Melisante, Bride of Fire!

The following story is a fan-fiction character background for a game that I will soon be playing.  The game will be played in the Forgotten Realms setting; a Dungeons and Dragons game and a product of Wizards of the Coast.  There are usually two ways I write backgrounds. The first is in this form below, illustrating out how my characters life has gone. It is a way for my to understand the things that move them. The second form, is one I have used on this blog in the past. I use the character as a storyteller to relay a small part of their life to you. Again that also allows me to step into the head of that character. But both help me in different ways and on occasion I will do both.

I had the idea for this character and her background for a while, but have only just tonight put it to paper.  It came surprisingly fast for me, though I did have motivation. So this story is dedicated to Sarah, my unyielding task mistress and one of my girlfriends. *grins and winks* Hope you enjoy.

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Born: 1350 DR Tear of the Morningstar

Melisante Fatin el Zubaida is the second daughter born to Sayyid Hamil el Zubaida and Ziya Nur el Zubaidak.  Sayyid Hamil el Zubaida resides as one of the Sultan within the country of Calimshan, and heads of one of the oldest noble families of the country.  The families’ holdings control much of the spice and rare herb trade inside Calimshan and control a fleet of trading vessels that export those goods and others to the outside world.  The families main base of power is centered primarily out of the great city of Calimport, and in that city of intrigue and danger, is where Melisante grew up.  One could assume that the life of a noble is easy, and perhaps it is so when compared to the street trash or slaves.  But the nobility have dangers in their lives as well.  Those dangers are as life threatening, if not more so, then the ones that the low born endure.

When Melisante was born she was “touched by the flame.”  This was a gift that had not been seen within the family for a few generations.  She had unnaturally red hair, red eyes (just the iris, not the whites), and a birth mark that appeared to be flames upon her forearm.  Well aware that their bloodline had been mixed with the Firelord in their earliest days, the Sultan called for the priests of Kossuth to verify his daughter’s signs.

The priests quickly confirmed that the baby was blessed by Kossuth and would grow-up to be something not quite normal.  With that they offered the family a tutor, to appear when the child became five years of age.  That person would help guide Melisante to the path she needed to follow.  They explained that children blessed by the Gods directly had predestined futures, and that she should be allowed to pursue the path she wanted.  Kossuth would guide her steps and the family should obey those whims.

With those loose restraints, Melisante became quite wild.  At the age of five she received her first tutor from the Temple of Kossuth and quickly ran through four others until one was able to rain her wild spirit in.  Kalistin the Red Crone was an elderly priestess of Kossuth that had no patience for children.  She had a firm hand and was allowed the freedom to use it.  Melisante fought in those new restraints, but eventually succumb to the Crone and started to learn at last.

Though as the girl grew up, it was apparent that she was becoming vain and believed she was superior to those around her.  Melisante also showed some ability with divine magic and even at a young age was starting to grasp some orisons.  But she was beginning to be unreasonable in all things and perhaps a bit delusional.  At the age of eleven Melisante believing that the fire was at her control, stuck her hand into a religious pyre and kept it there through the pain; until she nearly lost it.  That lesson shook her world and the grasp of her abilities.

The Red Crone noticed each of these flaws.  In the wake of the Melisante’s stupid attempt, she believed it would be best to remove the child from the family and country.  A priest of Kossuth and more importantly a student in training to be a priest must be live a life without.  Until she acquired a middling rank within the church she would never be allowed to own possessions of her own.  Aside from what she was given, she would own nothing personal.  She also would have to obey all her betters within the religion.  Calimshan would not be a place inductive for her to learn such lessons.  The power of her family, and position within the countries politics would never allow her to fully become accepting of her duties and the obligations that came with them.

Melisante’s hand was forced to heal naturally, to teach her a lesson.  When she was fully healed, the Red Crone brought her on a pilgrimage.  The two of them went to their faith’s greatest temple, the Flaming Brazier within Thay, based out of the city of Bezantur.  Thay had many of Calimshan ideals; strong magic, slavery, harsh leaders, and political undercurrents.  But it was far more intense and had a much more dangerous Kossuth upbringing.  Students and priests would live or die by their choices.  The Red Crone believed Thay to be a perfect proving ground for the child and that the hardships she would endure there should make her that much stronger; if she lived.

