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.

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Drink Your Poison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Bartops, Grief, and Good Karma

All I want is to be at the Main Cup tomorrow night for jazz night. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Joe Bonamassa, and it just makes me want to go sit in on some live music that doesn’t require jumping, headbanging, or trying to impress anyone with my dancing. I just want to drink a beer and chat with people while listening to good music. And, funny enough, as much as I hated working jazz nights before, some of my more profound, appreciative-of-life moments happen on jazz nights as the music settles down.

Imagine this: you’re finally off your feet after a few hours of non-stop going, you slide into that tall chair, slough the bag off your shoulder, and one of your coworkers gives you your drink for free. The bartenders are very appreciative of the work you do, they give you a smile, try to make sure you’re okay and not exhausted, even though they still have another hour or so of work ahead of them. You have a sip of your drink, pull out your phone, and start to relax. In the background, the guitar is vibing to the constant rhythm of the drums, and you find yourself absentmindedly tapping your feet against the bar’s footrest. You look up, glance around at the buzz around you, the old regulars laughing, most of them already drunk, none of them paying attention to you (and you prefer it that way most of the time). The lights are a soothing yellow, Christmas lights still dangling from the beams. It’s cold outside, but you don’t have to worry about that yet. You wait for your coworkers to get off so they can join you, and you know they will. You don’t know what you’ll do tonight, if anything, but something almost always happens, be it heading to Bower’s or to another bar. You’re on the younger side of those who will join you, a fresh 21, but your coworkers don’t care. They include you on invitations to continue the party at their houses, tucked into the mountains 15 minutes away. Some of your favorite coworkers are in their thirties and have children, but they make time for you, they enjoy talking to you, and you can open up to them. They’re like mentors, not parents, but also friends. The whole scene is blissful.

That’s what I get to look forward to when I’m home. I like to romanticize, sure, but I think it helps me to be an appreciative person, to take in the little things, to notice and love them. I think that’s why I’ve been having such a good bout of karma recently, and I find it easier to smile at the sky, like my arms are so light I just want to reach to the clouds in celebration of being alive, of basking in a humid, cloudy day in March. I wouldn’t say I’ve found a vigor for life, but I’ve found an appreciation.

I will say, that bar held a couple important nights for me. Obviously, my first shift drink for turning 21. It’s where I “snuck” beer from Cliff during the Christmas party in an attempt to stay drunk (succeeded), it’s where I’ve made some of my closest friends, where I’ve networked many of my relationships. It’s where I’ve gained confidence in myself, in my communication skills. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my coworkers, all around that bar.

I don’t mean for this to turn sad, but there’s something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately that I feel I need to share, but I don’t know who to turn to. I know that whoever I told would be sad and sympathetic without knowing what to say, which is fine, that’s all I could ask of them. I just want to express it so someone will understand.

Another few important moments that happened at Main Cup included my cats. When we had to put my first cat down, on Thursday, October 2, 2014, I had to work almost immediately after – not a smart move on my end. I remember holding my little boy against my chest and just sobbing while my dad dug the grave. I have never cried this way in my life – not during movies, not when my sister left for college, not when I was cheated on. It was just bone-shakingly sad.

After we buried him, I went to work, trying not to cry. It was the first death I’d ever really had to deal with, and it was the cat I’d had since as long as I could remember (I was only a few months old when we got him), and he was mine. We bonded, he always slept with me, it was so sweet. My coworkers were nothing but sympathetic, and I think my being teary-eyed freaked them out a little because I never show that much emotion, or if I do it’s always happy. It was hard to go through, and I think part of me will always be with him, but it was nice to have my Main Cup family there.

This past September, my other cat passed away fairly unexpectedly. She was old, I think she got bit by something, and it was a long, painstaking ride for her. She seemed like she might pull through, but her meows were just haunting. I was headed home from college that Thursday to work and see her, help her if I could, be there if she passed.

Mom called me on my way home to tell me that she had passed the night before. It was such a dagger to the heart. She couldn’t have waited another day for me to be there. For me, it wasn’t selfishness; I was beside myself with the grief that I hadn’t been able to be with her when she went, as I was for my first cat. It still upsets me that she died alone, that I couldn’t be there.

So I went to work, plastered a smile on my face, tried not to think about it, tried not to cry when my coworkers gave me their sympathy hugs. It worked better than the first time. At the end of the shift, I sat at the bar and tried to put some of my feelings into a Facebook post, I think I may have also written about it on here somewhere, but I also didn’t want to be sobbing at the bar by myself while I waited for everyone else. My friends came and sat with me, and I forgot about it for a little while. They wanted to go out, and I just couldn’t put it off any longer – I needed to see my little girl.

I went home, tired from the shift, from the week, from crying in the car. The house was dark and quiet. I hung up my things, kicked off my shoes, and made my descent into the basement, where Mom told me she had wrapped the little one up in a blanket. I flicked on the lights, caught between feeling anxious and at peace (strangely enough). I think I was scared of seeing her.

I peeled back the blanket, and there she was, my best little girl, 16 years old. And I just sobbed again, silently this time. I couldn’t pick her up yet, so I just petted her, her body already cold and stiff. Cursing myself for not being able to be there for her in her final moments. I needed her to know she was loved. That I would miss her sleeping on my outstretched arms as her awkward sign of affection. It was nice to have that private moment. I found it beautiful and meaningful, no matter how much grief filled the air.

Now, with no pets, I feel like my Main Cup family is what I really have to look forward to when I return home. I’m blessed to have them in my life, to have their love and support.

Thank you for sharing such a personal moment with me. It’s cathartic for me to talk about it, to acknowledge the beauty. And this is just a casual reminder that if you are going to put your pets down, please for the love of god stay with them and let them know how much you love them.

Emanating love

 

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