Small Town Girl in a New York World

**Quick warning, this is not a glamorous post and kind of just odd thoughts!

Long time no follow-up! It feels appropriate to write a little given that during my twelve hour work days, I spend at least eight of those hours browsing Craigslist and reading Bachelorette smash-blogs. I suppose there are better ways to make use of my time (calm down, I’m exaggerating, of course an hour is also dedicated to throwing private fits over Trump’s possible presidency #imwithher).

Anyway, so I’m in New York! I’ve been here for two weeks exactly today, and given my roommate’s diagnosis, I’m a regular New Yorker. It took all of forty minutes for my pissy-hustler side to come out and slide right into the masses. That’s not to say I still don’t lean to the person next to me every now and again to confirm that the train is in fact heading Uptown; but for the most part, I am constantly amazed by this city, bitch about minor nuisances, shop at bodegas, and shoulder-check tourists in Times Square. Like I said, regular New Yorker. (Real New Yorkers, settle down, obviously I’m joking).

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I’m working at the New York Musical Festival (thanks CJ and Liz)! The part that I’m contributing to are the Readings at Playwrights Horizons (I’m working on 42nd Street- let me take a moment to really breathe that dream in). This year we have 10 new works getting their first breath of life with an audience. These musicals are in their early stages and it’s vital to have an audience so that the creative team can gauge where to sharpen, shape and add or subtract pieces. It’s been interesting to watch the shows change over a few different reads for myself! And, although I’m not directly working on the shows and more so overseeing the venue and facilitating needs for each piece, I have met incredible artists and creators of many shows that have gone on to have Broadway and Off-Broadway lives! (Here’s to crossing my fingers to many of these going further!)

In truth, I’m really enjoying my time here. Surprisingly, I kind of like this city. Once I understood the layout and how to navigate the subway system, I’ve been feeling pretty invincible. Thank God it’s gotten better, because my first day here was one of the worst I’ve had in a long time. Pro-tip, under no circumstance is bringing a car to this city ever beneficial, all it is is a giant bug for trolls’ toll nets. I easily dropped $150 in getting into the city. My wallet hates me.

I noticed that the first real sign of me fully stepping into my adulthood is that these twelve-hour work days are slowly killing me off. Waking up at 7:00a and getting home at 11:30p isn’t leaving enough time for adequate sleep. #GrandmotherProblems. (I just did the math, by the time this is all over, I will have put in 176 hours in 13 days- I might be the walking dead). That being said, I don’t have too much time to explore- which I’m sure my wallet doesn’t mind. However, here are a few things I’ve picked up on since being here!

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I saw my first Broadway show! (Seeing Waitress in a few days, EEK!) Which is a little surreal, given that I’m a theatre professional. I really enjoyed Something Rotten and fully recognizing the history and impact theatre has made. Incredible. (I wouldn’t doubt I make my way back here in my career at some point).

It’s been wonderful to see friends that I haven’t seen since college and catch up. Nothing better than an easy conversation and lots of love. (Did I mention NYC is a great place for Pokemon catching?)

A goal here has been to definitely try some of those New York eats that everyone raves about. Which leads me to my foremost valuable point. $1 slice pizza. If ever you were looking for evidence of God, look no further. Fortunately, I work next to two joints. The closer just serves cheese  and exclusively $1 pizza (the photo below), but the other is 2 blocks away and quite literally a smorgasbord of varied pizzas. SO big, SO good. If I stay in New York, it’s solely for the pizza.

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As far as comedy goes–

Sometimes I ponder what I hate more, Times Square or walking through any casino in Vegas. I may have to choose TS by default of it smelling like eight dozen people had a hot dog and green peppers blowout, and then smeared samples on your upper lip. It is AWFUL. I guess that’s what happens when you put eight food stands on every stretch of street and let people waddle around in it. No thanks. Also, if you’re ever wondering how to spot a tourist, it’s the person standing in the middle of the street, putting their life on the line for that #timessquare  #nyc Instagram post. (Truthfully, I did it day 1- when I was a #tourist).

BUT- Despite me making brass remarks about the city, for the most part, I really do enjoy it. Living here is certainly different as it’s hard to escape and there aren’t any rolling hills- but a beauty all on its own. I quite enjoy seeing all the people who aren’t afraid to fully and truly express themselves through their clothing choices. I never feel out of place or compared when I go out, because my style is pretty vanilla out here. (Which I only mention because it’s such a refreshing sight to see).

Tomorrow Tiffany and Sheryl fly in to the city before we start our week long vacation back to Cincinnati! I’m so excited to finally spend a few days enjoying the city and take it easy before starting my full-time job with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (I PROMISE I will write about my time at Cirque eventually😉 )

XOXO

Laura

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A Letter to the Boy Who Broke Her and to the Girl Who Let it Happen

 

I often struggle with, “how much is too much to put on the internet?” This is my life, and while it’s nice to keep some things private, I developed a unique combination of transparency/ not caring who knows but also to never do something that you wouldn’t be okay with everyone knowing. I hear what you’re saying- that’s kind of backwards thinking- But growing up, it helped me develop the line between good and bad things to do and words to say. What would hurt people, and what I’d be able to look my mom in the face and admit to her. Would my actions make those I love proud? Or would they look at me in shame?

I have been on the verge of writing this post for the last two months. The truth is that I’ve kept quiet because I’ve come to believe this is something to be dealt with privately- and it was, until now.

So here I am, sitting in the bathtub, computer propped up on the toilet, exchanging words on this paper for another chug of the wine bottle, listening to fierce Beyonce breakup songs (no, not Lemonade, I’m not there yet and please don’t spoil it for me).

I just had my heart broken. Not just banged up a bit, have a good night’s sleep and wake up in the morning ready to step forward with your life kind of broken- I mean the “ugly cry, think you’re unworthy of love, question every decision you’ve ever made, vow to figure out whatever has made you so fucked up and fix it, let it change the way you are in the world, lay in bed for two days, wonder how someone you loved and loved you so deeply could disrespect you by getting you just in the place that they know you’re weak over, wonder what made you so goddamn unlovable, question love and people’s possession of it at all” kind of broken heart. If that’s you- I hope you find some comfort in my words and know that if you ever need someone to say them to you, I would be happy to.

In all of my time watching Grey’s Anatomy as background noise- I did once hear loud and clearly:

“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he is not the sun. You are.”

Today is the day that I stop freely giving in to a man who cannot find a single reason to love me.

Boy,

Caves are dark. You said that to me once. And while it was funny for a long time, our little joke, it’s so awfully true. I have so many things I want to say to you, but I will try to keep it as simple as I can (which we both know is not simple at all). What you did cut me in a very insecure place, and as angry and hurt as I have been the last few days and how I have taken that out on you- that is something I am ashamed about. Even as much as I want to take a baseball bat to your stomach right now to make you feel a quarter of the nausea I’ve been experiencing- I ultimately just want love for you. Perhaps the most beautiful thing to come from my time out here and away from you is my relationship with Christ- and how he absolutely changed me. The anger and hurt I felt/feel, as soon as it happened, felt so far from the love I have been experiencing that I became disgusted in myself for giving in and letting that take a hold over me… I am not the person I once was. I only wish you would have gotten the chance to meet the captivating and charismatic woman you first fell in love with. I did some awful things to you in the time we shared together, and for those, I truly hope one day that you do forgive me and know that to hurt someone, especially you, who I care so much for- was never my intention.

