Life Begins Over Again

Musings

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I have had a fucking wonderful summer. Excuse my language, truly I try to be a lady but all things considered (my heart breaking into smithereens and having yet to locate all the pieces or put it back together properly) I have stuck to my mission of becoming who I am becoming. Not only that but I had some incredible adventures.

Now truth be told today started out rocky. I woke up and something about today… the date, September 1st speaking of change including a new season upon us and a new job for me, the dreary rain, the fact that my sister’s boyfriend Kurt was packing up to go back home after being here all summer and delighting me daily with his adventuresome spirit, all of this and more soaked the day in melancholy. As I gave Kurt a hug goodbye I joked that I felt very sad he was leaving and he wasn’t even my boyfriend.

Then I hiked in the woods in the rain for a long while. And got some writing done at Starbuck’s while enjoying my beloved extra extra hot pumpkin latte. But upon hearing this song (which I listened to incessantly while Out West) it made me yearn for Wyoming with a wild desperation. All of a sudden I had to get out of Starbuck’s because all the melancholy suddenly felt like too much. I just knew I had to cry.

As soon as I got in the car I burst into tears. It felt so ridiculous the onslaught of hysteria that I had to question myself. What were all the tears for? And so I answered myself to maybe calm myself.

They were for Kurt leaving and me feeling a little sad because he felt like a little brother now, but mostly for my sister Kirstie, because even if it’s just a move and not a break-up, leaving is always hard.

They were for the start of a new season which suddenly I didn’t know if I was ready for; I had just gotten used to summer. Why was summer over? Didn’t it just begin?

They were for Wyoming. Silly, maybe, but suddenly I ached for Wyoming and felt trapped here and unsure where I belonged at all and I longed for the open West and freedom.

They were a little for DC, who I thought by this time I should be good and over and I am good, but certainly not all the way over. I’d say I have one leg over.

They were for my sister Kia who would be leaving as well to move back downstate in a matter of days and would no longer be my partner in crime every day when I needed her. And it just seemed wrong that I should ever have to be without even one of my sisters.

They were for a friend who I recently found lost his grandfather that I knew he loved so dearly and it just seemed so heartbreaking his loss and there being nothing to be done over it and so I cried for that too for good measure. Well I mean once I was already crying.

And then I decided to pull myself together. And the way to do that would be by sharing my top three summer memories to cheer myself. So here goes:

My birthday. Okay, so that seems obvious, as all who know me and some who don’t know I love my birthday disgusting amounts, but this birthday was quite frankly not one of my favorite because of its painfully close proximity to my break-up, however, this doesn’t mean it was not memorable. My dear best friend booked a night in a teepee for me as she knows me well. Normally this would’ve gone over like chocolate being delivered and spoon fed to me by a bearded man, that is to say, amazingly. Except before we got to the teepee which I would be spending the night in with three of my sisters and bestie, Em mentioned that the area we would be staying in was purported to be quite haunted by Native Americans. And she didn’t leave it at that. She then told stories of the hauntings. Okay fine, I am not that big of a baby that I can’t handle a haunted tale (actually yes I am) but then once we set up our fire, Em and my sister joked about the Native American ghosts who might be in the woods and I very gravely told them they could NOT joke about Native Americans. On their Land. Near their teepee. Seriously I had watched a special in which a man who was warned not to go hiking on cursed Native American land did anyway and he disappeared and then later his remains were found and no one knew how he died. I do. It was obviously the Native American Curse. He was warned people! So naturally I had to be the first to fall asleep so as to feel safe that night, and I was. Because of the exceptionally cold night, we had all doubled up in our bunks except Em. I got my sister Alexa and Sav and Kirst were spooned together while Em was across from us. All was well until I woke up at a time I was unsure of but suspected was the bewitching hour. All I could hear from the teepee were sounds of snoozing from all the girls. Instantly I became frantic that the Natives might be mad that the girls had made jokes and when they came in to strangle someone to death that someone might be me, because what if they got confused and didn’t know it was my birthday, or wasn’t sure where Kirst was, or just decided to strangle all of us to make a statement. Honestly if it was going to happen I knew we had brought it upon ourselves. In a matter of mere minutes I was so wracked with terror and so convinced I was about to be maimed by a dead Native American chief that I shook Alexa up. “What.” she whispered. “I’m terrified,” I said. She insisted she was awake now and it was okay, but I retaliated with the fact we needed to skidaddle. Because we were sleeping in a teepee on haunted Native American land with Native American ghosts who probably rightly wanted to kill us and I didn’t blame them. But I wanted to live because it was my birthday and I like cake. Alexa who knows how much I like teepees and Native Americans but who also knows how much I value my sleep, my life and the power of Native American Curses screamed at everyone to get up because I was scared and we were getting out of there. My other sisters promptly whipped out of bed and sprung into action gathering blankets and asking if I was alright with grave concern while I insisted I was not and we were going to die and needed to leave. Em, the only rational one asked why we couldn’t just stay because now everyone was up and my sisters exchanged glances understanding that was of course never an option. Blankets and phones and marshmallows were thrown into my SUV haphazardly and we drove to a hotel two miles down the road where I happily and safely slept in between Alexa and Kirstie.

