Mi Sei Mancata

Airports have always been a place that I feel comfortable. It’s just full of people and energy and movement.  It’s always busy.  People are coming and going; some running, some half asleep and barely walking.  It’s like it’s so chaotic that it’s intimate.  If it wasn’t so busy, more people would notice the other people.  But they rarely do in airports.  Everyone has somewhere to be by a certain time and the chaos provides an amazing mask over the intimacy that occurs at every airport.  If you ever want to witness a real hug, go to an airport.  I doubt there are very many other places whom’s walls have witnessed much more pure showings of love and reunions; goodbyes and don’t go’s; endings and beginnings.

When I used to get really homesick back when I first moved to Florida, I would drive from the beach all the way to the airport.  I’d pick a spot depending on my mood.  Downstairs in the baggage claim or upstairs at the security check point, and set up to people watch.  I guess it was kind of weird, but oh well.  I liked the pure signs of emotion people display there.  Mostly, I liked the reunions. The embraces that followed the lighting up of each party’s face when they saw each other for the first time.  I loved hearing the “I missed you”‘s and watching the guy swing the girl around in his arms.

One day I was sitting in one of the rocking chairs by the security gate, when an old lady sat next to me.  She asked me who I was waiting for and I told her no one, just liked watching people come back together.  She told me she was waiting on her husband who had been gone for a week to go on a trip she couldn’t go on.  The woman told me that they had been married 43 years and that this was their first separation for an entire week.  In slight disbelief I inquired if she meant since they were younger.  She quickly replied that she meant since the night they were married.  She added in that they had not gotten married to spend nights alone and that they had agreed not to do that throughout their life together.  She told me that she had never missed someone so much.  She added in that my generation has gotten very accustomed to missing people who we supposedly love and it was a foolish trait; that you should only miss people when there is nothing you can do about being without them, like in death.  She told me we had it all wrong, that we miss the people we’ve left, instead of just staying with them.  When her husband came through the gate he exclaimed “Mi sei mancata!” very loudly and again and again and again.  It’s Italian for I missed you, which I knew from my family.  They had one of the most genuine hugs I am sure that I will ever see and probably that those airport walls had ever seen.  They walked away together with her arm around his waist and his over her shoulders, totally defying their old age by replacing it with their youthful love.

Lately this whole exchange has been flashing in my mind.  I’d like to say I’m not sure why, but I know.  For some reason in the last few months, I’ve gotten contacted by a lot of my x-boyfriends.  Some of them texts, a few emails, a couple drunk dial calls, and a few sober ones too.  I’m not sure what alert went out to all of them that made them decide to all try the “see how you’re doing” convo or whatever, but the attempts have been fairly close together, so maybe it’s the way the planets are aligned or something.  All of the relationships ended in different ways, and I used to just think that I needed to take more responsibility for their endings, because I have repeatedly looked back and been like.. wow.. I did nothing wrong.  But breakups and ghostings kept happening and I started to think that maybe it was something I was doing wrong.  Some of the guys that have contacted me lately were quick little short stories, some longer chapters, and two of them I thought I loved.  All contact came out of no where, at different times, in different forms.  They all had one thing in common though. At some point in the conversation, they told me they missed me.  Some of them made me want to laugh, a few made me want to cry, and for a couple there was no reaction.  After the third conversation with an x and the same line being repeated, I decided to try and figure out how I felt. After the basic “yeah of course you miss me, I’m the shit, I told you you’d miss me” attitude wore off, I was left with a more realistic 28 year old reaction.. When do I get the one guy who doesn’t leave?  I am currently not dead, and although I may have wished it upon a few of the guys who reached out, here they are, still alive!  So.. why now do they miss me?  Is it because they’re lonely? Did I post a super fierce selfie or something? Just.. why now? For some, years later and for others, months later.  I became angry almost when I was woken up at 230am by another x the next week and then when a text from an x came through a few days later.  Why are they missing me I kept thinking in my head and I was getting angry.  I wanted to ask all of them, so I did.  The responses didn’t satisfy or put out the pissed-offness that was gently yanking on my insides.  They all told me similar things, none of it helped.  Then I realized it’s because I wasn’t asking the right question.  I didn’t want to know why they missed me all of a sudden, honestly I could careless, I had moved on.  What I guess I wanted to know was why did they ever leave in the first place.  A question which I refused to ask any of them because I don’t think I’m ready for those answers yet.  I’ve fielded one or two since the big epiphany, luckily one was a text and one was an email.  Both I just responded with mi hai lasciato.

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Bringin’ It Back

So, I have a huge confession.  After I moved to Asheville, I started a tinder.  I wasnt meeting any guys before that because I think I’m too old to be trolling the bars for dudes and how else do you actually meet people these days!?

Well, I have reconfirmed what I already knew about tinder- it just isn’t for me. I just cannot do it. I have decided to delete my account and here are the reasons why:

