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.

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The Only Path is the One You Follow

Spring break is almost here! I know it’s going to fly by, as I’m planning on working 7 out of the 9 days I’m home and generally have fun stuff planned the other days I’m home. Hopefully I’ll find time to hike and get a little more realistic incline in.

So, I have an interesting “problem” I guess. More of a thought and situation. Have you ever loved someone but wanted them to go back to their first love? My love interest used to date this incredible girl. I hated working with her because she was so bossy, but the more I read her blog, learned of her personality, saw more of her heart and mind, the more I liked her. She’s beautifully artistic and she radiates confidence. Things turned messy for them, and they ended things on not-so-great terms, meaning whenever she makes her way back to our little town, her old place of work, the bartenders will warn him he won’t want to mingle tonight. The last time they were in the same building, he finished his food and left without a second thought, didn’t even come out for drinks with everyone that night to get his mind off things.

I know he was really hurt by her, more than I think he has ever let on. I have heard him talk about her, both in admiration and in bitterness. They are both such beautiful souls that I’m not sure he will ever love anyone as much as he loved her. What stuns me is that I’m not jealous when he talks about her, but I genuinely feel sorry for him. I want them to be together, even though I have such strong feelings for him. Even when I ask the universe for him, I want him to be with her because I think they could be the greatest love story, so passionate and pure. High school sweethearts, best friends, both fiercely independent but with gentle love for each other. It’s beautiful to me – I have so much respect for it. Which is weird right? I’ve asked the universe for this man! Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should ask for his happiness and see where it leads him. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good love story.

Maybe I know how he feels. Because who doesn’t wonder what could have been?

Another thought I’ve been wrestling with constantly is my relationship with my best friend, and I think I’ve expressed it before so I’ll keep it short. Shouldn’t you be in love with your best friend? The one you’ve known since high school, the one where you can mutually tell each other everything, you’ve met each others’ families and it’s not strange to just spend all day together doing nothing and still having  a good time. I want nothing more than to love him, and I know so many people that agree and want to see us together. But there’s something in me that just can’t picture it, and I wish I knew what it was. But shouldn’t I listen to that gut feeling now? Before it’s 20 years down the road and I’m regretting not branching out in my life?

If you had the chance, would you want to know your future? I think I believe in some kind of predestination. It’s the least anxiety-inducing method of looking at the future. Everything is as it should be. Whatever happens, it is for a reason. I think I had to adopt that method, because the pathways were just too expansive for me to think about all of them, about every person I could be.

I actually remember that moment that I settled on predestination. I was hiking by myself, I think in Gambrill. My sister had recently been going through some of her anxious/depressive thoughts, and she shared with me that sometimes she felt overwhelmed by all the choices she could make in her life and all of the paths down which she could go. And I told her that I shared those same anxieties sometimes.

I remember when I was choosing which college to attend, I was like this decision is going to decide my life. And in many ways, it does. But I was worried that I would choose the wrong college and somehow miss out on meeting my future husband. Which is crazy for an 18-year-old to be worried about. (Although maybe I was right since, ya know, still single).

But on that hike, as I followed that beaten path, the one forged by so many others before me, set up by the parks’ services, I realized there is only one path in life. You can take many directions, you still have the chance to choose. But what if choosing is an illusion? What if your path is already predetermined, that everything is already aligned for you, all you have to do is follow?

I was very relaxed then, like I had just figured out life. All of my anxious thoughts were put to rest. It’s very easy when you think “what I am doing is what is supposed to happen.” That the universe is constantly guiding me in the right direction. It helps me have faith in my decisions, but I still don’t make choices blindly (not all of them anyway).

Anyway, here’s to love and other drugs.

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Wishes to the Universe

Had a wonderful and spontaneous night at home in order to see my best friend. It involved copious amounts of tequila and the perfect amount of french toast. Our hungover asses sat in his hot tub on a freezing day, fully bloated from the previous night, discussing life, praising the mountains, and feeling grateful for our town. I did, anyway.

