As we taxied out to take off the lights that lined the airport rushed past my eyes. Blurred from tears that began to crowd my eyes. I remember squinting enough before completely closing my eyes and in doing so almost took myself back to the chair next to my sisters tree in her new home with her family. The colored lights, and their bright stockings and brightness of the chairs. I pinched my eyes as I saw it disappear in hopes that I could just bring it back if I wished it hard enough, and instead opened my eyes and the salt water ran down my face and my nose started to stuff-up and my eyes started to water more. Soon my whole body vibrated with the engines as the captain sped up and took us to flight. I placed my earbuds in my ear and went to the holiday playlist. I scrolled to something I could possibly fall asleep to, or at the very least stop-crying to. John Denver and The Muppets. And I closed my eyes and remembered dancing and singing in the Old Apartments, before my brothers were born. Our brothers, my sister stated perfectly once as “our little treasures.” And trying to take deep breaths I fast forwarded to The Old House on Rice Court. Listening to the same music play on the record player as we decorated the tree.
Amazing, what lights and music can do. Time machines in their own special way.
I hoped to fall asleep, but I was crying too much. Typically it wasn’t this difficult to leave when heading back to NYC. I was unable to identify what made it so much harder this time. Even the hug I gave my mom at the airport was different.
I want to make them all proud of me. How do I explain to them what they mean to me, and leave them behind at the same time?
I remember sitting with my mom and a glass of wine just the day before and trying to describe what it is I’m doing. I once said “I’m not just surviving life, anymore, I’m living it.” It’s different now. Again, different. I said something like this…
“I love you all, so much. But it’s not enough for me to be here and be daughter, sister and Auntie. I need more.”
Sure there’s beautiful weather at home, on the Central Coast in CA. I don’t like the beach, I don’t like to hike, or go to parks, or kayaking, or camping. There, I can’t hide if I want. There, I’m always somehow on display. Exposed and somehow settling for the simplicity of the same people and bars and bagels. Man, that sounds mean. I don’t intend it to. I adore my friends and love my family so much more than I think I express. I love them, and leave them behind because I’m looking for myself. I’m looking for that one click of time where I realize I’m exactly where I should be. I’m looking for more than the Central Coast has to offer, and I don’t know if NYC has all the answers but here…here I earn everything and I need that constant reminder. I need to be humbled. I need to stumble, and complain sometimes about how long my days are and that I do it all while carrying my life for the day on my back–literally. I need the ability to hide behind a hat and headphones, and sit quietly and remain undisturbed. I need to be able to go to a movie, or play, or a meal, and not engage in conversation with someone. Or feel the need to entertain them, or babysit them, or pay attention to them. I like to be alone sometimes–I don’t think I can do that on The Central Coast. It’s too small maybe. Or it’s full of so many memories that I stay complacent, reliving and repeating, and rehashing those times. Scared that any “new” memories will just be made in the shadows of old memories, or at the bare minimum live there in the shadows.
It’s not that you aren’t good enough. That “it’s” not good enough. Nor is it that I’m better than you, or home, or the combination of comfort you create for me. It’s something more, something else–I don’t know what but I’m trying to figure it out.
Seeing how people I care about are with their spouses and children, or significant others feeds pieces of me differently. In one scenario I become jealous and yearn for it. I wonder who I’d be with or where I’d be working and living if I was there. If I came back, or if I’d never left. Never left for NY or Los Angeles. Wondering only takes the scenarios so-far, though. But each time I end up sad. Sad I didn’t choose differently, sad that I’m sad… In another scenario I’m thankful for my freedom and amount of sleep I get because I don’t have children to care for or someone so significant in my life that we have a “schedule” together. I don’t have to buy more food, or share it. I don’t have to be held responsible for anyone else, but me. And I like that, for now–sometimes. Most of the time. I go back and forth… But it’s more It’s something else, and I don’t know what it is, but I’m looking for it.
