Author: Rosie

Channels

There are over four hundred channels,
More channels than there are
Ice cream flavours
At the grocery store,
But they all say the same thing—
Not good enough, strong enough,
change enough,
Because the world is broken,
And so are its people.

That’s the diagnosis, the officials don’t say—
The world is broken,
And that’s scary
Because you broke your wrist as a child
And you remember that the doctors
Had to reset the bone,
Like what Daddy does
When Mommy
freezes the computer,
But it sounds different now,
Like wiped clean,
Like everything goes,
Even the people.
Like two by two,
And skies that don’t dry,
And tears that finally match
The ones of the children on TV,
And it scares you,
Because everything scares you,
Even the people.

There is a bubble,
And you can live inside it,
Exist inside it,
Subsist inside it,
But you remember
Being four and
Making messes in the bath
And seven and
Chasing the reflective light
down sidewalks
And nine and
Pouring more soap in the sink,
Barely washing the dishes,
And you remember
Bubbles
P o p.

Always,
They pop.

You can change the channel,
Care for a minute about
Custody battles and divorces
Of people you’ve never
Met,
Laughing at the stories,
Of fictional people
You will never
Meet.
Or,
You can turn it off.

You can turn it off,
And pretend it’s okay,
That your small world
Will never be like
The big, bad world.
That you will be safe.
Because you remember
Being ten and
Running your way
Home,
And the way you were
Safe.
It sounds different now,
Means different now,
Less about points
More about always
Evening the score.

But when you turn it on,
You have to be reminded
That while you were eating
Dill pickle chips from the bag
And watching—on repeat—
The smiling dog flying
Into the pool,
People, human, children
Were dying.
Are dying.

People, human, children
Are dying.

And we can watch,
Keep the channel on,
Cry into our pillows,
Wonder if we are
The type of broken
That needs to be
Reset,

Or if we are just sprained,
Fractured,
Ready for repair.

There’s a little girl on TV,
Just in the background,
Because reporters and
Adults are shouting and it
Drowns her out.
But she is there,
Teary faced and there,
And there is a little girl
Beside me,
Smiley faced and here,
Asking where her movie went,
Why I changed the channel,
And I don’t know the answer,
Just that she is not yet broken,
Not even close,
And I wonder if she—
And the crying child on TV—
If they are the reset button,
The clean slate for us all,
Smiling, crying, human.
Good enough, strong enough,
Change enough.

I don’t turn the TV off,
Because bubbles pop
And bones break
And safety, sometimes,
You have to create.
The world rages on, and
Everything breaks—
Even the people—
But somehow,
We’re still holding on.

Because there’s a little girl
On TV
Who shows a smile now
Behind her tears,
And it’s possible,
We think, with a
Mouthful of chips,
That she’s not broken yet.
And so,
We hold on.

 

 

…And, just in case you need it today:

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Reality

They can ask me where I think I won’t be,
Where I know I don’t want to be,
And it’s my immediate reaction to say ‘alone.’
My inability to let people in,
Pushing me towards a cold and lonely future.
I’m tempted to psychoanalyze myself.
What happened
And when.
Was a life of aloneness pre-destiny?
I’m tempted to list off ‘moments gone wrong,’
And I’m tempted to say ‘what if’
What if I had loved you more
What if I had cared about him less
What if I had kissed you more
What if I had cried about him less
I’m tempted to create an entire case study
On Me.
Futuristic lonely me
Who probably lives in an artsy loft
And who maybe has learned how to paint
Away her troubles and woes
I’m tempted to tell you a story of this girl
This unhappy, lonely, and nightmarish girl
And then I realize,
It’s bullshit.

I let people in as easy as the all-forgiving God,
Waiting at the gates.
And I haven’t held a paintbrush
Since fifth grade art class.
And I’d be lying if I said I think that life sounds bad.
In fact,
A life worthy of analysis sounds pretty good.
I can see this nightmarish life,
That life alone,
And I can know it won’t ever be mine.
And I can also know,
I wouldn’t even care if it was.
Because what I saw wasn’t the alone me,
But rather the banging on my loft door,
As someone kicks and hits,
Fighting physically, but also emotionally,
For Me.
And then I realize this isn’t a nightmare
This is a love story.
Because I’m not entirely sure I know how to see the bad
Without also seeing the good
Because if I’m writing my nightmare,
Am I also allowed to write the moment when I wake up?

What I fear isn’t being alone
And it isn’t being together
It isn’t getting pregnant and having babies
And it isn’t not getting pregnant and not having babies
I’m not afraid of having a horrible job
Because I can still go home to words.
And I’m not afraid of pain or heartache
Because even an empty pillow beside me
Can be filled with stories and love and a happy ending
Even if it isn’t mine
Because it’ll be someone’s.
A floating character somewhere can be given my ending
And that’s a dream, not a nightmare.
I am not a masochist
But instead a human being needing reminders I am
Alive.
Because I don’t fear pain,
I fear a lack of.
A lack of pain and emotions and swirling visions of happiness mixed with sadness mixed with passion mixed with adrenaline mixed with imagination.
I fear a lack of imagination.

I am afraid of boring
Chicken nuggets and fries boring
The type of thing that might feel good in the moment,
But that will leave you hungry and unsatisfied
And wanting more
But of what?
I’m afraid I’ll have no idea.
I’m afraid I’ll have lost excitement.
And I’ll have no idea where to look for excitement.
I’m afraid I won’t even know that I’ve lost excitement.
I’m afraid of becoming well-adjusted
And settled
And happily complacent
I’m afraid of being 27 and thinking I have everything,
When 22-year-old me might argue that older me has nothing.

