My new story collection, “Something Happened,” is now officially available through the self-publishing web site Lulu. Check it out and pick up your copy today!
My new story collection, “Something Happened,” is now officially available through the self-publishing web site Lulu. Check it out and pick up your copy today!
Trisha had everything packed and ready to go. All she needed now was some more money. She’d cleaned out her bank account but since there wasn’t much in there, she needed extra cash and knew exactly where to get it. She walked into her parents’ bedroom and searched through their closet until she found the jar where her mother stashed her extra cash. Her mother didn’t know that she knew where this was, and over the years, Trisha had lifted a few bucks here and there from it, nothing that would arouse much suspicion. This was different, however. Trisha needed a lot of money and took nearly half the jar’s contents. She replaced the pilfered money with a folded note explaining in vague details written in black ink and barely legible cursive why she needed the money and that, in time, she would try her best to repay what she took.
She put the jar back and made sure it looked like nothing had been touched. With any luck, this little crime wouldn’t be discovered until after Trisha had gotten to her destination. She’d told her parents the night before that she’d been assigned the closing shift (again!) at the fast food joint she worked at and wouldn’t be in until past midnight. She didn’t tell them that she’d quit that awful job the night before, taking great pleasure in flipping off her slimeball of a manager as she left.
She looked at her watch and saw that it was almost time to go. She ran downstairs to the front door where her black upright suitcase and black backpack waited for her. She took her black jacket out of the closet and put it on over her black long-sleeved shirt, the one with the name of her favorite heavy metal band on it. Black jeans and boots capped off her clothing, while her dark hair (pulled back into a ponytail), naturally pale skin (thank you, Irish ancestry), and two piercings (a stud in her left nostril and a hoop in her right eyebrow) drove home her alternative appearance.
She caught a lot of crap about the way she looked, especially from her parents, who hounded her to no end about the need to look more respectable. Well, they wouldn’t have to worry about her appearance anymore. Trisha gave one last look of disdain at the small house she’d grown up in. Then she opened the door, slipped on her backpack, and wheeled her suitcase outside before shutting the door and locking it for the final time.
The bus depot was a ten-minute walk away. Her bus didn’t leave for forty-five minutes but she didn’t want to risk missing it. She’d called the day before to find out departure times and ticket prices. She didn’t want to get there and find out that her bus had left or that she couldn’t afford the ticket. Nothing could be left to chance; this was too important.
Trisha quickly made her way through the streets of her neighborhood, which was just outside the city. She hoped that no one who knew her or her parents would see her rushing to the bus station with luggage in hand. She wanted anonymity, at least until the bus had left the city. In the note she left her mother, Trisha was non-specific about her destination or about when she’d get in touch with her. She just wanted to vanish for now.
Ten minutes sure felt like a long time when you wanted to get some place as fast as possible. She wished that she’d chosen a pair of sneakers instead of her boots, since her feet began to ache. Maybe on the bus, if room permitted, she’d take off her boots and relax her feet a little. Right now, though, she had to keep going. The bus station wasn’t much farther and she had to press on.
She experienced a brief but unexpectedly strong temptation to turn back and go home, probably due to the risk inherent in this venture. While she knew that someone would meet her at the other terminal when her bus pulled in and that she’d have a place to stay, she’d still never lived away from home before, and where she was going was far away, indeed. The bus ride itself was five hours straight through, and she already knew that the bus would have to make at least one rest stop, not to mention possible traffic snarls. If she got out there and suddenly found that things weren’t going to work out how she’d hoped, there would be no place for her to go. She wanted to leave contacting her parents as a last resort, given the amount of apologizing, explaining, and groveling she’d have to do over the phone to them.
At last, she arrived at the bus depot. She walked through the front doors and entered the large, high-ceilinged terminal. She checked out the departure times and then checked her watch. She’d arrived in plenty of time, just as she’d hoped.
She stood in line only a few minutes before walking up to the ticket counter and asking for a seat on the bus going into the western part of the state. The middle-aged woman behind the desk printed out the ticket and Trisha handed over the money. With ticket in hand, she walked through the terminal to the hub for her bus, sat down on a bench nearby, and waited patiently for the bus to arrive.