In New York, I can entertain by going to “home bars” or being silly in class or at work. I can also hide–at the same places. I can go for walks and listen to music and make zero eye contact with people. When I walk and listen the people in front of me and around me become part of some kind of music video I’m playing in my head. I even move differently. Faster, slower–slow motion even. Yep. In New York, I can go see a show on Broadway–can’t do that at home on The Central Coast. Have to wait for the tours to come to the PAC or travel north or south a few hours. That means, gas and hotels and tickets. Here? I saw a broadway musical last week for $27. Then I swiped my train card and went home. Can’t do that anywhere else. In New York, if i don’t want to see the same person again–I won’t. I don’t have to, and there’s a huge chance that I never will.
Well, dating sucks anywhere–am I right? There are far more men in NY than back at home. This also changes the percentage of “good guys.” Most guys I’ve come across in NY want “the hookup.” It’s not even that it’s a game, it’s that they don’t want to commit. They don’t want the schedule and monogamy. And mostly, I get that. Mostly, I’m the same. At least right now I am. Lately I have been. I don’t want to be bothered. But I do, on the occasion, wish I had a man in my life that cared about me. Wanted to cuddle up next to me, listen to me on subjects that I actually hold an opinion on. Teach me something I don’t know, and not be condescending about it. I’d like him to open the door for me and let me loop my hand through his arm when we walk, and sometimes when we get home I’d like him to ravage me. <— probably difficult for my mom and aunts to read. heh. Thing is–it’s kind of one or the other. So mostly, I choose nothing. I choose to be alone and hide when I want to and be social and loud when I want to. I stick to a schedule–mostly, and break free of it when it becomes boring and tedious. I break free to remind myself I can, which also typically ends in me reminding myself I’m no longer in my twenties.
I do feel safe here, by the way. That may just be my up bringing and confidence. Even when people come across as harsh, possibly harmful…I know that I proceed with caution, but rarely do I experience fear. Sometimes I catch their eye and smile and it catches them off guard and softens them. And there is some kind of understanding that there is a miscommunication, or Sometimes I speak up, sometimes I walk away. Sometimes I have my earbuds in, but nothing is playing–I listen to what’s going on around me. Sometimes I give the homeless person money, sometimes I roll my eyes at them and complain to myself how badly they smell. Sometimes my heart aches because I am heading to my warm home, and they are gathering more cardboard to try to create a mattress or blanket of some sort. But I haven’t experienced fear here, and that’s good. It’s not good enough for my Auntie Barb, and it scares my mom, but there is nothing I can do about that…I can’t be just the daughter, sister and auntie. I need something more to feel alive, successful, important. Something–fill in the blanks
I have my places. My secrets. My reveals. I have my aches and feelings and struggles. I have my TV shows and phone and computer. I have my drinks and songs. I have acquaintances and exes. I have mistakes. Goals and wants. I have the same “things” here as I do home, I suppose. Except here, I feel closer to who I am supposed to be or who I will become. Here I’m not standing in the shadows of certain people back on The Central Coast. Here I’m not rehashing old times to the same people at the same places. Here, I’m becoming my own person. And it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. I can’t explain why it has to be done here, or if this is where it will end. But this is where I want to be, have to be, and need to be to figure out what’s next.
To earn what’s next. It’s where I need to be to keep grounded and humble and happy yet not complacent.
How will ever be able to explain that to them? To my family. To my sister whom I love so very much as I hold her babies near me and hug them and smell them knowing my time with them is limited. How do I say my love for you is endless, yet place limits on the moments I prove it? How do I explain to my brothers I miss them and the comfort and safety I feel when I am simply in earshot of the sound of their voices? Or that just seeing them fills me with joy? How do I make my Dadda proud of me? Is he already? How do I stay his little girl, then get on a plane and flight thousands of miles away from him? How do I hug my mom and be happy AND sad to do so at the same time?
There are answers, somewhere. And being here is helping me find them, I truly believe that. If there was an easier way to do it, I don’t know that I would choose it…because it’s the difficulties that make me realize that love and happiness when it’s present. It’s the trials that I overcome that make me feel worthy of running into your arms, and not that I must prove myself to you for that worth, but I must prove myself–to myself to realize your arms are always opened.
