Magical Yellow Room

Well nice to see you again.

It’s hard to break through the fuzz of the day to set some time aside for myself to do anything, much less write what I want to. Even now I’m distracted by the thrum of the TV.

I’ve been wanting to get back into writing lately. Inspired by You, a Netflix original. Funny to feel inspiration from a show about a stalker, but his cynicism in poetic storytelling is both funny and accurate. The problem is, and always will be, time. Time and money.

My nice cushy job doesn’t bring in enough for us to stop worrying about finances, so I continue to work my fingers to the bone. I used to be so proud of myself for having that hardworking attitude. Now I realize that’s the theme in this country — destroy yourself to take care of others. What an American dream.

I miss the days I was able to practice yoga, meditate, do ANYTHING to care for myself without thinking “there’s something else I need to be doing” in the back of my mind. Frankly, it’s exhausting. I feel like I’m expending so much energy just picking up the trail we leave through the house. It’s overwhelming just thinking of adding another human to this mess.

I’ve been thinking about that more and more though. As someone who said she never wanted kids, I’ve come a long way. I’m still unsure — I’m a baby with pain and I’m not actually good with children, but I know it’s what Andrew wants. I feel it’s the next step, and I’m not as afraid of it anymore. There are plenty of other things to be afraid of.

The future is a syndicated shitstorm in my head. Staying in PA, moving to be closer to my family, but then where will the kids go to school and where will we work and will we have enough money and what about traveling and doing it all in one shot. What about making sure you’re happy along the way.

I used to always envision myself typing away at a computer in a bright yellow room with a beaded entryway at a beach house. Still living a modest life. Enjoying what I’m doing. I never knew what I was writing, I just knew I was writing. Yawning and stretching as I get up to hug the man of my dreams on a sleepy Saturday morning as the golden godly rays of morning sunshine streamed through a window.

And I had that yellow room, and I still do. I hung beads on my childhood bedroom door, I painted my childhood bedroom yellow, and hung twinkle lights to inspire my thoughts, because light and beauty inspire the masses. We moved into our new house and even here I have a yellow room, this time with a desk and lamp but also a yoga mat because life is a balance. Can anything be tacky when it’s what brings you back to your childhood dream, your life’s vision?

But what they never tell you is living in fear is not the same as living a modest life. I’m not choosing to live a modest life because I want to right now. When it comes down to it, I would still choose a quieter life, but I don’t know anyone who would choose to live with the anxiety of how big will that next paycheck be.

Once so enthralled with the idea of becoming a writer, I eventually became intimidated. I blame my senior english class for that — looking up realistically what authors make scared me out of wanting to stake my livelihood on whether or not someone thought my writing was worth something. But as I get older, I wish I would’ve taken the shot anyway. Everything anyone does is judged by how well they do it. Can I pick up legalese quickly so we can jump in to getting the work done? Am I good enough at X to achieve Y. My livelihood is already at stake based on my skills — why shouldn’t I have just tried my hand with writing?

Especially while I have the time. Now between having a full-time job and a house, I don’t have time for much. Next step is a wedding and babies, both expensive and time-consuming. The only reason I have time today is I have a half-day at work.

Being an adult is much more boring than I thought it would be. I’m excited to have found the love of my life, but would I appreciate if he did the dishes more often? Of course. I love having this house, but would I enjoy not having to pay any bills? Absolutely! As a 23-year-old would I love to spend my money on dying my hair a crazy color and traveling to an exotic place? You betcha! Instead, I’m sitting on my couch in a robe after downing an entire bag of chips, thinking about how I have to go back to work in 15 hours. I’m surprised how easily I have slipped into the adult-that-dreads-work-and-battles-menial-depression-every-day lifestyle.

Like I said, I never expected an extravagant life. I just thought I’d be happier right now. Then again, don’t all great artists go through a blue period? Maybe this is mine, as I sit in my blue robe.

