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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Broken Seeking The Broken

This is Stevie. One day I happened to be in an animal shelter with my mother and a friend of hers, and I met this beautiful little kitty. She was friendly, she was adorable, and the moment I held her she was all snuggles. I wanted to take her home the moment I saw her. The only problem was, she couldn't see me. Stevie was a blind cat, who would most likely just sit there in the shelter awaiting an uncertain fate. It was for this reason most of all that I wanted to make Stevie a part of my family.

I know it sounds weird, but I always wanted the pets with the deformities. When I was a kid, I'd look for the goldfish no one else wanted...just ask my parents. I once brought home a goldfish with a weirdly bulged eye, naturally named Popeye; and I loved that fish. I loved it because it was different, and because it was an outcast just like I was. I wasn't exactly popular in those dreadful years leading up to Eight Grade. Kindergarten through to the end of Seventh Grade, I was an Odd Duck, who was plenty picked on and cast out. I was the stereotypical fat kid, and I didn't like one bit of it. I did love animals though, and I enjoyed having fellow outcasts to help me not feel so bad about being outside the masses. Nowadays I enjoy being outside of the pack. I admit I'm a weird person with a hidden mean streak, and a dark sense of humor and justice. I think it was those experiences with my outcast pets, because no matter what I loved them. I was sad when Popeye died, and I looked for another one just like him. Sadly, I didn't have much luck. I'd still love my next goldfish, but I'd always be hoping one day I'd have another Popeye.

Fast forward a couple years, and there I was...embarking on the treacherous seas known as "relationships with the opposite sex". As you'll all remember, my friend Dana and I had a tumultuous couple years as we explored our feelings for one another right until the well tapped out. Whenever we weren't at each other's throats though, we were actually pretty good friends. Part of that was because, as it was with my pets, the fact that both of us were "broken" helped us get along. Looking back, with the exception of my girlfriend (whom I've known since Eighth Grade) I've always been attracted to the unstable, the interesting, and yes, the broken. Several of the girls I've pursued have had issues with their parents, whether it was one or both of them. Most of them had parents that had separated, and this in turn was what made them broken.

I'm not saying that broken people aren't functioning, good people...truth be told, I've only run into a couple broken persons who were downright bitches. Other than that, broken people are normal, because ultimately it's normal for a person to be a little broken. Everybody is broken in their own way, to their own degrees, and with their own baggage. If no one was broken, we'd all be perfect all the time and that would get extremely boring. However, from these experiences, I can say I've learned one big lesson: relationships with broken people are not easy. In order to have a working relationship with someone broken, you have to really understand them. My problem with these relationships was that I didn't understand the person I was dating too well. I rushed into things, and took things too fast, which 9 times out of 10 leads to a collapse. I felt even more broken after things ended than when they began, if that was even possible. The reasoning? I wasn't careful, and I broke myself. No one else did it, and half of my break ups were because of this fact. If I had given more thought to things, or if I had gotten to know the person more than act on a mere attraction, maybe I wouldn't have screwed things up so royally.

If you're lucky though, you'll get a second chance. I've gotten that second chance with my current girlfriend, Danielle. The first girl I ever actually went on a proper date with, was Danielle. We met in Eighth Grade at a newspaper meeting, and the first time I ever saw her I was instantly attracted. I just had to ask her out, and I did. For two months (forever in Middle School terms) we dated, talked on the phone most every day, and before I knew it...she dumped me over the phone. She said it wasn't me, it was her. Looking at this know, I know that was a lie...it sure as Hell was me. I took things too seriously, and she must have felt pressured. Middle School isn't a time for pressure, at least if you have anything to say about it. She did, and she said it, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really upset afterwards. This was one of the first times I saw the darker side of myself. The bitter, vengeful, wounded side I'd take on whenever I was dumped out of nowhere. This wasn't a side of me I particularly enjoyed, but in my young and stupid mind there was no other place to go. After my attempts at espionage, my talking behind her back, and my outright hostile behavior, we stopped talking.

A couple years had passed, and I can't remember whether it was high school or college that got us talking again, but we did end up starting a friendship again. It was nice to be talking to her again, and I still had the hugest crush on her and she knew it. This lead to some amusingly awkward moments, one of which had me asking her if I could kiss her only to be told "no". (She later told me I should have just done it instead of asking.) Through College I'd talk to her, and she'd come to visit me a couple times in my Freshman year at Drew University. She played pool with me (and kicked my ass), she had lunch with me, and on her second visit she presented me with a mock Oscar in celebration of the fact that I was performing in the musical "Ragtime". As our friendship went on, we had our separate love lives, which were as tumultuous as one could expect. Actually, her's didn't seem that bad, whereas mine was...well it was interesting enough that there's a really good book in it.

In the summer of 2006, Danielle’s mother has passed away after a long fight with Cancer. I had known her mother was sick for about as long as I had known her, and the only reason I was invited to the wake was because I was kinda sorta flirting with her middle sister. (It went nowhere fast.) I remember seeing Danielle that day, meeting her then current boyfriend, and thinking that I was completely jealous that this guy was dating someone I still very much cared about. I would later be told that this guy was a complete jerk, and she’d been waiting to break up with him for quite some time, finally getting around to it late ’06 – early ’07. Which lead to that randomly fateful night of April 10, 2007. She had asked me to hang out, and I hadn’t expected it. I said yes, and before I knew it we were meeting in the upstairs study area of the local library. She’d just finished her college class of the evening, and sat in front of me with her homework, while I tried to avoid looking like I was staring at her. I nervously darted my eyes around the room, and surprisingly enough so did she. I remember this because it’s exactly how we acted when we first met, those 9 years ago. I took it as an indication that I had a chance with her, that I could actually not be nervous and hit on her. I did hit on her, but I was still nervous. Nervous enough that I couldn’t believe it when we wound up at the beach, sharing our first kiss in the 9 years since we’d met, and on our way to a stable relationship.

After getting to know her, I realize that she’s just as broken as I am. We’re both broken people, and broken people usually have the best relationships with other broken people. When you’re both broken, you’re more understanding of each other’s quirks. You understand why the other feels the way they do when certain things come up. You share your deepest secrets, and the deepest cuts in your soul to that person, who can’t help but kiss them and make it better. You don’t think you can change the world, but you swear to that person that you can do everything in your power to change theirs, and for the better. You want to make sure they never have to break again, and in return hope to God they don’t break you either.

Which brings me back to the story of Stevie. Sadly, Stevie and I were not meant to be. It was ultimately decided that bringing Stevie into our home was a bad idea, due to the fact that we had two other cats and a dog in the house. It would have been hard for her to live with us. I accepted this harsh, but practical reality; even though part of me still wishes I'd brought that heartwarming little bundle of fur home with me. I can only hope she has a caring and safe home right now, and I'll always remember that night when for one brief moment it looked like I was going to have Stevie for my own. I was fixated with the song "Hallelujah", in particular the Rufus Wainwright cover; and I lied on my best friend's couch, anxious to bring her home and crying about how I couldn't bear for her to be stuck without someone to love her. The broken do indeed seek the broken, and it's through other broken souls that we make ourselves whole again. It's been covered in literature, in popular culture, and it's something that's familiar to us all. That in and of itself should qualify it as a universal truth. No matter how much things suck, or how outside the fence we feel, there's someone just as broken as us waiting to pick us up and mend us.

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