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Heads or tails?
by Beau Burriola - SGN Foreign Correspondent

"I'm moving to Florida," Tigger told me bluntly.

For a while the words rolled around in my head waiting to set in. When they finally did, the weight began to pull my whole world down until I didn't move, my breath slowed, and my eyes and heart fell to the floor. I came over to his apartment thinking we'd have dinner as we always did, clean up the kitchen singing and laughing like we always did, and then maybe drive around and cause a ruckus on the streets of downtown Corpus Christi just as we always did, before sitting on the beach looking out at the water until traces of sun hit the horizon.

At 19 years old, I'd always thought about leaving the hells of Texas, but in my dream we'd both go off into the sunrise together. That's how the universe jacks up your plans sometime.

"I've got a good job there," he told me with excitement in his voice. "I'll make good money and I'll be able to sit on the beach every day." He always sat on the beach. He used to tell me that if the world ends, he wants to be sitting on a beach when it happens.

"Do you understand?" he asked me when dinner was over. I did. I didn't want to, but I did. I admired him more for having the courage to make a decision about chasing a dream in spite of anything in the world, even me.

I never saw Tigger again.

"I'm moving to Seattle," I told Billy bluntly. I started the sentence looking at him but had to look away before finishing. I didn't plan to tell him on that night sitting on his San Antonio balcony with my birthday dinner and cake, but my present to myself that year was to get the hell up out of Texas. When he asked me what I got myself for my birthday, I told him.

At 20 years old, I just knew that if I didn't leave right then I might have gotten sucked into the Texas black hole that keeps people there forever taking care of family.

"I'm staying with a friend until I get a job there," I told him. "I'll be able to see the water and mountains every day." He was quiet so I just kept on speaking. Even if it didn't help him, it made me feel better.

"Do you understand?" I asked when the dinner was over. He didn't say a word for a few moments and when he did start to speak, it was through tears. I'd never seen him cry.

"I know you've wanted to leave," he said. For a while we stood there on the balcony, his head buried in my neck and shoulder.

I never saw Billy again.

"I'm leaving," I've said and heard. "I've got to do this, do you understand?" Two voices from my past, marking the same plea at different points in time; from ear to mouth.

There have been events in my life that have led me to curse the universe for being unfair, for hurting me or making me go through the pain of having been hurt. Then there are times when, years later, I'll find myself in a situation that is eerily familiar, just on the other side, causing the hurt or creating the experience. Is it all connected?

It's those little pieces of time, when I've seen both sides of the coin and walked both sides of the path, that I finally understand the feeling and hurt and reasons that each side has, and I begin to take a little more care how I step.

Sometimes chance is bigger than fate and life becomes a coin toss. When it does, it helps to keep in mind that every coin has two sides, even the sides you haven't yet seen, and that sooner or later you will find yourself on the other side of whatever coin you flip.

Beau Burriola is a writer who likes to read other people's old journals.
visit Beau at

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