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.

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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.” 

Foreshadowing

fore-shad-ow: verb: When an author of a plot uses an advance sign or warning of what is to come in the future.

A few years back, there was a song that was super popular. It was played over and over and over again on the radio. At first, I really liked it a lot. After hearing it about 50 million times a day on every radio station, in every public place, and posted on people’s social media sites via youtube videos, my opinions about that song changed drastically. It was a song by the artist Goyte called “Somebody That I Used To Know”. You probably remember it. It was super catchy and once you heard it, it had you singing “somebody” in a high pitch voice for the rest of the day.

The summer that it became an overplayed hit, I was working in a restaurant at the beach. My x-fiance was also working there, but this was before we had even started our story. There had only been those moments when the attraction was super obvious, like when you catch each other looking at each other from across the restaurant and your stomach does that little flip thing and you can’t stop smiling because you can feel that amazing butterfly feeling you get in the beginning. We had only had a few conversations, mostly about work stuff and any excuse we could use to talk to each other. We had hung posters up for the grand opening on the street with fishing line out of the bed of his Toyota pick up truck together; I don’t remember the small talk in-between us but I remember the feeling of just being completely attracted to him. I have small tattoos on my hands below my thumbs, about the size of dimes, on the left is a world and on the right is a peace sign. [Please do not judge me for the fact I did get ‘world peace’ tattooed on me, I was young and in my hippy movement stage of life]. Nick came up to me as I was leaning across a high top table one shift and touched the tattoo on my left hand and asked me if it was a tattoo of a deadhead. [If you don’t know what a deadhead is..open a new tab, google it, and download some of their music onto your itunes OK?] I remember the feeling of butterflies from his first physical contact with me mixed with embarrassment as I explained that the hard-to-recognize, blown-out tattoo was of a world and not a deadhead, followed by the explanation of the whole “world peace” thing and being young and dumb when I got it. We both had a pretty good laugh about it. Another time, the restaurant had run out of aprons and Nick had never gotten one. I remember telling him I’d bring him one the next time we worked together. This immediately lead to us comparing our schedules and seeing what shifts we were scheduled together for the rest of the week. I think both of us had probably already checked each other’s schedule on the one hanging on the wall of the server station to see what days we both needed to make sure we were a little bit early and, at least for me because I’m a chick, what days I needed to spend a little extra time on my hair. These had pretty much been all the first interactions that we had had, back when it was new and exciting and developing.

On a different shift, a group of co-workers and I were standing around- probably waiting for tables to come in. The restaurant, although it was new, was never really busy, and we didn’t know it then, but would be closing down in about 2 or 3 more months. I don’t really remember everyone else who was present in the group, but I remember that Nick was there. The song by Goyte came on over our sound system and we all started singing the lyrics that were impossible not to know at this point. Nick looked at me and said he had never heard this song before. I was shocked. I don’t remember exactly the conversation that followed between us, but I remember some back and forth about how that could be possible. At the end of it all, I remember he said something along the lines of how he obviously knew it because it was overplayed everywhere. We laughed. I knew I loved him, right then and there.

The song became a joke throughout our growing relationship. It was on mixed CDs and sang between the two of us. It was never skipped on the radio; it had reached it’s peak so it went from being played all the time, to never, then a couple months later they threw it back into the rotation here and there.

I guess I never realized that the song would become a foreshadowing of our story. That God- or the universe or whatever your beliefs are- used it to bring us together and, as the author of my story, would use it as a hint to our future. It was the catalyst of the moment I first realized I loved him. But it was also a clear, lyrical prediction of our ending. We used to listen to it together, it was an on-going joke, built right into the foundation of us. And now?.. He has become somebody that I used to know.

“But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know..”

Dammit I hate that fucking song.

Life Lessons Taught by Two Dogs

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I have two dogs. As weird as it might sound, at some point in time, they became my best friends. They teach me things everyday and continue to amaze me with their understanding of my moods and needs. I don’t mean to sound like one of those crazy dog fanatics that tells you their dog’s thoughts, or their favorite toy, or their favorite treat, but I guess I am. At some point I became that lady who leaves the radio on for them when I leave, who grills them their own bones because all the ones at the store are unnatural and filled with preservatives, and who feels guilty if I don’t take them to the beach for an entire day once a week. I even celebrate their birthdays with them; which means they get a cake and ice cream [made gluten/dairy free and puppy approved], a trip to the pet store where they can pick anything out, and usually an extra long day at the beach followed by walking their favorite trails along the river.

