Category Archives: Letting Go

Though they never touch.

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Her away message went up first.

He quickly followed suit. Ten minutes later, two consecutive door slams came bustling from the computer speakers. He signed off. She signed off right after. Slam. Slam.

She’d typed the words “It’s over” to me and I knew that she and him had just been huddled up in their own corners of their bedrooms, crying and breaking things off in the most delicate of ways possible. Her fingers maybe curled and anxious, tangled in the wires of the rotary phone. Tears strewn all over this portable, hoping his mother wouldn’t pick up on the other line and hear him pleading for the girl to take him back. Please. Rethink it. Baby. I love you. Baby? Baby?

These were the rhythmic motions of a high school breakup before the days of text messaging, cell phone plans, driver’s licenses that let you hurl yourself into the car and drive across town just to stand outside the basement door and wait for the other one to prop it open and let you in. You could hold each other for 10 minutes and say nothing at all and try to convince your heart– your 17-year-old heart– that it would never need to let this one go.

One day I’ll get to tell my children that there used to be legitimate sounds of a front door slamming when someone would sign off the Internet for the night. One day, their mouths might halt wide open to learn that you used to have to listen to the dial up sound on the computer, never fully knowing if you’d get online that night because of too many busy signals. The most glorious word you could hear in those days was “Welcome.” You were on. You were online.

One day I’ll tell them that away messages used to read like Facebook statuses and that on the day my best friend’s heart got mashed up and served like applesauce, I waited for her to list “single” in her AOL profile before scanning the internet for Kelly Clarkson lyrics. I’ll tell them I took those lyrics, copy and pasted them into a word document, and dyed them all sorts of funky colors before printing them out. I sat there– before this tiny tin box– and I decoupaged the lyrics of that ballad all over it. Long, skinny strips of lyrics making that tin box seem not so naked anymore:

I’ll spread my wings / And I’ll learn how to fly / Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk / Take a chance / Make a change / And breakaway

 

I used to think those little lines of pop girl wisdom were all the words she’d ever need to read.

I thought breaking away was just that– taking a chance, making a change, and learning how fly. If you’d told me it was more than that, my 15-year-old heart would have never been able to take it.

I didn’t know that ties didn’t cut without making a mess. I didn’t know that breakups are quite literal– in the sense that sometimes you feel everything inside of you crunching and breaking. I didn’t know the lines of that song, the one that won’t stop flooding the airwaves, was really probably true, “Only know you love her when you let her go… and you let her go.”

One day I’ll tell my children that the sound of a real door slamming will hurt them more. The slamming of a door that isn’t automated or a sound effect that tells you when your buddies have signed off for the night. I’ll tell them I first heard that car door slam when I was 19 years old. Facebook was a new thing. Away messages were starting to become the “passé” thing.

I knew that I loved him. I suddenly knew that loving someone isn’t always enough. For a moment I prayed the door might never slam. And then I prayed for the resolve to know the truth: there was no other way.

It was after I reversed my car down the steep driveway, after I was driving away, that I noticed the two yellow lines on the roadside for the first time. I could see them before me. I could see them in the rearview mirror. They didn’t touch. They were going in the same direction but they didn’t touch.

I parked my 1999 green CRV on the side of an abandoned road because I didn’t want to go home and fall asleep without good night messages. It was two in the morning. And, as dumb as it seems when it’s not playing out before you in a scene from the Notebook, I laid in the road and got bits of concrete stuck in my hair. And the moment didn’t feel romantic. And no one laid down beside me and held my hand.

I sat up eventually, tucked my legs into criss-cross position and laid my hand down on the road. My hand fit right between those two yellows lines painted on the roadside. My hand was like a bridge to those two, bright yellows lines that were parallel, parallel, parallel.

 

Honestly, I felt like a loser in that moment.

I’d just gotten my heart-broken. I’d just made the first not-so-clean break. And all I could think to do was lay down in the middle of a road I knew no cars would come down and just be still. Just be still in knowing that I made the right choice.  Just be still in knowing that even though I made the right decision, it didn’t mean my insides would not stay yelling, Come back. Please come back. I can fix this. I promise I can be better.

I felt like a loser. But it would take that. It would take being the loser to find everything else. It would take losing to find that we were made to be losers. We were made to lose: friends, lovers, ourselves. Not always, but sometimes. It’s a natural process in life. It hurts like hell but it happens just as quickly as strange little reptiles shed their skin and cocoons get broken and we stop clinging to “what might have been.”

It takes losing to find out you couldn’t fix it. Find out that you aren’t some supreme fixer upper who sits in the clouds and restores the world with happiness. It’s not your job to make someone better. A relationship– love, or whatever you call it– isn’t a reason to play doctor to the person you kiss long and slowly at night. A relationship isn’t laying there, curled up in your corner of the bed, hoping you can change them. We, humans, we change on our own. Life changes us. Whispers change us. But only when we are ready. And only then.

It takes losing to find out you that mythical characters like Hansel and Gretel were actually quite smart. They were strategic. Diesel, little German children. They left breadcrumbs scattered all around the woods. And while it seems like nothing, it probably meant everything when it came time to trace their way back to a place called home.

It takes losing to find out that sometimes things just don’t work. There’s no rhyme or reason beyond that. Someone– somewhere out there– once sat at a drawing board and decided that on every little roadway they would paint two, bright yellow lines. And they’d have to keep coming back to refresh those lines with new paint. But the color would always be yellow. And those lines, they would go a lot of places. They would certainly weave and bob and push into a lot of new places. But they would never touch. They would never cross paths. And maybe there was no reason at all for that beyond that just being the way things go sometimes.

It takes losing to find that maybe we’ll never know the reason why those two yellow lines never touch, but does it really even matter? I guess making them overlap and become one isn’t nearly as important as the truth: though they never touch, the two always seem to get to exactly where they need to be.

