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 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.
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.
I like the way the palms of your hands felt pressed against my ears. You had never kissed me standing up before, not really. Not like that. Not with your fingers in my hair and my head tilted back and in a way that put cracks in all the walls I’ve been building: soft, but certain. My hair was wet from the shower and I wore a blue ducky robe I received as a teen, but you kissed me like a man who knows what he wants and I knew that I didn’t want you to leave and my lips were begging for you to stay and your body language was saying, “See you real soon, babe.” and somehow with no words at all you said everything I needed to hear.
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.