subject line: it's still raining in the city of angels

 

LA

Tomorrow the sun will still rise, and the rain will still fall, and the sky will still be blue. But the coffee, the coffee will be gone, the movie will be over, and you’ll find yourself on the last page of the book. The songs will still be there but their meanings will have changed, they won’t be about me anymore or about us; and your shoes, they’ll still be the same shoes that you wore, they’ve just crossed different paths now.
One day you’re going to forget about me.
My name will just be another sound and that song on the radio won’t make your head spin. You can eat my favorite food without losing your appetite, you can laugh a little louder, and smile a little brighter. And ten years down the road when you find yourself back in this small, old town, you’ll drive down my street, you’ll drive by the corner of the sidewalk where we sat there talking all night about our future and it won’t mean a damn thing to you.
One day you’re going to forget about me; that means you’ve moved on, and maybe so should I.

subject line: an unbroken seal

 

tuscon, arizona 

My breath was taken from my chest leaving room for my heart to dance the day I first saw you.
You were the kindest soul. Every word of yours written on paper made me fall deeper in love with you. But today I wonder if you ever wrote me back, if there is some letter to me tucked away in your luggage with all the words you wanted me to hear. I wonder if there is an unbroken seal containing the most poetic of “I love you”s.
I wonder if you spend nights thinking of me and all that we could of said the day I lost my words saying goodbye. I wonder if you have thought about me since the last time my eyes met yours. I think about you every day and I wish you all the best, but there isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do just to hear your laugh one more time.

subject line: xoxo, your future mrs.

 

Texas 

How do you love someone you’ve never met? Let me do my best to explain. Some people feel completely single when all their friends seem to be getting engaged and married and even starting to have kids. I can’t sit here and say that I don’t feel the same way sometimes, but more than anything it makes me excited — excited to pursue each other, excited for the moment where we realize we can see ourselves spending the rest of forever with each other. Excited for the most mundane things, to the most extravagant. Excited to say yes to forever, to absolutely tear up the dance floor on our wedding night with our friends and family. And trust me, my friends will without a doubt tear it up. Excited to fall in love with you every single day, whatever that looks like. Excited to chase to the cross together, as you lead our family. Excited to put a name and face to my prayers after all these years. Excited to raise our kids and grandkids, and my gosh I can’t wait to grow old and gray. So whoever you are, and wherever you are, I’m praying for you and I love you already. And I hope sometimes you think about me too. Take your time, but also hurry the heck up.

subject line: dear God

 
I just ended the longest week of my life. I don’t even know what made it long: Was it the stress at work or the multiple sleepless nights in a row? Maybe it was the panic attacks. It was probably, however, the loneliness and the feeling that no matter how hard I try, I will never be enough.

So when on Friday night, just as I was about to settle into a Netflix binge, and I see that he started dating someone, you best believe I lost all hope.

Because for the past couple of weeks, his face was the reason I got up in the morning. His smile was the reason I believed I was more than my past choices or mistakes. He was the reason I decided to eat my breakfast in the morning, a lunch at noon, and a meat-startch-and-vegetable dinner half past six. He made me believe that I could actually live a normal life.

But, when I saw him tonight with the beautiful girl with the long blonde hair, all my sense of hope diminished. I saw myself again for who I am: the girl who can’t seem to love herself enough to eat. The girl who’s counted every calorie for the last decade. The girl whose behaviors have inhibited her from receiving love. Because she doesn’t believe she deserves it.

So, this is one is to you, God. I know that emailing is a bit unconventional, but this is the 21st century and the bushes haven’t burned in the thousands of years. So, if you find this email, please read between the lines and realize that my hope and patience are running thin. I’m exhausted, I’m exhausted, I’m exhausted.

subject line: forgive me, i fell in love

 

manitou springs, CO

We were in Colorado and she was in New Jersey. I fell in love with you after 2 days, before I even knew you were dating. When I finally did find out, I did the noble thing for a while. I tried to bury my feelings, and ask you about her, and keep a healthy distance, and keep my heart safe. But it didn’t work. We were together for the whole summer, and as time went on, I fell harder and harder for you, and I knew you were falling for me, but I didn’t try to stop you. I just let you fall, and I’m sorry. Sure, we disguised it as a good friendship, and we assured each other that we weren’t doing anything wrong.