I messed up and I messed you up. I have forgiven and made peace with my actions and am (obviously) now dealing with those consequences. There are certainly some things I do not adore about you, and I sincerely hope you get the help that you need to be better from those things. You are more than the man you let yourself become sometimes. I know I have made you feel less in moments, (which makes total sense that you would want to get away from the person who knows your faults and isn’t always careful about pulling at those seams- it makes sense that you would gravitate to someone who doesn’t know you and sees you as a shiny diamond find) but I want you to know from the bottom of my heart- that I have forgiven you of your past, accepted you as you are, and supported your potential. To me, you have always been the brightest and best diamond I’ve found. I’m sorry I mistreated you. I am not always the greatest wielder of the love I have to give and desire to share- but I want you to know that in my heart I believe you are a good person and beyond all of the bullshit, this was worth it (or, at least that’s what I am telling myself).

I used to fear life without you, but I can honestly admit that I no longer do. I am falling absolutely head over heels for someone new- and that is myself. I am proud of the adventures and risks and chances I’m taking, the things I am discovering about myself, and feeling God truly govern my life and take me to the places and hearts he wants to see touched. The thing He is telling me over and over is that my past does not define me, and now looking back, I can only see how each of those things lead me to this place and crafted me to be the person that I am. I am still working through some things, but I have never felt so confident to go into the world each morning and step into the plans He has for me. I want that for you. I pray you feel God’s touch in your life and that your heart is so radically changed and remade for Him- that you will have the courage to leave the things that hinder you and keep you from His overwhelming love, and you will walk bravely into the beautiful life he has waiting for you.

I hope one day that I will see you again. I hope one day that I will again see you as one of the most beautiful people I have ever met- and to not think of you as one of the ugliest, as I do in this moment. I hope you have the courage to one day tell me how you feel without being asked, if you ever feel differently than you do right now. I wrote twenty-six letters for when I came back… I don’t know whether to burn them or send them- but they were never meant for me. And as much as I am letting go, a small part of me will always be holding on. You meant the world over to me, and I loved you fiercely. I know that I will eventually forgive you, and I hope to look fondly on the memories we made together and the season of my life that you helped hold me up through. Thank you.

Laura

 

 

Girl,

I’ve noticed you have a thing with writing letters. In fact, you’ve written this specific one a thousand different times in your head, in a thousand different ways. And with all of the words in the English language, you’re still falling short of the right ones.

The first letter I wrote to you was a very drunk piece chronicling 12 pages and titled, ‘fuck you.’ I did not have very nice things to say. While it was funny and freeing to read it back- it was all too mean and rough for sharing, or for you to get any more out of it than a good laugh (don’t be mad, I know you could really use that too).

You sat in a coffee shop outside of work today writing a letter to a boy who broke you. A man who has been beyond kind to you since the day you arrived in Vegas, came up to sit beside you as he often has. Maybe I do carry a sadness with me, a weight- or maybe he’s just one of those people in the world that you trust the moment you meet them. He asked me how my weekend was and what I was doing, and without qualm I told him an unrestricted summary.

What came next caught me a little off-guard. He said to me, “I’m sorry. We men are just so dumb. And women are crazy. You have to find the dumb you like and they have to love the crazy you are. But you know what I really like about you- you are so pure.” Pure. That is how he described me. Let me tell you- Pure is not the word that should have been shared with me. I have relayed to this man countless stupid and silly things I’ve done, I’ve bullshitted around him, and relayed my history- and yet, pure was the word he chose. I laughed it off at first, but then I thought about it. I collected the dozens of times that others have said that about me- and I realized he was talking about my heart. He was talking about my intentions, and the love I have for the people of this world.

Laura, please accept that. I know that you do not always see yourself as that person- but I see you as that. You are a bottomless well of love. That is my favorite thing about you.

Now, I want you to stop saying sorry. I want you to say sorry when it’s appropriate, but I do not want you to say it more than once. Please stop apologizing. You will ceaselessly work to make things better, and if your actions are not enough for someone to forgive you- your words will definitely not be. I am exhausted of seeing you explain what it looks like to look at your mom in a casket and know that someone else is wearing her eyes- and exactly how much that changes you. Stop apologizing for the past you accepted. You have made peace with it and it is not under your ability to do that for other people.

I know a large part of you wishes you could erase the last five months of pursuing someone’s heart and the pain you have caused yourself on that behalf. I hope one day you are able to read this and forgive that man who broke you. That man you prayed for every morning and night. I know how you held onto every kiss and intimate moment you shared- how that was so special to you. How you kept his empty promises and held them close as a confirmation that the waiting and work you were doing would be worth it for you both.  You poured out your soul to someone you trusted- and then you sat back as he devoured you in your most vulnerable place- your biggest insecurity. Nothing that boy could do could have brought you more pain.

You are not defined by his actions and mistakes. Please stop blaming yourself for what someone else chose to do. There is nothing more you could have done. You kept your promises, and you are not in control of others keeping theirs. You cannot possess someone else. You spent five months chasing someone who only needed to stop and wait for you to catch up. Please forgive yourself that he chose to not be a part of that. One day, I sincerely pray that you no longer feel like a fool for all of this. For every conversation you had with his roommates and friends and said that you didn’t mind sticking around (*hopeful smile)- and now you can’t help but think when you’re thought of, it’s tagged with words like: *dumb, *foolish, *silly, *got her. I don’t think you are any of those things, Laura, because I know you would pursue hearts to the very end.

Yes, he replaced you- but you are not replaceable. Someday, someone will look at you and see you for the beautiful masterpiece that you are. They will see your history, and the hard parts of life you’ve endured- and they will look at you and hurt over all of your suffering, and in that same look they will see the absolutely captivating person who has been formed and made better. That person will hurt you- but they will do their absolute best to continue to pursue your heart, seek your forgiveness, and continue the joy of a relationship with you. That person will undoubtedly believe you are worth it. There will be times when your crazy will catch up with you- but they will know you have the best of intentions.  There is a person out there who wants nothing more than your happiness and to be in your atmosphere- caught in your orbit.

Laura, please forgive yourself that you gave all of body, heart and soul to a person who did not reciprocate. That is what I want most for you, to accept that this mistake, was an okay one to make. You stayed too long, and gave more heart and time than you should have- but that does not make you less. I still love you. The God who created you, still claims you as His- and he is delighted every day that you chose him too.

I don’t know what to wish for that boy- even when you read this months from now, you will still likely remain undecided. I can’t tell if I wish that one day he realizes how much he missed out on life with me or that he never thinks of me again. But I want you to accept that you don’t have a right to know that. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter anyway. He will never have the courage or desire to say one thing or another to you.

“He was gone and the coldness of it was his final gift- and there’s no other tale to tell.”

I love you, Laura. I love you so incredibly much. I am in awe of the life you live and the adventures you pursue and the hard work you put in and that part of your soul you give away to make it happen. I hope you keep changing, but I never want to see that part of you get away.

-Laura

 

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The Backside of the Mountain

This post is overdue, but I wanted to share some photographs and words from my sister’s visit a week ago!

Again, I don’t think it’s possible to express my deepest thanks to all of my friends and family who have reached out and sent gifts, cards, and well wishes. My Grandma has called to check in on me, my aunt has reminded me that I have a an incredible mentor/mom in her, my second family (shoutout Thomas’!) has continued to love me and constantly remind me that I am surrounded by the best support and laughter (you best believe I color all the time now). My cousins have sent cards and gifts that have been so kind and a reminder to my heart of the amazing place I come from.

