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

 

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

 

 

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.

Elastic Warriors of the Universe

There’s something to be said about not being the victim anymore.

For the longest time, I knew my baggage was “my first boyfriend cheated on me, therefore I am teeming with trust issues so you should be empathetic when I’m crazy.” It’s not a fun place to be, and I thought I would be that way forever.

But something happened about a year ago, and I just stopped.

I didn’t want to be labeled as “the girl that got cheated on”, I didn’t want to carry that baggage with me into every new relationship I had. I didn’t want to be crazy about the trust issues, constantly wondering where my new boyfriend was at all times, worrying over who he was with, if he was lying to me about something. I noticed all of those tendencies slip into my second relationship. Slowly, my trust issues receded, which was such a big relief for me.

Eventually the trust issues came back full force, but that’s what happens when you date sleazy guys that are down for any attention girls throw at them (no matter how much love and attention you give them).

It took a long time to get over labeling myself as a victim. I felt I had an explanation, a justification for my overly anxious attitudes, that whoever I dated next would have to be okay with me being worried about them all the time.

One day I realized I just didn’t want to think that way anymore. I didn’t want to have to worry every minute of the day. I didn’t want to have to check up on someone all the time and then not believe him anyway because I was lied to in my first two relationships. Relationships are built on trust and friendship, and I couldn’t have a good one if I could only promise half of those characteristics.

I can’t even explain how liberating it was to finally let it go. I didn’t want to be the victim anymore. I didn’t have to keep lugging around this heavy, anxious weight all the time. Maybe it’s naive, maybe it’s resilience, but I decided I needed to trust people wholeheartedly again if I was ever going to find a relationship that gave that trust back to me.

I know I have a big heart, and sometimes that’s why I get screwed over. But I try not to let it make me bitter. I know that there is so much good in the world just waiting to be unlocked, that there is so much love being shared out there. I know that if I put love out in the universe, it will come back to me somehow. Maybe I can show others how to love, maybe someone will surprise me by showing me that I can love more.

I’m still not perfect, I still see the trust issues creep in every once in a while. But I see the progress I have made, and I’m usually pretty proud of it. I believe that one day someone will prove to me that trust is real and true, that loyalty and commitment are not too much to ask for in this modern dating world. Until then, I will be working on myself, perfecting how to breathe, let go, and let myself be vulnerable to others in the hopes that they prove their trustworthiness.

The point is, you don’t always have to be the victim. Heroes don’t have easy histories. It’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.

Bloody Bags and Muddy Shoes

You are the gentle thumb sweeping across the back of my hand.

You are clutching my fingers in your hand, the reassuring squeeze.

The goosebumps of a warm rain on a cold night.

You are emanating love.

* * *

It was a strange and beautiful weekend. I learned you didn’t think too much of yourself, that you really were scared because of what girls had done to you in the past. My hurt hurt. You need to know what I think of you, drunk and sober. The kindest I had ever met. The most beautiful soul to experience. I want to love your pieces back together.

You must have hit your head pretty hard because you told me you love me.

I was running around, wishing for clones as I searched for your dog, searched for a bag of ice, searched Google about head injuries. 

I told you I love you too, and you paused, stared at me, and pulled me into the most passionate kiss. I wanted nothing more than to be your nurse forever, even after dumbass incidents.

I borrowed your clothes, a simple “this is what I want” smile crossing your face. Like you’d found peace you didn’t know I could give you. Like everything was as it should be, with a bandage on your bleeding skull and a beautiful girl in your baggy clothes.

Cleaning your wound, purging my own. I didn’t sleep a wink, and I’m glad you woke up. Though you should’ve let me take you to the ER. 

You were appreciative the next day. You called me your little nurse, and I couldn’t help but smile.

You wore a horrible suit for a themed party and you loved it, exclaiming “I’m getting married in this!” Tina turned to me and said “don’t marry him if he wears that.” I blushed because she thought it would happen, like she knew his love for me. 

Appreciative, apologetic kisses tickled me all the way home. I slept.

Karmic Rabbits

I definitely have some kind of karmic energy around me, even if it doesn’t always work out for me. Although, that’s not surprising is it? Karma doesn’t bend at my will.

It pervades my love life in a cynical, almost sinister way. My only “official” boyfriends were each paid visits. What goes around comes around, and the lesson is bittersweet — I still wish the best for at least one of them (hi Chad!).

I’m concerned with what this could mean for a future relationship that’s been on my mind lately, someone I’d never before considered, someone I’d be devastated to lose. My impatience is getting the best of me, but hopefully my fear will help me be more apprehensive.

We still have some growing to do. I think it’s good that I can admit that to myself right? I still have some oats to sow, be it traveling, moving, self-exploration, etc. I can’t put a time stamp on it, which is a blessing and a curse. I always want to peek into the future and figure out what the hell is going to work out. But I’m learning to trust my intuition, which may or may not be good for the situation.