As I’ve said, as it gets closer to graduation, I find it harder and harder to leave my little town behind. My heart yearns for the mountains, and I’m always so awestruck when I can catch the colors of the sun setting over the mountains or between the trees. I can’t tell you the number of times my gaze has left the road a dangerously long time just because I’m trying to enjoy the beauty of the sunset. I’ll say it here, if I ever die in a crash because I was watching the sun set, at least the last thing I saw was something I loved.

Morbid… Anyways.

Yesterday I stayed in town long enough to greet my parents after they had finally gotten home from their cruise. As I waited for them to call me, I laid down in bed, trying to close my eyes since I was running on a mere four hours of sleep from the night before (still went to the gym, proud of myself for that!). But I couldn’t close my eyes. My room was too beautiful. A light, happy, peaceful yellow, filled with a similar relaxing sunlight drifting in through the open blinds. I cuddled the pillow next to me, staring at the beauty that my windows framed, that my blinds teased. I wish staring at the sun wasn’t bad for your eyes. I’m not sure I’d ever look away.

I love to linger in those peaceful moments. I want to be able to just share that serenity with someone else, for them to understand my love for a beautiful sky.

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I told Ryan how excited I was to spend a few weeks out in the mountains, just me and Phoebe, someone else who appreciates nature and namaste-ing as much as I do – if not more. It really just made me more excited to think about being outdoors for days on end, not caring how dirty I get, not trying to impress anyone. Just me and her soaking up the wilderness.

Also, side note, I think I’m getting slightly better at yoga. It doesn’t seem like as much of a chore to do downward dog anymore. Part of it might be because it’s nice that my roommate enjoys it as much as I do, so she helps motivate me. She does, however, also motivate me to eat cookies all the time, so I’m trying to work on my will power here.

At the same time, yoga has also allowed me to see how much I need improvement, especially in my mobility. I’m hoping it opens up my hips, but even just side body stretches can be ludicrously difficult sometimes. It reminds me of when Mom makes me her physical therapy guinea pig and I realize I can’t hold poses/postures that are seemingly simple. Like sure I can squat a decent amount of weight, but can I lift my leg while keeping my core tight and hips level? Way harder than I thought.

I had a scary revelation yesterday. Mary texted me asking where I had slept the night before (she knows my drunken habits – I giggled), and I truthfully said that I had slept in my own bed that night, and then we had a short conversation about my love interest where she brought up how it’s been a long time of us being on and off and how he needs to get his act together (preachin to the choir, girl). And I realized that this on again off again thing has been the second longest “relationship” I’ve been in…

I officially dated Chad for a little over two years, I officially dated Adam for maybe a year and one or two weeks. Connor and I were on again off again for maybe four months. But this current one has been a year and three months. I’ve been battling with him and our feelings for each other for longer than I was with someone I had considered moving in with, someone I had considered marrying. It was a weird little revelation.

I doubt he reads my blogs, so I have no qualms speaking freely about it on here: I just haven’t been able to get him out of my head. Sometimes I struggle with it, especially the first time he grew distant. I wanted to be hurt and say “screw you” and never talk about it again. Easier said than done when you see him every time you go home and he’s there in the kitchen of your place of work. And he’s been there longer than you so you can’t be any kind of territorial over your workplace. Some days are easier than others, but that’s usually when I’ve been away at school for a few weeks and we haven’t spoken anyway.

You’d think that with all the back-and-forth, I’d be sick of it and just be done. Part of me wants to be done, sometimes I say with confidence that I am. And then I come back home and fall right back into it because there’s something about him that’s irresistible to me. He has such a good heart, the kind of person that doesn’t like to say anything bad about anybody, and he’ll usually correct himself if it has any kind of mean edge to it. He’s all about enjoying life, though I wish he’d do more with it. But who am I to judge.

There’s some part of me that just wants him. And I haven’t been able to explain to anybody, even myself. I’ve asked so many of my older friends for advice, something I rarely do, and they’ve helped me talk through my feelings, how there’s no reason for me to be as hung up on him as I have been. But I’ve never been able to put my finger on it.

