try”, he had said with a twinkle in his eye and a subtle smile forming on his lips. He had then brought them close to hers, and wrapped her in his arms as the stars came out and the moon reflected an iridescent golden on the dark, cobalt waters.
Her parents hadn’t approved. They had told her that she was too young, too naive, too innocent to the ways of the world, that she didn’t know what she was doing, that he would break her heart. She hadn’t’ listened. She loved her parents, but she had known that if she never took a chance, she would never live and learn and she might miss out on the best things in her life. She wasn’t stupid and she had known where she stood. She knew the morals that were important to her and she knew that she was stronger than to let emotions get in the way of her conscience. And she trusted him. Not only that, but for the first time in her life, she had been completely and utterly happy. She was in love and she was loved. She was trusting and she was trusted. She was living her life and she knew that it was her life to live. She had no regrets and no fears, except that if she didn’t follow her heart, she would lose him. She had finally stopped chasing pavements (16) and found where she belonged. Still, she hadn’t wanted to be rebellious, or turn a cold shoulder (17) on her parents. After all, they had supported her and given her everything she could have wished for all her life. But it was time for her to find out who she really was, with someone who saw all that she could be. It had been time for her to take a chance. It had been time for her to set fire to the rain (18) that had been falling over her, causing her to be a misunderstood, detached girl, searching for her place in the world and always failing. It had been her time to shine, and she knew that it was because of him. He brought out the best in her. He gave her reason to keep faith and to believe in miracles. He gave her the strength to set goals and work towards her dreams. He completed her. She hadn’t known how much of her was missing until that empty spot had finally been filled.
And then it had all come crashing down. She shuddered as she remembered that fateful morning, and she couldn’t tell if it was because of the overcast weather or the chills inside her heart. He hadn’t come to pick her up for the first time since they had met. She had uncomfortably explained this to her mother and asked if she could give her a ride. She had her license, but she had never bothered to drive anywhere other than the grocery store seeing as she didn’t have a car and her parents were always working. But since they had been together, she hadn’t needed one after all, as the beat-up blue Toyota was just as much her car as it was his. She had known when she got to school that there was something definitely wrong, as there was a message in the front office with her name on it. It had been a permit to leave school and go to the local hospital. Private reason, urgent, It had said, cold and threatening in her hands. She had called her mother from the office phone and asked her if she could come back and get her, apologizing profusely, knowing that she at least owed that to her mother, after everything that she had done to disappoint her. I’ve failed them both, how can they bear to continue loving me? She had thought while her mother drove her to the hospital, the rain pouring down on the windshield, the sky crying it’s wet tears on the earth below. She had ran through the front doors, the smell of disinfectant and coffee filling her nostrils. She had told the front desk his name and explained it was an emergency, her heart heavy, and her face showing the apparent shock and confusion she was feeling. She had taken the elevator to the third floor and walked into room 722. Then her eyes had fallen to the bed, for he was lying in it, pale and shallow, an IV in his arm, a screen monitoring every delicate breath he took. “I’m so sorry sweetheart,” he had whispered to her, struggling to grasp her hand in his as he held it up to his lips. “I should have told you, but I didn’t want you live for me. I wanted you to live for you. I know this isn’t how it was supposed to end, but my time’s up. That’s it, I quit, I’m moving on (19), but you need to live our life for both of us.” She had started to tremble as she realized what was happening. “This isn’t real. This can’t be true. It’s all make believe, isn’t it?” She had refused to believe it. It wasn’t fair. He was so young, so perfect. He had his whole life in front of him. They were going to spend it together, they had made plans to travel the world, they were going to get married when they grew up. They weren’t some crazy adolescent fantasy. She had known from the start that there was something special about them, something different, something everlasting. “You’re going to have to take it all (20) from here”, he had said, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. She had held his head in her arms, stroking his hair and kissing his forehead. “But don’t worry, I’ll be waiting (20).”
She hadn’t asked for it to happen, but she knew that it had for a reason. She knew that he had come into her life so she could find herself, and she had come into his so he could finish living his life. She touched his gravestone and set the book on the ground beside it. “Hey honey, I brought Rom and Jules for a visit.” She traced her finger over the words engraved in the stone, "Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow." She had thought them fitting, seeing as how they were words that had brought them together in the first place. She gathered her things and started for the parking lot, a beat-up blue Toyota waiting for her.