— My niece’s advice to me driving home late at night
A few years ago, I broke up with someone in a shitty way
We were kinda dating, not really in a relationship, over a period of three months.
I was really insecure but at the same time, in order to protect myself, I was kinda playing him. He was the first person I ever dated beyond the person I was in an on and off relationship with for seven years. This person was sweet but seemed dangerous and mysterious which were qualities that made me stick around to figure him out. He asked me a lot of questions, and now I realize I talked a lot about myself but I knew very little about him. He was patient, never pushed himself onto my family, but definitely pushed his opinions about wanting to have sex.
When I told him I was getting back with my ex, unfortunately after telling him in one way or another that I wouldn’t hurt him in that kind of way, he sent me a really long message insulting the way I looked. It didn’t sound angry, though I’m sure he was upset (if not angry) and I read it, thinking something like this should surely, as I’m sure he intended it, tear me apart.
At the time I was putting make up on and was disgusted with myself for not being hurt by it. For one, I felt very conceited at the moment…like this person was obviously hurting and I’m more concerned with my looks. something that he was trying to hurt me through. Secondly, if it had hurt me, it would mean that not only his opinion mattered, but he mattered. I read it, wanted to muster up some anger to reply, was a bit peeved that he’d say something so immature, but I never replied. How could I reply to that? I have no right to be upset. I’m the one who called it off.
I don’t remember the specifics of his message, but I do remember that he had a great many things he could have insulted. He could have insulted my weight, which is sensitive topic to me. He could have insulted my crooked teeth, which probably would have burned in my mind forever. He could have demeaned me as a woman, which would have detrimentally hurt my self-esteem. He didn’t though.
Instead, he insulted small details about my face. Little things, things not many people notice unless they’re really looking and really close up. I remember thinking those were such funny things to insult. He had so much else to choose from. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these were things that he probably adored about me and suddenly they’re something terrible like he’s a broken-hearted Tom Hanson or something. No, I wouldn’t say that. I will say though that before he could insult me about them, he noticed them. He was looking at me with that much focus.
So much so, that when the time came to really pull on things to scar me for life, those were the first things to pop into his head. Nothing else. Nothing else made it into that message. It was weak, and yet it was everything he needed.
It’s only when I know that I’m saying something worthy of being heard that I want to take ownership of my own thoughts. I don’t mean that anything I’m saying right now is groundbreaking, but more that it is honest (which at times can be groundbreaking in a world that lives off small talk and surface level conversations). I’d like to make a point to say things now that are worthy of people’s time in listening, and because of this, I don’t want to be anonymous. There is a face and there is a name that comes with what each person says. I shouldn’t hide behind some veil in expressing what I want to say or what I think but own the fact that I may strike a nerve or two, it may not mean what I intended, or that it may sound a little naïve or uneducated when questioning things I am certainly not an expert on, but the criticism it receives should be just as honest and just as respectful in the absence of all-knowing truth. That’s the kind of interaction I expect from everyone, and I should more actively expect from myself.
I love moving.
When you move, there’s a sense of renewed order and hope in everything. You go through everything you have—look at your clothes and realize you don’t wear half the things you’re packing, rummage through old books and papers you wrote on centuries ago and still kept for no reason or every reason, photographs fall out of little nooks and crannies catching you in a wave of nostalgia, each furniture piece you smile at you remember the uniqueness it embodied the day you bought it…you stuff every pillow that cradled your weary head at the end of a long day into the car and play Tetris with your belongings in the trunk and note that your entire life’s been packed into this tiny vessel, idling, waiting for the adventure to begin.
It’s the kind of order I wish I had every day of my life. There is a certainty in moving. I have to pack this, I have to pack that, these are the essentials. This has to come with me in my purse. All this is junk, just put it all in one box. I never liked these things; donate that whole pile. This is trash. It’s like emptying out and rearranging every part of your life from the outside in. That sweater you wore the day you met so-and-so, and then again the day what’s-his-name broke your heart. You push a finger through the holes in the sleeves and say to yourself, Yeah, it’s time to let this go. Maybe it’s some half-finished craft project that may or may not be worth keeping and in considering this, you realize how happy you were making it and decide it’s something you need right now.
All those little thrift shop finds and dumpster diving treasures you found along the way then tossed back for someone else to love is like accepting the ebb and flow of the life you’ve been given and being so happy its ebbed and flowed in and out of others waters.
This is how I know that I will always be a vagabond. Each time I pack my things up I have restored faith in who I am and the journey I am taking. I want to always be able to fit my life into this tiny car and I think each time I move the burden of my possessions is lessened…and in minimalizing the possessions I minimalize my grudges and heartaches and envy, my bad memories and unwanted company and unwarranted self-hating thoughts, my uncertainty and hopelessness and indecisive nature, my apathy and ambiguity and nihilist inclinations…I just leave them all behind.
