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.
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.
The thing about New York is the experience. And if you’re not out experiencing the food, or the people, or the sights, then you’re alone with yourself. Probably the version of yourself you hoped to leave in your hometown, hoping you’d start over in the city that dreams are made of. But in New York, dreams don’t just come fleeting in the night. In New York dreams are on billboards and in the people passing you on sixth ave at 8:45 every morning. In New York, dreams become realities every minute of every day. But not in your tiny apartment or your routine subway schedules. Dreams are in the adventure, in taking a different avenue home after work, in happy hours your rent makes it hard to afford. But I promise you need it.You need that overpriced glass of wine and laughs with friends you’ve only just met. I promise that you need to see the city at night and taste the freshness in the air after 8pm on a weekday. I swear it gets you through the never ending loneliness. I promise there is a waiter, or a cab driver, or a drunk man on the street who will tell you something about life you didn’t know before that moment, that moment that you would’ve missed had you got lost in the routine of letting your life pass you by.
A couple of weeks ago I attended Kathleen’s bachelorette party in the Finger Lakes and up until that Sunday night I had no idea what I would stand up here and say. But as we sat around a bonfire that overlooked Seneca Lake I watched burning embers while Kathleen shuffled Taking Back Sunday, Death Cab for Cutie and Dashboard Confessional; songs that we began to sing in loud whispers, afraid we might disturb our neighbors and get kicked out of our house the same as the bachelor party. And as we sang with grand hand gestures I started to look at the houses on the other side of the lake and I looked at my best friend drunk off wine and love and she was laughing. She’s so good at laughing, I’ve seen her laugh thousands of times, but never like this, with grace in her heart and flowers in her hair. So free. THIS, I thought, THIS is what I wish Kathleen and Andrew a lifetime of: belly laughs and hearts this full. Love that frees your heart of all the heavy stuff, but still keeps you rooted to the realities of morning breath and trivial disagreements about whose turn it is to take the dog out. Because love really isn’t about the big things, like moving in together or wedding proposals. Love is in all the moments that led you there, in how you two can’t agree on who kissed who first in Billy’s living room in Florida, or in the way Kathleen says Andrew with a hard ‘A’, no emphasis on the drew, or the way Andrew says Kathleen, drawing it out slow, savoring her name like his favorite flavor of ice cream, It’s waking up next to each other every morning, crusty-eyed and groggy, and knowing you want to continue to do so every day for the rest of your lives. Today alone does not define your love, it’s all the yesterdays, it’s today, and it’s in every day going forward. Though rooted to the earth, may the love you share make each of you feel as if you can touch the sky.
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 just stopped writing. There came a point where it hurt too much to let the pain travel all the way from my heart to my fingertips and on to a page. I didn’t want to dig that deep into myself, leaving a hole I’d inevitably try to fill up again with something or someone I needed to learn to live without. Even if living without them felt like the closest I’ve ever been to dying, it had to be done. So I swallowed my words and held on to my hurt just to know I had something nobody could take away from me.
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.
If grad school taught me one thing it is to write about what scares me. And for two years I wrote intensively about things that terrify me. I wrote about things I’ve never spoken aloud and I took a fine-tooth comb through the memories I try hardest to white out. But now it’s my feelings and my memories that have scared me out of writing, scared that once I get it down on the page it might be true and once shared it will become something to someone else and they’ll be allowed to do as they please with my many truths. It’s this kind of fear that has kept me from sharing the work I spent two years and $100,000 producing and perfecting, assuming there is such a thing as a perfect truth.