Unfortunately I have too much homework to really sit and reflect on it.

For now I’m just extremely grateful for the life I’m living. It’s not perfect, and there’s a lot going on. I just find it interesting that even on days I feel a cloud hanging over me, I can reflect on karmic events around me.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings. I admit I have felt a little alone lately, but alone time is good. It helps me concentrate in this busy time.

Now it’s time to unwind with Game of Thrones and a glass of wine.

Cheers!

Enigmatic

Recently I’ve come to question if I’ve ever been in love. I have loved, I have felt loved by friends and family, but I don’t know if I have ever had a pure, deep, romantic love.

I had to think about whether or not I knew what love is. It isn’t really a checklist of items, values you look for in a significant other. I tried to figure it out on my own, but maybe I’m thinking too much. Is love just a feeling? Is it a mental effort? I’m still not sure.

I don’t want to downplay any of my past relationships. At those points in time, I felt very in love. But I’ve come to question whether it was love or an expectation of what was the next step in the relationship. So I’ve been reevaluating, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Love is trust – You can’t be an anxious mess every time one of you does something without the other. If you can’t trust the person you are with, then you need to look at whether it is because you are being jealous and overprotective or if the other person is the cause of the mistrust. But in order to be happy and healthy, there must be trust between you.
  • Love is being patient – Your significant other is going to endure the ups and downs of life regardless of whether or not you are by his/her side. To love that person is to help them carry that baggage, ease the load. If they cannot come to you for help, you are not helping each other grow as people. The best way for someone to endure their hardships is for them to have help. You can’t be that person if you’re going to be angry with them for all of their troubles.
  • Love is communication – As a comm major, I cannot stress this enough. Relationships involve a multitude of communication levels. You need to be able to talk through problems. Not only that, but you need to remind them that they mean something to you. Just by simply talking, the other person may feel important, loved, like you genuinely want them in your life. I’ve faced two long distance relationship as I go through my college years, and I’ve learned that all the little details of the day are not that important, but you miss out on so much of each others’ lives if you simply don’t put the effort into talking.
  • Love is kindness – You should not be the person solely responsible for your significant other’s happiness, but you should be a positive force in their life. I personally refuse to use derogatory names with my significant other. Words are words, but they can stick with you. I will never seriously degrade someone I should love with such hurtful language, and I will never accept someone who says such things of me. You must love yourself above your partner, because then it’s not a competition and you can be truly happy for and with one another. Your words should be positive, you should build each other up. Believe in each other.
  • Love is interest – Sharing interests seems trivial, but it’s important. Even if you don’t share these interests, it’s important to show interest in one anothers’ hobbies, of these things that make you happy, what makes your partner happy. If they feel they can’t talk with you about an important part of their lifestyle, their identity, then that discourages communication and connection.
  • Love involves effort, but it shouldn’t be an uphill battle through and through – Love can be a struggle. My first relationship lasted two years, 18 months of which were spent apart, trying to love each other from different states. It wasn’t easy by any means, and we faced our fair share of troubles, but the most important aspect is that we were both willing to work through those struggles to try and come out the other side stronger. Sadly, as we grew up we understood we were growing into different people, but it’s important to understand that life is not going to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. You will be tested, you will face your own struggles. It’s when one of you stops trying that the love quickly dissipates. (Another strange thought: it takes two to start a relationship and only one to end it)
  • Love is support – For all the reasons above, support one another. You may have different interests – be happy for their successes in those interests. Be there for them when they are discouraged, when they are fighting a hard battle. Loving is not leaving someone in their time of need. Loving is being there for them through the good and the bad.
  • Love is being two people – I struggled with this one for a while, and I think I finally have it under my belt. Sometimes you think that time apart means they don’t want to be with you, and that’s not true. It’s important for you to be your own person, be someone who complements your partner and vice versa. Maintain your friendships, those relationships with other people you love. Pursue your interests, your dreams. It’s okay to be your own person, and if you can come together as two different people that bring out the best in each other, then you have succeeded.
  • Love is laughter – As someone who has always seemed to like the brooding type, take it from me: life is too serious to be serious all the time. You need someone who is going to make you laugh, and you should be a happy, positive force in your partner’s life.
  • Love is friendship – These two kind of go hand in hand, but I can tell you I have never been so happy as when I realize my significant other is someone I would genuinely be friends with. You love who they are as a person. You know each other’s secrets, fears, hopes. You make each other laugh. You can be yourself. Someone is going to love you for being unapologetically you. And you in turn will love someone for who they are.

This list may change and grow as I get older, but who knows. Maybe it will change the next time I am shown love. I can’t predict the future.

I hope this helps someone who needs it.

Wise Beyond Her Years