  1. I automatically think you’re talking to other girls. It’s like even if you’re on tinder for good intentions.. which I don’t think you really can be, it’s not for friends, you literally swipe yes or no to if you would sleep with someone.. I will probably just assume that every time you are on your phone, it’s with another tinder chick.  Maybe that’s just me and I’m crazy, but it is what it is.  It puts a strong level of distrust on anything from the jump. On both sides. Even if you don’t want to admit it, if you have ever gotten semi-serious with someone from tinder, in the back of your mind you are wondering how many other semi-serious partners there are or have been or will be.  It’s natural. And that little voice in the back of your head builds a little wall, and that little wall turns into a blockade from fully trusting their intentions for you.  Which leads to this whole “are they a good person” vs “are they a shady person” thing and that just kills it.
  2. I’m not trying to hook up with you. But meeting someone from tinder has this amazing way of putting this invisible expectation on it that it’s supposed to end in sex.  And lets face it, we’re all on tinder because we’re kinda lonely. Then you usually meet people out at a social event or bar.  Social events and bars have alcohol.  Alcohol + people who know they are attracted to each other + people who are kinda lonely = a drunken hookup.  It’s simple math.  Simple math that just isn’t me.  It’s really not, and I kinda hate the one time I allowed this to go down.  Even though the guy is- well I think is- a nice, decent, attractive, respectful, small town dude.  I just hate knowing I let a complete stranger get to know such an intimate piece of me before anything else.  It’s just that, unlike many others in my age range, my number is very low and now I feel like I wasted a valuable slot to someone who may or may not decide to actually ever be valuable enough to my life to actually deserve that spot. Kinda let myself down more than anything.
  3. I don’t know what to say when people ask how we met.  Guess what, even if it does work out, I’ll have to say we met on tinder.  Everything about that statement makes my stomach turn.  Maybe because it’s not my style. Mostly because tinder is a disgusting hookup app and I’d be embarrassed to tell my family and friends that I was even on it, let alone actually meeting strangers off of it.
  4. I really find it kind of hard to be nice to anyone who has physically judged me. Which is hypocritical because I was also obviously physically judging people.  This alone hurts my soul because it’s so not me.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m like some saint who dates people I’m not attracted to if they have a good personalty, blah blah blah.  I do only date people that I am physically attracted to in person, we all do.  Tinder is different though.  I do not line up an age range of men and then approve of some and discard the rest like they’re nothing, in person.  What I think people are forgetting is that is essentially what a left swipe is, just discarding a person based on physical appearance and knowing nothing about them.  I hate judging. I hate being judged. I hate deciding on someone’s worth based on a few pictures and a few funny taglines to describe them and their interests.  It just isn’t me.
  5. I really suck at receiving compliments.  Now this was originally an argument that my friends used to convince me to get tinder.  They said it’d help me realize how beautiful I am and how many guys really think that.  Apparently I am kind of oblivious to my own level of attractiveness and it surprises a lot of people I know and meet.  Which, honestly, I really don’t think I’m attractive.  I feel like a big, goofy, awkward tomboy about 90% of the time.  Blame it growing up with all guys and them trying to keep my ego small or something.  So when the initial conversation on tinder starts with a guy telling me I’m hot or some other physical thing, I automatically get awkward and kind of roll my eyes and never respond.
  6. I want to go on a real date, where the guy picks me up at my house.  But umm… I’m not going to tell you where I live before I ever meet you in person, I really like being alive and un-murdered.  So this just automatically kills one of the things I know I need from a potential boyfriend because I am traditional. I want you to plan a date, knock on my door, wait like 5 minutes awkwardly inside as I look for my misplaced keys and phone, then we leave to go where ever you have planned out, and I judge you from you opening the car door for me or not.  Then, after the date, you drop me off and either do or don’t try for an awkward first kiss on the porch.  Sorry, I really do not believe chivalry is dead, I just think tinder is kidnapping, gagging, and tying it up in its’ basement.  Guess I really am an 80s baby: traditional and a slight romantic.. Sweet.
  7. I want a guy to approach me in person.  Messaging someone is easy. It takes no effort and if they don’t respond? Who cares.  I want the guy to have to build up enough courage, make an effort to walk over to me, and start a conversation.  The whole copy and paste the same cheesy pick-up line to a million girls just isn’t my thing.  Risk rejection in person.  You don’t get a bio about me to use as a conversation starter.  Walk up to me, stick out your hand, introduce yourself. Then we go from there.  Ask me how old I am, what I do for fun, if I have pets. Don’t read it and then use it as a conversation starter.
  8. I kind of hate smart phones and the way almost everyone I know is addicted to theirs.  I want my friends and guy I’m dating to be present.  I am tired of going out to the bar and seeing everyone constantly on their phones.  I want to start enjoying the time I have here and now with the people I choose to surround myself with.  Yes, snaps and posts will happen, but I’m almost kind of sick of that too. I just want to have real conversations with real people who are present where they are. It’s pretty simple.

So, tinder it’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun.  If you need me, I’ll be out with my friends waiting for my real life match because he’ll be approaching me in person.

Got Privilege? : A Response to What People Aren’t Saying About Black Opinions on White Privilege

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My friend posted an article on his facebook. Now I know right now is a very sensitive time for racial issues and I’ve tried to completely avoid all post and statuses about them up until this point. After reading this article this morning via my bed with my morning jar of spicy lemonade (I’m doing a cleanse, themastercleanse.org check it out), I have decided it’s time for there to be another side voiced about the points made in this extremely one-sided, bias blog:

The Article Under Scrutiny

First, please read the article. Second, please understand in no way, shape , or form am I discrediting this woman’s experiences with racism and/or sexism.  I feel for her pain and the times that she was treated lesser because of her external appearance. Matter of fact, I feel for her so much because I can relate to every single numbered point that she made. “What?”, You may find yourself asking, “I thought I was reading a blog written by a Caucasian, Blonde Female.” Yep, you are. And that is the exact attitude I am trying to dismiss with this response. So, please read her article, then continue below.

“The white privilege in this situation is being able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.” When I was younger, my parents got divorced. My mother was left with full custody of myself, a 3 year old, and my sister, a four year old, with a biological father who didn’t believe in paying child support.  As a single mom, she did what she could to provide for us.  I remember living in less than desirable apartments once we were too old to share rooms and my mom was probably sick of sleeping on a pull out couch in the living room after a few years.  In order to live somewhere we could all have our own bedroom in a place she could afford, we moved to a neighborhood mostly made up of other singles mothers and lower class families.  Due to whatever factor or conspiracy or other bullshit reasoning behind it, that made us a minority.  I remember fearing the bus stop because of how the other girls that we didn’t look like would pick on my sister and I.  My actual first fight happened at one of these bus stops, when we were beat up by a group of about 4 or 5, all while they said things like “You’re too rich to live here” and other ridiculous comments based on our caucasian appearance and the stereo-types that comes with it. We were in fourth and fifth grade, like are you kidding me!? After that, my mom left her day shift and took an overnight shift where she worked from 8 pm til 3 am, so she could drive us to and from school, all so we didn’t have to take the bus.  So.. Is black privilege in this situation being able to live in a neighborhood that is all you can afford, and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of <VIOLENCE> and hostility?

