subject line: to the girl who he kissed on the head at prom.

 
Facebook kindly reminded me that it was one year ago today that I went to my senior prom with J. I saw your pictures together last weekend. You looked stunning and the pose you guys pulled at Grand March was perfect. I am so happy for you; I want you to know that. You make him the giddiest I’ve seen him in a long time, maybe ever.

I hope you took pictures at his house so you got to meet his neighbors and have his mom fuss over you. I hope you had a good song play at Grand March so he could look you in the eyes and mouth the lyrics to take the nerves away. I hope he brought you drinks and carried your shoes when they got uncomfortable. Most of all though, I hope you know how incredibly lucky you are. I hope you didn’t miss a second and tucked it all away in your memory. It was probably one of the best nights of all your time in high school. I know it was for me.

I hope he keeps dating you this summer. It looks like you’re the one who finally helped him get over his fear of commitment. He should have you there for graduation and for celebrating his last summer before going to school. As you know better than anyone, August is soon and PA is far. But the way things are going, it looks like maybe you’ll stay together even then. I’ll keep on being happy for you if you do. Either way, soak it all in. The way he scrunches up his eyes and smiles when he kisses you. Because you might wind up sitting on the same bed, looking out the same window a year later, remembering prom together. When a year feels like a day or an eternity, you can’t decide which one.

Oh, and one last thing. Thank you. Thank you for being the girl who finally brought me the closure I didn’t even realize I needed for the longest time. Yes, I will miss him when he leaves in the fall. There will be a tiny part of my that brings him to mind when I hear Piano Man. I will still smile when I hear it, but I will leave it at that. Because you have helped me let go. I was never the girl for him, regardless of how much I wanted to be. It was us for a time, but that time was, and was supposed to be, short. And that’s ok. I’m ok. So, thank you.

subject line: I'm a feminist, but the hypocrisy sucks.

 

vancouver, british columbia 

Go onto buzzfeed. What kind of articles do you see? I see articles encouraging body positivity in women and challenging the stereotypes and ideas of perfection that has been so ingrained in our society since the beginning of time.

How does that make you feel? It makes me feel really good. I love that we are making so much progress. I love that we are telling little girls that they are beautiful and don’t need to look a certain way to be loved. But what are we telling boys? Better yet, what is media telling boys? With this focus on the empowerment of women, are we mistreating men?
Yesterday, as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed an article entitled “39 Hot Guys Who’ll Make You Pregnant Without Even Touching You.” This article is basically made up of pictures of chiselled and “good-looking” shirtless men. This is certainly not the first time I’ve seen an article written along these lines. So this leaves me to pose the question: WHY is this ok?
It would be beyond inappropriate to post an article objectifying women in this way. WHY is it ok that men are simply becoming objects in this way? It’s frustrating because this is what the feminist movement has been working so hard to combat. Women are not objects, they are people. In the same way, the last thing I want is for us as a society is to now turn around and begin objectifying men as has been done with women.

subject line: i'm awake now.

 

The faded orange tent

I thought you were talking in your sleep. But then I heard you turn you lighter on, the butane creating a flame that wouldn’t flicker for long. Everything else was dark. You must have thought was asleep. I wasn’t asleep. I just didn’t turn my body around to face you. You scrunch your eyes when you smoke, as if you want everything to become more blurry than it already is. Life is spinning too fast and I know it makes you dizzy. You’ve said that before.

And then I hear you say, “It’s okay”.

There’s no one else in here. You think I’m sleeping. And for a split second I think you’re crazy for speaking to the trees that wrap around our faded orange tent.

But now I know that you were talking to yourself:
“It’s gonna be okay.”

Because maybe saying it louder will make it more believable. Maybe if you hear it, even if it’s from your own mouth, you’ll start to think that it could be true. You exhaled. I wanted to reaffirm the fact that it was going to be okay. But I didn’t want you to know that i was awake, that I could hear your vulnerability. I wanted to plant my feet right then and there, explore your mind, explore the parts of you that you wanted to be okay. I never knew anything was wrong.