I don’t know how to imagine my life
Because my mind immediately jumps to fiction
And if you tell me to be truthful
I’ll argue the creative side of nonfiction
And if you ask me what I’m afraid of,
I will want to shout, but will instead choose to barely whisper,
Reality.

yogurt from a measuring cup

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I was spooning vanilla yogurt into a measuring cup today when it dawned upon me that the entire process—container to spoon to measuring cup to spoon to bowl—wasn’t just a waste of dishes, it was a waste of time. It was ridiculous. I was being ridiculous.

Last I checked, yogurt was not a common culprit for weight gain. Chocolate. Cheese. Bagels. McDonald’s. Sure. But yogurt? Not so much. In fact, I’m pretty sure yogurt is advertised as healthy. It has calcium, makes our bones strong, makes us strong.

And I was measuring my consumption!

This isn’t something I do every day. In fact, this isn’t something I do at all. Which, according to my too-tight shorts leftover from last summer, is the problem.

So this morning I redownloaded My Fitness Pal, an app that helps you count calories and encourages you to measure yogurt, back onto my phone.

Two summers ago when I counted calories, it didn’t feel quite so ridiculous. It felt healthy, maybe because I was using it alongside a workout plan that involved lots of running and recipes that turned pancakes healthy. But today, in the kitchen, with a bowl of vanilla yogurt, it felt nothing but ridiculous.

Because I am not fat.

unnamed-3For Lent this past year, I gave up body-shaming thoughts. Maybe not an act quite as holy as the Church was looking for, but I figured if God made me this way and loves me this way, then who am I to not love myself? So I stopped calling myself fat when the button of my jeans dug into my belly and I stopped thinking dresses would look cuter if my legs were just a bit thinner. I also started a 30-day paleo cleanse during this period.

During those thirty days, I ate fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish.

I didn’t begin the cleanse to lose weight. In fact, I wasn’t really thinking about weight. The cleanse was done as an attempt to uncover which foods were causing my face to break out and my stomach to hurt. I became pretty good in the kitchen during the cleanse, finally learning how to cook cod and cauliflower. I also stopped being so hungry for chocolate and cheese as I snacked on carrot sticks and clementines.

Midway through, I stepped on a scale.

I’d lost seven pounds and that changed things. I didn’t suddenly see the cleanse as a way to help the inside of my body, but instead to improve the outside of my body. To make me skinnier.

On Day 28 of the cleanse, I was at a diner with my sister and she was ordering a shrimp burger and I was asking the waitress if there was any way I could order just two eggs and she was looking at me like I had two heads made of eggs, and I thought to myself: Is this worth it? At that point, I was doing it just to do it, to say I ate nothing but fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish for thirty days. It wasn’t about my face or my stomach. Is this worth it?

It wasn’t.

I stopped the cleanse in that diner on Day 28. I ordered a lentil burger and sweet potato fries and I enjoyed every damn chipotle-mayo dipped bite.

Life, I realized, is not meant to be spent in a diner watching your sister enjoy a shrimp burger while you sit on watching, drinking the chemical-tasting lemon water. Maybe it’s also not meant to be spent with Netflix and chocolate peanut butter popcorn, but there has got. to. be. a. balance.

That balance is not yogurt in a measuring cup.

Today, while scooping the yogurt, I reminded myself of my Lenten mantra: you are not fat. And I believed it.

I. AM. NOT. FAT.

I am a sister and a daughter and a reader and a chai tea-drinker.f809dd3e26dfe9f6206538e79fec7af2

I am twenty-three and free and happy and spinning in the wind as sunshine pours down on me.

I am pale and covered in sunscreen and praying as waves crash down.

I am hopeful and sometimes tired and a baker of the greatest oat cakes.

I am cranky during movie interruptions and sad when the rain cancels plans.

I am in debt with library fees and confused by parking garages and a fan of vanilla yogurt.

I am growing.

I am growing.

I am growing.

I am not fat.

So when I try on last summer’s crop tops or a pair of high-waisted shorts I bought when I was nineteen, I remind myself of this.

I AM GROWING.

And then a surge of gratefulness surges through me because this girl  who grows, she is the happiest she’s ever been and she smiles more than she ever has. She spends time with those she loves and she buys birthday presents and makes cards and cookies and flies on swing sets and she throws love around like glitter at a Ke$ha concert. She doesn’t try to measure it.

So this girl, the one who grows, she turns the bathroom scale upside down, and tosses the measuring cup in the sink, leaving the dishes for later, and she scoops as much yogurt into the bowl as she feels hungry for. Because she doesn’t want to look back on such a happy time and remember it as the year she ate calcium from a measuring cup.tumblr_nfeyktAiqk1rk5a9yo1_500

lifeboats and impossible puzzles

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I love birthdays. Mine. Others’. I love wrapping gifts. I love unwrapping gifts.

I love celebrating the lives of people I love. I love that we live in a world where each person gets a day.

Here’s what I don’t love about birthdays: we dread them because we see them as a sign we’re growing older. And though there’s a Snapple cap floating out there, reminding us that growing older is a privilege denied to many, we still regret them. We wish we were still 21. Or 17. Or 12. Or 5. “Life was easier then.”

And today, at twenty-three, I’ve seen and felt too many tears fall down my face, fall down the faces of people I love.

Because today, at twenty-three, there is a friend reaching out to hug me as she absentmindedly stares out the window. And a cross of confliction hits her features as she’s reminded of the world so beautiful while her own heart breaks in two. Then four. Then Sixteen. Until it’s in too many smithereens for even the mathematical experts to keep up with.

And so I take her into my arms, a lifeboat trying to assure she doesn’t have to drown.

And her body follows her heart’s lead and it, too, breaks. And my arms are no longer a lifeboat but instead glue sticking her pieces back together.

And she falls to the floor, becoming a mish-mashed puzzle and we can all help turn over her pieces—face side up—as she tries to right herself. But one million piece puzzles are too hard to complete, and in the end, the picture is different than when the jigsaw began.

