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If You Find A Way Out

5 Oct

The summer I was 21, I bartended up North by night and missed my sweetheart in Grand Rapids during the day. I burned up the highway between his place and mine, stalled in 31 miles of construction every single week. I chain smoked and listened to this album over and over, and then once more. I still have the car I drove that summer, though I am no longer in possession of any of my sweethearts.

The way I look at it, is this: if I absolutely must be heart broke (and I do insist that I am) then at least I am in good company. We are all a building burning, I reckon. We should take greatest care with one another.

It’s Just My Heart That’s Rejected By My Veins

29 Sep

I dream about you every night, a fever tangle of sheets and sweat. There is no plot or resolution, just you and me and nothing. I am tired for the next night before the day has even started.

I direct all my unkind thoughts at my own heart and wonder why I had to talk during that guitar solo, why I expected you to be on time, why I thought you might care. Of course, I think to myself in the shower. Of course he didn’t want you.

The alternative is to give you my unkind thoughts and I am not able to do that. I am comfortable salting the Earth almost always, but with you? I can’t. You made me gentle and pliable. I am soft and also hurting.

I am afraid to have a good day because that means my feelings are going away and I want to keep them for a little bit longer. I feel ashamed that even existing on such scraps of you, these feelings grew. I am shameful that I burdened you with my silly heart. I had no right.

The Land Between Here and the Mountains

23 Sep

I listened to this song a lot when I knew I had lost you, a sort of consistent prayer that you would, truly, claim all that had spoiled in my heart. There is much in there that should be cut away.

Now I am listening to it as a reminder that I can be new again, as many times as I see fit. This song reminds me that I have a an innocent heart and what I give, I give freely. That I am a good, kind woman.

My mother apologized to me for teaching me to love so unabashedly. She has, she thinks, done me a disservice. I don’t know if she has. It’s true she has taught me to love with abandon. She also taught me that when you give, it should never be in anticipation of receiving.

The kisses and time and yes, kindness and patience and love I gave you were all offered unconditionally. You don’t have to love me in order to deserve them. I want you to have them regardless of how much I am hurting right now. I don’t want to snatch them back and call you names because you can’t give what I give, want what I want. That would be shameful behavior and besides, I don’t feel that way at all.

I feel special that I got to find such a tender, peaceful part of my heart and hang out with you there. I have spent much of my life twisting in the wind and you calmed those winds for a little bit. I am grateful for the rest.

I usually allow this kind of sadness to draw the curtains on my heart. My instinct is to go hard, turn these feelings into a pearl of indifference and add it to my necklace. To turn you into one of my silly, regrettable stories. I could roll my eyes and offer up an anecdote instead of the truth.

The truth is,this isn’t a silly story. You are not regrettable. I feel at home in my body, in my heart. I am happy to be here and sad to be leaving, all at once. And if you find me again, I will be the same sweet, freckled secretary.

I’m A Fool and You’re Another

21 Sep

My heart is broken. I find myself rushing through tasks and conversations so that I can get back to being heartbroken. It feels like a full time job but I already have lots of jobs. I have a lot of hurting and working to do in a day and like so many things, I am the only one who can do it.

I know it is gauche to say you are heartbroken, but I think it should come back into fashion. Why are we not admitting to one another how broken we are? Maybe there would be less hurt in general if we were more honest with one another. I am broken hearted. My heart is broken.

I am saying it because it’s true and also because I want the man who broke my heart to know that this is the case. We should know the effect we have on people. We should know that in some ways, we are weapons. I cannot be aloof. I feel frantic and confused and weak under the weight of every single day without him stretching before me. I feel shameful and silly about all the kisses and hours I spent on him. I feel betrayed by my own heart, because when I say cease and desist, it does not.

Today, I am dying by inches. But the worst part is that I will also get better by inches and one day this won’t matter. And that seems like such a fucking shame.

Just So You Know

17 Sep

I am still very glad that you found me.

Blind Them With Your Kindness

15 Sep

When I was a little girl, my Dad would wake me up by rubbing my belly. It is still my preferred method of being woke, but the collateral damage is I might call you Dad if you do that to me. Take that as you will.

For the longest time, my Pa was the only person in my life who touched my mid-section in a way that made it seem normal, like bellies were just a thing to be touched like shoulders or hands. Not long after I was old enough to wake myself up (and he was on the road all the time, anyway) my belly became  a shameful thing to hide and cover. It was too round, it stuck out too far, it snuck out over the waist of my jeans.

The summer I was 12, or maybe it was 13, I grew some inches and lost some pounds. My belly was white but much smaller. One day I got the confidence to wear a short shirt and jean shorts to the store with my Pa. I know that he wouldn’t have let me leave the house dressed inappropriately. I know that I was just a kid, even if I had boobs. But the cashier, at first, refused to sell my father his Milwaukee’s Best because I was, as she said, an unrelated minor who was scantily clad. She thought my Dad was a pervert and I was his mark. I was hot with shame as he convinced an older cashier to make the sale, which she did.

In college, I tended bar at a local classic rock tavern during the summer. I was lean from Adderall and a mostly vegan diet. I ran miles and miles through the bar each night. After my shift I would drive to the beach and smoke cigarettes. I wore long pants and long cardigans with cropped shirts. The only skin I showed was my mid-parts, hard won and pale. I made a lot of money that summer.