I’m so grateful and thankful for family. I ache to not be with them. I would ache more if I didn’t show them my love for them, by becoming the person I want to be. The person I don’t know yet, but am finally willing to actively pursue.
I pinched my eyes closed again and felt my mouth quiver with sadness. I sniffled uncontrollably for a bit and eventually caught my breath. I let the tears roll down on their own until they stopped. My heart eventually stopped aching and returned to normal, or something similar. Time passed and I landed in San Francisco, ran to my connecting flight and got back to NY by 6am, and climbed back into my bed by 8:30a after texting my family I was home…safe. Then I slept and when I woke up I knew the coming year would be different. More so than I had planned.
More so than I could ever explain. But, by god, this time I would try to explain it. And in that, fear makes its first move.
My first movement assignment in acting school was assigned the title “Rites of Passage” We were allowed to choose music and do a movement piece. No talking no singing no dancing. This was not dance class, this was movement class. I chose a piece where I was waking up in a place I didn’t recognize, then I’d move in slow motion having a good time. The music changed and I went back to normal pacing. I’d travel around the room, I’d smile and look at “things” and I’d jump around, what-have-you. Then I was “hit” by something and I moved in slow motion again. I came to a realization, then I became scared and sad and went back to normal pacing. I re-traced my previous steps and found the “door” then found what would give me answers. I can only hope the story I had told made sense to those who watched. At the end of the movement piece there was a realization: I had to lay back down in the exact position and wait. Then I simulated being shocked via defibrillators.
Sometimes it takes some kind of shockwave to wake us up. We function. I function. I do well, for the most part. And I am priveleged. I am. I have a good job and make enough money to have a roof over my head, I have food every day and drinkable water. I have indoor plumbing–I really enjoy indoor plumbing. I don’t see myself as an outdoorsy kind of gal. But sometimes it takes a shock to remind me of everything else. Things that some people may call small, and others would call a dream. It’s important to take some of the accomplishments you…I…have made into consideration in order to realize who I am, where I’ve come from and how far I’ve come, regardless of how anyone else would measure it. I have made some accomplishments in my life. It’s time for a shock.
I live in New York City. In Manhattan. I’ve been here for 4 1/2 years. Where I had been barely scraping by for the first couple of years, this apartment is now in my name. And I have repainted every single room and cleaned every corner and scrubbed every floor making it a clean and warm home for the others that live with me.
My CA state esthetician license does not transfer, so when I moved here I had to take the NY state licensing exam without NY state preparation. I took the written exam and passed, and I took the practical exam and passed. I did not have to retake either of these. This honors the teachers I had while in school, in addition to my personal want to succeed in this industry. During my time in school I had to take a 60-day leave of absence. During this time friends at home allowed me to practice what I knew (mistakes and learning curves along the way). During this time I studied on my own. During this time I drank a lot of booze with my friend. We called it the Summer of Imbibe, because during this time I was also separated from my then-husband and preparing to return to school while going thru a divorce.