One of these days I will have to try my hand again — when I have the money to rebuy my subscription to Word. And maybe I’ll have the courage to dye my hair blonde like I’ve always wanted. Move to a house on the beach with the love of my life, typing away in that yellow room, spinning yarns someone actually wants to read, something that actually touches someone’s heart and soul and changes them for the rest of their lives or at least the rest of that afternoon — the way books spoke to me as a child. Maybe I’ll finally say something worth listening to. Or maybe I’ll move to the mountains so I can be snowed in all my life. I guess the bright side to 23 is everything’s still a mystery.

But 24 is coming soon. And I still fight with myself on what I want, what I need, and what I feel. I write for me.

Now I must go shower so I can continue to take care of me.

Love

Beast of Beauty

The beast is back.

I’m disappointed in myself, but it’s back.

Jealousy.

Andrew has been at a bachelor party for the weekend, and I haven’t handled it as well as I would have hoped, considering how far I’ve come from past relationships.

This is the first time in a relationship that I have genuinely been worried for the other person’s safety, which I think is a big step and a progressive sign actually. I never understood why my father could never sleep while I was out of the house, but he oh-so-graciously seems to have given me that anxiety. Granted, my back has been hurting for about a month now, so I haven’t been getting great sleep regardless… but for the first time in any relationship, I was genuinely worried about him making it on an 8-hour drive in the evening, especially when he wasn’t texting me back.

All I can say is, it’s weird and I don’t like it. I apologize to my future children about a potentially overbearing mom.

Andrew has finally been able to text me more than once every few hours, which is great. But I could feel the jealousy creeping up as soon as he started to text me. It’s a part of me that I genuinely dislike. Because I trust this man wholeheartedly. He constantly reassures me that he would never do anything to put our relationship in jeopardy, and he does everything imaginable to prove it — from regular foot rubs, to scratching my head every night before bed to help me fall asleep, to gently rubbing between my eyebrows every morning to try and keep me asleep when his alarm goes off. I even woke up to him putting a thumb over my ear to try and block out the noise from the traffic that’s constantly outside of our window.

(He’s the sweetest)

Which is why I’m so upset that I’ve let any jealousy get to me! Over someone telling him he’s sexy at a bachelor party!

I thought I’d slain that beast years ago, after finally deciding I don’t want to be the victim, I don’t want to be the girl who was cheated on, I don’t want to use that as an excuse for my jealousy. Apparently it’s a tough beast to slay. And it immediately brought up all my insecurities in a relationship. I won’t fan them all out on here, because that’s a conversation I need to have with Andrew first.

But I will blast a few of my exes for helping stir the beast.

To my first, for cheating on me twice, once immediately after I had gotten off the phone with him, with girls that both knew I was his girlfriend.

To the next, for essentially going on a date with a girl I knew wanted him, and then gave him the hickey to prove it.

To the one after that, who ghosted me for a girl he’d been talking to for years.

To the last, who convinced me that casual relationships were fine, that that’s all I wanted from a guy, and still inexplicably broke my heart.

You each stole a piece of me that I will never get back. From my innocence, to my trust, to my thoughts on love, you tore me apart in your own ways. While you may not have created the beast, you did nothing to dismantle it.

To Andrew, the love of my life. Thank you for building me back up. To the person I was before, the person I want to be, and the person I truly am. You have seen the heart of me, and you have kissed every inch of it.

“For I need all the cracks in my shattered heart, ’cause that’s where her love gets in…

Thanks for the moon and the stars up above, forgiveness of sin and your undying love, every twist, every turn for the way you made sure all my roads led to her.”

I still always think of you when I hear that song, because I truly feel whatever greater power is out there led us down the right paths. I never imagined I would meet anyone like you in my life. I thought I would have to settle for someone that would just be good FOR me, not good TO me. You have been all that and more. You are the biggest blessing I have ever received in my life, because you gave me back to who I really am. I am forever grateful to you for loving and supporting me in the way that you do.

Because when our kids look at us and think that we’re soulmates, they’ll know they’re right. They will know what true love looks like.

