Hi.

Wow, that was a lame start. Even for me. Forgive me, it's been awhile. Ok, a long while. I guess that's why I have no clue how to start this. Oh whatever, I'm just gonna jump in...

How are you? Pretty silly question for a letter, especially when I don't really expect to receive anything in return, but I still have to ask. I still want to know. I think about you a lot. All the time. Especially now, with the trees growing their leaves, the grass glowing greener, and all the flowers blooming everywhere. With spring time arriving once again, reminding me of the last time we saw each other. The last time we spoke. I can't believe it's been a year. Can you?

Man, a lot has happened. I know that comes as no surprise. But it has. I guess I'll just start from the beginning. I'll start from when we last saw each other.

When I left New York, I went back to Dad's in Newport. After a couple of weeks, I knew it was time to move. I had to leave. And there was really only one place to go. There was only one place I knew I was once truly happy in and if there was any chance I could have it again, I had to go. Thankfully, I was right. California is an unbelievable place. I'm not in L.A. like before, but a little further south, in San Diego. It's so gorgeous out here. You wouldn't believe it. Every day is perfect. Well who knows if it really is, but it seems that way, and I guess that's all that matters, right?

I'm not alone out here either. Dad and Glen switched coasts too. They're both living separately in L.A. I guess Dad really loved his old job out here, and luckily they took him back. He sounds and looks happier every time I see him. And surprisingly, that's quite often. More often than you'd think, even though he's roughly three hours away, we both still visit each other as much as we can. It's awesome having him in my life again. Like really in my life. He's always been there, he's always been a rock for me. But now it's different, we don't have to worry about the past. We can look to the future, and enjoy it, together.

On the other hand, I have no clue why Glen came out here. I've pretty much given up on figuring out why and decided it's because he just likes the sunshine better out here. Haha I know that is down right ridiculous, but then again, it is Glen. Can you argue with my reasoning? In all seriousness, though, we've become closer than we've ever been. He's dating this girl Madison right now. I don't know about her, but apparently they dated before. I find it hard to believe, she's just so...bitchy, for lack of a better word. We don't get along as well as one would hope, but we both make an effort. I make an effort for Glen. I'll always make an effort for him. Ever since he made sure I wouldn't crumble, ever since he caught me from falling that day in my mom's apartment, I'll never turn my back on him again. There's no way I'll ever leave his side. I'm his sister through thick and thin, no matter what. Cause that's exactly what he did for me. When I was at my worst, when he had every right to walk out on me, he didn't. And I'll always do the same for him.

It's kind of amazing when I write it all down like that. How far we've come.

I've never really known why they both followed my lead out here. I've never cared to ask, to be honest, because when it comes down to it, I love having them out here. And that's all that matters. Whatever reasons we each had to move here, our reasons to leave the east coast were the same; it just held too many bad memories, housed too many painful truths.

Painful truths. Was wondering when I'd get into those, get into that elephant in the room. You know, I'm still working on that elephant, working to see more of him. I knew it back then, in the city, that I'd never fully see him. I knew and I still know I'll never fully understand what happened to me back then, back in my old life. Now I just have to come to terms with it and move on. Or so my therapist tells me.

Yup, that's right, I'm in therapy. Shocker, shocker! I think everyone with a brain knows it's the best place for someone like me, with all my glorious issues. And in all honesty, I've really come to love it. That's not saying it wasn't a straight struggle at first. The whole opening up, really expressing myself thing. Really reaching deep inside to get to the truth. To find what I really feel. How I really feel. It was hard, I had never really done that. Well when it wasn't in the heat of the moment, when I had to actually process it all. But Dr. Kazmark has really helped. She goes by Lois and she's such a kind, but strong woman. I know this is going to sound unbelievably corny, but she makes me feel safe. Safe to put myself out there like that. Our sessions have really helped me over come so much. That's not to say there aren't still hurdles. There aren't still mountains to leap over. But I'm gonna do it. No matter what I have to go through, or how long it will take.

Lois wants Mom to come out here for a session or two. However, that's kind of hard to accomplish when she still resides on the other side of the country. But that's not really fair, it'd be hard even if she lived downstairs from me. Oh God, that'd be more than hard, that'd be a nightmare. I guess you can sense that I'm not quite good with mom yet. But who would expect me to be? Just like everything else, it's going to take time to understand it all. To understand all that went down between us. I hope I understand some day, but I fear I never will.

