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.

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.

Image

Alive

IMAG0376_1

 

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.

12 months

When you sign a lease, you never really know how many things can change over that year. You make plans and you try to map out your life, but usually, it turns out nothing like what you planned. We signed the lease to our first place together and he had plans to propose and I had plans to accept if he ever asked. I spent a lot of time decorating and trying to make it feel like a home.. building a “nest egg” most of my customers called it. I started planning a wedding, he started planning our financial future. It was planned, everything was mapped out. The date, the venue, his job path, all planned and ready to go.

What you never seem to include in your plans are: the fights, the speed bumps, the social media lusting, the time apart that separates two people who called each other best friends, the temptations you get presented with by being a bartender, the friends who have terrible intentions for your relationship, the distance, the stress, and the toll all these take on you. Nobody ever plans a break up, especially to an engagement. When you’re caught in the spiderweb of it, you don’t even really see it coming. Maybe because it’s too close, ya know? Maybe it was just so much focus on the future and some day and a year from now that you get blindsided by the present. Maybe it was all the times that we didn’t say what we thought, that I didn’t ask for help when I started noticing other people, that he didn’t ask for help and tell me he used instagram to stare at other girls. Maybe it was pride or a lack of a true feeling of protection in our relationship that stopped us from addressing our weaknesses and struggles in our present and covering them with plans for our future.

The first night we had the keys, we had a mattress on the floor of our room, a record player and a modest mouse album, a bottle of champagne, some vodka and orange juice. We were happy. We drank to our plans. Enjoyed our new, empty house and slept in each other’s arms on the undressed mattress.

It’s funny how one year, twelve months, can change everything. I walked around the empty house, drank a bottle of champagne to honor our failure, and slept on the floor. I woke up and took one look around. Left the keys on the counter, locked the door, closed it, and left. Called the office and told them everything was out.

12 months. Huh. What a fucking difference.

“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.

Aside

Moving

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it. But you laugh inside – remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.” [Charles Bukowski]

Moving is a very monotonous thing. Tape up one box; edge to edge a few times, then across the opposite way once, then edge to edge once more, flip it over. Fill with belongings. Tape the top closed. If you’ve moved a couple of times you’ve probably learned to label it so you know what’s in there when you arrive at the new place. Repeat. Do this until all the stuff that you’ve collected is all in boxes. Most of the stuff you’ve collected you don’t even need. At moving time, you don’t even really want it. At least I don’t. Especially this move. It’s just junk. Stuff keeping me stuck here and weighing me down. Multiple little reasons in boxes why it’d be so hard to move across the country or take that job in Italy. Multiple little reasons that I needed to make this house feel like a home. Multiple little reasons that are essentially memories. Reminders. All of it. Just reminders of a lot of things that are constantly in my head everyday plus the million other ghosts that seem to live inside me now.

I decided when I was moving to try to sort out all the stuff that reminded me of what had been and to put it in its own boxes. I told myself that I was going to get rid of it all: the notes; the pictures; the flyers from North Carolina; the hotel room keys from places like Milledgeville, Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the maps of all the state parks; the hanging tags for the rearview mirror of the truck from our campsites; the cards; the bible verses on pieces of paper that used to be hidden around the house; our marriage license; our pre-marital packets; the magnets from little stores in little towns we would stop at and make friends with the owners. We were always so good at making friends together. People liked us and they liked seeing us together and strangers would often talk to us. They’d hear we were engaged, smile, probably think things in their heads about how we really were a good couple, and shake your hand and wish us well for our future. Ha. I wish I knew where half of those strangers were, so I could send them what became of our future, all perfectly packed in little boxes.

The thing about separating everything into a stack of boxes that reminded me of our life together and the other stuff I’d keep was that I soon noticed everything in this fucking house reminds me of you. The five million coffee mugs all either immediately flashed scenes of breakfasts together or thrift store shopping trips where we picked out mugs from different states. The pots were mostly yours. The Pyrex pans had been used to cook you baked ziti. The baking pans had been used to bake you stuff to take with you on all your drives. The measuring cup was yours. We picked out the oven mits. You gave me the tea kettle and it used to come camping with us. We had sex on the counter and on top of the cutting board. I quickly became completely fed up with the kitchen. I headed to the library. It didn’t get better. The couch in there is the one from the apartment you lived in when we first started dating, we sat on it on our very first date. It’s been in every place we’ve been since. The books were no better. This one you bought for me when I had my surgery, that one we both said was our favorite growing up, this one I used to read on the beach and it reminds me of you. I found two bottles of scent cover body wash on the shelf, your hunting stuff. Then a box of bullets and the shotgun plug you whittled out of wood yourself. Fuck the library, I headed back out into the living room to start packing random decorations. Then I started taking stuff off the shelf that you built. I started pulling stuff off the mantel. It took about ten minutes to be over that – all the knick knacks were from stuff we bought together. Things that we put up there together, when we moved into this house, together. Then I got hit with the worst flashback yet. I was sitting on the floor of the living room taping up a box, and I realized I was in the exact spot you proposed to me in. Packing is done for the day.