We assured each other after our 6 hour coffee date that Sunday. We assured each other after the ice cream date in the park. We assured each other after we climbed Mt. Elbert, and when we’d split all of our meals when we went out with friends, and when we’d sit and talk until midnight about our lives and dreams.

But all along I knew better. When you introduced me to your girlfriend over the 4th of July, you told her that you believed in me and thought I’d change the world someday. And then the fireworks came. The literal, Independence Day fireworks. I danced with our friends like a crazy fool, partially because I love crazy dancing, and partially because I wanted to seem like I didn’t care that you were with her instead of me. But when I finally mustered the courage to sneak a glance, I saw a picture that really depicted our summer together: you were holding her hand, but only watching me.

I should never have asked for your heart to be divided.

We can’t always control our emotions, but we can control our actions, and we can try to control our hearts. I did neither. I allowed myself to act on what I felt, and it left a trail of messy tears for all of us. The summer ended, you guys broke up, I moved back to Minnesota, and life went on. What hurts the most isn’t that we’re not together. It’s that all of my best memories with you are tainted because I didn’t have the strength to do what I knew was right. I love you. I did then and I do now. I’m sorry I didn’t show it the right way. I didn’t respect you in your relationship, I didn’t trust God’s plan, and I didn’t encourage you to be the man that she deserved. For that I am so, so sorry.

You found someone new and you’re getting married in two weeks, so there’s no sense in rehashing the past. But if somehow you ever stumble across this email, I hope you’ll forgive me.

subject line: signs & silence & moving on

 

chicago

I wrote almost a year ago that I couldn’t bring myself to delete your voicemails. Today, I finally did it. I listened to every single one of them, just once, and then took a deep breath and clicked that red button. Yes, I felt like I was losing the last part of you that was still in my life. But I also felt like I was finally letting go of you, and despite the two brownies I stress-ate afterwards, I felt oddly lighter.

I still think we missed our chance. Maybe it was our fault, or maybe life just got in the way. Maybe it doesn’t really matter what happened. But we loved each other in a way I’ve never loved anyone before. It was you; I was sure of it. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t you. Maybe it could have been you, but it wasn’t, and after a certain point the “maybes” and the “could haves” can only keep hurting us.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly falling for a boy whose smile stretches a little too far to the right. His eyes light up when he talks about music, and he gives me butterflies when we talk on the phone. Maybe I will keep choosing him and maybe he will keep choosing me. I certainly hope so.

I don’t think there’s only one person for each of us. There are people we love and people who love us who come in and out of our lives. Sometimes it’s beyond our control, and it’s hard. But choosing one person, choosing a single direction to move forward in life (which is, really, all we can do) means closing the door on the “maybes” that we’ve kept around for too long. They say that when one door closes, another opens; but I think we need to close some doors ourselves in order to walk through other ones.

Now I don’t get the “voicemail box full” notification every time I open up the inbox on my phone. I guess deleting your voicemails made room for more people, more voices, more life, and more love to fill up my inbox. I’m closing the door on the “maybes” and the old voicemails, and I’m choosing this life.

subject line: i can't relate

 

oregon

Everyone is writing about the boys in their beds and it’s making me cry. It’s making me cry because you know what? I’m twenty-five years old, and the most I’ve ever done is hold hands with some guy when I was eighteen.
Someone tell me if the wait is worth it, because every night I turn over and my sheets seem a little colder than the night before.

The saddest part is, there’s no one who would crawl in it with me even if I invited them.