“If you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life, where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.”  In grade school I played lacrosse. I was really into it and pretty good. I remember going to UCDavis in Sacramento, California one year for a Nike Lacrosse camp.  While we were there, we stayed in the dorms for a month and had 3 a day practices, 7 days a week. It was amazing and really helped me develop my skills in a thing I was passionate about.  About a week into camp, we were divided and picked by captains, who were from the UCDavis college lacrosse team, and we began scrimmaging every Friday. I was pretty good, and became  leading scorer of my squad. The second Friday round of scrimmages, I remember the girl I was guarding and throughout camp we had developed somewhat of a rivalry.. I’m not sure why really. We were both really good and I’m a very humble person, but she just didn’t like me, on or off the field.  So anyways, it came down to a tied game and we had the face off which would probably be either teams last opportunity to score. I won it, passed it to my second hole, who then passed it back up to me, and I scored using a behind the back, between the legs trick shot (which I had just learned and was super stoked about it).  When we lined up to clap hands and I got to her, she slapped my hand down and called me a “cracker ass bitch”.  just out of no where. Nothing about my skill level was to do with race; me being better that one face off and having good communication with my teammate  had nothing to do with race. For the rest of the month, her and her friends called me Barbie or some other appearance and race based nickname. So.. If you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life, where you realize your skin <AND HAIR> color alone makes other people hate you, do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never been ‘the only one’ of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and/or it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation – you have white privilege.”  I used to work as an ESOL tutor in Jacksonville when I lived there.  I helped students who didn’t have parents who spoke English very well, or sometimes at all, because they had no support at home.  This obviously involved more in-depth relationships with them and their families, and I often made home visits on the weekends to help with projects and homework.  I grew a lot of respect while working there with their communities. But at first? Oh hell no. They hated me, their families hated me, and they called me more spanish, racial slurs I can even remember or spell.  That isn’t even the point of this though, after they dropped their pre-conceived notions and stereo-types based on my outward appearance and race, I was pretty accepted into their community, homes, and church.  One day, I went to church at their local community church.  The Pastor actually called me out to thank me for all the help and time I spent educating their children and going beyond just what I was paid for.  I felt honored… except how I was called out. He said, “Is Miss Cam, here? I heard she was here. Does anybody see the only white, blonde woman here?” Not even lying. I brushed it off, because he meant nothing by it and then praised me. Also, I was the only white, blonde woman there. So.. If you’ve never been ‘the only one’ of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and/or it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation- do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it”that is white privilege.” I remember my senior year in high school entering a school-wide essay contest that the prize was a $1000 grant to use for college. It said to write an essay of your choice, gave us the requirements and format guidelines, and then we were left to our own to participate.  I remember working really, really hard on that essay. I needed the money for my transition from Maine to Florida to attend college, and out-of-state tuition was killing me. Long story short, I won the essay contest. They announced second and third place, although I don’t think there were any grants or prizes.  The day it was announced, I got guilted by some of my friends and a lot of the rest of the school, because the girl who got second place needed the money more.  Now, how did anybody in my high school know who needed and didn’t need the money? I don’t think any of them knew my financial situation, my mom’s, or the cost of the college I was attending. And I don’t think anybody knew hers either.  It was decided I won the essay contest and shouldn’t have because I was a star lacrosse player who was white and blonde, so my family must have money right?  Also I was selected out of favoritism, not out of my own hard work.  Which I spent weeks on that essay and revisions.  Then, it was also factlessly decided that because she wasn’t white and blonde, that her family must need the support more. So.. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a <other race> person who “deserved it” – is that black privilege?

“If no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, that is white privilege.”  I’m not going to spend much time on this because I have a thousand different experiences throughout my life questioning my intelligence.. why? Because I am a fairly good-looking, white, blonde female.  Now I do not think anybody can accurately say that there is one stereo-type in the entire world of different appearances that is more commonly written off as unintelligent and ditsy, than pretty, white, blonde females.  I remember being at the top of my Latin IV class and the results of our midterms being hung outside the teacher’s office.  We all stood around waiting for him to post them because they were released that afternoon and that weekend most of us were traveling home for the holidays.  I scored the highest. Every single person gave me a surprised look, and a few made comments asking “how did you cheat” or “smarter than she looks”. This is one of thousands of experiences throughout my entire life as an honor student, a girl who graduated at 16, and scored higher than you (most likely) on my SATs.  So.. If no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin <or hair> color, is that non-blonde privilege? 

“If you have never experienced or considered how damaging it is/was/could be to grow up without myriad role models and images in school that reflect you in your required reading material or in the mainstream media – that is white privilege.” I fully am not wasting to much time on this either for a few quick reasons.  All mainstream media “role models” for white, blonde females have been basic AF and viewed as sexual objects.. Seriously. I loved history and cant really recall any super strong influential lessons on strong females really at all- the ones there aren’t, haven’t been blonde. Also, Thoreau, Emerson, Malcolm X, Joseph Conrad, Dreiser, etc- are all males, so this argument is kind of hypocritical to begin with because there aren’t any females represented. A quick example I will use is that I’m Christian, I believe in the bible.  I’ve never been allowed to read that as assigned reading in school because all kinds of people have objected and “disagreed” with it. I quietly accept and respect their opinions, without letting my feelings get hurt or feeling targeted. Last example: every school celebrates black history month. We had to, every year, do multiple projects, essays, and other assignments on a certain race for an entire month. Is there a white history month? Nope. If there was, how many protests do you think there would be?! For the record, I think all months dedicated to specifically one group is ridiculous, learn about it all in chronological order and leave it at that.  But really, a whole month is dedicated in schools to just one race and their accomplishments, and researching that. So.. If you have never experienced or considered how damaging it is/was/could be to grow up without myriad role models and images in school that reflect you in your required reading material or in the mainstream media- is that black privilege?

