We sat down on the bench in the common area outside like we so often did, sitting so close I could feel the warmth of Ellie’s leg radiating on to mine.
I moved my gaze to meet hers, and the sun was streaming down on her, turning her usual hazel eyes into a bright green. She looked beautiful, but then again she always did.
She shifted her body to face mine, bending her leg as she propped it up on to the bench. A bright smile spread across her face before she spoke. “I can’t wait until next year. We’re really going to be starting our lives Liam,” she said excitedly.
“Eh, I think I’ll stay here,” I joked.
She nudged me playfully with her elbow and rolled her eyes. “Please, Mr. Engineer. You’ll be ten times more successful than me. How could you not be excited?”
Part of me was excited, but the other part of me was going to miss her, because she would be pursuing her art career in New York, and I would stay here, in Michigan. I didn’t want to, but it made sense since I had already landed a job here when I graduated. “You’ll make millions with your art,” I assured her.
She blushed, and I laughed. She had always been so modest when I complimented her, yet she was the most confident person I knew. I had been around her countless times when people had made fun of her for getting a degree in art. She had always shrugged her shoulders and simply said, “It’s what I love.”
“As long as I don’t end up like Maya, I’ll be good.” Maya was her best friend, and until last year had been pursuing the same degree as Ellie, but she dropped out to marry her boyfriend who lived a couple of hours away.
“She seems happy though.”
Ellie raised her eyebrows, looking skeptical. “Yeah I guess,” was her simple response. “But don’t you think it’s kind of scary?”
I didn’t think being happy was scary at all, but the risks you had to take in order to be happy. Those scared the hell out of me. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. It’s just that they’re so young, and she like, made him her everything. You know?” Ellie had always been independent, so it didn’t surprise me that thought scared her.
“He makes her happy.” Like you make me happy.
“I decided I want to make myself happy.” Her voice was filled with confidence as she continued. “I don’t ever want to depend on somebody else for my own happiness. I want to make myself happy by following my dreams, and loving myself. I want to be able to make myself smile, and laugh. I want to take care of me, and make myself proud. I want to be my own everything.”
I watched her closely and could tell that she meant every word. She knew exactly what she wanted out of life and nobody was going to get in the way of that. She wanted to be her own everything, and somehow that made her everything I had ever wanted.
I had to be able to get a job as an engineer in New York.