I know the tone of this blog has changed drastically, but I think it’s just what I needed to get that beast out of my mind. To talk myself out of it.

And in this hour of dying sunlight, I say goodnight from the serenity of our new home.

Love always

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Unity

I’ve moved (finally).

Here I am in West Chester. And boy was it hard to get here.

Things fell so quietly into place with Andrew and I finding a house, working my fingers to the bone until the day that I moved. In a way it was so much of a whirlwind that it was sort of hard to process. But I think that was the best way for my mind and soul to handle it.

It was hard leaving. The entire week I was gathering my things, I was on the verge of tears at the drop of a hat. Leaving my friends, my mountains, the life that I had always known and returned to. Leaving Mom and Dad was harder than I thought. Leaving Main Cup was harder than I thought! I never realized how much I had grown to love that place, those people, until my last shift. Granted, restaurant life is always a mess of stress and bitching, which is why I was surprised to find it hard to leave. People I never expected to cry bawled their eyes out — including me.

And I bawled my eyes out the morning that I left, with a sinking feeling in my heart that there was an end of my rope that would always be attached to Middletown. Even the songs on the radio seemed to point to me staying in Middletown. It felt like my last breakup — where songs brought back emotions, seemed to speak wisdoms to me that I was eager to soak up and turn into my staying. I guess we’ll know in the next few years whether or not they were wisdoms or falsehoods.

But as the tears rolled down, I tried to keep my chin up. You must let go of the past to make way for the future. So this little potted plant grew too big for her pot, and she was transferred to a new one.

So far I’ve been surprised at how at home I already feel here. I miss my friends, and I look forward to making ones at whatever job I stumble upon. There are still glaring moments where it’s hard to be here. The first time I drove to the gym here, I was struck with this surreal feeling of being in an alternate dimension, that were I 100 miles south I would be on a similar road to an entirely different gym, living an entirely different life. The first week being up here was a chaotic battle between calm and calamity. Peace and war waging within my own mind and body.

The second and third weeks haven’t been as bad, though I’m still terribly bored throughout the day. I’m missing human interaction, to the point of enjoying the short exchanges with cashiers at the dollar store. But the evenings and weekends spent with Andrew make me feel like I’ve made the right choice.

I will say, it has been difficult motivating myself to get outside. I don’t know the area spectacularly well, so I’m not sure of any good nearby trails. So that part of my soul has been feeling a little worse for wear. Especially with daily reminders that around this time last year I was on my big trip out west.

But enough about the insecurities of a wavering mind.

wc1

– – –

I’ve noticed myself becoming a little more cynical (and I can’t help but wonder if it is that I don’t have the same fun outlets in PA yet. I read somewhere that healthy people laugh at least 13 times a day, and sometimes I know I don’t reach that number).

I think I need to reconnect to my empathetic soul. I was always proud of being compassionate. I think I’ve stepped further from that than I would ever have wanted.

I was watching The Bachelorette (of all things) with my sister tonight. They were in Thailand, speaking with monks in temples about love and Buddhist ideals. Naturally, my first inclination was to doubt how real all this “reality” tv is — and I stand by you shouldn’t be a brainless and gullible consumer. But they were talking about how honesty, patience, and acceptance are central to Buddhist ideals.

We are currently growing in a society that is both wholly accepting and entirely ostracizing of “outcasts”. If you want to get political, when you think about it, the majority of people seem to ostracize. For example, most conservatives are notorious for not accepting gays. However, most liberals are not accepting of beliefs that vary from theirs. It’s a two-way street. To be able to talk freely with someone about their opinions without criticizing whether or not you believe in them too has become a rarity nowadays. It doesn’t make much sense to me. We live in a day of misinformation, and social media sites are teeming with misinformed opinions (of which I’m sure my hands are not clean!).

And lately, dating someone with more conservative-aligning views, I have found myself being more critical, less open to others. More mocking, less empathetic. I haven’t been proud of myself for it. (He is not to blame since I am the one experiencing this. I just think it adds to the influences I’ve had around me in the last year or so).

