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.
I like the way you fall asleep all at once or not at all; this or that, never null. You’re like ‘this’ with so many things, ‘that’ with most things. I don’t believe you recognize gray on a color scale (other than to describe my most often mood). You live in extremities while I do my best to merely exist and I envy you for that. Sometimes, I cannot stand you because of that. You see the world in a way that makes me wonder where your brain stores everything your eyes see and how your heart manages to carry the weight of the overflow. You are better than I am; at most things and to most people. I love you in spite of this rather than because of this and that speaks volumes of my intellectual growth. I, too, used to live with such certainty. But mercury went into retrograde, someone too good died too young, constants became inconsistent…I saw the brightest colors fade and the dullest colors darken and I lost track. I lost sight. But you, I see you most clear; a sort of beacon guiding me 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.
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?
There’s a difference between being sad and missing someone. Sometimes we’re sad because we don’t miss them at all. We’re sad to have realized the reality is that we’re better off without that thing we thought we couldn’t live without, didn’t want to live without. We’re sad that we no longer believe ourselves when we say that it was or will be worth it. We’re sad to have to agree with our friends when they say we deserve better. Because we didn’t want better, we wanted what we had. Mostly we’re sad that somebody or something yanked us from the fairytale we insisted on living in and introduced us to the cold and lonely world of reality, where people leave and love fades.
Inspiration comes from living, from getting out of your bed and into a dress you haven’t worn since before you knew love could strip you of so many things. Things like sexy dresses, a sense of humor, and the need for adventure, terrified of what might be at the other end of something as simple as a good laugh. But you find your way back. You find your way to a new restaurant, a new hair cut, to an old view with a new set of eyes. You’ll see new things in old spaces and you’ll realize the world didn’t stop while you holed up to mourn your losses; it kept going. You have to keep going. Go far, go hard, and when you’re feeling really lost, go back to where you started.