I really have never felt more cared for and in good hands than while I have been out here. Community is a beautiful part of life- naturally I was so excited that my sister was coming out to visit that I had beg her to bring her camera so as to document all of the adventures we were gonna have! (But also spark my love for photography again, perhaps a camera is in my future…).

One of my favorite adventures was a beautiful day spent in God’s country. We headed out to Red Rock Canyon (which is about a 45 min drive outside of Las Vegas). It was a nice change of pace to get away from the bustle and flow of the Strip. Inside the park is a giant one-way loop that you drop in at a point and hike and double back before continuing the loop. We missed our first drop in and proceeded another 30 minutes around the loop to get back to Turtlehead’s Peak (you can imagine exactly how frustrating that was).

Anyway, the short point of my story is that a little nature and time alone with yourself and someone who loves you can be quite a healing time. I had had a very rough week before my sister came and while it was a relief to feel comfortable enough to sink into that sadness with her around, it was also very important that I pick my head up and move forward by trusting God’s plan and stepping into his promise.

Walking up this mountain trail was one of the most physically taxing challenges I’ve ever experienced. I had to often stop (okay, go easy on me, I also had a sinus infection) and catch my breath and take a swig of water. I had a bad habit of looking back and seeing how far (or not far) I had come. It made looking ahead of me much harder and daunting. Not to mention it was snowing. Snowing in Las Vegas in the 80 degree heat at the base of the mountain, how even?! It was such a relief to finally (!) make it to the top. The views were beautiful and a great equalizer to imagine that I came from the same God who created that. The truth was that once I got to where I was going though, it made coming down more enjoyable because I could appreciate the journey to get there. Which I realized is a healthy way to look at the hard times. Focus on where you are going so that you can appreciate the hardships and challenges that led you to that view.

Without further adieu, check out this adventure.

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A Letter to the Men in My Life

This is not an easy topic to write about. There are so many men in my life that I care about on an emotional and intellectual level, that the last thing I want to do is make them feel uncomfortable or shameful, but I also want these same men to understand that that is how I feel so often at the hands of their gender.

What I firstly want to say about feminism is that it is NOT a men’s vs. women’s issue. The point and idea of feminism is not to quiet men, but give voice to women and gender equality.

I want to say that I was not always passionate about this issue, but rather it came over many a time and conversations. Things changed when I began to see the differences in how we’re treated. It started with little things. I went out with coworkers to lunch and upon ordering my friend ordered a burger. I followed suit with same request. The difference was that I was asked if I was sure that was what I wanted or if I wanted to try a salad and soup combo, and he was not. It was subtle, but I am not a woman who likes to be second guessed. That was one thing, and at first it didn’t bother me, but as I continued to go out more I was bent more to this awareness and started picking up on it everywhere I went. Men and women both treated me, and other women, this way. I noticed this in classroom settings too. Where the words I said and thesis’ presented we’re questioned, my male peers were not always. (Note: I understand content and context play a role, but still, the underlying truth remains). I find myself having to go to extra lengths to describe and defend my choices and thought processes. My intellect feels challenged everyday.

It didn’t stop there. That was subtle, but there were more and obvious ways in which I was treated differently. More commonly, street and sexual harassment. I get easily upset over this one because I am still largely confused how this is still debated. I want to be clear that this is not a representation of ALL men, but a few men have made me fear many men in public places. Women fear these interactions because we have seen the reality in the media, we have heard it from our friends and we have experienced it ourselves. I did not choose the body that I have (body issues, health and acceptance is a WHOLE other thing), and the clothing I wear has NO proven effect on others to justify actions, yet I am still subjected to the opinions of males everyday based on how I look and how well I satisfy their criteria. This has led me to wear baggy clothes to not draw attention, to cross the street at night when a man approaches my direction, to give a positive response so that I won’t anger a stranger. My body feels violated everyday.

Since I have been graced with breasts and a uterus, I have been subjected to my emotions making me less of a person. There is truth that men and women are chemically made up differently. This, in fact, is not a separator. Just because we are different, does not mean that we should be given different treatment. Yes, in the same way that my body produces more estrogen than a man’s does testosterone, does not make how I feel any less valid. I’m so exhausted of my opinions and actions being chalked up to “that’s just like a girl,” “she’s pms-ing,” or any of the other misogynistic things that have been said. Sometimes I cry in public, sometimes I raise my voice out of frustration, there are times I reach out to comfort a stranger who is upset or give money to a homeless person- why is it that these things are chalked up to a specific gender and not a human experience? We should celebrate our different emotional trends and be thankful for the colorful variety and value they bring to the world because I am tired of my emotions being less credible everyday.

Those examples are just scraping the tip of iceberg. It’s hard for me to speak out about this because not only do I not want to hurt the men in my life, but I am pretty good at standing up to these obstacles in my life that I imagine I experience them less. I work hard to be a fierce leader, to let the difficult things roll off my back but also know when to stand up and talk about the prejudice I experience. I feel respected in my life because of what I have accomplished and for the good company I keep- but the worst part in all of this is that there are times when I feel absolutely helpless too, and the big picture is not just about me. I stand up for the women in my life and the ones I don’t yet know. Men in my life, that is what I want for you too.

The fact that you’re even reading about this issue is a step in the right direction and of becoming more aware of the reality of the situation. This is not meant to condemn you, but allow you to be advocates to stop contributing to the problem.

  1. Please stop catcalling and harassing women. I understand, to you it is playful and a joke, but to us it is a threat and reinforcement to other men that it is okay to treat women like that. For example, for two years I walked down West Clifton to my house and passed a home with six or seven men and two young boys (5-8 yo.). Every day they were outside they would say profane things to me about my appearance and what they would do to me (awful enough) and these things would be said in front of those kids. The next year I distinctly remember walking and one of those young boys said to me, “Get over here girl, I’m gonna give it to you.” A child said that because they were conditioned that it is okay to treat women like lesser beings. Please do not do this to random women or women whose attention you want (whether it is positive or negative). Instead, please, I beg you, when you see it happen, stand up to it. It is an awful thing that men respect other men’s words more than women’s, but we NEED you by our side in this.
  2. Please stop challenging our choices and thoughts and crediting those things to us because we are made up differently than you. Next time you are at work, pay attention to how your boss/ superior treats you and how they treat your female coworkers/ equals. Even I am not quite sure how to go about correcting this one, but being aware of it is a start. Especially if you work in a field that is primarily male driven: Engineer, Information Technology, Chemists or whichever. I would be willing to bet your female cohorts are treated and respected differently. There are so many gaps we are trying to overcome that having your support is one less one that matters significantly.
  3. Being a feminist is only to men’s benefit too. The more you empower the women in your lives, the more you empower yourself. More women with jobs and competitive/ equal pay means more time for you to be at home with family. Which, women, in turn, does not mean that to be a feminist you can’t desire and want a ‘traditional’ lifestyle. In addition to practicality, Gender stereotypes also affect men. Have you ever been labeled as something you didn’t identify with? If you’re not able to grow a beard, does that make you less of a man? Have you ever been ashamed of an interest in something (cooking, dancing, fashion) because it may make you ‘gay’ or ‘girly?” Pressured to be tough and aggressive and feeling helpless when you experience sadness and pain for fear of being labeled weak? Think about it, you may be affected more than you realize.

Again, this is just grazing the issue. And I don’t have all the answers (or am adequately able to express all my thoughts), but I am fascinated and passionate that every day I get to step into this and work to break barriers for my fellow women and the women who will come after me. Dear Men in My Life, please, think of the women in your life. You may be a husband to a wife, a father to a daughter and a son to a mother. Why would you not stand with us?