I think tonight was the reminder I needed to get back on what I feel is the right track. To express that love, acceptance, and compassion for everyone I meet. To go into the world with an open heart and try to help those who need it. With all the hate that is spread in this world, I want to believe there is an equal amount of good going into it. The news is just made to scare us all. Do we want to be scared, or be free in mind, body and spirit?

I thought I had more to say, but this tea tree oil diffuser & that glass of wine is making me tired. I think I’ve said what I need to. Let’s be worldly people together.

Love,

Dani

Mom

I am bitter and I am angry.

The wind howling outside reflects the storm inside me, biting, twisting, gnawing to get out. Pure blind fury.

My mom is in the hospital battling Crohn’s disease, as she has been for at least the past 10 years of her life. She is dehydrated. She is pale. She smells of dried vomit. She is weak in body. It pains her to speak or sit upright. She is dying. She is hurting. And all I can think about is how this woman deserves so much more in her life.

She’s a physical therapist, yet all the RNs speak to her as if she is stupid. She’s been through the ringer – she knows what she’s talking about, how she reacts to certain medicines, what she’s comfortable with.

Her parents, my ungrateful grandparents that live with us and mooch off our home, off my mother’s strength. They have not given her the time of day since she was born. Everything is all about THEM. They are the parents, they are the elders, they are the ones that require all the attention because they’re old, they’re falling apart. They are the ones that can kiss my ass with that bullshit. I’ve never heard them say they are proud of my mother. I’ve never heard them say that they love her. I’ve never heard them thank her for every fucking thing she does for them, from trying to help grandma figure out grandpa’s caretakers, to taking them into our fucking home because she thought it was the right thing to do. Honor thy father and mother.

I can’t help but be reminded as to why I turned my back on God. I watched for years as my mom suffered through new restricting diets, new daily routines, horrible doctors, the stress of being lost in a disease that no one with money cares about. I have watched her suffer, in the most inhumane sense of the word. I have watched my mother suffer. For years. Begging God, praying to Him every chance I could that she would be okay, that things would be better for her, that she wouldn’t be in pain, that she would have a good day at work, that she would have a doctor that knew what they hell he was doing. And I have never seen those prayers answered. And it’s so frustrating and hurtful. I just want my mom to be okay, to not be in pain, and to enjoy what she has left in her life.

I want her to walk down the aisle at my and my sister’s weddings. I want her to hold whatever children we may have because she has been waiting for that moment since the day we were born. I want her to enjoy retirement with my dad after working her fingers to the bone for so long. I want her to have ONE easy part of her life. Something she can enjoy. And I can’t help but be angry with God that he hasn’t given that to her, the woman in my life who deserves it most.

I can’t help but be angry with my grandparents for neglecting her, for not loving her the way she needed to be loved. For invading our home and throwing more stress on her plate. For expecting to be taken care of when they never cared for my mother. For not doing anything for her in her childhood, and for not doing anything for her now. Grandma sleeps soundly, having said her nightly prayers, thinking that will do the trick, that she has done all she can do. To hell with her. And my grandfather. The stupid xanax-addicted asshole of a man, who wouldn’t even have put us in this state if he didn’t OD on all the drugs he was prescribing others for years.

Lauren and I hope that we can love our mom the way that she has loved us our entire lives – endlessly. We can only hope that we can show our own children the love that our mom has showed us since the moment we were born. She deserves to be loved, she deserves to be happy, and she deserves to not be in pain.

I do not apologize for this rant, because they are feelings I have bottled for a very long time. I fear losing my mother to this illness. I am terrified. I am crying. I am bitter. I am angry. Nothing could bring out those feelings but family.

End the battle with Crohn’s. Someone find funding for this shit. No one should have to endure that pain.

Tonight is one of those nights you walk around the house with all the lights off, because the light feels too exhausting and the darkness doesn’t scare you anymore.

I love you, Mom.