I married a man who hated me, and also hated my body. I made batch after batch of Rice Krispy treats out of spite, gaining weight at a physically painful, hateful pace. I discovered a small pink stretch mark on my stomach and started seeing a therapist immediately. I talked about my childhood and gained 40 more pounds.

I thought I would lose weight after we got divorced, like it was some psychic connection we had that was preventing me. What I discovered, instead, was that I didn’t feel a particular yen to lose weight anymore. I started to think that maybe, even though I looked different than I used to, that it wasn’t necessarily worse.

I am 32 now, like I keep telling you, and for the first time since  I was 6 years old there is a person in my life who loves my belly, who acknowledges it and touches it.

Actually, there are 2 people.

One is a sweet 6 year-old girl who takes no prisoners in tickle wars and is not afraid to go right for the gut. She sees no shame in my tummy or hers.

The other is a person so dear to me, a person who makes me feel like I hung the moon. I don’t know how long I will know this person, or in what capacity. But I am decidedly lucky to have this experience. It feels good to feel this good. It feels radical and flagrant and delicious.

If My Hands Stop Working, You Can Call Me Lazy

11 Sep

I have followed, and will follow, Jenny Lewis across the entire goddamn country. I have seen her perform in every decade of my life and never have I ever outgrown the music she makes. I have watched her sing with the people I love most in the world by my side. It seems silly and indulgent to love a band so much, but I do. Her music reminds me of the sweet girl I used to be and the good woman I am now.

A Good, Clean Fight

8 Sep

When I am feeling put upon or very small in this world, I think to myself, “Everything I have, I fought to have.” This isn’t true and what’s more, it makes me feel worse. I’m not sure why I can’t get it out of my head.

In truth, parts of my life have been hard won. Others have just happened, or are the result of choices I made when things went South. Mostly, every part of my life is good. However which way my existence has been assembled, I am happy and humbled.

When I was young and in love, my fists were constantly balled up by my sides. I thought I had to fight for equal footing with the object of my affection, that if I rested for even a moment all would be lost. I would be lost, somehow shorted. I was vigilant and hard-hearted. I wrestled love and respect from my husband. I would give it all back if I could. It was not, for a single moment, worth it.

I don’t want to fight anymore – clean or otherwise. I am hanging up my gloves.

I am more particular today about the love I accept. I won’t take love I’ve had to fight for. It does not keep me warm. I don’t want respect that is wrung out and limp. I want what is given freely to me, without intimidation or obligation. Sometimes, I am left wanting and I struggle with that. I might always struggle with that.

But my life, in all areas, is richer now. When you are not constantly fighting, the world opens up to you in a way that I could not have anticipated.

Baby, Lay Down Your Arms

30 Aug

I grew up thumbing through my parents records, completely fascinated by which records had made the thousand (upon thousands) mile journey our family had taken in this life. Some Saturdays, my Dad would put on Papa John Creach and chain smoke. Those were long days.

I had a cassette Walkman that was constantly tuned to the oldies station in my town (Q101.5, in case you were wondering.) I listened to it even when I slept and tried to tell my fortune by which songs played as I drifted off.

I liked that the songs all told a story and that most of them were devastatingly sad. The Cavaliers had the most sad song – Last Kiss – which was about a teenager who killed his sweetheart in a car crash and now he had to be very good so he could see her in Heaven. I mean, oh my gosh. The tragedy!

When I was 17, Pearl Jam covered Last Kiss and I immediately got the single. I felt very, you know, smug about already knowing this song and recognizing it as a cover. It didn’t catch on as the fucking international hit I thought it would be but I kept the single. The best part about it ended up being this B side. I have been moved to listen to this song every year of my life since then. That seems special to me.

Use your arms to hold me tight.

If There’s Anything Good About Me

9 Aug

I’m the only one who knows.

I’m having a bout of spiritual malaise and as such, my ritual is to strip down and take to my bed. I crawled between the sheets this evening, heaved a big sigh, and considered the Universe / what might make me feel better. My heart settled on the White Stripes, particularly the song above.

I started listening to this band when I was only 18. I bought White Blood Cells in part to impress my friend Nikki and partly because I had seen a White Stripes video on MTV2 and I was totally transfixed. Nikki was from Detroit and therefore not impressed. But I was totally hooked on this gorgeous brother and sister but not really siblings  so maybe they had sex and that seemed hot in addition to the music being what it is. Which is, of course, real good. I bought their entire catalog.

The summer after my senior year in college, I had to get 3 more credits to finish my degree. I chose a pottery class because it seemed easy and inoffensive, which ended up being completely misguided. Making pottery is fucking hard and I was in a class full of  over-achieving housewives. The best part, though, was listening to Get Behind Me, Satan on my iPod mini while I worked the clay, alone in the studio. I was 23, a summer away from getting married, and completely terrified to become an adult. I have incredibly fond memories of that album and that silent alone time I had with it.

Later on when my marriage was folding in on itself, I pulled out my record player and listened to their version of “Jolene” obsessively. I knew I was losing my husband, maybe not to another woman. But he was slipping away and even Jack White couldn’t get him to stay.

Now I am 32, with messy hair and a tear-stained face. Still not sure there is anything good about me. I would probably know by now.