I was scared. I was tired. I felt alone and as though the whole world had forgotten me, millions of miles from a familiar face. In a foreign place, only five days in, I was facing my first Friday night completely, utterly in solidarity. As I opened the splintered wooden door to my stark, undecorated room after an endless day away, I saw a small package waiting for me. Who even knew my new address? As I tore the bright blue wrapping paper away from the soft, grey hardcover, I cried happy tears for only the third time in my life. There in my trembling hands was my soul, our souls.
I never told you. I had in passing drunkenly mentioned my favorite author once months ago. Yet, as I felt forgotten about in a new place, you were following him close enough to know he was releasing his greatest book yet. You were thinking of me enough to make sure to buy one of the first copies and made sure it would welcome me home on my first Friday night completely, utterly in solidarity.
I miss feeling that way. I miss someone knowing me so well that they can read my thoughts and send me the first copy of a book from an unknown author who means the world to me, before I even have time to purchase it myself. Sometimes, honestly, I miss being read like a book.
Happiness always seems to be where you are not. It is at some point of time when you have already passed that test, or met that perfect person. It’s never now. So maybe happiness is not what we should be searching for. Maybe we should be looking for a spectrum of emotions to experience during our lives; peace, excitement, love, passion. Maybe it is more about riding the waves of positive emotions when they come across our oceans, rather than drowning trying to find one temporary emotion. After all, isn’t a great deal of our unhappiness caused by thinking we are not happy and worrying that we are not finding happiness?
I don’t know about you, but I am going to ride the waves that the wind and moon are currently stirring up in my ocean. I will rise with the tide, and go out with the tide, and understand that I am in God’s ocean and if I continue to ride only preferential waves, I will drown trying to find the perfect wave.
We were half-drunk, giggling our way down the old dirt road in your baby blue Mustang, when you pulled off into an abandoned cornfield. There were no lights, no people, no other cars. We opened both doors and put our heads out of them, upside down, with our feet hanging towards the middle of the consul and touching each other. The stars were so bright. Even growing up in Wyoming, I had never seen stars that bright.
In that moment, I realized that the brightest star was not a successful career. It was not getting married by a certain age, or having that brand new Hermes bag. The brightest star was having a moment of silence, in the middle of your own cornfield, to look at the stars. The brightest star was time, love and nature.
I had been looking for the brightest star my entire life in NYC, in fast cars, in climbing the ineffable corporate ladder. I had been looking for the brightest star in all of the flashiest places, when it was in my backyard the entire time, in the least of all of glamorous, flashiest places in the world.
And here I am, three years later, realizing I have been searching the big city for the brightest star, when it has been with the sky that is always above me and God Who is always within me.
I refuse to stand here and take this anymore. I refuse you telling me that the world is going to hell and each new tragedy is bringing us closer to doomsday. I refuse for you to rain on my sunny days and try to convince me that I need to feel just as miserable as you. I will believe what I believe and I will continue to have hope that there is a greater plan. I will believe in the beauty of sunsets and in the happiness of random messages from friends. I will believe in surprises and kisses and the strength in standing up for who you are. And as you all burn in the negative fires you are starting, I will refuse.
My eyes focused on a black and white picture of fire escapes in the city during a blizzard that I had bid on at a charity auction. I wanted it so badly that night we saw it a studio in Chelsea, but he outbid me. We got in a fight over the ethics of outbidding your significant other on something they wanted, and he quickly handed the photo over saying that he only bid on it so he could give it to me. I never knew if that was the truth, but the ownership of the photo became a bit muddled.
As I stared at it in it’s final resting place on my mantel, I realized that in all of our reckless fights when I purged my NYC apartment of things he had given to me, I had never once thought twice about giving up the photo the fire escapes. I mean, I had scoured the place of any tiny thing, any remembrance of us, and had somehow always missed that photo. Maybe because I always had thought it was mine because I saw it first, bid on it first, even though it was really his.
And in that moment, I realized that I would never possibly be able to separate his things from mine. We had built a life together and the lines of ownership had become quite muddy.
I think that’s the issue with relationships and breakups. We want to completely sever ourselves from the other person, when that other person is now in these tiny little pieces of us that we could never possibly find within us. Whether we adopted a part of their laugh, or the way they grin at us with a crooked smile as though it is enough when something bad has happened, or if we have taken on that way they bite their bottom lip when they think they are onto something. We can’t just sever ourselves from everything that was theirs, or we sever ourselves from ourselves. We have to accept the parts of us that now have parts of them, as lovingly as we accept the rest of ourselves, and understand that some of those parts are incredibly important to who we became through that relationship. Even if the relationship died, the person it morphed us into did not.
We are still alive, and we are going to need ourselves to love every single part of us, even the parts that include them, because those are the parts that are going to need the most of our love. We’re going to need those fire escapes in the future, even when we don’t know their ownership.
You think you are holding all of the tickets to my soul. You smile at me so smugly, as if my entire fate exists in the stark white lines between your words. But you see, when you gained the confidence of holding the tickets to my future, you forgot that there are a million trains leaving the station and maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to take the train you bought the tickets for anyway.
You are the light. You are the energy that fuels me. You are the specs, the pixels, the dust that I am made of. You are the memory that sustains me. When the world tears me apart, you fuse me back together.
I wish I never had to say goodbye, that I never had to experience tears, defeat, failure. I wish I never had to have something so beautiful taken from me, or take something so incredible from someone else.
I wish I could live in a marshmallow world where I’m completely sheltered from what I don’t know (what you don’t know doesn’t kill you).
But people often forget the high price of rent to live among the marshmallows. They forget you pay in experiences, emotions and growth.
Indeed, living in the marshmallow world comes at the cost of not living at all.
Someday, I hope the universe randomly connects us again, forces us to see each other on some abandoned city street that only the two of us know to be a shortcut to that deli on Water St. I hope your face is lit up with joy and pride from the life you’ve made for yourself.