Chances are you'll find yourself in my poetry. And if you've done enough damage to get yourself on a first line, thank you for the inspiration. I don't think I'd trade the heartbreak for a laugh...but sometimes I wonder why I write best over a cup of tea, after someone has disappointed me (oop. It's a rhyme). I am resolved to do better this year. To find positive reasons to write and happier things to say. I'd like to think I walk into things with a sunny disposition but, being honest with myself, I know the last few years have done a lot to dim that shine.
Today, just like last year and the year before, I'm finalizing my list of resolutions.
I ran into a guy at Trader Joe's last week who told me he didn't "do" resolutions. Because he thinks we shouldn't wait until the end of the year to make changes--we should make changes all year long. More power to him, you know? While I agree, I also love the idea of New Years Resolutions. Of taking stock of what has worked and what hasn't. Last year's list beseeched me to run away; gave me a list of places to go and people to escape.
It also warned me against giving up on myself. Reminded me of everything I want...things I'd put to the side on my quest to do something successfully. This year's list will bear the same reminders, with a fistful of promise...and joy.
I think we let sadness be our prime motivator, for the same reasons we get so comfortable under our covers: It's a soft place to land. The drop from happiness is so much more volatile and it's one that, once headed down, is difficult to combat. Alice falls down the rabbit hole, you are sucked in by the Devil's Snare; people rarely fly away.
Maybe 2016 is the year for flying away. Or at least letting our wings grow out. After all, there's no where to go...but up.
Looking back on the past few months, there have been a lot of people reading my flaws back to me like something out of a murky puddle, or the hood of a Honda: skewed but close enough to the truth to be wearing my clothing or holding my tattered copy of something with notes in the margins.
I'll be the first one to tell you that this has been a year for the books. But, as it finally comes to a close, I am making lists of all the pain that can close with it. As with any trying time, I am trying to give myself permission to let go.
Lately, I've been wearing my daisy rain boots, proactively. Rather than being a proper winter, it's like Mother Nature is mid-catharsis, unprepared to freeze or thaw until she has released whatever sorrow she has left. I think I've entered the freeze before she has and am awaiting snow, eagerly. Mother Nature has already given the green permission to die and the soil permission to grieve. And now we wait, in this blue winter, for something white. Something pure. To forgive the ground, and the people who have poured their soles all over it: permission to recuperate.
That's the thing about the seasons and why I breathe the air waiting for it to smell like snow; it knows what comes next. While I rarely have a clue; the sun precedes the fall, the leaves precede the snow, the snow precedes the wet...and the cycle continues. With any luck, humans can be capable of breaking their cycles. We can take only the best parts of the people who came before us, we can learn from our mistakes, we can bury our demons, our blame, our sadness, underneath the snow.
And time will bring with it permission to begin again.
I have a confession to make: I joined an online dating site. For all of five minutes. And promptly cancelled my subscription. It gave me anxiety. I have found myself in a pattern: days spent teaching children and nights spent home grading or trying to get some writing in. That leaves very little time for grow-up activities and I've been trying to convince myself that if I am surrounded by lots of adults, it will be easier for me to feel like one. So I made an account and gave myself a pithy name. I answered the litany of personal questions, added a few pictures of myself that didn't look too posed or narcissistic, but made me seem approachable and capable of a good filter, and the messages came rolling in.
It was fun. For all of five minutes. I love beginnings: The way that questions feel easier to overthink than to answer. And sometimes I think I do better behind a screen. I have the sort of mouth that can do with some editing and, a product of my generation, we prefer the anonymity; only feeling stupid for the frivolities we get caught in. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw; big curly hair and romantic woes, in my studio apartment. But I quickly found myself waiting for the spaces in conversation saved for laughter. A glint in his eye. The intentional brush against an arm. You don't get that over the internet. I want the man you meet in a bookstore, over a conversation about Thoreau. We cannot be reduced to an icon and a code-name. The sound of keys chipping away at language makes me nostalgic for the way words can't be edited, miles per minute, when they come so naturally.
