I’m a Riser

Last night I had a dream that my mom gave Misty (my dead cat) away while I was away somewhere. I was sobbing in the dream, so hurt and pained, angry with my mom for ever thinking she would give away one of my little babies. I writhed in my sleep, and I remember faintly waking up and touching my eyelashes to see if I had actually cried in real life. I did. It made me feel like a child.

Its’ always hard to wake up from those dreams. How do you start your day by trying to work through complex emotions of depression all because you had a dream about your cat that died a few years ago now? I’m supposed to jump into yoga and get on with my day with this confused feeling of depression that stems from nowhere but your own subconscious?

I think part of it is unprocessed feelings towards my moms involvement with my cat’s death.

Misty died my senior year of college, about a year or two after my first cat died. Mom had forgotten her outside, and she spent the night under our deck. I don’t blame my mom for that, it happens. Misty used to be a stray, realistically she would have been fine out there. But I think Misty was bit by something. When I came home and found her under the deck, she had a miserable meow that was more than her just not having water for 12 hours. Her neck was swollen, she was taking painful, heaving breaths.

And we left.

We went up to see Lauren that weekend, so as soon as I got home from college we were supposed to turn around and head to West Chester. But I wanted to see Misty first, and that’s when I found her under the deck. I immediately started crying, I was so worried about her. But we left because my parents didn’t want to spend more time in traffic.

When we came home that Sunday, Misty was my first priority. She didn’t look any better, and she had taken to staying in the basement. I asked Mom if we could take her to a vet. Mom said no. If Misty was going to pass, she would pass on her own time. Because putting Tequila (our other cat) down was too much for my Christian, life-loving mom.

But in my eyes, instead of allowing Misty to pass on her own, my mom was being selfish. Be it not wanting to pay for vet bills, not wanting to have to put Misty down a few years later, or not wanting to take care of another living thing in the house while I was gone, I felt my mom had selfish reasons for not taking my cat to the vet, not allowing her live.

I hate to say it, because I love my mom and I think she is a good person. But I do blame her, in my mind at least, for Misty dying so soon. If I could go back, I would take her to the vet on my own and do whatever I needed to to make sure that if should could have recovered and lived a few more years, she would.

It still pains me that I couldn’t be there with her when she passed, as is. I’m sorry, Misty. You deserved more.

*

This is the second time I’ve been in tears in about 24 hours (third, if you include my dream).

Yesterday I was upset about my damn birthday plans. My birthdays never pan out the way I want them to. It’s either close to Mother’s Day so no one can do anything, or it’s near finals week so people aren’t home. So, not to get into that, I’m already disappointed with my birthday this year. But that’s not the point of this part of the blog.

As I broke down in frustration and self-pity, Andrew was right there beside me. I could see the pain in his eyes at my tears. I know he always wants the best for me, that he wants me to be happy. And it many ways, he is responsible for my happiness. Between the massages, the millions of kisses, the laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying, I’m very fortunate to have met him.

One of my favorite things about him, one that I overlooked in my previous relationships, is the support he gives me. I’ve always seen myself as fairly strong, but I can’t describe the feeling of relief the comes with just being able to bare your soul out there to someone. To be vulnerable and to need someone and have them be there for you in every way imaginable.

I’m reminded of it everywhere. When he rubs my back at the end of a long, stressful day. When we talk about our future together. When I listen to “Riser” by Dierks Bentley. When we watch one of our shows and the main character kisses his hospitalized girlfriend. It’s like I can feel Andrew doing the same for me in those scenes. I know that he has my back any time that I need it.

And it’s just so freeing to know that I have someone who will work his fingers to the bone for me, hold me through the bad times and dance with me during the good times, someone who will pick me up when I need it most, dust me off, and hold my hand until I get back on my feet. “I’m a get down low so I can lift you higher.” That’s exactly how he is.

He loves me unconditionally. I will be forever grateful for his love, for his support, and for him. I look forward to spending the rest of my life in the arms of my soulmate.

 

 

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Little Black Dress

The room buzzes and I feel the sweat that has stuck itself to my face. I carry my black stilettos lazily in my right hand, my left hand draped comfortably in your arm, as it’s been there a million times before, as we sway our way out into the cool night air.

It’s rare that we get the night to ourselves, but a wedding with no kids allowed was just the blessing we needed.

I stare at you, smiles brilliant on both of our faces. It feels like we’re back on our honeymoon, finally feeling comfortable in a fitted black dress again. My heart stutters thinking back to your reaction when you first saw I was wearing this dress tonight. You knew exactly where the night was headed as soon as I put it on. And I gotta say, you weren’t wrong.

It feels like we’re kids again. Giggling all the way home, hands finding each other in the dark backseat of a taxi, unbothered by the presence of a stranger that we will never see again. I knew you wouldn’t be able to keep your hands off me tonight. I feel that coy smile break across my face as you lean in for another kiss.

It crosses my mind that we don’t make out sitting up anymore. It’s typically the short foreplay before trying to fit in another quickie. But tonight it goes on forever, trying to behave ourselves enough for the taxi driver’s sake. At least he can’t see your hands snaking their way up my long legs.

The lights flash outside the cab in the moments between our kissing, and all I can focus on is where your hands go, how handsome you look in your clothes, and how sexy that playful smile is.

We finally reach our hotel, and I’m still carrying my heels as your fish for our room key, eagerly awaiting the invitation that is our giant king-sized bed in a city miles away from all of our responsibilities.

As soon as you get the door open it’s game over. Our hands are free to explore each other anywhere they want, and it’s at that realization when we start undressing each other while still trying to keep our lips together. Why don’t we do this more often? I wonder. I refuse to let an actual answer provoke any anxieties. Not tonight. Not after all the liquor we’ve had. Not after putting this dress on.