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Since some Mondays are worse than Sallie Mae, I created a little breakfast club/secret society to help kick Mondays off right. You are reading me right. Every Monday. Me. You. We roll out via email and your morning brew. I promise to meet you with only the good stuff. Highly recommended for movers, shakers, and original gangsters. No rules. You feeling me, boo?

click here to join the wait list for the Monday Morning Breakfast Club Email

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Don’t bring anything more into the web.

With permission, I have posted the email below.

Hi,

I think your blog entered my life at the most perfect moment. You see, I am 25, and this past January, me and my boyfriend of 8 years broke up. I thought it would be the best thing for us, after being together since we were 16, and have only dated each other. Now that I am in the dating world, I am absolutely miserable. I miss my best friend, my boyfriend, my other half. But now he has moved on to a new girlfriend. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I have good days and I have bad days.

I am now afraid of being alone forever. I am afraid no one will love me the way he did, or look at me the way he did, or treat me the way he did. And yeah everyone says… You are young Gabby, you have plenty of time. But I am still scared and I cant help it. There is this guy in my life, he is the most up and down, hot and cold man I’ve ever met. I think the challenge of him makes me put up with it. But in reality, I need to realize he will NEVER make me his girlfriend, rather he will just keep me around until I smarten up and realize I’m worth so much more, and I deserve someone who wants me to be their girlfriend.

Now I know you are not a therapist or a counselor, but do you have any articles that help with either of my situations? Any articles that will help me realize my worth and that I shouldn’t settle for someone who treats me like an option? Or any articles that will help me realize I’m young and there is a big world out there and I wont be alone forever?

Thanks for listening,

G
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Dearest G,

Have you ever been on the “missed connections” section of Craigslist?

It’s a virtual message board, almost like one those bulletin boards for all the “missing persons,”  for all the people who see someone– in a coffee shop, a dive bar, the grocery store, wherever– and they wished they had more courage to say hello.

Hi. Sup. Nice to meet you.

All those simple, one syllable words that suddenly get blocked from your lungs when you see a stranger from across the way whose blue eyes look like coming home.

It’s a booming collection of people who missed out and they are grabbing for another chance. I saw a “missed connection” the other day from a boy who posted a picture of a note left on his lap while he was sleeping in one of the libraries of NYU, nearly two years ago. The note said something like “Hello sleepy boy, I wonder what you are dreaming of. –The girl who sat across from you on the couch.” For two years he could not shake the girl who left him the note while he was dozing on piles of textbooks.

He’s just one of the millions of us who stay wondering about a person we’ve never met or known or shared so much as a coffee with.   A site like “missed connections” works because a) we’re human. b) we crave connection. c) there is something dually haunting and beautiful about the idea what might have been. The “what if”s. The “maybe”s and the “perhaps,one day”s.

You can stand straight in the pits of missed connections, dear. No one will ever tell you to get gone or keep moving. Half of us don’t know how to get our feet unstuck from the muds of it either. But life is not a slew a “what might have been” moments. Life is exactly what you made happen. Life is what you did when you showed. Life is the choices you made. Life is the redemption you gained. Life, more than anything, is action steps. The times when you swallowed your fear and you said hello to the girl in the bright red cap reading Walt Whitman poetry.

It’s not thinking about leaving. It’s not wondering if you’ll ever meet someone again. It’s whether or not there are actually shoes on your feet. It’s whether or not you actually walk towards the door, twist the handle, and go.

I’m going to share a story with you.

I’ve never written it down before. I’ve shared it maybe only three or four times. But I am gonna need you to believe in crazy things– like God speaking to his little children– for you to tag along.

I dated a boy in the sliver of space between graduating from college and moving to New York City. He was wonderful. Really. I should have been happy. Even at the start though, I wanted to go free.

At the same time I was trying to get down low to the ground with my faith. I was really trying to figure out this God character. I got a book out from the library. It had a black cover. I thought it would teach me a thing or two about Faith. Grace. That stuff.

Turns out, the book was really a construction worker disguised as a book. It showed up to dig in the trenches of my heart. It was there to chisel me good. I could feel my insides stirring every time I picked the book up. I honestly never knew that God could stir you in a way where you feel it physically. But there was demolition underway. Bright, yellow caution tape up all around me.

One day while nannying, I was reading the book among a battlefield of Nerf guns and blond bowl cuts with tan torsos flying through the backyard when I looked up to see a spider spinning a web in the corner of the kitchen window. I was captivated. Enamored. I could not explain it. For reasons I may never fully understand, I would have watched that spider spin its web all day.

It was the first spider of dozens, G. Dozens that I would see in the next few days. One after the other after the other. Make no mistake, those spiders had to be a sign. They started showing up everywhere. The front yard. The kitchen table. The window sills. My dreams. Spiderman toys. Plastic spiders. Everywhere I turned.

I went home that first night, put my palms down on the kitchen table and faced my mother: “I am going insane. Legitimately insane. Spiders. Are. Everywhere.”

We spent the night Googling spiders. Coming up with their origins. Trying to figure out the root of them. Wondering what they could actually mean. Looking in the Bible. Were there spiders in the Bible?

Tell me I’m not crazy, tell me I’m not crazy, I whimpered into the night as I tried to fall asleep. I woke up the next morning to find three spiders spinning a web of fresh silk over the coffee pot on the stove.

 
The spider signs grew bigger and bigger and bigger. Every time I saw another one I could feel everything inside of me saying, “Let the boy go. Let the boy go.” I didn’t want to let him go. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to win. I wanted to somehow, someway, be worthy of being the center of someone’s universe. But still the whisper roared, Let. The. Boy. Go.

I closed the book. Hid it away. The signs stopped. The spiders ceased. The voices stopped. The stirring in my stomach fell away.

 
Weeks later, it ended. I left. It ended over something as stupid as the color “yellow.” You could call it “bound to happen all along” but I just call it “yellow,” even to this day. I said goodbye. I wiped the tears from my eyes. I got in my car. I felt freedom on my chest. I drove to the ocean. I sat in the sand by myself and I reopened the book right where I had closed it.