Apprehension

(continued from previous blog)

…It’s later and I’ve been a little upset lately about moving.

I’ve been very nostalgic about my small town for the past few days. Last week was the first time in a while that I stayed late at Main Cup, had my glass of wine under the glow of the hanging lights, chatted with some coworkers (shoutout to DJ WHITE HEAVAAA), and thought I’m actually going to miss this. 

Driving through town, knowing all the backroads and the main roads, knowing when to avoid certain intersections because school just let out… I’m going to miss knowing this small town like the back of my hand. There’s something so charming to me about small towns.

West Chester isn’t a small town… it’s a small city. It’s like downtown Frederick, but I’ve never really gotten the hang of DTF either, so it’s intimidating to me to be moving to a place that I have always viewed as cold, jagged, and unwelcoming. Pennsylvania was never in the plans for me. I had always dreamed of moving south. But the man of my dreams is in PA, and I want to be with him. I’m not afraid of that at all – I know he is the love of my life and I want to spend forever with him. It’s just the location.

I heard a song the other day saying “show me the long way around your town,” and it made me sad. I have a lot of pride for my small town. I love the mountains (I have them tattooed on my side. It’s the only tattoo that I have. Yeah, I love them).

I was worried about finding a job that wasn’t an hour-long commute to Philadelphia, and while I have been fortunate enough for an employer to be interested in me in a town only 20 minutes away, I fear they may pass me up because I’m not trying to move up until May.

I want to celebrate my birthday with all my friends without asking them all to travel to PA and crash in whatever tiny space we can provide them. I don’t want to leave my small town any earlier than I have to.

Deep down, a part of me is very scared that I will lose all of these friends and relationships because I move. I know I will have a few relationships that will survive – Heather, Mary, Rosie, Ryan – but I fear for the others. And it’s humbling to know that a place that meant so much to me, that helped form me, gave me the confidence to wholeheartedly be who I am, that I gave almost 6 years of my life to, will forget me. New workers will be hired, ones that will never know me, and eventually my homecomings won’t mean going to see all my friends at Main Cup. Eventually I will be a stranger to those at Main Cup. That has been a hard reality to process.

I know it’s a part of life. It’s something I need to learn – letting go gracefully. I must let go of this part of my life so that I can wholeheartedly start my new one. It’s just a hard transition.

Seeing how hard it was for my sister to move up to West Chester frightens me, I’ll admit. I don’t want to take out any unhappiness with West Chester on Andrew. He’s been incredibly supportive as is. Reassuring me that if I’m genuinely not happy up there, the move isn’t permanent. He’s willing to consider moving to Frederick for my happiness, but I don’t want to hold on to that. I want to put my best foot forward in West Chester and not just be counting down until we can move back to Maryland. He’s been sending me links to mountain trails that aren’t too far away, trying to comfort my outdoorsy side. I really do love this man.

As I said, I want to put my best foot forward. I’m trying to go into this transition with an open heart and open mind. But I’m also fighting the anxiety of moving. Trying not to cling tighter to the people and memories around me for fear of losing them. I’m still trying to navigate it. I hope I am happy.

 

Newborn Love

Black tie and black tights,
A dark bar on a cold night,
Excitement buzzing like champagne bubbles
as we reminisce about how we got here.

I have always been yours,
before I even knew you, I was yours.

“Happy New Year!”
the confetti rains as 2017 slips away,
and upstairs we run
to dance where we first knew it was right.

* * *

An amazingly packed weekend full of meeting new people and bonding with others, drinking lots of alcohol and falling even more in love.

Realistically, I had to jump start my car twice in the cold weather, got sick from one of the at least five sick people that surrounded me during the holidays, and I have the cold sore to prove it… But regardless I had a great time.

I hate to brag but it really is an incredible feeling to find your soulmate. Just wanting to spend endless days together, waking up together, going to get breakfast, doing menial errands like going to the gym, doing NOTHING on a Saturday as your rest in preparation for the next day’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, playing video games and watching movies together. Being able to talk about anything and everything, never getting bored of it. And being put to sleep as he rubs your head because you’re feeling sick. There’s no better feeling.