So why the hell do I care if the wait is worth it? I think I’ll just be waiting forever. You all don’t know how lucky you even are to have someone next to you, even if you doubt you love him. Some part of you does. People tell me they love me, but I sleep alone at night. I feel like that says a lot.

subject line: enough about the boys in the beds

 

west coast

To the girls writing about the boys in their beds,
Enough already. Enough.
The boy in your bed is exactly that... a boy. He is immature and uncommitted and leaves you worse off than you were before. But you already know that. Why do you need a stranger to tell you that? I’m shocked and saddened and straight up angry that there are so many of you in the same situation. My heart is literally breaking for you girls, but I’m going to be blunt here, it’s a little bit your fault. You’ve let the lies of society creep into your soul until you slowly accepted these lies as truth, and here we are. Looking for love in all the wrong places. Happiness, fulfillment, purpose, meaning, love.... whatever you’re searching for? I can tell you with certainty that the answer to your search is not a boy in your bed. And yeah, I KNOW you’ve heard this before but please, please, please. Hear me out again.
I want you to know that Real Men exist. Yes, I capitalized that. It’s important, and important things get capitalized. Sometimes a Real Man looks like he just spent a week in the mountains. Sometimes he looks smart and spiffy and ready to light up the dance floor at a wedding. Sometimes he looks like he forgot to put sunscreen on his nose. Sometimes he looks like he just woke up... I could go on, but that’s not the point.
The point is this. Real Men exist. They are the ones who open the door for you, cheer for you, tell you how lovely you are and how alive you make them feel. They care for you on rough days, they want to meet your family, they want to be friends with your friends. A Real Man is the one people are drawn to by his nature, because he’s trustworthy. A Real Man is loyal. He doesn’t end up in girls’ beds for one night, or one hundred nights, not until that girl knows without a doubt that he’s in love with her. And how will she know he loves her? First of all, he’ll show her. He’ll love her through every action. And secondly, he’ll tell her. He will not play games. He will not manipulate. He will not toy with her heart. He will be honest and transparent and bold.
When you find him, you’ll know he’s a Real Man before you find him in your bed.
I just want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you and tell you that the boy in your bed? He doesn’t deserve you. You are amazing, and beautiful, and your soul sparkles, and he doesn’t deserve you. You are kind, and passionate, and intelligent, and sensitive, and brave, and sweet as a peach, and he doesn’t deserve you. You are already loved, already cherished, already valued, already worthy, already whole, already wonderful... and there is nothing a boy in a bed is going to do to change that.
Stop settling for a boy and hold out for Real Man.

subject line: this isn't a hallmark story

 

philly

Sometimes I tell people the story of how we met, and to this day, it still makes them laugh. I went to a house party full of strangers. The first time I saw you look at me, I thought, “Ah, crap. This guy is going to ask me out by the end of the night.” And you did. After you chugged two forties. I surprised myself by saying yes.

Valentine’s day was never a holiday I cared about. I had worked in the restaurant industry as a teen, and it absolutely ruined it for me. Every year I stay in and I cook and drink, no matter who I’m with.

Two years ago, it snowed. I walked around in the snow all day, and I was exhausted when I got home at night, but I was so excited to see you. I smeared makeup on my face, changed my outfit, and tamed my hair in the twenty minutes I had between getting home and seeing you. You gave me a bag of chocolates and talked to me about your favorite music. I told you jokes and kissed you. That was it. That was our whole night. Of all the people I have spent Valentine’s day with, that was the best one. That’s the one that puts life into that day for me.

