I wake up every day where I always said I wanted to be and still I wonder if he’ll ever love me like I think I need him to or if I’ll ever again feel as proud as I did telling people I was moving to New York.
He cooks and cleans and walks our dogs in the morning so that I can get that extra 15 minutes of sleep I swear I need to be happy and I spend my time talking myself out of doing what I love most for the fear of finding out that I could get everything I’ve ever wanted out of life and still not be happy; terrified to find out with certainty what I’ve always known to be true: I don’t know how to be happy.
So I am starting my 28th year of life trying to be positive, reminding myself daily how lucky I am just to be breathing, no matter how shallow the breath. I am starting my 28th year by climbing out of a big, dark, freezing, pool of depression and I’m sitting here, clothes still drenched in sadness, and I am trying. I’m walking on sunny sides of streets, I’m drinking more water, I’m brushing my hair at least half of the week and I’m crying during the second to last song at Soulcycle because it’s the only healthy release I know.
I am trying – to kick, push, or even doggy-paddle my way to the other side of this.
A year ago I wrote, “Standing on the corner of Greenpoint Ave., I looked up at him and thought, I am not worthy. I am less than.”
But time has passed and my hair has grown back down to my hips and we both live in Manhattan, together, and he admits standing in our kitchen that he is not worthy and while he cries I close my eyes and tell myself, You are not too much as a result of his being too little.
I’ve been here before, in this position. It varies, it evolves, but I’m always here: an emotional fetal position. Crippled by the idea that the men I love could ever betray my trust with girls I’ve spent my entire life trying to stand apart from.
I don’t know a rush like the one I get speeding down west side highway in a yellow cab with the windows rolled down. I smell salt and beer and loneliness lingering in a heavy summer air; all familiar and comforting reminders from my past that I haven’t stood still all this time. I’m no longer stuck or searching for a sense of self in boys or bottles or hiding in the distance between my present and future. I am whole. I am home.
Fall used to remind me of a boy in gray sweatpants driving around East Lansing, Michigan where the world seemed so big and my future so certainly suburban. But now it’s skyscrapers and skylines you see on postcards and people who do what they say and say what they mean and mean it when they say they love me. Fall, like that boy, used to take me from blooming, to wilting, to frozen-freezing-and most often numb to all feeling for an entire Winter’s time. But now Fall reminds me of a girl who wasn’t sure she could, but certain she should try. And she did, and she tries every day to be better than she was the last time and every Fall since has reminded her how good it feels to let the dead things go.
You’re not nice enough to yourself…you never really have been. Even when the world saw you as stone cold and borderline cocky it wasn’t because you stood rock solid in confidence, it’s because you were empty and all of your insecurities were ricocheting in your rib cage, because you were dead inside; empty and freezing and barely surviving and the world so easily confuses cold with brave. But you’re not brave, you watch the cement as you walk because the light hurts your eyes and you’ve forgotten how to look directly at something so bold. You buy your pants in the next size up because any fabric holding onto your hips makes you regret what you ate for lunch and is yet another reminder that you never did look like the type of girl he always liked, as if you could ever forget. Brave hearts don’t spend the winter hibernating like you did, reaching for warmth from hundreds of miles away while shivering in an empty bed. Brave hearts are free and worth following, but you wear these chains like accessories, staying stagnant and a slave to your own sadness.
Some days I wake up sad. I didn’t go to bed angry, hurt, or even hungry but I wake up starving. Starving for sunlight, for substance, for something that fills up all my empty parts. Something that makes every day stand out from the ones that surround it, something that keeps me from blocking days, weeks, and months from my memory. But then I wonder what happens when I find it, what happens when I’m full? And I remember all of the times I thought I was full, but really only full of habits and half-assed love . Stay hungry, sweetheart. Satisfy your cravings but stay hungry and stay hunting until you find what satisfies your soul.
We’re such different people, but still, somehow there is this one small part of the universe where only the two of us exist and we meet perfectly in the middle, but not often enough, not nearly enough.
I rode your roller coaster for years, our relationship a theme park I made a home. There’s a reason roller coasters last three minutes on average, because who can handle more than that? Who can stomach the drops and the tremendous resistance pushing you backward while you’re trying your hardest to move forward?
A moment to live for: it’s Christmas time in Detroit and I’m sitting in my best friends living room located in a 1920s apartment on Jefferson that her and her boyfriend rent together. He throws St. Paul and The Broken Bones on the record player and he, his two friends, Sarah, and myself all decide that “Call Me” is the song we need to hear right in this moment. In the moments that follow the bluesy tune dances on our ear drums while we pass a bowl full of weed around the room which I have Sarah light for me every time it lands on me and we sip Soft Parade out of bottles that are still wearing the winter chill they caught during the walk from the car to the building and I look out the window at the Detroit river and all that Windsor, Canada offers just on the other side and I remember all of the times Sarah and I crossed the border as teenagers to drink and dance in bars and have sing alongs with homeless men playing acoustic guitars on the street, a street we’d walk down hand in hand once the jäger hit us. And I realize that’s just one of many streets I’ve gone down with her by my side and it’s no different here on Jefferson, or on Broadway in Soho, or on a dirt road outside of a stilted mansion on the island of Kauai; Sarah always reminds me that I’m right where I need to be.