The little, mundane parts of life

I fall in love often. It happens suddenly and I’m all in. And it’s not just with people. I fall in love with the way my coffee tastes, I fall in love with the way the air smells in the springtime, I fall in love with the first snowfall of winter. I fell in love once with the way a boy smelled and from then on when I smelled that same smell, I thought of him. And I thought of love. I didn’t even love him, at least not at the time, but that’s a story for another day. I fell in love with the feeling of love. Of admiration. Of romanticizing little mundane parts of my day. I think that’s partly how I got over my depression. I fell in love with constants in my life, like the way the sunrise woke me up every morning, or how the rain sounded inside a car while music played softly, or even my own quirks. That was when I learned to love myself, when I learned to love my quirks. The things that made me, me.

And being a writer throughout all this, I would write about falling in love and it was never about another person. It was falling in love with learning to love. It was falling in love with these little, mundane parts of my life that I knew would never leave. It was falling in love with being genuinely happy for the first time since I was twelve.

Sure, I’d fallen in love with people before. But it never felt as pure as falling in love with the way sitting under a tree and reading feels in the middle of summer.  It never felt as hopeful as the first warm day of spring. And maybe I’m just saying this now because of what all my exes put me through, but doesn’t that just prove my point?

That my true happiness doesn’t come from another person, it comes from within me. And for so many years, I put all my self-worth into what my boyfriend thought of me and if we were happy and if I was in a relationship at all. And it was miserable. Life is about finding purpose, it’s about finding happiness through all that it throws at us, and I never felt that in a relationship. I always felt like I was drowning, or that I was fighting with some thing that would never see my way and it was miserable.

So, I took a step back and I thought about what makes me happy. Forests make me happy and the ocean and the way the early morning sun looks illuminating the grass in backyards. And I fell in love with all these little things, these constants that would never hurt me. And I realized I was terrified of being hurt and I thought to myself, “That’s a part of life and I know I’ll have to deal with it, but why? Why can’t I just be happy? Why do we have to feel pain, too?” but I knew the answer, I always knew the answer. It was because I had been hurt so many times that I could understand what it was like to truly be happy. It was because I had felt such brutal heartbreak that I could learn to love these little, mundane parts of life.

And then I fell in love with that fact, too.

The Mountains and All They Can Cure

I left the house in a rush. In one burst of manic energy, I packed for a couple days. I was at the point where I couldn’t think about anything but getting away. Anywhere was better than here. In a perfect world, I would’ve thought for months about this trip, but the fact that I didn’t have a plan made it more exciting.

It felt like everything that happened these last few months, all the pain and exhaustion, it was all leading up to my break anyway. This was bound to happen. I wouldn’t consider it a break, but my best friend called it that when I showed up at her door with a text, “Hey. You’re coming with me. We’re going to the mountains.”

“You’re crazy,” was her answer. I wouldn’t have expected any less. She packed her bags and was down in fifteen. From the driveway, she looked insane. More insane than I was. Her black hair was put into a messy ponytail with flyaways illuminated by the midday sun. She wore a gray sweatshirt and black leggings. Her backpack, stuffed full of clothes and camping equipment, was a forest green and held her sleeping bag atop it.

“I need this more than you do.”

She told me that as she threw her backpack in the backseat of my SUV.

“Hold on, do you have a tent?”

I hadn’t thought of that.

“Uh, no. Don’t you?” I replied.

“My brother is using it this weekend.” She groaned. I rolled my eyes.

I wasn’t sure when it was that it set in that I was an insane, spontaneous person, but by the fourth hour of our road trip, it had crossed my mind a few times.  Emma loved me for it. She could always count on me for a last-minute mania induced trip in which we find ourselves, only to lose ourselves when we come back to work the following Monday.

We laughed. We laughed a lot. The entire drive was filled up with conversation, never a dull moment. Never a moment to think about just getting stood up or not getting that promotion I really could’ve used to fuel these trips. I didn’t think about the date I was supposed to go on until Emma had fallen asleep and as I laid on the hard ground, the only way to distract myself from the pain my back felt was by thinking about the pain my now-ex caused.

I realized a while ago that I shouldn’t let myself get wrapped up in someone like him, someone still obviously going through his partying college days even though he dropped out two years ago. I knew he was bad news, Emma tried to tell me, but I didn’t care. I liked the way he looked at me when I told a story, and I liked the way he laughed too long when I told a bad joke. I liked how his hair looked in the morning before he showered, and I liked how he’d cook breakfast for me.