Our time together was short-lived. I’m betting that in a couple years, someone is going to give me a better Valentine’s day. Someone is going to appreciate me in ways you failed to. There was always this part of me that felt like you were a lie. You were some guy I cared about because I was young and you were attractive. But two years later, I think enough time has passed for me to admit to myself, it wasn’t because I was young and impressionable that the ghost of you still haunts me every winter. In that short-lived time, you became the guy the other guys have to compete with. Not because you treated me particularly better than anyone else I’ve dated, but simply because I was crazy about you. I still think you’re an idiot. I’m not going to write you a thank you letter for the time we spent together because quite frankly, you don’t deserve it. I will give you a little bit of credit, though. Because now, when goofy guys I wouldn’t have thought twice about dating before ask me to go on a date, I say yes. And I give them a second date. And I give them a third. Because that is how long it took before you became more than just the guy who chugged two forties before asking me out.

subject Line: the ballad of love and manipulation.

 

orlando, florida

“I love you more than anything. I am willing to deal with you and your anxiety over whether you can trust me every day. I would rather have you this way, completely anxiety ridden over whether I am being honest than not have you at all. I can put up with that. That is how much I love you.”

Tell me, is that love? Have I been wrong this whole time? Because if I am being frank, that’s not love. Love is not watching someone drown in anxiety due to the actions you have made. It’s been 9 months of back and forth. 9 months of lie after lie. 9 months of me not taking care of myself because I believed you actually loved me.

I learned something today though. You don’t know what love is. You throw the word “love” around like it’s nothing. But it’s not nothing. Love is beautiful and patient and kind and freeing and hopeful and honest. Love is everything.

I will not give you everything anymore. Because I would rather have an empty bed than share a bed with someone who only loves me when it is convenient. I’d rather be alone than be with somebody who can’t differentiate love and possession. I’d rather walk alone than walk beside somebody who can’t stay the course. I would rather fall in love myself than ever love you again.

PS: If you think this is about you, it most likely is. Good riddance, bud.

subject line: i hate this, pt 2

 

the shadow of our mountain

Here’s the thing - I’m still waiting for you to walk in through the door.

I’m still swimming in the lake at 2am, watching the stars and wondering where you are.

I’m still driving the roads we drove, listening to the songs we sung, telling the jokes we told.

The unrecognizable blobs of chaos became shapes, and you weren’t here to watch me kick ass when all hope was lost.
I became mighty and powerful and God-sent to the point of bragging how I saved the day, and you weren’t here to high five me.

Your mom still texts sometimes, always with another “how to remember you” scheme. This time it’s a painting to sell to raise money for the scholarship with your name on it. She keeps asking for my help and I keep saying I’ll try, but always dodging because if I go in, I know I’ll never get out.

She wants to keep you alive forever - I’d just like to finally accept that you’re dead.

Did you hear me laughing as I danced up the street the other night? Right down the middle line, laughing and singing and finally believing that who I am is what I want. Did my voice ricochet up to whatever star you’re hanging on, and did you see me hope for love from a man who can’t make me any promises, just like you couldn’t or wouldn’t or didn’t or shouldn’t.

Somedays, I’m thankful that you didn’t love me - it makes the grief a little easier.
Most days, I’m angry that you didn’t love me - because I’m still loving you.

I feel like I’m in a bad loop of memories and repeated mistakes.
And each time I realize it, I see that it’s because I’m still looking for you.

And I just hate that.

subject line: do you feel the same?

 