Those years were quite dark.  One does not survive to the higher echelons within the religion of Kossuth if they are meek, weak, or kind hearted.  All acolytes fight for places within their superiors eyes, and often there is blackmail or freak accidents when insults fly or jockeying for position gets blocked.  The faith believes in burning away the weak, some students and teachers take that to heart.

By the age of fifteen, Melisante had been poisoned, beaten, burned, stabbed, raped, and had been forced to endure many other degradation.  But she had survived and had become stronger for it.  Many whom had committed acts against her, even priests, had not lived long after.  Because of this many began to fear her and believe that she was touched by their God.  Such were the rumors that spread, with the help of Melisandre and the few close friends she had made.

That year was also the first year she was deemed suitable to go out representing the temple.  Her first mission was to provide healing support for the invasion of Aglarond.  Melisante joined hundreds of others to work for the armies of Thay.  The faithful worked always in groups and were a vital part in the support services.  Melisante began to practice daily with her weapons, and watched many of the soldiers who did the same thing.  She found a thrill in using them more and started to see the real reasons in why she needed to know how to wield larger weapons.  Melisante soon found some teachers among the troops; most would claim it was their duty to disabuse her of the priests “wrong” fighting styles; so they all said.  But she enjoyed their attentions and took what she could use from the lessons, which improved her combat immensely.

Melisante worked in and out of Thay for years.  She continuously proved herself and always returning from deadly missions made her stand out.  Those people blocking the path of power she walked seemed to falter or die.  After ten years of struggling to advance as a priest, she finally achieved a middling rank among the temples acolytes.  With this new status, she was finally given the freedom all the lowest priests desired.  Now she would be able to acquire her own wealth, power, and all of the things she desired in life.  A life of poverty and complete acceptance to all her superior actions was over.

Not too long after achieving her new rank, Melisante and the Red Crone returned to Calimport.  Her father and family soon swept her back into society, praising her return and her fast advancement among the faith.  Melisante began to teach a few classes at the local temple and quickly embraced her new place within society.  She was even courted, by the low and the powerful alike.  A life of wealth and power was at her fingertips if she only was to take it.

But soon she began to grow uneasy and untested.  During that time, she began to have vivid dreams and daytime visions.  Melisante saw a land of cold, with blizzards leaving travel nearly impossible and a cold that seemed to crack the very trees that lived there.  It was a land without much and in desperate need of fire.  But she knew that in a land such as this one, fire was life; especially within winter.  She began to gather information about the churches reach within the lands of the north and found that it had nearly no temples in the far north; like the land of the silver marches.  The land was rugged; overridden with orcs, giants, and dragons; there was little high society and political rankings.  But the more she read about this backwater place, the stronger her dreams were and the more numerous.  The people and places became so real to her.

Melisante studied up on the people, the places, and the languages common within those areas.  She plotted out the route she would take to get there; most likely leading her through the well-known city of Waterdeep, where her family had some businesses as well.  But it would be easy for her to get to Waterdeep, and then she would have to find a way to travel northward.  With this new adventure driving her and the knowledge that she was being led by Kossuth’s fiery hand, Melisante began to grow at easy again and started to feel determined more than anything.  After months of plans and studying, she finally departed her home.  The trade ship Flaming Sands, one of the ships from her family’s northern fleet took her north to her new life.

 

Melisandre3

 

Written by TJ Winter

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The Incredible! Jhango Khalas

I Jhango have never been one to stand still when others are acting. When you consider what to do before doing it, you most aptly will turn up dead. And who wants that? Why is Jhango so special when compared to these other people around himself? It is true that his breeding had much to play in who he is today, but it is also the case that he is a trained killer; reformed of course! Jhango does not kill for sport or pleasure, he try only to kill when he is angry. This is good! We all think so Jhango is sure!

So Jhango’s story must be told in quick fashion, we all know that he is just stopping by for a drink and nothing more. –chuckles– The town guard are most likely going to blame Jhango for the fires in the Wardens Corner. Why is this? Well it is simple, he is who he is, and because of that people will fear Jhango! It is fine, Jhango does not worry about such things. So he drinks and tell you his story!

Twenty-five years ago, Jhango was born in Tyraturos, Thay; the city of spices! Yes, the place with all the evil wizards! It is true! Jhango’s mama and papa were both esteemed members of the noble cast within Thay; but they were normal. That is to say that they were not casters, so within Thay they were still under the Red Wizards authority. But here comes their pride and joy! Jhango was born and so loved; he was also gifted with the magic of the world!

