Summer Rain

To set the mood: it’s a arid, rainy night, the rain sloughing off the humidity. Lightning flashes silently, its applause so far off I can’t hear it. Listening to something I recently discovered thanks to Spotify.

Life moves on. It keeps rolling with no intention of stopping, neither for the good nor the bad. Life continues.

For me, it has meant a lot. I’ve graduated. It doesn’t feel like it yet, but maybe it’ll hit me in August when I’m not packing up to go anywhere. My grandparents are still in the hospital, and I am adjusting to life back home.

Exciting things happen! Last weekend my sister got engaged! It was a beautiful, magical moment, and we both cried tears of joy. I think for her it seemed like the end of a long battle between her heart and her anxiety. For me it was a mix. I was so happy for her, but some part of me felt like I was losing my sister. I know it’s not true, I’m really just gaining a brother who is pretty much me in male form.

There were also times that I felt a little hollow during the celebration. My family was saying “Oh you’re next!” And the smile just couldn’t reach my eyes. How can I even entertain that idea when I don’t have anyone? The only person I was interested in clearly was not interested in me. I had a few small flashes of loneliness, but they were quickly swallowed by my happiness for my sister and her now-fiance. He’s a great man, and I’m happy to welcome him to the family.

As it turns out, things may have stirred somewhere else, a friend of my new soon-to-be brother-in-law. But I’ll wait to delve into that until there’s more to talk about.

I have noticed I am more open this time around. Recently, my social anxiety has gotten the best of any semblance of love interests. It scared me whenever they were flirty or wanted to see me. I felt awkward when they showed any emotion, and I refused to show any back. I’m not sure what it meant, whether it was my intuition protecting me or just succumbing to social anxiety, but either way this time is a little different. My emotions are still dulled at this point. I wish I remembered what it felt like to wholeheartedly be excited at the start of a new romance, but it’s been a while, and I’m scared of overwhelming anything. Both because it may scare off the other person and it may hurt me in the end. But I hold on to the hope that this one may be different, and that in itself is something I haven’t felt in a while.

So we’ll see how things play out. Until then, I will be working and hiking (drinking).

Love

 

 

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Mortality

My grandfather is in the hospital. Yes, the one that lives with us, the one who has just been an asshole of a human being to my mother and father, the one that I just kept hoping would die.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little happy when he went to the hospital with pneumonia, something very strange to catch at this time of year. I was. It was almost a relief, that maybe we were finally nearing the end. Of an endless stream of nurses, of my father muttering under his breath every time the nurses had to move my grandfather, of my mother having to sacrifice her weekends to care for a man who was entirely ungrateful for her help.

And so, he is in the hospital, nearing the end. He chose hospice care. We think that after years of fighting so hard to hang on to life, he has finally accepted that he is going to die, in his own cynical way. For a psychiatrist, it’s weird to me that he has such a hard time processing his own feelings and emotions, but maybe that’s not too unusual with psychologists and psychiatrists. My mom and I are only able to guess at what he’s feeling, but we we think he has finally come to accept his own death.

So Mom asked my sister and I to visit him in the hospital, just in case he doesn’t come home. I walked in there, slightly annoyed, afraid, and hungover from celebrating my graduation. I have no connection with this man and I’m terrified of hospitals, so my own feelings manifested in annoyance. Just one more thing this man will put us through.

What I was surprised to find was how I actually felt sad when I saw him. Not pity, but sad. I won’t miss the man, but there’s something so haunting about seeing someone who is, for all intents and purposes, dying. Leaning across the bed, eyes closed, a once towering man now shriveled and deflated, struggling to breathe easily. At the end of his life, despite how hard he has clung to this world.

Mom and I wonder why he has clung so tightly. He claims to be a good Catholic, so shouldn’t he be excited for heaven? We think he is still fighting his own demons. Maybe he realizes he wasn’t the best person while on this earth, and he is afraid of judgement, should it come, should it be real. It just makes you wonder.

It was the first time I had been in a hospital for someone who is dying. I have been when my sister got cleated during the only softball game I went to, I’ve been to Hershey Medical Center when my cousin was hit by a truck, I have been for my own personal health issues, but never for a dying person. There’s something so private, that silence just hanging in the air. No one knows what to do or say, because what else can you talk about? You try to make everything seem normal to give that dying person a sense of peace and, well, normalcy. But that elephant in the room is there, clear as day, as obvious as the IV in his arm.