Two pages later, I stumbled into a story about a woman walking in the woods. A spider web appeared. And she stopped to watch that spider spin. She could have watched that spider spin its web all day. And then she heard from God,

“I am spinning. You are not. Let me go ahead of you. Stop trying to drag your own mess into my intricate picture. Don’t bring anything more into the web.”

It had been there the whole time. Just two pages away from me. But I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t see it. Not until I was ready to stop dragging around my own mess.

You have to go this alone. The voice inside me stirred again. This is not a matter of geography or what you can or cannot pack into a suitcase, this is a matter of who you’ve always wanted to be.

Don’t. bring. anything. more. into. the. web.

G, this is not a matter of geography or what you can or cannot pack into a suitcase. This is a matter of who you’ve always wanted to be. You’ve answered all your own questions right in your email. As Cheryl Strayed has written dozens of times, “You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Be brave enough to break your own heart.” You’ve got to trust all the words you’ve already written.

I’ll close by saying this,

I hope you leave. I genuinely, genuinely hope you walk towards the door today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Not because I wish to see you alone. Not because I think you need to be alone. Just because it would break my heart seven months past September to know you are out there, never fully knowing the weight of your worth or stepping into the person you’ve always wanted to be, because someone on the other side of that relationship was too stupid to see that you’re a light. And that lights don’t belong under blankets. Lights belong on trees. Lights belong on hills. Lights belong in all the little places where people can see them and they cannot say anything more than, “There is a light. There she is, there she is.” You might never know the micro tears– the hundreds & hundreds of them– that will form on the inside of you just by staying there.

Lights belong where people can see them, G.

Don’t bring anything more into the web.

hb.

I would appreciate if we could keep the conversation going for G. Please post a comment of blessing, a lesson, a mini love letter. Whatever you please. She is reading and I know she would appreciate it too.

 

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Blessings & the barren places: What I know of letting go.

With permission, I have posted the email below.

Dear Hannah, 

I just discovered your blog like a week ago, I couldn’t even tell you how it happened, but I definitely needed it. You probably get a million of these emails all the time, but I am writing you because I am just in the worst place right now. I feel like I have the world’s hugest broken heart, and I’m constantly fighting it, day after day. 

My love story, if it were still intact, was truly a fairy tale. In short, I reconnected with my best friend from middle school over the internet, we quickly became best friends again, 6 months later decided to date, had our first kiss 2 months later on a New Year’s vacation, and eventually he decided to quit his job to move and be with me in the town where I am currently finishing graduate school. He got here, he struggled to find a job, realized that he still had a lot of self-searching and passion finding to do, and he left this town, and left me.

Rationally, I understood it all. It’s been about 2 months now, and I’ve always understood his reasons. But he never said that he didn’t love me, and he still hasn’t said that, but there is NO WAY that he is coming back right now, and perhaps not ever. You said in one of your more recent posts that when you had your first heartbreak you tried so hard to fix things and bring him back, and in a lot of ways I feel like that is where I am right now. And I AM becoming more embarrassed of myself as time goes on. But it is so so incredibly hard to let go. Especially because he truly was my very best friend, long before we started dating. Anyway, you don’t need to write me my own letter or anything, but I feel like you have to have written something that explains how you let go. And if you could somehow help me, I would really appreciate it. Because I am just a horrible wreck right now.

With gratitude,

K

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Dearest K–

Words fail.

As I get deeper and deeper into the trenches of what it means to be a writer, I realize more regularly that words fail. They’re never going to be what I truly want them to be. I can’t morph them and make them into tables and chairs. I can’t turn my words into a plane ticket to fly across the states and just sit down beside you. If I had my way, my words would be a canopy. A canopy of white silk, or something very pretty like that. And we could sit for hours & hours & hours together. And I wouldn’t talk if you didn’t want me to. I don’t have all the answers anyway. But we could just sit there. And you would not have to feel so alone.

The truth is, you aren’t alone. It’s hard to swallow that. It’s hard to admit that. Because last night you fell asleep remembering someone who is like a ghost to all the parts of you. And that will make a person feel very lonely. Very lonely and very alone. But count me as one of the people, one of the people who just said a prayer for you. And I drove around my neighborhood breathing in your story and listening to music I think you would like. And then think about all people who will read this letter next. They’re with you too. We all are. When you showed in my inbox, I whispered to you, “Babycakes, you are so far from alone. Let’s tackle today together.”

I am not coming to you as a writer.

I’m not coming to you as an expert or some advice columnist. I’m simply coming to you as a girl who once heard her first “I love you” on a Christmas night and it sounded like a cross between Elvis and angels. A girl who once thought she could give someone a yellow sweater– a dumb little yellow sweater– so that she could call him up from time to time and ask if he was still taking care of that sweater. She thought that maybe there was a way to tie herself to people like him forever. That’s who is writing this letter. I’ve turned the page over to her.

People will tell you in tandem and in chorus: Let him go. Let him go. Let him go.

You don’t have to.

That’s the best wisdom I have: You don’t have to let him go. You don’t have to let him go until you are the ready one.

For the longest time it hurt me to do anything but hold on. And maybe that’s silly, and maybe some would call that weak, but I am human and I won’t pretend like I could do much of anything else at that time. He was my best friend. He was my safer spot. He was every bit of “I want to put you inside of box and keep you there forever and believe we will never need to change. That’s where I want you to stay.” When they told me to let him go, I wasn’t ready.

I did all the basics. I got rid of his Facebook. I deleted his number. I got rid of his clothing. But if someone tries to tell you those are the ways to let someone go, don’t listen. It’s not true. That’s just the introductory steps within an instruction book that doesn’t exist. The real work is how you’re gonna learn to sew a song out of all the broken music notes inside of you.