“If you’ve never been blindsided when you are just trying to enjoy a meal by a well-paid faculty member’s patronizing and racist assumptions about how grateful black people must feel to be in their presence – you have white privilege.”  This statement is just ridiculous. I think people need to stop associating money and pretentious people with racism.  I have been a server at a country club and I have also been a guest at one. I have gone to a lot of up-scale events with friends.  I have also served at a bunch. This experience of her’s had nothing to do with race, it had to do with the host’s pretentiousness.  I have been serving and been told I was blessed to be in someone’s presence because they were going to do great things and one day I would be thankful I can tell the story of waiting on them to my children! I have also been a guest and had a host make a comment like that to the people waiting on us, which immediately blindsided me and ruined the meal. It had nothing to do with race- but with money.  Most rich people are ignorant- white, black, brown, yellow – money changes people. And that’s all I will say on this topic. So.. If you’ve never been blindsided when you are just trying to enjoy a meal by a well-paid faculty member’s patronizing and racist assumptions about how grateful white people must feel to be in their presence – do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never been on the receiving end of a boss’s prejudiced, uninformed “how dare she question my ideas” badmouthing based on solely on his ego and your race, you have white privilege.” Umm.. do I even need to re-state this point? I’m a white, blonde, pretty female. Almost every job I’ve ever had has assumed I was an idiot when I first started.  I cannot name one job that I’ve had where my bosses – black, white, male, female- didn’t question my intelligence in the beginning because of their prejudice and uninformed assumption based on my appearance.  I’ve worked hard to prove my intelligence, drive, and usefulness at every position I’ve ever held.  I have always been badmouthed until they like me, which happens because the ideas I question are because I know a better, and more efficient, way to do it.  When they try them, they usually work, so I earn their favor through hard work. So.. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of a boss’ prejudiced, uninformed “how dare she question my ideas” badmouthing based on solely on his ego and your <APPEARANCE>, do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success with a floppy-eared, stuffed bunny rabbit so you won’t get harassed by the cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), you have white privilege.” I’ve dated all kinds of guys. Fully tattooed guys were a big stage of mine for awhile.  I cannot count the times that these big, tatted guys were targeted by police, door guys, and any other authority while we were out on a date. People assumed they were like biker gang thugs or trouble makers I guess.  I’ve also always hung out with people who go to music festivals and have grateful dead stickers and such on their cars.  Most of them are white guys with long hair.  It would be impossible for me to recount every example of when they were targeted by police and pulled over and assumed to have drugs in their care because they were a white kid with a deadhead sticker on their bumper.  It has nothing to do with race, it has to do with stereo-types, and there is one for almost every color and appearance.  Police play off of it, and unfortunately, they are usually right and that’s why it still continues to happen to everyone.  So.. If you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success by not putting one of your favorite band’s stickers on your car so you won’t get harassed by cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), do you have black privilege?

“Not having to rewrite stories, headlines or swap photos while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promote positivity and share stories of hope and achievement and justice – that is white privilege.”  Ok so this one time I had a website called Good White News and I was shocked at how many racist people trolled it.  No just kidding, but seriously, with that title every other race besides the one that is being reflected is going to have people troll it and make stupid racial comments.  My instagram used to be public and I put a Lil Wayne quote under a selfie once, and hashtagged his name. I got repeated black women calling me a cracker and telling me I can’t listen to hip hop and know nothing about it.  All of which I deleted. And on a side note, I lived at the beach so I believe I can relate to “Life is a beach, I’m just playing in the sand” way more than some chick from Chicago.  But seriously, since when didn’t the internet have trolls offering their expertise on everything and being racist and ignorant? So.. Is not having to rewrite statuses, captions, or swap lyrics on a selfie while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promoting positivity and share selfies of happiness- is that black privilege?

So ok, Ms Lori Laken Hutcherson of good black news, I’m exhausted. I am sorry for your experiences of being singled out by your appearance.  I am also sorry for mine. And his. And hers. And theirs.  So let me just re-iterate what I think it’s time we all realize in 2016:

Stereo-types, prejudice, and privilege are things that happen to every race, religion, skin type, hair color, etc.  APPEARANCE BASED JUDGMENTS ARE NOT SOLELY HAPPENING TO ONE SPECIFIC TYPE AND ITS TIME WE ALL OPEN OUR EYES. We can all be victims and capitalize on that divide, or we can all shut up and stop making it about us.  Because guess what- it isn’t all about us.  Once we start pointing out injustices based on them happening because of race, we are incorrect.  Everybody has it hard, everybody has been singled out, and everybody has been judged.  That’s society.

I’m not downplaying one instance for another, I’m just strictly not playing.  It’s all what you make it, be a target or don’t be. Just stop trying to influence people to see your suffering more than anyone else’s.

Incorruptible Love

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down, don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” -Ann Rice

 

I was driving back across country from California. It was the second morning on the road.  I had reached Kansas around 5 am.  Nobody ever has really mentioned anything about Kansas. Well let me just take a second to say, it is one of the most underrated states.  It was beautiful. Rolling green fields and hills and just amazing. It’s hard to put it into words really. I felt very at home there, which is not a feeling I get very often. 

