I was eight years old when I asked my teacher why I had been put on this earth. I told her that I didn't understand what my purpose was, or how I could ever be considered a functioning part of society.
As you could imagine, this was an alarming question coming from someone so young. She thought that there must have been something wrong with me; maybe it was hormonal imbalance, abuse, depression, who knew. She probably ran straight to the principal a few minutes after I had asked her, and I can't say that I really blame her, either.
Despite the fact that nothing was really actually wrong at all, my father and I were forced to undergo a myriad of pointless meetings and therapy sessions. It was almost like they were trying to find something wrong with me, even though there was nothing that was nearly so obvious.
Eventually they gave up and pretty much dubbed me as weird, to put it plainly. For that, they were right; the entire experience had made me realize a few strange things about myself that I had never noticed before. I always had so many ideas and questions running through my head, and I almost always wrote everything down in a notebook. But that's when I started to understand that I was different from most people and that most things I had to say were best kept to myself.
From that point on, it was a downhill experience with school. I dropped out of highschool around the age of sixteen and had been given my GPA. My dad wasn't angry; he said there was nothing that they could have taught me that I wouldn't have learned in due time on my own. My mother's opinion didn't matter... She had died when I was three years old.
But that question had never disappeared from my mind. It was rooted there; I couldn't do anything but toss it around in my head, trying to figure something out. I knew the day that I had thought of it, though, that I would have to find that answer, even if it killed me. And god damn it, that's what I will do.
I've decided to keep a journal log on my progress. My initial idea was to keep a collection of data and make it seem like an experiment, but that would be too much work. Plus, I never really paid much attention in science to figure out how to make the right kind of graph. Anyways, how do you graph words?
Dad seemed a little disappointed that it's been almost two years and I still don't have a definite plan on what I want to do with my life. Even though he would never say it, I know he doesn't want me to waste my entire life around here. Sure, it's home. And it's kind of a job for me. It definitely is for him. But it just doesn't seem right. There's something about this all that doesn't click in my brain as what I want to be doing.
So I'm going to find it. No one can stop me. For now, I'm just resting on a back up plan. It isn't the most creative thing to be doing, but it's a lot better than doing what I had been. I can't stand going up to the attic every afternoon when I'm not busy to cry; I swear, the tears probably aren't good for mom's sweater.
My plan for now is to go around to different people and ask them what they think I should do in life. I need to know what they think the meaning and purpose of life is; what do they think everyone needs and what they don't? What are the essentials to making it in the world?
Maybe I would have learned all of this in school, but it's a bit late to go back now. Especially considering most people that would have been in my grade are almost graduating by now, if they haven't already. There's no way I could go back; I'm not willing to admit that this wasn't the best decision for me.
Today, I went to Mr. Isaacs. He's a regular around here. No, scratch that, he pretty much lives here. Sometimes I think Dad doesn't make him pay his bills on time; after all, he's been here for about four or five years now. As far as I'm concerned, he lives here, and that's that.
He knows me pretty well, so I figured that would be a good start. He invited me into his room this morning and made me a cup of tea with the little coffee machine that's in every room. He's pretty smart, though, and figured out how to make the basic thing brew tea. He tells me almost every day that we need to just buy one of the Keurig Cake Cup machines, but lately we haven't had quite enough to be able to afford that just yet.
Here's what was said and by who:
M.I.: So, what did you want to ask me today, Taylor?
Me: I've been having a bit of a problem lately, sir, and I wanted to know if you could help me fix it. I'm trying.... Well, I'm on a mission to figure out what my purpose in life is.
M.I.: Ah, isn't that we've all been trying to figure out? I'm eighty-two and I'm still not fully sure that I was supposed to spend fourty years of my life teaching children who didn't give a rat's ass about grammar and proper English.
Me: That's true, I guess. Um... What would you say is the point of living? Like, what do you think everyone should have in their life? Even if it's only for a little while.
M.I.: Love. Love and happiness, for as brief or as long as that may last a person. Life can be cruel, but there's always the fleeting moments of good that makes everything worth while.
Me: What else would you say is necessary for living a good life?
M.I.: I'd have to say you can't give up. Just because you can't get what you want when you want it doesn't mean that the world hates you; at the same time, don't give up on it. If you're determined on what you're doing, if you have the passion, then everything is worth it. You just need to persevere and have some patience.
Me: What could you see me doing in the future? As a career, I mean.
M.I.: As much as I'm sure your father would love you taking over this place, I can't imagine that. You seem too.... penisve... You like to think, you like to discover. This isn't really the place or the job for that.