I spent weeks while you were out-of-town, making this and that. Making a headboard. Sewing curtains. Hanging this picture. Getting these candles. Not because I even really wanted that stuff, but because I was making this house our home. I was making a place for you to come home to after three weeks on a tugboat. A place you would look forward to and rush home to be in and enjoy it. I thought we’d be here for a while. We didn’t even make it our full lease. We moved it all in together, and now I’ll move it all out alone.

It is not fair sometimes. How hard I get to have it and how I get to deal with cleaning up and packing all this shit. I get why you made the clean break. Why you just left everything. Because it sucks. Every single goddamn thing in here just reeks of us, of failure, of pain, of anger, of shit. Of a waste of time and emotion. I sit here surrounded by worthless shit that means the world to me, just crying. Not even sad tears anymore really. Just tears of frustration and jealousy actually. I’m jealous you just got to leave, that you don’t have to deal with any of this, that you somehow shut off all the thoughts of us. I’m frustrated that my heart isn’t stone like yours, that I can’t just shut off the memories and the ghosts that are forever haunting my thoughts. I’m frustrated that I can’t just go to the bar and get a drink and meet a dude and not be looking around wishing you’d walk in. Wishing that every single guy there was you. Not because I even know what I’d do if I saw you- right now its somewhere in-between pouring a drink over your head, ignoring you, crying in public, or just nodding and continuing on with my night as if we were strangers- but because I still pathetically miss you. Your stupid laugh when you clench your teeth and your underbite shows, your stupid walk because your arms are longer than your torso so you kind of do this swinging thing, your stupid humor, your stupid intelligence and the way we’d just get drunk and make fun of everyone there together. Your stupid eyes, our stupid sex, the stupid way you could just put your arms around me and make everything feel better.

Fuck I hate moving. Fuck I hate you. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Dammit I miss you. Being a girl sucks.

Back to Me

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

 

Today was the first day in a long time that I realized that I am slowly becoming more like the old Cam, and I am extremely excited about it. What spawned this realization? I was talking to my friend who moved to California and just telling him about what I did today. Towards the end of my list of today’s events, he just started laughing. I am a very hilarious person, but at that particular point in the conversation I hadn’t used any humor, so I questioned what spawned his roll of laughter. He paused and said, “I missed you. It’s good to have you back. Ole happy, hippie Cam!”.

We talked for a little while longer, said our goodbyes, and hung up the phone. I really started to think about what he had said. I noticed that I had to fight the urge to laugh as well. “I am back,” I thought to myself, smiling. I knew, and felt, exactly what he had meant.

It’s hard to put your past self into words. So I’m just going to act like I’m describing a stranger who wasn’t me because it’s easier for me to articulate my former qualities that way. I’ve changed so much that looking back to the past on who I used to be is kind of like observing another person anyways.