I kept the memories of him tucked in my oversized pockets. I turned on “our song” just to cry and feel something. I wrote him letters from time to time, though I never sent them. I carried thoughts of him with me. To coffee shops. To libraries. To meetings and walks home at night. Every part of me was an anthem of not being ready to let him go and there was some sort of strange freedom in realizing I didn’t have to. I could hold on. I could hold on. And eventually, eventually, my fists would grow tired from all the clenching and I would let it go.

It would happen naturally. It would happen melodically. And though I could never control all the left hand turns I wanted him to take when he went right & right & right, loving him– and learning how to unlove him in a way that made me saner– was in my control.

At the crux of that breakup that ripped through me with the strength of an Alabama Roll Tide, I trudged through the mess of me with Elizabeth Glibert by side. As she traveled through the lands of Bali & India & Italy, I traveled with her and I swallowed parts of her wisdom like Kinder Bueno. Her memoir kept me stitched like a sweater quickly gaining holes that needed constant patching. And at one point she wrote this. And it changed the game for me. Read it carefully, my friend. This is a game changer.

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll be really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”

There it is. There it is. Part one: the sending off. Part two: more love than you ever dreamed.

When I loved him, when I really loved him with my whole frame and being, I wanted the world for him. I wanted laughter. I wanted joy. I wanted success. I wanted everything he wanted since he was a little boy. A heartbreak. Two people changing. Life throwing around unfavorable circumstances– these should never be the things that make us stop wanting goodness for someone we once loved with our whole body. That’s maybe childish. That’s maybe the first step in loss but not the final landing point. Who wins in that case? No one. No one.

You need to reach the point in your steps, and your conversations, and your everyday everything’s where you are ready to wish him light and love and then let him go. Not bitterness. Not hurt. Not questions. Not a quest for closure. It probably won’t be a final thing. It will probably be an everyday, every time he comes to your mind, kind of thing. It might still hurt. It might still sting.

But when he pops in, say hello. Wish him well. Say a prayer. Ask for blessings to go straight to him. Then let it go, let it, let it go.

You could keep him there forever.

You really could. They make movies out of those kinds of stories. The “ones who got away.” But your fists clenching rocks of what-used-to-be eventually defeats the purpose of two hands that were created to throw blessings in barren places.

Stop looking at the world and look down at your own two hands. People will tell you how to drown your tears in chocolate ice cream. They will tell you how to get bitter and seek revenge. They will tell you how to get smaller and smaller and burn the belongings of another to ashes to make you feel like you have “let them go.” But no one spills out the secretest secret of them all: To let things go, really let them go, open up your hands and bless others by the fistful.

You get decide if you want to be the empty cup that needs refilling or the full pitcher that overflows into all the other cups. That’s on you, babycakes.

But I know there is something, wadded & beautiful & glittering inside of you, that would give anything to kick down doors to let other people in. And I think you should go with that. Go with that dream of yours to be a blessing. To help someone. To open up your eyes to how God would use you in the moment. I don’t know about you, but I believe in a God who lets us use our tears to harvest. He lets us use our pain to make a feast for someone else. Don’t wait for the sadness to clear to be the blessing you’ve always wanted to be. I’m afraid you’ll miss out. I’m afraid you will miss out.

When I finally learned to open up my hands, it was all there waiting for me. And I thought of that boy– the one I have filled with too much light and love for his little lungs to handle– and I pictured him smiling. Because he had a great smile. And I stopped regretting how we broke. Because look at me now. I’m standing. Look at me now. I’m more stretched, and brilliant, and whole than I ever was before. And because of him, my hands throw blessings in barren places.

Open up your hands, babycakes. They were made to do the same.

hb.

 

I would appreciate if we could keep the conversation going for K. Please post a comment of blessing, a lesson, a mini love letter. Whatever you please. She is reading and I know she would appreciate it too.

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Fishing lines of loneliness & a decent chance to walk away.

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I can still remember how you didn’t say anything for a while.

I could tell, without even holding them, that your palms were sweating. I kept looking forward, tapping my fingers against the steering wheel until you finally spoke.

“I don’t want to become one of your life lessons,” you said. “I don’t want you to turn me into that.” 

Still, to this day, those are the hardest words I’ve ever had to hear someone tell me. It was hard to hear that request come off the lips of someone who didn’t fit into my life any longer. We didn’t have a future together. We’d already given up and yet we were still meeting in secret places. And we were using one another to avoid reality and the pain that would come with giving up and moving on. There would be loneliness when we let go of one another, we both knew that, and neither of us wanted to face that.

It was the first time I realized that people genuinely want space in our lives.

People genuinely crave simple and true relationships in a world full of overly complicated and very fragile things. They want perfect worlds where everything fits. They want no one to get hurt or scathed. And when the world doesn’t work that way, and the stories don’t unfurl their wings with perfect happy endings, then people get desperate to hold onto things they no longer value like they used to. And they find a way to keep a person tied close. And they check in every once in a while. And they bring that person up in conversations. And they sit hollowed out, with a cup of coffee between their hands, when they have nothing left to share but a sad, little ending with not nearly enough closure.

That. Is. How. Our. World. Works. Today. And I ain’t afraid to say it. I ain’t afraid to admit that a lot of people, including me, walk around fearful and relentless not to let another person slip through their fingers. The world turned out to be harder than we all expected and we’d rather keep close the people that fit our spirits no longer, safe in our sights, than to let them go off and find the healing and freedom they can only get apart from us.

I’ve started calling them the “fishing lines of loneliness.”

The ways we bait one another into communication because we are all so afraid of what would really happen if the screen shut off and we had to face ourselves. Alone. Single. Separate from the wreckage of relationships we should have said goodbye to yesterday.