Now… this is where the story gets interesting! The wizards identified Jhango’s talent early on, and stripped him of his beloved parents to become more! It is true, Jhango was taken away; do not despair for his parents gained much power for having a son join the order. Some say that they road his coat tails into higher societies then they had once known, even as nobles.

You must now understand that to become a Red Wizard one must train under other within the order until they are ready. There is also much trails and subterfuge; it is true, this mean that Jhango had to fight for his life among the other apprentices! Yes! Little children fighting for power and placement among their betters! Such things today that tears at Jhango’s soul, and makes him a better man; NO! a good man for the rest of his days!

For years Jhango faught for his life, and learned all that he could. At the age of 19, he was ready to be inducted into the order! He was tattoo’ed and given the gifts… that all Red Wizards enjoy on the night before their induction. It is true! These gift, are gifts of the flesh, the drink, the soul, or whatever perverts the wizard. Some you know can be quite sick! No Jhango will not speak of his own, was private you understand!

So is Jhango a Red Wizard? He sees your eyes thinking this question! Do not fear, drink drink! Jhango is not a Red Wizard, well perhaps technically he is; but he was never inducted! Just so! He never said the words! Which means, it is not so! Ahh he sees you understand now, Jhango is right! So why did he never say the words? He did not want too!

Jhango was not about to be tied down, so he snuck out! Yes Jhango is quite sneaky when he wishes to be. He would sneak out all the time in his youth. Getting around the masters and other apprentices was a key reason Jhango made his way to the top! It is so Jhango’s new friends! It is so!

Jhango sees you wish to know what he does now!? He sees you do! He does! Jhango is a hero! It is so! He saves beautiful woman, children, and on the occasion ugly ones as well! He has no real preference, he just would rather save the pretty woman. Jhango can see that you understand! What man would not want to? So Jhango fights evil, banishes warlords, steals the hearts of all woman and pretty men, and is incredible at doing so!

But always remember that heroes are never given their due! Particularly from guards, other jealous men, and legal systems. Jhango knows that the best place to be after doing an incredible good act, is somewhere else! It is so! At times, yes… Jhango must say that he has to throttle guards, but think of all the good that he does; Jhango cannot be locked up! It would allow evil to triumph!!! It is so! So… Jhango remains free at all costs!

So Jhango’s friends! Remember about the hero you met! Jhango does not do appearences, remember this is not so! But he must go, or else he will have to throttle more guards. Jhango does not want this, it would sadden his big heart! Next drinks on Jhango!!! –Tosses some gold at the bartender and sweeps out of the bar with his cloak swirling behind him, and the scent of saffron in the air–

Written by TJ Winter

The April Fool!

I am the April’s FOOL, so I hate this day and have for years. But should I think of myself as such? It troubles me that some of my worst days or memories have happened on this single day. And I guess it has never stopped, which makes me hate it even more this year. I speak about each and the first one is a hardest one for me.

It was 1998, it was my first year at college and I was living life at the time. I meet many woman, found my first real relationship, and enjoyed my life for the first time in ways I had never experienced. I am very introverted, and that year had been building all through high school. With each year in hs, I became more and more open socially. But when college hit, I threw down so many walls and just went with things. Life changed and evolved.

I had been friends with a woman for months with possibilities of more. We had flirted and gone deep in our conversations. Though the majority of our friendship, I was in a relationship with another woman; so nothing happened. I have never gone beyond flirting while in a relationship; I am not built that way. She was also about seven years older than I, a nurse that worked many hours, and had a son. These things I believe gave her little time to devote to our friendship, but when my relationship ended; she became much more involved with wanting more from me.

She wanted more commitment from me. Till that point, I had made it clear that I was in college and not completely looking for something lasting. Though like others in the years to follow, she wanted more and I guess thought she could get it from me through getting closer. A week before April we had sex for the first time. If that had not happened, maybe this story would never take place. But who is to stop a 19 year old man, from reaching that level of physicality?

So we finally got that close. It was in her car at the time, at some vacant lot that she knew. I did not want it to be in my dorm room, since I had a roommate. And she did not want it in her house, since she had her son and babysitter there. After that night, I did not hear from her for a week.

