© Kari Helm

I’m not a pack rat but I kind of am.

I blame no one but myself and the fact that every time you seem to really need something out of the ordinary, it’s usually right after having thrown it out. So I save things. This isn’t always the case but nine times out of ten, if there’s any shot in hell, then I’ll keep it. Or if it’s pretty.

I like pretty things.

But sometimes being a pack rat doesn’t just pertain to inanimate objects. Sometimes I can be a pack rat of relationships. I guess it can seem kind of callous of me that I’m looking at friendship as a possible thing to leave uselessly lying around, waiting to be used, and I agree. There is no perhaps about it. It is callous. It is wrong. It is sad.

But it’s life.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost a lot of friendships. Most of them I didn’t have much of a choice in because I was too young and my family moved too much. However, as I grew up I became responsible for my friendships. I started to realize that if I lost a connection with somebody it was because I didn’t put in enough effort or worked towards staying an important person in their lives.

I became accountable.

Good for me.

But now as I begin to lose relationships, it hits me harder because I second guess whether or not I could have made different choices or acted differently in some way. But what happens when a relationship was destined to end? I’m not saying all relationships come with an expiration date but I am saying that sometimes people can outgrow a relationship. I’m not going to get into the hows and whys of the ending of a friendship – there’s too many. Suffice it to say, I think a lot of friendships need to be recognized as being fruitful too both people for only a distinct amount of time.

And the fact is: change happens.

As I undergo so many personal changes in my life, I can’t help but think of my writing in a similar fashion of relationships and being a pack rat. I have one story in particular that I’ve been milking for some time. I have a soft spot for it because it was one of my first good ideas, one of the first storylines I ever shared and got a good response from, and one of the first stories I ever felt 100% sure of who the main character was. But, like any relationship, if you don’t nurture it and give it the true attention that it deserves, then it’ll go to the wayside. Soon you’ll forget the little things that used to be so sharp in the back of your mind and all you’ll remember are the big, less specific details that don’t personalize the story for you like the smaller details do. Now I’m left with a story that, although it’s still close to my heart, it’s more like a stranger now than when I first started.

So the dilemma is: is this one story relationship that needs to go to the junkyard or do I work out the kinks and fight for it? Has its life expectancy ended or are there still more chapters out there that I can learn and grow from? But, most importantly, is the story and its characters still worth the same effort that they once were?

And if not, could the story’s future be promising enough to put aside the past and just write?

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