We've barely spoken since that day in the living room. A call on my birthday, a card for Christmas. Both from her. It's really really difficult to face her. Even now, even after all these days, months, how far I've come. That's still the biggest river I have to cross. Dr. Kazmark thinks talking to mom with her there could help. Could be the only way. I'm inclined to agree with her. I don't think I could do it on my own, and as I said, I feel safe in her office. Safe enough to start swimming into that dirty and dark water.

I actually called mom last week to set up a date. She agreed to fly out by the end of summer [yikes! but I don't know how she feels. I can't tell if she's touched that I'm actually including her in my life again, or if she's terrified. Maybe she's both. I guess I just have to wait to find out.

If I hear back from you, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. I mean, if you're even interested.

I almost forgot to tell you about Clay! He's doing so well. Like above and beyond any of us. I think it's because of Chelsea. That night, you know the one, when he was out and about walking the streets of Manhattan, he found her. They went through a lot when we lived in Los Angeles. They were completely in love, living a perfect coupled life together, until she became pregnant. Until she lost the baby. She miscarried right around the same time I decided to go through...with that stupid procedure. I really hate having to write it out. Having to say it still. As you can probably tell that's still an issue with me. Facing it all. Lois is really helping me on it, but man sometimes it can be so overwhelming.

Anyway, that whole situation obviously really threw them, Clay and Chelsea, especially Chelsea. Going through that traumatic event, needing all the comfort in the world, and the one person who could give it to her most, leaves town. God, I'd be so lost and upset. It's no mystery why Clay was never the same. And what's worse is I still can't even grasp the courage to apologize to him for it all. To beg for his forgiveness. I'm so beyond lucky that he's never made me feel like I have to. But I will someday. Someday, when I'm ready I'm going to tell him everything. Speak every word he deserves. Apologize for all that I so selfishly stole. Apologize for what I'll ultimately never be able to return to him. And for that, for that I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself.

But as Lois says, I have to find a way and if I can't, then I have to learn to live with it. And believe me, I'm still learning.

Clay stayed in the city, he made things right with Chelsea. They're working through their own pain from the past. And let me tell you, they're doing it extremely well. They're really working together, cause they seem happy. Very happy. I'm a bit envious if I'm going to be honest. They came out here last month to visit, have a little vacation from their busy lives. Ever since Chelsea sold a bunch of paintings to some celebrity she's been receiving crazy work. It's so awesome.

And as for Clay, he's in med school, studying to be a pediatrician. I know, how freaking perfect for him? I swear I love that boy so damn much. Always have, but seeing him again, truly seeing Clay come back to life, it hits me so much more. And I adore Chelsea for helping to fill in his emptiness, for coloring his life with her love. She's just perfect for him. It just goes to show, sometimes people are just meant to be together. I don't mean that in a cheesy movie soul mate kind of way. But there are people in this world that just fit, they just click, and if they're lucky enough to find each other, it can be amazing. No matter what they'll endure or battles they'll fight, they still have the ability to make it work. Their love has the ability to rise above it all.

Funny that sentiment is what leads me to the next topic. Leads me to Ashley. Just like you and me, we haven't talked at all. Haven't had any contact, not that I thought it'd go any other way. But still...I hoped. I hoped it would be different. Stupid, I know. She and Chelsea are still really close. I even think she and Clay get along somewhat. Not that either of them tell me anything, which I can't blame them. Chelsea's an amazing friend, and I respect her friendship with Ashley. I'd never want to do anything to make her uncomfortable, or do anything to threaten it. Clay has remained loyal to Ashley as well, doesn't really share any details with me. But I guess that's not completely fair. Why would he when I never ask? I find I'd rather not know. All I need to know is she's still breathing.

Oh who am I kidding? I'm dying to know how she is. Dying to know if she thinks about me as much as I think about her. Cause I do think about her. A lot. More than I care too. It's so strange how I constantly worry about her. I can't get over it, how concerned I am for her. Sigh. I still dream about her, you know. The dreams are far more vivid now. I see her pained face, I hear her sobs, but she never sees me. She just walks through me, she just talks over me. It's torture, Brynn. I wake up in such a cold sweat, heart beating a mile a minute, a hint of tears shed on my stiff cheeks. Somehow I always manage to fall back to sleep though. Which is a blessing I suppose, with how sleeping used to come for me. Well to be accurate, how it never came. I must admit, it's nothing short of amazing to sleep again. To sleep with ease most nights.

Some days I think Ashley will never go away. And then most days, I'm smart enough to know she isn't going to go away. I'll never let her go. Lois helped me see that. Took some time, I tell you. A lot of "why can't I just stop thinking about her"s came from me. Ok, they were shouted, screamed, almost begged from me.

