Icebreakers

whirlwind-passion-neil-shapiroMy friends and I hang out in Stacy’s room and read from a questions book meant to give interesting topics to discuss at parties, to get to know other people better than those icebreaker games during orientation.

“Okay,” I say, flipping through the book. “Would you rather live a life that’s simple, safe and secure or one full of adventure and passion, with high highs and low lows?”

“I’d vote for the latter,” says Jillian.

“I don’t know that there’s a such thing as a simple and secure life,” says John. “I mean I think they’re getting at the whole like, house with kids and a dog, but I think that’s a pretty unsafe, insecure, exciting life too. Anything could happen even in that situation.”

“That’s different though,” argues Jillian. “If you have that sort of life, there are certain things you can count on every day until something drastic happens.”

“See I still disagree. The traditional life can have just as many twists and turns.” John sits at Stacy’s desk and Jillian fires back at him from her seat on Stacy’s beanbag chair. As they go on, Stacy and I sit on the bed and let them argue. She never says what her answer to the question would be. It makes me sad. Then I realize I haven’t answered either.

Jillian says, “Either way, I want exciting and spontaneous. One time a friend and I were driving around Madison at night. We were bored so I said, ‘Let’s get breakfast in Chicago.’ So we totally did. We drove to Chicago, found a diner and ate at five in the morning. I want more adventures like that. And bigger ones too.”

I can’t even imagine being allowed to do that. I lean back against the wall. Sometimes even when I’m part of this fab four, I feel left out. John and Stacy are so good and such a good couple. Jillian’s poetic and deep and adventurous and I adore her but sometimes she’s so happy and well-adjusted it scares me. She gets along with her family, has tons of friends from home. She even had a great time in high school. When she’s really vibrant and confident with her poetic depth, I feel like I’m her shadow, her darker half. But I don’t even feel alive in that darkness the way I used to. It’s as though I forgot how to feel anything except numbed-out surface emotion.

“Me too,” I finally say quietly. “I want a life with vitality and passion so bad.”

This is an excerpt from Moonchild. Since I’m going to be working diligently on rewriting and revising that project (read about that mess of a task here), I’ll probably be posting excerpts from Moonchild for awhile.

This excerpt takes place very early on in my freshman year. And I think it gets at something that’s at the crux of the story, choosing adventure, passion and intensity. At this point in the story, it’s just in theory.

Don’t forget to check out Samples, Published and Early Work for more excerpts and chapters and full pieces of writing.

~EJ

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