subject line: 4,073 miles

 
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England

I ought to try and make this eloquent but people are messy and broken and hurting isn’t always poetic.

Seven months ago the boy I fell for moved 4000 miles away to North Carolina and, sure, it’s easier months on but, yes, you guessed it, I still miss him.

There’s this aching inside of me to glimpse that smile, catch his eye from across the room and see his thoughtful, composed expression dissolve into a bashful grin, to meet his determined gaze and beat his ass at cards but laugh till we cry doing so. To argue over which 80s song is the very best (definitely ‘love train’) and whether marmite beats pb&j (it does) and what constitutes a ‘long’ journey (8 hours??!?).

So, J, if you find this email, just know that I wish the Atlantic wasn’t so vast and that I miss you. I really do.
E x

subject line: hold tight, the beach is near

 
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Tropical Paradise

for as long as i can remember, i hated mornings. to me, there was nothing worse than being forced to get out of my warm bed by the sound of an alarm and the rain beating against the window to embark on a day full of things i didn’t care about. in college, it became less about the weather and more about the stress. i would wake up to the mess of things that i didn’t get done the night before. i went through the majority of my four years of undergrad being a hot mess most of the time. i often described it as feeling like being held underwater. i felt captive to the storm.

you see, i’ve never been one for the “academic” lifestyle, i love learning. i love embracing new ideas and discovering new passions. but i don’t like the expectations and the pressure. to care about things and people that i could really care less about. i kept pushing and pushing through, because i knew that eventually, there had to be shallow water where i could finally breathe.

and this post is about how i think i’ve finally made it to that shallow water. hell, i think i’ve made it to the sandy beach. i’m sitting in a coffee shop on a tuesday morning with no agenda. i can do whatever i please. i have nowhere to be and nothing to do. and all i can think is, this is the freedom that i’ve been waiting for.

it feels good. so to anyone that is still stuck in the storm, i promise you there is a beach that you will eventually wash up on. it’ll happen in the blink of an eye, when you’re so busy trying to keep yourself afloat, and then suddenly, you’ll be in paradise.

subject line: afraid

 

Grenada

I find it very hard to sleep most nights. Usually I’m woken up by nightmares or experiences of sleep paralysis. I’ve come to find out now that I have a paralysing fear gripping me. I fear that I will fail at everything that I have put work into. I fear that I am going to end up unfulfilled and wanting for a better life. I fear that I am heading down the wrong path and doing the wrong things. I fear that I am never going to be better than I am now, that there is no growth and that I am stuck. I am afraid of the future because it looks so bleak. Most of all I am afraid that whatever I will turn out to be will be as a result of the choices I have made and I will have no one else to blame but me.

subject line: how to handhold yourself through your teens

 
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tiny island

I think the thing about being young is that it’s really impulsive. Because I used to think, at ten years old, that I was pretty grown up already. Ageing and adulthood was just a matter of time, of days, of years, and when you get there, that’s it. You have it made. And perhaps most foolishly, I thought I was already there, maybe a half-step away just waiting for the right time.

It sounds pretty stupid now, I know. I just wonder why nobody ever told me as a kid that things weren’t going to be that easy. It was always ‘pass your exams’ or ‘there’s more to life than grades’ but what? What exactly was this nebulous, unspoken secret to adulthood’s nirvana that I, as a child, could not reach? More than anything, I wish I’d known earlier on that there’s a good reason why you have to be kind. Something that wasn’t ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’, because that’s a lie. You treat people the way they need, and deserve to be treated. This was something a teacher told me when I was twelve, and since I’m recalling it now, several years later even when he isn’t around to nag, he can mark that as one success in his book, at least.

And I didn’t really realize this until recently. I didn’t even learn how to be kind. So that’s the biggest struggle nowadays - learning how to treat people better. I do wonder though, why nobody ever warns you that one day you’ll wake up and realise what an asshole you’ve been.  

Everything has to be on purpose now. The way you stand, how long you hold eye contact, if you’re even brave enough to manage that. Every last word you say, and especially every fumbled social cue, you become acutely aware of in your teens. Then you file all of it away in your cramped-up memory space to pull out and cringe over later that night. Worst case scenario, you obsess over that shit and cry over it, maybe panic. Rinse and repeat. Again next week, then one more time a few years down the road. Maybe you never learn to let it go, but you try. Stuff like that.

Because it’s not uncommon now to think back to one risky joke you cracked and wonder if you hurt somebody with it. The most random things have the most profound meaning to other people, you know. Like how I never really got back into singing once a boy dissed me when I was eight. Now, I’d punch him if I could, the bloody asshole. But the damage is done, because I don’t think I’ll ever like singing again.

You live and you learn, I guess. I don’t know what else to say about growing up except that the only thing that’s gotten me through it is cutting myself some slack. Most of the shit you pull when you’re young can be forgiven. That’s the nice part. But it’d just be nice to have a definitive end, a line you cross so you know that at least you’re safely within the realms of being a decent human being now! That’s when you know you’ve made it - the new definition of ‘made it’.

