Did You Hear?!

Bring Bring, The sound of the phone ringing painfully surrounded the room like nails to a chalkboard. Jessica rolled over quickly to put it to an end. Slowly picking up the phone without even looking to see who it was, “Hello”, she said lightly. The light from the early afternoon sun beamed directly into her face.

          “ Hey girl, hey!”

From that response it could only be her best friend, Alexa. Every Saturday afternoon she called around the same time with the same intent: gossip. Sitting up in the bed, Jessica finally got herself together. Noticing that her boyfriend Dino’s side of the bed was empty, she stretched her legs across the bed.

“What’s up love”, Jess finally responded.

“Jess, you do this every Saturday. Get Up!”

“I’m up. I’m good. What’s up?” Rolling her eyes, Jess already knew the real reason for the call. She wasn’t much of a gossiper but sometimes it was entertaining to hear.

“You remember Tina from senior year?”

Jess took a second to think. “Wait...yeah I do. We had a design class together. I remember she aced our final project, even though she had just done it the night before. I failed.” Jess felt those same feelings trying to resurface as she told the rest of the story. “I worked so hard on mine too. It was so important to me. This guy from the industry came in that day to see all of our work. I was so upset. Anyway, why?” There was a dead silence on the phone.

“Oh yeah. Never mind then. Forget I said anything.” Alexa tried quickly to change the subject. Jess was all the more interested now.

Through much demanding Alexa had no choice but to tell her. “Ok, ok. She just moved to LA-- all expenses paid. Apparently, from that very same project you guys did last year. The guy called her and set something up for her to do some design work for his company. He’s allowing her to create her own collection.”

Jess couldn’t believe it. “How do you know?” she asked Alexa.

“Of course it’s all over her social media. Also, her cousin Martin and I are friends. He was telling me all about it. He said she goes out there next week.”

Jess felt a bit uneasy. She didn’t want to be too upset on the phone with Alexa so they said their goodbyes. Jess quickly hung up the phone and eased herself back down into the covers.  She wanted nothing more than to push her artwork all over the world. Jess was a jack of many trades but painting and clothing design were her true passions. If she could somehow incorporate the two and never have to work again, life would be perfect. “This isn’t fair,” she mumbled into the pillow.

Rolling over to look at the time, Jess noticed it was already 1 o’clock in the afternoon. She got out of the bed to try to make some type of breakfast before it was too late. Walking into the kitchen, Jess was startled when she noticed Dino already flipping pancakes.

“Ooh, you scared me! What’s up, babe? That’s for two?” she asked pointing to the plates of food.

“Of course. Hey you ok? Usually your convos with Alexa last much longer than that.”

Dino knew Jess too well.  “Guess what?” she blurted out. “Remember that girl, Tina, I told you about from my class last year?”

Dino didn’t remember but he knew that didn’t really matter at the moment. She continued without his response. “The guy who came to see our designs just offered her an opportunity to create a whole collaboration for their line. It’s a start up company, but it’s still such a good opportunity. They are paying to move her to LA and everything, man. It’s not fair. She didn’t even work hard on that.”

Dino poured more batter into the pan. He didn’t even look up from what he was doing. “That’s actually pretty cool, babe.”

“What? No, it’s not. That should have been me. I can never get anything that easy. There’s always some struggle or I have to work so much harder than everybody else. I’m tired of always pushing. When can I just coast?”

“Jess”, Dino said casually. “That’s just not the plan for your life. You ever think about it like that?”

“What do you mean?”

Dino continued to watch over the stove, “You can never judge your life based on other people. It will only bring you down in the end. You only see the big picture and not all the tiny specs that make up that picture.” He sat down at the table with her. “You’re young and living in New York City. You know how many people would love that opportunity? People have bought your art and you’re creating more. Is it a whole collaboration? No. What the universe has in store for you won’t be the exact same as someone else. See what you have; what we have. Count your blessings and be grateful.”

“But still!” Jess still felt a sense of sadness.

“Oh hush”, Dino said getting up from the table. “Be grateful for your own purpose. Just like you should be grateful for this breakfast that someone else put in work to make for you.” He put the plate of food in front of her.


Toure's Second Lesson

R-r-r-r-ringgggg!! R-r-r-r-ringgggg!!

The bell rang and the students rushed the halls; running towards their festive weekends. Everyone except Tourè. He still sat in his seat pondering about the assignment his teacher gave them. He stared at the chalkboard and reread the board over and over again. His teacher came over and tapped him on the shoulder, seemingly waking him from a daydream.  “Tourè, didn’t you hear the bell? You’re usually the first one out of here?” Mrs. Owens always spoke kindly but with much candor.

“Yes ma’am, sorry.”  Tourè began to leave his seat.

“You look like you have questions Tourè. Do you understand the assignment?”

“Yes ma’am. You want us to tell you why we love ourselves and how we love ourselves.”

