1. “Here I am, Oh Lord. Bless this meal from the ground where it came from. Bless the church and may Pastor Richards be healed from Parkinson’s. Bless Rose’s babies.” And with that she brought her open palms out on front of her and clasped them together. The light above the table buzzed. For years Gregory wouldn’t even turn the light on. Instead they used lamps and always made sure to turn them off after dinner. A ritual of sorts. Light scrapes into the garbage, out of habit. Washing the plate and silverware, carefully, as she had always done. PAtrice hardly even noticed the ache in the balls of her feet — she still wore her Brahma boot work shoes, despite having gotten off her shift hours earlier.
2. The front right wheel gets stuck after every couple of rotations. If you pick up the cart and jiggle it, the wheel spins like it should. But, otherwise the cart stalls and it can press real hard against your belly. He did it himself. Good carts get stolen easily. In Seattle the theft wasn’t that bad, if you didn’t sleep too easy. You can’t get a restful eye because you have to make sure your tarps weren’t snatched up by a no good junkie. Dope fiends aren’t bad people. They have their own code of ethics. Always give your used cotton to someone who is going to get sick. Wash your plungers with water, if you can. Work together to score.
But he wasn’t a dope fiend.
He cracks his wrists and stretches his forearms. Through his too-small-shoes with holes in the soles and socks he’s worn for the past 6 months, he wiggles his toes. “Big toe is balance, weight in the heel.” Hoping from foot to foot, his knees crack. Slight and buoyant. Movements still smooth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence. I get it. I think I understand what my friend was talking about when he said I was using clutches and crutches. Sometimes you get through things with friends, sometimes you get through things on your own, and sometimes you give into vices - either in moderation or diving head first. For the past month I have been using some clutches. And, I’m ready to finally deal with the uncomfortable and stop reverting.
On Thursday I was walking home with a friend. I was so happy to have him stand next to me because I felt kind of scared and alone, even though I had traversed the streets countless times. When we separated, I wished I had a bus to take me home. I didn’t want to be alone. Confidence is part knowledge, part hope. It’s the knowledge that whatever the situation, you will persevere. It’s the hope and faith in your self that allows you to take a step - big or small. Everytime I step into something slightly uncomfortable, I feel growth.
It affects everything. It’s how you deal with certain situations. It’s that zen feeling of it’s ok to be alone or that knowledge of when you need to be with others. I thought I had been extraordinarily confident since the break up. It was somewhat of a false confidence (which is also… kind of real?) But now I realize I must move on to a new, truer ability to be alone and OK with myself. It’s honesty - with yourself and others. You can say what you need from them without fear. To not just do the things I want to do, but do them for myself and not just in reaction to my situation. I feel better (alive, excited, grounded, practical) after realizing all of this. I’m not sure why, but I do.
Did it happen that once we parked our bikes at a toursity-outside pub in Amsterdam? You helped me unlock and lock up my bike to the safest possible fence. You always worked with me to make me feel safe. I needed your hand when we walked through an extrodinarily crowded square in Europe. I needed your safety when I felt like my heart was going to explode during a concert in Portland. I needed your touch and your comfort.
But now I’m told to stop caring about you. Whether it’s the decisions you make or the life we used to have. I can’t explain to others that even if I’m not in your life, I can’t stop caring. I want you to be OK. Whether you’re with me or not. I want you to commit to yourself as you commited to making me feel safe and sound. But, when I try to explain that to someone else, I am met with a shake of the head and a, “you shouldn’t care about him any more. Get over it.”
I remember the dark corner in Portland when you made me feel like I would get over my panic attack. And helping me as you always had whether it was locking up my bike or teaching me something of interest. And it’s those brief moments that make it very difficult to not care about how you’re doing. Because I want you to be OK by yourself. As you did when you were with me. Even though you’re not with me.
I feel good. And good defined by me, is different than what I would have expected good to be six months ago. Good would have been living with someone and having a salary. It would have been laying in bed with the person I loved and giggling, reading, watching TV, playing cards and rolling around.
