subject line: hour 13.

 

Boston

i wish i could understand why ignoring you for twelve hours makes me so proud of myself. half of me is hoping you’ll notice how quiet i’m being & you’ll wonder what’s wrong. the other half hopes you’ll never ask & maybe you’ll never text me again & i’ll finally be able to move on & not love you with every fiber of my being.
a lot of the time i wish i could give you up. sometimes i think i’ll just move across the country & ignore you for the rest of my life until i forget that i ever needed you. but instead here i am & it is 3am & you’re giving me the longest hug & you’re saying i smell like a daisy & you’re telling me you’ll stay awake until i make it home & text you that i’m safe. & i’m practically falling down your shitty carpeted steps because i feel like i’m floating & my heart could lift me all the way up into the air with how full of love for you it is. i would spend every 7am cranky & overtired if it meant staying up until 3am with you, just curled up on the futon with you smiling down at me with those bright eyes & carefree laugh.
i will spend every day wondering why you don’t realize you love me yet. everyone sees it. your roommate thinks you know, too. deep down you have to know that it’s always going to be us. right?

subject line: thoughts on being alone.

 
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Everywhere and Nowhere

I know that loneliness is a universal feeling. That as I type these words, a million other people feel the exact same way. I guess that knowledge should make me feel better, but really, it just makes me sad.

It’s 11:38 pm and I’m alone in a bed sized for two. I keep replaying my friends’ Instagram stories, trying to imagine myself there with them. Is it selfish to want to be wanted? Maybe. But I think it’s also human nature.

I’ll move out of this house in less than a month, into an apartment filled with just me and my thoughts. I won’t miss sharing a bathroom or a kitchen, but I will miss feeling like I’m a part of something. Tonight was just the first taste of watching the people I love slip away. I’m moving out and they will move on.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this. I guess it’s because loneliness is a universal feeling. I’m drawing imaginary lines between this email and strangers’ screens. If you find this email, maybe we can be alone together. Maybe that can be enough for both of us.

subject line: glass ceiling.

 

Midwest

He asked: ‘What did you want differently from me?’

We were about 30 minutes into our conversation at a quiet coffee bar — the same number of deep breaths I took on my 2 minute walk over to sit across from him and wish that calming mug of peppermint tea I was cradling was a shot of something (anything) bitterly strong. I was sitting across from him after 5 months of not being with him for 2 years.

I said: ‘I wanted you to be patient.”

What I wished I said: ‘I want you to be patient with me — a girl who may not look like she’s pushing boundaries of what she’s capable of in a relationship with you. But know for those 2 years that girl had been sky diving out of her comfort zone while still waiting to land in a place that reminded her she had feet to hold herself up. Know that she pushed through so many new boundaries that she forgot up from down. She said goodbye to the girl who was scared of saying yes. She came up for air to realize all of these new experiences were actually helping her discover herself. Know that driving three hours alone to parallel park in a big city, taking the train by herself to confidently walk a handful of blocks to meet you by the fountain downtown was huge. She showed up, she broke her own glass ceiling, and she could still feel through your hands she held that it didn’t seem good enough. You only saw her victories as small, but know she moved mountains and planets to swallow all her anxiety and drop-in head first to show you she was in this for us.’

subject line: missing a stranger.

 
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Back Home

I stood out on my porch today when it started to rain, and I held a cup of lavender tea in my hands and thought of you. We haven’t spoken for more than a week, and my phone feels useless without a new text from you lighting up the screen. It’s lonely, you know - it’s lonely being someone you left behind. I don’t know if you’re angry or if you want to hurt me or if you just forgot about me once you left the place where you really needed me. I thought about texting you a few days ago, sending you an apology for something I wasn’t sure I did, but I was hurt and besides, I didn’t know what to say. You’re a mystery to me these days, a stranger in my best friend’s clothes who doesn’t seem to want or need me anymore.
I miss you. But then, I’ve been missing you for a long time. Even though we haven’t spoken in a week, you haven’t been you for months. I guess I’m just realizing it now, finally seeing clearly as the tea grows cold in my hands and the rain pours down on the place we both call home.

subject line: you are the most wonderful.

 

Eastern Europe

The level of adoration I have for you transcends that which I thought I could feel for anyone ever again, but I’m not scared. I see you, and the ways your eyes light up like the shiniest of stars as your thunderous, full laughter fills a room until it’s exploding, and I know that you are what I’ve been looking for for so long. I didn’t think it existed, but here I am, sitting in your presence on a warm morning with a pot of tea in between us and sleep still in your eyes.
And it’s not our time yet, but I know that it will be someday when God knows we are ready, and we will bask in each other’s radiance and laughter as our dog sleeps on the couch and our collection of tea from the herbs in our garden fills our pantry and it will be wonderful. And I will love all of you and you will love all of me.
And until then I will wait patiently and continue to be in awe of you and your wisdom and perseverance and positivity in all that you do. And I will continue to glow every time you place your hand on my back and tell me that you believe in me even when I do not have that same belief in myself.
I hope someday to read this back to you, rings on our fingers, enjoying the first days of the rest of our lives together.

subject line: almost.

 

Sausalito, CA

You didn’t think I noticed. But I saw you leaving. I saw you leaving me. I tried to hold onto you. I tried so hard to keep you close to me. But maybe…maybe I held on a little too tight. Or maybe I didn’t hold on tight enough…Regardless, I lost you.
And when I lost you, I lost everything.
I lost everything that really meant anything to me. Common sense says that I should try to let you go. But I can’t. Because, it’s hard for me to let go of you. And I think it will always be hard for me. I think part of me will always want you. And I think part of me will always love you. Because I saw you. I really saw you. I saw everything that you were. I saw everything that you are. And I saw absolutely everything that I believed you could be. And when I saw that. I saw our future. When I saw that. I saw the best days of my life just waiting for me. Just waiting for us. I saw the day where I would take your last name. I saw the day where you would make me your wife. I saw the day that we would make an offer on our very first home. I saw the day where we would get the results of our first home inspection… and I saw the day where you would inspect our first home yourself. I saw the day where…just two days after moving in, you would tell me that we had to move out…because you found the slightest amount of asbestos or mold in our home. “We can’t raise our kids here” you would say. And I loved you for that. I saw the day that I held your hand as we welcomed our first miracle into this world. Our first baby. Our first love. Our first everything. I saw the day that we welcomed all of our future miracles after that. Our beautiful, beautiful babies, each just as special as our first. I saw our family on our Taco Tuesdays, our Pizza Fridays, and our Niners Sundays. I saw us laughing as we talked about who was being Santa this year. Who would eat the cookies? Who would eat the carrots for the reindeer this year? Maybe we would just throw them in the lawn? Pretend that the lawnmower got them. We will only take a bite out of them anyways. We laughed and we would write the letters to our kids from Santa and from Rudolph. You used your left hand and I laughed because you’re handwriting was still so much better than mine. I saw the day that we saw our kids walking down the aisle of their high school graduation. Of course at the top of their class (because you are so smart). And because you are perfect. And you are more than perfect to me. Because you are my perfect husband and the perfect father to our beautiful and perfect children. You mean everything to me and I will always give you the world because you deserve it and I will reach for the sun, the moon, and the stars because you deserve them too.

subject line: give me a sign.

 

Right Here

I realized this week, amidst the chaos of my evolving life, that I had feelings for someone. And, although, we’ve been acquaintances for years—and I questioned whether I had felt something for him when we’d first met—I’m finding myself drawn towards him in a different, more certain sense, now. I’m unsure how to extend my heart into the life of another person. I’m unsure how to trust someone who could simply toss me away after digging through all that I am.

But, I want to know him. I want to open my heart, and I’m afraid. If I do, I risk being broken. But, if I don’t, will I forever regret it? I don’t know what I’m trying to express, why I’ve found myself writing an anonymous email over such a trivial matter. Maybe, I’m just looking for a sign that something could go right, for once.

subject line: we all have that one.