She finally called late on the night before April 1st. She was somber and told me that we needed to talk. I could sense her seriousness and quickly asked what was wrong. She asked if I remember how she got pregnant with her first son. From what she told me they had used protection and she still got pregnant. I remembered and said yes, feeling the awful dread of the moment. She said well, I am pregnant. What a wild thing to hear when you did not plan it, took precautions and were just beginning your adult life!? Being young and stupid, I responded reactionary with something to the effect of “what are we going to do with it?” or maybe “what do you plan to do with it?”

She did not say anything for a minute or more. I do not know, time sort of froze in my memory of the events. Then she came out and said APRIL FOOLS! Gosh what a bitch, I jokingly said and we chatted for another minute laughing things off. I did not hear from her for at least a month later and when I did she was engaged. She slowly broke off communication with me within that year, but I do remember that she had a baby sometime within that year. I knew the man she meet within a week of me, and she married him within a couple months. I was happy for her and never thought a single thing about the events.

It was not until a few years later when the events hit me. Maybe I should say the possibility of what might be hit me. I remembered our conversation in more detail and tried to remember when her son was born. Could it be? To this day I do not know. She gave up her phone, email, and moved. I at the time did not even remember her last name. So I had no way to know, to even ask if it was true.

It hurts me to imagine that I might have a son out there. One that I have not known, and was not given the chance to know. Yes I reacted badly, but was it so bad? I did not tell her to go F*** herself or I would have nothing to do with the child. I was just surprised and scared. But coming from a home where my father abandoned us at a young age… I could never imagine not stepping up as a father. Again, it is not a sure thing and is only speculation that it might be true. I think all would agree that I have strong reason to speculate about this situation.

April Fools Take 2 & 3.

So now that we have address the main and largest reason for me to hate the day of April 1st. Let me go further into the days that came after. There have been two other events that stick out to me. One that was upsetting and costly. Another that was a tragedy and loss, but indirectly to me. There is another sad day that occurred on April 1st … which is the last one in this present year, when I got kicked in the gut or in my pride. But we will not go there.

Let us talk about the April 1st that happened next in my life. It was only a couple years later. I was in my early twenties and driving with a girlfriend to see another friend of ours. It was a beautiful day and we had been enjoying ourselves. No I do not mean drinking, but just out and about all day. We were traveling along a road leading up a mountain (more like big hill in these parts), and a car cut me off. I had to slow down to let him by, but the car behind him was on his tail and driving blind because of it. That collision nearly totaled my truck, I cracked my head pretty bad and my girlfriend the same. Luckily nobody got really hurt. The driver of the car was fine, and her old boat had barely any damage compared to my pushed in front end. But who could feel happy about that type of event? Not I.

The next April 1st was a loss, which was some years later. A friend of mine that had been a great help in the years I searched for a spiritual path died. She was in a car accident and the damage caused enough internal bleeding that she eventually died. Let us say she had a good life and knew who she was; and helped others to find themselves.

So that is the skivvy on why I do not like April Fools. And history has only taught me that the day still continues to be harsh for me. Directly or indirectly things continue to happen.

Another Night Awake (Day 2)

Another night where I dream of her before I sleep… if I sleep. I am sure I will, as I did last night when my body gave out and my mind was exhausted. But again that will not come for many hours I suspect. My wolf is a fighter, thought we believe she pushes herself too far at times. I hope she sees that she is not alone and does not have to act as such. Tonight I think about laying with her all night, being one of two that will flank her and support her through the night, as we do in life. In the morning we would go to the beach that she loves and watch her surf the day away. I close my eyes now and I can see the smile that would light up her face. I feel a warmth at that image, one that comes from the joy of knowing someone you love is happy, and a warmth that was lite by spark generated by the curve of her lips… one that always ignites an inferno within my soul.

A Night Awake

Can sleep truly come when your heart is filled with worry? I can feel my bodies need to sleep, but my mind is racing. I am projected to that room where she sleeps alone and in turmoil. Thought I know that as I write this short post, her heart now walks to be with her and show her the beauty of the world when she wakes. Those hearts are the beauty of my world as well right now, and while I strive to better myself I feel guilt that I am not there to help yet.  The guilt I feel I hope pushes me to be better, and to focus on more than just academia alone; my health is as important to my future as that. With hope one day soon I will be able to give support to them both; beyond the limitations that I now endure under from a distance.