So I just wanna know: how long until I get there?

subject line: you are not them, and thank God for that

 
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seattle, wa

The minute I walked into that restaurant I knew you were different. It’s sad, but we live in a society that praises sexuality and applauds for all of the tiny waists one man can manage to hold on a Friday night. But not you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen prey to the boys of the night time and time again. I had grown painfully accustomed to living in the grey. Living in the grey looked like undefined boundaries, drunk late night phone calls, and conversations that were never meant for us...just hoping, waiting, wishing that someday these boys would grow into men who would decide to stick around for awhile. But not you.  

You are different. You waited to kiss me until it was right. You love talking about your family, and bringing me home to visit. You bring up boundaries and the promises you’ve made to your future wife. You hold open doors and buy me flowers and ask to stop at my favorite coffee shops. You reassure me and wipe away my tears when my past has come knocking on my heart. And now, only six months later, we are talking about what the future has for us. You are intentional, and you are not one of them. 

The good guys are out there. They don’t make their entrances grand. They’re rather soft, actually. But one day you will look up and he will be standing there with his kind blue eyes and big grin, asking how your day was. And then, for the first time in a long time, you feel like the luckiest girl in the world because he’s not one of them. It may have taken what felt like an eternity to arrive, but deep down you know you needed to grow first. You needed to make it through the mud because in the end, it was always him, and that’s the best thing you could have ever asked or hoped for.

subject line: half of my heart.

 

Big City in the Midwest

I’m set to marry a man in just ten days. I have the lace covered white dress and the seating arrangements all set. The very last details are coming together, and the truth is, only half of my heart is in it.

Half of my heart wants this. The little apartment in the city, waking up to the same man for the rest of my life, making the most of living paycheck to paycheck. Half of me thinks marrying him is the best thing that’s happened to me.

The other half of me wants to jump in my car, take my refund check, and drive to a new city, start a new life and a new career. I could be anyone I want to be. I could be free. I could blossom.

Is it wrong to be wishing myself out of monotonous days of stress, disappointment, and numbness?

Ten more days.

subject line: different

 

USA

The other night we were at a party. When I got all my stuff and said, “ready!” he noticed all the little things I was about to leave behind and got them for me.

He goes running with me even though he hates running more than most things.

He always asks me how I am, and remembers everything. Weeks later he will bring up details about me I always assumed he forgot.

He tells me the hard truth when I need it, even if I really don’t want it.

He pushes me to write in a planner and to actually organize my life because I am usually a hot mess.

I am fiercely emotional, he is a steady heart.

He doesn’t try to change who I am, but he betters me. He challenges me.

He does these things because he knows me. He looked for my things even though I swore I had everything, because he knows I am painfully forgetful. He runs with me because he knows it is one of my greatest joys. He asks me questions because he knows I feel loved most by words of affirmation and intentionality. He doesn’t feed into my emotions but meets them with concrete truth because he knows in those moments what needs to be done is for me to be pushed back to the Heavenly Father.

He does things things because he knows me.


Why is it then, that when he boldly claimed he cares for me as more than a friend, I turned him down?

So many people told me he wouldn’t be able to care for me in the way I need.
I can’t help but believe it’s the other way around.
We are so different. It scared me.
He is nothing that I dreamed of — or even wanted.
But what if he is exactly what I need?

subject line: please think well of me.

 

Colorado

: I think about you every single day, but I’ve stopped wishing that I could turn back time, or that things had turned out differently. Life doesn’t allow us the luxury of dwelling on missed opportunities. But if I could have one wish right now, it would be to know that once in a while, when you drive past our spot or hear our song on the radio, you still think about me, too. And I hope that the memories make you smile. Because they were good ones, even if they didn’t last.

subject line: one day, you'll open your eyes

 

Where I've always been, somewhere between the mountains and valleys

One day, you’ll open your eyes. You’ll see him, standing there, the boy you’ve always known, but never noticed. Sweet, and genuine, with an ability to make your darkness beautiful again. The boy who sparks your laugh, and makes you smile like tomorrows are endless. His heart wild and his hands gentle, a boy who could give you the kind of love your soul craves. The boy who was right there, all the time. The boy you realize that your heart has been searching for. One day, you’ll find the boy you need. If you’re like me, though, you’ll be frozen in fear, worried it’s too late, not sure what to do about it. If you’re like me, you’ll watch the boy you’ve always needed slip between your empty fingers.

subject line: summer's end.

 

Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

We were standing there staring out at our city as the rain came pouring down around us. The bright city lights shining behind you, reminding me that you would always be a little brighter than I.

You asked me, “Are you going to give me an ultimatum?” I said “No, I don’t want to because I know what you would choose.”

He didn’t have to respond to me because he knew it too. We both knew it. We have been romanticizing this idea of us. Of me and you. Of him and her. Of two, instead of one. We both know we can’t keep it up. Running around the city streets carefree and blissful.