If you ever want to talk, debate, or have experiences and ideas of your own, please share! I love this conversation and am happy to step into it with you! (Women too).

XOXO, Laura

The most important thing you can do today.

Alright, we need to talk a little commonality today.

I will be the first person to admit that I have little profound things to say. The hardest part about writing a blog is that with the infinite amount of thoughts and ideas that circuit through your brain at any given moment, day or week, it’s quite hard to narrow down to a single concise thought to write a few paragraphs on. So I struggled this week with what exactly to say, but knowing that I needed to say something.

It’s been just sixteen days that I have been living in Las Vegas and already I am in an entirely different place than I was when I first came in (but at the same time, I feel like I’m running in place). Here’s the thing, if I had to summarize what I’ve taken away so far from my time living here, working here, existing here- it’s this: the value of extending kindness, love and commitment.

Let me explain.

I am a believer of happiness originating from within, but I don’t want to discredit what an environment can also contribute. I am not a huge fan of Las Vegas. It’s odd to live in a town that largely exists on every day being a weekend and the majority of people are passing through. I’m struggling to find a culture here, or feel to the city outside of that fact. I’ll largely admit that the longer I am here, the more I’ll see and things will progress, but for now, it’s strange.

That being said. Here is a chronicle of how all of the kindness has encompassed me and made this better. Please take this as proof and encouragement to remember that you are also a part of this cycle, in all of these ways.

Firstly, my roommates. My biggest struggle in coming out here was finding a place to live. I can happily say that I live with two great people and two happy pups. In each moment I have interacted with them, they have extended a caring attitude to talking about my day, relating their own struggles, and making me as comfortable as possible. Since I come home late, I’ve been offered to park in the garage to be safe, extra veggies when they’re not eaten, free laundry detergent and improved wifi. Seriously, I am constantly grateful with how much I’ve been cared for by these two that it really makes even the worst of my feelings relinquished in a place I can call home.

Secondly, the people I meet when I go out. In an effort to discover the town and get out to enjoy the day, I’ll head to local cafes and joints and I want to definitely say that the locals do not disappoint. The people here have been so generous and kind with every interaction that I’ve had that I have no bad words for them. From further explaining the menus to taking a personal interest in my story, I feel so loved by strangers. Which is an incredible thing to do for another person; to make them feel known in a vulnerable place. The coolest part is that it’s a two way street. It’s awesome to know that instead of being a grumpy customer and putting a strain on their job and shift, you’re delighted to share in what they’re selling. Cool stuff.

Thirdly, the church that I have invested in has poured into me. I have only been twice but have already been reached out to and invited to a small focus group. When I can’t make it, the notes are emailed to me. While I’m there, people engage in personal conversation with me (the pastor himself, wow!). I feel cared for and thought of.

Fourthly, I came here wanting to put myself into the community and it’s people. I did this by finding a homeless organization and volunteering there a couple times a week. I serve food for the residents who are going through a rehabilitation program (in more or less words). Some of the people looked just like me, some looked better, some looked worse. The point though, is that each extended kindness when I was loading their trays up with treats. Even after the first ten minutes I was completely engulfed by the conversations I was having that I had a thought later I had forgotten that the people I was serving were somehow in a more unfortunate situation than I was. I didn’t feel a barrier that separated my compassion from reaching theirs. It felt more like they were serving me than the other way around. A little food for the heart.

Fifthly, I have to mention the workplace. A delight in this world is to do what you love with people you enjoy. Cirque is such an incredible company in general that the people are an added bonus to the challenge and entertainment. All of my questions have been met with attention. My humor has been met with laughter. My uncertainty has been met with assurance. It has made the integration process so much more enjoyable and easy. Nearly every person I work with is excited to share what they love and to do so with kindness. Correction, actually every person. Even at such a large show, with upwards of 150 people working on the production, many people have made an effort to go out of their way to know and welcome me. Working at Cirque is like being a part of a large, functioning family. I will say that I am amazed at how much everyone helps out their neighbor. Many departments share in responsibilities, which is something that I’ve yet to see in many companies. I get a feeling that’s because a single issue affects many people, but it’s a learning experience in maturity in watching egos be put aside to move forward with the goal. The people share in the successes as well as work well together in adversity. With such dangerous acts and pieces, there has to be a high level of concern and awareness of safety as well. Which, when you look at it, adhering and enforcing to safety precautions at its core is really putting peoples’ wellbeing first. That ripple effects through everything they do as it is high priority. Coworkers have reached out and invited me to some nights on the town (my wallet and stomach are still recovering). The effort makes a difference.

Lastly, I have been kind to myself. It’s hard to look at my life sometimes and think that I am where I wanted to be. I watch others succeed and am envious and hurt that I don’t feel like I’ve always achieved success for myself. I am kind to myself that I am trying my hardest. It’s hard to remind ourselves of that sometimes. That we are enough. I am kind to my body. I am doing my best to pursue exercise and engage in fueling my body with healthy foods and nutrients.

So while I am not *loving* Las Vegas. I am loving the people. The importance of this is to note how being kind in all places, in all ways, can have a large effect on oneself. I wake up and am greeted by love, I am invited to join in the compassion, to express self-love, others pour gentleness into my day (and coffee), I am challenged and comforted with care, and I go to bed with feeling like I am where I am supposed to be right in this moment.

Please, take my recap of all the people I encounter on a daily basis and how they help fill my days; that if you identify with all the kind encounters you’ve had and how they’ve impacted you, to go out into the world and extend that same energy to all you come into contact with and all that you do.

XOXO

There’s my hippy thoughts for the week. A huge thank you to everyone I’ve met so far (and friends who continue to reach out), I could you as blessings every morning and every night and pray that I continue to have such experiences.

Republicans-vs.-Democrats_0

So I got into a political fight on Facebook the other day…

 

Well, before I step into that ring, let me tell you about the amazing days I had that took all of those pent up emotions away (thank God, truly).

Right now, I am sitting at Urth Caffe (thanks Rachael!) in Laguna Beach, California awaiting my burrito and latte, listening to ‘Pass the Dutchie,’ and staring at the ocean lustfully. All very fadifornian and bougie. But honestly nice. The important thing is, I’m out and exploring and enjoying my weekend and CCC’d enough (cool, calm, collected for those who don’t understand hip lingo) to write this.

My first week at Cirque du Soleil has been wonderful. In a summary, I shadowed the majority of departments to better understand the rudiments of the show which in turn allowed me to meet the cast and technicians individually. It was challenging more so in the mental sense that I had to work my muscles to discover meaningful questions and further conversations to better understand my job. Believe that? It exhausted ME to ask questions and create conversation. I know… So that has been great!

Day one of my three day weekend consisted of a nice sleep in, which is really just another way of saying I still woke up at 8:30a but stayed in bed until 11. I went for a run for the first time since my flu disease thing (was actually able to run the mile and a half without my lungs collapsing, holla) and then laid on a bench in my neighborhood for 30 minutes before going inside. Then, while getting ready, I happened across a post on Facebook which consumed my next several hours (none can say I’m not dedicated though!). Before I get to that though, the rest of the adventure. I journeyed out to Irvine, California to see a friend who is touring with Cavalia, Odysseo. Horses make everything better and it was amazing to see that largest touring show in the world in action. Coming up to the big, white tops was mesmerizing. Arguably, one of the coolest aspects was that as a French company, everyone was largely French and used English as a secondary language. My seventeen year old self was struggling to catch their sentences and especially dialect, but it was awesome nonetheless. I shadowed the stage manager and was able to learn a little more of her role in the operation. The company is basically like a small, traveling village. Seriously, walking around the premises reminded me a lot of camp, and from what I was told, that’s pretty true.