I’m sorry for assuming that you were okay. I’m sorry that you had to tell yourself that you were okay. I’m sorry that you had to wait until I was supposedly asleep for you to audibly attempt to convince yourself that things will get better. If I could say anything to you right now, it would be that I’m sorry and that I hope things are okay like you told yourself they would be. I’ll never sit in silence like that again. I’m awake now.

subject line: i don't.

 

Ohio

My oldest childhood friend got married today. I know because I stood beside her in the scorching sun with a fake smile plastered on my face as she said her vows.
You’re supposed to want wedding days to go slow so you can remember everything. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Marriage has become a terminal disease lately. As of 2:30pm today it’s claimed 3 of my closest friends.
So let’s skip the cake cutting and get right to the part when we stop hanging out because you’re not available and texts become more and more scarce. Everyone forgets to put that in the program.

subject line: honest moments of nausea.

 

So many places 

We love each other. As more than friends. But it’s dysfunctional in a way that I can now say, with confidence will never result in the healthy long term relationship either of us wants. Since the moment you walked into that bar in that far flung place and started eating off my plate - the indignation, a stranger(!) - eating off my plate – I knew you were going to change me. I read more. You read like voracious boa constrictor, devouring everything. I have to have something to tell you about. I now love reading the things you love. Though I probably only understand them 50% of the time. My friends who’ve known me for decades, but have seen me less over the years tell me I’m softer now. That the hard exterior I sheltered under for the 15 years they’ve known me is gone. Ironically, I also talk about sex more openly and freely even though we never had it. I cry more. SO much more. Usually the tears are driven by gratitude in specific moments, many with you. Your constant questions, about my day, my job, my friends, my past, it’s exhausting. It’s always made me uncomfortable. I get anxiety before coming home to you that I needed to sort an interesting answer. Something for you to listen to. Eventually I realized it wasn’t really about that. You introduced me to four people, four of your closest friends, who are now essential to my life. People that help me breathe easier, that elicit pure joy and openness that I’m not sure I felt before you. For all your craziness, these people have stuck by you for a long time, decades in some cases. When I get sad that you aren’t going to love me “that way”, I come back to this, that I somehow got chosen into this select, awesome group. That I’ve gotten to hear your deepest fears, darkest secrets and most angst-ridden regrets and shared my own. So many times I’ve tried to tell you to stop framing the bad decisions as regrets, rather as learnings, insights on how we are all moving forward. The same logic I’ve applied to flip the fear that I wasn’t pretty, skinny or smart enough to make your cut, into gratitude that we have this powerful friendship. But. In my most honest moments that make me nauseous with sadness, I admit, despite all of this reframing and silver lining, my favorite place on the planet is curled up in the warm place in the crook of your arm, head on your chest, your breath in my hair.

subject line: i hate this.

 

in the shadow of our mountain

Here’s the thing; I thought we’d be doing this together.

I thought that it would be you I would call after a meeting that turned my brain into mush and made me feel like a child in my professional life, in comparison to the mighty and powerful and God-sent women I work with.

I thought it would be you who’d listen to me incoherently mumble through words while I sat on the back porch with a tub of Pringles and a jim n’ ginger as I tried to reconstruct my belief in my own ability to be mighty and powerful and God-sent.

I thought it would be you to tell me it would happen, the chaos would soon turn from an unrecognizable blob into shapes, and soon I’d understand, soon I’d get it. There was nothing to worry about. You never worried. You always could make it so I wouldn’t either.

I thought we’d be doing this together, buddy.

I hate that you aren’t here.

I hate that you don’t even have a grave.

Because if you did, I could say all this to a headstone and pretend that you’re listening,
rather than just shooting all my nonsense into outer space and hoping you’re on a star with good reception.

subject line: refresh.

 

winston salem, north carolina 

We met last week and exchanged no more than a handful of words. I was busy and honestly thought you were married, so I didn’t even give you a second look.

