The fight to bury you.


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The salesman at the AT&T store wasn’t equipped to handle me.

He’s equipped to handle phones. And tablets. And angry customers who drop their phones and crack the screens. I am 100% sure that he is equipped to handle such things. But me? No, certainly not.

I imagined he’d probably gotten up that morning and slugged a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee without any plans of ever encountering an anxious malcontent in a bright red hat who was hoping to get an upgrade and a clean slate– all in one sitting.

“Do you have everything backed up?” he asked me.

“I don’t think so,” I shrugged and looked off to the window. “Does it really matter? Do people actually do that?”

“Ummm, well…” he looked at me, as if staring long enough might be the key to me cracking a grin and telling him I was just kidding. I wasn’t kidding.

“Yea, they do,” he said.

“What would I want to keep?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Pictures? People usually want those. Notes?”

“Does that really matter? I mean, we are all going to die anyway.”

“That’s one way to look at it,” he laughed nervously. I mean, really nervously. I didn’t flinch.

“Let’s not back it up,” I told him. “Let’s just start fresh. Start clean. Haven’t you ever wanted that? A new start? A chance to just begin again?”

“I guess so?”

Like I said, he had no idea what to do with me. I think if his facial expression could translate itself into words it would have simply said: I am genuinely terrified of you, girl in the bright red hat. I am genuinely terrified, and yet somehow intrigued, all at the same time.”

I wish I was kidding right now. I wish I did not have to sit here and tell you that these are the exact words (verbatim) that slipped out of my mouth the other day as I waited on one of those bright orange AT&T stools to get my iPhone 6 upgrade.

You’re probably all like, “There’s Hannah and her morbidity again, lounging back and creeping out men who really don’t want to approach existentialism over tiny metal phones.” You’d be proud of me though– I made no references to the sinking of the Titanic and that, to me, is a pretty big win.

 

But really though, haven’t you ever wanted that? That one sliver of a solid chance to just start over. To clear the slate. To say, “There are things I am finished with and I am digging my heels into the ground and deciding to be done with them.”  Please just tell me I am not the only one who has ever been so tired of the way Yesterday stays crumpled on the floor by the bed like an old lover’s sweatshirt. Please just tell me I am not the only one who wants to forget sometimes.

An old lover’s sweatshirt.

That’s what I think about these days. It keeps coming up. People keep making references. It’s kind of strange– actually. Because it always pulls me back to a navy blue sweatshirt with a big ol’ First Aid symbol on the front of it. He’d spray cologne on it so I could burrow my nose into the material and pretend he was with me when distance came in like an unruly dinner guest and ripped us both apart.

I remember that navy blue sweatshirt and how it held me together. It’s crazy to think that. I mean, I wonder if the hands that made that sweatshirt ever juggled with the idea that an eighteen year old girl, probably countries away, would one day grip that sweatshirt like it was oxygen and her existence all mashed up in the cotton material. I wonder if people ever see the fragility of holding something tighter when you can hold someone no longer. It’s painful. It’s real.

Even when we broke, even when I could not steal his voice through nighttime phone calls any longer, I kept that sweatshirt in my bed. I kept it beside me like it was the lantern to give me light. Like it was the hand to feed me. Like it was my worth and my purpose and my identity all wrapped into one hooded thing that once cost the boy too many pretty pennies at Abercrombie & Fitch for a girl who stole his heart to just go ahead and take it.

Maybe that’s the common thread I didn’t see up until this week. If anyone ever asks you, you can now say with full conviction, “Yes, there is a common thread between wiping away all the memory you neglected to back-up and the hoodie of a boy with blue eyes who owned a laugh that left you as fringed as blue jeans. There most certainly is a common thread.”

The common thread is this: You get choices.

Every single day is stacked with choices on more choices. You get to make decisions. You get to stand at the crossroads of your own life and decide if you want to change, and let go, and forget some things, and walk away.

You get to decide if you want to forgive yourself. Because you, like everyone else, deserves to be able to bury your past in a bright tin box in the backyard and never look back. You, like everyone else, deserves to be able to say, “I could hold on for ten thousand more years. I really could. But I choose to let go and give myself permission to just be okay with never having all the answers.” Just because you can hold something or someone longer does not mean you should.

Here’s the thing: we are feisty humans who want all the answers. We want to play God and doctor up the mystery that is simply meant to just be “mysterious” to small things like us. We want to know why our memory fails us. We want to remember just the sweet things. And then the reality hits us like a car, head-on: It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t going to last forever. It was going to end, like all and most things. And you couldn’t stay in that spot forever. Though it would have been easier. You know, it’s always easier to cling to the things that used to keep us alive with false senses of identity. It’s so much harder to admit the truth: your past is not a name tag you wear on your chest. Your past is not who you are when someone reaches for your hand at a party. Maybe you’ve acted like it could be though. Like some story or some poem or some other set of eyes could actually set you free. You know what’s really freeing? Looking forward instead of clinging to the rearview mirror like a lifeline. It’s not a lifeline. It’s simply over.

This will always be your fight. It will always be your choice.

It will always be in your power to shred the name tag or give away the sweatshirt or clear the memory of an old phone so that you, too, can taste “beginning.”

Some would call that “grace.” Some would call that “forgiveness.” Some would call that “finally letting it go and sealing it with an “amen” to wash that thing away.”

24 thoughts on “The fight to bury you.