Day two was joyous in that I awoke to a half empty root beer and projections of Netflix on the wall. A great two hours was had. I then headed out to Laguna Beach, (yay, California). I experienced a wonderful brunch and coffee (Urth Caffe) before heading down to the beach. Note, sometimes I love being in a place that is completely devoid of anyone you know. Raw interactions are a blessing in disguise and I was thrilled that I asked two women sunbathing to watch my things and ended up having a nice conversation with them. I swam (read, stood) in the Pacific for about twenty minutes before heading on my way. Leaving the west coast is always bittersweet. I made it to Victorville by 2:30p and unsuccessfully tried to break into a good friend’s hotel room. He made it back in time for us to swim, golf (loser buys dinner), enjoy Olive Garden (I ate for free), watch my favorite pastime of my 600 lb Life, dabble in work, and put-put again (winner decides the AC), all before going to bed (I nearly froze to death, and am honestly surprised I’ve had a full recovery from the frostbite).

Day three consisted of an early wake up, odd dreams, and saying goodbye again. On my way home though, I had a good few hours to think up what exactly I wanted to say about my little political debacle. (Note, the rest of the day consisted of me missing One Drop, meeting my new roommate, watching Grey’s Anatomy, and job hunting).

 

Firstly, I should note that I used to have these reactions all the time when I was younger. I’ve always been a passionate, outspoken individual; and while that largely hasn’t went away, I’ve realized there is a time, place and way to approach such situations.

So I first saw the status, and the part that really triggered me was that it purely wasn’t factual. The things that were written and they were supposing weren’t ‘up for debate,’ as each candidate had been forward with their views. So my original *harmless* intent was to dispel what was said and point out that facts are what should be reviewed. Of course, other people stepped in and spoke their opinions and before long I feel like I am trying to educate the masses on how to properly support yourself. (Which is also being way self-righteous of me). I wanted someone in my corner to agree with me, a judge to rule that I was the winner in favor in this dispute. But that’s not how life works. Eventually, I had to step out when it became personal attacks. Partly, because when it comes to that you know the other person is falling apart and doesn’t have evidence to support their own claims and the other part is because it really started to hurt.

It hurt to check my privilege. My political views were in part shaped with how I was raised and what I have experienced individually. I haven’t always been afforded the opportunity to travel and meet a wide array of people, but I try to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t. I start to see, it may look like theirs. I mean, we grew up in the same town, we both farmed for a large part of our lives… Which could have easily been me. (Note, please do not read that as me placing close-knit communities and agricultural careers as means of a certain political affiliation). It also started to hurt to realize exactly how angry I was at the situation. I felt like a figure skater nailing triple axels, except in reality, behind a keyboard slashing others with my prowess and rhetoric.

But now I felt convicted. Sure, I am largely fueled in my political crusades because I believe they best encompass Christ and his message, but how were my actions reflecting that right in the moment? Sure, I will say I did say and commit to some of those things throughout with a heart for God and to bring forth truth, but other times my anger surrounded me and I let loose a little more than I’d have liked to.

But I don’t think that this is also a call to be silent about politics. I think the largest thing is just knowing and praying about how to navigate it peacefully. To remember that issues are what holds us back from knowing people and their hearts. Taking the time to sit down and hear another person out about their own experiences over ours is not an easy thing to do. But, we are called to do that. We are called to love others.

My challenge for myself and others who struggle to not lay into differing opinions is to be conscious of the words you say and how others perceive them. We are all aware that shoving our thoughts into someone’s ear canal doesn’t mean that they’re going to magically be swayed to our ideals. Yet, we (I) enter into that so freely and easily sometimes. I am making a pledge that when I encounter this, to instead (if I feel called) to approach the issue privately, to make an effort to understand the other person across the screen.

Perhaps also, and this is a stretch, to really focus on that regardless of what happens in the election and which leader we are to put are trust in, to continue to pursue a heart issue and be for the people, even the ones that are hard to love.

Best,

Laura

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New Kid on the Block

Eeek! Yesterday I experienced my first official day working at Cirque du Soleil. Come, take a journey with me.

6:30a – Wake up. My body still has yet to adjust to the time change. Make a mental note that you will be tired tonight.

7:00a – Go on a walk. Pray. Please be calm today and ward off all anxiety attacks that should likely happen. Recognize that the worst of it is leading up to it.

(Read and write and watch TV for the next several hours, as well as make a hodgepodge meal that you will come to find is worse than experiencing cottage cheese… but also looks and tastes nothing like cottage cheese).

2:20p – Leave for work. Stop at Smith’s and buy a notebook. Keep the receipt, girl wants that tax writeoff.

2:40p – Arrive in the parking garage. Sit in your car for twenty minutes because your paranoia of being late will undoubtedly not allow that to happen.

3:03p – Walk by where you are expected to meet your colleague/mentor. Go to Starbucks, decide that $4.19 will NEVER be justifiable for a small iced coffee. Sit in their cafe and wait anyway.

3:20p – Saunter to ‘the meeting place.’ Try to look busy in case they see you first.

3:32p – Meet your boss (friend?)! Go on a tour of the theatre and try your best to remember all of the places and all of the people. Feel proud for knowing a few Michael Jackson fan trivia questions.

5:10p – Be formally introduced to the full company. Blush because they are so enthusiastic to have a new team member that you truly feel welcomed and finally comfortable.

6:08p – Eat that awful cottage cheese meal again. Regret the four other portions you must finish at home.

7:00p – Attend the first show and watch from the house, while being lucky enough to sit beside one of the original creators (how cool, right?). Go through a range of emotions including awe and incredible artistry. It was refreshing to have my expectations exceeded and be brought from tears to laughter so effortlessly. (Come see Michael Jackson ONE, and visit me).

9:30p – Shadow the call of the show. Be amazed a second time. Ask questions, gain more knowledge. Knowledge is power (and awesome).

10:55p – Consider begging to be let go shamelessly because my cold/ flu/ not yet diagnosed chronic disease is really kicking in and it’s hard to keep track exactly where all my snot is landing and I sound like a bird being punched in the trachea. Sleep will fix this (I hope).

11:30p – Finally head home. Reflect on what a great first day it was. It occurred to me while driving home exactly where I was. Seven years ago I came to Las Vegas for the first time and saw “The Lion King,” at Mandalay Bay with my mom. It was the first Broadway show I’d ever seen and the real pushing point that made me want to pursue this art. It’s such a special memory to me, and even more so that every day I am now able to work in the theatre where it all started for me. And although I no longer have her, the idea that I get to be somewhere where my mom once smiled, laughed, and cried alongside me is such a comforting and encouraging thought.

I am continually praying for this opportunity to be a part of such an enjoyable and devoted team of people. I am cherishing how special this company is and how active they are in the community. I am so excited for what this experience has to bring!

XOXO, Laura

P.S. The photo is from the first time my mom and I visited Vegas. This was after Michael had passed away and his wax figure from Madame Tussauds was on display (and then we later went to The Lion King). Good times:)

 

 

Pick up the phone, answer the call

Photo on 11-26-15 at 3.48 PM #2I have been in Las Vegas for a little under 24 hours and have already experienced every emotion that my hippocampus is capable of producing. I should first note that I realize the majority of my posts are sappy and painful, but as I’ve said before, I believe in living a transparent life and one of the most beautiful things we can share with each other is understanding and feeling known by others. I hope that if you’re reading this and identify with anything I say, that you know you’re not alone.