But it's just something I have to learn to live with. And once again, I'm still learning.

Upon Lois' careful suggestion, I decided to send Ashley a letter too. Sent it a month or so back. I was so scared to send it, Brynn, I was trembling all the way to the post office. Her letter was pretty similar to this one, except I included something. I debated it so much, was so unsure if it was a good idea. But finally one day I grew a pair and went through with it. I sent the tape. You know the one I made at Lacuna, where I explained our relationship. I know, I still don't know if it was the best idea to send it. Actually I've questioned it every day I haven't heard back from her.

I just thought she deserved to hear it. Deserved to hear how "her" Spencer felt, you know? Everything that girl felt for her, cause you could hear it on that tape Brynn. You could absolutely hear how much she loved her. You could even hear the regret in her voice, even then. You could hear it wasn't an easy choice for her, it wasn't as easy as Ashley thinks it was.

I really had to let her hear that. She has to know how much that girl missed her, how much she loved her too. But as I said I haven't heard back from Ashley, so I guess she didn't want to know. Not that I expected to hear from her.

But, I still hoped I would.

There's a part of me, granted it grows smaller every day, that keeps thinking maybe...just maybe we can overcome it all like Chelsea and Clay. Someday she might pick up that phone and say everything I've felt. Say I miss you and let's try it. Let's start over. Cause I know Brynn, I know she felt everything I did back then. I've never felt anything like it since. It was amazing. Even though it was laced in so much guilt and pain, situated with in unbelievably terrible circumstances, there was still something beneath it all. There was a connection. Such a human and intense connection. I almost felt like we could speak without words. We could look into each others eyes, become so lost until it'd hit us. Until we'd realize we weren't lost, we were so far from lost. Because what we suddenly found in those eyes was home. Well at least it felt that way for me, and I'll always believe it felt that way for her too.

Sigh, here I am getting all romantic again. Me, the romantic, can you believe it? Lois says I have such passion. It took a while for me to see it, but I think she might be right. And if you think that's crazy, guess where I'm going next fall? San Diego City College. I started thinking about it months ago, when I first moved out here, realizing I needed to finally do something with my life. Lois suggested college, I immediately opened my mouth to protest, and stopped when I had nothing to say. There was nothing I could say to argue it. Why not, right? Better now than later, better now than never.

And don't laugh, but...I think I'm gonna try my hand at writing. I've started these journals, sometimes I'll read parts to Lois if I feel up to it, and she thinks I have...wait let me get this right...talent. Now I definitely wouldn't go that far, but I do love it. I really really love it. It's so much easier to express myself through writing than speaking. I couldn't imagine getting to do it all the time. Getting to do this for a living. So who knows, I guess it's just something else time will have to reveal to me. Something else I'll have to wait to see what will come of it.

But, strangely, I don't mind.

As for now, as for the rest of the summer, I'm gonna keep plowing ahead. I'm gonna continue bartending at Hamburger Mary's, a gay bar and restaurant in Hillcrest, which is where I also live. Actually it's kind of the gay district in San Diego. Now I'm not saying I'm a lesbian, I have no clue what I am. To be honest, it was the first place I found an apartment I could afford in. But it feels like home, so I'm not going to question it. And I don't think I need to. I'm happy here.

Man, it's true. I am happy here. I'm happy at Mary's. I've met so many great people here. I don't think I can really complain about life too much, Brynn. I get to walk to work every day, and some nights I can smell the ocean in the air. I wake up to a warm reassuring sun every morning, and I have a roof over my head in case the sky ever decides to open up and rain. Which it rarely ever does and it kind of makes me sad. I miss rainy days.

But then again, I think I've seen enough rain. I've been through plenty of storms the past few years. I think I'm ready for the sun. I'm ready for the good weather. I'm ready for better days. And I really do believe they are just that. These are better days.

You know, I never realized how blessed I am. Seriously, I'm so thankful now that I've truly realized it. Just for everything. For all that I have today. And all that I've lost. Maybe especially what I've lost. Since I'm most thankful for you, Brynn. Everything you did for me, everything you showed me. How you opened my eyes to all of life's possibilities. Since you were the one who always believed in me. You always stood behind me. I don't think I'd still be here today, if it weren't for you. And for that, I am eternally grateful for you.