I was the only car on the highway. I couldn’t see much at first because it was still dark out. Then something amazing happened; the sun started to come up.  All of a sudden, I started to be able to make out silhouettes of tractors in the middle of amazingly large fields. There were little oil rigs pumping back and forth.  Scattered massive, ancient oak trees with cows sleeping around them. And the colors, oh my goodness, the colors.  The sky exploded with beautiful blues and pinks and the greens and teals from the fields began to shine.  I had to pull over and just take it all in.  I know my words aren’t even describing it properly. I tried to take picture after picture as I sat on the side on the deserted highway, but none of them did the scene the justice it deserved.  I felt like I was the only one watching this amazing sunrise and remarkable display of beauty. I wanted anybody else to notice it; to appreciate it.  I wanted to share it with someone, anyone, else.  It deserved a huge crowd applauding and witnessing this display.  But there was no one else to be seen anywhere. As I sat there, in Kansas of all places, enjoying and trying to mentally take in one of the most beautiful spectacles I have ever been blessed enough to be apart of in my entire life, I realized something very, very important.

I took this road trip and during it, in California, I decided that I wasn’t going to write Nick emails anymore.  See, I kind of do this crazy thing and I write him an email weekly to just keep him updated on my life, to let him know I still love him, and to try to be a constant in a world of so many unsure and changing things. Sometimes I feel like the only people and things he now surrounds himself with aren’t the best habits and environments, so I just try to let him know that he has always had the potential to be great and do great things and that he doesn’t have to fall into stupid routines and scenes that I know he never really enjoyed anyways.  The emails never get a response, but I know that he reads them because of certain signs and actions that he takes through them. I know, a lot of people are going to think that this sounds psycho and crazy and sometimes, I do too. But a very wise person who I respect on too many levels once told me, “Love pursues blindly, unflinchingly, and without end. When you go after something you love, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it, even if it costs everything: your pride, your time, and your dignity. There is no dignity in love, there is no too much, and in the end if love doesn’t succeed, it is better to know that you gave too much then held back because other people may think your crazy or pathetic.” So, I write emails.

Something happened in California though that made me not want to write these emails anymore. I was around a bunch of old friends and met some new ones. To be honest, I met a guy that was roommates with one of my friends who moved out there. He was great. He was attractive, nice, funny, my age, polite, considerate, and we had awesome conversations.  I liked him, I kinda felt it the first few minutes of conversation.  We all went out to the bar that night and had a great time. When I get drunk, I still cry about Nick. I can’t control it, I really, really try but it never works. Without fail, at some point in the hours of drinking, I will cry.  So of course this happened. I cried on this guy’s shoulder for a good hour or so, and he just listened. He brought me water and tissues. He didn’t make the typical comments that everyone else seems to make… the get-over-it, the he’s-an-idiot, the it’s-his-loss, and all the other bullshit sayings that really don’t help anything and kind of just make me angry because half of the people don’t even know Nick, so how could they know that it wasn’t my loss?! So this guy just sat there and listened and comforted me. At the end of it all, all he said was that Nick was a lucky guy to have someone in the world love him the way I did. We went to sleep, and it was nice to sleep next to a guy. It really was. 

The next day, I had sex with him. I’m not sure if I care who knows it or care what people think of me for saying it. He was a great guy and we had a good time for the rest of my California trip. I know I’ll see him again and I think because of that, that’s why I decided to stop writing the emails. I think I realized why everyone just jumps from one person to the next when they break up. It’s easier than healing. It’s like putting a bandaid over a cut, it doesn’t heal it, but it helps.  I think it helps break the intimacy and the feelings that you formed with the old person and gives you new ties to a new person.  I can see why other people use this method instead of taking time. Trust me, taking time sucks. Remembering sucks. So why not form new memories and spend your time with someone else?

There was just one problem: He isn’t Nick. We got along great, he’s really attractive, and really sweet. He’s just as smart and probably a little more kind than Nick.  Honestly, he might be a better person than Nick. See, even typing that my heart and my head screams WRONG! I dont know. But I do know that it was nice to be appreciated. It’s nice to be back home and get good morning texts from someone, to know someone is thinking about me. It’s refreshing to have missed calls and see silly memes on my phone. For a moment there, I could’ve let myself get caught up in all of this and just stop writing the emails to someone who doesn’t even respond or wish me happy birthday for the first time in 3 years.  And for a minute, I did.

Then I hit Kansas. I witnessed this amazing sunrise. I realized that it was very possible that I was the only one who saw it.  Then something clicked in my head. It would have still happened and still been just as beautiful if even I had missed it.  If I had been sleeping like the rest of the world, it still would have been just as remarkable.  The sun continues to rise and create this much beauty no matter the response it gets.  If it’s ignored or appreciated by thousands of people, it is constant. It doesn’t change. It tries again tomorrow. It invites everyone to appreciate it everyday, and if no one accepts the offer, it still does it’s thing. 

The Kansas sunrise made me realize that I don’t want to take the easy way out. The way out that everyone else takes, the typical move on approach. I know I could. If it wasn’t with that guy, there are plenty others expressing interest.  And Nick really isn’t better than all of them, looks wise or intelligence wise or even heart wise. Nick might not appreciate me or my emails or my love, but I think I’ve decided to be like the sunrise. I’m still going to be me, I’m still going to write him emails, and I’m still going to love him… with or without his presence or response.

 

Maybe one day he’ll wake up for it.

Really Guys?

So I was at the gym. Next to me at the bench-presses there were two bro’s working out. I always find it kind of funny how guys have work out buddies and they talk about and compare themselves to each other and flex their tri’s in the mirrors.