But you aren’t married, and you were brave enough to ask my boss for my email address, stating that “There’s a very beautiful girl that works here,” and that you would like to get in touch with her.

On Sunday I didn’t care and by Tuesday I was refreshing my inbox every 10 minutes. You still haven’t reached out, but I really hope you do.

I’ll be a little angry if this is just my boss’ way of getting me to check my email more often.

subject line: love, cynicism, and that shit we call "the process"

 

waco, texas

You kissed my wine-stained lips with the same sort of passion that fuels the way you handle life: purposefully, but with grace. I could taste the kindness that makes up every ounce of your soul; I could taste the beer, too. I don’t like beer, but oh, how I love you. Drink your beer, and then kiss my face. Our drunken routine, though neither of us have had enough to be drunk off the stuff we’re sipping. I swear, it’s love. It’s just a ridiculous love that has me feeling this tipsy and warm. When you are close to me, it’s not close enough. When you are far away, I bask in the anticipation that’s paired with absence.

Over the past year, I have been introduced to and started walking closely with cynicism. My faith, once sturdy, died a sudden and painful death, and is in the process of slowly resurrecting into something different entirely. I have deep wells of bitterness living in this barely-beating thing in my chest. I have big questions for the God who I have reluctantly decided probably exists; questions nobody, especially not he, are answering. I open the bible and grimace at passages I once claimed were without error and the stuff of comfort; none of it comforts me anymore. My thoughts are littered with disappointment and doubt with every verse, every chapter. On the days that beast we call depression wakes me up (or keeps me asleep), I tearfully whisper my mantra: “Why?” My head and my heart are rarely content, rarely comforted though we’ve spent our lives trying to come to the cross for the peace that eludes me.

I know it’s important, this journey. I am at war with myself and everything I’ve ever known, but I am also in love. You are not dissuaded by my cynical nature; you have only ever stayed. You make sure I eat on my darkest days, and you dance with me in the kitchen when my heart is light. You make me think deeply about the things that are important (love, faith, grace, fear, social justice, racism, and equality, to name a few). When my family began to disown me, you came closer; you taught me how to take a position of grace even in the midst of anger. You have always taken care of me, even when I hate that I need you to so goddamn much. “I’m with you,” you remind me, every single day. And I’m with you.

We’re now looking at engagement rings and wedding venues. And it’s just insane to me that it requires no effort on your part to choose me for the rest of your life. But, when I watch the steady rise and fall of your chest as you sleep in my lap, I understand. When I listen to the way you speak to others and the way you care for the poor and oppressed, I understand. When you meticulously and lovingly research recipes of dishes that won’t make me sick like so many other things do, I understand. When you listen to my anger-induced rants about God, I understand. When you make mistakes and speak out of frustration, I understand. When you are insensitive, I understand. When you are fully you, I understand. You are not perfect, and I am certainly not even close. But, my god, do we love each other. And I’m just writing this to say thank you; thank you for choosing me in what has been the darkest time of my life. And thank you for staying, anyways. You are everything the world needs, and I love you.

subject line: time.

 

georgia

Tonight, I talked to somebody 10 years younger than me. I told him, “It gets better, but not always. It gets easier, but not always. Usually, but not always.”

What I want is for someone 10 years older than me to tell it like it is.

I want to know when I’ll stop thinking about her—the friend-who-was-not-a-friend who did everything in her power to wreck me. I want to know when the thought of what she did and said to me won’t sting, won’t make me want to cry—and this, more than anything else—won’t make me feel powerless. Like she was right.

I want to know when I’ll stop hating myself for mistakes I made so many years ago. I want to know if that ever happens. I want to know so many things that I don’t know.

subject line: wishin' and hopin' and dreamin'

 

ATL

It is scary to want things. Is there anything that makes you more vulnerable than really, truly wanting something?

I want to become an author. And I want it like I want air. It is sustaining. It’s a dream, but it’s so vital to who I am and who I want to become and how I spend every day. Every single day, I am just making an investment for this as-yet imaginary future life.