A number of people started congregating at this hub. Most were middle-aged, the youngest looking around 35 or so. Trisha, at 21 years old, was easily the youngest person there. She kept quiet and didn’t fidget as much as she usually did while waiting for something. She didn’t want to draw attention to herself. In all honesty, she really didn’t want any of the people around her to feel compelled to strike up a conversation with her. She wanted to ride out the next five hours or so alone. If anyone wanted to talk with her, she’d reply kindly but try her best to kill the conversation quickly. Should someone ask her what she was doing on the bus (especially any of the guys), she’d just tell them that she was on her way to visit her boyfriend at his college. Which was kinda, sorta true.
The bus finally pulled into the hub and the driver, a tall, stocky man, opened the door and got out. He told everyone gathered outside to have their tickets ready and leave their larger pieces of luggage to the side, as he would pack them later. Trisha made sure she was one of the first in line. The driver checked her ticket and then waved her inside.
After leaving her black upright suitcase with all the other baggage to be stowed in the bus’s lower cabin, Trisha bounded up the small steps and turned left to face a long narrow aisle with rows and rows of seats to either side. To her right was the driver’s main cab area and on the left in the back she could see the entrance for the lavatory. She made her way down the aisle and took a window seat in the back on her right. She placed her black backpack on the seat next to her. She patiently waited as the other passengers got on and took their seats, none sitting too closely together. Her eagerness to get going made her restless.
Once everyone’s tickets had been checked, the passengers seated, and the luggage stowed in the cabin below, the driver came back onto the bus and stood before everyone: “Good morning, folks. We’ll get going shortly. I just want to let you know that we need to make stops at two more terminals that should only take around forty-five minutes or so in total. They’re on the way so we won’t lose much time. After that, I hope you like looking at turnpike, because that’s what you’ll see for the next five hours or so. The bathroom in the back is in good working order so feel free to use it. We’ll make a rest stop about halfway into the trip. My name is Woody. Just sit back and relax and let me get you to where you need to go.”
Woody sat down in his seat. A minute later, the bus slowly lurched forward toward the terminal’s exit. It made a left onto the main road and picked up some speed. All the while, Trisha stared out the window, her mind going haywire.
Two more terminal stops? Forty-five minutes or so? Crap!
Thankfully, the terminals weren’t far away and the stops weren’t very long. More passengers came on but they stayed up front, leaving Trisha alone in the back. Still, she fidgeted. Woody seemed like a nice enough guy but she really wished he’d pick up the pace.
After the last terminal stop, Woody made the same announcement to everyone about hoping they liked looking at turnpike. Some titters of laughter came out of the other passengers but Trisha felt like she was about to burst.
Ten minutes later, Woody steered the bus up the turnpike’s on-ramp and after passing through the first toll plaza, the bus hit a nice stretch of open road.
Thank goodness! Now, nothing can stop me. Well, a blown tire or a traffic jam or…no, can’t think like that. (Deep breath) I just need to chill out for however long it takes to get out there.
The ride was smooth and the bus’s motor sounded soothing to Trisha’s ears. For the first time that day, she allowed herself to grow complacent. There really wasn’t much more that she could do besides ride out the rest of the journey.
She stared out the window for a little while, watching the sites pass by. She quietly slipped off her boots and gave her grey-socked feet a rub. Maybe when she got to her destination, she could dig her sneakers out of her suitcase. When she grew tired of looking at scenery, she reached into her backpack and pulled out her well-worn paperback copy of Contact by Carl Sagan.
She’d been reading the over four hundred page book for a few months but had only gotten up to page 144. She was a slow reader and usually shunned books longer than two hundred pages, if not books altogether. She’d rather watch a movie or a TV show. She just didn’t have the patience needed to finish a book. However, she tried her best with this book, since it was the basis for one of her favorite movies. There were a number of differences between the two, and despite having seen the Robert Zemeckis-directed adaptation many times, she just couldn’t visualize certain sections, and the highly scientific descriptions and dialogue gave her trouble.
Trisha had hoped she’d finish the book by the time she made her trip. The only reason she was reading the book in the first place was because of Scott.
Ah, Scott. The thought of him always made her warm.
She stretched her legs out over the two seats. An hour passed and she’d read about fifteen pages. After another five pages, she’d had enough and decided to put the book away. She pulled out her iPod and put her ear buds in. She started up her music and stared out the window as a mixture of heavy metal, punk, and hard rock filled her ears while her mind wandered back to the night that changed her life.
