Unexpected momentum

Status: I'm doing fine.

Tonight I was leaving work and taking the stairs because the elevator is out, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the stairwell window. And I was sort of taken aback by the sight of myself — my hair is long, suddenly; I’m in long sleeves, suddenly; I wear glasses, suddenly, except I have for so very long now and have yet to get used to the idea — and the sight made me happy for once. Like every other person ever, I tend to go negative when faced with a reflective surface. But for some reason tonight looking up and seeing my reflection was a comfort. I am a living, breathing, working, questioning, hoping being. I learn things every single day and it’s been a long time since I’ve been truly bored. I’m working so insanely hard these days and trying to be a good parent and daughter and sibling and partner. So much is happening right now in my family and professional life that it’s kind of impossible to lasso. Someday I hope to be able to write about it all (The Great Family Insanity of Mid-2014) but in my old and wizened state, I am trying to let dust settle when I can before kicking it back up again. (My employers circa 2009 would be so proud to hear this, I bet!)

It’s kind of insane the degree to which so many things have fallen apart these past few weeks. But it’s equally insane the degree to which so many things are getting set up to happen. Potentially. Although, maybe not. That’s the problem with potential.

And while I have to mourn the loss of things that can’t ever be the same again, I’m not afraid. We keep moving forward until we don’t move anymore. That’s what we do. If I’ve learned anything it’s that This Is What We Do, even when we don’t have any clue what we’re doing.

That comforts me. Because tonight I saw someone in the window reflection who clearly understood that.

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Open letter to an old lover

Photo on 9-15-14 at 11.09 PM #3
We used to gaze at each other for hours, lit by curiosity and liquid crystal.

Forgive me for bringing this up so suddenly. I know it’s been a while.

It’s just that tonight on the drive home I got to thinking about the times we shared, and how I discovered so much of myself through you, with you. And how much I pine for those days. They were simpler. We were learning so much so quickly about each other that, looking back, our break was inevitable. How could we have been prepared?

I didn’t realize it was over until it had been for some time. I had a baby and took a new job and you busied yourself with your own evolution. It’s fine. It’s not my fault and it’s not yours. It just happened.

I ached for you in ways that weren’t even obvious to me at first. There was a void where you used to bring me things. Not necessarily valuable things; I am not the kind of gal who’s swayed by shiny things (although bring me a tacky costume ring that glints in the sunlight and I might love you for life because I am forever a 7-year-old girl at the fair). It was the ideas and concepts you used to bring me that I missed the most. Where had they gone? They were still out there, sure, but they just didn’t find their way to me through you as easily anymore. So I walked around not knowing about amazing things, all the time. Can you imagine? Awful.

Remember how we would stay up all night gazing at each other and sharing ideas? You’d watch me sip cheap wine and I’d become looser with my words and in fits of courage and stupidity say things to you that I’d sometimes regret the next morning. Nothing necessarily hurtful, just silly things only vocalized by the comfortable and inebriated. You made me feel so free back then. You encouraged me to write ambiguously worded open letters to inanimate objects. You never interrupted, you rarely judged (or at least didn’t tell me if you did), and you made me feel heard and understood. I have never forgotten that. Although I have forgotten how to be that. I try sometimes. The shoes fit weird these days, for so many reasons.

Anyway, I know this is probably embarrassing you. You thought the past was buried and that we had moved on to bigger, brighter things. You’re all over the place now, even more so than before. Even harder to pin down. That’s OK; you don’t have to feel bad about it. It’s for the best; you are (should be) a force for good and I am trying to not be selfish by wanting to keep you the way you were before, when it felt like you were made for me.

Internet, I have missed you so fucking much but nothing is the same. Do you realize that this time 10 years ago, our parents and employers were not even allowed on Facebook? Do you remember? That was like some kind of golden age, lost to legend and a hundred thousand Farmville requests now. Do you remember you and me, how we used to just shoot the shit about nothing but, through our silliness, open up so many slices of the world to examine, one by one? We had this really intense thing for so long and now I have to work up liquid courage to even talk to you on a level that is not completely superficial. I am awkward around you and unsure of myself. I’m in middle school again, except I’ve got the cynical conscience of a thirtysomething constantly hissing “What is the point???” to everything I try to say to you.

Ah, there it is. You just recoiled a little bit. It was subtle — you’re not trying to hurt my feelings — but I saw it. I know, I’m making you uncomfortable and being a little clingy and overly nostalgic. I think maybe you used to like that about me because it showed my sincerity, when I would get so overeager about memory and meaning. It’s true; when I find something I like, or even something I don’t like, I can get a little too excited. Can you queue up that scene from “Tommy Boy” where he kills his sale? Awesome, thanks! You have always been so good at that. Anyway. Emotionally, I am Tommy Boy. It’s funny because it’s true.

So, none of this is meant to make you feel bad for how things have turned out. I’m not asking you to change, and I’m not begging for our old relationship back. I’ve changed, you’ve changed. The whole world has changed. I just wanted you to know that I haven’t forgotten the way things were. And as old and sad as it makes me feel, I wish I could get that time back, when it was just you and me figuring things out and being silly in the middle of the night. With no fear.


‘This is it’


“What the Living Do” by Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Bad habits

You know how you pick up a bad habit and at first it feels awesome, and you’re like, “Why did I not start doing this earlier?!?” and you want to do it all the time, and you begin to redefine who you are based in part on the fact that you are now a participant in this particular bad habit and what that means for you, practically and philosophically. And then eventually you start feeling shitty, and you can’t figure out why because you never suspect the bad habit as the culprit right away. But if you start really paying attention, you realize, yeah, that bad habit you picked up really is to blame, and is really bad for you, and has caused you to squander certain parts of your time and your self that you can’t get back. And sure enough, that bad habit did redefine you. Now as someone who has to recover from said bad habit. As someone stupid enough to pick up a bad habit, fully aware.

Making a break

I once made a bindle and ran away from home up this road. Think I was around 6 or 7. Sister came to retrieve my in my dad's giant silver Ford. I did not get very far. I never do.

I once made a bindle and ran away from home up this road. I don’t remember what awful domestic injustice led to this action, or which cartoon convinced me I needed an actual bandana-tied-to-a-stick bindle to carry my things.

I think I was around 6 or 7 and the day was waning but I started the trek up the gravel road next to our old house, toward the hog barn and grain bin, completely unsure of where it would lead once it passed the cluster of farm equipment I was familiar with. I had followed my dad up there several times to watch him work, but I still had no idea where that road eventually led. I remember watching pigs be born in that little hog barn, and my dad having to help the sow deliver. I think I remember that, anyway. Turns out my memory is an unreliable narrator.

My sister came to retrieve me in Dad’s giant silver Ford pickup. I didn’t resist.

I did not get very far. I never do.