Two Flowers Amidst a Sea of Gold

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

by Robert Frost

 

 

Robert Frost is by far my favorite poet. I sometimes wonder how deeply others feel his poetry, it is taught to us at an early age in New England. Though it might not be so any longer. Many of his poems speak so much to my heart and I tend to read them on many occasions. Some reason I do not always remember them fully, until a moment happens here I see the word so clearly. Today, the poem I posted above, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” speaks loudest in my head.

 

sunrise-from-the-keys

 

The sunrise I post here speaks volumes to why his poem came to me today. It was taken by my ladies down in the Florida Keys. Though these eyes have yet to lay witness to the sight themselves, I know that they will do so in the near future. How beautiful could this be to behold? I can only imagine and dream of it now.

For as long as I can remember the ocean has been a place that could grant a respite to my mind and soul. It started when I was a child and my family had little money for vacations. But I had a wonderful Aunt whom owned a beach house in Kennebunk Maine. We used that as our vacation going up there several times a year. My aunt was a lonely woman and extremely generous with her hospitality for family.

It was my tradition during those visits to spend a great deal of my time at the ocean. Though I found that the times I loved most were at sunrise and sunset; or at night when I could walk along the beach and dream of possible futures. I found that the ocean was a relaxing force for me and as I grew older I visited it especially when my mind was in chaos. It is unfortunate that I have only been to the ocean once a year for quite a while now. But when I consider that soon I might be living near it, within a short walk away; I wonder how that sort of peace of mind will change me.

Today while those that hold my heart are at sea, I look forward with so much hope to a future where I can unburden my soul and body of the damage I have inflicted upon it. The year to come will be a huge change in my life. I find myself both anxious and excited for what the outcome will reveal to me and to how it will shake my world to its foundation; I am hopeful.

Why do I think so much about a golden sunrise today? Well today is Sarah’s birthday. I have mentioned her in the past a few times, she is ….well my girlfriend. Though I have said she was Michelle’s (my other girlfriend) girlfriend, and hopefully mine one day as well. But today and since this is my blog I will be adventurous or daring. I guess in many ways she is not yet and I do hope that one day she will consider herself to be mine as well. But I simply state that when I think of her or when I talk about her to my family or friends; it is in fact as my girlfriend. I see her and Michelle as one person, one voice, one heart, one body; and while they are separate people and I treat them as such, their bond is such that they are as one. That is how I see it, so they have my heart and my thoughts always.

So Sarah, have a wonderful weekend and a beautiful birthday. Enjoy the magic of that sunset again tomorrow and bask in all the love that Michelle gives you. And my hope is that you feel my heart touching you as well on this special day, and weekend.

TJ

Hope

These words are dear to me, and took me a long time to find. They took a year and a half to fully discover, and weeks of thought to find in truth. You can say I was tasked recently to find the words to give what my heart and soul feel. That is not a hard thing to do for me, and while many things come easy to write down; this was not. It was not that it is a hard task for me to think about my feelings, but it is a hard task for me to find the perfect words to express them. Even with all of that, I feel the work I have produced is flawed and to written without perfection.

My girlfriend Michelle is a proud Native American from the Lakota people. Her blood roamed the lands of the North American Great Plains long before that name put to these lands. While my blood is a calico reminder of mostly Western Europe. My father’s side immigrated from Ireland (grandfather) and Germany (grandmother) two generations ago. My mother’s side is a mix of French, Irish, Romani, and even a little Native American; the Wampanoag people of Southern New England (I believe there is more as well, be we take pride in these bloodlines the most). But while my family has Americanized, hers still holds fast to their tribal traditions.

It is my understanding that the Lakota people gain names somewhere after birth, and those relate to animals that their souls are linked with (I apologize if my wording of these things are incorrect, and will change them once I verify this with my girlfriend). But Michelle also names people in her life with Lakota words or with their meaning as well. So following this tradition I thought I should name her something, a word that suited what I thought about her. The first thing to come to my mind was Hope. Why this was what entered my mind, I can only surmise:

Hope

to see a bright future

filled with laughter and love.

Hope

to find inspiration

a guiding light to drive passions wild.

Hope

to taste desire

with a thirst to learn all its mysteries.

Hope

to believe in someone

have a trust that will never shake or shatter.

Hope

to have my faults bare

without expectation that they will disappear.