She was 9 years old and on a camping trip with her Girl Scout troupe. After a day of hiking and exploring, they pitched their tents in a clearing in the woods, set up a campfire, and ate hot dogs and ‘smores before going to sleep. In the middle of the night, Trisha woke up with a strong, sudden urge to pee. She fumbled for her jacket, socks, and boots but the urge was too intense and wouldn’t wait so she ran out into the woods in her sleep shirt and bare feet. As she searched for a place to go, she noticed lights far off in the forest and the sounds of feet trampling on the ground. Curiosity won out over caution and Trisha wandered farther out into the woods, forgetting her urge to pee or her lack of proper clothing or footwear. She stood transfixed as she saw several figures moving about with a blinding white light around them. These figures—more like outlines—resembled nothing she’d ever seen before. Their shapes were not human. She took baby steps forward, taking great care not to crack a branch or rustle a leaf. She wanted to remain in the shadows.
Then, the figures began disappearing into the white light. Trisha looked up. She saw several more lights in the sky. As her eyes adjusted, she barely made out the shape of a huge saucer. Her heart beat faster and she grew frightened, an emotion that triggered the release she’d originally gone out there to do. However, she paid no mind to the warm trickle that ran down her legs and over her feet as she watched the saucer soundlessly move higher into the heavens and then vanish from sight.
On a hot August night in 1987, I braved the treacherous, foreboding terrain of Dead Man’s Alley, and somehow lived to tell the tale.
It all started with the three of us—Warren, Lou, and myself—sitting in the basement of Warren’s house, just killing time before our curfew. The day’s temperature topped out at just under a hundred degrees and the night hadn’t gotten any cooler. Despite the heat, we still spent the day playing multiple games of stickball at the local playground. Once the weltering sun fell behind the row homes that lined the streets of our neighborhood, we retired to the finished, air-conditioned basement in Warren’s house, chugging sodas and listening to the radio, with nothing in particular to do for the rest of the night.
Three twelve-year-old boys with nothing in particular to do on a late summer’s night will always yield mischievous results, and this night was no different.
I distinctly remember U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” playing on the radio in the background as Lou and I sat on the couch and flipped through a comic book, which detailed an epic battle between The Mighty Thor and the Incredible Hulk. The two of us resembled prototypical nerds, with bushy heads of hair and thick-rimmed glasses. I had a thin, wiry body while Lou was slightly overweight. Both of us wore geeky T-shirts—the Superman logo on Lou’s and an image of the Starship Enterprise on mine—along with sweat shorts and high-top Chucks.
Out of the three of us, though, Warren was definitely the coolest. He wore a black T-shirt with the band Poison standing in front of a drum kit with their green-lettered logo hanging above their heads. His brown hair had been chopped up into a mullet, which left him with long hair on the back of his head and short hair on the sides and top. He wore blue jeans that were crudely cut off at the knee and black Converse high tops. His body was fit and toned, courtesy of an exercise regimen overseen by his high school football-playing older brother.
Warren was the essence of what the characters in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders referred to as “tuff.” He suffered no fool wisely and had a short temper. He could be a major pain in the neck at times but he was a good friend to Lou and myself. We had grown up on the same block and had been friends for as long as we could remember. We looked out for each other, always backing each other up in good times and in bad.
While Lou and I focused our attention on our comic book, Warren paced around the room, all revved up with no place to go. He finished off his Coca-Cola, placed the empty can on the floor, and crushed it with his foot. He ran a lay-up to the trashcan, mimicking Charles Barkley, and dunked it into the metal container.
He looked at Lou and myself and sulked. “I’m bored, you guys. Let’s go out and do something.”
“Like what?” I said, glancing up from the comic. “It’s too late to do anything now. Let’s just chill out here for the night.”
“Oh, come on, you guys! We’ve still got over an hour before curfew. We should go out and…I don’t know, find something to do!”
“It’s late, it’s hot, and we’re tired,” Lou said. “Pull up a chair, grab a comic, and chill out.”
“No, that’s boring. Besides, comics are stupid.”
“Put on the TV,” I suggested. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is on tonight.”
“Aw, Temple of Doom sucked, man,” Warren said in disgust.
