Song 37 ♪ It's Alive

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I'd always thought that there was a proverbial carrot being dangled in front of me, always in sight but never within reach. I'd never stopped to think that there might be two carrots, or more, each one taking me down a completely different path. Somehow I'd put myself in the position where I was always chasing that elusive thing. Self satisfaction. Happiness. Acceptance. The concept that I could maybe get this through different means had never passed through my head.

Even though that night I made a decision to ensure I didn't lose my scholarship, I hesitated. I knew I was a total noob when it came to music, and that I was maybe wrapped into the newness of it that I placed a lot more value on what we were making than it surely deserved. There were people out there who had this dream since they were kids. Who practiced every day, every night. Who wrote more songs. Played in more events. Had more fans. Were better. And yet... and yet.

The Youtube views count continued to go up. It didn't mean anything. It wasn't like our video had surpassed Despacito. It wasn't also like I'd let the numbers get to my head and inflate it with a false sense of grandness. It was just mind blowing to see that something I participated of had an impact on other people.

Did I really want to chase the other carrot? The one that would lead me down the path of a quiet life at college and a quiet life thereafter?

"I understand your fears," Addy told me the night before the recital and the contest, as we sat on our beds and chatted. "You have a lot at stake right now, but have you wondered what is it that you really want?"

I thought about it, and the answer shocked me even though it had been there all along.

I didn't want to go to college because it was one of my goals in life. I just-

"I want to get away," I said.

"From where?" she asked. "Or from what?"

I squirmed, picked up the hem of my pajama top and fumbled with it. "It's going to sound really bad."

"Try me."

With a deep breath I said, "From my ma."

But she just nodded. "I feel you. My parents and their divorce are driving me crazy and all I can think of is getting into college and then a job in fashion, preferably in Italy, where I won't be able to hear their drama for a while."

I smiled a little. "I'm sorry, it must suck for you."

Addy shrugged as she braided her hair. "It's not that bad, they're just two big babies."

"Okay, but, how do I do that?" I asked her, worrying my bottom lip.

"Be a big baby? Easy, blame everybody else for your own mistakes."

"Um, I mean, the going away from my ma part, without being a complete and ungrateful child?" I sighed and rubbed my temple. "I've always thought college is the way and now there's the band... but it's stupid to think that this band will go anywhere. I mean, as soon as we graduate everybody will go their way. And even if that weren't the case, so many people are trying to break into the music industry that I don't even think Winters money can get Ash where he wants to be."

"I don't think that's what he wants. His dad doesn't seem like the pampering type of guy either."

I cringed at the memory of the senator saying things that though subtle made my blood boil. "Yeah, you're right."

"Besides," she added, pointing at me with her finger. "Sure, not everybody makes it, but what makes you think that you guys don't have what it takes?"

My mouth opened, but I didn't know what to say. I'd just never had anything easy in my life. I didn't just decide, bam, I'm going on a diet and the pounds magicked themselves away. I had to work hard and in the end, not get results. It was a recurring thing for me.

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