* * *

I was never the girl who dreamed of having babies, and when I did they were nightmares. In eighth grade I had a nightmare that I gave birth to twins. Earlier this year I had a work nightmare that I gave birth and my baby was a literal pork chop on a dinner plate… I’ve never wanted kids.

It wasn’t until I was 21 that I decided I wanted kids. Childbirth had always scared the shit out of me – I just wanted to have the baby belly and then suddenly had the baby with no painful moments in between. But whatever omnipotent force is out there has a funny way of guiding you.

For example, there were a lot of eerily timed happenings in my life before I met Andrew. I met him when I was 19, but neither of us were ready at that point. When we met again at Lauren’s birthday party this past April, we hit it off a bit, but I still wasn’t confident (though apparently at the end of the night I sat in the middle of the limo because that’s where he had been and he sat in the back of the limo because that’s where I had been sitting – more evidence of fate in the works). When we really hit it off and started talking in May, I had just graduated college a week before. Both of my cats died before we started talking, and he’s allergic to cats so now I don’t have to decide whether or not to leave my cat behind to move in with him. There are more examples, but those are just a few.

And lo and behold, last year I decided I want kids, in May I met the man of my dreams and I want to have his babies, and what falls into my lap? A birthing center client. At my new job, one of our clients is a new birthing center opening up in the Frederick area, and I swear to god I have never had this much information or this many resources about childbirth and birthing options. I literally got paid to watch a video about a home birth and I didn’t cringe. It looked beautiful. I was reading about baby milestones for the first year of life and I finally for the first time in my life understand why women always get so excited about newborns.

Working with this client has convinced me that I want to try a birth center or a home birth, should I be healthy enough to have one. Fate has given me the resources to finally not be totally terrified of having children.

As I should currently be working, I should wrap things up. I just wanted to share my newfound newborn love. It’s exciting! Finally feeling like you have your life together for a moment (before it’s all inevitably thrown into chaos as you move to a new state, find a new job, make new friends, etc…. But we’ll get to that later.)

 

Strapped

I’ve finally found a moment to sit and write, and even now I’m distracted by this boy blowing up my phone. But it’s okay, I really like him.

It’s the boy I casually mentioned last time, my sister’s fiance’s friend. He’s a really sweet guy, and I’m excited to see him soon. We couldn’t find any time to get together before I went on my trip, so our first date is the 11th of August and he’s taking me to a wedding the 12th. He stuck with me through my entire trip, always eager to know what I was doing, never happy when I lost service at the campgrounds. Very sweet and charming and respectful. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

My trip itself was fantastic. I was terrified of seeing bears, but I think I handled it really well for being my first time camping ever, let alone for two weeks straight. We survived a 5.8 earthquake that hit Montana, we swam in glacial waters of  Lake McDonald, we slept outside during a thunderstorm in Yellowstone, we heard wolves/coyotes howl just over the mountain ridge, we woke up early in search of bears and other wildlife, and we went to bed late, usually with some kind of alcohol in our systems. We climbed a 10,000 foot peak, and I got a tattoo in Denver. My only regret is that I forgot a notebook, because I’ve since forgotten so many of the inspired thoughts I had while on the journey.

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But the MOUNTAINS. The mountains were just more beautiful and magnificent than I could have ever expected. It felt a little strange coming back home, seeing my mountains and thinking of just how small they were in comparison. I’m hoping they don’t disappoint me…

Phoebe and I had plenty of great conversations, but the one that stuck with me the most was just eye opening to me. It was something that I’ve always kind of known in the back of my mind, but that I hadn’t really had to process it before.

You can’t love someone wholeheartedly if there is no trust. I remember the days of anxiety, the edge of suspicion to every text message and every name that came in the aftermath of being cheated on. I remember the knots in my stomach, the sleepless nights, and the pure worry, even when he and I were trying to work things out. Even when it seemed like we had, I was still always wary, ready to jump to the worst conclusion, because I had learned that the worst conclusion isn’t always wrong.