 

The Meteor Shower. So there was this incredible meteor shower up here that I was dying to see a few weeks back. I think this was also during the Super Moon, but the moon might’ve just been full and large, but it definitely lit up the whole sky, almost taking away some of the stars glory. My sister, her friend and I made our way down to one of our favorite beaches around midnight to catch the show. We had my sleeping bag and a bottle of pink champagne for the occasion. The night was a cool sixty degrees and it seemed cloud cover was moving in over the stars but we were hopeful. As we sipped champagne from our plastic flutes, suddenly my sis jumped up and insisted she needed to skinny dip. She wasted no time in de-robing and running into Superior. Now I am all about Superior all summer long, though most sane individuals are not. But on this cold night, taking a dip in Superior’s frigid depths, much less naked, seemed a dicey choice. But when my sis came back out seemingly exuberant and slammed the last of her champagne and asked if we were coming in too, it seemed I couldn’t rightly back out. She was younger than me and being this bold, I could hardly be the unadventurous one. So I undressed too and ran in. We all did. And our teeth chattered in the water under the moon and soon-to-be shooting stars. After getting back out, getting dressed and cuddling close the girls saw multiple shooting stars while I only spotted one, but one was all I needed to feel truly and wholly mesmerized and to make a solid wish, which of course I can’t share or it won’t come true.

Wyoming. Sweet Wyoming, there are so many words I have for you (you deserve a whole blog post and will probably get one) that I don’t rightly know where to begin. But I’ll begin with the cowboys. And the horses. Oh mercy me, these two things alone made my summer visit here one of the greatest in recollection. I joked with a friend that the state was so filled with cowboys and horses that I was certain if I moved there I would be given both a cowboy and a horse as a welcome. Wyoming filled my soul with such grandeur, such drunken adoration over the ever changing landscape: wide and winding rivers, fly fishermen, mountains that were green and blue and red and grey, valleys and rolling open land, that most times I was just speechless while others I wanted to throw a tantrum over how desperately I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stomp and fling myself into a moustached cowboy’s arms and beg, don’t let them take me. I am yours now. I belong to you! Honestly, I didn’t want to leave so badly that I applied for a job there in hopes of staying. Hence why I wept over Wyoming today. That place really got ahold of me.

While I obviously had so many more incredible summer memories with sisters and friends and family alike, I said top three and I have already been wildly verbose, so I will leave it at that. But, see there, I’m reminded that if summer was this sweet, I certainly no longer feel like crying and instead feel warm and magical over what this new season has in store for me.

I Get By With a Little Help…

Adventures in Nature

Today was perfect. I got up for work at seven. Okay. Correction. My sister woke me up at seven because I am without a phone, therefore without an alarm clock and at the mercy of others (because I keep neglecting to just travel back to 1999 and buy an alarm clock) and waking up at seven was less than perfection but no matter. I laid in bed not fully letting myself fall back asleep but instead fantasizing about the sleep that I could no longer partake in for fifteen minutes. Then I proceeded to the couch where I sat for another fifteen minutes not accepting that I had to go to work. Then I remembered that there is really fresh and delicious coffee where I work and I perked up, got cute and hopped on my bicycle.