Hope

to simply love

freely and openly, without denial or shame.

 

The Lakota word for Hope, is Wakta; she is my Wakta.

Quite simply, Michelle has given me something that I thought lost. Something that I have not had for many years. To my best recollection, I have not had a true relationship for at least a decade. Sad is it not? I have had safe relationships, with women only online whom I had no chance to meet. I would lie to myself and I was very convincing, telling myself that becoming emotionally involved with these women was the first step to moving to something real. But somewhere inside I could not open up fully, and I could not let anyone into my world. I was ashamed of what I looked like, the years of depression dug me a physical hole in which I still today have to climb out from. I felt worthless, not succeeding in life and the constant failures weighs heavy on a person’s soul. Perhaps it was fear of rejection, or fear of acceptance, and if so I have been afraid of women for years now.

At some point before our friendship found a new level, I had hit rock bottom. Being alone is something that shatters a person, and scourges the very soul. It is a pain that cannot be pushed aside, and eventually shouts for change. So at the bottom of that pile I resolved to take a chance. I told myself that the next time that a relationship was possible, I would open my life to that person and wait for acceptance or laughter. I admit that this mainly has to do with physical stature. I have learned over the years that out of all the qualities of a person, physical appearance is the most admired by most. I would say, and I would say that through my own trial and error that an extremely high percent of people care mainly what someone looks like, and not who they are or their other qualities when considering possible partners in life.

Michelle has never seen the flaws that I myself see. With her I laid my cards on the table, as a way to challenge her and find yet another woman unworthy of any short of trust. But she took those cards, and placed them securely in her pocket as if they were nothing to her. She even laughs at them, as being nothing truly worthy of the title of a flaw. I shook and I thrashed under those restraints for a long time, I remember one day sending her picture after picture of me as I am; fat and completely unappealing in my mind. Then she complimented me, and thought I was cute, handsome, pretty eyes… How I asked myself? This is not logical! It defied all of the trials I have had to endure over the years and quickly all of the doubts I had were shattered into dust beneath her will. She walked through the walls I had built up, and made a home within my heart, one that she builds upon daily.

Today I would say that she has brought light to this humble life of mine. A light that has cut through the darkness, and the fog. One that inspires me to grow, while ever drawing me ever closer. I have found it impossible to remain dispirited with her presences close to mine. It matters little that that presence is absence in body, for it is truly the mind and the spirit that shines so brightly. It burns strong enough from afar to evoke profound feelings deep within. Feelings once lost, and found again; but found to be completely alien to this heart, reaching into it in ways that is uniquely hers. Ways that I have no protection from, nor desire to counter at this point; and I believe I be the wiser for it, for we cannot live truly unless we allow ourselves that luxury.

There are many things that we can grow so used to, or ignore and begin to take for granted. Financially successful people can take for granted that they can buy the best things, quality food, go on vacations, and live lives that others could only dream about. Many relationships also reach this level. When you always have someone there to support you, to love you, to put you above all other concerns, they forget that not all people have such a gift in life. That can be a relationship with a family member, a friend, or a lover. Other things can be taken for granted also, such as health, looks, and more.

I think it is easier to take things for granted when you have never experienced something else. I have experienced many lows in all these categories. But I know that others have found lower places, extreme ones, and in many places in the world there are lows I can barely fathom. I have also found small successes in some of these areas, for a time, perhaps even higher when it comes to successful relationships with family and friends. Their support of me has been consistent and everlasting, even when I had forced a distance between us.

For me, I believe that growing used to something is lazy, is a way for us to not be aware of what we have in comparison to what others have. Should we dwell on these points? No, but we should be thankful at the least and not take them for granted. Have I been lazy in this fashion in the past? Yes I have, to my disappointment. But I am aware of it and of my other flaws. I think that awareness will guide me in the future. I have planned to never take for granted my successes. I plan to never take for granted what Michelle does for me, or what she means to me. I plan to forge a relationship with Sarah that is equally important and unique. Michelle and I have hopes, that Sarah and I can find these within each other. I plan to never take for granted the relationship that we are building, to stand solid behind the honor, loyalty, trust, and love that has grown between us. Such qualities that we have learned in life from our families, and through our own seeks of ourselves. And last, I know that the little things are as important as or even more important than the big ones. Michelle, if I ever falter in these tasks, you need only let me know to correct my failing.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou