itching.

I itch.

it’s a twitch
I dare not scratch-
for that way lies
loneliness.

there was a time
my soul would
e  c  h  o
like an empty suitcase,
the open road.
Behold:

Connection, Affection
are far too tempting

and suddenly
I see
Life
unfolding the way all those
Coming-of-Age novels
warned us about
[with disdain,]
the refrain

repeating
 
over and over
again and again
before my eyes.

to my surprise,
I understand.

and yet, the grand
vastness of infinity
calls to me still

How to stand it?
remember:

Life is for Living
and when I arrive at my death,
out of breath
and late as usual,
and my soul finally
s.c.r.a.t.c.h.e.s. its way free
of this confining body,

I will           race
to that glimmer
at the edge of forever
and              embrace
the impossible echoes
of eternity

light prevails.

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“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”
― John Guare

I’m sitting in a diner, the light brown wood of the tabletop familiar under the standard placemat of bright squares advertising local businesses. No overwhelming feeling of hunger has gripped me, no feeling of anticipation of my order’s arrival has slipped into the corners of my mind. I sit, contentedly, taking in the slight hustle and bustle around me.

I glance to my right, and tilt my head, confused. A familiar face I was not expecting to see meets my gaze steadily, with a smile. I smile back uncertainly.

“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I respond hesitantly. “Is it, ah, is it okay for you to be here? Can you be here right now?”
“Yeah don’t worry, I can be here. How are you?”
I relax a little. “I’m great,” I say happily. “How are you?”
“Really good, I’m doing great,” he says, a tone of sincerity backing his words.

This response fills me with joy. We fall into the happy, comfortable conversation of two people with no walls between them. I couldn’t say if it lasted for minutes or for hours. If you ask me what we talked about, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Something gently warns me our conversation is coming to an end. I look into his eyes, mine suddenly welling with tears. I’m not sure why I’ve just been so overtaken with emotion.

To my surprise, I say, “I’m so scared I won’t remember this. I’m so scared I won’t remember that I talked to you.”

“Don’t worry,” he assures me. “I’ll make sure. I’ll make sure you remember.”
His words comfort me. Everything seems a little fuzzy.

Blackness. I realize my eyes are closed, slowly become aware that I’m laying in my bed, the darkness of night still covering my side of the Earth. I roll over, confused. I realize I’m crying.

It’s been almost five years since I’ve spoken to Chris, five years since any of us have. And yet, I feel it hasn’t even been five minutes. Maybe it hasn’t.

I think about the dream and am overwhelmed with a sense of calm, of comfort. I’ve spent the last five years like my entire family has- keeping my cousin alive in my heart, in my memories. Carrying around the medal of St. Christopher as a token of love, of luck, of protection, of whatever I needed it to be.

Who can say for sure what dreams are? Imaginations run wild? Doors to another reality? Neither of those? Both of them?

I am not sure what I believe about most dreams, but I believe that Chris is doing great. I don’t know why he chose me to share that with, and I don’t know what I think happens to our souls after we leave this world. I don’t think we spend eternity in diners where we never eat, but I’ve come to believe we can meet our friends and family there and tell them how we’re doing.

And although I’m unsure where or when or how or who I’ll be after I die, I very much believe Chris will be there to greet me.

That alone makes me unafraid. That alone makes me hopeful. That alone is enough.

To The One Who Loved Me More

To The One Who Loved Me More:
I am truly sorry for
The pain I put you through-
But, my dear, I knew
It was cruel to pretend.
And so I brought the end
Of you and me,
But I paid dearly
For the pain I brought you.
Because then I fell into…

The One Who Loved Me Less-
Who, I confess
R i p p e d    me right apart,
Properly abused my heart.
Thought love was a fun play
Until the curtain fell away-
And it all became much too real,
So he shut off how to feel
And no one ever knew
The loneliness he put me through.

But, to More and Less:
I wish you the best,
I hope that life is kind
And that one day you both find
The One You Love the Same-
It is an exit to the game.
Joy comes with loving equally,
I have finally come to see
And found myself, and so I pray
You will find your Same someday
It is an end you both have earned:
To be loved the way that your love burned

not now.

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“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” -Leo Tolstoy

Most of us periodically take some time to stop and look around. We reflect on how we got to where we are, and with whom. We glance in the rearview to see how far we’ve come.

To say the past year wasn’t easy for me is a laughable understatement. I have learned more than I can put into words- both light and dark aspects of life, of love, of human nature- in such a short amount of time. Oh, year-ago me: if you only knew.

There’s one lesson that helped a lot as I struggled to put two feet solidly on the ground again, one in front of the other. As I got the hang of a new normal, of life as a full-time working mom. As I got better at not wincing when people casually asked about my boyfriend, as I got more graceful at laughing it off and encouraging them to send any eligible bachelors my way. As I continue to watch my daughter develop a personality and learn and grow and blossom.

The lesson that has helped most of all is this: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

It came to me one chilly February morning, tossed out at a seminar with a lot of other really great advice. At a time when I so desperately needed to be reminded of the virtue of patience, of the truth that great things take time. Wine and cheese get better with age- why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t life?

There are plenty of things I don’t have the ability to do right now. They’re expensive or time-consuming or irresponsible. When you have someone else to consider, depending on you like no one ever has before, you start to think the opportunity to do the things you had wanted or dreamed has passed, that the doors are quickly closing on you.

And then you remember: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

One day, you’ll go on that trip, you’ll buy that house with the wraparound porch you’ve always wanted. You’ll drive across the states and see the Grand Canyon and drink a beer in every state in the country, just like you always thought you would.