The second thing I want to note is that I often feel struggles with my faith and Christ (and if you didn’t know, I made a vow to devote myself to him this year). Earlier this year I participated in the Daniel Fast, began a daily devotional, upped my worship game and did some church surfing; but the thing is that even after that most things still felt the same… I’ve been trying my best to conjure up why that is and the only conclusion I can come to is this-  Sometimes the easiest way to be whole again is to be made again from nothing.

I believe that’s why God led me here. This is the next step in my walk and pursuit of Christ.

Let’s go back, shall we? So here I am, sitting in a bed that is not my own, crying.

I’m crying because this moment reminds me of two years ago when I called my mom from California, and I can’t call her now. I’m crying because last night I said goodbye to one of my favorite people and I’m afraid nothing will be the same between us. I’m afraid of what my life looks like without him. I’m apprehensive to experience a new town. I’m feeling so alone from not knowing anyone here. I’m missing my family from 2000 miles away. I’m worried what my situation looks like financially. I’m anxious to start working. I’m suffering each minute that I can’t find immediate peace in. I am so upset because this life looks and feels nothing like I wanted or hoped for.

But this is where God led me.

It is true that it is easier to find God in the desert than the forest. Well, in the metaphorical sense that trees are distractions and the desert is desperation (but also because Las Vegas is a desert and Cincinnati has trees). Here, I have nothing but Jesus Christ and a roof over my head. I prayed for weeks to have a deeper relationship with Him. And today while crying I recognized the answering of that prayer. I have been brought out here alone because my God will heal me in my vulnerability. My God will weave me in His comfort. My God is sharpening his tool to be used and he will provide for that to happen.

I woke up today, drank half a bottle of wine before 9am, ugly cried to my friend on FaceTime, got too drunk that I had to wait to drive to the grocery so I unpacked instead, took a shower, caught up on the Bachelor (go Jojo), reinvented my finance excel spreadsheet, signed up to become a volunteer and tried to join a church group. BUT- throughout all of that, I prayed so fervently that God would bring peace and heal this pain. That He would heal his child and make me feel purposeful, that He would bring me a friend and show me compassion; make me feel validated that I made the right decision to come here. I am praying that He will soften my heart to this world.

I have been upset all morning struggling to make the moments between calls back home okay for me. I finally made my way to the shopping center and deposited my remaining cash into my bank and caved to getting coffee at the Starbucks next door (I promised myself there is no room for coffee in my budget but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so, okay). Normal transaction; reload my card, buy iced coffee, get receipts. Then it happened. The machine printed my first receipt for reloading and stopped at the second. Having worked in food service and a Starbucks, I watched the woman go through the normal process of fixing the machine and it just wouldn’t compute so the manager came over and pulled me to the other register. While making magic, she gave me the most sincere look and asked, “How are you doing today, ma’am? Is everything going okay?” It took everything in me to not break down in a Starbucks at 11am. It felt so refreshing to be honest to a woman across the counter but I told her that I just moved here yesterday and am struggling to feel okay with everything. She told me that her name is Elsa and shook my hand and invited me to come back and please hangout. It was a kind gesture and I thanked all of them for their hospitality. I glanced over after picking my drink up and noticed the printer working fine. It took until half way through my shopping trip to realize that Elsa was a prayer answered from that morning. Which, I know, it sounds silly- but God is in the small moments. I will be taken care of.

I am still struggling. Even writing this I am pretending I am back home, cuddling that boy, hearing my dad shout from the other room, and watching some shitty horror film with my sister, knowing what tomorrow may bring. It’s hard to be here and forfeit control of everything (especially when you’re a control freak like me).

But in the seasons of life, I needed a change. My good friend said this morning, “Laura, you need to learn to love yourself. All different sides of yourself. The one suppressing your past, the one afraid to be alone; you need time to figure yourself out. This is going to reveal to you a whole other Laura that you will learn to love. You will overcome this and things will work out. Hard times are nothing compared to the happiest days.” These are words I know, or would say to myself, but to have validation from another is a blessing.

I encourage you to be open to change, to challenge. You may not necessarily need to move across the country, but if it is on your heart to to reach for something else, please, answer that call. At first, it will not be comfortable, it will not be fun and you will feel such a pain that you will consider running back to what you already know- but remain faithful. God wants so much more for you and wants to bring forth the desires of your heart, answer His call.

I want to lastly say, thank you to everyone who has supported me and ever offered a kind word. We are people meant to love others and that has never been more evident to me than to stand here now and so clearly see all of the love that has been poured out and made it possible for me to be here.

XOXO, Laura

P.S. I promise everything I do in this town will not be this miserable😉

Timing is Everything

** Disclaimer- This should really be titled, “It’s not safe to drunk blog. To Drog.”

 

Hello my faithful reader(s) -really just my sister, whom I stand behind her shoulder and instruct her to read- I’m sure you’ve all been wondering about my post-graduation life. Get excited, I’m about to thrill you.

Post-graduation life is awful and sugar-sweet all at once, but mostly awful. Currently, I’m at Plan D. Plan D involves me: moving back in with my dad, working part-time at a restaurant, trying to convince my ex that getting back together is a good idea, thinking a lot, crying a lot, wanting to sleep more than the 11 hours a day I already do, watching Harry Potter and Grey’s Anatomy intermittently, avoiding God but finding that that’s pretty impossible, considering applying to jobs, the jobs that I do pick someone else, finding ranching opportunities out west and seriously consider if that’s what I should do, turning down jobs that don’t necessarily feel right, hanging out with my sister and her boyfriend, day drinking, painting, looking at my planner, cooking actual meals, letting my dad yell at me because I can’t seem to find my backbone, befriending the cat (she lets me pet her for twenty seconds now, I even picked her up for six once), getting angry that my friends don’t have as much free time as I do, being mom-sick with my dad, wanting to write more but lacking the motivation… You get the idea, I’m not doing much.

You spend three or so years dreaming about what school you’ll go to receive an education and then four years training for a profession for a single moment of recognition of that effort; basically, you spend a lot of time working towards something and you kind of feel lost once you get past it a few feet. After all, it’s all about the journey, amirite? My commencement ceremony was interesting because I should have felt like I was achieving some milestone (standing next to two thousand others, some landmark, ya know? …), some personal victory. And truth be told, I was. It had taken a lot to get there, but small moments will reveal a lot and as I sat there in the front row, looking intently at our President and hearing his words, all I could feel was the absence of those I loved. Sure, I had my brother and his wife, dad, sister, and cousin there- and many who sent well wishes-, but I immediately wholly felt vacancy of my mom. One thing stuck with me at my high school graduation, that, ‘you are not here to celebrate your accomplishment, you are here today so those who love you can celebrate you- they are your fans, let them be proud.’ I didn’t care about my own graduation, I only decided to walk because I felt I should- I should let those who wanted to celebrate me, do so. But I sat there, and realized, my mother is the only person who would have done anything to be there… who would the date marked in her calendar for four months, who would have woke me up at 5am because she would have been more excited than me, who would have made me take a thousand pictures, who would have cried because her Little Baby graduated today. For the longest time I counted on my biggest enthusiast to be there, and it’s hard to let go of what you’ve believed for so long… It’s amazing how you can grieve over something that never was. The second absence I felt was Nick. I’ve done a lot of thinking about how I managed to fuck so much up between us, but I missed you and wished you were in the audience. You’re my person, and I’ve been stupid in a lot of ways- and it sucks worse when you know the only reason someone isn’t there is because you ruined it enough that they wouldn’t be.