texas

Every time you call me needing a shoulder to lean on because some boy broke your heart, I feel a bit of hope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling joy at your sadness, my heart aches with yours, it always has, it always will. That’s the problem, I love you. Not the, “I love you” that we exchange at the end of our phone conversations but “I love you” as in you are on my mind every day. You have been on my mind every day since we were young, since we ran around the county fair together in middle school. I’ve tried to convince myself, lie to myself, hoping to persuade myself into loving other girls, but to no avail. Countless movie nights on the couch, dances and lunch trips back in high school and now we’re both in college only seeing eachother twice a year. Every time we talk you say how much you miss me and ask how I’m doing. My answer is usually the same, “I’m great...”.... Another lie, I’m not great. I want from the deepest part of my soul to tell you how I feel.
Then there was that one night at my cousins wedding where we danced, drank way too much and stayed up till 5am talking about everything. You told me that if both of us were still single by 30 we would get married. What does that mean? Does that mean you really feel the same way I do? Does that mean I am your backup? It kills me inside when I think about that night but at the same time I cling to that memory like the edge of a cliff. Remember the time you visited me in the hospital after I wrecked my truck? I’ve lied to you and said I don’t remember you coming to see me, which in part is truth. I don’t remember seeing you or even what we spoke about but I remember you leaning over to kiss me as you left, that memory is in my heart forever.
Another thing you don’t know, that night last year when I was on a road trip and stopped to see you in the town you now live. I wasn’t “stopping by”. I re-routed and drove several hundred miles out of my way just to spend a night with because you told me how much you wanted to see me.
All this, all this I want to say... I want you to know that every time I take a nice girl on a date, no matter how nice or beautiful they are all I see is you. I feel guilty about that, I try to fill the void that I know is for you, yet I can’t. I hope every day to tell you but I am afraid of ruining our friendship... Until the day I can be true to myself and tell you how I feel, here I am... Your best friend.

subject line: you are worthy of knowing

 

east coast

Exactly one year ago today, apathy nearly killed me. I wasn’t escaping from a broken heart or a fear of the future. I wasn’t going anywhere at all really. I was just existing with the goal to make it one rotation around earth’s core each day. However, I was sprinting that day far faster and farther than my failing lungs could handle because it made me numb. And mile after mile, the oxygen ran from my brain until I saw white spots everywhere I looked and I came to a halt several hundred feet above the limestone floor. A year ago today, on an unseasonably sunny and warm afternoon, I tried to jump off of a bridge that spanned high above this beautiful gorge. I sat there with my legs dangling over the railing, the easy breeze dancing on my cheeks, and felt nothing. A year ago today, a boy I barely knew called 911 on his way back to his fraternity up the hill. Two police officers didn’t leave my side despite me refusing to talk to them. A girl dropped everything to come pick me up and didn’t make me explain myself. A year ago today, these little connections saved my life.

For the past 366 days (2016 was a leap year after all), I have been learning how to lean into those who stay. And I promise you, from the woman on the bench at your favorite park to your best friend from childhood, there is always someone who stays. It definitely has not been easy, as I continually try over and over to push people away, because connection means feeling and emotions are frightening. But the harder I lean into those around me, the stronger their embrace. I have found strangers who have loved me so fiercely, who are the ones who turn to you and say, “It’s okay, you don’t need to act tough around me. I’m in your corner, because we all have our little battles.” I have also had the privilege to be in someone else’s corner - to be the one cheering at the top of my lungs for their success, their happiness. I have sent text messages to old friends who I hardly speak to anymore, and beam or cry or laugh at their sweet responses. Whenever I felt empty, it was those connections that made me feel full again.

One year later, I’m here to tell you that you are worthy of knowing. All of your quirks, from the way you hiccup when you laugh to the little dance you do when you’re happy to the way you love without fear and your shyness and that special talent of noticing the little changes in the color of the sky, every piece of you is worth knowing. And when your story isn’t pretty, it’s still worth hearing. And when your scars are showing, they’re still worth kissing. And when your body feels numb, it’s still worth admiring. And if you ever feel numb, lean in. Lean as hard as you are possibly comfortable and you will find those little connections. I didn’t think I would live into my second decade, yet I’ll be 21 in a few months, so one year later, I want you to know that there is always a place for you on this earth.