The fishing lines of loneliness come out on a Thursday night or a late Friday evening when the world gets quiet. You can’t handle scrolling through the Facebook streams any longer and you feel this loneliness in your core that is hard to give words to. It makes you feel unworthy. You feel all alone. You struggle with guilt. You pound your fists against the sides of you and say things like, “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you be productive right now? Why aren’t you out enjoying life?” And, just like a little black book you can pull from your side pocket, your iPhone reveals a slew of numbers you can text to make that loneliness disappear for a while.

They’re old flames. They’re friendships that never had any boundaries to them. They’re people you’ve strung along without ever having to define anything. They’re past relationships–broken and battered– that never needed another stir of the pot.     

You send a few texts. And then you wait for the fish to catch on and the conversations to begin.

 “Hi! How are you?”
    “I’m good. How have you been?”
    “Great! I’ve missed you…”

There’s a tone of sobriety and sadness in the conversations, as if you both know you aren’t going back to where you once were but you are trying to salvage something all the same.

I’ve brought this up to about a dozen women in the last week and every single one has raised up their hands and said, “Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I know exactly who those people on my list are.”

And no one feels particularly guilty about these fishing lines of loneliness if it makes the hollow feeling inside fade for a bit. And so we carry on conversations we really don’t need, and we hash out memories that don’t have a place in our lives anymore, and we cling to anything that makes us feel special, and wanted, and worthy for the moment, even if it’s two-dimensional and someone else’s feelings get played with for a while. We hurt one another because we know how to. It’s not that we ever wanted to, but we certainly know how to.

In a perfect world, we could stay here forever.

Our relationships would never break. We’d always have a sense of home in our hearts. We’d never need to reach inside our pockets to remedy our loneliness with tapping on a screen to someone who fits us no longer.

In a perfect world, we’d never have to question why someone was in our lives, over & over again, until it reached a point of letting them go when we know they don’t belong. Not for the sake of being a lesson learned. Or the latest blog material. But mainly because people deserve to be let go when they no longer serve a purpose in our lives.    They deserve to know it. They deserve the decent chance to walk away.

We are powerful things and we often don’t give ourselves enough credit for that. We can break a heart, cut a person out, retrace every feeling ever given to someone else with just a few jumbled words. That’s way more weight than we expected to shoulder. Eventually we need to accept that some conversations will never take us anywhere. Some interactions will hinder us more than help us. Some people will keep us rooted in the past so much that we forget we even cared to look to the future. Still, it is so hard to say goodbye because we want to convince ourselves that we can hold onto every human being that we cross paths with. Like it would never hurt us. Like it would never break us to keep all those hearts hostage.

In a perfect world, we could stay here forever.

In a perfect world, you’d be far more to me than a lesson learned. A chapter closed off. A book ending. A number deleted. A beginning rising that doesn’t hold your name in the dedication section. I’m sorry I kept you all this time. Safe in a heart that gripped crumbs for too many years. I’m learning not to tangle you in any longer. Not to weave you into conversations that never were fit for your name.

You and I both know that our wings are waiting in separate corners of this earth.

This is me, giving you the decent chance to walk away.

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Filed under Letting Go, Uncategorized

Always, always, you are wondering, will I see this one again?

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When I graduated from college, there were people who said things that hurt me so.

They never intended to prick me. Their hope was never to harm me with their stacking of words. But me, I’ve always been too sensitive of a soul, skipping the heart-on-sleeve sewing to chuck my heart on the concrete for others like the throwing of candy at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

So when they told me I would be the kind of girl who walked in and out of others’ lives I simply told them no. No, I would be rooted. No, I would stay. And when they told me I would be the kind of girl to never look back at them I told them no. No, I would be turning my head back more than they could count. No, I would be spinning round & round to find them.

 

They were right.

I have become the kind of girl who walks in and out of others’ lives. I am there for moments. I am standing upon a stage and I am delivering some sort of message, mixed and mingled with poetry my Mama raised me on, before I am leaving, unhooking the microphone and walking away. I am finished in twenty minutes. And I am boarding a flight. And I am heading home. And I am going to do it all again next week.

What they never told me—when they said I’d be the girl to swoop in & then out, in & then out—is that I would be the one to hear the door slam the loudest. Always. I would be the one left standing by the door.

 

I’m sitting in a café with a friend, scraping my eggs across a plate because I don’t feel much like eating. And I don’t feel much like talking.

This was the first time that I felt a little broken while my plane was on the runway. This is the first time I have come home feeling a little bit hollow from walking away.

She asks me, “What do you think is the toughest part of your job?” She’s expecting something different than the answer I will give her. She’s expecting me to say finances, or delegation, or knowing what to charge for this or knowing how to balance that. She’s waiting for the nitty gritty details to splurge from my lips.

I say, “The hardest part is leaving.” There is a pregnant pause as I place down my fork and find the place to curl my hands around the coffee mug for comfort. “The hardest part is leaving a place when you only want to stay for a little while longer.”

It’s the thing that people never notice about my job. It’s the thing they never see when the Instagram is filled with travels and the Twitter is stocked up with 140-charactered fragments that tell of a girl living out her dreams. And while I never take my life for granted, it’s the oddest thing in the world to be singled out and set apart for your story. It’s the craziest feeling to spark people and push people with your words and then walk away to do it over again in another space and another place.

 

I crave connection wherever I am but it hurts to get to know the faces because always, always, you are wondering, will I see this one again?

And if the answer is no, if I never see you past the lights shining down on me and the theatre closing in all around my echoing voice, will I know how to let you go? Will I know how to want the very best for you? Will I know how to release this sadness that trembles in my throat at the thought of saying goodbye before there ever was a decent stack of hellos?

There’s a grey I can’t quite understand for moments that don’t last longer than our fingernails. There’s a sadness that thickens when I walk away from a place, or from good people. There is a loneliness only I know that comes from sharing a story to a room packed to the balconies with faces and knowing that not a single one of them can follow where you go.

 

“You can bring home the souvenirs,” I tell her. “But never the people. I think that’s the toughest part.”