“I gotta side with him on that one,” Lou said. “Raiders of the Lost Ark was way rad, but Temple was weak sauce.”
The U2 song on the radio faded out and Def Leppard’s “Animal” blared from the speakers. Warren grabbed a nearby high-backed swivel chair and swung it around so that when he sat down, the front of his body hung over the back. He sank into serious contemplation, something he wasn’t known for doing very often. His mindset was one of split-second actions and snap decisions. Lou and I looked at each other, clueless as to what Warren was pondering.
Suddenly, Warren shot a wicked glare at me and said, “You still haven’t paid up on that bet you lost.”
“What bet?” I asked.
“When we were playing ‘Home Run Derby’ in the playground the other day, you said you could hit five home runs in a row over the fence but you only hit four.”
“Are you kidding me? In the major leagues, that last one would’ve been considered a home run.”
“Not by our rules, though. I thought I made it crystal clear to you that the ball has to clear the fence completely. If it hits the top of the fence and lands on the other side, it’s not a homer and I win. It didn’t clear the fence so I won. Now, you have to pay up.”
“Okay,” I mocked, “what do you want me to do? Give you a dollar? Give you my Mike Schmidt rookie card? Steal a Playboy from your brother’s room?”
Lou belched out a laugh and I joined in, not taking the conviction of Warren’s intentions seriously. Warren, however, maintained a staunch poker face while he schemed and plotted.
“Dead Man’s Alley,” he gravely announced.
Darkness descended over the room. No one said anything. A deadly serious expression froze onto Warren’s face. My mouth instantly dropped open when he uttered those three grim words.
I looked over at Lou and he appeared as shocked as I was. I continued gaping at Warren for a few more seconds before I cleared my throat.
“Dead Man’s Alley?” I repeated.
“Yeah, did I stutter, McFly? You have heard of Dead Man’s Alley, right?”
“Don’t be silly. Of course I’ve heard of Dead Man’s Alley.”
Of course I’d heard of Dead Man’s Alley. What kid who lived in our neighborhood at that time hadn’t heard of Dead Man’s Alley?
Dead Man’s Alley was located in between two sets of abandoned row homes on the edge of our neighborhood. The houses were cheaply erected nearly a hundred years ago as a place for lower income families to live. While the streets of our neighborhood were flat, this area was steeply sloped, with the houses curving down a hill and the alley following suit.
Legend had it that sometime in the early 1900s, a convicted murderer escaped from police custody, stole a horse from a nearby produce salesman, and led the cops on a chase through the neighborhood that ended in the middle of the infamous alley. As the escapee sat atop the horse, the police surrounded the area, cornering him at each exit. A Mexican standoff occurred that lasted nearly an hour. Then, seeing no way out and refusing to go back to jail, the convict pulled out a gun that he had lifted from an officer while escaping, jumped off the horse and shot the animal in the head. He took his own life shortly thereafter.
Since then, tales began circulating throughout the area regarding ghostly sightings of the man and the horse in the alley at night. Residents spoke of seeing this apparition at least once a month. The stories persisted even as the area became a ghost town in the Old West sense of the term. People fled in droves once the shabbily constructed houses, which weren’t built on a firm foundation, started sinking into the ground. When the last of the residents moved out, the houses fell into disrepair and the area wallowed in squalor.
However, the place still held much fascination in local folklore, and every now and then, groups of kids would ride their bikes to the area at night and stare into the deep dark mouth of Dead Man’s Alley. Few ever propelled themselves down the unpredictable terrain. In fact, many talked a big game about conquering the alley only to balk at the last minute. This bizarre stretch of land instilled fear into even the most intrepid of souls.
I, however, lacked any form of intrepidity. While I would never admit it out loud, least of all to Warren and Lou, the stories spooked me and I had no intention of ever riding down the alley.
“You’re going down the alley or else,” Warren stated with finality.
“Help me, plz. My bf wants to kill me N I have no wear 2 go!”
Matt stared at the text message on his Samsung Galaxy S8 with a mixture of shock and surprise. The buzz and ding that came from his device alerting him to a new message cut abruptly through the pleasant silence of his quiet night, which he’d spent sitting at his computer desk playing video games and keeping up with social media. When he heard the alert and saw his phone vibrate on his desk, he picked it up and checked the number but didn’t recognize it. He did a quick Google search on the number but found no useful information about it. As he read the message, he ran his fingers through his disheveled black hair and scratched the back of his head.