 
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San Francisco, California

Sometimes, I imagine seeing you, running into you in the street, saying sorry before realising it is you, how I would awkwardly say hi, probably blush and all that. You would be surprised, say my name the way you used to, make my heart pick up it’s pace. We would talk, you would pretend all is fine and that you are doing just great, talk about some big plans, as if I don’t see right through you, as if I wouldn’t notice the runny nose and gum chewing, the blank eyes and your restless hands. I miss those hands. I would know and you would too, I would try not to ask about it but you would see it on my face, making lame jokes as if to assure me you’re fine, even though you are not, even though we both know you haven’t been for a while. I would pretend with you, too scared to do otherwise, I would just wanna stay there a bit longer, hear you say my name just one more time. You would ask me how I’m doing, I would tell you about my travels, about how small Cape town looks from table mountain, about the dirt in Durban, how freedom feels when you’re running along the coastal walk in Bondi, about how you would love Byron bay, I would tell you about the parties on the islands that I don’t even remember. You would laugh and say something like “cool” before a mutual silence, because you are still the same, I still know you way more than you would ever admit and I know that nothing has changed, and you would know that I have, that something has shifted, this would scare you. You would look at your phone and tell me you have to go, I would want a hug, the hug I didn’t get, the one I really needed that time, you would probably not give it this time either. I would say goodbye and you would say ”see you”, cause’ you’ve never been good at goodbyes and even though it’s over, that it’s been over for a while now, you will probably always pretend it’s not when we see each other, running into one another in the streets, I would let you, I will probably always look for you at the places we used to be. But the most important thing is that I would go, and even though I’d might turn around, only to see if you would do the same, I would keep walking.

subject line: abandoned.

 

Virginia

My husband left for rehab this morning. He’s barely spoken to me since Friday night and then all hell broke loose. I didn’t send him, his parents did. When does the feeling of abandonment go away? He just got an all expenses paid trip to the beach for 30 days and I’m left to pick up the pieces and live real life. When does the resentment go away? Is it even normal to feel this way?

subject line: honest prayer.

 

Oklahoma City

For the strangers: I know there’s so many people out there who are hurting. I know I can’t help or know them all. Please let them feel your love and peace. Let them know that there’s someone who cares about them. Give them strength to face whatever it is that’s hurting them. Help them know it gets better and everything heals. I’m sorry they hurt. I hope someone does something kind for them today. I hope they start experiencing all the good they forgot about.

subject line: some of the things I can say.

 
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 Craiova Romania

I can’t tell you I’m out of the woods. I’m still wading in and out of deep waters. I can’t say that I brought all of myself back with me. I can’t say that yesterday my limbs weren’t electric with nerves I didn’t know how to calm, but I can tell you I went for a walk. I think a small part of me wondered if God could hear me, but I looked up and I think I saw him there. I can tell you it gets better. All of you who are looking for forgiveness, I forgive you. All of you looking for love, I love you. All of you looking for a friend, He said He would walk through deep waters with you, and I will too.

subject line: confusion is my middle name.

 
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Nebraska

Last night I was texting my best guy friend and he always says I’m too hard on myself so I told him I had written down a list of things I like about myself. He said that was great, but an armature list, I should really talk to him since he’s an expert and has been adding things that list for over six years. Obviously, I was curious so I asked for some things on that list, expecting the basics of “funny, smart, pretty” but instead I got.
“I like that you always put other people first, when you’re having a bad day.”
“I like that you always understand me even when I don’t.”
“I like that you always laugh at my stupid jokes even when they aren’t funny.”
“I love your smile, it always makes me smile too.”
“I love that one blue dress from your high school graduation pictures.”
“I love your hair, straight hair is too boring and curly hair is too much, but your hair is the perfect middle ground.”

And it goes on. All I could think about was in “When Harry Met Sally” how he is telling her all thing things he loves about her. I know everyone says “be with your best friend, marry your best friend”. But what am I suppose to do if I’m not in love with him? So I guess this is just me sending this question out to the universe and the community of wise, broken people. Do I go for it or do I hold out for someone else?

subject line: a little off.

 

Kennesaw, Georgia

Everything is okay, but it feels a little off.

She’s still breathing, but she doesn’t remember my name sometimes. That feels a little off.

I’m going to college, but I’m not doing so well. That feels a little off.

The days until I move out are dwindling down and I’m already homesick. That feels a little off.

I’m still me, but my hearts a little heavier than it used to be. That feels a little off.