She’s a health freak- I’m talking 100% external and internal. She doesn’t drink any alcohol or smoke cigarettes. She grocery shops in the organic section and at farmer’s markets. She makes her own almond milk, peanut butter, vegan cream cheese, and mashed potatoes out of cauliflower. She is a fantastic cook. While everyone else is sleeping, she’s at the gym. When she gets home, she meal preps. She reads a lot because she enjoys it. She doesn’t have a television because she doesn’t enjoy it. She spends as much time outside as possible. She walks her dog and talks about her like she’s a person. On the back of her dresser, which doubles as a headboard, she has hand written a million different quotes in different color markers. They range from “Live, Laugh, Love” to “Don’t waste your time and energy on feeling envy or jealousy. The race is long, and in the end, it is only with yourself”. She has the most brilliant smile and strangers often stop her at the grocery store or the bank to tell her how happy she looks. She holds the door open for people. She pulls over and helps old ladies on the side of the road carry things. She has conversations with bums about why they shouldn’t smoke when they are digging in ashtrays for stubs, but then tells them that if they are going to, to at least smoke their own and hands them money to go buy some. She is kind. She doesn’t judge or think mean thoughts towards strangers, remembering that everyone is fighting their own battle and that she honestly believes a chain of kind events towards people who need them could help end the world’s problems. She’s religious and a Christian in her heart and actions, but has no idea of that yet because a boy hasn’t given her a bible hidden in a stack of books, so her brain hasn’t learned it just yet. She glows with happiness, inside and out. It’s not an act, it’s just her. She’s fun, spontaneous, and a genuine good listener. She is a loyal friend and will get out of bed at 3 am to give her drunk ones rides, they call her the Cam Cab. She’s never in a hurry. She isn’t worried about money [which let me explain the thing is that I had way less then, I just had this weird/awesome way of knowing and trusting that everything always worked out]. She inspires people and teaches them things, and doesn’t know she’s doing it until they tell her, sometimes weeks or years later. She has plans to move to Italy to teach English. She has been applying for a volunteership to build the National Park of Patagonia and thinks that she will finally be accepted for that 6 month program this year. She believes in soulmates. She doesn’t believe in looking for them. She’s hard to tie down to one place, one person, one job, one life. Traveling makes her feel more at home than anywhere she’s ever lived. She wants to do great things; not like be famous or rich great things, but like make a difference and help people great things. She has no idea how to accomplish that.

I guess that’s the most of it. It’s crazy how far away from yourself you can become. You change one thing for one person, then you sacrifice this thing for another, then you stop doing this because of that… next thing you know describing who you used to be is like looking at a stranger. I don’t point fingers and I don’t believe in regrets. I changed because I made choices that led to decisions that lead to actions that caused these changes. It was totally under my control. It’s funny how when you stop concentrating on yourself and start focusing on someone else, how easy it is to become a ghost of the person you once were.

But today, that ghost must have jumped inside me. Here’s the events I was explaining to my friend that made him point this out.

I woke up at 5 am to drink a protein smoothie made with fruit & veggies in my blender and go to the gym for spin class at 6. After spin, I worked out more and came home. I made breakfast which consisted of eggs cooked with cottage cheese on protein toast with avocado. I walked my dogs down to the preserve and back, which is about a four mile loop. I showered, threw on a bathing suit, and went and laid out at the beach for a while. I went grocery shopping at this place called Fresh Fields Farms [amazing!] and publix. While I was there, an old man told me that I looked like one of the happiest people he’d ever seen [I was visiting fantasy land in my mind and day dreaming about some happier memories about a year ago involving an old couple, grilled cheeses, and a past publix trip]. On the way home, I saw a lady with her 3 young kids waiting at the bus stop looking hot and aggravated, so I gave them a ride. It turned out being quite the ways away, about an hour longer than expected, so when I got home I spent some time cleaning where my ice cream melted all over my car. I cleaned my house and put some laundry away. I practiced Modest Mouse “Ocean Breathes Salty” and Willie Nelson “Always on my Mind” on guitar. On Tuesdays, I started a new routine of giving myself a facial from a mask I mix up of a bunch of stuff [activated charcoal, tea tree oil, rose-water, European clay powder, honey, and aloe- try it, it makes your skin so so so smooth]. Then I started meal prepping for the week, so I made cauliflower stirfry [no rice, you use the grated cauliflower as the rice], egg fritata, peanut butter protein waffles, 7 seed protein granola bars, salad with homemade guacamole for the dressing, baked chicken stuffed with homemade spinach pesto, and some gluten-free protein donuts for a treat on my high carb days. When my friend called I was reading The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was having a bad day so the phone call started with me telling him some advice and a cheesy “Old Cam quote” to back it up. I haven’t used a quote paired with some advice in a long, long time. It even felt familiar and happy to do it; and it was awesome to remember one after so long too. Then came the laughing.

Sometimes, things happen for a reason and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can’t change the past. You can’t force people to love you and be with you. Today I realized that I can only look forward. I can go back to working on myself and being the person I loved and the friend I am called to be. I picked up a few new tricks during my relationship and they’ll come in handy, but it’s mostly time to revert back to the old, known, tried, and true methods. Hello, Happy Hippie Cam. Peace out negativity and fighting for things that just don’t deserve more efforts at this current point in time. Maybe one day they will, or maybe they never really did. The fact of the matter is, it’s all behind me now and all I can do is smile, accept it, and see what happens next.

Damn, I missed me.

Yes.