So, in summary, mostly what graduation did for me was caress then slap my face for realizing none of this success is nothing without love and people to share it with.

But post-graduation is interesting because for the first time in my life I have time. Like any college kid, I put in twenty hours a week to classes and schooling, ten into assignments, another forty into projects and shows- with no slow-downs (Saturdays are never really off days, they lie). But dedicating that time gave me a false sense of worth and identity, and time has peeled back that thinking.As William Penn said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst,” (thanks Google). And in not using time wisely, time has successfully unraveled my identity in my career and put me at the feet of God. Which isn’t an awful place to be, but a humbling one.

So I’m being transparent. One of the largest reasons it is easiest for me to take up my cross every day and follow God (well, it’s not all day every day- I’m still hurt and angry- but in moments) is because I see him so present in this world and believe that we are here to evangelize. As a Christian, it’s hard to have a conversation about Christ- for others, or myself even, to being open to it-but I believe the best thing our God does for us is makes us feel whole again- through our suffering and joy. So, as easy as it is to always show you how glamorous life is (through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter- whatever), life is also hard. Technology has made us so accessible in a positive way to each other, but it has also made us colder and coveting in a large way.

Here goes.

Disclaimer:I am not one who finds much muse by romance, but lately it has been transforming me and a constant point of tension in my life. I am no genius, and certainly not the first person to ever have these thoughts and feelings, but I am the first Laura Stenger who is 22 years old from a small town in Indiana in the twenty first century who is.

*Standby: My Heart Will Go On Instrumental– Instrumental, GO.

I am The Blind Pig with you, my sister, and your roommates after having convinced you that Trivia night at one of your favorite bars with your friend would be fun and thoughtful. Maybe this will make losing you easier or I’ll get a chance to corner you and talk, but neither is probably not true. I sit across from you. Your roommate buys me a double Jameson and coke because the job I wanted just called and said they went with someone else. I drink it, my sister shows up, we all laugh, our food comes, trivia starts, you come up with a good team name, I’m kind of drunk now and about six questions in. I get up and sit beside you. You put your arm around me, kiss me on the top of my head and squeeze for a moment. I tuck my head into your chest and silently thank God that I’m able to have you in small ways and moments.

Your roommates and friends don’t think twice about this gesture and continue to still make sexual jokes involving us both. I don’t know if it’s because you haven’t told them we’ve broken up or they’re just too polite to treat me any differently. I can’t tell if I hate it, or if it’s one more thing that makes me feel like nothing has changed. But we all laugh, take second place at trivia, and you’re still holding my hand and giving me the softest smile- so I’ll deal with all of it.

I’m pretty drunk now. Why stop at one when you can have five? I say I’m going to get sick and we should go. You say at 10:40p we’ll leave. You always have been kind in that way, even when I’m pulling you in the other direction. I get up, go to the restroom, come back, and the five of you are all listening intently to the bartender girl across the table talk about aerial yoga, or something. I sit beside you and put my hand on your knee. I’m used to this garnering some kind of response- whether that be your hand on mine, a look, anything- but it gets nothing and I’m persistent so I try it in six other variations each the next more annoying than the last, and still you laugh and smile at her.

This time, I share a small moment with a year of guilt and shame that brought me right here. I get up, go to the bar, get a water, and go outside. I enter the alley and the cool air punches me in the face. At first suffocating, and then fresh and clean. The alleyway goes left and right, with walls straight up and surrounding me on every side. I sit down on their patio chair, notice the table is crooked and assembled poorly- fitting for me, though. No one else is outside, and I’m drunk, borderline sick, so it’s simultaneously fascinating and daunting all at once. I stare and follow the ground until I come to a misplaced cement block and decide that I’ll stare at that for awhile. I down my water as two gentlemen pass me and flick their cigarette buts into the nearby drain before entering the bar. I am immediately annoyed by their actions, presence, and clothing- I have never spoken a word to them and a second after that thought I am reminded just how shitty and judgmental I am capable of being. I miss him. I can hear his laugh from outside the bar, and as much as I hate his big, stupid laugh, even that makes me sad and miss him.

I am an incredibly anxious and distrusting person. Growing up in an abusive household and watching the two people I love the most eat at each other is destructive for a young, learning mind. I’ve made peace with my past, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t taken it with me. I spent four months really getting to know someone, because for the first time in three years, it felt like this could work out. My feelings are fleeting, logically I know that, but I still battled every day, going back and forth, sometimes for a few weeks being fine, and then one weird moment changing my mind. And you were no exception to this, but you were the first person that ever gave me good days too- and no one but myself gives me good days. So I wanted you to stick around. I can distinctly remember the first time I felt I was in love with you. It took everything for us to convince each other that going to the other’s family Thanksgiving party was a good idea. We each sacrificed time with our own to meet the others, and that meant so much because I stopped bringing people around a long time ago. I remember being at your house, your family so kind to me and making me feel welcome and one of their own. I got to see your cabin that you told me so much about, and the lake, and again, your family. Meeting your people made so much of you make sense to me, and I’ve never seen you happier. You led me to the guest room, picked me up and sat me on the bed. Holding my hands, you looked into my eyes and thanked me. That’s when I knew, I loved you so much in that moment. And then the next day we left at 5am to drive back to meet my family, and you were even better with them and I don’t know how but I loved you more. … But I’m always anxious, and so much of me hinges on the future and making the right decision- which is awful because I don’t even believe in either of those things, it’s just the way I feel sometimes. But you left one more morning and while making eggs before class, my heart raced so fast that I passed out because I was so fucking scared what our future might mean. So I called a break, and I worked some things out, and we got back together a few weeks later. Things were better, even now I remember how you said you’ve never seen me happier. We both were. Again, one day I woke up and things felt off. I took a shower, the heat sped up my bloodstream, my heart raced, I panicked, ran out of the bathroom to get water and reaching for the cupboard, fainted and hit my head on the counter. Fucking anxiety. I told myself to work through it, but you could tell I was different. We went on a weekend trip. We came back. You kept pestering me as to why I wanted alone time. A week passed. My mother died. All you wanted was to be there for me. You had to leave in two days to fly to California for work for a month. (Timing is really on my side, right?). We met up, actually, my whole family drove me up to see you so I could call it off. I don’t want to blame my mom’s death for everything, but it really messed me up- and in fight or flight, I chose to fly away. I saw you, took you into your room and after two hours of us both crying, I left. It wasn’t until later that I found out that was the night that you were going to tell me you were in love with me.

So there we were, two broken people, who couldn’t figure out how to fit our pieces together. You gave me all your love and all I gave you was goodbye.

So here I am, on December 17th alone and outside a bar in an alley, going back to January 28th when I had you.

I go back all the time. It’s been almost a year, and I still go back. For a long time, we kept this together, in a way. You’re my best friend, and that’s always been hard to let go of. Sometimes I felt like you never understood me, or we didn’t communicate enough, or this or that, wherever my anxiety and doubt could creep in. I would get hung up on our few differences instead of enjoy the thousand ways we are so similar. Or how our personalities complemented each other, even though they’re so different in ways. We are two entirely different people that found each other and fit so well together. I’m human, and I wanted it to be okay for me to be wrong- but playing with others is not okay, and I know that. Even still, for eight months we kept that up, neither of us too willing to give into it or too strong to stay away for too long. Before sitting in your new house, resting my head on your chest, I whispered, “Nick, I think we should break up.” You replied, “Yeah, I think that’s probably a good idea.” So we did. With a new pact that it’s okay to love and care about each other, but we’ll try to be friends.