Everything is okay, but it feels a little off.

subject line: 3,073.9 miles apart, part 2

 

Never the PNW Again

You got the job. You moved to Seattle. You made promises. We tried. And we failed. I’ve never been more heartbroken but I know that you and I will grow separately. It’s just the meantime that hurts. When you love someone and the timing doesn’t match up and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change it, I think that’s the worst. I think that’s what the songs about broken hearts are talking about. Loving someone and knowing that no matter how hard you try, it just won’t work.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be your forevergreen.

subject line: convenience

 

Dallas, Texas

Think big thoughts, feel deep feelings, speak clear words.

A sign I will never forget seen in the mountains of El Chalten, Argentina exactly one year ago, today. I was hiking alone and I had never been freer. Although I didn’t care to admit it, one of the forces that drove me to study abroad was the feeling of being stuck with same people. This “relationship” had lasted too long, and I felt disconnected from my friends. I hadn’t thought about you in months while I was laughing and drinking Quilmes cerveza thousands of miles away.

Until the moment I returned to the states you texted me. Like clockwork. Could you sense my powerful presence from states away? I couldn’t deny you; I never could. We went out to dinner and things felt different. The “relationship” we had was a clouded memory and the check split right down the middle didn’t spare me one emotion. I had none to spare.
Until months later you invited me to your place. A new apartment, a new bed we had never previously shared. It all felt so different until I snuck out the next morning falling into the same habits.
I want to speak clear words about this, about us, because I believe I finally have found them. We will always be convenient for each other. The same hometown. The same college. The same friends. A fun convenience that pleases both of us, whenever it suits us. If you find this email, I want you to know I care about you so deeply and I know now that should not be misplaced. I won’t let myself get hurt again, and I won’t let you take advantage of this convenience.

subject line: even you, especially you

 

Chi-Town

When I wake up in the morning, I roll over and smile and pretend that you are there smiling back at me. It’s like a lethal injection to my heart when I realize you’re not just in the bathroom, about to come back and slip under the covers.

It’s been three weeks since you told me you wanted to marry me. Three weeks since I told you I’d never forgive myself if I chose you over this career I’m building. Three weeks since you said you loved me. Three weeks since I said I couldn’t make any promises.

Three weeks since you said you want to be all in or all out.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I loved you until it was too late. I’m sorry I didn’t find words to tell you how you changed my whole life when you were right in front of me.

You said I know you better than anyone else in the world but feel like you barely know me. Both of those are probably true.

J, I so wanted to be vulnerable with you but I truly don’t know how. No one has wanted to see all of me before. I’ve never been the center of attention. You’re the only person in the world that I can talk to without disqualifying my emotions and I was still figuring out how exactly to do that. I look strong and I sound strong but the truth is, I’m just as much of a mess as you are. Maybe more, because I’m so afraid to let anyone - even you - especially you - know the truth.

It’s you. You’re the one I want to figure it out with forever. Please forgive me. Please come back. You asked me what I wanted - this is what I want. You.

subject line: when you called me weak.

 

Iowa

“You idolize all of these strong women, yet you can’t be strong enough to pick up your things and move closer to me,” he said.

Let me tell you that strength comes in all shapes. Strength comes in an even more complicated shape when anxiety is so tightly and uninvitingly wrapped within. I may look weak to you, but hear me out when I say you too easily confuse my weakness for strength. I was strong enough to make a decision you and I both didn’t want — to consciously let someone go that I still want to spend my forever with. I’m strong enough to continue to wake up on all the days my heart is heavier than a hundred cinder blocks as I mourn the loss of someone who is still here and existing just 3 hours away. I realized, most importantly, how strong I had to be when I asked you where you saw us in the future. I let down walls to tell you where I saw us. And you gave me one sentence in three words that changed everything. It wasn’t, “I love you.” It wasn’t, “let’s do this.” You said, “I don’t know.” Those three words, nine letters, thirteen characters that so closely almost broke me — forced me to be even more resilient than I ever thought imaginable. My heart is still in pieces all these months later. I still cry heaps behind closed doors, but let me remind you through all of my past, present, and future tears that I am strong enough to at least see the bigger picture that blinded you.