And as we sit in silence there is irony dancing in the air as Rihanna’s latest song crawls through the speakers like a slow and mangled lullaby. I feel like crying. I feel like pursing my lips together and curling my hands into fists. I feel raw and sad to be living inside a Tuesday that hasn’t thought to schedule coffee dates with the sunlight all afternoon.

She sings about staying. About wanting someone to stay for reasons she can’t understand.  And for once, I feel like she is singing about something we all know. Her voice is slow. Her melody is lonely.

When she sings it, we all mean it, “I want you to stay.”

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Filed under Letting Go

The Tale of the Box: For the reader with clipped wings.

“What do you think it is?” he asks the girl and boy crouching on both sides of him as all three dipped their heads lower to the leaves to get a closer look.

“Whatever it is, it looks broken,” the little girl says, poking the metal contraption with a stick.

“A robot?”

“Probably a UFO,” the other boy answers, having remained quiet up until this point.

“It’s a box…” I tell them, coming up behind the Three Young Ones. “Or…at least it was a box.”

I take a knee beside them and pick the ramshackled piece of metal up from the casket of leaves in the ground. Weathered by the storm. Fragile.

I pick it up carefully. As if it were a broken-winged blue bird. Tiny & Delicate; It Used to Sing a Song of Mercy.

“Well that’s pretty boring,” retorts the little girl, standing to place her hands on her hips.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But this box has quite the story behind it,” I tell them. “Maybe you won’t understand it just yet but later in life it will all make sense. 

Come, let’s find a place to sit in the shade and I’ll tell you everything.”

The Tale of the Box.

The Box formed many, many years ago. Long before iPods & iMacs or iHomes & iPads. Long before “i” was anything but a letter, a way to say Me with more assurance.

Long before automobiles or poodle skirts or sewing machines. For centuries– stacked upon one another like playing cards– living & breathing beings have stuffed themselves into this very Box.

“But its way too tiny,” the little girl interjects. “I couldn’t even fit my baby brother in that box.”

“You have a very good eye,” I say. “You see, they never got to fitting. Not a single one. They never found an angle to sit within it or a way to be comfortable between its four walls. And if you had asked them, when they were your size and just your age, if they’d ever squeeze into this Box one day, they would have told you ‘No.’ No, no, no.

But they got stuck. Trapped like Rapunzel High Up in Her Tower with Yards & Yards of Unruly Locks.”

“How do you get trapped in a box like that?” asks the little boy with red framed glasses.

“Good question. I can tell you that it happens very slowly at first….

A small pitter patter on the roof of the Box…

Should & Would falling from the sky.

Then louder…

Droplets of Mustn’t & Must

Then more robust…

Hail pellets of Cannot & Never

Then Thicker…

Disbelief. And Give Up Now. And Foolish to Believe You Could Ever Follow Your Heart.

And Heavier…

Why Try? Too. Small. No. Good. Worth. Less.

And before long, a heavy layer of all the reasons why the Box would be the safest & smartest & most logical place to stay poured out and covered the roof. And people stopped trying to break free. Or Break Out. Or Break the Mold. Or break anything but their own heart with the sound of dreaming slamming with the door. 

And they made Less Noise. And tried to take up Less Space. The Box became the very place where people learned to keep themselves holed up so that they never have to grow the Courage It Would Take to crawl out and seize the world by its lovely, lovely love handles.”

“It sounds very scary,” they whisper.“Very scary indeed.”

“Did you ever get stuck in the Box, miss?”

“Me?” I ask. “Well, sad to say it true but yes.”

“How did you break free?” They sat on their hands. They bit their lips. They waited for an answer, a resolution of sorts.

“I suppose I woke up one day and noticed One of Two Things or Two of One Thing:

One) My Spirits were Tattered & Torn but not beyond repair.

They could be fixed with a hammer, a few nails and some care.

Two) My dreams, still strong, had grown tired of me.

They would stand No Longer to not come to be.

They’d pack up their things and turn with a twirl,

hitch hiked the stars until they found a New Girl.

I would have spent a lifetime in that Box, or maybe even two, if I only used the carved windows for “looking purposes” and never decided they’d be my way to crawl from my own doubt and fear.

I could have spent forever with my hand to the thick glass, waiting for the voice webbed in my soul to whisper, “Climb out and join them.”

Climb. Out. And. Join. Them.

“I don’t think I’ll ever want to be stuck in that Box. It looks so tiny and lonely,” says the little girl, cringing.”

“And I hope you never do get stuck in the Box. It won’t ever be much of a home. And it won’t ever make you happy. The longer you get stuck, the harder it will be to break out.

Heavier Rooftops Pile Us In as Life Goes On & On.

So go on playing today, Loving the World through Little Girl & Boy Lenses. But remember this later, if your Little Minds Can Hold It Tight: Those dreams that stir you, the ones you paint on easels today and draw in crayon tomorrow, they are precious. And one day, they will come to you and say, “I want to come true now. I am ready to come true. So now what should we do?”

And that will be the question. The question that will either put you in the Box or Break the Box Right From the Hinges before you ever try to fit a body inside.

Break the hinges from the beginning, you won’t fit inside that box.

Break the hinges from the very start; you were made for things more wonderful than this.

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Filed under Letting Go, Live with intention

No girl wants to say, “And then the grey seeped in.”

When you read this, just remember that you are hearing from a girl who believed in a Grey Kind of Love Story far longer than she believed in the exiled Sugarplum who trudged away from the ballet for a career in swapping teeth for silver under pillows near midnight.

This girl, she once prayed for Grey Love Stories the way a little boy prays to catch the soaring leather skin of a Yankee’s homerun hit. White-Knuckled Prayers for Grey Kinds of Love Stories. 

She was a girl who thought that grey was a pretty, little color fitting for a love story. Someone could you love in shades of gray, she said to the No Ones of the night.