Where I got coffee and got to work.

I left around two and immediately was called to nature. I got ahold of my hiking buddy, Dana who I can always, always count on to do just about anything outdoors and active with me. I put on my bathing suit under my hiking clothes as I had been broiling since my bike ride into work this morning. We went out to my favorite secluded beach and started weaving down the trails that ran parallel to my beloved Superior. Today the lake was glassy, with green undertones in the shallow waters and royal blue reflections out deep, with some fog dolloped on top for added mystique.

As we walked through the forest I couldn’t help but continue to inhale deeply. I’ve come to realize the smell of the forest, like the smell of the sea brings me more joy than I can hardly stand. I became so intoxicated with it, that I pointed out to my friend that they should bottle up the smell of the forest—the pine needles on cushy ground, the dense growth, the timber—and make all men wear it. But then I’d be in for a world of trouble, because it’s bad enough the flannel wearing, beard sporting men in this town, if they all smelled of the forest too, I don’t rightly know that I’d have a hold on myself. All bets would surely be off and I might become a wild thing.

As we walked along, though worries wanted to nag at me—I have a whole list of worries I can pick from on any given day: how will I pay all my bills, when can I see the whole wide world, why did my relationship end, how much weight do I need to lose, etc.—but today I forcibly reminded myself to be present. There was no use re-hashing what had been or wondering about what would be. All of that nonsense would detract from my walk with my friend, my walk with my forest, my walk with God.

After the hour-long hike, both uphill and down I was of course sweating where my body produces sweat, which is everywhere. I de-robed and slowly waded out into Superior, feeling her out, wondering if I would lose all feeling in my ankles and calves before forcing myself to submerge fully like I always do. No matter how frigid Lake Superior may be, if I go in past my ankles, I must dunk. It may be a Finnish thing, or perhaps it’s a crazy thing. Either way I stand by it.

I waded out to my chest. It was cold, sure. Numbing in a way, but not its usual electric shock of frigidity. The numbing chill felt welcome and therapeutic, like ice on achy muscles. I took a breath, plugged my nose and tipped back. I popped back up, smiled and dunked once more and just like that I was used to it.

I yelled to Dana that it felt amazing. She stuck a toe in and told me I was crazy and that it was freezing. So I frolicked around in it a bit and then met her at shore where I searched out unique rocks and eventually sat down on one in the lake, my toes still submerged to chat while I let the air dry me.

I found what looked to be a floating piece of newspaper and I plucked it out of the water inspecting it. Amused, Dana asked if I’d found a love letter while I read it over hoping that’s exactly what I’d found. It was just movie times that seemed burned around the edges, left over from a fire. I put it on the sand and told her I still held fast to hope that one day I’d find a love letter at sea. Or by my coffee maker. Or in my mailbox. I never lost hope it seemed. Though I knew at 28 the chances of finding anything other than bills or an Ulta catalog in my mailbox were slim to none, I always checked the mail with hopefulness that one day, one day maybe someone would have something soul-stirring to say to me.

We left the beach to go make our dinner which we agreed would be hearty steak and a slew of vegetables. Something about being out in nature pumping my legs just makes me want to eat like a man. And now that I knew how to cook a steak, I wasn’t holding back anymore. The entirety of my relationship with DC I would mention my cravings for steak (it’s been my favorite food since about five) and anytime I wanted him to make it for me for dinner, he would say we needed a grill and it was no good on the stove. I would acquiesce, disappointed and hold on until summer or he took me out for steak. But never would I simply attempt to just cook the damn steak on my own; I thought it was a mans job.

Malarky. It is now my job to cook a mean steak if I want to eat like a man, which admittedly sometimes I do. Back at Dana’s I cut up onions in thick chunks, sliced wedges of carrots and drizzled asparagus with olive oil topped with parmesan cheese. I sauteed mushrooms with fresh garlic. And I grilled up two steaks, seasoned to perfection and rare enough to moo (at least mine that is). As I put bites of steak topped with mushroom and onion in my mouth, then quickly scrambled for a bite of carrot and asparagus, only to wash it down with a pomegranate beer, I realized that food had never tasted so fine.