“Exactly Tourè, now don’t make it harder than it has to be. Why do you love yourself? How do you love yourself?”

Tourè left as confused as he has ever been before. Not because of the questions Mrs. Owens asked. The questions she asked should be easy to answer. However there was a question that came before that, that he had to answer. “Why do I love myself? Do I love myself?” Then he thought, “How would I know if I did?” He thought and thought and thought, “Does anyone love me?” He thought so hard he almost walked past his house. Luckily his dad was on the veranda and called his name as he was walking by.

“Tourè!” he called. Tourè’s head popped up and he immediately realized where he was. He looked at his dad and smiled as he opened his gate.

“What’s going on in that head of yours, son?” his dad says with a chuckle.  Tourè sighed, “I was thinking about the homework Mrs. Owens gave us this weekend.”

“Well you have the entire weekend to figure it out so don’t worry too much son,” Dad replied.”

“I think I am going to need the whole weekend to figure this one out” Tourè was sitting on his Dad’s lap laughing now.

“I’m sure you will get it done Tourè, you always do.”

“Thanks Dad” Tourè said as he hugged his father. A moment of silence passed. And then Tourè asked a question.

“Dad can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, son. What’s up?”

“Do you love me?”


“Do you love mom?”


“Do you love grandma and grandpa?”

“Yes. Tourè you know these things. And they love you too.”

Tourè did know all these things but he was working his way to something.

“Do you love yourself?” he asked. His dad looked at him surprisingly.

“I have to”, he said. “See son, if you don’t love yourself, you cannot love anyone else. You have to learn yourself and care for yourself.”

"But, why do you love me then?" Tourè exclaimed.

“Tourè you are one of my biggest blessings,” Dad said as he grabbed Tourè’s arm to provide comfort.

“The reason I love you is because of who you are; thoughtful, smart, creative, curious and most of all my son.”

“Son, you might not know it yet, but I see great things in your future.”

“I love you for who you are today and the special person I know you will grow to become. Everyday I watch you work to grow into the best person you can be. I love you because you love yourself.” You must not compare yourself to others. You understand me, son?” Dad finished with a reaffirming smile.

Tourè shook his head yes and his dad continued.

“When you love yourself you embrace yourself. Your hair. Your skin. Your heritage and your history. And if there is something you don’t like about yourself or if you make a mistake, do not hate yourself for it. You can always work on becoming a better you. But you must always love yourself. No matter what.”

Tourè then looked at his Dad with a smile and embraced him with a big hug.

And thus the lesson was learned.


The Meeting

It was a bright summer day. The skies were clear without a rain cloud in sight. Dino and Jess both woke up with a good feeling about the day. It was as if he knew that on this day the odds had to be in his favor. What could possibly go wrong on a day like this? He strapped up his best dress shoes and tied up his tie with the best attempt of a Windsor. Rushing out the house in such a hurry he almost forgot his memory stick. This was his ticket. He kissed it, reached it up in the air and shoved it in his pocket.

Dino had interned for 360i, one of the top ad agencies, this past spring. They had finally offered him a position. This was his first assignment. He was instructed to create a layout design to revamp a client’s website. He had done all the research, knew all the facts, and to his belief the design was perfect for them. Dino’s stride into the boardroom was confident. Soon after he finished set up, the client walked in.

“Dino, I presume?” He heard a voice ask as his face was drilled to his laptop. He rose quickly, adjusting his tie. “Yes. A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Randall.” Dino extended his hand firmly. The presentation began. Mr. Randall drilled Dino in a way that he was not prepared for. Questions arose that had nothing to do with the product itself or anything he prepared for. An hour passed and the presentation was over. Mr. Randall tapped on Dino’s shoulder and shook his head. “We’ll be in touch.”

Dino knew he flopped. He messed up big time. This was his big break to prove himself. This industry is not the type that just lets you crash in the beginning. He decided to take lunch early and get some fresh air. He sat down on a cold wire bench unable to really eat.

He noticed a young woman sitting next to him with her head collapsed into her palms. Noticing him staring, she turned toward him in curiosity. “Hey, you alright? I’m Jessica by the way.” Startled Dino responded, “Dino. It’s been a long day but I should be asking you the same thing.” She chuckled. “Yea well same here but I’m alright. At least I will be.”

Still stuck in his misery, Dino asked, “But how do you know you will be alright.”

She looked up at the sky, squinting from the sun. “My mom always used to say, Jess, in failure there is power. When you feel like you can’t go on and you’ve hit the bottom, just take it as a lesson. You have to learn from your mistakes to know which way to go next. If you can take it as that you will always have the upper hand.” Jess looked back at Dino, “So that is why I say I know I will be alright. It hurts now but if I use this to my advantage it won’t hurt for much longer.”

Dino just looked at her and said, “You have no idea how much I needed that.”