Bear is the baby of the two, he just celebrated his 2nd birthday in March. He is a black lab and lives up to the typical lab traits that anyone who has ever had one can attest to- Bear loves two things: food and people, in that order. When Bear was picked out, his dad told me the story of how he selected him. Bear was born on a farm, where his litter lived in the barn. When his dad went to pick out the puppy he wanted, the other young puppies were out wandering around close to the people selling them. They had this big bowl and began to pour some puppy chow into it. The puppies gathered around the silver food bowl and began eating. That’s when Bear apparently came sprinting as fast as he could in his clumsy, uncoordinated puppy gallop from the barn; no doubt because he had already learned to associate the familiar ting-tinging sound of the kernels hitting the metal bowl as meal time. Once he got to the bowl, he pushed all his brothers and sisters out of the way and started feasting on the puppy chow from inside the middle of it. That’s the reason his dad picked him out of the litter. I shortly thereafter entered Bear’s life when he was about a month and a half old, and can tell you that in these past two years his personality has not changed. He is a very entitled dog; he believes he deserves everything that you have, especially food, and will head butt you, whine, or even bark at you until you share it. To say it in the most loving way possible, he’s kind of an asshole. He wants what he wants when he wants it, or he tends to whine and cry and get upset with me when I don’t allow him to partake in something. The other day I was eating a chocolate brownie [the healthy kind of course] and he began gently nudging my leg with his nose. As the remaining piece of brownie grew smaller and smaller, Bear knew his odds were growing less and less, so he began to whine and nudge harder. Now I’ve known him since he was a puppy and he is pretty much the most handsome dog in the entire history of any dog that has ever lived, so it breaks my heart not to give him a piece. I know that the brownie isn’t good for him and I don’t want him to get sick. As I finish it, he goes and lays down with a huge sigh, pouting, and ignoring me. “Bear, that would’ve made you sick and hurt you buddy,” I say to him, a reasoning that he wants nothing to do with, and he continues to whine under his breath. That’s when I learned a super important thing about life- from a dog. Maybe we want stuff that will hurt us, but we don’t know that it will hurt us and we still want it. Maybe God or the Universe or whatever your beliefs are, keeps it from us and doesn’t give it to us because they know that it will hurt us and cause us pain. Maybe we get all sad and pout when we don’t get who or what we want because we don’t understand that it’s in our best interest, that someone or something is really looking out for us by keeping them or it from us.

Reef is the dog I had first and she will be 6 years old on July 2nd. I’ve had her since she was 6 weeks old. What amazes me about Reef is how much she still loves me. I’m now 26 and I’d honestly say a somewhat put together and responsible person: I have a clean house, I rarely go out to all hours of the night, I go to the gym almost daily and feel that they deserve the same luxury of exercising often, and I do not remember the last time that I ran out of dog food without having another unopened bag in the pantry as back up. Well, 20 year old Camren was a completely different story. There were times Reef was definitely inside for 15 plus hours. There were multiple days where she ate what I ate- which sounds great except it was probably pizza or Ramon noodles or something along those lines of a broke college student’s budget. There were weeks that I didn’t walk her besides a quick bathroom run around the block. I know that almost every single set of parents out there tells their college kid not to get a dog [and parents don’t get too excited if any of you are reading this], but they are 100% right. Reef was shorted the first 3 years of her life waiting on me to grow up. Do you know what is mind blowing and amazing to me though? Reef never held a grudge. Reef was never mad at me. Reef never became bitter. Reef never acted like she forgave me and then in a fight a month later brought up the fact that I forgot to come home after work and in-between the bars to walk her or some other action she felt scorned over. She never remained angry at me although smiling and talking about how great everything was going to be only then to do some vengeful, hurtful stuff to get me back. I mean maybe she chewed up a few pairs of shoes or sunglasses when she felt she wasn’t getting attention, but that’s about it. Most importantly, Reef never left. She never even thought about leaving. She understood without questioning, she knew she loved me and she knew deep down embedded into the grains of her soul what that meant: that she was to stand by me through the good and the bad and to love me, no matter if in that moment I did or didn’t deserve it. Some people say that dogs are like their owners and they pick up certain traits from us. I believe that this is true, but sometimes I also think that the owners learn from their pets. I may have used to be selfish, hold grudges, never really understood what it meant to truly forgive someone, and been vengeful; but I can honestly say that because of Reef I am different. She taught me how to love even if the person doesn’t necessarily deserve it; she taught me how to forgive without ever being asked for forgiveness; she taught me that you never leave someone; and she taught me how to put myself second, to understand that my purpose here isn’t to make myself happy, but to live to make someone else happy.

Now, let me just reiterate that having a dog is great, having two dogs is a handful. It makes moving a pain because I’m a renter. They are expensive. I have to put their needs before mine. Both of my dogs were the bi-products of failed long term relationships. The first one, where Reef came into the picture, the boyfriend’s name was Nick. The second one, where Bear came from, the fiance’s name was also Nick. I used to have a lot of hope about maybe one day writing the x-fiance Nick back into the story, but Bear recently taught me the lesson which made me realize that probably won’t happen. I’m still on my way to accepting that and I’m okay with that. Reef and Bear will continue to teach me things about love, friendship, loyalty, and life which will hopefully eventually help me heal that wound and understand why I deserve better. In the meantime, ladies I do have some solid advice for you: do not buy puppies with guys named Nick.