And I’d made it myself. After hiking the forest. After swimming in Superior. After getting up at seven to make ends meet. On my own. By myself. As God intended. For me to understand that I can and should be reliant on myself—with a whole lot of help in the way of forests and trees and steaks and girl friends thrown in from the Big Guy—but other than that, just me, learning how to forge ahead making my own way and my own steak.

Independence Day, Literally

Musings

I have had a blissful two or was it three DC-free days—well that’s not entirely true as he was whispering at my subconscious the whole time, but not enough to take me down—but when I woke up today I could see the short reprieve was ending. Whether it was because my willpower had withered, or a day I was dreading was finally here, or the fact that I had just been experiencing high adventure with my mom and sisters was coming to an end and my adventure hangover was starting—as DC dubbed the bleak feeling that would come over me when one of my adventures was through—it was clear I hadn’t bested the post-break-up sadness like I had hoped I had.

All of a sudden I found myself missing DC as a whole and missing all his individual parts. A torrent of memories came down on me this morning, one after another and feeling semi-secure surrounded by my sisters in a hotel room, I let it all wash over me. I lay there in the dark room with ships on the walls and a white down comforter while I missed DC.

First I missed his arms. Then I missed being in them. Then I missed his chuckle. I missed his beard, of course. And his long eyelashes that I always envied. His forehead where I would kiss, especially if he wasn’t feeling so well. I missed his smell and I missed his voice. Which reminded me of the phrases I missed. They had been popping into my head for days, weeks, just random phrases in his voice.

DC loved to quote the TV show The Office as it was his favorite and for some reason this quote from the show that DC often re-quoted kept popping into my head.

“What you really want is more of a Savannah accent, which is more like molasses just sort of spilling out of your mouth.”

Except in DC’s voice, imitating Andy’s voice from The Office.

Molasses.
Molasses.
Molasses.

My mind would repeat in his voice until my heart begged me to stop. And then I would try and forget that I ever knew the word molasses. Molasses be gone.

The other day it was the phrase, “my Finnish princess.” This one wasn’t from The Office. This one was for me. I’d all but forgotten it had ever been uttered, but my traitorous brain dislodged it from my memory bank and kept re-playing it back to me. Every time he’d said this to me which had only been a handful, my body was flooded with giddy rushes of pleasure and for a few days after he’d said it I’d have to get it out of him once more, for the joy it brought me. So I would kindly remind him that I was his Finnish princess and he’d matter-of-factly nod and re-state it, “You are my Finnish princess.”

Finnish princess.
Finnish princess.
Finnish princess.

Again, the agony. The desire to stop the phrases from finding me. To forget those words. But how could I ever forget that I was once someone’s Finnish princess? Or even if I separated the words, I knew I could never forget Finnish because that is who I am, having been born with a love of my Scandinavian roots. I could sooner forget my name than I could forget my heritage.

With phrases and longing filling my brain I wore myself out and fell back asleep only to dream of DC. First I was with him and his family and then I was only with his sister, while she discussed with me that he was dating someone new. The dream ended with me and the someone knew in a gun-fight over DC.

I woke up feeling worse than before, but dismissed it. It was supposed to be one of my favorite holidays, so I tried to focus on that instead.

Red.
White.
Blue.

America.
America.
America.

It got me back to Marquette and then I found that all the red, white and blue, all the joy I had for being an American, for fireworks, couldn’t possibly wipe out the pain of missing someone I loved and shared a life with. I was trying to hold my chin up. I have been trying every moment of every day to do just that and mostly I am a smashing success. But today I felt the mixture of adventure hangover blues, a holiday minus DC, and heartbreak weren’t the best recipe for me.

