When we were seventeen and your heart was broken for the first time, I took you to Los Angeles. We drove up and when you would start to cry I would sing at the top of my lungs frantically until you laughed again. I didn’t have the words to fix you. I just knew that I needed your smile to not be broken. We put on fancy dresses in a gas station bathroom. Do you remember? We had the most fun ever that night. We were free and beautiful; better together.
When it came for my turn to have my heart broken. You were the first person I called. I was nineteen, and my grandpa had died that morning. He called 5 hours later, and it was over. You said “Where are you? I’ll be right there.” And I breathed again. You were coming.
That night last April I called you and you didn’t answer. I called again; voice mail. By the time I called your fiance’s phone and got to you, all I could do was sob. I needed you and you hopped on the first train to get to me; without hesitation. You came into the apartment the next morning like a hurricane. You knew what had to be done. You took a box and started to put him in it; the pictures, the sweatshirt he left on the chair. You set to work with washing sheets; trying to rid our home of his scent. You sat with me while I cried. Your heart broke for mine, and I didn’t feel alone. You carried me through it.
You’re the reason that last week, when a friend called me sobbing. The words “Where are you? I’m coming” came as easy as breathing. I thought of you as I swept through their home– trying to get rid of some of him. Trying to make sure she knows she is not alone. We’ll get through this together. I promise. We’ll make it better. I’ll carry her if I have to.
I have this friend, we’ll call her Kate (cause that’s my favorite fake name of all time). Kate has been in and out of a toxic cycle of a relationship for the past 16 months or so… and NO I am not Kate. Bite me. (Well I am Kate-like, which is probably why Kate and I are homies) (I might as well be Kate) (But I’m not)
So Kate met this boy. Whirlwind-movie style romance follows. He calls her just to hear her voice. He is open and honest and upfront about how much he LIKES her. He introduced her to his baggage, and listened attentively while she spilled hers. He’s jumping in. He’s balls-to-the-wall. She has suddenly found herself in a relationship where she feels hopeful excitement. She is being valued. She is being treated like she’s beautiful, desirable, worth sacrificing for, worth being vulnerable for.
And she’s reeling from it a bit. She’s doing a lot of the “How many people say things like that?!” and the “Can you believe this?”.
Yes. I can. I can 100% believe it. So should she; and so should you.
You see, the thing is, she being treated like she is beautiful, desirable, and worthy of all that good stuff because SHE IS. She has been the WHOLE time. She was worth it when she was with that jack ass that broke her heart. She was worth is when she was going back-and-forth in the lonely dance that is ALL to familiar. She was deserving of this type of relationship the whole time.
And so are you. So am I.
We deserve that good relationship. The healthy relationship. We won’t deserve it when we’re thinner, more successful, when our hair is longer, WHATEVER IT IS THAT IS MAKING YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE NOT DESERVING OF THE LIFE CHANGING LOVE. We deserve it now. We deserved it yesterday.
I met this guy when he was 10. He was tiny with long hair. He took to me quickly. I was dating his brother- his hero- so I had an easy in. He wanted me to tuck him in at night. Would call out “I’m sitting next to Bri!!” at meals, in the car, watching tv. Things change. Things have always been changing. I was there when he became a teenager that weekend in February. He was 11, and woke up at noon (!) with an attitude. But he was always sweet around me. We went on dates. We curled up on the couch to read. We sang in my car. His favorite thing in the WORLD was weekends spend at Ryan and my house. Things change. Things have always been changing. After Ryan and I broke up, I think he had the hardest time with it. He texted me a lot. And I missed him like crazy. He texted me with excitement the day he got his first girlfriend; and I cried because I missed it. Things change. Things have always been changing. Three months ago, we had breakfast. He was tall. Serious. His voice was deep. But he put his arms around me. Called the seat next to me. Texted “I love you. Miss you” as I left. His mom said he hadn’t smiled that much in months; and I cried. Things change. Things have always been changing. Last night, he was even taller. Texting his girlfriend and being a 14 year old. When did He get a deep man voice? Texting me secrets- like how he says “I love you” to her and means it. He had stories he wanted to tell me- his eyes danced He still throws his arms around me, and laughs when I tease him. He puts his head on my shoulder and listens to me telling him how he is so smart- so much more than average. And as they pull away he texts me “I love you. Miss you.” And I cried. Things change, but some things stay the same.
I don’t know what to write when things feel so up in the air.
I am still waiting to hear back test results from my biopsy. I am still waiting to hear back how much money I have to get a new car.
I am just… waiting.
