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How Today Feels

On days when everything feels a little jumbled, when the words don’t come, I’ve learned to seek something outside of myself. And I’ve found that on days when words are difficult, often the world will intervene in some way. I’ll come across a song, a line from a poem, an excerpt from a novel I haven’t read in years, or—most often—a video that makes its way onto a screen in front of my eyes seemingly incidentally, but with eerie accuracy, that explains that particular feeling better than I can on my own. And then it becomes something to work with, something to sit with and wallow in and understand a little better.

This is how today feels:

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Random

Beginning Again

I don’t know a lot of things. I don’t know what I’m doing here, or how this little space has remained empty for so long. I don’t know where to begin again, but I’d like to try. 

I don’t know a lot of things. I don’t know how to drive in the snow, or how I left home with no plans to return. And I don’t know how I feel about any of it. I don’t know how people survive these harsh winters year after year and never think about leaving, how they resist the temptation to give up because it is dreadful in a way I have never known. I don’t know how not to need the sun. 

I don’t know a lot of things, but I know I miss writing poems, though I was never any good at it. I know I miss holding your hand, though it was never completely right. I don’t know how to articulate this tangled mess of feelings, but I know I miss the blueness of you. I miss the parts of you my metaphors can’t touch. I never looked away when your eyes caught me studying you. Even now, I could write about the freckles behind your ears, the neatness of your fingernails, the way you scrunch your nose when you felt like my staring required a show, but not your blue. Maybe this will be my favorite mystery, maybe it’s like the ocean you always seemed to be longing for. Maybe this is the closest I’ll get. 

I don’t know a lot, but I know I’m in the midst of big things. I don’t know where I’ll be living in six months, where I’m headed or what I want, but I think I’m starting to learn who I am. I know I wish the world was a little bit kinder to itself, that I still believe love undesired is the biggest waste. I know that I’m resilient, I just forgot for a little while. 

 

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Season Sting

Today I ache for summer, for an open road with only one lane on each side, that weaves and winds and turns and stretches and couldn’t hold onto me if it tried. For time outside of coffee shops, for time with the stack of books beside my bed labeled “To Read When…” For a scratched CD scribbled “Summer 2010″ playing Sublime or Marvin Gaye or anything that sings to me from summers past through the warm wind that tangles my curls and reminds me that the glorious sun can heal everything, but stings a little. And I’ll take the sunburn and the Texas heat if it means I get to race to the lake after work on Friday and bury my toes under murky sandmud and stay up late playing music and eating snow cones because that’s what it means to me to be young and terrified of everything, especially growing up.

And I’m still young and terrified of everything, most certainly growing up, but everything else has changed.

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Random

My Friend

I bought my first pack because I was angry with her. I don’t remember why, exactly. I’m sure it was something dumb. It always was. But I was angry, and I knew my buying a pack of cigarettes would upset her.

***

“You can have this one, but just this one. And you’re only allowed to smoke with me.”
She made me promise, and I did.

A good friend cares about things like this. She cares about not passing along her bad habits, and forgives you when you succumb to your own.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a good one, maybe just one in your entire lifetime, who manages to be the perfect combination of therapist, mother, big sister, and crack spirit guide. She knows all of your secrets because they are easy to tell her.

She means it when she tells you that your gray hair isn’t as big of a deal as you make it, that you’re being a jerk when you are, and that you actually do deserve better. And she knows it’ll be at least three years before you figure it out for yourself. And when you do, you’ll laugh, the two of you, and she’ll forgive you for not listening the first time because she cares, more than anyone else, really.

At times, your lives ere on the side of absurd, when she wipes your tears all over your face and tells you they’re a natural moisturizer, or when you eat sad-time tacos like they’re a real thing.

In many ways, you’re unstoppable. The two of you are the ultimate Catch Phrase partnership, pulling from years of inside jokes and “Remember that song from that 7th grade Birthday Party mix CD?” moments. Your conversations are impossible to track for anyone else, as they’re placed within a context that took years to construct.

But it’s not your history that keeps you together. It’s not an obligation. You know a friendship like that is worth fighting for, worth preserving.

I bought my first pack of cigarettes because I knew it would upset her, and it did because she cares the most.

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Learning Quickly

I got rid of everything I didn’t think I would need for the next year of my life, fit the rest into the back seat of my car with my bicycle strapped to the trunk, a dear friend in the seat beside me, and watched my hometown become a place far away. I drew a diagonal line across the country, two points labeled “Home” and “Home” and followed them from one to the other.  I saw pretty hills in Tennessee, stretches of highway across Kentucky, a crazy storm along Lake Erie, and read a sign that said “Welcome to New York, the Empire State” as I flew past with my windows down.