And so I came home and cried for him. For his arms and his smell and his beard and his chuckle and his eyelashes and his kissable forehead and the way he said molasses and called me his Finnish princess. And a whole bunch of other things in between. And because I needed to know that this pain wouldn’t somehow destroy me. Wouldn’t destroy the Fourth of July. Wouldn’t destroy my ability to love again, I typed into Google: how to survive the sadness of a break-up and found this:

Incredible letter which made me feel comforted in the sincerest way you can find comfort from a complete stranger.

And then when I felt bad that I wasn’t writing about my adventure at Dark Sky Park, or learning to sail from a ship captain (yet) it was because writing to me is healing and sometimes it is all I can do to bear this visceral of all losses: to write my way back to myself.

Ernest Hemingway gets it. He said to “write hard and clear about what hurts.”

So I am writing hard and clear about what hurts. At least until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

What Could be Better?

Musings

Lately I have been having a lot of what could be betters? It’s funny, because I am in the throes of the biggest what could be worse—heartbreak that is—but, despite the agony of a disintegrating heart, I can’t help finding that things have been more than alright.

Like the smell of pine trees and pine needles dusting a forest floor. Oh mercy. What could be better? Besides the fact that the forest might be filled with some of the most intoxicating scents to ever fill my senses, it always reminds me of our family camp which happens to be my favorite place in all the land.

Then there are my freckles. Have I spoke before now about how fondly I gaze at my freckles? If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss. My freckles bring me no small measure of delight. I like them at all times of year, but in the summer when they crop up by the dozens on my face and arms and I can make constellations with them, well, what could be better?

What about Cat Power’s song, I Found a Reason. Gosh, I forgot about that song. It came on shuffle on my sister’s ipod one morning while I was cooking a particularly Gordon Ramsay-esque breakfast and I was stopped immediately. I had to find the time to sway. What could be better? To let my stinkin’ faulty smoke detector go off if it had to, but I had to get lost in that song, in that moment. I am not one to forget in the power of music, but sometimes, something deliciously unexpected catches me off guard, like this song, and why oh why do anything but honor it?

Or how ’bout the Northern sky? Have you ever seen anything like it? It fills the whole world I am living in with its vastness: its blues, its pinks and purples, whites and greys. And that’s not even speaking of the clouds. Oh the clouds—they touch every part of the horizon, seeming to touch land and sea and everywhere in between. I was on the beach today, sitting out on a rock island a small distance out from shore, having waded through Superior’s icy waters to get there, and for so many moments I couldn’t do anything else but gaze at the sky in wonder. I felt like I was on vacation at some fancy resort, but no, this was my backyard. What could ever be better than a Northern Sky?

Lake Superior perhaps? My favorite sea. Truly she is. I was informed today that Lake Superior is considered too large to even be considered a lake, so in fact, she is an inland sea. The Ojibwe called the lake gichigami, meaning “a great sea.” With my sea-loving heart, what could be better than 3-quadrillion gallons of water at my beck and call? In the morning as I pedal into work I see her. Or in the evening on my nightly walk, waves a-blowing to shore. What could be wrong in life with Superior out my window? Even her name has bragging rights.

What could be better than having four of my six sisters living in the same town as me? Two of which live in the same apartment as me, one who spends the night most nights anyway, while the other bikes over after work. How agog am I over having my sisters near me? Well, they fill my soul with equal parts joy, comfort, hilarity and fulfillment that it can’t help but heave happy sighs of contentment.

And then, then. There is my main man. My one and only. God. What could ever be better? He is the biggest what could be better and the best of course, hence why I saved Him for last. I wouldn’t have any of my what could be betters without Him. I wouldn’t have Cat Power or extra tall pines or waves or pink skies or freckles or six sisters. So with gratitude for things of beauty and delight saturating my heart that needs it, I again say, what could be better than God? From whom all blessings flow.

So, sure, the breakup is the worst what could be worse (at least as far as my heart can tell). But if I didn’t have God, I wouldn’t be having all these what could be betters to get me through. And for that I am a very lucky girl. Very lucky indeed.