  1. Well Hannah.

    You’ve outdone yourself with this one. And I’m not sure if me sitting here typing this with an empty feeling inside is good or bad, changing or staying. I’m not sure.

    But whatever it is…. I’m “finally letting it go and sealing it with an amen to wash that t hing away.”

    As always, thanks m’dear. Love you sweet thing. Keep writing…. As long as your fingers can move and there is air in your lungs… Keep writing.

    Keeping you tucked in my pocket,
    Court

  2. “Yes, there is a common thread between wiping away all the memory you neglected to back-up and the hoodie of a boy with blue eyes who owned a laugh that left you as fringed as blue jeans.”

    You say it, girl. Wow.

  3. Hannah, it never ceases to amaze me how God can take all that is in my heart and have another woman so beautifully put it to words. Sometimes just knowing we are not alone means so much. My hoodie is an LSU t shirt and just last week I wiped out every single photo from my phone. And then told a dear friend, I just want to up and move, I want a fresh start. Thank you for this incredible reminder that I so desperately needed to hear. Today. I so badly want to be free but my heart is so darn stubborn! Anyway, just want you to know that your words make a huge impact on many and I am so thankful for you!

  4. Thanks, Hannah. My eyes sucked in every sentence with a ferocity that surprised me. I needed this post, girl in the red hat. I must let go of the boy hundreds of miles away who couldn’t love me. I need to come to speaking terms with my own heart.
    Love, Hannah

  5. I 100% believe in the common thread. For the analytic thinkers and the intuitive feelers like myself, there is always a constant battle between the head and the heart. Both offer a great set of choices and can keep you contemplating for weeks, months, and maybe years, but real change and real beginnings follow making choices that propel you forward.

    It’s scary making those choices, but your stories inspire me to keep to being brave and to persevere through the battle!

    Thank you Hannah!

  6. I thought you would give me a pat on the back for cutting up the sweatshirt. But I found at the end of reading this post that I wasn’t disappointed. Because I didn’t do it for you, Hannah. I didn’t do it for you or for anyone else. And I realize now that when I threw away that sweatshirt, I threw away a big part of me that needed to die. The part that constantly needed the approval of others and the reassurance from another person’s lips that I’m okay. I will always be the girl who asks a small army of people what to do before making any significant decision. But I think I’ve gotten past the point where my life hinges on what people say I should or shouldn’t do, or what they think of me. And I needed to read this email to see that I really have shed that proverbial sad sweatshirt for good. And kudos to you for not giving up on telling people to let go of the things not worth keeping, the things holding them back. There is life after the sweatshirts. Keep telling them. ❤

  7. This post was an answer to prayer.
    Thank you so, so much. You’re my biggest inspiration, as a writer & as a person. God spoke to me in crazy ways through this post & I couldn’t be more grateful.
    Xo

  8. I wish we could curl up on a bench at winshape and just pour out all the yesterdays in our brains together…right there on the pavement and then get up, step over it, and walk forward from those things. I feel you, Hannah. This got me right where it hurts, right when I needed it. Thanks for that. Thanks for being you.

  9. I’ve been reading your posts for several months now, and every time I’m amazed at how perfectly you put into words what women all around the world feel. Thank you, Hannah, for making sense. You write beautifully, and it is an inspiration to me to see how you put your all into every blog post. You’re not afraid to talk about the deep stuff.
    Thanks.

  10. Hannah, Your posts are always exactly my thoughts for the week. I’m not saying they are relevant to where I am in my story, I am saying that you speak to the exact word in the exact paragraph on the exact page that I am on in my story. This past week I pulled out all the things I had hung on to from past relationships, a teddy bear, a t shirt, and countless letters that I never sent. These things were a source of fear for me– they were a reminder of who I was and where I was, andI held onto them to keep me from going back to that place and that person. But I burnt them. I burnt it all, because I am not going back, and I am not going to live in fear of going back. This week was my fresh start. I will go forward without the person I was looming over me and threatening to return. Thank you for your ever relevant words.

  11. I enjoyed reading this so much. It is so amazing how even a trip to the AT&T store can turn into a philosophical pep talk. I loved the part where you said – “Let’s not back it up,” I told him. “Let’s just start fresh. Start clean. Haven’t you ever wanted that? A new start? A chance to just begin again?”

    After some of your previous blogs and Monday morning emails about ‘Gold’, I take it that you upgraded to the gold iPhone 6. If so, we would both have the same phone.

    Thank you so much for posting this, Hannah!

  12. The other day I replied to this post via email. You posted it as a response on your blog which I did not intend to have happen. It includes my email address as well.
    Please delete from blog comment.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  13. im so speechless, you cant even begin to understand how badly I needed to read this andlet these words resonate in my mind, thank you Hannah seriously.

  14. So painfully great Hannah. Funny how freedom is more often than not cloaked with our ability to face the shame of who we wish we were. And embracing the the process of the person that we actually are. And being so content in every lonely, silent, beautiful, pungent, face yourself moments that are true joy. All the imagery in this post hits home.
    So grateful for you. Love from California x

  15. I kept saving this telling myself that I would read it later. Well later came tonight, after a night of crying over old things, memories, and people. And while I cried again reading this. It made me feel better. I needed to hear it. I needed to read these words in order to feel whole again. And for that, I cannot begin to thank you enough.

    Your words always seem to come to me at the right time. I am forever grateful for the number of things that you have gotten me through without even knowing it. Keep writing and sharing your voice with the world; more people need to hear it!

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