She stands back up. She was a canvas covered in black and blue and tumblr_mgzmr3W1Tr1ro74x3o2_500mixtures of gray that make us sad to see. And she’s picking up the brushes and herself off the ground, and she’s buying yellow, orange, and every shade of pink. And she’s covering the ugly pieces, wanting to make something beautiful.

In that moment though, she is a sad friend and a boy who was supposed to love her forever stopped. And I hate this. More than growing older or cooked mushrooms, I hate this. Because how terrible it is that we live in a world where everything breaks even the people.

How terrible it is that we live in a world where people fall apart on doorsteps and in closets and on bathroom floors. How terrible it is that we live in a world where people forget they have people. People that love them, want them, need them.

How terrible it is that we live in a world where people are breaking people.

That we see each new year as a chance to re-do ourselves, to paint over our ugly bits.

That we drown our sorrows or starve them away. That we regret growing older because we haven’t lived as much as the girl riding elephants on our Instagram feed.

That we spend money on eye pencils and juice cleanses because it seems like the easiest way to keep from being broken, to keep from showing off our brokenness.

And how terrible it is that at the end of falling apart in someone’s arms, we have no choice but to shuffle our pieces back together, to walk to the door, to time travel back to real life, because a new day, then year, is waiting.

Life may be short.

But life is a lot of other things.

It is beautiful.

It is fragile.

It is sometimes so big we get lost.

It is sometimes so small we hold it in the palm of our hands and smile.

It is full of laughter.

Laughter that is matched with tears.

And it is filled with best friends. And boyfriends.

And broken hearts and sticky tack and an unending puzzle of putting yourself together again.

It is family and cranky cats and parents that tell the grocery store clerk, “It’s all together.” It is siblings who call you when you have tears in your voice and stay on the line until you have a headache from laughing.

Happiness-Photography-Tumblr-7It is birthdays.

It is growing older.

It is lifeboats saving us when we think we could drown.

It’s blowing out candles and wishing for better days ahead and being thankful for the beautiful days behind.

Life is everything and anything, but it is not simply short.

Because it’s about squeezing the hands of the people around you, celebrating each other. Birthday or not. New year or not. Face paint and puzzles and glue. Or not.

I keep driving

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When I was six years old and K-Mart was still a blossoming business, I lost my parents in the department store. Likely distracted by my surroundings, I lost the two people who, if parental contracts existed, probably would’ve included some sort of “we promise not to lose you while shopping” clause. What I mean is, I got myself lost. Probably deciding to hide in clothing racks or seek out the toys I’d beg my parents to buy.

Through teary-eyes, I thought I found my dad. So certain it was him, I reached up, took his hand, and started chatting about mommy’s whereabouts. Only when I looked up, I was startled to see an equally shocked face that was definitely not my dad. I quickly let go of his foreign hand and ran away, eventually stumbling into my parents who were scouring the store for me. I was terrified.

I didn’t like getting lost.

But I was so damn good at it.

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Eighteen years later, I still have a reputation amongst my friends and family as Person Most Likely to Lengthen a Journey. The least requested driver on road trips—both short and long. The one whose “sense of direction” isn’t requested on a hike in the middle of the woods. The one who’s kicked out of the driver’s seat, who’s frequently told to pass the phone off to someone else when directions are given. Always told to bring a GPS. Always told to call when I arrive. Always told to pay better attention to my surroundings. Always guided away from following my directional “instinct.”

When I moved to a new city after graduation, I was nervous about driving. It didn’t matter that this city was only one hour from my hometown or that I’d been there a million and one times on class trips or shopping adventures or visits to see my older sister. It didn’t matter that my friends considered this place to be familiar, that they could walk the busy streets without a compass, map, or even eyes probably.

For awhile, I’d managed to talk my sister into accompanying me on driving trips, tempting her with free chai tea lattes or a promise to make her dinner. And for awhile, she came along, serving as a living, breathing GPS.

Like a stray kitten, I was forced out on my own a bit prematurely, which is to say on my first solo driving trip, I got very lost. Not having a cellphone plan meant Siri could not guide me home. This led to some serious in-car panic. Eventually, I was forced to pull into a Tim Horton’s, where I bought a hot chocolate I didn’t want, and stole wifi while I looked up a map. I was supposed to be meeting a friend for dinner at 6:30. I think by 7:15 she thought I was dead.

But I survived.

And I’ve continued to survive, paying attention to right turns, street names, which gas station leads to which road. Restaurants are focal points, Tall hotels have become beacons, my own personal light houses. I’ve continued to survive, but I’ve also continued to be late for dinners and coffee dates and everything else that requires a start time. I get lost going into the city, I get lost going out.

I am in a perpetual state of being lost.

But the panic has started to die down.

Now, when I’m on a strange street with no recognizable places, rather than crying or hyperventilating, I keep driving. I keep driving until something does look familiar, until I’m a little less lost and a little closer to being on my way.

Recently, I went to visit the new library nestled downtown. My sister told me the name of the street it was on. “You can’t miss it,” she said, “It’s huge.”

Obviously, I missed it. The street. The library. The parking garage. Basically everything I was supposed to be on the lookout for. What should’ve been a fifteen minute drive took me forty-five minutes. When I (finally) arrived, however, I didn’t feel annoyed with the delay. I felt accomplished for having made it on my own.

It was the same sense of accomplishment that had filled me this past Christmas break when Igeographically challenged me—had given directions to one of my friends. I recited them easily, like the lyrics to a song I’ve heard eight hundred times. Only it wasn’t like that at all. Because unlike with song lyrics, I got everything right!

And later, when she looked at me with confusion, asking when I got so good at directions, all I could do was smile.