The Old Girl’s Still Beating

Musings

I have been rather forthright about my heartache and while it’s not something I plan to prattle on about for long—as it reeks of stagnation and does not embrace the spirit of adventure—it does cloud most of my mental space on a daily basis. You know that scene in When Harry Met Sally (everything in life can easily tie back to that movie) when Harry and Sally are talking about moving past their ex’s and Harry is talking about a date he went on recently.

Harry: We’re talking dream dates compared to my horror. It started out fine, she’s a very nice person, and we’re sitting and we’re talking at this Ethiopian restaurant that she wanted to go to. And I was making jokes, you know like, “Hey I didn’t know that they had food in Ethiopia? This will be a quick meal. I’ll order two empty plates and we can leave.”
[Sally laughs]
Harry: Yeah, nothing from her not even a smile. So I down shift into small talk, and I asked her where she went to school and she said. “Michigan State”, and this reminds me of Helen. All of a sudden I’m in the middle of this mess of an anxiety attack, my heart is beating like a wild man and I start sweating like a pig.
Sally: Helen went to Michigan State?
Harry: No she went to Northwestern, but they’re both Big-Ten schools. I got so upset I had to leave the restaurant.

A version of this has been happening to me all day every day. I was at work rinsing out a mug when I noted that the song, Wagon Wheel was playing. Right as I began to happily sway to this dreamy of all tunes, this trainwreck of a thought happened:

This song is by Old Crow Medicine Show.

I saw them in concert.

The day I saw them in concert DC and I were texting.

He wouldn’t stop calling me ambrosial.

At the time I thought his over-usage of the word ambrosial was nauseating.

I would give anything to be called ambrosial again. Okay not really—still hate the word—but I wish he still thought I was ambrosial enough to tell me so.

And then I wanted to puke in the freshly rinsed mug, my heart was hurting so bad. How did my brain do that from a song that has virtually nothing to do with DC? Because everything has everything to do with DC right now. It’s just the way love and heartbreak work unfortunately.

It happened again another day while buying strawberries. I picked up the package and then was lost in remembering strawberry-picking with him in the mountains.

I had walked up to a neighboring fence with a white horse and bragged to DC that horses just trusted me, as sure enough the horse ambled over to me and let me touch his striking jaw and feed him some grass. We made our way through row after row of strawberries plucking and sweating while I paused to take photos of him. I loved photographing him.

And still yet while thrifting with my best friend I spotted some Yankee Candle melts and touched them as anguish washed over me in deep floods. I shook the Yankee candle at her saying even this stupid candle was dragging me down into an abyss. She asked how?

When DC and I first started dating, we went to this quaint German town in Michigan called Frankenmuth. We walked around the town holding hands while it rained. He bought my mom a bunch of Yankee Candle melts because it was near Christmas. He carved our initials in the side of a bridge. I looked at his wool pea coat that was dappled with raindrops and thought, ah love, how perfect.

And now… ? Now Yankee candles were giving me gut rot.

I just kept thinking about that line where Sally curiously asks if Helen went to Michigan State and Harry matter of factly states no, Northwestern, but it’s a Big-Ten school (I even know what Big-Ten schools are now thanks to DC) making connections that only heartbroken people can make. I could connect an earthworm to a sports stat at this point, that’s how badly my heart wants to find its way back to his heart.

I have seen When Harry Met Sally 1,000 times and that line never affected me much me til now. And now I can so easily see how it didn’t matter at all that Helen hadn’t gone to Michigan State; Helen hadn’t yet left Harry’s heart, so still he could make the connection.

So while I may suffer daily with these inane and improbable connections myself, I know it’s just my hearts way of making sense out of something utterly nonsensical. My heart doesn’t understand what my brain does. I wish that were so, but my heart has always marched to its own drummer, brain and rationale be damned.

So I’ll leave my poor heart alone and let her do her thing. I’ve always trusted my heart too much to start in on her now. If this is what she needs to cope, then I guess I’ll accept that certain things—or everything—bring me back to DC in some way. But as a wise friend of mine once said: feeling sheer and utter sadness over something reminds us we’re alive. And if my heart is still carrying on this much at least the ol’ girl’s still beating. At least there’s that.