These dudes were doing all that and then began having some other conversation. I can’t help eavesdropping, it’s a part of what I do every night. As a bartender, it’s my job to listen to people’s private conversation to see if there’s anything I should hear. Like a few girls talking about how their fake IDs worked; how some people might not like what they’re drinking for this reason or that reason; angry guys with too much alcohol pumping through their veins plotting a fight in the bar; and even just simple things like saying they thought the service was great and are having a great time. When you’re an employee who works for tips, it’s important to overhear these things and surprise your customers by letting them try this beer they were saying to their friend they thought sounded interesting or replacing the one in front of them that they didn’t like, but didn’t complain about to you.  It makes you seem competent and people like it when it seems like you can read their minds. Unfortunately, it’s not a skill that is easily turned off once you step out from behind the bar and into the rest of the world.

Well apparently these two bro’s also play in a co-ed softball league together. One of them had just made a girl on the team his girlfriend and he was talking about her to his buddy.  He was saying great things: she was pretty, smart, funny, they liked the same music, and he could see himself being with her for awhile.  Overhearing these things always gives me mixed emotions these days. I was stoked for this new relationship and impressed that this dude was telling his buddy about this girl, almost bragging on her.  I wondered if any of my past relationships used to do that. Ok.. you guys caught me, I wondered if Nick used to do that with his work out bro Randy. I knew he didn’t.. even when Nick and I were engaged, Randy would ask Nick to accompany him on double dates and Nick never understood why I hated Randy because of that. I figured if Nick had ever spoken highly of me and his affection for me that Randy probably wouldn’t have done this. If Nick just would have stuck up once and been like “Bro, that’s the girl I’m going to marry, I don’t want to go hang out with any other chicks with you. Stop asking.” I feel like Randy would’ve stopped asking.

As these feelings and thoughts started to rush through my head, I added another plate to each side of the squat rack and began to work out a little harder. I began listening in again on the work out bro’s conversation.  The recently relationshipped up bro had finished his rant on how great his new girlfriend was. The other guy said “yeah, but you better not break up because it will ruin the rest of our season. she’s one of our best hitters”. To this, the same guy who had just been saying such nice things and speaking so highly of his thoughts and expectations of his new relationship replied, “Nah bro, I’m not going to screw it up. Unless Ashley decides she finally wants to hook up. She’s so fucking sexy, I couldn’t turn that down.”

I don’t think I need to say it, but Ashley was not the name of his girlfriend he had just been stoked about. 

What the fuck. What. The. Fuck.

I have officially lost faith in the whole male sex, especially the ones in my immediate age bracket. I racked my weights and left. My heart cried a little bit for that girl. It also hated Ashley, probably for no fault of her own. This is why I took a year off dating. This is also why even after the year has finished on April 24, 2015, that I’m not sure if I’m ever going to start again.

Fuck. I’ve heard all my married/engaged friends say it and I know they’re right. “I’d be scared to have to start again. To go through it all these days with people the way they’re becoming.” 

Image

Alive

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I told Nick once that I was going to get a tattoo of a compass, with the arrow pointing north, and only the “N” labeled.  I told him I was going to get it because it would symbolize him, that he was the “N” that I was heading towards. This was during our “weird time” as I call January-April. He told me not to and laughed at me for wanting to do that. Looking back, I question that laugh because I wonder if this conversation happened before or after he slept with someone else. Then came back to me, again.

I would have thought things would be much different than they are right now, even just a few months ago. I would’ve guessed that Nick and I would either be back together or that I would have pretty much moved on.  Well, I guess that last part would be me lying to you.  You know when you absolutely just know that someone is going to change the rest of your story, no matter how many chapters they show up in? I felt that immediately with him. I guess we all hope for the best, being humans and dependent on love whether we like it or not.  That’s one thing that always makes me laugh and want to yell out bullshit in the middle of people telling me about themselves.  We, as humans, are all hopeless romantics- men, women, cynics, realists, the whole lot of us. I don’t care who you are or what you say, there is not a single one of us that doesn’t wake up wanting to find that feeling that just makes us scream in liveliness.  We are all just searching for a purpose and, for many of us, that feeling of life and being alive is found in another person.

See, “love” as a whole is overrated to me.  Mostly a word used falsely by children in high school or people who just don’t know how to say that they just want company.  It’s used by a whole bunch of people who are scared to admit that it would be wrong to just want sex, so they tack on a whole bunch of stresses and pressures under the mask of love just to get the nod along from society. Love has become so commercialized and holds so many expectations that it has been essentially ruined.  I don’t think the divorce rate is going up because people are falling out of love.  Quite the opposite actually, I believe the divorce rate is going up because people never fell into love.  That a couple had been together having fun for such a long while that people and family and friends and movies and country songs and society as a whole began to pressure and push and pick at the relationship, until the two involved in it felt that they had to take the next step.  Now the next step for many people is moving in together, but sometimes that is even frowned upon without an engagement ring or being married.  Soon, that couple who was completely happy in each others arms has been forced into a house they don’t want, with a ring on her finger, and a general feeling of uneasiness if this was really their own choice or just what they are supposed to do. Some people don’t even realize this isn’t what they wanted until after a wedding, which tragically eventually will lead to a divorce.

So, “love” is not something I truly believe in.  Finding your kindred spirit is a completely different story though.  I believe that there are people that you will meet in your life that will teach you things that you will never forget, that their presence will nudge you towards the path that you are supposed to be on, and that being with them, even if it is only temporary, will leave lasting memories and flashbacks that are activated randomly for the rest of your life.  These people you are immediately drawn to.. as if some stronger force was pushing you and saying “this one, pay attention! they’re right there!”.  Sometimes you end up in a relationship with yours and sometimes they just become just a teacher and a friend.  The thing about it is that you love them regardless.  Your soul delights in them, it finds so many things in common that you can’t contain your excitement at the fact that someone just gets it, gets you, gets everything.  I  don’t know how else to explain it, I guess if you’ve ever met yours, you’d understand.