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I’m 23 years old. I have time. So much of it. And with gas prices being as low as they are, detours really don’t matter as much as I once convinced myself they did. In fact, I’m coming to find they’re actually useful. Because with each time I get lost, I’m discovering new ways to arrive at my destination. Sure, these routes are longer, but not unnecessarily so the way I once thought.

Wrong turn after wrong turn eventually leads me to the right street. Now, when I find myself totally lost, I don’t dash to the nearest Tim Horton’s and binge eat a 6-pack of Timbits while I desperately search Google Maps. I keep driving. And with each detour, I learn more about the city whose geography used to scare me. And with each lost moment, I’m ensuring I’ll be a little less lost next time. With each discovery of a new street, there is one less street I don’t know. I keep driving.

I’m trying to apply this logic to my life. To not panic about time, about reaching goals by certain ages, to not care that my journey might be slower than the car next to me, to accept that to be found, you must first be lost. I’m trying to remember that with each detour, I learn more about my surroundings, I become better for the next time around. I try to remember that I know more now than I did six months ago.

Most importantly, I try to remind myself that all roads lead to Rome. Or in this case, the library. Or in the case of real life, exactly where you’re meant to be.

When did I get so good at directions?

When I went out on my own. When I had to learn to get myself home.

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a new goodbye

tumblr_me9oxhykPP1qbma4ko1_500When you’re younger, if you’re lucky, you don’t have to think a lot about loss. At least not in any way that expands beyond an Under Five soccer game, or the video games you’re certain your brother is always cheating in, because how can anyone win that much?

When you’re younger, and loss comes, it hits you in abrupt ways. The absence is so obvious the grieving becomes that way as well. Because, when you’re younger, the people in your life—the ones you don’t think about losing, but sometimes end up losing anyway—are always there. You haven’t yet grown or expanded or travelled the world. You haven’t known people, then left people behind. You haven’t spread far and wide, making connections everywhere you go. Everyone you know is around you. The way they’ve always been. There are brothers, sisters, pet hamsters. Mom, Dad. There are the friends up the street, friends on the bus, friends in your first grade class. There are teachers, EAs, chaperones on class trips and first dates. Everyone you know is around you. Except for maybe the great grandmother who you visit only on Christmas and Easter.

If you lose these constants, you feel it. You see it. And it stings in a way that is hard to forget because they’re no longer there. Not in the way you were used to. Not in a way at all.

When you’re younger, loss hits you in abrupt ways. Life startling ways. To lose a classmate is an empty desk, a quieter room, a loss for always. To lose a Nana is fewer homemade biscuits, it’s a silenced “Come in! Come in!” it’s memories you never got the chance to make.

You stop saying forever, because the idea of forever is suddenly so frightening. You begin to hate goodbyes, even if your mom’s just heading out for a meeting. You don’t like to go upstairs first at night, because you’re afraid of alone.

When you’re younger, you fall a lot. You’re clumsy and fitting into your skin, and growth spurts keep you up at night. You fall a lot. And you feel the pain. Because it’s there. Your skin is marked, maybe torn, it’s red and sometimes blue. And you cry, because it hurts and the pain is there—visible to the eye—so why wouldn’t you cry?

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When you’re older, you learn about a new type of pain. You can’t always see it, and you learn about concealer and cover up so that helps to make your skin always clean, but still, you can feel it. You learn about the type of pain that doesn’t scratch you up, and it hurts more inside, and sometimes it’s so deep and hidden, you wonder if it’s even there.

When you’re older, you learn about a new type of pain. But it’s not because you’re clumsy and trying to fit into your skin. Instead, you’re trying to fit into your life, create your life. Because when you’re older, you’re still growing. In a new type of way. You’re big now, so the world seems too small. So you move away, you travel, you learn new things, and you feel smart when you have on a blazer and high heels. You feel old when you talk about the state of the Middle East and the fate of Apple Inc. You meet new people, and you learn how to love them, and you find you still don’t like some, like maybe they never outgrew cooties.

You get older. And the world is big now, and you feel so small.
You know so many people, but you’re always wondering about who knows the real you.

When you’re older, if you’re lucky, you don’t have to think a lot about loss. Instead, you just feel it.
It’s no longer abrupt, obvious, or scraping at your skin. But like you’ve been tossed around, thrown up and down, and the puzzle inside you is a mess, as you try to figure out where everything belongs.

When you’re older, if you’re lucky, you don’t have to think a lot about loss.
As it turns out, none of us are that lucky.

And so, we start to think about loss, and losing, and loving.

We crave summer, wish the warmth closer, but dread how quickly the years pass. Because we’re growing older. And the people we love—the once constants in our lives, the still constants in our lives—grow older, too.

Your days aren’t spent surrounded by the same group of people and you no longer visit a great grandmother on Christmas or Easter.

You start to say forever again, because the idea that things can’t last is too frightening. You stop hating goodbyes, because you’ve stopped saying goodbyes, because you can’t believe that it could be for the last time.

You’re upstairs first at night, and still, you’re afraid of alone.

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I remember the first long weekend I came home my freshman year of college. I’d been missing home, my high school, the way things were, and so I returned. For the weekend. And I drove around town, looking for indicators of things that were still the same. I didn’t find many.

But I drove to my high school that Friday afternoon to fetch my mom from work, and I waited in the pick-up line outside the band room door. And it hadn’t changed. A black bag hung in the window. And I knew on hot summer days it would be propped open again, maybe with a trombone case.

I knew inside, strangers, friends, classmates, they were coming together—differences aside—to make something that sounded alike, melodic.

It sounded like music.

It would always sound like music.

And my mom came out the door, got in the car, we drove home, I flew away again. And even on the loneliest of days, the most changing of days, I grew comfort in knowing not everything changes.

Some things stay the same.