I never worked hard for you- and sitting outside, hearing your laugh, it is the thing I regret the most.

I give myself a moment, share one more look with that cement block, and I go inside. I sit down, you look at me and grab me, as you always have. I tell you I’d like to go and noticing I look a little sickly- with soft eyes you say, yes, of course, let’s go.

We head home and for the majority of the ride, I cry because I’m an uncontrollable sob when I’m too drunk and around you. I weep over anything- from the homeless to us having to pay a parking meter- emotions taking me over, I guess?

But just like every time I’ve seen you for the last month, I confront you about how you feel and it’s a conversation we never have time for and you’re worn out on having- but when I decide to fight for something, I can’t let up until it’s fixed and we just haven’t fixed it how I wish it could be.

So here it is- post drunken crying in your bed because you said it was okay for me to sleep over, two hours before you have to go into work and really just want sleep, and I’m being difficult and won’t let up.

There are many things about me that will never change. I will always be stubborn, indecisive, and pushy. I seldom will hold back my thoughts and feelings, if something’s not right, I will always want to fix it right then. I will never lose my humor. I will have bad days, but you can count that I will find a way to laugh about it, that I will stop at nothing to get you to laugh, even at your angriest. I will always be convinced that if I try my hardest, I will beat you in whatever physical endeavors. I will never stop trying to charm you or pry out of you how you feel about something. I will not always be one hundred percent aware of my faults in the moment, but I know myself- and you know I do too- and we both know that I’m not afraid to say when I’m wrong. I’m saying I was wrong now. If that’s not enough to change your mind, I hope it is enough to ease it.

You ask what’s different, and here it is. I’ve had time, time to see what it is I want in life, and I want you. I know, that’s a simple answer and there are things that need work for that to be possible. But losing you also made losing the future with you so real. I took you for granted, we both know that. I’m different. Sure, a degree doesn’t automatically make you an adult- but those things that I’ve always wanted, I finally feel ready to actually want them. I sit at night, missing our fictional future we’ve created together. I know many people do that, I know break-ups are meant to do that to you. But it’s not just the future and infatuated possibility of those things that I miss- I also just miss you. I miss the house we drew up together, all of our trips in Goldie, going to church with you Sunday morning, going to your rugby games, talking about the dog you will never want. I miss the way we were together. What changed is that I finally want to work and fight for those things with you. What changed is that I am finally taking full responsibility. What has never changed is that I’ve always known what a long-term relationship and marriage takes to be successful- what has changed is that I am willing and wanting to be those things. I don’t believe in ‘the one,’ and neither do you; but I do believe that it is wonderful and rare to feel about someone the way that I feel about you. Our relationship was mature and you were my teammate- what a dear blessing it is to find someone in life who will hold your hand through your best and worst- and I keep kicking myself that I did and didn’t see it until now.

I’m a fool and I have too many words to say to you that I can’t find all of the right ones to put here. But I woke up this morning and I took what you said to heart. I’m sorry for everything I put you through, and I understand that you’re tired of this and it feels good to finally be outside my atmosphere. I don’t want the middle ground. I want all of you and all of me to try and make this work. Doing this friend thing is wonderful but every time I see you it’s a small reminder that I messed up one of the best things in my life, and as much as it makes me continuously fall for your soul, I can tell it’s hard on you too. I’d give nearly anything for another chance to try to fix this whole thing, but I know that’s asking a lot and you’re tired of trying for whatever this is to work.

So for now, I have to stop looking at your letters beside my bed and wonder if mine are still in your top drawer. I needed time to figure things out- perhaps that’s what you need too. You’re right, ultimately, things will be okay. If I have proven anything to myself, it’s that I am a resilient woman who has yet to lose her fervor for life. I will always care about you, and at my core want you to be happy- even if that doesn’t include me. If you ever change your mind, I hope you have the courage to say something. I will always welcome you.

 

“And I could’ve been another minute late, and you’d never would’ve crossed my path that day. And when it seems love is hard to find- That’s when love comes along just in time.

Cause you can be hurt by love or healed by the same- Timing is everything. It can happen so fast, or a little too late. Timing is everything.”

 

 

The brick in my pocket.

I have a lot to say. The truth is, I’ve had a lot to say the last nine months but finding the energy and emotions to say those things is difficult. Contrary to what I believe, the scale of saying something and the impact it will have versus saying nothing at all and how life may continue – has been a muddy, unbalanced, immeasurable one. Ultimately, it all feels the same, so I keep quiet.

And maybe that’s why when my boyfriend (ex now, I’m told that’s what you have to say to make it feel real) and I broke up a few weeks ago I’ve been sparked to finally feel something fully. Fully is hard to define though, too. I am feeling the weight of it fully- but there are times when I can’t but help feel lighter, that my shit-storm (it’s the fun way to refer to my sadness train) is affecting one less person I care for but also heavier now that I’m left to bear it alone. There are also times I want to blame my Mom for this. I know it’s unfair to throw knives when she’s not even here to defend herself, but I know she played a role in it and when you’re this sad, it is easier to pick on the dead…

As much as I want to dwell on it and do things differently- I just pray that you are happy. I want happiness for both of us. The difficult part is no longer having a right to know how you’re doing and what keeps you laughing, no longer having the right to know you and be known by you. I have to be okay with that and understand that’s how you heal… Just know that I miss my best friend.

It’s interesting. You always hear that there are two kinds of people. In reality, there are many kinds of people and one long, personal, continuous fence of life. And as we walk along this fence as individuals we find we are on one side or the other of different groups of people and issues and that’s how we find ourselves and tell our stories. On January 26th of this year I hopped the fence.

It’s not ‘normal’ to lose a parent at 21 so I found myself among few people my age. The few who are here are incredible people. Sometimes I think the most beautiful thing I’ve discovered is that in a single shared look I’ve been more wholly understood than ever before. But this side of the fence is a double edge sword. I have a hard time relating to anyone on the other side now. The problems the other side faces I find irrelevant to me. They’re still their struggles and valid, but I can’t relate because loss feels so much heavier to me than fear and failure. It’s not their fault they haven’t been dealt a fucked up hand but the gap isn’t helped because without the loss of someone who held so much of your life together, it’s hard to understand how quickly it can fall apart and how much space that person occupied in your life. It’s been nearly a year and I still think about my mother in every way in most of my minutes. The division is that people expect a certain time frame for grieving and then with that acceptance we are to move forward.

In many ways, I have healed. I’ve laughed louder than I remember and I still find a zest for life but I have learned that even that control is out of my hands. My wish is that the other side of the fence could give grace to our tears. I don’t choose to see a hawk fly above the field along the highway and boisterously laugh at the memory of the hundreds of times my mother cut conversation to watch a bird in its path in the same way that I don’t choose to then fall apart because I would give anything to have another interrupted conversation with her.

The fence is what keeps life interesting. It’s how you relate to the people beside you and respect the ones on the other side. There are no walls in life, just a fence with holes for hands to hold each other that I am thankful for.

“Does it ever go away?”

“No, I don’t think it does. Not for me, it hasn’t – has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though.”

“How?”

“I don’t know… the weight of it, I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns int something that you can crawl out from under and… carry it around like a brick in your pocket. And you… you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful – not all the time. It’s kinda… not that you’d like it exactly, but it’s what you’ve got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh… it doesn’t go away. Which is…”

“Which is what?”

“Fine, actually.”