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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.

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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.

delayed planes & teary goodbyes

Craving_for_Love

I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t missing someone. I don’t remember the last time I sat in an airport Departures Gate without having just said goodbye to someone. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t thinking and saying and dreaming, I wish you were here, or I wish I was there, or I wish we were together. I wish we were all together. I wish hundreds of miles could break down into a five-minute walk up the street. I wish meeting in the middle meant we were within a walkie talkie range of one another. I wish that I lived in a Wishing World where I never had to miss any yous. But I don’t, and so I am glad for the yous I get to miss. Glad because if missing you means having you, then I will gladly miss you any day. I will gladly think and say and dream, I wish you were here, I wish I was there, I wish we were together. I wish we were all together. I’ll say teary airport goodbyes, and I’ll hurt as I miss you, and you, and you. But I’ll smile, too, because having someone to miss is a privilege. A privilege like I love you.

Home is where the heart is. And my heart hasn’t been broken in a way that could inspire Nicholas Sparks to make millions. Instead, it has been shared. Little pieces given to those I love and to those I root myself to—those who have made anywhere and everywhere home. Because I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in airports. Waiting in busy airports with delayed flights and cancelled hours and teary eyes. And I’ve waited on grounded airplanes to take flight, and I realize that I, too, am in flight. And unlike the freshly cut oak tree trunks with seventy-eighty-maybeninety rings that we’d count as children, I have yet to root myself deep into a Forever Home. Instead, I’ve rooted myself to people. Grounded myself to parents and best friends and a brother and  roommates and a sister and neighbors and kindness and a cat that chases me up carpeted stairs that my childish feet used to trip down. And in the sharing of my heart, I’ve been given pieces in return. Been given love and friendship and generosity from people who are now my home.

Because home is where the heart is.

And my heart is with you.

And you, and you, and you.

And I wish you were here, and I wish I was there, and I wish were together. I wish we were all together.

Maybe there is a Wishing World where home isn’t expansive and spreading, and we are all like the old oak tree, grounded together, rooted together, filling in the rings and not ever having to say, I wish you were here. But, maybe in that world, I wouldn’t be in flight. And I wouldn’t have met you, and you, and you. And I wouldn’t be missing any yous with teary eyes in the airport Departures Gate. But getting to miss you is a privilege and it’s rewarded with giddy smiles in the Arrivals area. Hellos follow goodbyes. Home is always on the other end, no matter where you’re flying. If you let people hold onto pieces of your heart, they will always be waiting with a home and love and kindness.

Home is where the heart is.

Home is where you are. And you, and you, and you.

Home is the smell of brewing coffee and the begging to stay up for just one more movie and then falling asleep five minutes in. It’s the sound of revving dirt bikes and the taste of Taco Bell at one am. It’s cruise control on a stretching highway and a rainy day spent inside with a book and flavored green tea. Home is missing class to go to breakfast with a best friend and it’s the favorite food that awaits your arrival at the front of the stocked cupboard. It’s a kiss good night and it’s a hand holding your hair when you’re kissing the toilet good night. It’s the way you’re recognized at your local farmers market and it’s the sampling of ice cream flavors in new places. It’s tight grasps on hands and memories. It’s slurred iloveyous and it’s the middle of the night macaroni and cheese. It’s a warm pan of brownies and a full carton of milk. Home is the way the rain falls into freshly-cleaned gutters and it’s the way souls and bodies shake when they hold back tears saying goodbye at the airport. Home is giddy smiles and warm hot chocolate waiting to kiss your lips. Home is the Arrivals Gate and the open arms waiting to embrace you.

Home is where the heart is.

And my heart is spread and shared and it’s always wishing you were here, wishing I was there, wishing we were together. Wishing we were all together.

Home is where the heart is.

And even when I’m up in the air—flying and wishing—my heart is always with you.