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.