Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why not me?


I wish I had taken that picture. I wish I had taken that picture. I wish I could believe the lie of one day for just a little longer. I know the feeling won't last forever, but the looming question-- why not me?-- will be weighing on my chest for a while. One day I'll understand it. I'm sure it will all make sense eventually. In the meantime, I'll just wonder and wonder and hope that all the kitschy cliches are right:

Someone better is coming!
There's someone out there just for you!
When you're least expecting it, love will find you!

Whatever the fuck that means.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

We are all the "Alligator Parents"


Last night on the way to my parents' house for dinner, I zoned out and ran a red light. I drive past this intersection at least twice a day every single day of my life. I knew there was a light there. But I zoned out and ran the light and almost hit a woman in a Toyota Camry. It was a mistake that could have been deadly.

I didn't hit anyone thankfully, but I almost did. And almost, when dealing with harming another human being in any way, is still too close for comfort. I spent the rest of the night feeling horrible. I can't imagine how scared the woman in the Camry must have been. I am so glad she was paying attention and that she swerved out of the way, even though she shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. What if a child were in that car? She was no doubt someone's daughter, friend, or mother. I pictured the worst case scenarios all night long.

I pictured the comments that would come from readers on the article that the local news would inevitably publish. I bet she was texting (I wasn't) or I bet she fell asleep at the wheel (I didn't.) We all want there to be reasons but accidents happen.

I wish I could apologize to her.

It got me thinking about mistakes, and how these things unify us as humans. We all make them. Most of them don't make the news. Most of them don't cause a loss of life. Most of the time, we are the only ones who know about them at all.

But then there's the mom of the boy who fell in the Gorilla enclosure. Or the parents of the child who was eaten by an alligator earlier this week. I almost joined their ranks of infamous-mistake-makers that get hateful comments on the internet-- blaming them and shaming them in their moments of horror and grief. It is not okay.

Let's be a little kinder to each other. People make mistakes and not all mistakes require judgment. It helps us make sense of tragedy, but sometimes tragedy just doesn't make sense. We like to think we're exempt from the big ones, the ones that ruin lives. But we aren't.

So how 'bout we spend less time being critics on these high-profile news stories and just admit that we don't have all the answers and that we are all capable of being at the center of the criticism.

And then let's thank whoever-the-hell you think lives in the sky that no one writes news stories about our mistakes.

That would suck pretty hard.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

5 Years


You'd be 5 years old today, Micah. You are so very loved and so very missed and so very celebrated. I wonder what you'd be interested in-- if you'd be an artist or love dinosaurs or princesses or if I'd be ten pounds lighter from chasing you around the yard in the evenings when it's finally cooled off a little.

I miss you, kid, and I grieve for who you could have grown to be. I will never understand why you couldn't stay longer. But for the first time on your birthday, mama's doing fine. Mama's stronger than ever. Mama will never be the same because of you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Different Trajectories


I was sun-kissed and exhausted from spending the afternoon on the water with my girlfriends, relieved to have been disconnected from my phone and all my responsibilities for a bit. It's a good thing, too, because when I waddled in the front door, dripping and slightly sunburned, I saw the text that I knew would come eventually.

"I'd really love to talk, if you'd be up for that," he wrote.

I felt this wave of rage fill my body-- rage that I didn't even know I was still carrying. He must be single and lonely, I thought. Or maybe he's broke? He is probably broke. I finally responded an hour later, wondering what the hell there was to talk about after all this time.

He proceeded to apologize for hurting me, and I skeptically listened while trying to nail down his motive. There's always a motive, I thought. He said he needed to clear his conscience, that he needed to right his wrongs.

"Do you feel better," I asked, "now that you've cleared your conscience?" 
"No," he confessed. "I don't."

I wanted to rip him to shreds. I could have denied him my forgiveness and kept my power in all this. And yet something in me kept my fingers from typing out the horrible things I was thinking about him and all the pain he'd caused me over the years. It has been almost five years since I left him, and the anger was still tied around my ankles in the way that toddlers grasp onto their parents' feet.

"I need to think for a second."

The rain was coming down now, hitting the canopy in the rhythmic and soothing way that rain falls. The tin roof rattled. The leaves rustled. There was all this peace surrounding me but it was just so loud in my head. I could not form words.

The hurricane moved a little closer to the shore, and I realized it was time to let it go. I did not want to carry this weight of hatred around anymore. It had been too long already.

In the last few months I've been working hard to rid my life of things or people that do not serve me. It was as if the universe had handed me this opportunity on a plate to put into practice the things I've been learning in this very big way-- a sort of midterm exam, if you will. I was reluctant, but also overjoyed, to have this moment of clarity come so unexpectedly.

"You will never be able to understand fully the long-lasting effects that your psychological warfare had on my life. There are no words for that. You can never fix the hurt inside me that you caused-- that's my job now," I said calmly. "So go and DO better. BE better. Be better for your daughter. I hope she changes the world. I hope you are good to her mother in a way that you couldn't be for me."

I hope one day twenty years from now, he and I will be able to sit down and have a cup of coffee and truly see how exactly right we were to go our separate ways. But for now it feels good not to hate him for the first time in five years. It felt good to speak great things into his daughter's life, though I never in a thousand years imagined he'd have a daughter with anyone but me. Hot, salty tears streamed down my face, dripping from my chin and the tip of my nose. I looked out over the lake water, thankful that somehow this moment had come in its own perfect timing. I could not have timed it better if I had planned this rendezvous myself.

They say no two loves are the same. Well, let's hope not anyway. For so long I've been saying goodbye to the malicious and manipulative person he had become. This weekend, I finally said goodbye to the man I had fallen in love with and the dreams we dreamed together. And I hope that, in doing so, I have opened myself up to a new realm of possibilities and somehow invited a new love to fill the places where all that rage was hiding.

I'm ready. I hope the universe or god or whoever is listening. I certainly am.

Friday, June 3, 2016

And a part of me keeps holding on just in case

I wish I could have taken a photo to remember that night, but I didn't. I just wanted to be present, to soak in the way he smelled faintly like cigarettes and that morning's cologne. I could feel his chest bounce when he laughed and his voice echoing in surround sound. He doesn't usually let me snuggle up next to him because he's so hot-natured, but on this night, he did. And I knew I would stay right there for as long as he would let me, listening to his heartbeat keeping time.

The lights were dim except for the screens of our phones, those handheld nightlights showing off our combined silhouettes. He was looking at funny memes and reading them aloud occasionally when he knew one would make me cackle. I was playing an intense game of Two Dots and shuffling through songs on my Spotify playlist I had made specifically for this weekend.

It's the way I feel him in the room when a certain song comes on, or the way I long for those days on the front porch in Savannah when I was still learning him. We'd sit on the steps for hours, talking about where we'd been. We'd trade our failures and our dreams like familiar playing cards. That porch is where it began, the first time he shook my hand and introduced himself. I had no idea that two years later I'd still be trying to convince myself not to be in love with him.

But too much time has passed for that now.

I am not allowed to love him. He holds me every now and then as if he might let me. And people ask me why I even bother when it stings every time I see him.

It is a relief to know I can still feel love for someone else after all the love that has been pulled out from under me. Maybe one day I'll find a love all my own. In the meantime, I'll borrow what little I can from him.

"Maybe one day," he says each time the subject comes up. But I know that one day isn't a real day, and I have to be okay with that so I can enjoy nights like these that are so few and far between.

253 miles.
My head on his chest.
My heart in his teeth.