Never mind that some part of them will always be with me, and never mind that somehow they’ll always catch up to me…because in that moment, I am free of them. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be free of all of them. One day, maybe they’ll forget and stop chasing.
I genuinely enjoy being alone. Each time I pack things up, I truly enjoy that it is only my baggage I must ever carry with me. Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to handle another’s, but only until I’ve become an avid traveler and know my way around things I suppose. Perhaps I have no idea—perhaps traveling so lightly will eventually be my downfall.
I don’t know.
And I really do love not knowing. I love that sense of knowing insofar as knowing you are leaving and knowing the feeling of what is good and right to make decisions based off of…everything else will be a delightful surprise.
I am moving again this week. I am going to very quietly slip out of Davis as quietly as I slipped in, where no one really knew who arrived and no one really knows I’m leaving.
These are the moments where I feel my life really fall into place and where the chaos that is somehow intricately woven into the mundane routines of everyday fail to find me in the sweet chaos of packing. All these little pieces of me, I own them, and I can do whatever I want with them.
I am contemplating having sex with my boyfriend whom I have been with for about two and a half months. He will be the second person I have ever had sex with, though I am confident that it will not be something to be ashamed of. It took ten months for me to feel ready to have sex with my first real boyfriend and that isn’t even counting that it took us three months to even have our first kiss. But that was seven years ago, when I was much younger and much more naïve. Moreover, I will be my boyfriend’s first. He is certainly the type that would have preferred to wait until marriage, but has sort of retired this desire for me and for the knowledge that all that he wished it to mean would be present even before marriage. He believes our relationship is strong enough to last long enough that we will get married, and I feel so guilty lingering on the possibility that we do not. Is this ethical? I feel as if I am stealing it from him with false promises. He knows about my ex and is very aware we did not work out despite our being each other’s first and I know he fears that could happen to him too. I’m not sure what to say. I love him. That much is for sure. Can I be certain of much else?
I went from one little box
To another little box
And I’m still nowhere closer to learning what I intended to learn
I may be the first in my family to graduate from a university
But I won’t be the last"
It hurts because I’m not over you.
Things happen in my life and I want so bad to share them with you.
I’m so torn in so many ways. I want to cry at how beautiful things are and how I wish it was you I could share them with. These feelings…
When I touch her hands, they’re your hands.
You are still in my heart even when I don’t want you there. I can’t find a place for anyone else because you’ve already taken up all the space.
Where do I put him?
— HOLY SHIT HOW DID I GET SO LUCKY TO FIND THIS PERSON
He is good through and through.
Every time I see him,
I get this anxious feeling.
I want to photograph his every movement,
Because I fear the day it will no longer be there
And I’ll be left wondering if this fantastical moment really was a dream
As he is a dream
I don’t think I’ll ever believe he is real
I hope I never do
All I can hope is that I’ll never forget.
The first time I saw him in person, and how I couldn’t look at how beautiful he was.
That gentle facial hair that wraps its way around his fair skin and those painfully honest, trusting eyes that radiate life in their green and blue hue.
When he told me he loved me and I wondered how he knew I loved him too.
When he told me he could see himself marrying me and somehow unconsciously knew what kind of ring I would favor when he asked if someday I would consider marrying his broke ass.
How I am so conflicted as to whether I should close my eyes and be enveloped in his kiss or just lay in bed and stare at him all day. How he told me of his internal struggle with this too—“How dare you close your eyes in the presence of such a beautiful woman”.
How he read me Kant at the foot of my bed and I wanted to cry at how grateful I was that this was my life. To have someone that loved learning as much as I do, and wanted to teach me, and wanted to be taught. Someone who made me want to be a better person in every part of my life and was not threatened by the prospect; someone who did not want me to wait for anything or anyone, even him.
Someone who appreciates the delicate things in life, like the way a plant feels or the chirps of cicadas, that I knew would appreciate the delicate beauty and anticipation when he sat away from me and I took off his shirt and pressed my naked breasts against his back.
How he told me I was pure even though I’m impure as some would say, and I believed him.
How soft his tongue is and how he makes me feel so small and yet so big.
How I want to live in his brain, marry his heart and be held by his soul forever.
We may not share many of the same opinions on issues, but loving him has taught me conservative or liberal, Christian, Atheist or none of the above, traditional or not, that does not dismiss the capacity for love. He has taught me someone with an open mind and an open heart can have their values and challenge them too, change them, reinterpret them, and accept what makes someone different from you as beautiful. To say two people with different ethics will stay together forever is idyllic, but I will cherish the intensity and the tranquility of the relationship as long as it lasts.