So maybe someday we’ll give it a shot. Maybe I’ll be hung up on him until I move to another state, though the thought of never seeing him again makes me sad. Maybe I’ll be hung up on him forever. Some days I imagine (guiltily) that I’ve moved to North Carolina where I’ve met a nice man, but that I come home to Middletown and rekindle something with him. I want to give things a shot, almost as if it’s unfinished business. That it needs to run its course before I can give it up. But then again, I’ve never really been the one to give things up first, unless, sadly, my foot was safely planted in another canoe (I’m still sorry).

I have worried that I seem to be turning down guys because he still holds the higher pedestal in my heart. He’s the one I drunk call most often. I hope to not close myself off to the possibility of other, perhaps better suitors just because I’m hung up on him.

Some days I just ask the universe for him. And weirdly enough he seems to be headed in the right direction. So I guess we’ll see what happens. Maybe one day I’ll reread this and laugh that I was so attached to him, maybe one day I’ll read this to him. Who knows.

As the sirens screech down Route 1, I can’t help but crave the utter silence of my bedroom back home. So I need to go to bed, as I’m still recovering from the four hours of sleep night I had so recently. Life is great, isn’t it?

Peace

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Backlit Cubicle

Relaxing Sunday evening my ass. It’s been a long yet short weekend traveling up to West Chester. It went by in the blink of an eye – something I’m hoping that will happen with the rest of this semester. The string of Christmas lights that normally lights my room is 3/4 burned out so, quite like me this semester, it’s hanging on by a thread.

Although my hair currently reminds me of Doc’s in Back to the Future, it’s nice to find some time to yourself. I may have left my razor at Lauren’s (oops), but I’m finding other ways to care for myself. I love the clay masks that leave me crimson, and the pride in using a netti pot and actually feeling like it’s doing something. Hopefully it will leave me more balanced than I have been feeling recently.

Karma struck again last Tuesday. More bad news, more cries for help. More keeping to myself in order to process instead of comforting those who would worry as much as I would about the news. May this green tea remedy work, and may my razor find its way back to me soon…

I’ve felt off-kilter emotionally lately, from a source I never would have expected – my family. I’ve always been very big on family. It’s how I was raised, I guess, to want your family close to you and close together. But something about it has put me in a sour mood. Sometimes I have these blips of emptiness, and I still can’t find where the stem from, but they have been occurring more often lately, mostly around my family, and I wonder, why now? Is there something about my family, some of the people I love most in this world, that makes me feel lonely? How can that be?

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Perhaps they are too together, too figured out for this green, broken spirit. Once I explore will I feel whole again? I wish I could pinpoint, but for now I’ll just wonder. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that sometimes you can ask the question and you won’t find the answer right away. Many of my questions have gone unanswered, but when I find them I find them and for now I just have to be patient (something I’ve never been good at).

More lines were crossed, old lines, new lines. All very shaken, an earthquake hovering beneath the surface. I would rather the earth open and swallow me whole than deal with the cracking of that earthquake. So for now I choose to step carefully, ignorantly, as if things can still be okay.

All I know is I need to get out. I need my home to return to my home. I need a moment to figure myself out, and then I need to get the hell away from my hometown if I ever hope to overcome that ledge. I think it’s the only way, or at least the only way I can see. I always see the world so black and white (a cultural thing, I’ve learned), but there is always gray, and most of the time I fail to see it.

I do miss my homes, and I’m very close to seeing both of them. Very conflicted feelings.

I wish this entry would have been more of a revelation, an inspiration, but sometimes life just doesn’t work that way, and that’s okay.

Love

Sensory Wisdom

I’m a naive little 21-year-old. Does red wine have artificial coloring? If it does, don’t tell me, or my purple mustache; I’m enjoying it too much.

This week has been less stressful. I’m not sure if I’m coping, if I’m out of the woods, or if I’m just excited. That’s not to say it’s been an easy week; I still find myself deep in thought every day. Missing people I shouldn’t, mostly. Missing things I should. But also appreciating things I have. Some things have certainly changed from when I was 16 or 17. I feel a more positive force in myself.