subject line: another "boy in the bed" story

 

snowy east coast

He’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. He cares so deeply about me and just wants me to be happy. He celebrates my flaws and challenges me to be better. He’s who I’ve always wanted, but who I never thought I’d find. Somehow the Universe decided it would be good for our paths to cross, and the rest is history. He should be it. This is the one. The person who I assumed I wasn’t good enough for has chosen me. He shows up for me every damn day. We had a sleepover this weekend. We hung out in my bed, watched Netflix, and got to know each other more. I should be overjoyed that this perfect match for me was cuddled up next to me in my bed but here I am questioning it all. I’m going to lose the only boy who has ever made me feel like I can be 100% me, the only boy I haven’t felt insecure around, all because I don’t think I deserve happiness. All because I shudder when he brings me flowers and roll my eyes when he tells me I’m beautiful. I don’t appreciate the sweet gestures because I can’t believe that someone would treat me so well. I’m nothing special. So why is this boy wasting his time on someone as awful as me? Having a boy in your bed is stressful, trust me.

subject line: it was a privilege

 

Freehold, New Jersey 

When you were here, you made me indescribably happy. The kind of happy that smiles absentmindedly, that makes your chest tighten up because you just can’t catch your breath. And then, just like that you were gone. And with you went that happiness. And it took a long time, but now it’s back. And I love myself more than ever. It was a privilege to know you, it was a privilege to love you, it was a privilege to matter to you-even for the briefest instant. And most of all it was a privilege to lose you. Losing you meant choosing me. And I am finally okay with that. I think this is what peace is.

subject line: Love the world with all your heart, but don't forget that you are also a part of it

 

Somewhere in the Green Mountains

Feeling fiercely may mean falling harder, but it also can mean getting up quicker, seizing life for all it’s worth, and finding much more joy along the way. Often times, when I find myself playing the victim, I have to remind myself that loving liberally doesn’t just mean extending your arms to the world, it also means having the courage to sit back and love yourself.

subject line: in response to "it's been a month"

 

seattle, Washington 

Dear friend who is scrolling through these pages,
You wanted to know if there was someone out there who felt the same feelings you do.
I did too. That is how I found myself here.
And I stopped clicking when I read: “Most of all, I want to know if the girl with the boy in her bed fell for him. Did the boy get back in her bed? It feels unfinished.”
Had my story been published? The one I wrote months ago about the boy who left my sheets? I thought I had kept that one to myself.
I wanted to quickly respond: “He hasn’t yet. But yes, I have fallen hard. And I think he is falling slowly too.”
Before I did though, I searched through the pages; I searched for the boy who left the sheets. I truly thought it was him. But instead, I found him to be different. My boy was still caught in my journal pages.
But to you who wants a saga’s ending, I have a similar story.
One that says: I promise you, you are not alone. That is why we are all here, across the globe, scrolling. One that also had a boy who left her in the sheets when she wasn’t quite sure she liked him that way, but now she’s positive it might be love. And has he returned? In ways he has. In emails, in texts, in phone calls. The night he returned for good, he called for 3 hours (972 miles away) while I was under the sheets to remind me, and now you too: you are not alone.

subject line: at what point do i get a restraining order?

 

ohio

You don’t know that I’m a vegetarian now or that I’m considering going back to school. You don’t know that I quit drinking or that I have been reading more than I watch Netflix these days. You don’t know that I was diagnosed with depression and started seeing a therapist. You don’t know that sometimes we talk about you.

You broke my heart. You broke my spirit. You broke up with me over and over again so why do you keep trying to get me back? I didn’t used to have the strength to say no, but I know we can’t salvage this hell you have created and cultivate it into a healthy, loving relationship. And I want a healthy, loving relationship. I don’t want you.

subject line: the pain i'm causing

 

the bathroom floor

I turned 20 last week. Along with my presents and my family, I got the surprise of a positive pregnancy test. I’m really afraid to admit that I got pregnant while I was 19. I don’t know how to tell my mother the news because I know that it will shatter her heart.
I come from a long line of teen mothers and I know that my mother’s biggest goal when it came to me was that I would break the chain. I don’t have the courage to tell her that I’ve let her down. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to become a mother at 20 years old when I can’t even figure out what type of cereal I should eat for breakfast. I’m really afraid tonight and I just don’t want to be alone in all of this. I’m so sorry I let you down mom. Please forgive me.