She? Well, she once talked for days just to keep from saying the two words that needed her tongue, needed the air outside of her mouth, needed the lobe of a boy who didn’t love her the way they Love One Another Hard in those vampire movies.

It’s Over.

Them’s heavy words. Heavy like the bags assembled by the clumsy grocery store clerk who’s prone to packing the gallon of milk with the cans of corn and lentils.

Heavy enough to make you wonder if your tongue can take it.

If your lips might break it.

It’s Over.

Knees shaking against the dashboard, she found the those words somewhere along the rows of houses all drawn on the same architect’s sketch pad.

It’s Over.

Pull Over.

Pull over, pull over, pull over.

Girl, you got to find the strength to grab the door handle. Girl, you got to stand beside the car and watch him pull away and realize you still got the dignity, the will, the Know How to Know Better. That you deserve that.

Better.

You Deserve Better.

Girl, I know the way you’ll find it hard to Pull Away. From Him. As he pulls you in and tells you, he always did like the smell of the lavender shampoo you used in your hair.

But Grey, if you cannot see her yet, she’s the Maybe’s, the Some Other Time’s, the I Can’t Make It’s, the Promise I’ll Make It Up To You’s.

All clustered into One Grand Excuse for why he never called and why you stood in those heels that gave you blisters far before you ever got to dancing and waited for the car that never came.

It’s like a person who will tell you Every Day that they might think to love you One Day.

And there you’ll go, marching off to join the crows of girls who ache for the One Day. Perched up on the fence for that One Day, as if they were waiting for Elvis to appear from his dressing room.

But you are not a One Day Girl. You are not a Maybe Girl. You are an Every Day Girl and you need to know it so.

Girl, keep the grey for the dyed threads of your chunky sweaters. Keep the grey for the furs of the mouse that always grows restless beneath your refrigerator around 10pm. Keep the grey for the days that demand rain boots, but don’t let grey lend you a love story.

Grey just aint a color made for telling love stories. No girl wants to say, “And then the grey seeped in.”

And Girl, if you got to scream, Scream Loud. If you got to cry, Cry Buckets. If you got to run, Try Barefoot. And, if you got to find a way to wash him away, Then Wash. Hard.

You sit in the middle of your bathtub and pour out every squirt of lavender shampoo if you got to.

If you never want to find Another to tangle that scent of you in their fingers, fine. Leave that then. But leave all the same.

Leaving knowing One Day you’ll look up. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But One Day, you’ll look up and it’ll be Yellow. All Kinds of Terra Cotta Gold & Tie Dye. With no trace of grey.

You’ll have left that color for your sweaters. For the days that demand rain boots.

And your love stories, they’ll be Salmon Pink. Candy Apple Red. All sorts of Deep Magenta tangled with hints of Navajo White.

5 Comments

December 27, 2011 · 8:11 am

And I am sorry, like Africa. Sorry like Montreal.

“No man is ever gonna chase you through an airport,” my mother told me on my 25th birthday.

At the time, it was 25 years that I’d managed to live just fine without you.

“He might wish he could chase you through an airport, you are certainly pretty enough for that. But he won’t dare stand at Gate 16 and lose all his manhood for a girl who’d never stay.”

Little girls learn to suck and swallow their mothers’ words like throat lozenges. You should probably know now, I gritted my teeth into those very words nearly every night of knowing you, wondering in the dark when you’d turn to leave. Turn and slam the door and leave me breathing or maybe some kind of breathless on the other side, saying, “That door has never quite sounded this way before.” Never so hollow. Never so cold.

But my mother was right, because of who I am and what I won’t sacrifice, I’ll be the kind of girl who has to stand at Gate 16, staring down at her shoes, asking a part of her heart if it will still remain when the plane’s wheels kiss Beijing’s runway.

That part of her heart that’s sitting in a window seat right now. Ordering a glass of wine to take the edge off. Inserting ear plugs. Left. Then. Right. That part of her heart that is already learning that holding on was a foolish thought to begin with. That part of her heart that is reversing steps and spelling words backwards: oG reH teL reH TsuJ

I’m about 600 yards away from you right now.

A few gates.

Two security guards.

A couple of steps.

And a long aisle away from you.

It’s not really romantic. I didn’t expect to catch you at the last moment. You are so prompt, so timely, that you make these kinds of “don’t go, hurdling over suitcases in an effort to get to you before the gate closes” kind of scenes impossible.

But I am here, 600 yards away from you. Feeling like I’ve already placed a couple countries between us. Uruguays of Unsaid Words. Senegals of Stupid Fights. Mexicos of Mixed Emotions. Koreas & Chinas & Japans of Where the Heck Did I Go So Wrong?

And I am sorry. Like Africa. Sorry like Montreal. Sorry as the whole Indian Ocean, bloated after swallowing the Pacific for a midnight snack.

Sorry because I don’t need you. I really don’t. And the last thing I want to tell you is that I need you. And so I’ll tell you that I don’t. I. Don’t. Need. You. 

Stop, please stop.

Stop and decide to stop right there. Go back on me like a road map that one gave you a hidden turn. Read me one more time; find me in the lines one last time. Find that I don’t mean it, under the apostrophe like rocks in the garden. Climb to the top of the “d” and jump down to the “y,” to see the strength it’s taking me to Slip from my Pride like a Silk Dress and stand Needing before you.

I don’t deserve it. I know. I shouldn’t have you. I get it. I’m barely breathing here. It’s scary. I’d like to walk away. “Like to” is a keyword. I’ll let you down? Probably. You’ll do the same? Surely. But I am better with you. I actually believe that. Better needing you.

And I am standing here. 600      yards     away    from     you.

I didn’t get to chase you through the airport. No hurdling the suitcases to grasp you.  But I’d be willing… for the first time, I Am Willing. If you’ll have me.

 

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Filed under Creative Fiction, Girl meets Boy, Letting Go, Staying

I guess I wouldn’t need a God if I knew how to be strong when the radio comes on.