Matt sat back in his seat, astounded and baffled, clueless about how to respond to this anonymous texter.
Three weeks ago, the twenty-six-year-old had moved into this first-floor apartment on Laramie Street in Northeast Philadelphia. The apartment was part of a row house whose two main floors had been converted into small but comfy living areas. The place had a straight-through layout, with minor separations to section off a living room, an office area (where Matt’s computer desk sat), a kitchen nook, and a bedroom/bathroom. This represented the first place that Matt had ever occupied by himself. He ventured out of his childhood home in Levittown so that he would be closer to his newly acquired job as a computer technician in a small neighborhood shop, his first full-time job after obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in CMIS from the local community college.
Since moving in, he had kept to himself, preferring to lead a quiet and uneventful existence. He rarely set foot outside his apartment, aside from going to work and doing his food shopping. He chose instead to interact with the world through digital methods of communication, since he considered real world interactions too unpredictable and volatile.
As he continued staring at the text on his phone, a wave of chills surfed through his body, not just because his apartment lacked adequate heating to keep out the bitter February cold, but also because the phantom message lingered eerily on his phone’s screen, beckoning him to answer. Matt weighed his options.
I don’t know anyone around here, he thought, so if someone’s messing with me, it’s probably some random psycho loser with nothing better to do tonight than to sit around in his parents’ basement, send out fake texts, and basically be a nuisance.
With a twinge of morbid curiosity and a shiver of nervousness, he typed out his response: “What’s the problem?” He kept it short, not wanting to dive head first into deep waters right away. He punched “Send” and his response appeared in an orange dialogue bubble under the original message, which was in a grey dialogue bubble.
Matt stared intensely at the luminescent phone screen as he awaited a reply. The sound of silence, accompanied by the rhythmic buzzing of the fan inside his computer box, filled his ears.
Suddenly, another ding and buzz heralded the arrival of a response. Just under Matt’s question appeared the answer: “My bf is drunk N krazy N when he come back I know I just no he goin 2 kill me!” Matt inferred from the broken, incorrect grammar of the response that the person on the other end of this discussion was either truly distressed or, should this turn out to be a hoax, lacked basic typing and writing skills.
Another ding and buzz and another message: “Will you help me plz????”
Matt felt his chest growing heavy as he realized that these messages could really be an authentic cry for help and not just someone getting a sick thrill at his expense.
He promptly texted back: “Can’t you go to a friend’s house or somewhere safe where he can’t find you?”
A minute of eager anticipation mixed with jittery dread elapsed until the familiar “ding” and buzz returned: “I have no wear 2 go. I know he find me if I run from him. Plz plz PLZ! Will you help me?”
Matt contemplated if the best course of action for this situation was intervention or ignorance. He finally settled on the former after a minute of tense deliberation. He would rather help this anonymous victim in some way than hear on the news about some poor girl who died after a severe beating inflicted upon her by her crazed boyfriend.
“Where are you?” he typed back. “I’ll leave right now and pick you up.”
“Meet me @ the corner of Rawn N Frankfurt.”
“Wait!” Matt quickly sent. “What’s your name and what do you look like?”
“Tabitha Wagner. Youll no me when you c me. Plz come soon.”
No. For the last time, I am not crazy. I never intended for the situation to end the way it did. All I wanted was someone to talk to. That’s all. I thought I had everything under control but apparently, I didn’t. Something unforeseen occurred that put me into the position I am in now.
This all started when I began working nights. Where I worked and why I worked so late into the night doesn’t matter now. I just did my job quietly and didn’t bother myself with trying to get chummy with the simpletons who also worked my shift.
Every night (or very early morning, I guess, would be more accurate), I’d leave my building and catch the same bus at the same time with the same pudgy, mustachioed driver behind the wheel.
For a while, it was just the two of us on the bus at that hour. I always sat in the back, alone, with just my thoughts to keep me company. Most of the time, I was fine with that, but every now and then, I’d get that feeling like I really wanted someone to talk to, commiserate with, bitch about the state of the world or our favorite sports team or some broad who hates the hours we work.