I survived a divorce. Granted we didn’t have many years together, or any major assets but I did love this guy and told him I’d be with him for a long time. And after realizing we never built a solid foundation, we never discussed big things like kids and money and how to spend it. We didn’t do a lot of growing together. We liked each other, loved each other, got married, realized it wasn’t going to work out because we wanted different things and we wanted them in different ways. So we split up. And I was almost done with esthetician school in October 2008. I stayed in my car and at a classmates house for a few days before graduating on November 4, 2008. I clocked out for the last time, accruing the necessary 600 hours to pass the course and completing all the services I was supposed to complete, then got in my car that was packed full of everything I had left and drove 6 1/2 hours home to the Central Coast. I survived it
I graduated from a vigorous intense 2-year acting program. I was in attendance from 2005-2007. I lost friends while attending because they didn’t think I was giving them enough time and attention during their life-altering pieces of life. I didn’t see my family and they lived less than 15 miles away–I even lived with my sister and rarely saw her. There are some people in my life that like to make light of my time at PCPA. That it’s something they were accepted in to and didn’t agree with because acting “wasn’t about learning to be still like a tree and trying to ground myself like a tree.” They quit the program. There are some that were courted to audition and attend, and they didn’t. There are some that I was surprised to learn had attended the program. I too was “found,” and encouraged to audition for the program. Over 1,000 people auditioned the year I did and they accepted 28. During my two years there 2 or 3 students were released from the program or left for personal reasons leaving 25ish of us to graduate together and I’ll tell you this: only those people will ever really know what I went through. No matter what school you went to, no matter if you went to the same school as I did at different times. My experience will never be the same as some one else’s. And…I learned, after time, to weigh the validity of this program on my own and to not listen to what others had to say. I learned stillness and silences are earned when you’re on a stage and quite frankly if you can’t get grounded you’ll never really learn to earn that stillness and those silences. Earlier this year I said something on fb about being better than some people thought or knew, because they’ve never seen me really work, and a professor from that time responded to me that I was better than *I* thought. And I was extremely humbled.
I lived in Burbank, CA for a year and a half. I juggled 2 jobs one of which was a 45-mile commute in one direction. My main reason to be there was to pursue TV/Film and Print Modeling. I had a manager. I had an agent. I went on many, many auditions. I was called back many times. I booked sometimes. Although this subject is touchy for me, and it’s been a decade since my time there…a decade…I need to recognize that I went and juggled all of this in my twenties. It was my first time away from my friends and family. Although I had a couple friends near by, it did feel like a huge risk. Leaving my comfort zone, my safe zone in pursuit of something that many deem as “crazy” was important. Still is.
Murmur. Pulse. Steady.
I have loved. I love still. I have experienced heart ache. I have experienced pure joy and enormous laughter with my friends and siblings and my mommie and my dadda and my aunties and uncles and cousins and now with my nephews and soon with my niece.
I’ve been drinking more water, not just because I can but because I should. I’ve been eating better food, not just because I can but because I should. I’ve been seeking out ways to exercise that connect me to my body without me trying to use my brain to convince myself to get moving–I found kickboxing and go about twice a week. Soon I will need to introduce something like Yoga or Pilates because of my back problems. My back is not broken, but I have received a semi-wake-up call on the structure and strength of my body that I must address, and so I shall because I can and I should.
A friend of mine likes to chime-in in the middle of conversations with this gem “here’s the thing…” which is always her way of somehow finding the funny part, the ironic part, or the lesson in something…anything.
With her crossing my mind, I have this to say:
Here’s the thing…about leaving your friends and family to move across the nation for a fresh start:
I”m alone out here. I moved out here four years and four months ago. I was accepted to Marymount Manhattan, a college, to finish a Bachelors degree in theatre–which I quit and didn’t pursue after one year enrolled. I moved in with a friend that I’d known since we were 12. Two of them, actually. I had two friends in NYC that I could crawl up to and be coddled by during my transition. I left a man behind. A man that, at the time, I cared a great deal for. I fell for him quickly. We crossed paths several times during my twenties, and the timing was never right. I was always flattered by his attention, but remained faithful to whomever I was involved with. Time had lined up…ish…and we began dating on St. Patrick’s day, 2010.
I moved to NYC in May 2010. This man was still a part of my life. He claimed love for me. He said he wanted to come visit me over the next couple of years while I was in school, and bid me to come home to him. And he’d love me, and give me the daughter I always thought I’d have.
A month after I moved here he broke up with me during a video chat session. After all his years of flattery, and kindness, and patience…after he said he loved me–he quit on me.
But my friends were there to baby me. We were only dating for a brief time so I was able to get past it without disappearing mentally and emotionally.