I felt really off this past week and a half. It happens sometimes. The real problem is that most of my friends here, God love them, don’t really know how to deal with me when I am not myself. They are amazing. Supportive. Wonderful. It just takes me a little bit longer to let people see that part of me.. the part that is so wounded and scared.
In Tahoe I was looking on facebook and saw pictures of Ryan’s new GF. It kind of shook me more than I thought it would. Not because I want to (ever) get back together with Ryan. I am 100% certain that he was not the one for me, nor I for him. I am better off without him, better off now than I have ever been EVER. I just all of a sudden felt like I should be… further along? I don’t know. There were a lot of things I had to think about before I was back to normal. Luckily I have a friend like Olivia. Who will drive 45 minutes on a Friday night when she gets an email that says:
She came, and I could breathe again. There is something so amazing in friendships where you can just BE. Without fronts or ideas of how you “should” be. Olivia would know I was lying anyways. We talked. I felt immediately better. And the laughter rolled back in. The clouds lifted. Validated. Loved. Happy.
In place of writing mojo, and in preparation for my New Year’s Resolution Post, I humbly submit before thee a “The Last 365 363 Days Meme”. I did it last year too, making this a tradition, and who am I to mess with traditions?
1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Lived alone! Had a grown up job complete with a real office (it even has a door!!!). Got a Masters degree.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I believe my new years resolution last year was to live without fear. I can’t say that I wasn’t afraid this year, but as Eleanor Roosevelt said “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Kristen has a baby in January. I loved being able to fly up that day and meet Josiah. 4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank God.
5. What countries did you visit? None! Sad. I haven’t even been out of CA this year. But boy did I travel around a lot. I was in LA, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Monterrey…. there has not been one month this year where I haven’t gone SOMEWHERE.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Consistency. The changes that have occurred in 2009 needed to happen, but I want to stay here for a while. Not “here” emotionally or in terms of personal growth… but I want to stay in this group of people, near my family and continue all the progress I have had in 2009.
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 12th. June 12th is the day I moved here!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Leaping. Jumping into this life with abandon with complete faith that I will be GREAT once I land. (And finishing my masters while in the midst of chaos)
9. What was your biggest failure? Hmmm, my biggest failure was definitely the amount of credit card usage and indulgence that occured post-break up… but we’re back on track now.
12. Who’s behavior merited celebration? Geez, how much time do you have?
Let me perfectly clear. I would not have made it through this year without YOU. Without my friends, IRL and on the internetz… I wouldn’t have been able to do it. My friend carried me when I couldn’t walk myself. Every single one of my friends deserves a parade solely in your honor.
13. Who’s behavior made you appalled or depressed? None really. I guess similar to last years answer, I have been kind of afraid of Fox News in general…
14. Where did most of your money go? Rent and gas for my car it seems.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I get really, really, really excited about most things. But this year I am especially really, really, excited about the amazing group of friends I have found here.
16. What song will always remind you of 2008? “Hey, Soul Sister” Train. Duh.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? happier b) thinner or fatter? thinner c) richer or poorer? richer (technically this is true even if rent makes me cry)
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? More pictures!
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying.
20. How did you spend Christmas? I spent it in my apartment with my mommy, followed by a movie, followed by Christmas with my entire family. It was perfection.
21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Out of actually.
22. What was your favorite TV program? Glee and Modern Family.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Nope.
For so many of us a Jane Austen novel is much more than the epitome of a great read. It is a delight and a solace, a challenge and a reward, and perhaps even an obsession. For two centuries Austen has enthralled readers. Few other authors can claim as many fans or as much devotion. So why are we so fascinated with her novels? What is it about her prose that has made Jane Austen so universally beloved?
In essays culled from the last one hundred years of criticism juxtaposed with new pieces by some of today’s most popular novelists and essayists, Jane Austen’s writing is examined and discussed, from her witty dialogue to the arc and sweep of her story lines. Great authors and literary critics of the past offer insights into the timelessness of her moral truths while highlighting the unique confines of the society in which she composed her novels. Virginia Woolf examines Austen’s maturation as an artist and speculates on how her writing would have changed if she’d lived twenty more years, while C. S. Lewis celebrates Austen’s mirthful, ironic take on traditional values.