I remember enduring the same storm with Adam, with girls he told me not to worry about, who he then had to own up to. “Nothing happened, but…” Everything before “but” is bullshit. Something happened, and I was back in that hole, empty and broken at the bottom. Somehow he got mad at me for all of it, and my lack of trust was supposedly why he dumped me so harshly. Even though I was walking on glass, dancing around my own feelings to spare his, to ensure that he still loved me, that he still thought I was “cool.” I’ll tell you what, he didn’t, but I still get texts from him whenever he’s drunk and horny. To that I say, fuck you.

I say that you can’t love someone if you can’t trust them. You can’t wholeheartedly be your best self. You’re always being careful, always watching your back or barking at others to stay away. If there is no trust, there is nothing. I understand why it’s hard to trust, but you have to give that new person a chance. If nothing else, you’ve made it through heartache before and you will again, but it’s important to love as if you’ve never had a broken heart. I’m still trying to incorporate that into this new relationship, and he has been very understanding of the times I haven’t been able to.

I was telling Mom the other day how I’m just so sick of the dating scene nowadays. Everyone’s excuse is that they’ve been hurt before, so they’re “not looking for anything serious.” So when they do find someone they’re interested in, they refuse to put labels to anything. Because if there are no labels, it doesn’t hurt so much when someone gets hurt, right? We never made anything official, so she can’t be mad that I’m on a date with someone else. She’s not really my girlfriend, so I shouldn’t invite her to family events. I’m losing interest, I should just stop talking to her and she’ll get the point. If she says anything, she’s totally crazy because we aren’t anything and I told her I wasn’t looking for anything serious…

It’s all bullshit, and it’s all the same. Maybe if we as a species all grew a pair and gave it another shot, picked ourselves off and dusted ourselves off when we got hurt, we wouldn’t end up hurting so many people. We would love others instead of playing mind games. We would respect one another, and if we fell in love, we fell in love. Perfect world, right?

Spread some love and have some hope.

Dani

 

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.

Drink Your Poison

Noise overstimulation has become a big problem lately. I’m not sure if I had would have more patience if I wasn’t surrounded by blaring sirens and the honking horns of pissed off drivers, but I can hope. It’s gotten so bad that sometimes it’s unbearable to listen to my roommates’ mundane and polite conversations.

Yoga usually helps clear my head. Alex and I chuckle side by side as we pick apart our yoga videos online. It’s probably the brighter side of most of my days, just social enough while also allowing me to retreat into my mind shortly afterward. Plus, when you feel limber you feel good.

Today we watched Boyhood, a movie that follows a boy and his family over approximately 12-13 years of his life, from age 5ish to his first day at college. We all kind of criticized it; the mother for her horrible choice in men, the father for his immature parenting style, the daughter for her boring and sassy attitude, the boy for his gloomy speeches about existential crises.

As much as we criticized, it was interesting to watch, and in ways it was very relatable. You grew to connect to certain characters and their fucked up life stories. I definitely related to Mason on not wanting everyone breathing down my neck about what to do with my life, something I’m sure many people our age experience. Even following the petty high school break up experience. There was something so quietly entertaining about watching these events unfold, partially because there wasn’t really any action – kind of like real life. There weren’t many dramatic scenes, no thickening movie plot. Just life and how it moves, changes, unfolds. How people develop, for better or worse. How life just goes on.

It’s an incredible juxtaposition to the other show I (and the rest of America) have been watching: 13 Reasons Why. That is quite the dramatic show. With some terrible acting and cheesy one-liners, but that’s what sold in middle school, when I first read the book that the series is based off of.