Not a lot of people read these days, like really read.  Not just shit books either, like Tucker Max and whatever that damn shades of grey book was, but like real books.  Books that make you feel something with authors that have talent and such a voice that you can put yourself in that exact setting, picturing that exact character, feeling those exact feelings they have put down on paper for you to feel. Steinbeck, Wolfe, London, Twain, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Bukowski, Orwell, and the rest. There are hundreds of thousands of amazing books out there by amazing authors, and it is almost impossible to find someone who reads, like really reads.  Not just to read so they can say they read it or take a picture of them reading for instagram or to improve their “hipster” image they pride themselves on.  I wanted to find someone who read, and enjoyed reading, as much as some people enjoyed television and movies. I remember my soul cheering when I went to Nick’s apartment for the first time and saw a bookshelf in his living room with actual titles on it that meant something. I remember the volumes of national geographic that were thrown about his bedroom.

In my profession I get to eavesdrop just about every second of every shift I work. I’m a bartender, its part of the territory.  I have come to notice that the majority of my generation is just plain stupid.  Now that’s not exactly the nicest thing to say, I’m sure I have conversations from time to time that if they were overheard people would immediately question the intelligence of me and my friends as well. But there is no lack of dumbasses coming into the bar talking about absolutely nothing or things so completely vapid and shallow and just bullshit it would almost be better if they said nothing at all.  I see everything from couples filling in the silence with ridiculous, trivial conversations about this piece of gossip or that article in void to groups of friends commenting on “did you see her facebook status?” or amazing one liners like “when we’re all old and gross, we’ll be happy we have these” after taking fifteen group pictures in a row with multiple duckfaces and poses. I’d hate to be one of the girls that peak in high school or college, but apparently a large part of the population is becoming just that.  Their bodies are so tired, beat, and worn out with pores full of makeup and cells full of alcohol, nicotine, and other party substances, that I guess they really do need the multiple pictures of themselves now. I laugh because I find myself starting to like my age and how it looks on me; I finally feel like my external and internal selves are catching up to each other.  I sit there often and I question if this is really what people have become. Just so superficial and shallow and just the complete opposite of deep in any form.  There is no meaning behind anything, its all for show and social media and to fill in the “awkward” silences. Maybe I’m just getting too old for it all.  I like silence. I like real conversations that don’t include judging people or trivial gossip. I remember once, in the toyota, when Nick told me he thought we didn’t talk enough. I never thought we needed too really. I think some of the most meaningful conversations I have had in the last few years were with him. I also think some of the most comfortable silences I have ever had were with him. I didn’t want or need to fill the silences with bullshit and stupid stuff, it was nice just to be around him. I was content in our silences because between the silences I was content with our conversations.  I felt like he taught me a lot when he talked, and I felt like I taught him what I could when I talked.  Silence is amazing, it is far under-appreciated and often covered up with bullshit that just dumbs down its glory.  I still cherish a lot of memories I have of us, just sitting in silence on the couch or in the woods, passing a blunt back and forth, and thinking our own thoughts quietly to ourselves. I get scared to think that maybe he looks back at it as a weakness while I still see it as a strength. We fit together without words, and in a world so filled of meaningless ones, my soul was ecstatically wrapped in the comfort-ability of our silence.

Sometimes, it’s hard to convince yourself things are over. Sometimes, it’s not. I don’t know where I really consider myself with Nick. I can only hope he is out there hanging out with all the duckface-selfie-taking vapid girls at the bar and occasionally finding himself question if this is all there is left out there; and maybe, just maybe, looking back at the very untypical, deeper-than-most bond our spirits formed. Maybe pride will stop him from admitting it, or maybe he’ll be too drunk and easily replace me with some pretty, stupid girl that either will or won’t matter in the morning, or maybe the fleeting memory of a real connection will discourage him from being like all the other dudes at all the other bars. Maybe I took an amazing, deep, intelligent, handsome guy and transformed him into some kind of bar fly, image-prizing, womanizing asshole. Maybe that’s all he was ever going to be, or maybe that’s all he ever was and I just couldn’t see it. Or maybe, his spirit attracted another intelligent, pretty girl who sees through all the superficial bullshit and he’s happy with her like he was with me. Maybe she won’t screw it up. Like I said, I don’t really know where I consider myself with Nick. I know, right now, we don’t even speak. [His call and choice and I respect that]. I do know that yesterday I finished a Steinbeck novel and my soul longed for his the entire time I read it. I can’t say if we’ll ever talk or see each other again, but I find it hard to swallow the large lump in my throat when I think that we won’t. I do think that our paths will eventually meet back up, one way or another, regardless of if my spirit will still cheer for his, I’m not sure. I do miss his friendship and advice often.

And I do know that I got that tattoo of that compass pointing towards the N. Fuck it, I’m from Maine anyways. Should be easy enough to change the story behind it to being based on being from up north one day if the hope and longing for Nick is ever officially dead.  I don’t know if I would bother lying about it’s history though. He taught me enough that he deserves to be commemorated in ink regardless of the questionable future of us ever meeting back up. I mean, not everyone gets to meet their kindred spirit these days and I’ve seen worse, more meaningless tattoos.

“You could replace that for free”

“You know in Florida you get free windshields, right Cam?” My friend commented as he jumped into the front seat of my SUV.
“Yeah, but it’s not broken.” I immediately replied.
“I guess it’s not, but it’ll splinter soon for sure.”
“It’s been like that since December and it hasn’t. I don’t think it will.”

This is the conversation that I seem to have often with friends when I drive my car on our outings – which is very rare because my air conditioning is currently broken and we live in Florida, so I’m usually riding shotgun in their cars with the windows up while nice, cool, refreshing air streams out of their vents. There’s apparently a law in Florida that if your windshield has a crack or – in my case – a small ding from a rock flying into it, that you can get it replaced for free as long as you have car insurance.