At one time, I considered chatting up the bus driver, but he didn’t seem very friendly, so I spent the ride in silent solitude, much like how I spent my mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Yeah, you could say I was a loner, but I preferred it that way most of the time. I had no family or friends so I had to learn to be all the company I’d ever need. Yet, every now and then, the desire for a conversational partner would gnaw at me and become a nearly overwhelming obsession.
Then, a month or so ago, a new guy started coming onto the bus only a stop after mine. He was a tall drink of water and dressed well—not overly nice; just not in the ragged, seen-better-days clothes that I wore. He was a bit scruffy but that only added to his allure.
He always sat across the aisle a few seats ahead of me. He seemed like a smart, affable fellow, and on a number of nights, I meant to say something to him. However, I’ve never been comfortable trying to engage someone I don’t know in conversation. I mean, you just don’t know how some people will respond to unsolicited discussions.
That first set of nights, I didn’t say anything. We got off at the same stop but we never looked at each other. He went off through a park toward the nicer end of town, while I walked on toward my apartment project in the not-so-nice end of town.
Eventually, one night not long ago, I worked up enough courage to say something to him. He boarded the bus one stop after mine, as always, and took his usual seat. I had planned to walk down and sit across from him and break the ice with something like, “Say, this bites, don’t it?” You know, the sort of thing that people who ride the bus late at night would say to one another.
I waited a minute or two before standing up and taking two steps forward. Then, a ringing sound broke through the silence. It was muffled at first, but it got louder when the guy pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. It was one of those flat-screened devices that flickered like a strobe light as it rang. The guy quickly brought it up to his ear and started talking into it. I sat back down, defeated, as I watched the guy carry on his conversation. He wasn’t loud or obnoxious but I was still annoyed. When our stop came, he got up, exited the bus, and walked his usual route home, all while continuing his conversation on his phone.
The same thing happened over the next several nights, and my annoyance over this only grew with each passing night. However, the more I pondered the situation, the more I realized that I didn’t really hate the guy. How could I? I didn’t know him. He could have been Charles Lindbergh or Charles Manson for all I knew.
No, I didn’t hate him. I hated his cell phone.
And I’m back with a new short film. Check it out!
For your enjoyment, here is my latest short film: “Two Birds.”
I’ve been meaning to write more in here, but then I get caught up in other things and I completely forget. Anyway, I’ve been making some good headway on my new novel. After being unable to write in it for several weeks, I finally had a good weeks’ worth of writing in it, and I think it’s coming along nicely.
Also, last year, I wrote a script for a short film called “Two Birds,” about an assassin tasked with killing her best friend. I was never sure if I’d get around to making it, but yesterday (Saturday 3/25), I filmed it with the great Alexis von Schwedler and Andrea Staiger. Both gave it their all and I can’t wait to edit it all together and put it out there for everyone to see. Until then, here’s a sneak peak picture that Andrea shared on her Facebook page:
In the “I wish” department, I’m hoping I can get out to see “T2: Trainspotting” next weekend. I loved the original “Trainspotting” and watched it more times than I’ll care to admit. I’m very interested to see how the sequel turns out.
That’s all for now. ‘Til all are one.
New short film.
So, back on December 27th, I officially turned 38. I spent the day hanging out at home for a while before going to Gino’s for dinner with Freda. Then the two of us went to see “Rogue One,” which was excellent. All in all, a good day.
So how was year 37? Not a year I’ll recall with much fondness. I finally started getting out of my creative rut and have been considering new options as far as a career goes. However, a number of things happened–both personally and professionally–that made it a hard year and are still complicating things as I move into a new year. I really don’t want to get into it all on such a public forum, but let’s just say that certain events occurred that made me re-examine my priorities and I’m now in exploratory mode, looking to see what else is out there.
That’s where I feel 2017 is headed for me: a new beginning. Somehow, some way, I’ll re-invent myself. I feel like, for too long, I got away from who I really am, and this year will be all about rediscovering myself. The status quo just isn’t cutting it anymore. I need a bit more out of life. I want to live in the moment, and not in a “Grab life by the balls, bro!” sort of way, just in a “finally enjoying myself” mode. I want fun again. I want laughter again, the type of laughter where I let happen from beginning to end without thinking about the moment when the laughter ends and you’re like “Okay, that’s it, now what?”
To truly enjoy every moment, without reservation. That is the goal.