I really think it has come from this summer. This wasn’t an easy summer between school and work and dramatic situations, but I still stand by it was life-changing. I learned so much about myself from being on my own for the first time in a long time. I had time to myself, to evaluate and feel without thinking. I definitely think too much. I used to catch myself laughing, question what it was that I was enjoying about that moment. Now I’ve made the decision to just let myself feel it and not worry, wonder, or care why I’m enjoying it. I think it’s helped prolong my happiness.

I’m excited to return to the mountains. And I don’t know what to do with myself, and I’m not as afraid of that as I thought I would be. Instead, I’ll hike, I’ll write, and I’ll work. The future is full of possibilities, and I have to take them.

Candles are a godsend. Today in my argumentation and public policy class, we talking about monuments and memorials and their different representational characteristics. We talked about how water is seen as rebirth, a force of life, etc. And I think fire is the same way. Maybe that’s not a new thought, but there’s something so powerful and mesmerizing about fire that it has to be a source of life. Do you think people that go to Hell have to stay there? Do you think the fire just cleanses them for their new life? Hmm. What a theory.

It’s unbelievable how powerful smell is too. It can create peace, it can trigger trauma. People have different pasts. I’m not sure if that’s something I just recently figured out – I used to be bewildered driving on the highway, thinking about how everyone in the cars around me had different lives; they have different pasts, they were on the road for different reasons, they were going through different points in time and life. So I guess it’s not new, but when my roommate says she hasn’t seen some of my favorite, childhood Halloween movies, I guess it just strikes me again.

Sometimes I think I’m just connected to a different emotional version of the world. Sometimes I can disassociate from problems in order to deal with them, and for some reason I consider myself strong during those times, if not a little heartless. But there are other times I just feel connected on a different level, with a different understanding. I can’t explain it, though this is the first time I’ve tried. I’ll try again later.

I remember that time we ran from my car to your house, soaked within the first ten leaps. I asked for clothes, and you gave me the pants I always borrowed and an old t-shirt you wouldn’t miss (though when have I ever not given your clothes back?). I changed and when you walked in, your drunk eyes lit up as I shrunk into your shirt, embarrassed at being ogled by you. I’ll remember that as I try to forget you.

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When One Door Closes, Corri Pulls It Open

It’s been a long one, but a good one. Today I ventured into D.C. thanks to my friend Corri. I’m not sure if I normally would be down to see the city on a weekday, but my first thought was that would be good for the blog. That’s what it’s come to now – do it for the blog!!

Unfortunately, I’m horrible with public transportation. Maybe something to do with not wanting to make a fool of myself, but I haven’t exactly tried to learn. I guess learning through trial and error is sometimes the only way to learn. But we finally got me a reusable metro pass (ooh, how city of me), and off we went.

As we walked through town, I kept thinking of my times in Boston. The city and its historic, brick buildings had more of a charm than any other city I’ve been to, but maybe those feelings are more so tied to the person I once shared it with. Maybe I’ll never love another concrete city in the way that I loved Boston, but I’m okay with that – the mountains have my heart now.

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Wow I wish these pictures were less grainy. Soon I’ll be putting in those hours for some kind of camera, either a point and shoot or a GoPro if I’m lucky enough. Anyways.

After walking through the city, I realized just how little I knew of the place. I’ve been to D.C. a handful of times and I live an hour west. Corri is from Wisconsin and she said she and her family used to go twice a month when they first moved here. Mental checklist: take advantage of being this close to D.C. more often… do it for the blog! Do it for yourself!

I guess the monuments don’t really captivate me anymore. I don’t know if they ever really did. How are George Washington’s accomplishments immortalized by a giant toothpick? Museums may have a stronger effect on me, but even then I don’t really remember ever being touched to my core by staring at an historical artifact. I need to feel a connection. I remember going to the Native American museum on a field trip once. As I’m part Native American, I found it incredibly fascinating. It combined the modern day museum with the spiritual nature of the indigenous tribes of North America.

Side note, they knew how to live. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel healed by being out in nature. An old friend of mine decided he wanted to explore different religions, and he landed on Taoism because it was all about finding the path to the ultimate goal: returning to nature. That thought crosses my mind every time I step on a Maryland shuttle bus. If there was ever a place that needed to return to nature, it is College Park.