And it scares me to want something this badly, because oh, how it will hurt if I don’t get it.

But maybe if I didn’t want it so badly, I wouldn’t be able to work for it. The dream wouldn’t outweigh the fear if the dream were not so huge, so much a part of me.

When I feel the fear of failure, the enormity of the process, the pressure of all of it get to me, I imagine my future author self, looking over to me through some space-time continuum, saying, “Keep chasing it, babe. Don’t give up. Go after your dream. You’ll get here. You’ll get here.”

subject line: next episode.

 

The sofa in my apartment

My life is a blur of a mediocre job and evenings trying to drown the quiet of living alone, being alone, feeling alone with Netflix. I want to tell myself that it can’t continue like this for forever, that things will change and there are moments of magic in the future, but when you hit your thirties and magic has yet to appear- it’s easier to press “next episode” on the newest show than to dream and have hope.

subject line: it's okay to be happy.

 

los osos, california

Its okay to be happy. I said it.

I have battled depression and anxiety for years. Because my body didn’t look the way I wanted and I didn’t feel beautiful. Because my heart was broken. Because I had commitment issues from years of watching my parents tear each others heart out. Because I felt stuck in my job and in my home town.

Then, I worked my ass off (literally and figuratively). I found love in the mountains, the way the rocks and dirt crunched beneath my feet as I tackled treacherous hikes. I traveled the states, drank coffee with strangers from tin coffee cups in National Parks, crashed on the couch of a hopeful musician in Nashville following his dream of being a country-western star (and made it, might I add) and chased the sun like the wild woman I wanted to be. I moved out of my home town on a whim. I fell in love with a boy who would never love me back and made it out alive. I have seen, done, and adventured more in my early 20’s than many people get to do in a lifetime, and I still battled anxiety. I thirsted for more, MORE, MORE. More wind in my hair, more freckles on my shoulders, more stories to tell.

I met a man, well, I stumbled blind drunk into a man... but that’s a story for another time. I went home with him, high-fiving myself for adding “One Night Stand” to my queue of stories. And then, I did the unthinkable. I fooled around and fell in love, for real. Total failed at owning my womanhood and taking a guy for granted like I had planned, but that’s okay. I fell in love, like in the movies, with a man who has since become my best friend and my husband to be.

A few weeks ago, we decided to treat ourselves to a bayside dinner of too much Italian food and a bottle of wine. We made pleasant conversation and occasionally checked the score of the Dodger game and lovingly shared our meals. On the way home, I cried. I cried because our dinner, though pleasant, gave me a massive anxiety attack that I could not intercept. I was bored. Why? During that car ride home, I had realized we were content in our ways. That we had found a routine and settled into it. I couldn’t stand it. So I told my fiancé that I was bored and made him doubt himself. We hardly spoke the rest of the night and slept on far sides of the bed. Neither of us knew what to do.

I woke up to an empty bed, he had gone off to work without a word and I lay there with a heart feeling 3 sizes too small and a burning headache of regret. I called him and told him I loved him and our beautiful life and he accepted my apology without question. He told me loved me back and that he loved our life because we work hard together and its okay to be to tired to get drunk or go to the beach sometimes. Because when you are happy with your self and with your life its okay to be lazy sometimes too.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that sometimes, we spend so much time trying to invent new demons we forget that countless battles we have won against the old ones.

For now, I am embracing the happy and the extra 10lbs that came with it, because I always wanted a big ass anyways.

subject line: loosen your grasp.