Sometimes the best times are when all I think about is you. What feels good for you. I make sure I do everything you like, and it’s not long before you’re moaning and losing your breath at the same time. The best aphrodisiac? Feeling sexy for you. As I move, I glance at the little black dress in a rumpled puddle on the floor and grin. Your breath is short and you’re making that noise you always make, and I know that soon your world will be as black as my dress in just a few motions. All because of that old faithful little black dress. Thanks again, old friend, I think with a smile.

***

Fiction inspired by Dierks Bentley’s song Black and perhaps a fantasy with my wonderful boyfriend.

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.

 

PSA for All The Brokenhearted

I’m not typically one for country music all year long, but it’s been one of those years. Everything is happy and light and lovely, and I think that’s why I haven’t had the same hankering for alternative music this fall. Can’t complain!

Lately, one of my friends has been going through a rough time. Her boyfriend treats her pretty horribly. Long story short, he is very disrespectful, doesn’t give her any positive attention, just wants to sweep their problems (a lot of which HE has caused) under the rug. And it was just one of those painfully obvious moments of “I’ve been on the other end of this conversation before.”

I think we’ve all been there. We want to try, we want to make things work, we want things to be as simple and picture perfect as they were in the beginning. And unfortunately sometimes that’s just not the case. Sometimes you can’t work out the kinks – especially if the kinks aren’t your fault. But you think anyways that you can change the person, that things will go back to how they were.

I stood there, telling her everything my mom had once told me. “You don’t deserve it” “you’ll find somebody better who treats you right” “do you really want to raise children with a guy who treats you like this?” “trust what your family has to say about him – they’ll see what you don’t” all of that.

And oh my gosh once you’re on the other side of that conversation, you realize how RIGHT they are! And it suddenly blows your mind that anyone would settle for being treated like shit!

So I’m gonna go on a little rant:

YOU are the only person to blame for someone treating you like shit. Because YOU are allowing that person to treat you that way.

You need to know your worth. And no, no one deserves to be ignored, bullied, manipulated, emotionally or physically abused. Just because you think you love someone or vice versa.

I was in the same boat. I dated guys who didn’t want to talk to me, I wouldn’t hear from them for weeks because, rather than having a “I’m not feeling this anymore” conversation, they just figured if they stopped I’d go away. I dated guys who used me, from the bedroom to running errands for them. I tried to make things work for another year with someone who CHEATED on me. I tried convincing myself that I didn’t want a relationship just to appease these guys who couldn’t handle a commitment. I thought it was too much drama. It gave me anxiety to even think about being in a relationship again, because all I knew was heartache, jealousy, and disappointment.

And then I met Andrew, and in the first few months I wanted to cry at how well he treated me. He has never said a bad thing about me, to me or his coworkers. He is always willing to communicate with me if we have any issues. He is a selfless boyfriend and lover, and I’ve never felt closer to anyone in my life. We joke that I am the female version of him. He’s met my entire family and they all love him, I’ve met most of his family and they all love me. He is everything I could’ve ever asked for in a relationship, and he loves every little thing about me, and he tells me that every day. For christ’s sake, I’ve written enough blogs about the man!

Please for the love of God, take my advice: Don’t fucking do it. You are worth more than you think. You will meet someone who will love every goddamn thing about you if you are just patient enough to wait for them. Love yourself, be kind to yourself, and be patient. And maybe then you’ll be on the other side of the conversation, wondering how any of your friends could ever settle for garbage. Learn to let go gracefully. If they don’t fight for you, fuck them, they don’t deserve you anyway. You will be treated like the queen/king you are. And you will forever be grateful to that person for loving you every day and showing you how much you should have loved yourself in the first place.

 

And I Can’t Help

Your arms around me,
security, not a cage.
With your sleepy sigh at my back, I smile.
I know you will wake as soon as I touch my phone.
And you will pull me closer to you,
hot skin warming my everything.

*   *   *

Our mornings and nights we spend wrapped around each other, and our days we spend roaming your city. There are a million places you want to show me, and I can hear the disappointment in your voice every time I say that I’ve been there before with my sister. You want to be my first for everything, to show me why I should love your town as much as I love my own.

The thing is, I don’t always love new surroundings. I love familiarity. So being in this town that boarders both new and familiar, with my hand firmly in yours, or your arm draped around me, it makes me love the place more than I ever did.

You cater to my every need with a playful smile and a happy heart. We hop from place to place, just enjoying each other’s company. The playful flick of my toes against your shin, your goofy grin as you hold my hand in yours on the bar top, the sweet cheek kisses as we make harmless jokes at each other’s expense. It’s the same scene at every bar, champagne bubbles caressing my lips as we remain mentally wrapped up in nothing and no one but each other.

Your love and support astounds me. You haven’t said it yet, but I can feel it. I wiped a lash off your cheek and told you to make a wish, and you looked at me before you blew it away. I asked what you wished for, and you refused to tell me. “I want this one to come true,” you smiled. And I smiled back, my eyes falling to the floor as I blushed. I feel it.

And your support… you’ve never even thought of knocking me down. And every time I say something about myself, you correct me in a loving way. You have no idea how I haven’t been snatched up by someone else before you, why others would pass on such a soul. That’s how I know it’s right. From playing video games in your messy apartment on a Friday night, to teeing it up at a driving range for the first time, you have never laughed at me for trying new things. You have always been on my side. I want you on my team forever.

At the end of the day, after we’ve made a simple dinner, had a few beers, and watched an episode of our favorite show, I’m in your bed again, head on your chest, falling asleep as you stroke my head. And with each sleepy twitch and each deep breath, I realize I’m falling more than just asleep.

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.