Modern voices celebrate Austen’s amazing legacy with an equal amount of eloquence and enthusiasm. Fay Weldon reads Mansfield Park as an interpretation of Austen’s own struggle to be as “good” as Fanny Price. Anna Quindlen examines the enduring issues of social pressure and gender politics that make Pride and Prejudice as vital today as ever. Alain de Botton praises Mansfield Park for the way it turns Austen’s societal hierarchy on its head. Amy Bloom finds parallels between the world of Persuasion and Austen’sown life. And Amy Heckerling reveals how she transformed the characters of Emma into denizens of 1990s Beverly Hills for her comedy Clueless. From Harold Bloom to Martin Amis, Somerset Maugham to Jay McInerney, Eudora Welty to Margot Livesey, each writer here reflects on Austen’s place in both the literary canon and our cultural imagination.
We read, and then reread, our favorite Austen novels to connect with both her world and our own. Because, as A Truth Universally Acknowledged so eloquently demonstrates, the only thing better than reading a Jane Austen novel is finding in our own lives her humor, emotion, and love.
27. What did you want and not get? I got more this year than I ever thought possible. I guess if I asked me in January… I didn’t get a condo or an engagement… but it’s for the better. 😉
28. What was your favorite film of this year? (500) Days of Summer
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 24. My resolutions were:
Find new passions… take a photography class, volunteer.
Make friends in my new home: friends who wish to make the world better and find beauty in everything.
Take advantage of being so close to my family.
Be spontaneous. Travel some. Alone and with friends. Or, alone to friends.
Work on being confident in the woman I am… the whole self-doubt, self-deprecation thing is dying with my 23rd year.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Nothing.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? I feel like I am most comfortable in my jeans, t-shirts, scarves, and long hair. Oh, and my glasses.
32. What kept you sane? My friends and family. Cliche, yes. Truth, yes.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Edward Cullen was my answer last year, and this year too.
34. What political issue stirred you the most? Hmmmm….. still Marriage Equality.
35. Who did you miss? Anyone in Southern CA, Erin, Melissa, Jimmie, Anthony, and all my grad school buddies.
36. Who was the best new person you met? Pssh. EVERYONE.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” — Ernest Hemingway
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Smile Smile though your heart is aching; Smile even though it’s breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by. If you smile through your fear and sorrow, Smile and maybe tomorrow, You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.
Light up your face with gladness, Hide every trace of sadness. Although a tear may be ever so near, That’s the time you must keep on trying, Smile, what’s the use of crying? You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, If you just smile.
That’s the time you must keep on trying, Smile, what’s the use of crying? You’ll find that life is still worthwhile If you just smile.
Most of the time I don’t feel very brave. I feel insecure. Sometimes terrified.
So, challenges. I moved to a city I have never lived in six months ago. I drove here after receiving a job offer. I found an apartment. I was in the uhaul on my way here two weeks later; the night after finishing my last paper for grad school and three days before I was scheduled to start working and a mere two months after ending a 3.5 year relationship.
My challenge has been creating a new life, and one that I am proud of. In my relationship, I disappeared and my identity had been so entwined with Ryan… that I felt lost when he left.
So my challenge has been to build MY life. Me. Moving here wasn’t brave. Neither was finding groups of people who I really enjoy. Those things seemed like givens. “No choice but forward” kind of things. The challenge has been a redefining of myself. To locate my flaws, the things that I did poorly in the past with the hopes that I can address them and BE better.
And it’s been the best challenge. Because, I can’t really go wrong. I can mess up. Take wrong steps– but nothing is permanently ruined. Mistakes are not character flaws, they’re things to learn from. The best part, is that I am actually moving forward. I am gaining independence. Confidence. Joy. And that is pretty amazing.
Until 2009, I had never lived alone. And, I am mostly not a fan of being alone. (You know, for the record) But while I wait for the next phase, the next love…. here I am. 2009 has been a lesson in being happy alone and there are two moments that I want to share that reminded me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, alone and all.
There has been a few moments, driving home from somewhere, or sitting by myself in my apartment that I have been stunned with overwhelming gratitude. I could not love my job more. I have been able to make friends here, faster than any other time, ever. And I am SO at peace with my move here. I know it was where I was supposed to go.
Sunday night was a huge moment of peace as well. Sunday my pastor gave a sermon on sexual orientation, (i.e. the reason I stopped wanting to be associated with a church at all.) And while I didn’t agree with everything that was said, it was the first time I heard a sermon on the topic that didn’t make me want to bolt. It gave my peace.
So I sat there, tears streaming down my face, surrounded by a fantastic group of friends knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am home.
I have talked about how I have really not cooked since moving here. I have really maxed out with a grilled cheese sandwich. I couldn’t justify cooking for “just me” after 2 years of cooking so many meals for “us”. Not just us, my repertoire of recipes is a reflection of who I was cooking for… I learned his favorite recipes, learned to make things the way his mom did.. that sort of thing.