Back to D.C.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is this weekend, so we trekked past the monuments in the hopes of seeing some beautiful blossoms. We weren’t disappointed. We wove our way through the netting of people, dodging strollers, ducking past cameras, tripping over roots as we searched for a picturesque moment.

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(I’d say we found a few)

Corri was talking, ever the tour guide, about how the cherry blossoms were given to us as a gift from Japan after WWII. The idea was a bit absurd, considering our dirty hands. I hope we gave something to them in return.

I thought it silly, what we consider an apology. Thousands upon thousands of people were killed in Pearl Harbor and in Hiroshima, lives cut short or damaged beyond repair. Children grew up in fear, and they were to be considered the lucky ones because they were given the chance to grow up. Mothers, wives, brothers, all other family thrown into depression at the loss of their children, lovers, role models, etc., and we are given the gift of beautiful cherry blossoms in the hopes of putting these horrors in the past.

These lives ruined by war, such a logical and methodical idea. The reparation? A beautiful, artistic idea, as if the left brain is responsible for the attack and the right brain is responsible for damage control. I have a hunch that the minds that thought the cherry blossoms to be a beautiful, meaningful statement were not the same minds behind the kamikaze pilots.

But our acceptance of these beautiful trees is evidence that we do hold meaning in symbolism. We understand the beauty, we see the sacrifice, we forgive. Nothing is ever as blissful is finally being able to forgive. You feel the house of anger, misery, and bitterness that you have built collapse on itself, and the new breath of life is what it truly feels to be free.

I find it beautiful that these trees, these symbols, are a sufficient peace offering. To see the blush petals falling softly to the ground, no matter how harsh the wind whips, instilled a calmness in me. In a bustling city surrounded by people, cars, and buses, I felt quiet. Peaceful.

And on our way back to College Park, Corri and I ran to catch our train and she hopped inside just as the doors were closing, leaving me still standing on the platform. Lucky enough, she and a nice man were able to wrench the doors open wide enough for me to slip inside. Almost had me, L’Enfant!12939225_10208169223046429_1960290405_n

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Of course this doesn’t capture it, but the dim yellow sunshine filtering through the metro station gave the train a very sentimental glow.

I am learning to be a tourist, that it’s okay to have your camera out to capture a moment you don’t want to lose. I’m also learning that it doesn’t have to be the perfect picture to still hold meaning (although I do still want a better camera).

Lucky me, I got to continue my serenity by ending the day with yoga. I haven’t been in weeks, so my shoulders and triceps are not happy with me right now, but it’s a start. Here’s to getting back on track.

Wednesday’s yoga classes always get to me. During the closing moments, lying peacefully on our backs (I’m not even going to attempt to spell the word, but I think it’s pronounced suh-va-sin-a), listening to whatever background noise Chad has picked out for us today, I almost always have a profound moment with myself.

A few weeks ago, after having a horrible day, bound so tightly by anger, I came to yoga and worked it out. I felt calmer, sure, but still upset. During the final moments of rest, Chad played sounds of soft rain, thunder murmuring in the background. I was instantly pulled back to when I was 11 years old. I don’t even think it’s a memory, just a vision. I was 11, sitting in the warm, green, dewy grass in my backyard. It was summer, and it was humid, and I was quietly listening to the storm that had just rolled through. I have since spent the past few weeks trying to chase that calmness, that peace, during difficult times.

Today, Chad played something different from the rain and thunder. I was trying to imagine what it could be, and suddenly I was in Victoria’s backyard, with her and our other neighborhood friends surrounding a bonfire that sat in the old washbin. It was a clear night, crickets chirping, and I just sat and smiled. Victoria and Jess were talking animatedly, and I just sat back and smiled.

I think it says something that my peace has been found in nature, back home in Middletown, and when I was younger. I don’t know what it means, but I’ll keep searching.

For now, I think I’ll watch Ponyo. Or maybe I should go to bed since I have class in the morning… But I think Ponyo would make me happier.

Cheers