 

kabale, uganda

Loosen your grasp. Darn it admit you don’t have any power over guys. Admit you don’t know what the future holds. Be free. Be free of the need to fit into a culture of marriage and boyfriends and being cooler for having a boyfriend. It would be lying to say you don’t want to be married, you’re allowed to want that, but you’re not allowed to let one of the reasons you want that to be so that you can fit in. You can’t let the reason be because all your peers are doing it. You’re an adult, stop trying so hard to be a cool kid, start embracing your freedom, embrace the what the taxi driver said who once told you to come to Africa and learn to fly, fly like a bird. Give it up. BE FREE. Give your love freely, to your co-workers who barely speak English, to your roomie who has faults, to your parents who desperately need love. Be willing to listen. Pray the prayer of St. Francis. Console more than be consoled. Let your spirit be light. Let your laugh come easily. Loosen your damn grasp on the things you can’t have anyways.

And damn it, don’t fall for a guy who approaches you on FB before he’ll approach you in person. Don’t fall for the guy who doesn’t have that courage. You need a man with courage because you’re a lioness. The characteristic most admired and placed on you is adventure. You can’t be with a meek man. You need a man who is brave, who is willing to see the world, even when that means bed-bugs and malaria and no showers and crowded taxis and a shit-ton of beans. Adventure is fulfilling because it isn’t easy. Stop looking for somebody who takes the easy way out and stop choosing the easy way out yourself.

Loosen your grasp. But keep looking for what is better, pray about your decisions, trust that God has plan for you, admit that looking for jobs is depressing and overwhelming, but know that God has a plan for you, and don’t be too proud for whatever that plan is.

subject line: thank you.

 

massachusetts

Thanks A. Thanks for listening. So many days I am perfectly fine, maybe even excited about what we have. But every once in a while I start to rethink. I question whether an engaged gal should be flirting with a great guy like you. Sometimes I wonder if the line of cheating falls not in the physical, but within the heart.
Everything you said is exactly what’s going through my mind. We never really had a chance. But that’s the part that kills me. I’d rather we had dated & had it not work out. At least then I’d know for sure. Now I’m just stuck wondering if we could ever really be something.
We’d probably be great.
I don’t think there is only one person for each person. I could probably love you & we’d be so great to each other. But it’s a path I’ll never know. Because you’re right, I’ve been with him and I will be with him as long as he’ll have me. I have something real with him. What I have with you is flirty looks & a string of open hearted texts a mile long.
I care about you.
Sometimes I think what draws me into thinking about you is missing myself. We are so alike, I think the feelings I have for you are a desire for the former self I used to be. But you sure are a cute metaphorical me haha.
I guess you’ll always be my “what if”, never anything more, never anything less. Thanks for feeling the same.
I hope to god you never find this email.

subject line: cloud 9.

 

golan heights, israel

I walked into Kofi Anan (“coffee in the clouds”) on top of Mt. Bental for a quick cup of coffee before my tour group left. I saw you standing behind the counter, you were so handsome and my Hebrew wasn’t that good so I quickly went over to the corner...really not wanting to look like a fool but also caffeine-deprived. I took a deep breath and went over to the counter and asked your co-worker in Hebrew if he spoke English. When he replied that he did, I placed my order and was brave enough to try and order it in Hebrew. As your co-worker freely conversed and joked with me, you stood back studying me, very thoughtful, very curious and some how as nervous as I was. “Where are you from?” A strong, solid voice said. I was amazed that it was you. I told you I was from the U.S. “yes, I know, but where in the U.S.” “Wisconsin” I replied shyly. “ah, that 70’s Show” you said with a smile. You mentioned how you had seen the show while it was airing in Israel. I couldn’t help but laugh, delighted that I could possibly find something to connect me to this handsome, Israeli barista. “Are you here on Holiday?” you asked. I told you that I was and then you asked where I was staying and for how long. My heart sank along with your countenance when I told you how far away my hotel was. But I thought it was my turn to ask you about yourself. You told me about how you grew up on a kibbutz and I asked what crops you grew. “Mangoes, bananas and...how do you say in English? A winery? A vineyard?” “Yes” I replied, charmed that you struggled with English as I do with Hebrew “how do you say” I managed “...sabbaba? Cool?” Your face lit up as you flashed a sincere smile and laughed “yes, sabbaba” My time ran out and I had to leave. Though our conversation was brief, I couldn’t help being moved by how you actually seemed to want to know my story, that you were curious about who I was. I’ve been wondering if there were guys out there who really want to know me, I just didn’t realize I had to go to Israel to find them.

subject line: living depression.