This past week, the man behind the baton passed away. And as I talked with one of my best friends from high school and now, we reminisced about our days spent in the large room with the vaulted ceilings and a futon couch. We talked about the early mornings in that room when we didn’t want to be awake, let alone make music. We talked about the afternoon practices. Or the med tech class we took in there. We talked about the trips we went on. The adventures we found in new places. The long drives, the fun drives. The musical solace that was always in between. We talked about the uncontained laughter and we talked about him. We talked about the middle of the day breaks. The recesses when we hid away. When we were tired, or behind on homework, or wanting a pause from all the same faces.

We talked about it all. Mostly, about how he was always there. How we knew he’d always be there. The sadness was palpable, even through the screens we were chatting on.

When you’re older, you feel loss in a new way. No longer surrounded by the same people everyday, it’s not such a startling absence. And it doesn’t feel so obvious. There’s no everyday reminder of walking into an empty room with a silenced “hello.”

It doesn’t hit like a slap in the face.
Yet somehow, it stings all the same.

There won’t be an everyday absence reminder for me. But there’s still an everyday absence reminder for someone. A lot of someones. A vaulted room full of students with tired eyes and too-wise mouths. They’re trying to make something of themselves, already at seventeen. And they’ll push and shove, and lose themselves within themselves, and they’ll try to do it all alone.

And I remember the days when that was me. And a man at the front held a baton high, and somehow, that pulled us all together. Somehow, the raise of the arm joined us, united us. And somehow, melodies were made.

We were independent kids on the verge of it all, and we wanted nothing more than to have it all.

So we branched out far and wide, and we made our own lives. We travelled, we grew, we bought shiny black shoes. And everything changed. We distanced ourselves from the lives we knew, and we built new lives in homes with glass walls.

Occasionally, coming home, we’d drive by the old building with walls finally clear of mold, and as everything changed, we grew comfort in knowing someone didn’t. Behind the door with the black bag flapping from the window, there was a man inside. And with a baton held high, he was still bringing kids together, the same way he had once down for us.

This time, dressed in black, we come home again. And we think about loss now the way old people tend to. And we gather and bow our heads. Once strangers, maybe strangers again. And we drive by the old building and our heads fall lower, because something’s changed again, and it stings all the same.

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a belated resolution

fae3d2303be52bcff85673a2161e4dd8My best friend and I are frequent visitors to the land of self-deprecation. We complain about breakouts, bad hair cuts, and love handles. We criticize our bodies—and our maybe unhealthy lifestyles that contribute to our bodies—with the expectation that the other will pick us up, build us back up.

And so, together we discussed New Year’s Resolutions. Naturally, and along with every other girl living in North America, “work out more” found its way to both of our lists. Honestly, I could work out only twice this year and it would be considered “more” than last year, but still, I was setting my expectations higher than that. I didn’t just want to work out, I wanted to lose weight. The weight, specifically, that I most definitely gained when I made the ever-so-wise decision to make five pounds of fudge this Christmas season.

Come New Year’s Eve, I felt myself in a new sort of situation. I was abandoning my resolutions. Three Cheers for the kiddos who stick to them and use the New Year as a chance to implement healthier habits into their lives, but when I found myself spending time with a group of people—people who I didn’t have many shared commonalities, except for maybe the elementary school we attended—I discovered my real resolution for the New Year: be more me.

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I don’t say that in an “I’m the best ever! I should be even more me!” way. I’m not a totally obnoxious human being. But that when I’m in a group of people, I should want to be like me, not like them.

3770415fb9d45e82c36add236d6d8249So I resolve to stop sending out “What are you wearing tonight?” texts.

I resolve to start picking out my own Instagram filters, and requiring the feedback of my best friend or mom a little less.

I resolve to not say “I don’t remember” when people ask me what I’m currently reading out of fear that they may look down upon my choice.

Because I don’t want to speak the truth with hints of irony in my voice. And I don’t want to pretend I’m not a (not-so) starving artist. Because the library is one of my most favorite places in the world, but Target comes in a close second. And as much as I’d like to dedicate my Instagram to #VeganLife, today I ate ice cream cake for breakfast.

Because we live behind screens that protect us and they let us choose the image we portray to the world, and I don’t want to show anything but me.

“Be unapologetically me.”

The final resolution I decided upon.

Because I think there’s a difference between changing and bettering yourself. And I want to better myself. In ways that may include going to the gym, but that may also include harping on myself less when I don’t go to the gym. And I want to send out more birthday cards and bake more birthday cakes. Because I think it’s physically impossible to stop eating carbs altogether.

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Occasionally, in misplaced rants, I hate on my own body when comparing it to Cara Delevigne and every other model wearing clothes from the Size Zero industry, wearing clothes that will never look the same on me. And I hate on my body not because the size it is, but because of the size it is not.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 4.53.15 PMRecently, however, I had this interesting revelation that likely even a fourth grader could’ve told me had I known to ask: my body can never—and will never—be a size zero or two or even four. It’s not something a diet could fix or some more time at the gym. It’s something that is just not written in my cards. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have—and never have had—specific ambitions of becoming that tiny. But I’ve seen plastered in front of me what the “ideal” is, and I’ve noticed that I’m not it. I think we all have.

But I can’t change my body. So it’s senseless to be mad at myself for a body I didn’t choose. And it’s senseless to feel frustrated with myself when my face breaks out, when that, too, isn’t my fault.

You can better yourself.

But maybe changes aren’t as necessary as we think. Perhaps when the New Year rolls around and we’re all scrawling down all the things we need to change, we should perhaps scratch out a few. Because not everything about us, even the things we might consider “flaws” need to be changed.

So I’m trying to better myself. And I’m trying to love the things I cannot change. Or, at the very least, I’m trying to not hate the things I cannot change.

