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 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.
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.
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.
I didn’t run into oncoming traffic when he asked me to. He hoped to see me collide with a force stronger than my own, as if me being defeated might make up for all the times he had been defeated by my unsatisfied hunger for something more than what he gave me.
I came around to telling you I missed you. You never said it back. “Must be lonely,” making an assumption about my plan to go a year without sex. I let you know I felt more lonely spending time with men that weren’t you, doing things I was predetermined to believe you did better. And instead of trying to force different squares into the never ending circle that is you and I, I chose to do without. Round and round I went while you remained still in the center of it all, watching me spiral. A series of me reaching my hands out to touch you while you slipped yours into your back pockets for whatever you had waiting there for you, someone you saved for later. I told you I knew what I wanted and you told me to spell it out for you as a business proposal. You wanted my feelings bullet pointed, our future outlined, and steps for getting there. You said that once I submitted you would review and decide whether or not you accepted my terms. I did not accept that, the idea that my love should be submitted for review. But now it makes sense, your arrogance, I was one of two. You wanted to hold my heart up to the light to see if the light would shine through and when I didn’t lay my bare flesh in your hands for you to examine all the holes you dug you decided to bury your face in the neck of someone else. But maybe she’d like that about you, maybe she’d confuse your RFP with you having an idea of what you want. I know all too well you have not once in your life known what you want and that if you did you expected it to sleep on your doorstep until you were ready to let it in. Maybe she wrote paragraphs about your charm and went on for pages about the way your voice made her heart explode. Maybe she filled a blog with her thirst for your love. I’ve filled notebooks with pieces of you and all the while you told me you didn’t like to read.
Must be lonely, knowing your love is not worth the weight.
I really thought it would break my heart every time I heard it. I truly believed that every time the beat dropped and Sam Smith sang, “Now I’ve got you in my space, I won’t let go of you” I’d see his face looking over at me from the other side of the couch while he wrapped his arms around my calves and danced with his shoulders the way he always did. It was one of the many times in my life I wanted to jump outside of myself because I felt too good, as if my body was conditioned to contain only so much joy. The Chicago winter kept it cold outside, but there was warmth in that song, in the hope that he’d latch on to me. It started to play at SoulCycle so I closed my eyes as I expected my heart to pull me from the bike. But it’s not cold here in New York, not right now. And it surely wasn’t cold in that room, and Halle told the class it was okay, that it would be okay, and that sometimes that’s all we needed to hear to push through. My head started swaying, my heart started pounding, my lips turned up – finally, I lost myself in the beat rather than in him. I opened my eyes to see Halle whipping her head back and forth, hair flailing in every direction, hands pounding the handlebars. The sweat on her body glistened in the low-light and her energy filled the entire room; it filled all of the empty spots inside of me. Her movement said she loved the song, herself, that moment, this life and that whatever it may bring she was ready for it. And I figured if she could be brave enough to let life happen to her, I could be bold enough to forget you happened to me.