Me: That's true.
M.I.: I would say science, but then again, you don't seem like you really enjoy following predetermined rules. You're one of those girls who dance to the beat of their own drums. My wife was like that, too. I'm sure she would have loved you, Taylor.
Me: I would have loved to have met her, Mr. Isaacs.
M.I.: You two would have gotten along well.... Is there anything else you want to know? Any other way I can help?
Me: No, not right now. But if there is, you'll be the first one I come to, okay?
M.I.: Okay, honey. Now, why don't you run along? I'm going to take a nap.
I'm not sure if the answers I got from this were really what I was looking for. I hadn't thought things would be so... abstract.
No, maybe that isn't quite what I meant. I guess I had thought he would think something more definite. I thought he would spell everything out for me, and that one answer would be good enough. But there's more work to be done now. In the end, though, I can tell, it's going to be worth it.
Dad doesn't know about my mission, nor does Uncle Jonesy. I'm worried that if either of them knew, they would start getting all touchy-feely on me. I can't really handle that right now. There's enough of that going through my own mind; I don't need any added onto my own.
Today I went to see Mrs. Hyde. She comes and goes every now and then. Any time she stays, she's here for a while. But when she leaves, we're never really sure if she's coming back. There was one time when she was gone for almost an entire year.
Dad and I still don't really know why she had left or where she went; she's never told anyone. But during that time of her absence, we were so worried that she would come back if we rented out her room and be angry. So we never had. It's just her room now, no one else's.
I don't know what I intend to find out from her, but whatever it is, I'm sure it will help. There's something about her that seems wise but eccentric. She's not like normal people, I know that much for sure. After all, normal people don't just disappear without a trace for long amounts of time.
M.H: What did you want to know, dear?
Me: Wow, you seemed to know that I was curious right off the bat.
M.H.: Oh, you always get this look on your face like there's something driving you forward, like you're on a god-given mission of sorts. You look like nothing could stop you from finding out exactly what you want to know. So, throw the questions at me.
Me: Wow, I love your enthusiasm. Okay. Well. What do you think you could see me doing when I'm older? I mean. Ugh. What do you think my purpose on Earth is?
M.H.: That's a little broad, don't you think?
Me: Okay, i get what you're saying. What do you think I'm supposed to do in life? What would you say I'm best at?
M.H.: You're good at writing and asking questions, that much is for sure. I almost feel as though I'm being interrogated and interviewed at the same time!
Me: Is that a good thing?
M.H.: I'm not sure. I haven't figured that out quite yet. Any other questions?
Me: Oh, yes. What would you say is key to living a good life? What do you think everyone needs to have to be happy?
M.H.: Family, friends, love, compassion, caring, patience.... Honestly, I could go on listing forever. There's just so many things that seem necessary to being able to have a good life. I don't even think it's really possible not to have most of those things. Even a little bit can go a long way.
Me: What do you think is the most important ones?
M.H.: I'd have to say never giving up on life or love, and then being able to be yourself but still be able to walk around in someone else's shoes. You have to be able to stay true to yourself without completely forgetting the other people in your life; as much as it seems like it sometimes, other people have lives, too, and you aren't always the main focus. Don't take that as a directory towards you, though. I just meant it in general.
Me: Even still, it's good advice. Is there something you could really see me doing in the future as a career? Is there anything jobwise that you think matches up with my personality?
M.H.: I bet you could be a really good author. You have enough spunk and creativity, I'm sure there's just about anything in the world you could write or retell. You'd make it all interesting.
Me: Aw, that's so sweet. Why don't you be serious this time?
M.H.: No, it's true. You really could be a good writer. Your mother used to write, did you know that?
Me: Yeah, I've read some of her stories before. They were really good. They almost felt like I was travelling into someone else's life; it was like watching a movie, in a way.
M.H.: You're like your mother in a lot of ways, you know that? It's almost sweet to see how much you've turned out like her, considering. I'm sure it's a bit odd for your father sometimes, seeing you so grown up.
The conversation went on a long time after that, but it had lost all relevance to what I was originally talking about. After that, I hadn't really felt that it was necessary to record the conversation and then write it down. Anyways, that takes way too long.
Again, I didn't expect the answers that I was given. This discovery thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be, in a way. I'm not really sure what I had been hoping for this whole time. I guess I just wanted everything handed to me on silver platter.