Because I am me. Unapologetically me—except for when I’m late. I will continue to apologize for being late, as at this point it’s part of my DNA.

All I can try to do—all any of us can try to do—is be the best version of ourselves. To better ourselves. To unapologetically resolve to not change ourselves this year, but instead love who we already are, love who we’ve always been.

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the leaver gets left

10723492_10152322468907167_957048483_nI remember the night I said goodbye to my four best friends just four years ago. We sat in one of our driveways, atop a big hill, our stomachs filled with McFlurries and nuggets and sorrow. Goodbye swirled in our mind, touched our hearts.

We’d spent the drive with music loud. Music so loud you couldn’t hear sadness. That kind of music. And we’d danced and sung and our voices were the rhythm to the new drums we were beating.

I was the cause of everyone’s tears. As our McFlurrys turned salty with the taste of tears, I was the cause. I was the one leaving. And one, two, three, four, infinity times I’d wondered aloud about what I was doing moving eight hundred miles away. What was I doing leaving those who loved me?

And so my friends, the loyal ones who love nuggets and loud music and late night drives, they’d given me the simplest of answers: you don’t have to go.

And I didn’t have to. They were right. And for a million and one moments, I didn’t want to go. Starlit sky nights made me not want to go. But I went anyway. Despite my hesitations, despite their reservations, I went.

Fast forward four years, and I’m home again. No longer eating chicken or nuggets and no longer saving happiness in a cup of ice cream.

But I’m back in that same driveway. And I’m saying goodbye again, and as my feet shuffle, heavy like boots finding their way in a snow storm, and I get back into my own car—which for once isn’t stuffed to the brim with moving and packing and moving and packing—I realize that I’m not leaving. I’m being left.

The sense of sadness is familiar, yet it’s different all the same. Because I’m not choosing this. It’s not self inflicted, like a journey to the end of a rainbow with the hopes of finding a pot of gold.

I am here—in a static place—and CNN tells me that the world is moving on around me. I hear that things are happening. That not all paths are congruent as people seek out their pots of gold. And I am here, in a town that often I’ve wondered if it ever moves. Or maybe it’s me. Me that’s not moving. Maybe this town is just like the rest of the world, like this whole earth, and it’s moving, rotating as we find our way around the sun. Maybe it’s me that’s not moving.

Or maybe this is just what it feels like to be left.

For someone else’s arms to be wrapped around mine, as they take the first steps away—light and simple—into a car that’s fuller than the one we’d drive around on Friday nights. Only now the friends that once sat in the backseat have been replaced with suitcases large and full.

As full as we once used to be. Fast food filling our tummies. Friendship alive in our souls.

I wonder if maybe I owe a handwritten apology—a reverse thank you note printed in white and gold—to everyone I’ve ever left. To the swollen red faces with dripping tears. To the people who held my hand and kept me moving in the town that maybe moves, in the town that maybe doesn’t move. Because it was an accident. The sadness that trickled down the ladder, starting with me on the day I decided to leave. And it found its way into the hearts of those I love. It was an accident. But they hurt all the same. And maybe I could learn calligraphy and I could deliver I’m sorrys door to door, but nothing can reverse tears once they fall. Nothing can take away that ache in the back of your throat as a sob arises but you try—in vain—to wish it away.

So now, now I only have whispered thank yous—a reverse I’m sorry note printed in a forever way, held together by the type of hands that keep you moving. Thank you for loving me even though I left you.

tumblr_mmuzb60ABT1r8rc1po1_250Divided or together, we’re all searching for our own pot of gold. But the paths that were once parallel as we sat together in school, played in the forest on weekends, invented dream worlds for skinny little dolls, curved. And no longer are they parallel.

And we remember what they all used to say, the parents and teachers and field trip chaperones: if you’re lost, stay in one place. If you’re lost, someone will find you. And we’ve all been lost, we’ve all been found, we’ve all been lost again and again and again.

And the nice thing about home, about static, about the town that maybe isn’t even moving: it’s easier to be found.

And as we say goodbye, whispering see you soons, we only hope we’ll all end up in the same place. That we’ll all return back to the place where we feel found. That no road gets too windy to separate us forever. That no accidental goodbyes force us apart. That one day we’ll be pulled back like a yo-yo, and the music on the radio will be different and we’ll already be telling our own children about when we were their age, and fast food will probably be forbidden in our houses, but we’ll be back in that car.

We’ll be back and those memories will be back.

Flooding us, the way we once flooded sadness away with ice cream.

They’ll drown us—momentarily—as we grasp for solid ground, slamming on the brakes, hoping that we can stop moving for just a second. As we wonder where life went.

Where did those little girls go who once stood side by side in first grade photos wearing tumblr_ndiay4WTc51s2n35ho1_500matching dresses, shoes, headbands. Personalities different, hearts together.

Where did those girls go, the ones graduating high school with French fry crumbs in their hair and eyes as full with tears as hearts with dreams.

Where did those girls go, the ones hugging goodbye in the same driveway, back to the matching outfits. Plaid shirts and sorrow that mirrored the other’s.

And the flood will recede with the tide and the world will continue to spin, and we’ll be moving again, going forward again in a town that maybe moves, maybe doesn’t move.

And though we’ll hate to leave again—we’ll always hate to leave—we’ll go anyway, because we’re searching for our own gold. At the end of our own rainbow, in our own sky, because oceans now separate us.

And as I stood by, the roles reversed, no longer the leaver, now the one being left, I only wished for the moon to fall, for the sun to rise with rain in its reach, for a darkened sky to once again illuminate, for redorangeyellowgreenblueindigoviolet to appear, for the path that’s not parallel to appear.