I think every life is bestowed a person to which it does come naturally. A person you think about when you shouldn't, who you missed before you met, who gets you, moments before you've figured out your next move. In Yiddish, they call it besheret. Loosely translated to "destiny," the besheret is the soulmate. And, if we are only given one, we better be careful. The idea that two people could be destined for each other frightens me most because, if that's true, we need to spend our entire lives thinking for two: Where does our love go, if our "one" is with someone else? Where does our love go, if it go lost in the bad years, if it took a detour on the way to its destiny? What if love is impatient? What if love is waiting behind a computer screen, or sitting under a tree, with a copy of Thoreau? In someone else's bed?
We are to trust in a process that has let us down before. I am still building up trust from a hurt that made my head spin and my heart search for solace in a million places that looked like safety but were only loosening the trigger on an old gun. I'm tired of apologies. I think we know when something is right. I think we have to be smart enough not to waste it. Or else we settle for less than we deserve and, when it comes to the person we choose to love, we make a commitment to settle for life.
So I signed-up for an online dating site, for the better part of five minutes. Because there was a New Years sale and I am resolved to be less lonely. This City is too big and fast for a tea drinker. It is full of promise but it skins us to the bone and I am raw. I think Lady Liberty and I took turns draining each other of our resources. She gave me art and bakeries and I gave her the last five years and the skin on my fingertips. This year she wants to test my strength. I will lift skyscrapers, with only the fire in my belly, if this Lady can show me that brute strength is worth more than we give up for it. I am exhausted and unsure how I will make it through 2016.
I have made my yearly list of yearly resolutions...but before it is finalized, I will spend the next week falling in love with New York all over again. We have forgotten each other. I am not yet ready to give up on offline possibilities.
I still think I need to find more ways of tackling the form of a grown-up but that may just mean I pretend my life is a computer screen and I finally sign-up for mine.
The first rule of growing up is knowing that there are three plausible routes a question can go: maybe, yes, and no.
I always forget the third. I sit, tail between my legs, attempting to navigate through sticky situations in the least-obtrusive way possible. Sometimes that means not doing anything at all. Or not speaking up when I should. The goal is that nobody gets hurt but I've been inadvertently hurting a lot of people lately.
I recently heard something pretty apt: people who come from hurt can't help but do what's familiar. But I'm looking to flip the script.
I wonder why we champion the "yes man" and dismiss the "no-go." In improv, the rule of thumb is the "yes...and," where you must agree to everything your partners say and continue the story. But sometimes the story is better without. Sometimes, we should really just say no (hey, that's catchy, let's put it on a shirt)!
I think I'm beginning to learn the importance of "no." I've never done anything I didn't want to do but I was never direct about it. I played hide and seek with other people's realities: ignored what made me uncomfortable and buried my feelings under apologies.
I have said sorry so many times that it has lost its meaning. I have said sorry when I wasn't sorry. But, most of all, I have said sorry when there was not anything to apologize for.
mea cupla, mea culpa, mea cupla.
This is my clean break:
After years of dancing around truths and letting the cage around my heart grow weaker under the strain of having to hold itself up in a body that let it get too heavy, of blaming myself, of not saying "no," of assuming the other person was always right...I have begun to realize that the only way to really advocate for others is to advocate for yourself first. It isn't selfish: It's putting on your mask before the person next to you on an airplane. It is the right thing to do. To breathe.
This is my clean break:
I am younger than the world I live in but I have read enough books to know how we are supposed to act and maybe I have not been around long enough to learn that every single word was merely a wish for something we've never done exactly right. But I want to change that. So this is how I start.
This is my clean break:
Proof that some things are supposed to be broken. That we have tape and gauze and phoenix tears to put what cannot grow itself back together. We aren't messy just because life feels like it is. And, if we are, that is just going to have to be okay for a while.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal. Married to my best friend and planning a lifetime of adventure!