It seems to glorify suicide in a vengeful way, something that I can’t get behind showing to the vulnerable young-adult public viewers. It makes me mad. This girl is so dramatic. The things she faces in life are by no means easy to go through, but I think they are things she could get over without taking her own life. Granted, I didn’t have the mental stability I like to claim I have now when I was back in high school, so she probably doesn’t either. Hindsight, I guess.

Regardless, the thought of vengeful suicide angers me. It’s such a final, definitive move. But in the same vein, it’s not final. Hannah commits suicide and supposedly her pain is over. Except her pain lives on through other people. It’s not a final move, just the next one. A transfer of that energy. A selfish act. It hurts me most when they show the parents as they struggle to find out what went wrong, why their daughter was capable, why she felt this was her only option. This girl had a support system – two loving parents. They weren’t drug addicts, she wasn’t neglected. They cared about her. I can’t imagine doing that to my mother. I can’t imagine someone doing that to me.

It really struck a nerve because my friend’s dad committed suicide in December, and that was its own transfer of pain. But the cases were different. Scott had a mental illness that he couldn’t beat, and it took him. It took him from his wife. It took him from his three kids, the youngest of whom is only about ten. It took him from his friends, his church, his community. It left a scar so deep we don’t talk about it. People ask me how my friend is doing and all I can say is “good” because how am I supposed to delve into that kind of pain with my friend? How am I supposed to ask him how he’s holding up since the man he looked up to from day one decided he couldn’t take it anymore? It’s created a barrier between him and his friends, the wound we never touch, and one that will never heal.

But no, Hannah Baker gets groped by some jerk, nasty rumors spread around her, a stalker taking her pictures. And that’s all it takes to push her over the edge. (I’m not finished with the series. Maybe it gets worse and makes more sense, but for now I’m just angry). And the show seems to glorify suicide as the final, vengeful act, this girl only caring about how to end her pain than think about who her death with destroy. At the very least, the number to the suicide hotline should accompany each episode.

*   *   *

One episode brought me plummeting right back to you. You know how indie shows now use indie songs by unheard of artists just to seem cool? Yeah, well, I recognized Lord Huron in there. A beautiful song shared between Hannah and Clay. But I couldn’t pay attention to the show once that song came on. I just thought of you.

I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you.

A heaviness hit my chest. I don’t think that song was even out by the time we ended things. Maybe it was. Did you listen to it? The summer that Lord Huron was your muse? The medicine that also broke your heart, that album on repeat as I danced my cares away with a boyfriend that shouldn’t have been more than a rebound? Did you torture yourself with one of my favorite bands as a way to expel your thoughts, your sins? You deserved this, you thought, to wallow in pity and despair. You did that whenever you messed up.

I broke away from you, turned my back and ran. That was when you finally listened to all the songs I had been suggesting for months, the movies I’d wanted you to watch for years. I just wanted to share them with you, appreciate them and analyze them with you. We were insightful, emotional.

My favorite memories with you aren’t even memories. We would lay in your bed, ready for sleep, wrapped around each other, talking. Just talking. We would have those insightful conversations, ones that I wouldn’t remember in the morning. We would talk until we couldn’t move our lips anymore, couldn’t form the sounds. Sometimes we talked about how much we loved each other. When things got bad, we talked about what we were sorry for. How we could work on things. And sometimes we just talked about our thoughts. The world. The universe. We were in love. We were present in that moment, our energies floating through the universe, anchored by a warm blanket and each other’s presence.

I think back, and I miss those moments. Will you always be one step ahead of me? Would I feel the same as I did back then? Or would I be afraid, as I am so often now. Of letting you in, of being hurt, of committing to loving so wholly again. I know it is brave to love. But it is also tiring.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that you are my first love. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know if I’d believe romantic love existed at all. I’d think romance was all just a game. That connections were impossible to keep for more than two months. That boys were all liars that just wanted to fuck. Thankfully you showed me that that isn’t the case. You showed me love, intelligence, emotional and intellectual intimacy, and I am truly lucky to have found that in my first boyfriend. And this time it’s me who fucked up. But it’s all about how gracefully you let go, right? You were water.

Thank you.