It has been, in a way. Both Mr. Isaacs and Mrs. Hyde have given me really good answers to all questions, and they both think I would make a great writer. That's so strange to me, though, since I've never really given much thought to writing my own stories. Maybe sometime I'll give it a shot.
Today I went and asked one of the maids, who technically doubles as a resident. I totally understand why she works/lives here. After all, it's a shelter and food and a little bit of money in exchange for keeping a few rooms clean. That's not so bad of a deal, if you ask me.
Rosita's been working here since before I was born, so it's definitely safe to say that she knows me well. She's seen me through every stage I've had, no matter how awkward or strange it was. She's like a mother to me, but she isn't... I'm not sure how to explain that. Things are just strange when it comes to the maternal problems I have.
She's the only one who knows about when I go up to the attic. In fact, she's the one who told me about it in the first place. It's not like Dad was trying to hide those things from me, but since I was so young when Mom died, maybe he figured it wouldn't really matter to me.
It's not that I miss her, sometimes.... I just can't help but wonder what my life might have been like if she were in it. There's nothing against Dad, though. He's done an amazing job raising me, I'd say. I've never really had any problems, and there's never been a time when I would be in need of something and he wouldn't take care of it.
But there's just that little bit of being able to go to someone and tell them everything about you, but they already know. I'm not sure how to describe it all. I guess I just feel kind of cheated that I wasn't ever really allowed the time to have even one memory of her. I don't know who she was, what she sounded like, what her favorite color was, any of that. I'm never going to know what she was like when she was my age, or if she ever had any awkward or embarassing stories....
I would include the conversation I had with Rosita, but it doesn't seem like it's really worth jotting all of it down. We didn't really talk about me much; most of the time, we spoke about my mother. Did you know, she was top of her class? She was also in track and field. Before she died, she was always trying to convince Rosita to go running with her. Apparently, she did that once, and as Rosita put it, that had been one of the most sweaty experiences in her life!
I didn't really learn anything more about myself today, but I am glad that I know more about my mother. That's always something good, I'd say.
No one is really interested in doing the "interviews", but I don't have the heart to ask Dad or Jonesy yet. I guess there's not going to be any progress made today, after all.
*** Went up to the attic today and found a "new" story of Mom's. It isn't new, obviously, but I had never read it before. I think by now I've read and reread it about five times now in the past couple hours. She had a way with words; they weren't kidding when they said she was a great writer. It makes me wonder if she might have been an author otherwise. But maybe I had gotten in the way of that when I was born, I don't know.
I asked Mr. and Mrs. Carrol today what they thought would be a good career for me in the future. Surprisingly, they both had different opinions, which is odd. In the 14 years that they've been coming here for the spring, they have never had a different opinion. Not that I've ever noticed, anyways.
Mrs. Carrol: You would make a really good mother, I think. You're caring and loving and smart; you have all of the right inside traits to be able to pull it off, I think. Not as many young people are even half as mature as you are at this age, and I've got to commend you for that. I've been watching you grow into an amazing young woman and I can't believe my eyes sometimes! I just can't wait until we have little Taylor babies running around here.
Her response was especially surprising. I had never even considered having children when I got older; when I was in school, I'd never had a boyfriend. Love just wasn't really something that was all that important to me then. It still isn't, really. I'm not worried about that aspect of my life yet. Maybe someday, but not now.
Mr. Carrol: I think you would make a good philosopher. Sure, that might not really be a common job, but who's to say you wouldn't make it big from that? After all, you are always thinking of new ideas and questions. I can't imagine how fast some things must run through your head. But just think, everything always starts off as an idea. And you always have plenty of them. It would be perfect!
When I asked them what was essential to happiness and living a good life, they both said you need:
Compassion and caring
Imagination and endurace
The ability to be proud of yourself
I asked them what they meant about the last one. They had the same general thoughts on it, which was not much of a shock.
Mr. Carrol: Think of it like this.... You've already survived this long without any mental, emotional, or serious physical damage. That's more than some people, when it all comes down to it. There are people who have it so much worse off, and then there are people who literally hate themselves because they think that they aren't good enough. I think we've all had that part in our lives, sometimes, but you know, everyone can overcome it. And that's really something to be proud of, if you ask me. Everyone needs a little pride in themselves when it comes to the difficult things. Plus, there's only ever going to be one you. So why not be proud of your individuality?
He had some good points in that, but after he had gotten done talking to me, I went up to the attic and cried for a long while. There's not much to be proud of when it comes to me. I flunked out of school and have no real job. There's almost no future for me, and I just don't know what I'm supposed to do anymore.