I dove into school and work. I sometimes opened my store early, then would go to class, then come back and close my store. All for $9/hour plus about an “extra” $5 in tips per week. My friend did her best to help me. She took me out for cocktails. We stayed home and had girls night In. We dyed eachothers hair as our roots grew in. She helped me with rent and bills and train rides. She took care of me, when I could not take care of myself. She let me laugh and cry, as she had for the past almost 20 years at that point. She was one of my best friends. After living together for a couple of years, she moved on. Life happens, opportunity knocks and …we can’t exist in one way forever, really. She wanted to marry her boyfriend/fiance (they’d been together for YEARS by now) and have kids. She wanted to have her kids in her hometown…our…hometown, where her siblings were, where her kids would grow up with their cousins and aunties and uncle near by. I absolutely could not blame her.
But I can’t go back there.
I don’t see myself there.
My family, my friends, they are all there. They are all in my hometown.
Here’s the thing…
I have loved while living here. I had fallen for a man that I was ridiculously in love with. He was the first man I was so stupid for I wanted to marry him and have babies. ME. Babies??? He did not want to marry ever again, and he had a kid from his first marriage and said that kid was “enough.” He didn’t want anymore kids. Now that time has passed, I’m so glad we broke up. His depression and alcoholism were toxic in my life. He broke my heart on more than one occasion. I’ve been unable to just let that part go, and consistently wish the worst for him. One of these days I’ll think of him and actually forgive him. For now, I rarely think of him ,and when I do–I hope his life is shitty. Shrug. He said he loved me and moved out. He said he loved me and needed to be alone then moved on to another girl three weeks later. This is the kind of guy that said “when I’m having sex with her I think of you” Gross, right?
Here’s the thing…
My family and friends are all in my hometown, and I am alone here
There is nothing for me in my hometown EXCEPT my family and friends. I can’t move home and earn a good enough living and feel important and appreciated and acknowledged. That town is just too small for me. The people I miss fill my heart, the place they live in isn’t big enough for me. It doesn’t offer enough for me
I don’t know what “enough” is.
And I am alone here.
My best friends moved home. For the better–for them. And I have finally begun growing here. Not that they were EVER holding me back. I am so glad they were here when I first got here. They were a great help. Now, I have been growing and learning and figuring out life, on my own. Life, as I will know it.
This past year I’ve settled in nicely with my own life. I’m working in my field of “expertise.” I’m in school for something that compliments my career, the apartment lease is in my name, and my housemates are good; responsible people. My credit score is slowly coming out of the ditches…
Yes, I’m alone here.
I don’t know HOW to make new friends. Me and my old friends share Old Memories, we don’t make new ones. Whenever I go home to visit and we spend time together, it’s 1)limited, and 2)talking about old times… 90% of my friends are now married with kids, or one of those…
Single, and alone.
Guys ACTUALLY say to me “why are you single?” or “how are you single?”
And the truth is Because I can’t be bothered with pansies–like yourself.
I’m alone here.
Gee, I wonder why.
Possibly because I don’t actually engage in the art of meeting new people or actually committing to them. Possibly because I don’t think ANYONE I ever meet will ever become a Good Friend, or Mate, and therefore they are not actually worth the time it would take to “get” or “understand” me.
The people I meet now, I feel like I’m hiding from them. I hide behind the Jameson, or silly comments. I hide behind the sarcasm and “rules” that “as long as you are a co-worker or class mate you cannot be a friend” because I don’t want to complicate things. I hide behind some kind of scrim, or screen that filters my reflection. It filters my gaze and my breath. It filters…everything I am. And the people that I meet only see a small percentage of The Real Me.
Here’s. The. Thing
I’m Alone here.
Where are you?
Sometimes, love hurts.
I love my family. I love them entirely, whole-heartedly, and hard (as it’s been said to me). So much so, that if something goes wrong I feel it for days. Even if it has nothing to do with me, I feel it.