Good now is running and going out. Meeting new people and discovering new places. It’s rediscovering the things I used to do and the things I can do now. It’s being challenged by a job. Good is being able to be on my own and feel OK. Feel more than OK. Feel independent. It’s hanging out with friends and being in the moment. Not checking my phone, not worrying about someone else, not even really thinking about someone else. It’s being present. It’s doing what I said I was going to do and doing me.
Good changes. I’ll redefine it in a little while, but for now, I’m enjoying what is good.
Woke up at 4 AM. Cab to JFK airport. Everything quiet and cold. Bright moon and the Chrysler building caught my eye. Good byes at this age are a little rougher when you never know when you will return.
A series of choices and unexpected adventures will have the same affect on me the past has had: threads of time will continue to weave my story. The next two months will be a challenge. I started applying for jobs in Berlin in case my startup doesn’t get funding. I have to move out by the end of February. The friction of fear excites me and I feel alive.
I’ve been in a relationship for so long, I had to rediscover how to do things, alone. I’m surrounding myself with friends and distracting myself with running and writing. I’m trying to focus on the now, but it’s so hard to not be reminded of my relationship. I’m trying to be healthy, but it’s very hard to make good choices - try to not throw myself into bad distractions, try to eat, try to be positive, try to stay true to myself. But, to try is different that to do.
There’s that riddle in ‘The Hobbit’ about time. It makes rocks into dust, it eats flowers. It’s unpredictable and we cannot hold it in our hands. For now, I will try to hold it in my mind. I made mistakes. I quit, been fired, hired, and got a raise. I climbed, hiked, and ran. I feel in love and was dumped. I moved in and out. I travelled to Amsterdam and Berlin, but also found out I had a home in Seattle. I made new friends and lost some. 2012 has been an amazing year, and in hindsight I wouldnt take any of it back.
Last night, I ran through the snow. The snow was more ice on my face, but I didn’t mind. As I neared the end of my run, I became less aware of the weather and more of the music from my headphones. “I always had a passion for flashing / before I had it, I closed my eyes and imagined.” My pace was slow, but I felt good. I wore clothes found around my house and an old college sweatshirt. I was warm. And I tried to not think about all the people I had seen at the mall that day.
I needed to get new glasses. To kill the time after giving the glasses store my prescription, my dad and I walked around the mall. Before, I might have been jealous of the bags people drapped over the arms. Sephora, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom… department stores I loved. But, these people walked so slow and took up so much space. The instant gratification, so fleeting. The clothing beautiful and crafted, but bought for the appeal of the name (or so I imagine).
I finished my run. I saw my tracks in the snow, stretching back to a vanishing point. I walked up to my house and saw my footprints lightly covered with the fallen snow. I saw a beginning and end of my run. A sense of self and accomplishment. I can do something that gratifies me, for free. Without having to carry bags and be weighed down by things. But, instead, be fast and free.
Not having a safety net is the strangest thing I’ve experienced in a while. Maybe it’s a good thing. But at the moment it leaves me feeling breathless and alien.
Things feel unrecognizable. Today, I went to the supermarket. I walked down the cereal aisle after realizing that I haven’t been able to eat in almost 7 days (and I need to eat something - starting with breakfast). I recognized brands and sugary sweets my boyfriend and I used to eat. We used to make these choices together. I wanted a breather. I wanted to sit in that aisle and not think about anything, maybe just to stare at some of the boxes. Maybe I would think about how we used to pick out boxes and laugh while took Golden Puffs, or Cinnamon Chex off the shelf, and we would imagine how good it would taste. I wanted to forget about responsibility and the fact that I have to look for a new place to live. I want to forget that everything that used to be comfortable - having a best friend always, having a person of comfort, having a person to call home in a city that’s still unfamiliar — all of that is gone. But, I sucked in some air, picked some goddamn oatmeal and checked out. It was raining outside and it was downhill and dark. But I made it home. And it felt like the first big step I’ve taken since we broke up. Things may have been familiar back when I was with him, but I guess I can do what I used to do, without him.
And I will survive, as I always have. As I always have done