 
Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.28.23 PM.png

western massachusetts

Dear Depression -

I want to evict you, but I don’t know how. You used to make me feel like something was broken. Now you feel like a tumor growing inside of me. I hate you. But mostly I hate how you make me hate myself. I want to get better, but you keep telling me I don’t deserve to. You keep lying to me. Sometimes the lies are convincing. There are days when I don’t believe I deserve to get better, don’t believe I am worth working on, or those pills are worth taking. Sometimes depression makes life hard. Sometimes people think the depression is just an excuse, even me. I hate you. Expect an eviction notice soon.

subject line: this feels too kitschy.

 

on a yoga mat getting sidetracked

I kind of feel like this is the renaissance of a year long slump of my life, and I don’t really want to get into details. It just feels so good to breathe again.

It took me a little too long, but I realized a boy doesn’t need to dictate my weekend plans. He doesn’t need to be the first one I look for on my Instagram feed. I’m tired of being completely infatuated with someone who can barely talk to me sober.

It took me a little too long, but I’m finally figuring out how to work the job that I want to.

It took me a little too long, but I’m finally learning that the hard conversations don’t need to be postponed. I don’t need to sit there and let them keep me up at night. All I need to do is pick up the phone.

It took me a little too long to realize that beer might be a relaxing way to end my night, but it doesn’t solve my day time problems. Now i end my nights with tea.

It took me a little too long to feel okay with being alone. Today I ditched a date because I wasn’t interested in the guy. Normally there’s some piece of my hear that’s like “but what if I’m being too judgy and he’s the one.” But now I’m realizing that sometimes it’s okay to just go with my gut. I have shit to do for myself in the meantime.

It took me a little too long, but now I’m really loving the times I get to spend talking to my Mom on the phone.

It took me a little too long to realize I’ll probably never be cool. Okay, I knew I probably would never be cool. It took me a little too long, but I’m finally realizing that there’s serious nerd power that isn’t to be underestimated. Ever since I started to be okay with that, I’ve started to make more friends who think I’m cool. They see my nerd power.

It took me a little too long, but now I don’t hesitate to answer when people ask me about my sexuality. I put the “B” in lgBtq, and I put the “B” in Bitch when people have an issue with that.

It took me a little too long, but I realized that there’s a difference between being assertive and being mean. I realized I don’t have to apologize about the things that I want to be assertive about. I realized that passion exists for a reason.

It took me a little too long, but I realized I was lucky to be in love once or twice. I used to sit there and think maybe my ex would come back swinging for round two. Now I don’t want him to. Milkshakes melt. People change.

So now I’m having some type of Renaissance. Hell, it might only last a week. But if it does, then I need to believe that one week of being able to breathe a little easier can make a difference in the way I carry myself for the rest of my life. So that, without apology, is what I am going to believe.

subject line: dear 11 months & 15 days,

 

somewhere on the map.

Don’t beat yourself up, don’t blame yourself, don’t wonder where you went wrong, because darling you never did. It’s been 13 years, 13 years of tears, laughter, figuring myself out, and realizing reality. At first you’re gonna think it’s all your fault and it’s gonna hurt like hell. Then time will heal wounds along with God, and happier days will come. And you’ll realize these few important things. firstly, you’re not who left you, you’re who you love and what you love. secondly, you’re aloud to feel things, you’re aloud to be angry with the world for a little while but never stay angry because life is so beautiful and it’s waiting on you. thirdly, you find yourself at 3 am on the bathroom floor or at 3 in the afternoon at a coffee shop. so, 11 months & 15 days you aren’t alone and wherever you are on the map just know there’s someone out there who was you at one point and that they made it through it and that they are praying and begging the lord that you do to. you have it in you and I believe in you. yours truly-13 years