It was the smell of spring that brought me back,
it was the heat radiating off the gravel.
It was the first time I remembered how to smile
after my final breakdown last winter.
It was the feeling of knowing things will work out
despite not knowing how to get there.
It was the relief after the weight in my chest lifted,
I’ll be okay and nothing can stop that.
I’ve had this goal since I was seven. Who can say that? I’ve wanted the same thing since I was in the second grade. And some days it feels like I’m barely any closer than I was back then. Of course, that’s not true. I’ve started and scrapped countless novels that just didn’t work or had some flaw or I got bored of. And every time I scrap a novel, I feel like I’m back in second grade again, the only book I finished being one I wrote about the boys in my class. It was three pages long and in the end they all turned into vampires. It seems that ever since then, I haven’t been able to finish anything but a poem. And half the time those don’t even feel finished.
But it’s fine, I tell myself. I’m only 22. There’s still time to write a full-length novel. I should cut myself some slack, writing a book is hard work. It takes years for most people to finish a book, and not to mention I’m still in school. And there was a point where I was going to give up writing altogether. Which now seems insane to me. When I’m writing is mostly the only time I ever feel like I’m truly accomplishing something, like I’m genuinely happy. And I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
Sometimes when I’m pouring my coffee, I like to imagine I’m a server at a small diner in the middle of nowhere. I’m getting that table of four their coffee first thing in the morning. They’ve clearly been up all night. Their rugged attire and laid-back attitudes had me assuming they’re musicians. No one around here had ever seen them before.
I brought them their coffee and asked if they were ready to order. The one wearing a leather jacket and smelled strongly of cigarettes turned to me with a flirtatious smile, I made another assumption that he was their lead singer.
“We’re ready.” He said kindly. I couldn’t make out his accent, but he definitely wasn’t from around here. It sounded southern. But this was upstate Maine, three hours from the nearest city.
I took their orders and their accents became more prominent. It was southern, no doubt. Maybe Kentucky or maybe Texas. I asked where they were from.
“I thought you’d never ask.” The charismatic lead singer said with a grin much too big. I didn’t trust him. He reminded me of my ex who would go on vacations with his friends and come back with more notches on his bedpost. I know it was unfair of me to assume this of him, but when you’ve been burnt like I have, it’s hard not to.
It was early. We had just opened. The rush hadn’t yet begun. Around here, the rush doesn’t start until 8. The table of four were the only ones in here besides a few older folks at the bar.
I watched the table of musicians talk among themselves. The radio being right next to me, I couldn’t make out what they were saying. All I could hear was melodies and an off-tune voice. I realized I never knew if they were musicians. I just assumed. I always assume. It’s how I stay safe.
This is just a little fictional piece I thought of this morning while making coffee, based on my bad habit of assuming things of people before I get to know them.
I felt a wide variety of things that night,
drove home with a smile on my face but
a sinking feeling in my stomach that told
me to run. This was nothing but bad news
and I knew it. And I was sick of how many
times this had happened. And I was sick
of always letting it happen. But on I went
to make another bad decision. And the only
conclusion I can come to with all this is I
like being upset. Is that why I stay? Is that
why I can’t seem to let you go? Because I
like being sad? Or is it because I’m hoping
you’ll change? Or I’m hoping I’ll change you.
Or I’m hoping someday we end up working
and we can laugh and roll our eyes at all the
pain we put each other through. But I don’t
want that. I don’t want you. I just want pain.
So I guess I want you.
I’m not lonely,
I just miss you
like I miss a hurricane.
You leave me a wreck
and I heard them talking
of fallen trees and branches
I can’t help but think
I lost some, too.
I didn’t think I
could miss a disaster
but love and hate
often get mistaken.
I had gone bitter, I realized, lying on my floor at 7 pm. Lights off, music playing, thoughts ruminating like a bad storm. I tend to relate my feelings to the weather, and the weather affects my mood. We have that kind of relationship. And today it was windy, cold, and dark. I felt it deep inside my chest.
I spent a long time forcing myself to fall in love with boys who weren’t worth it while hating myself. Under the impression that having someone else love me equated to me loving myself. If he could do it, I wouldn’t have to. Maybe if someone else loved me, I could understand what there was to love about myself. But that’s not how it works.
And I spent so much time in half-assed relationships with people who only wanted to hurt me, and I don’t blame them. I should. And I did for a while. But I realized they hated themselves just as much as I hated myself, and I understood why they stayed for so long.
And I sit here, laying on the floor in my darkened room, and I realize I’ve gone bitter. I’ve always kind of been bitter, but I got just bad enough sleep this week to acknowledge my bitterness. And the music, its own agenda about breakups, have me thinking back on my exes and all the damage they did.
And I don’t blame anyone for my bitterness. I don’t even blame myself. I know it’s just today. It’s just the weather and it’s just my lack of sleep. But there’s moments when I’m not so sure.
and on the first day of spring
I felt free.
The sun was shining,
the birds were chirping,
people were cheerful,
I was safe.
Life was back to normal.
the house smelled of evergreens,
I felt healed.