My story isn’t particularly unique. I’m a twenty-something who was terrified to move away from the comforts of home, did so, and quickly learned the world isn’t so terrifying.

In just a few weeks I’ve learned that people will surprise you if you let them, that comfort is in the closest mexican restaurant with decent tacos, that connecting with people comes easily with shared experiences, and that missing home is a heartbreakingly warm feeling.

None of this is new. These are all things they told me in between smiles and hugs and “you’re going to have such an amazing time” and “I’m so excited for you.” But like most things, I had to feel it for myself. I had to have a 2 a.m. solo dance party in my bedroom in the middle of an all-nighter of transcribing interviews to remember I can survive this. I had to share drinks across tables in a loud bar with near-strangers that managed to become friends in just days to believe it was possible.

I’m excited to be writing this only a few weeks into this experience, so that looking back I can remember how impossible it all seemed and how easily it came together in reality, which I can’t help but think is pretty damn stellar.

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Random, Reflection

The Evolution of an Ever-Evolving Young Writer

What I’m about to tell you comes as a shock to me, even as I have been watching the numbers tick closer and closer the past few months. It has stared me down as my posts became farther in between saying, “Is this all you’ve got?” like a friend who’s trying to motivate me to do something, reach something, but unfortunately is disguised as a mean twelve-year-old waiting to point and laugh at me when I trip over my feet playing kickball. I’m being dramatic, but this post is cause for drama because it is, in fact, my 900th post! I admit, that’s an unreasonably large number. But it’s true, folks: post number 900.

Post numero uno went a little something like this: “I begin this blog, today, September 7, 2009 with many goals and aspirations in mind, most which will not most likely be achieved; however, one must dream. Today marks the tenth day of my senior year in highschool. I’m beginning this blog hoping to document the fabulous year ahead of me; the growth, the ideas, the thoughts, the experiences…” And here I am, a few years and, apparently, 900 posts later about to graduate from college and begin a master’s program in journalism.  I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told eighteen-year-old me that this writing space would become what it is now, that I would spend an entire year posting every single day, that I would create a place to relate to strangers and friends and strangers who became friends, and maybe most importantly, create a reference to document and reflect on the ways I would grow as a writer and a human being.

So to mark this ridiculous milestone, I’d like to write a little about what has happened over the past three and a half years that has kept me here and kept me writing.

Bloggers constantly balance the work of not taking themselves too seriously and convincing others to take them seriously. Lets face it, there are a lot of people writing blogs that aren’t saying much of anything. Maybe I was one of those as a naive teenager who’s grown into a slightly less naive young adult, constantly trying to figure out what she’s doing here. And that’s okay, I think, because that was precisely the point from the beginning. But the way I came to blogging was strange. I wasn’t looking to inform exactly, but merely to contribute my own voice to this digital space that was inviting me. In the short-lived flourishing days of Xanga and Myspace, I taught myself little bits of HTML and wrote diary-style entries about my life. And from there, a dialogue opened with friends, and each of these platforms was another way to communicate, to reach out; the same way I wrote notes I passed in class, then left AOL away messages, then emailed and messaged and texted and tweeted and blogged and instagrammed and did everything I could, and do now more than ever. I would do whatever I could to capture a instance, a moment, a feeling, anything and everything.

I don’t have an objective understanding of what this means for my generation, as I’m a product of it, still completely wrapped in this unavoidable mess of social media that often has me aching to cut myself off and to simplify. But the web of social media is neither completely bad or completely good, so I keep spinning, happy for the conveniences it offers me.

While my writing was certainly diary-like, it’s important to recognize that I wasn’t writing in a diary at all; I was writing somewhere in the digital space where anyone could read it. And as I’ve learned in every English class since 5th grade, writing has to be constantly aware of its audience. So I wrote and still write to an undefined You, a group of human beings (presumably) who materialize only insomuch as View Counts, Likes, and Comments. And unlike writing in a diary, my writing took on the potential to say something to someone, which was meaningful even if no one was reading it. It was the potential that mattered.

But what has come of all of this is a love for writing, a love that developed over the years not only in countless writing workshops and late nights writing and revising papers and stories and poems, but also 3 AM post-concert write-ups and thunderstorm-induced posts which were not-so-cryptically about love when I had no idea what it meant, and loneliness and fear and all of the things that keep me awake at night and teach me that being a writer has nothing to do with A+ papers.

All this to say, thanks for sticking with me. Thanks for being patient and caring enough to give this young writer a chance to be young and frivolous and mess up over and over again and figure out what it means to be a not only a writer, but a human being.

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