It’s hard to leave. I know this. Have known this. Have known this since the day it was me with only twelve inches of space in a backseat packed full of life. But what I’m learning now is it’s even harder to be left. To be the one holding onto memories and moments and a brown bag of trash that smells like French fries and feels like fullness.

Eyes heavy, heart aching, the morning will come, and apart we’ll be. And you, closer to gold. And me, looking for the rainbow, waiting for the rainbow. In a town that maybe moves, maybe doesn’t move, knowing the rainbow will come. Knowing only gold can be waiting.  best-friends-bestfriends-bff-hands

a perfect kind of purple

450ef10c9ffb8ee57ed1430a154bfa43The sky was a perfect kind of purple as you stood across the street from me. And I thought of the boy who broke you. And I thought of the subsequent boys who fought over the broken pieces of you, taking what they wanted, leaving few remains.

And I smile across the street to you, thinking that I lost you when you lost you. You lost you, and I lost my best friend. But it seems a fair trade for you, to lose me, because at least you still have you again. Put yourself back together again. When no one thought you could. When no one thought you would.

And we’re standing in the middle of an old college town, and you’re across the street from me, a reminder to both you and me, that even the lost get found.

And you give a wave, but we don’t agree to meet across the street, because the sky is a perfect kind of purple and once upon a time we would’ve hid from the rays on a day like today, but instead the dusk decided to fall, a reminder of the fall.

And so we both walk on, in different ways, the way life seems to go these days.

And I think back to the day and the call when you told me it all and you cried about a boy who you didn’t know, but a boy who knew you too well. And I think of that day when you cried about it all, when you told me about your fall—

Falling in love,

Falling down,

Because this was the fall out.

And you cried about regret. And I cried with you and with regret.

And it seemed pointless to ask what happened. Because I knew what happened, based on the happenings of the past few days. Instead, I let you cry, and I held my breath as you held your words. Before letting it all tumble out.

I took your words, the same way I wish I could’ve taken your pain. But pain isn’t a thing that can be absorbed. It’s not osmosis or a blood transfusion. Because we aren’t still sitting through a biology class—before things got hard—learning about how the body works. Because now we’re old—or so we tell ourselves—and we’re learning about the way life works.

But maybe that’s untruthful—we’ve always known how life works.

Only now we’re discovering how love works. Or how love doesn’t work.

And I see you back in the street again, and I wish we could meet back in the street again, when you were still you and I was still me and we were still we. A best friended we.

But you lost you when you broke. And you lost you when you fell down—

Like down the stairs, when pajama pants are silky and soft and too long for short young legs, so you trip and fall and tumble. Only then there was still someone to catch you.

Words catch in your throat now, and I long for the time when they once tumbled out. When words fell as easily as we once did—chasing each other through the woods and down the street. Aboard a bus and to the school.

Falling in line.

Falling together.

Until the day you fell apart.

Until the day that we fell out.

The sky is a perfect kind of purple because that’s the way life works, but we wave from our respective sides and then we move on. Because you put yourself together again—you are whole again—but once upon a time, on a different day, with a different dark sky, you tumbled and fell, and I should’ve held harder. Onto your hand. Because you were empty handed and broken hearted but it’s hard to hold on from far away, just like it’s hard to say hi from across the street. But I should’ve held harder, because then maybe you wouldn’t have lost you. And then maybe I wouldn’t have lost you.

Because cars are passing between us, and in them are our stories. Once upon a time, on a different day with a different blue sky, we shared stories—the same beginning, middle, and end. We shared the same stories.

And then once upon a time, on a different day with a different pink sky awaiting a storm, we shared stories. Shared different stories of our lives apart—a different beginning, middle, and end.

You cried about the end. Wondering if it was the end. The end of your first real fall—not down the stairs, not in the woods. Your first real fall in love. A love without a fairy-granted happily ever after.

It’s no longer Once Upon a Time, because broken hearts don’t belong in fairytales, but the sky is shining bright. Yellow. Like your hair lightened by the sun. Like the school buses that let us share stories together. Like the sun that pulled you through the dark. Because you’re whole again. You put yourself back together again. When no one thought you could. When no one thought you would.

You’re standing across the street from me, in the middle of a college town where the lost go to get found. And the sky is a perfect type of purple, the kind that follows the hurricane, and I think it seems a fair trade for you, to lose me, because at least you still have you again. But sometimes I wish I could still have you again. Still have my best friend again. Before you broke in two, before they fought over you. You and your broken pieces.

Befriending fragments used to be hard. But now it’s all we have, so I wave across the street to you, and rather than turn in the other direction, I cross the street to you, because once upon a time I would’ve taken the fall for you, and soon the sky will turn a new shade of orange and red as the real fall arrives, so I reach out my hand to you, because we’ve always known how life works. The beginning, the middle, the end.

Only now we’ve discovering how love works. Or how love doesn’t work. We’ve discovered the fall, and what’s untruthful is to say that I’d ever want to fall without you.

Because you are still you, and I am still me, and as I reach out my hand to you, I realize all we ever lost was the best friended we.

my life is not a romantic comedy (and other truths)

9a7ffb53ea6a471fb86a8241664c5a5eSince graduating college, I’ve noticed a few things: Donuts aren’t quite so life-saving as I once thought them to be. Life without literature papers is blissful. And people (near-strangers, rather) tend to think they know you better than you know yourself. This isn’t because these people—mothers of someone who was maybe in your third grade science class, high school teachers who never actually taught you, friends of friends whom you’ve just met—think they know you well, but rather that you don’t know yourself at all.

Sure, I’m still rather indecisive about whether I love or hate cilantro. And I rarely commit to a sports team. And when a cellphone company asked if I could sign a three-year contract, I faltered. I have no idea where I’ll be in six months, let alone three years, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. And I definitely don’t think that means I don’t know myself.