She let me go.

Turned up the volume of the stereo when she saw the first traces of salt begin scraping down my cheeks.

She asked no questions.

She already knew: Some Wednesdays are made for bowing down to the Waterworks. Welling up. Washing outward.

Some Wednesdays were made for all the “W” Words Welding together to Whisper in your ear the Very Verbs to obey that day: Whimper. Wail. Wallow. Welp.

Some Wednesdays were made for Washing Away like the stains in silk blouses the moment you hear Adele, her alto voice bellowing through the radio. She’s practically Warning you with each strike of a chord, “The next chorus will get those eye sockets of yours good.”

I cried for a solid 3 minutes and 46 seconds yesterday. It may have been longer. May have been shorter. Led by Lyrics to a Desperate Point of needing to let it all out, screaming at the sadness, “You can’t stay here no more.”

The Whole time I stared directly ahead of me at the Windshield Wipers sloshing. Back & Forth. Back & Forth.

And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the pain or the memories that will become of all this in the next few weeks, I was simply Wondering why something as small as a few Words can be so capable of pinning my spirit to the ground like the three-time Winner in the championship Wrestling match, collapsing me into a sobbing mess. Why, oh why, cant I just Hold It All Together? God, please. I need to be strong today.

I guess I wouldn’t need a God if I knew how to be strong when the radio comes on and pain folds out into my lap like a Geisha’s fan.

You and I, We wouldn’t need much of anything. No friends to Whisper full with our secrets. No mystery “Somebody” to explore over coffee dates and Walks in the Park. None of that. None of that “human stuff” if we could Live this Strange Thing on our own.

So I take the fact that I can fall & fold over a few lines of a song–“I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue. I’d go crawling down the avenue“– as a sign that I am Helpless. Hopeless. In need of a hero on a daily basis. Without that, I’ll make it about 5 steps out the door before I spill my coffee, forget my computer in the back seat of the car, take the wrong train or miss the shuttle. I’ll last fifteen minutes, one tragic turn of events, one bout of bad news before I admit it: I am nothing by myself. Nothing without conversation. Without prayer. Without knowing that when I cry, really bawl my eyes out, I am not alone.

So tell me that you ache too. I need to know you are searching. I have to, have to, have to believe that the second I fall and stumble and find difficulty in understanding this World and How She Operates that you’ll be coming around the corner, and you’ll be shuffling me to a place where we can turn our heads upward. And you’ll tell me in so many syllables, or no words at all, that you’ve been here before. And that Human Hands are Worthless if not knit by Something Bigger that sees us hurting and weakened by the shortness of this life. 

And that there is no route but that it gets easier. Eventually. Eventually. And if it doesn’t get easier that the grip of your hand will only get tighter. Only Get Tighter When I Start to Slip.

I have to know that at the end of the day, in a Life that won’t ever promise you a Tomorrow like it gave you a Yesterday, that at least I won’t have to cry alone. That Windshield Wipers can Swing & Swing. The rain can fall down and blur the headlights. But that you’ll just sit beside me. Turn up the stereo. Ask no questions for that 3 minutes and 46 seconds.  Just Let Me Wash It All Away.

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Filed under Letting Go, The Tough Stuff, Tragedy

Darling, you are not another to me: received your questions, please see answers attached.

Q1: Will the world stop turning?

A1: Absolutely not.

In fact, I think she might spin even quicker with one less name to weigh down a diary at night.

She’d command the Sun to rise up as always, leading & guiding us reckless children throughout the day, letting the Stars take a shift in teaching us how to dream at night.

There’d still be Places to Go and New Faces to Learn. Memorize Them until they fall into some kind of “Familiar” in the Accordion File Folders of the Soul.

No, no, the world would still find reason to turn, even without you.

Q2: Will you still have reason to live?

A2: Reason to live? Well no… Because, well, what is living anyway besides standing here with lungs that operate and a heart that beats so unreliably?

Living is for the boring creatures who think breathing is the kind of thing you scratch off the to-do list each day.

But I’d find reasons to wake up and place two feet down on the floor. If that’s what you are asking? Reason to walk outside and greet the people at the bakery, secretly imagining myself with all the pastry makers laughing, saying over breakfast croissants, “We found reason to get up today!”

I’d find the same old reasons to greet the doorman and say please when asking for the morning paper. I’d find reason to still stop and watch the street performers, wishing I could follow them when they close up their guitar cases at the end of a day. Watch them purchase pears & tobacco from the coins they get as gratitude for making angels come out the trees in Central Park. It takes a special kind of person to lure the angels out in Central Park. A special pair of lips, blessed to blow the heck out of a music note.

I can surely assure you, I’d still have reason to live, even without you.

Q3: Will you find another?

A3: Another? Another? An. Other? Oh absolutely. In no time. An. Other. On the street corner. An. Other. In the market.

Darling, you are not another to me.

If it were possible, I’d surely take the “O” and the “N” and the “E” from within that faceless word.

ONE.

That is what I think when your name comes up in conversation and I am suddenly stumbling over envy because someone had the chance to bring you up first.

One. None like you. Singular. Like the plural ran away, as street children run from the cops, the second you scrawled my first piece of homework at the top of a blank composition notebook.

We had August.

That’s what I always think. August: a month where I didn’t memorize a single vocabulary word. Though my mother hired you for that. But I memorized the Grooves in your Grin. The Lull in your Walk. The Way your Eyes Stayed on Me, Hours After Parting. They stayed like sweet cherry stains on my fingertips.

Yes, yes, I’d uncover One Million Others… but never the One that was You from that very first day.

Will the world still turn?

Will I still find reason to live?

Will I find another?

You’ve asked me three good questions. I think I’ve answered them well. Now answer me my one before you slip to the door with your suitcase packed tight:

Did staying ever cross your mind? 

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Filed under Girl meets Boy, Letting Go, Uncategorized