I do not have any strong feelings towards my grandfather (not positive ones, anyway). But you never want to see someone suffering, someone miserable, someone who is clearly afraid of the next adventure. It’s sad, seeing someone who is at the end of his life. It is.

At first, it was strange to me that these emotions were even touched when I have harbored such negative feelings for him all these years, but the more I think about it, the more I understand it’s normal.

Despite the fact that I don’t like my grandfather, I would have to be heartless not to feel something at the sight of a dying man. It is the first time I have ever really seen him any kind of emotionally vulnerable. And it’s tough to face death. It’s hard to face your own mortality. To think that one day I will be on my deathbed too, and what will I have made of my life then? What relationships will I have sown? What memories, should I still be lucky enough to have them, will I reflect on? Will I be able to let go of my life with grace, or will I be just as afraid?

I can’t quite put words to what seeing him today has brought me, but I think I needed it. In a way, I feel I have come to peace with my feelings towards my grandfather. And I didn’t know I needed that, but I did.

Until that moment comes, I will be there for my mom as she processes her own confused feelings for what will inevitably be the death of her father. I will sow my relationships, thankful that I have been blessed with so many loving people.

Thank you. Love.

Bad at Goodbyes

My introverted attitudes might sometimes disagree with me, because I love experiencing people. Not bumping into everyone in a crowd, not trying to tune out the mindless chatter on the bus. But exploring people. Seeing more of who they are.

I recently went to Florida with some close friends and some acquaintances, and I was definitely given a glimpse into their lives. I think my favorite was Harry.

I’ve known Harry since he was in 8th grade and I was in 11th (SSL). He was one of my favorites in that class – we bonded over music. He came to work at the cup a few years ago, and I was so thrilled to see him I think he was scared. Ever since then we haven’t really had much of a conversation, though he seamlessly melded into (and possibly took over) the friend group.

He’s a kind soul. Very crazy, a little weird, but quite a gentleman. While we shared jokes and stories while waiting in line for rides, I think we were both kind of surprised to see how much we enjoyed each other’s company. Which was good news since we were the only two trying to catch a flight home on Sunday, and who knew how long we’d be trapped at the airport together.

The conversation was awkward and a little forced at first, flowing later on. Every time I pick up my (Trevor’s) Game of Thrones book, I think of him. He told me how he’s a voracious reader, how he would sit for six hours just reading. I told him that I couldn’t even do that.

He said “yeah, I would just chill under a tree and read for the day, it’s the best.” And that struck me as odd, almost too romantic for the categories in which I had placed him. It was beautiful, I loved it. Here was this crazy boy who loved headbanging, mosh pits, and metal music… and I could picture him sprawled under a tree on a hot summer day, consumed in a book. It was nice.

There are so many things I don’t know about people. Strangers, my family, my friends. Experiencing them.

The conversation came easily afterward, and the woman at the ticket counter moved people around so that we could catch the 8:40 flight home together. He let me have the window seat even though he moved through the aisles ahead of me (I told you, a gentleman), and I caught him staring past me out the window to see the beautiful glow of the city lights as they webbed their way across the dark expanse of earth below us.

As a fellow romantic, it was really nice to see that side of Harry.

***

Lauren and I talked the weekend before, just sharing life and the warm spring sunshine in makeshift chairs on her front porch. She asked me what exactly it was that I wanted in a boyfriend, and I couldn’t tell her… because I couldn’t tell you what it is myself.

But a piece of advice struck me recently. “Wait for the man that makes you want to be in a relationship.” Had I read that a year ago, I would have interpreted that as “don’t get into a relationship if you think you’re just going to cheat anyway.” Fair, and some people probably still read it that way. Maybe the author intended it that way.

Recently, ever guy that’s shown an interest in me has made me uncomfortable. I just want to avoid it or them. It almost makes me sick, and I wasn’t sure if that was my intuition or nervousness or social anxiety. Maybe all three.

But then I saw that quote, and I thought “maybe someone will come along one day and when they show interest I won’t shy away. I’ll think this is right, this is natural, this is what I want. And that’s what it will mean to wait for a man who makes you want to be in a relationship.” I won’t be tired. I’ll be ready. And that was a nice hope to hang on to.