I'm not pressuring you at all, but I'd love to hear back from you. Next week or six months from now. Whenever you're ready, if you ever are. I think about you constantly and miss you terribly. I worry about you too B. I hope you're doing alright. I'd really love to hear how your life's been. And however it's been, I'm positive it's nothing short of amazing. Cause that's what you are. You've always been amazing, B, and I have no doubts you always will be.

As I said, I have no expectations to hear from you. But then again, you know me, and you know I'm still hoping with all my might I will.

Much Love,
Spencer

P.S. – in case you're curious, and I know you are, the celebrity Chelsea sold her work to was none other than your favorite artist to run to all those mornings. That's right, the one and only Diddy. Funny how life does that, huh? How it relates itself back to us?

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It's been four weeks since I licked the stamp on that envelope and pushed Brynn's letter into the mailbox. It's been four weeks and I haven't heard anything back. I'm not sad. Well that's not true, of course I'm sad, of course I want to hear back from her. But I understand.

Some how I know I'll hear from her. Eventually. I don't know how I know, I just do. Maybe it's because I know Brynn, and I know we'll never lose each other, no matter how many miles and months sit themselves between us.

I wipe off the top of the bar at Mary's, the dirty rag proving the task pretty fruitless, but going along with it nonetheless. It's big and open in here, lots of large glassless windows to patios, allowing the warm air to breeze it's way through. I love it. I've been working the lunch shift on this particular perfect day. It's been busy, surprisingly, figured everyone would be at the beach.

But it's died down now, now that the shifts are about to change. Dinner hour is well on it's way and Missy will be here soon to switch out for me. Glancing at my watch, I notice it's only a mere ten minutes till she's here.

Thank the Lord.

It's been a long day, and I'm ready to walk off into the sunset. Ready to make my way home. As if she heard my thoughts, Missy sweeps in through the open front door. Cropped blond hair looking even more golden with the way the sun highlights it.

"I'll be right there, hun, just give me a minute in the back."

I'm ready to tell her "no worries", but she's already disappeared.

I can say without any hesitation, that Missy is pretty damn incredible. Same goes for her girl, Kate. Those two, they've been my true life savers. They're my two best friends out here. They took a chance on a fucked up lost girl, and have picked her up more times than you'd believe. They got me through brutal months. They stuck around through the hard parts, through a freaking scary storm. And they're still here. They're more than here, they're there. There for me always. I can't believe how lucky I am. But they'll always insist they're the ones who are lucky.

Missy helped me snag this job and we usually share night shifts. Our opposing personalities make us a great team. She's the feisty outgoing one, and I'm the mellow friendly one. However, they've penned me "mystery girl", which one day was shortened to MG. I admit I like it. I mean, why wouldn't I? I'm a mystery to even myself some times.

Anyway, we truly do work the bar well together, and it's always so much fun. Whether we're working or not. Weekend nights Kate will join us up there. You can always count on her and our small group of girls to show up. And you can always count on Missy and I to hop behind the bar and serve up all our favorite shots. Whether we're working or not.

I love it. I love knowing how good life can be sometimes.

I sit with my face held in my hands, elbows holding them up on the empty bar, enjoying the peacefulness of this moment. Enjoying everything that is my life.

Yeah, I'm happy. I never thought it'd happen. I never thought I'd be able to sit back and say it. But I am. No matter what's happened, no matter what might never be, I'm happy. I'm content.

Missy snaps her fingers as she glides in behind the bar, not even stopping as she pecks my cheek. I smile at how close we are, at what we have, and turn around towards the register, going to close out.

And I think it's time I closed out with all of you too. It's time I close out on this story. The story of what brought me here, to this point. The story of how life hit me on the ass, knocked me right over, and then how it somehow reached down and pulled me back up again. Well how it's still pulling me. I still have a ways to go. I'm still working on it, but I don't think I need you guys anymore. I mean that in the nicest possible way, with no offense to any of you. I've loved telling you my story. I'm so thankful for all you guys who've listened.

But I'm ready to do this on my own. I'm ready to stop recording it all and ready to just live it. You know?

It's been a crazy road, hasn't it? I never imagined I'd wind up here. Truth be told I thought by now I'd have more. I thought I might have Ashley here, somehow, here in my life. But I've come to terms with that. Really, I have. Not that I wouldn't love to have her here, but it's ok that she's not. I'm ok she's not here.

I have my own life now. I have things that excite me, that make me happy, and make me sad. I feel life. I care about things. I can't believe how amazing that is. To actually love something. To actually dislike something. To have opinions and values. To not be indifferent towards everything. All. The. Time.

