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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Refreshed

So, Nick texted me. After literally almost 3 months of silence through multiple attempts of communication and unanswered emails, he texted me. I looked down at my phone screen after hearing my text alert, I was driving, and almost crashed into on coming traffic.  I told myself that I was just imagining the picture of us with his name under it on the screen.  That my mind was just playing tricks on me and it wasn’t really there. It was a different Nick and my heart switched out the picture, like a cruel joke on myself. I pulled my car over to the shoulder of the intracoastal bridge that I was crossing and took a deep breath.  I don’t do it very often lately, but I looked up and asked God to please not be playing some kind of joke on me.

I unlocked my smart phone’s screen and there it still was: my favorite picture of us together, his name, and the alert that there was a new text message. I swallowed down all the nerves and questions and the strange feeling that I still can’t even seem to find the right words to describe what it was. I took a deep breath and opened it.

We texted for the remainder of that Saturday. I worked in the middle at Green Room, and to my surprise the texts lasted until after the bar had closed and I was back at home. I do not know if he was on or off his boat while all these were happening; I didn’t have the courage to ask to be honest.  The conversation wasn’t a good one, but it wasn’t really a bad one either.  It wasn’t about getting back together. It wasn’t about missing each other. There are a million questions I wish I would’ve asked, but didn’t because I held back.  I was too surprised that he even contacted me that I treated the situation so delicately that I think it has made everything worse.

See, the texts started that day and ended that night.  There hasn’t been any return of conversation.  I can’t really say that I am surprised. I can really say that I am extremely confused. Actually, I can’t.  I still feel like I know Nick so well; I do know him so well.  I am grateful for the texts that I got.  He contacted me. Out of nowhere. And yes, at first it was to sort of yell at me for some instagram stupid stuff.  But you know what that means? That he still looks at my instagram. You know what else it means? That he is beginning to get over his pride a little bit and after he texts me instead of just deleting it, he actually sent one. You know what else it means? That he still cares about me enough to, although it was through harsh words, watch out for my well-being and somewhere inside him is still the urge to try and protect me.

Nick is the type of guy to wipe someone completely out when he’s decided to be finished. I think he may be one of the most cold hearted guys there is; except I never witnessed that side.  I got a guy who hid notes and bible verses around our house, who had breakfast delivered on my birthday when he was out of town, who wrote me poetry, and who showed me glimpses of his heart.  I’ve often questioned these glimpses since the split. That maybe those were just the fake pieces of Nick, that maybe they were just the times he was acting how he thought he should, but that they didn’t come from the heart.  That he was trying to be what I wanted, but that after we stopped talking, he was being who he truly was: a cold-hearted, womanizing, bed-hopping barfly. This view was the one everyone has been trying to push on me to believe.  That I had idolized him in my head into a person greater than the real Nick is.

Nope. HA. Everyone was wrong. See, if Nick would’ve never texted me, I would’ve finally agreed with everyone. I was just giving into it all. The hope was gone. I was thinking about dating this guy who had been displaying interest and is pretty attractive. I was about to just throw all my feelings away and write it off as my heart just being stupid. I was going to cover him up with someone else and drinks and bars and parties.  It’s like Nick has this direct line to my heart and my soul because there has only been three times in my entire knowing him that I was at my wit’s end.  That I needed something, anything, from him to stop me from turning around, closing the door, and never looking back. Three times I have prayed to God so desperately asking for a sign or a clue to which direction I am supposed to go in with Nick.  Each time, He’s provided one. I don’t care if you believe in God, or the Universe, or Karma, or whatever.  But I do know that every single person believes in love. If you want to admit it or not, you do.

That morning I had poured my heart out. Telling Him I couldn’t do it anymore. Explaining that it had been nothing but silence from Nick and I couldn’t hold on anymore.

Then I got the text messages. And everything didn’t get answered or really even addressed. But I know Nick. If he still didn’t love and care for me, that picture of us with a new text alert wouldn’t have been on my phone. It’s all going to be ok. I knew it would be. I will take this sign and continue how I was thinking before I started letting everyone else change my actions. I love him, I promised him my life, and I think that one day it’ll all work out.  I am not dating anyone else for a year, so maybe by April there will be another break-through or two with us.  Maybe there won’t be. For now, I am extremely grateful that I got the sign that I did. And just because it wasn’t some huge get back together text conversation or even a visit, I’m ok with that. Because I know Nick, and if he didn’t give a fuck, he wouldn’t give a fuck. There would have continued to be no communication.

I am refreshed in my hope for us and faith in us.  Understand it or don’t. I could careless about any of the other opinions.

Love is patient.

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.” 

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.