This law really frustrates me. My windshield is completely functional. There is a ding in it that resembles a tiny bullet hole, but it doesn’t even go through the thickness of the glass. If you run your finger over the inside of the glass, you can’t even notice that it is there. The windshield is perfectly fine and still does the job that it is designed to do: it stops the wind, it prevents bugs from hitting me in the face, it blocks rain, and it protects me from dust and other little flying rocks from harming me. It has been completely reliable; the ding is proof of it doing it’s job protecting me.

See the whole ding incident happened back in December. I decided that I was going to fight for my relationship to work regardless of the foolish mistake I made to put it in jeopardy. I reserved a hotel room in Bayton Rouge, packed up Christmas presents, loaded up the dogs, took off from work, and drove ten hours straight through by myself until I arrived. I sat in the room that I had given Nick the address to, set up a Christmas tree, put his presents under it, and waited… Just waited to see if he would show up or if now my Christmas would be me and our dogs alone in a hotel room in Louisiana instead of at home in Florida. He did. We were fine like we always seem to be when we can actually just be together, in person. It’s like when we’re apart we listen to our brains and our friends and just everything negative and evil that has always tried to break us; and when we are apart from each other, all that stuff succeeds. We let everything and everyone convince us to fall out of love. Then when we see each other, it’s like all that stuff gets quieted and our hearts and all the good things in the world prevail and we are right where we left off. We feel at peace together and it’s even more than that, it’s like nothing can break us. Anything that was hard or we were angry about or worth ending over gets dismissed and it’s just us, together, peaceful, happy, and in love. I have a theory that we could make it through anything, which people don’t understand because we don’t even talk right now. But I just don’t think that they get it or I guess maybe I don’t. I’m still pretty sure it’ll all be okay.

So we spend a great week in Louisiana for Christmas. We were driving back to the room after the bonfires on the levee on Christmas Eve when a truck on the highway threw a rock into my windshield. It left this tiny crater on the outside of the glass on the passenger side. Nothing big. It hasn’t been an issue and I don’t even notice it because I don’t sit in the passenger seat.

Everybody says I should replace it. When I ask why they usually respond with things like “it’s free” or “it’s easy, they can do it in your driveway” or something about convenience. The other reasons I usually get are all about the possibility of it getting worse, that it’s past fixing and will definitely get worse so I should replace it now before it does.

These are just a few mentalities of my generation and this day and age that drive me insane. I don’t hate many things (anymore) but I do hate this way of thinking. This huge thought process of getting rid of something on the possibility of it getting worse. This annoying habit of throwing things away that are still performing and functioning perfectly fine because you can get one for free, without dings, easily. That windshields in Florida are so plentiful that as soon as even the most miniscule problem or default or difficulty pops up, just get a new one that has nothing wrong with it, and then replace that one if anything else dings it.

I’m not replacing my windshield. It’s still performing it’s job without any issues. Yes, it may not be perfect, there may be a ding. I could get another one and start over, without any dings. I don’t care how many other windshields there are here.  Mine wasn’t perfect, but is it broken enough to quit, throw away, replace? I don’t think so. I think that ding gives it character. I think that ding shows something we conquered together. I think that ding symbolizes a memory. I think that memory might not be a perfect, happy one but that I’d rather continue making more dings and risk the possibility of it spidering and eventually breaking than giving up on something that still wants to perform its part of our deal. Replacing it with a new one may be easy and convenient and there are tons of companies to choose from, but I’ll stick with what I’ve got. I have no interest in predicting a possible failure based on one imperfection. I have no interest in throwing something away that still has so, so much life left in it.

But hey, that’s just me I guess.

Listening

I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life in three words: it goes on. [Robert Frost]

Every morning, I wake up and I listen.  I don’t get out of bed, I just listen. I can hear all kinds of things.  there’s the chirping of many different birds, not a single one I can name. depending on the day, sometimes there are less birds singing and the chorus is replaced with the sound of rain cascading down from the sky onto my roof and hitting the bottom of the overturned canoe in my back yard.  I can hear my next door neighbor’s baby begin screaming as she awakes.  I can hear the muffled snores of my roommate in his room across the house.  depending on the day of the week, I can hear the trash and recycling trucks making their early morning rounds.  I can hear my neighbors opening and closing their car doors as they head to work.  I live in an area where it seems like everyone has a truck, they all seem to be diesel, and I listen to the familiar sound of their trucks idling before they pull away.  I still just listen.  I can usually hear the murmured sound of one of my dogs twitching her paws and quietly barking while she has a dream; I love that she dreams. I can barely hear the alert on my cell phone from the other room, letting me know I’ve received an email.  I’m never in a hurry to check it though because the emails are never from the sender I’m hoping they are.  I always hear the first morning yawn of my other dog as he senses my consciousness; his jaw always pops during it for some reason.  it’s a trait that he picked up from his human dad. I’m not saying that jaw popping during yawns is something I truly believe to be a cross-species learned action, but I am saying dogs resemble their owners and they both do it.  I can hear my A/C unit come to life outside and then eventually hear the cool air start to force out of the ceiling vents in the house.  I hear lots of things every morning, but I never really hear the sound that I’m listening for.  the one diesel engine that would make both my dogs jump off the bed and run to the front door, usually before I had even detected it.  I smile a little as I remember the way it sounded: old, but reliable  like it had been working hard for years, but it still had plenty left.  it was a real work truck, unlike some of the other diesels I normally hear in the neighborhood.  Although it might not have been as new-it was covered with dings and dents which all had different stories behind them- it was my favorite. so every morning, I just listen. hoping one day the familiarity and serenity will be broken with the sound of that ram 3500 diesel idling to a stop in the driveway, with that little squeal that only it has as it turns off.  I still haven’t heard it and that’s okay because I have learned that life does go on, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts to still listen.