And it only heightens more with each day. I keep finding new things I'm passionate about. I keep meeting more and more interesting people. And I'm so ready for whatever life hands me next. Whatever it has in store for me, I'm ready to face it head on. And I can't effing wait.

Maybe someday, we'll see each other again. But, I'm not sure. To be honest, I think my story ends here.

"One JC please."

Or maybe not.

My breath hitches in my throat as I stare down at the keys of the register. There's no questioning that voice. The sound of that raspy but beautiful voice was seared into my memory the first day I heard it one year ago. I slowly turn, having absolutely no idea what to expect, but finding what I've always hoped to see.

There she is. Ashley. She's sitting right at the bar, hands folded on top of it. She has a crazy smirk on her face, it's small, but it lightens my heart.

We just stare at each other, and really, what else is new? Haven't we always found ourselves right in this situation, just like this, eyes piercing right through each others.

She reaches over and snags a pretzel from the small dish in front of her. Plops it into her mouth and chews it with a smile. It makes the mood lighter than I could have ever imagined.

"Hey" It's breathless and probably pathetic, but it's all I can manage. It's the only word my brain can find with her no more than 5 feet away.

She looks at me for a few moments, clearly thinking something over before she holds her hand over the bar, "Hi..." her voice friendly and innocent, "...I'm Ashley."

Her smile grows as I feel mine do the same, taking her hand, knowing just what she's doing and I'm so happy for it.

"Spencer."

We slowly shake hands before she lets go and leans back on her stool, "It's really great meeting you Spencer."

Her eyes say it all, they look at me as if it's for the first time. As if she really is meeting me, and I smile because she actually is. This time there are no expectations. There is nothing from the past. We're just two people meeting.

Just me and her.

"Same to you." I let my hands spread on the bar, a sneaky smile on my lips, letting her know I know exactly what she's doing. Letting her know I'm right with her.

We remain there for a few moments, as we both realize what is falling on us. As we both feel that second chance upon us. I don't even need to hear what she's here to say, to know what she wants. Because it's what I want. It's written across her face. It's shining in her eyes. This is our clean slate. This is us putting the pieces back together again. And this time I'm going to do it right. I'm going to put them back perfectly. I'm not going to mess this up.

"So Ashley..." I softly begin, eyes hopeful, "...think you might wanna skip out on the JC and get a cup of coffee with me instead?"

She bites the side of her bottom lip, letting her arm hang on the back of her stool, before she gives me a full, nose wrinkle smile, "I'd love to."

I look down on her for a few moments, letting it all fall on us even more, letting the moment sink in. I round the bar, looking away from Ashley briefly to smile back at a deeply curious Missy, giving her eyes that say I'll explain later. However, when I see hers I realize I probably don't have to. I realize she already knows exactly what's going on.

I slowly make my way over to Ashley, the whole moment a little surreal. The fact I'm standing right next to her almost unbelievable.

How did I get here? How did she get here?

But I don't care. I don't care how or why or what's happened. All I know is I'm standing beside her, mere inches apart, and everything around us just disappeared. This is it. This is our moment. This is where we begin again. This is where it all begins again.

And what makes me smile like an idiot is I can feel her excitement too. I can feel everything I feel radiating from her.

For the first time, we're on the same page.

Walking us to the door, I can't help myself, and softly ask, "So you here for any specific reason?"

She gives me a small smile, and a gentle tug on my hand. "To start over."

I let my eyes linger over to hers as I find the sweetest most genuine smile facing me. It makes mine grow larger than ever as I walk us through the door, letting us meet the crisp spring air.

We walk slowly down the crowded street, the warm sun kissing our faces as our shoulders and hands brush together every now and then. We take each step slower than the last. Realizing we have all the time in the world. Savoring every new minute we have together.

And then I feel it. I feel that rain. I feel the hope. The one that hung above me a year ago. The one that has lightly fallen over me the past year. It's now pouring on me. It's pouring on us. Harder and harder. Suddenly, I'm drenched. I'm drenched in hope, I'm drenched in possibility. Just walking beside her, just having her right here, I feel that rain pelting down. I feel it pelt straight down cleansing me.

And as we give each other a crooked smile, I feel that water on every inch of my skin. I feel it go deep inside my chest, right into my heart. Pouring right inside me, changing me, and making me new.

Only moments ago, I thought my story was ending...

I close my eyes briefly, for the shortest moment, feeling that sun right on my face, a smile spreading across my lips.

I had no idea it was just beginning.

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Just wanted to say thank you to all you guys for your feedback and words. They've been beyond kind and truly meant so much. Take care!