Our hearts, I don’t think they were designed to take this kind of ache. The kind that cannot be numbed with over the counter medication, or booze, The kind of ache that comes and goes as it pleases, like an unwanted guest. The kind of ache that comes with memories of better times. Moments and memories triggered by simple sounds and scents and pictures of times before. I don’t think our hearts were designed to take this weight. We’ve mourned over the years, the human race. For loss of those taken to early (in our opinion), for those who were taken by war, and disease. We mourn for those who lived longer than we thought they would and we celebrate the life and memories they left behind but all of that mourning seems to come in death.
What happens when we mourn life?
What happens when we are living day to day, not just surviving…LIVING our lives, as I finally am, and we get stabbed in the heart? How do we get through this? The breakups, the unemployment, the moments when we realize if we buy 3 packages of ramen it won’t cost $1, it will cost $36 because of an overdraft fee. Those are not moments of mourning in life, those are flubs, mistakes, fuck-ups. They are trying times. Times most people consider “times of tests” or “times of lessons.” They are times that “build character.”
I don’t want more character, right now. I just want my family back the way it was when love didn’t hurt.
My mom is fine. My Dadda n Terry are fine. My siblings are fine. Happy, even. But family is extensive and our hearts take people on differently than DNA or blood takes on the genetic portrayal of “family.” Our eyes see people and our ears hear them, our hands and arms embrace them and our mouths exchange words and over time a bond is formed. An attachment is created. Then you yearn to hear their voice and see their smiles. You yearn to listen to stories and see a story through their eyes. You can’t wait to hug them and be close to them, sitting with them. You can’t wait to surprise them, or make them laugh. You want to be there for them when they cry, when their children cry. Family is so much more than DNA or Love.
And sometimes our flesh and blood will betray us. And sometimes those we choose to call family, will betray us. And we have to choose. We have to let our brain run it’s logic course, and let our emotions run their courses and eventually we find…something. We seek, mostly. But sometimes we also find something. We find closure, or balance, or a new meaning, or a new lesson. And on our way to that closure, or balance, or new meaning, or new lesson we look for distractions.
A distraction. Something or someone to keep our mind away from doing it’s job: from figuring it all out. Which ultimately complicates things more because our brains, and hearts, can only endure so much without trying to deal with superficial decisions and distractions. Things that only make us feel on our skin.
It doesn’t matter if someone’s touch makes your skin burn with excitement, if you’re heart is actually somewhere else. It doesn’t matter if someone smiles at you if you have someone else on your mind that you’d rather see a smile from. Don’t you get it? It doesn’t EVEN MATTER.
Well, I guess it doesn’t…until it does. and I hate that kind of paradox or situational decision, or ..truth. I hate it because it IS that simple and if it’s simple then…I don’t know. And if it’s difficult then you can feel more, right? If it’s difficult or risky or edgy or their touch burns your skin in the best way, why aren’t we sure they will burn right through to our hearts. And it’s because that kind of distraction is temporary. Temporary until there is room for permanency. Temporary until your brain has figured something out, temporary until your heart has returned to it’s normal pattern of beating. It’s all just…temporary.
Temporarily in love, in lust, infatuated, distracted.
Temporarily unable to move. Because the brain is overwhelmed and can’t send signals. Because your eyes have glazed over and you are now seeing what you want to, instead of what’s actually in front of you and what’s actually happening right here and right now. Because your heart is aching, and the pulsing in your heart…hurts. Hurts so much you could’ve sworn there was a death. And maybe there was, just not how we’ve always recognized it. We recognize things differently with our senses, yet we don’t seem to come to them–our senses. Because we got so used to the constant, we forgot about the temporary.
We accept the pain. We accept, because of the pain, there will be mourning. We accept the mourning because we somehow understand there is a Loss. And as much as we try to name The Loss, we rarely land on “Love.”
We think we have love, or fall out of it as though it were a physical place holding us up or down. It is actually more like gravity. And just like gravity can be defied, so can love. And it’s when it snaps us back that it can hurt.
It’s when we aren’t paying attention that it makes us fall down.
Most of the time, we don’t really even know love is there ,until we are mourning the loss of it.