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There’s one three letter word in the English language that has a lot more power than people tend to give it. I realized this back in April when I decided to make that word a much more active part of my life. That word is “yes”. Simple enough, right? It’s a pretty common word that most people tend to use everyday. When I sat down and decided to start saying “yes” more often and more purposefully, I realized that I had been using it wrong for years. The problem is that most people use it as an answer to a question, which is what I often did. The thing about “yes” is that I think it is supposed to be used much more as an action; a promise to do something when the question is asked, and not just as a brush-off or acknowledgement of a request like it has turned into.

I realized that after being in a committed relationship that lead to an engagement for a few years, that at some point “yes” followed by an immediate action stopped existing and was replaced with saying things like “soon”, “let me check with Nick”, “let’s plan to do that”, or “definitely, I’ll call you when he gets back in town”. Before I knew it, I had done something which is very out of character for myself: absolutely nothing. I stopped working on myself. I stopped improving myself through new experiences and traveling, which is the way that I feel I grow and learn the most. I stopped being the impulsive, jump-in-the-car-and-go, down-for-anything, just-ask-and-she’s-in girl. I started waiting around. I started turning down things. I started making plans, 90% of which never happened because we never happened. Eventually, I lost my spontaneous reputation and people stopped asking me and inviting me on amazing adventures and to join in experiences. The calls from my friends became fewer and further between, then eventually stopped. My invites and questions asked became much more easier things- like a night out at the bar or a beach day drinking, which I’m at a point in my life where I really just dislike drinking as a social activity. It has lost its’ fulfillment and fun and appeal to me, so I eventually even said no to that, and became bored. Bored and waiting, all the time. I do not like to regret things, and I don’t regret very many things about our relationship, but I do regret the time I wasted and the things I said no to, for what turned out to be nothing. So after this parting of our ways at the end of April, I decided to get back to that girl I used to be. How? By saying yes and acting, not planning, but doing immediately.

The things that have happened in a little over a month have really opened my eyes to why I used to be so happy before. Yes is a very positive word, especially when it is acted out. I believe that positivity attracts positivity, I always have. One of my best friends approached me right at the end of April. A few years back I had driven across country randomly, a trip which started out as a 2 week visit to Memphis and became a 6 month long road trip coast to coast [that is the girl that I am trying to get back to.. if you could feel my heart ache for who I was back then while typing that sentence I think everyone would understand me much, much more]. Wes looked at me and said “Cam, you should drive with me to Cali and pull my last trailer of stuff out there. I’ll pay for everything and give you some money for missing work.” He moved out to Lake Tahoe in March and was back in Florida to pick up his dirt bikes and four wheelers. I immediately said “Yes”. Wes didn’t believe me, which kinda hurt to be honest. There was one time when my acceptance to the deal on the table wouldn’t have been a shock or misinterpreted as a joke. I told him yes again, and asked him when we were leaving. I got my shifts covered at work and we left 3 days later. “Yes” was as simple as that, it was a response, followed through with an action. The trip was great, not quite as long as my last coast to coast adventure, but it reminded me of a piece of myself that I had long buried and ignored.  I saw new things and met new people and got to travel. It was deep down good for my soul and began to bring back an older Cam that I wish I had never changed for anything.

The funny thing about saying yes is that once you do it, you seem to get more invitations to do new, fun, and exciting things. Which, thank my luck, have for some reason all been offered to me for free. In the last month and 13 days of changing my perspective of yes, I have: been on a cross country roadtrip, started professional guitar lessons, went to TPC at sawgrass, started violin lessons, been hiking in North Carolina, went on a camping trip to the springs, been wakeboarding, been off-shore fishing, got an amazing trainer and nutritionist, recieved an opportunity to live in Italy for a year with a job [which I haven’t exactly said yes to because that one unfortunately does require a little more planning but I am getting closer everyday], am going on a week long vacation to the Keys and staying in an amazing house in Marathon with boats & harleys, have been to the art museum downtown known as the Cummer [which I have wanted to do for a year but we never seemed to have time], and started this blog. All those things sound amazing, right? Well, ready for the real amazing part? I have actually done that entire list and have still made more money than I have spent [thank you Wes].
My advice for you: start saying yes and following through with an action and you might just be surprised at the chain of events it leads to!

 

One last thing.. for the person who I hope maybe one day is reading this, but probably isn’t. There have been a lot of hard questions I have said yes to too. Do you miss him? Do you know he’s slept with someone else already? Did you hear about St Patty’s day? Do you know he was on a date at European Street already? Do you really still love him? Do you really plan on not dating anyone for a year still? Do you honestly forgive him? Would you take him back if he showed up right now? You know that he probably is never going to show up again, he already moved on, right? You still plan on waiting?

Yes.

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.