One day, you’ll fall in love again.

And then you realize: you get to do all of this with the most wonderful little human being you have ever had the pleasure of knowing. How much sweeter will it all be with them by your side?

You’ll get to do all the ‘not nows’ you want- maybe not now, but someday. You may hit a ‘not ever’ or two; but the truth is, everyone has some ‘not evers.’

A year ago I didn’t fully understand that my life was going to take on a lot of ‘not nows.’ I didn’t really comprehend the way my life would have to shift and brake to adjust to parenthood.

But I’ve come a long way, and when I start to get frustrated or feel like I’m missing out on certain experiences I remind myself: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

The really good wine and cheese won’t be ready for another few years, anyway.

extraordinary sameness.

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“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” –William James

We like to think that our experience is special, that our story is singularly unique. That our experience is beautiful or horrible in a way no other story is, that it is exceptionally poignant in the scheme of the universe.

We say to each other “LOOK. THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME” via Facebook and Instagram. We throw our experiences out into the world, hoping that by sharing them we can hold onto them, creating a backup copy just to make sure our memory doesn’t let us down.

Look, world- I have accomplished this goal. Look, friends- I have hit this milestone.

Look, everyone- I have suffered this loss, I have felt this heartbreak. It is far too much to bear alone.

And in every instance we search for others to validate the hope that our lives are worth noting, that our actions deserve a second glance, a thumbs up, a double tap. We hope that we are doing something extraordinary.

It is hard, I think, to realize that our stories are not all that special. That the tales of a broken heart, of lost love, of joy, of happily ever after- these are told time and again, in different places, with different names, including various obstacles. We are not writing new stories, we are retelling the same ones.

What a revelation, to some of us, that our experience is not new, that it is shared with countless others. That the lessons you have learned, the conclusions you have drawn, the simple truths of life that you have been forced to discover for yourself have been there, all along.

That all of the LOOK, THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE posts online are all the same, in varying forms, with different filters on photos, in different parts of the world.

But does that make them any less important, or special, or sacred?

It is humbling and mystifying to discover that someone else out there, in fact many people out there, have felt what you are feeling, have struggled and triumphed so very much like you have. It is beautiful and wonderful to know that, no, our experience is not all that unique- and because of that there is a whole world of people with which to say, ‘yes, me too.’

That is the reason we stare at paintings and cry at movies. It is the thing that whispers to us that dancing is beautiful, the invisible force that makes a crowd sway to music.

We each experience joy, love, and loss ourselves, and the feelings are special because they are our own, they are unique in the very action of feeling them.

But in our reaction to them, in the way they shape our lives, our minds, our world- they are shared. They are beautiful, special. They are what make us human, what makes this ‘the human experience.’

They are what make us the same. And that is what makes them so very important.

cuts.

most people are
papercuts-
barely scratching the surface,

a quick and fleeting
s.t.i.n.g. that
hardly serves a purpose.

but [you] are the slice
that cuts so deep
it takes years just to scar,
throbbing until
I grow   n u m b
to the pains.

yes, you are the wound
that, in time, is fine
on most days,
but still aches
deep in my bones
when      it        rains.

defending happiness

 

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“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”― Douglas Adams

The older you get, the harder it is to say “I’m going to do this just because it makes me happy.” People tend to see ‘because it’ll make me happy’ as an act of selfishness, and they look for other motivations for your actions.

We become cynical and guarded and we think ‘she must be going out with that guy to get back at her ex’ or ‘he’s only doing x to make up for y.’ We see other people’s actions only in relation to how they affect us.

‘Because it’ll make me happy’ starts to feel like a juvenile reason for doing something, and we scramble to back up our decisions with more substantive reasoning.

What a horrible way to live.

True- we shouldn’t just do whatever we want simply because we feel like it, especially when it’s harmful to other people; but why isn’t happiness reason enough to live the life you want?

This sad truth is one of the many reasons that the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. (I’m looking at you, high school study buddies and college roommates.)

They can remind you not to take life too seriously because they’ll be sure to knock you down a peg when you start acting too mature for your own good. They can bring you back to a time when you were less inhibited by lasting effects and empowered by the sense of invincibility we only feel in our youth.

They can remind you of a different you, the person you were before life became more permanent and decisions became more difficult. The person you were when your dreams were bigger than you realized and everything was uncertain. The person you were when happiness was a good reason to do anything.

It’s true – you’re wiser now, you’ve seen more of life and learned along the way. You have more accomplishments (and more failures) under your belt. But are you using what you’ve learned?

You would think the older you get, the more you would realize that life is short and that happiness is the BEST reason to take action, one of the only reasons that matters.

People look for the meaning of life as if it’s some big mystery. Is it crazy to think we’re here to love each other, make each other happy, and improve each other’s lives? Is it insane to think it could be that simple?

You become an ‘adult’ (supposedly) and you let other things fill your mind. You stoop under the weight of responsibility, of work, of family, of expectations of others. You forget the simple truth that you innately knew when you were young – that love and happiness are the best motivations, the only reasons that really mean anything at all.

Go back, if you can. Spend time with the people who knew you before you ‘knew it all.’ Reminisce. Revisit old dreams. Laugh.

Decide to cut the toxic parts (and people) out of your life, the ones that drag you down and masquerade as necessary evils. Do what you do (WHATEVER you do) because you love it.

And next time someone asks why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing, I hope your answer is ‘because it makes me happy.’