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

subject line: I'll celebrate from here.

 

minnesota

I guess we won’t be there for each other on our wedding days like we promised the night after your first date. I’m sad that dating him made you forget about me. I’m sad that he made you choose. I’m sad that you didn’t tell me you were getting married and I cried when I wasn’t invited. But I know that it will be a magical day, because we’ve dreamed about it forever. And even though I’m sad, I’ll smile because you’re happy. And I’ll celebrate from here.

subject line: freakin' tinder.

 

the bible belt, usa

Tinder, you keep messing me up. You know that? I download you then delete you three days later because I get overwhelmed. This time; though, I deleted you for the last time. This time I met a great guy. This time (similar to a few other times) I let him touch me. But it’s just “casual” because “casual” is what I go for. For whatever reason I don’t commit. I can’t commit. So when he said “I’m moving in four months, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about anything romantic...” I breathed fresh air and the butterflies went away because this wasn’t going to be a commitment, and then I kissed him hard. “Just casual” shouldn’t bring me a breath of fresh air, but it does. That’s why I have my very first counseling appointment set for four days from now. Freakin’ tinder, making me get my shit together. Freakin’ tinder...

subject line: WTF

 

north carolina

I never knew so much could change in a week. Last week, he had gotten a job within twenty minutes at a job fair. We went to look at houses because we were both so excited to move in June. It seemed like everything that i had prayed for was working out.

Fast forward a week later.

He’s been fired from his current job, arrested, bailed out of jail. His face has been all over the internet and the nightly news for what he did. My grandparents called me because they saw his mug shot on the news. And I had to tell my eighty-three year old grandfather that yes, it was true. He sent inappropriate pictures to a thirteen year old. No, I didn’t know anything about this.

I found out Monday. He called from jail Tuesday. HIs parents bailed him out.

I never knew in a week I’d be planning to move out of our apartment. I’d be closing out all of our joint accounts. I’d be opening new bank accounts, filing for separate insurance, and looking for a divorce lawyer.

what is my life? This wasn’t the plan.

subject line: red lights.

 

baltimore

6 months ago you looked at me and said, “Baby, I’m going to kiss you under every red light for the rest of our lives. Our kids are going to get grossed out and we’re going to love it because they’ll know what it looks like to have two parents that are in love.” Most people dread red lights, but, you and I, we lived for them.

Yesterday, I was in the car with a new guy and we drove to the store to get groceries to cook dinner. We stopped at at least 4 red lights... I realized I’m truly going to be over you the day I can pull up to a red light and not expect the boy in the driver seat to lean over and kiss me every time those red lights hit our car. I prayed for green the whole way home, because the red are too entangled with nostalgia. I didn’t want to feel like something was missing when he didn’t kiss me at the red lights; I didn’t want to miss you at the red lights.

subject line: friends.

 

alabama

It feels so weird that I’m about to finish my first year of college in a few weeks, because in my mind, I hardly started. I’m so scared of meeting people and talking to them, and I don’t feel like I’ve made many of the meaningful friendships that you’re supposed to get out of your college experience. I’m clinging to all my old friends and experiences because I’m so scared of losing them and being totally alone. I don’t feel like I should be alone, but then why do I spend so much time by myself? Oh well, here’s looking forward to next year.

From,
Me

subject line: a new conversation.

 

nevada

there is this conversation I’ve created in my mind where I am a strong independent woman. In this conversation my inability to connect with my peers stems from the age difference, and my ‘old soul,’ or so I’ve been told. ‘You’re just mature, you’ll find your people’ they say...and they say, and they repeat. I live in this conversation in my head where I’m not insecure, I’m just different, and that intimidates people. ‘You’ll find your people’ I remind myself...and I repeat. I live in this conversation in my head where I don’t need a man. ‘You’ll meet the right guy’ they say, I say...we repeat.

I just really want new conversations.

subject line: second-hand

 

washington

I bought my car used almost a year ago. For months now, every time I turn a corner, something rattles and rolls around in the pocket of the passenger door. I don’t know why, but I didn’t check to see what it was until a few weeks ago. I was expecting, I don’t know, a button? Maybe a marble or a stray lip balm?

I wasn’t expecting an engagement ring. It was dirty, from months of the grime and dust that dresses forgotten things. I polished it off. It was pretty. It sparkled in the fading evening light. I never really cared about rings all that much. I never saw the point in dreaming about what kind of ring I wanted when I’d never known someone I could envision giving me that ring. Bigger fish to fry, y’know?

I put the sparkling diamond on my ring finger. It fit like it was meant for me. For a moment, I allowed myself to pretend it was, rolling my hand around like I was showing it off, checking out all the angles. I even took a snapchat picture and sent it to a few friends. It was weird, the way this ring made me feel. I’m at the stage in life where it seems everyone I know is getting engaged and married, and for some reason I’m the one who got left behind. For a moment, I wasn’t. This ring held some odd power that made it hard to take off. Like I was facing my true desires for the first time. Lord-of-the-Rings-esque. If I had a ring on my left hand, it meant I was precious to someone, right? Oh, how we all long to be seen as precious.

But the feeling was fake. I took the ring off, but not without the panic that often comes when you try on someone else’s ring and have a hard time taking it off. This ring was not mine. This feeling was not mine. I had no ring, no fiancé, and no one promising to love me til death do us part. It was all fake.

And as it turns out, the ring was fake, too. I have no idea whose it was or why it was in my car or why anyone even has a fake engagement ring to begin with. All I know is it left me feeling more lonely than I was before I found it.