So, these strangers ponder on advice about how one day I’ll figure out what I want in life. And I nod along politely, not daring to shatter their illusion that I’m some confused, goalless 22-year old. And I wonder, briefly, about where this idea came from. And then I remember that they asked me about my job. And I said I was nannying, which, in case you’re unaware, is actually a synonym for I have no idea what I want to do in life! Or so these strangers seem to translate.

This always seems to be followed up with the You’ll figure it out. The right job is going to come to you! encouragement. Still, I smile and nod, because how miraculous would it be if the ‘right job’ came to me when in three months I have applied to just two jobs. Two random jobs that were just there and available and pertained slightly to my major on the random day when I decided to peruse LinkedIn.

imagesThe Internet always seems to be chattering on about us entitled millennials. The way we act like we deserve everything, including a top notch job right out of college. We’re always on our cellphones. It is we who are oh, so reckless. We act without a care in the world. We are young! We are free! WE ARE THE MILLENIALS. I get it. We all get it at this point. The Internet thinks we’re the worst ever. But I think they’re wrong. We’re not the worst people ever. We are just people. And last I checked, being alive wasn’t a mortal sin worthy of damnation. But hey, I am a millennial, so what the heck do I know?

I’ve developed a new answer to the ever-dreaded “What are you doing after college?” question.

I am just a person. And I am living.

I’m seeing people I miss. I’m reading Harry Potter in French. I’m watering plants and baking late night snacks. I’m spending my mornings writing. I’ve gone swimming with a one-year-old, and I’m keeping SPF 85 sunscreen in business. I’m wondering about commas and foregoing semi colons. I’ve learned there’s no sense looking cute when babies aren’t happy until there is sweet potato everywhere. I’ve decided breakfast is more than a Luna bar—though I do love them so. I’ve gotten a library card. I’ve learned a lot about dinosaurs thanks to a really smart five-year-old who loves Netflix documentaries. I’ve left a hot yoga class early to throw up. I stood over the edge of the Grand Canyon, and I accepted that gift shops are one of the best part of traveling. I’ve cleaned out my mother’s closet and I redecorated my bedroom to the sounds of Gossip Girl reruns.

tumblr_mfhnu9tejy1qirzzno1_500Living, as it turns out, is not as glamorous as romantic comedies may lead you to believe. And this I have grappled with. Because am I really living if I’m not backpacking across Europe or camping and kayaking. Am I really living if I’m not waking up on Saturday with a fun yet forgotten Friday night? Am I really living if I’m not signed into a contract and receiving a salary? Am I really living if my life does not resemble the one I’ve been taught to want?

There’s a difference between wanting things and wanting to want things. And though “entitled” we millenials may be, we’re really just trying to achieve the many things we’ve been taught we should want. And so one day I went to an interview, and I spoke with a raspy voice Brooke Davis would’ve been proud of (thanks to some spicy yam roll sushi) as I talked about myself. I gaged the interviewer and then I balanced on a fence during yes or no questions, trying to please. I wore a suit and heels and pantyhose, and I cut off my beloved ECUADOR bracelet and I washed the chipped polish off my nails. It’s very easy to lose yourself in a glossy building with gold ceilings. It’s easy to think that you look like Kirsten Cohen or Rachel Zane. It’s easy to think you’re on the fast track to being the person you’ve thought you’ve always wanted to be.

And ever so quickly, that illusion can be shattered upon the realization that that person is not you at all. Because life is not a romantic comedy. And you are you. And you are living. And it’s a disservice to both yourself and the world to pretend, even if just for a second, to be anything other than yourself.

Though I want to want to be a pioneer who lives without a cellphone, the reality is I want a phone again. The reality is, getting lost in my new city without a cellphone is terrifying. The reality is, I am not a pioneer. I like grocery stores, and I possess a credit card, and the media manipulates me into buying things I often do not need. I am not a pioneer. And, quite, frankly, I don’t actually want to be one.

I want to want to go to hot yoga everyday. An exercise class that turns you into a cool, calm, and centered human? Why wouldn’t I want that? As it turns out, I don’t want that at all. My journey towards finding an exercise I love is ongoing, but it’s not going to stop at something I think I should want. It’s not going to stop at something I only want to want.

I want to want to backpack through the Eastern hemisphere. I want to want to use a real map and wear the same clothes Blake Lively wore as that cool archeologist in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. But I don’t really want that. Not really. Because if I did want it, I’d be doing it. Truthfully, maps confuse me and army green is such an un-fun color. I like hotels, not hostels. And I listened to Liam Neeson when he warned me not to travel abroad alone.

5867965690_b7f886ed50_z_largeHere is what I do want: I want to keep on living. I want to learn to ride a horse. I want to continue being happy. I want to not lose myself in the rat race of life as society and the media and near-strangers in the grocery store try to dictate what I should want to do. What I should be doing.

Because here is what I am doing: I’m looking after a 9-month-old so that I can continue to afford groceries while I actually spend the rest of my time writing. This isn’t The Nanny Diaries. And there’s no cute boy across the hall, and I’m not waiting to be reminded of what I’m truly destined to do.

Because here is what I want to do: I want to be a writer. And I’ve discovered that it’s a horrific waste of time to pursue things I only want to want to do when I already know exactly what it is that I want to do, need to do. Because, contrary to the opinions of near-strangers in grocery stores, what I’m doing is not synonymous with I have no idea what I want to do in life! In fact, it’s the opposite. I’d just rather not be a literal starving artist as I pursue this goal. I’d like to be an artist who respects the importance of pancakes and chocolate.

And if this makes me an entitled millennial, so be it. Maybe we aren’t entitled to a high-paying job or a new car or an apartment on the Upper East Side. But we have a right to dream. Because there is something we’re all entitled to—happiness.

And if we want to pursue happiness, the things we think we should want have no right getting in the way.