Maybe the Country Songs are Right

Musings

Well, folks, it’s been just shy of one month since I left the East Coast and my love, DC and headed for colder weather. It’s not often people pack up to experience 50 degree temps on the first day of summer, but I haven’t minded it much. It feels like fall, and I pretend that it is, as a new season might mean I have moved past my heartbreak and am okay. It’s working a little.

I’ll refrain from crooning corny country songs, here, like it’s getting better all the time, or something about my achy breaky heart and instead say that I am finding the beauty in the struggle once again. If anyone knew anything about DC it’s that the man did indeed spoil me and made my life, well, cushier than I’d ever experienced before in my twenty-eight years. But now, it’s back to relying on good ol’ numero uno and that’s not so bad. It’s not so bad at all.

Like for instance I have been riding my bike a lot. Mostly because it’s pink and pretty, has a basket and it’s my new favorite pastime; but also because it saves on gas. There is something to be said about the wind whipping at my sides while I pump my legs getting in mile after mile on my own energy. It’s really rather therapeutic. Well that and my small supply of Xanax, which I almost lost on one said bike ride. I had some in a little zip-loc in my purse—ya know, for emergencies—and as I was making a sharp turn, my purse flopped open and the wind took the Xanax filled bag and carried it down the street. Immediately I turned and raced after it, feeling frantic—I’d already lost my heart, it was no good to lose my mind too. Eventually I caught up to the bag and ran over it with my wheel to stop its escaping. Close call. Oh Xanax, what would I do without you?

I have also been cooking a lot. To be fair I haven’t been experimenting as much as I had hoped (with new recipes and such) mostly because I’m poor, but I have rationed my four extra jumbo sweet potatoes I bought when I first moved here and have been making a slew of meals with those. I learned from my sis, who learned from a German she flirts with, who learned from Gordon Ramsay that I have apparently been making scrambled eggs wrong my entire life. So this morning I googled the aforementioned Gordon Ramsay scrambled egg tutorial and found by golly, I have been doing it wrong my whole life.

I have also learned the trick for not setting off the smoke alarm in my new apartment. It goes off if I so much as boil water for tea—and by tea I of course mean coffee in my French press. As I happily watched Gordon Ramsay instruct on of the most basic meals of mankind, I had a small fan churning out air pointed upwards at the smoke detector. Then I happily ate the last of my sweet potato stash which I cut up in mini pieces for a hash, accompanied by my new take on the scrambled egg.

And then I did start crooning corny country songs. All day I kept singing to myself, and it’s a great day to be alive, by Travis Tritt. I couldn’t help myself. It did feel great to be alive. Pain and all. Pain I was ignoring. Pain I was embracing. Pain I was masking. Pain I was avoiding. It didn’t matter. I learned how to make scrambled eggs the right way. I learned how not to set off the smoke alarm while frying those eggs. I learned that riding my pink bicycle might be one of the purest ways for me to feel joy. I learned that while yes, a man taking caring of me feels mighty fine, taking care of myself feels even better. And yes, Brooks and Dunn, I have learned that it is getting better all the time.

I Can’t Find the Funny

Musings

I wrapped my arms around DC hugging—no clutching—him goodbye a little over a week ago. It feels like an eternity has passed and yet time has gone so slow it’s agonizing in every way. I have never despised time so very much.

I also despise everything else. But only in increments. Horrible increments of hatred for messes that seem uncleanable or a life that feels unfixable, and everything in between. The view in front of me seems void of all color and everything around me feels loud and frustrating.

My sisters friend was over the other day when I was in one of these moods, (which don’t last more than a few minutes or a few hours—13 at most) these awful soul-sucking moods, and the saccharine sweetness of her voice felt like nails on a chalkboard. Her inane chatter which of course was conducive to life, felt to me conducive to death. I wanted it to stop, to go away. I couldn’t believe anyone could possibly be talking about normal things when I was in the throes of break-up anarchy, which was swiftly taking me down to a very bleak place.

How were people talking about camping and jobs and houses and life when every molecule in my body reflected what my heart was feeling, which was debilitating pain and mind-altering sadness?