I don't want to do this anymore. I'm not as imaginative and amazing as they think I am. I'm so lost.... I can't... I don't know what to do.
Jonesy found my journal today. He showed it to Dad. It's safe to say that pretty much everything has been blown... Not that there was really much going for me anyways. All I had done was ask a few people some questions. How bad can that really be?
But it was the look in his eyes when he saw me. I can't tell if he felt angry with himself or if he was mad at me for going around and asking. Maybe both, considering I was mixing private life with business without his consent.
In a way, though, I'm so worried that he feels as though he's failed me as a father. I don't want him to feel that way at all.
I spoke to Jonesy today. He seemed really concerned about why I was doing this, but agreed to do a mini "interview" anways.
J: What do you want me to tell you?
Me: The truth, obviously. But let's start off with basics. What do you think everyone needs in their life for happiness and a good life?
J: Well, I ain't going to say love. Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it isn't always what it's cut out to be. So long as you have family and friends to stand with you through the tough, then you should be okay when it comes that. Now, you probably need some ability to care about others and to be able to figure things out on your own, but you're kind of already on the right track for that.
Me: Not always, trust me. What could you imagine me doing when I'm older?
J: Honey, I'm okay with whatever you want to do when you're older. If you want to go flip burgers for the rest of your life, okay. If you want to work here at the hotel, that's awesome. But I can see you doing whatever makes you happy. And I can speak for your Mama and your Daddy on this, too. Everyone just wants you to be happy, Taylor.
After I had gotten done talking to him, I went up to the attic. It's the first time in a few days that I've been up there without starting to cry, but I have to admit, it was a nice change. I didn't mind it; I can guarantee my eyes and Mom's sweater didn't mind the change, either.
I feel as though I should have more answers than I do so far. All I have are brief outlines on the person I should be, but I still don't know exactly who I am. I've been spending all this time on trying to figure out who I need to be, but I never tried to discover who I am right now. And honestly, it feels like I just wasted everyone's time.
I went up to Dad and flat out asked him who he thought I am. He should know me better than anyone, considering he's my only parent.
He frowned and went into his office for a long period of time. I didn't know what to do or how to handle it. I couldn't tell if that was his way of saying he was disappointed in me or if he was saying that he didn't really know.
Either way, it hurt.
When I woke up this morning, I found this letter on my desk.
You asked me who I thought you were. But I can't really put that all into words, now can I? How do you expect me to retell almost eighteen years of life with you in just a few minutes. There are no words that could do you justice; I could write so many novels about you, but never fully capture the full extent in any of them.
I'm sorry if I upset you in any way yesterday. I hadn't realized how disappointing that might have seemed to you when I didn't answer. But your question had caught me so off-guard, I was a little beside myself. There wasn't anything that I could think to say to you. I didn't know whether or not to cry or to let you cry, because you looked like you were pretty ready to.
I just want you to know that you are the best daughter. You are funny, sweet, clever, unique, thoughtful, smart, ingenuitive, and caring. You draw everyone to you like a magnet, and I swear, you can clear the rain out of any day. But none of these words can ever do you the justice that you deserve. Unlike you and your mother, I don't have a way with words.
And before you ask me, I want you to do whatever makes you happy. There's no rush to figure out your entire life right now. I never meant to make it seem like I wanted you to decide that. I'm so sorry. But there's no rush.
You know, I almost don't want you to figure out what the meaning of life is. Even I haven't figured it out yet. And in a way, I'm glad. I feel as though knowing something like that will change everything for you; fun just won't be fun anymore, and I don't even know that happiness would exist anymore at that point.
I love you so much, I hope you know that.
I'm done with the interviews. That's all over. There's no point in that anymore. The answers that I had been given were good, and it was a learning experience. But I didn't learn the traits. I learned what was necessary for others to be happy. But I can't live through them. I have my own life to live.
I also learned that the meaning of life has been something people have been searching for since the beginning of time. And I don't think I want to be the person to make that discovery. I'd rather live in the unknown than know and change everything.
But more importantly, I think I've figured out what I want to try. And no, it isn't because everyone has been telling me that I would be a good writer. Buts since I've been writing for as long as I can remember, isn't it worth a try?
I think I've discovered more about others than I have about myself, but that's just the surface. I learned more about myself than I knew before, and I know what people who are close to me think, and that's one of the most important things to me. I could care less if I was a millionaire if peoplr I loved hated me.
So this wasn't entirely worthless after all. The mission is kind of completed. For now, anyways, because there are always more things to discover.