The summer is slowly coming to an end and sadly, so are we.

subject line: dreams that won't come true.

 

San Diego

The other day a pregnant coworker told me that she had her first “baby dream” the night before. I felt a pang of something—not quite jealousy, but some intense melancholy longing, the same one I felt when I sat across the aisle on an airplane from a woman and her baby, who fell asleep with one little hand held tight in her mama’s. I’ve always felt this longing, this desire to hold & cherish that life that God entrusted to my care. But it hurts so much more ever since my doctor told me that I may never be able to wake from a baby dream and marvel at the kick of a beautiful life growing inside of me.

subject line: we're all grown up.

 

Loveland, Colorado

I love coming back to these messages and hearing people say, “I used to write about heartbreak here all the time, and now I made it out and I’m happy and maybe I found someone that treats me better than the heartbreakers.”

And it makes me realize that I, too, used to come here and pour out my heart about the boy with blue eyes who I loved, and he messed it all up. Messed me all up. And it took days and months and years, little moments after little moments of choosing to build a life that I liked better than that one, but I made it.

I married the boy with green eyes who loved me back, and now we have the most precious baby girl in the whole world. And you, maybe you’ve made it too, or maybe not. Just remember to hold on, breathe, and be patient, because we’re all going to make it someday.

We’re all grown up, and damn it, I’m proud of us.

subject line: who/what/when/where/why.

 

Still Living at Home

When does my story change from “single 28 year old living in parents’ house with no plan and multiple dead-end jobs” to “successful writer with wonderful husband and beautiful children who is content and happy and living out her dreams”?

I don’t know how much longer I can toil in the mud. I’m tired. I’m discouraged. I’d like to be at the breakthrough portion of this movie, please.
If nothing else, I’d at least like confirmation it’s on the horizon.

subject line: pretty as a peach.

 

St. Louis + Missouri

Everything reminds me of you.
That stupid country song came on today, “blue ain’t your color”, it was the one you used to sing to make me smile when we spent thousands of miles together.
A friend asked if I wanted to grab sushi, but my empty stomach turned at the thought of our first time out with your grandparents and our last time out with each other.
I didn’t shower for a few days, all I could think about was the way you would pick up my peach body wash, smile and say “pretty as a peach” I’d laugh. My heart would race with every inch of skin your fingers traced, and broke wondering how they landed on hers.
I believe we all make selfish mistakes that don’t look like us at all; or who God intended us to be. We break hearts in the process, and scar our skin trying to take back the mistakes we’ve made; but if we choose to learn, love, and give others the grace we have been given, then I beleive we all come out better people.
So even with a broken heart I want him to see the love I have for him, and my brokenness isn’t enough for me to leave him alone in this. If he needs a friend, I’ll be there. If he needs a thousand kisses, I’ll be there. If he needs one person to remind him how loved and deserving he is everyday, I’ll be there; because if our mistakes break us instead of build us, then love wouldn’t exist.

subject line: the only fish in the sea

 

Akron, Indiana

when i look back at my journals, and the notes in my phone, i find glimpses into many sleepless nights spent worrying about you. i find single sentences on nights that i only had a few minutes to jot down how mad we were about each other, and paragraphs on the nights i wasn’t sure where you were.
i still worry about you. i still stop at a dead intersection on a country road on my way from work so i can get out and look at the stars while i think about you. i still wonder where the planes flying above me are going to land, if i should board one that lands near you.
i still think I did something wrong, on nights like this, when all i want is to hear from you and to know that you are okay. other nights, my thoughts are logical, and i can tell myself that i did all i could. some nights, if I am lucky, i do not think about you.
on nights like this, my love, i wonder if there will ever be a way for me let you know i will love you forever. i will hope that you know, and hope that i said it enough. you are observant though, and if you ever look back at our times together, i believe you will remember. i believe you remember that i would do anything for you, if only i knew how; you will remember that i will never let you down; you will remember the connection we share, if you let yourself. i was there for you and you tried to be there for me. but trying didn’t work and we weren’t good enough for it to last.
once, i told you that you were the only fish in the sea for me. i believed it with everything in me. then, you left without a word and when you came back, i was angry, and you knew it, but by the time i could tell you that you were still the only one, you were already gone.

ours is not a love story for the fragile. unfortunately, love, neither of us are strong.

maybe, if you ever find your way back to me, we will have had the time to build ourselves up, and we will be able to hold each other without breaking each other. i would do anything; pinky.

subject line: to the stranger that held me in the ICU hallway

 

Greenville Memorial

I just want to thank you. Thank you for being the light in the darkest day I have ever encountered. Thank you for not being obligated to hold me and cry with me in the hallway but you did so anyway. Nobody takes seeing someone they love struggling on a ventilator easy. The thing is you absolutely knew nothing about me. You just sat beside me and surrounded me with your peace as tears fell from your eyes. I told you I was sorry. You said “never be sorry for the tears you cry, you are in pain and it matters. Life does this sometimes. Hold tight.” Well hold tight I will. Thank you.