I ran into an old friend in my favorite coffee shop in town and she asked if I was here to stay. I said yes. She asked if that meant my boyfriend and I were still together. I said, no. She said, oh okay.

No period.
Oh okay period.

That is what my relationship had been reduced to and to say it felt all wrong would be all wrong. There aren’t words to sum up how that made me feel. No period. Oh okay period.

Just like that, no. Oh okay.

No.
It’s not okay.
It’s not okay.
It’s not okay.

I have refused for days to write about my break-up (of course I have to write, I have to write through the pain and write myself back to happy) because it felt too raw, it felt like I wanted no one inside my hurt. I wanted to hold it tight and fast within myself, for to let it out would be my demise. It would mean accepting. And though I initiated this split, at the time thinking it wouldn’t really happen, that we would realize and fight harder than ever for our love, now I couldn’t remember at all what I was thinking or why I thought this horrible thing was a good idea. It was the worst idea, I’d ever had. For now, all I could remember was the love. All the love and how good it felt. And why did it seem as though the love had tripled in force which in turn tripled my agony at its sudden absence.

And for days I tried to make my break-up funny for I didn’t recognize all the sadness and rage staging a hostile revolution in my body. I wept with it. Where is this all coming from? This isn’t who I am. I am happy. I am full of optimism and cheer and wit. Where is my wit? Where did she run off to? I can make the worst of the worst funny, but somehow I couldn’t find even one fiber of funny in this situation. I couldn’t find it and I found this to be one of the worst offenses of all.

How deplorably sad was I that I couldn’t Mindy Kaling it up and make my break-up relatable and silly? Nora Ephron made break-ups snappy in my favorite film of all time When Harry Met Sally.

Harry: Right. So I go to the door, and there were moving men there. Now I start to get suspicious. I say, “Helen when did you call these movers?”, and she doesn’t say anything. So I asked the movers, “When did this woman book you for this gig?”. And they’re just standing there. Three huge guys, one of them was wearing a T-shirt that says, “Don’t fuck with Mr. Zero.” So I said, “Helen, when did you make this arrangement?”. She says, “A week ago.” I said, “You’ve known for a week and you didn’t tell me?”. And she says, “I didn’t want to ruin your birthday.”
Jess: You’re saying Mr. Zero knew you were getting a divorce a week before you did?
Harry: Mr. Zero knew.

It’s still sad of course, but Billy Crystal doing the wave while relaying his divorce to his best friend at a football game softens the blow somehow. Why couldn’t I soften the blow? Where the fuck was the funny hiding and why the fuck couldn’t I find it?

As I screeched and sobbed that it wasn’t funny, my sisters wisely pointed out to me that if Mindy Kaling and Nora Ephron made break-ups and divorce somehow comical, they did it when they had time away from the situation. They guaranteed me that in the throes of painful heartache, surely my writing idols didn’t make break-ups funny and neither should I. At least right now. I have my fingers crossed that soon, sometime soon I could turn a witty phrase about my withering heart, but alas right now, I do mostly want to howl like a wounded animal and erase myself.

I want a giant eraser to start at the bottom—my feet, scribbling them out, working my way up to my legs, erase, erase, then my midsection, around to my arms, my chest, erasing particularly vigorously when I got to my heart—erase that shit and then my mind, erase it all, the memories, the love, myself, so I could no longer feel it.

That’s what I want to do.

But because I am a human I have to feel it all. I can’t Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind myself, I can’t give myself a lobotomy and I most certainly can’t erase myself. For as much as I want all those things in this moment, it’s simply because the hurt is doing all the ruling. It’s manning the systems from the inside and the system is short-circuiting from how shockingly bad my heart can make the rest of me feel.

But here’s the up-side. There is one and despite my sadness, agony, rage and hatred for colors and noise I do know there is an upside. Once the hurt heals as hurt often does, I would probably regret wanting to erase any of my love for DC, erase my existence or my large heart that does still very much believe in love and goodness and cheer and possibility.

So no. It’s not okay. I am not okay. And my break-up isn’t funny. It’s fucking sad as sad ever was. But it won’t be like this for long. No, it sure won’t be like this for long.