Anyways. Last night I cooked. I cooked a casserole from my Aunt for the lunch club today and I made an apple pie for a potluck dinner tonight. I know I need to get over the not-cooking-for-myself thing… and I will. But it is nice to cook for people again. The chili-cornbread casserole is insanely easy. Probably should even count as cooking.. there are ways to make it more complicated… by, you know, making the chili or cornbread batter from scratch. I however used Trader Joe’s turkey chili, and Trader Joe’s cornbread mix…. you put the chili on the bottom, put the cornbread batter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes… done.
The crumb apple pie was an actual baking experience… and if I could chose between putting my energy into cooking or baking, I would pick baking every time.
Caramel Apple Crumb Pie
Filling: 1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 9 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 3/4 pounds) 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Topping: 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces 2 1/2 tablespoons caramel sundae syrup
To prepare filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Add sugar mixture and apples to skillet; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons flour and lemon juice. Spoon into prepared crust.
To prepare topping, lightly spoon 1/4 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.
Combine flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a bowl; cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Drizzle syrup over apple mixture; sprinkle topping over syrup.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack.
The next step is to impress my new friend with my baking prowess.
Ok. In the spirit of honesty, I have decided to tell ya’ll about this past week.
Basically what happened is that after 6 months, there was a little bit of contact between Ryan and me. And it didn’t bother me… so it was ok with me. Then last week, some really great conversations occurred. We talked about things that went wrong and we talked about things we missed. In a nutshell, I don’t think his life is as great as he thought it was going to be without me. I think he expected to be further along… or be somewhere other than renting a room in a friends place. Over chat he said “I feel like I am just floating, like I’m not anchored to anything”. And I was like “duh”.
I told him that, even though it sucked SO much, I am so freaking grateful for the past six months because I am FINALLY at a place where I can unequivocally tell you that I am so happy and so confident in my life and who I am. You see, Ryan and I started dating when I was 20. I was a BABY. I had not experienced being independent. I had no idea what I was doing. The way our relationship worked is I tried SO hard to be the right person for him. I tried to make myself irreplaceable in his life by doing thing above and beyond constantly. Ryan never had to work for anything. I mean, I was the girl who didn’t make plans with my friends unless I knew he was going to have plans. That’s just SO wrong. And I know he wanted me to be more independent, but I don’t think I knew how. I needed my world to collapse again so that I could be the one who completely independently put it back together.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I was NOT the only person who did wrong. There were things he did that broke my trust, rocked my foundation.. and for an insecure person already, things just spiraled.
So last week he asked “What if he bought a plane ticket to come up Friday”, and my response was that I was going to be out late seeing “Spring Awakening” with a friend. He said he’d take a cab from the airport. And I didn’t say no, so he flew here Friday.
So he was here this weekend. And It was weird. It was weird mostly because it wasn’t weird. But I was upfront about the fact that there was NO WAY IN HELL that I would even consider moving anywhere. So, it was a weekend. Is it a little extreme for him to fly here and take a cab just for fun? Sure. But I don’t really need to know what is going on in his head, it’s not my job anymore. I know where I am, and I know without a doubt that I will never go back to being that girl again.
It was a weekend where we remembered that we will probably always really get along. That conversations would flow, and it would always be really easy to slip back into comfortableness. I went along with it because deep-down, I really wanted him to see how well I was doing. I wanted him to see my apartment. I wanted him to see how good I look after losing 20 pounds. I wanted him to miss the cats. I wanted him to see that I have changed and grown. I wanted him to see that my life is AMAZING, and it’s amazing without him; and I got that.
What I am taking from this weekend is closure. And now I feel like I can comfortably and confidently close that chapter.
*Note, I didn’t even tell my bestie that he was coming until after he was gone. I knew it was a risk, letting him come here… but I needed to do it, and I knew (or was pretty sure) that I could handle it. And, I am really happy that I did. You know, for the record. It reminded me of a lot of things and it cemented a faith in myself that I kind of needed.
Instead what I found was myself. An independent version that had been hiding for the previous 3.5 years. I have learned so much. Grown so freaking much. And I can honestly tell you that I am so so happy right where I am. I can’t believe that life has made it possible for me to live here, in this beautiful place so close to my family and friends while I work at a job I absolutely LOVE. I also want to thank you guys for sticking with me through this. Your comments and support have been immeasurably comforting.