I knew the mountains wouldn’t have an answer, and I didn’t care. It was a distraction at least and at most it would be another story to tell: two way-too-stressed 20-something’s go on another spontaneous trip in attempt to find themselves, only to find themselves with smaller bank accounts and bags under their eyes.

The Stars at Twilight

The gentle breeze, the streetlights illuminating my walk home at twilight, the eternal silence throughout the streets. I am grounded. I can think for what feels like the first time in years. I spent so much time feeling like I was drowning. Drowning in work, drowning in expectations, drowning in my relationships. And now, walking home at 2 am, I feel hopeful.

And it’s hard to feel hopeful when everyone around you is so different from you. When you hate where you live, it makes getting out and doing anything nearly impossible. And I try not to dwell on it, I’ll hopefully be able to get out of here once I get serious about my writing and finish this book or get a real job, but it gets hard. I sit at home most days wasting time and daydreaming. Writing feels like climbing a mountain sometimes. I sit by my computer with an empty Word document open with no clue where to go with it. Much to hard on myself and not enough coffee sends me spiraling.

But at 2 am, these problems feel a world away. All that matters now is getting home. I guess one upside to living here is I never feel nervous on these night walks. I can walk home and just worry about what’s in my head. And then I start to wonder which I’d prefer: safe streets or safe thoughts.

But the stars were always my favorite part of these night walks. The stars kept me hopeful. People say thinking of how small we are in the universe makes them feel insignificant. It makes me feel empowered. Because if the world really is that small and insignificant, why worry? I’ve spent so much time anxious about these little problems that don’t matter, and if there are aliens out there somewhere, they probably have more important things to worry about.

And I worry so much. I spend so much of my time worrying, looking at the stars is therapeutic. And on clear nights, when every star is visible, I can breathe again. Breathing felt impossible for a while. For a good portion of last year, life felt like treading water in the middle of the Atlantic with no clue when I’ll be rescued. And just because I live by the ocean doesn’t mean I know how to swim. When you’re out there all alone for so long, it gets hard to see when things will start to look up again. But then it’s summer and you’re walking home at twilight after a laughter-filled night with close friends and you don’t feel like you’re treading water, and you don’t feel like you’re climbing a mountain. You feel like you’re floating.

Not lonely, just alone

I stood alone in the middle of a crowd,

knowing no one around me, I felt safe.

As if for some reason, because I knew

no one, I couldn’t be harmed. Because

everyone was busy doing their own thing

and what was I but another passerby.

Still I stood there, and I watched busy

faces go around me, I couldn’t help but

smile. I was not going to be spoken to

by anyone. I was in this alone and I was

here alone, I didn’t have to worry about

what to say to people, or what they’d say

to me. Because no one was going to talk

to me and that was the beauty of this. No

one even cared. No one cared that I stood

there in the way, no one cared that I was

smiling at no one and at everyone. No one

cared. And I found comfort in that. It was

not a sad comfort, it was a relief. I was

free.

When You Left

When you left

I swear the world caved in

or maybe that was

my heart.

Either way, you left,

I rebuilt myself,

and I’m only getting better.

Every time I think of you

and all you put me through,

I can’t help but smile

that I never have to deal

with you again.

Seasons

And I don’t think anyone could make me feel as free as when I’m walking down the suburb streets I know so well, mid-summer, the wind at my back, headphones in playing my favorite song.

I don’t think anyone could make me feel the relief of the sudden chill in the air after months of overheating, finally wearing my favorite jacket, going for a walk and seeing mushrooms after it rained.

I don’t think anyone could make me feel as safe as looking out my window in the morning after the first snowfall of winter, the warmth from my blankets contrasting with the cold of the windowsill.

I don’t think anyone could make me feel as hopeful as the first day in spring when it starts to warm up, after months of bundled up, freezing temperatures and I can sit outside and work on this or that.

And I don’t mind. Because the seasons could never remember my favorite color or the way I like my coffee. The seasons couldn’t hold my hand or give me their jacket when I get cold. I fell in love with the seasons, and they come and go and I fall in love with each change, but they could never make me feel as wanted as a text saying, “this made me think of you.”