I was out with my husband this afternoon running some errands. I zoned off, thinking about the state of the world. I asked him if he thought I was naive in thinking that people should just behave like decent, good people. He smiled at me like he usually does and said he thinks I am naive in thinking that people are inherently good and will behave in such a manner. I sighed. My Facebook feed is flooded with anti-Trump posts, of all these horrible things that are happening but it is also filled with incredible messages of hope and of love and of resistance to a world that sadly is being saturated with the most heinous of thoughts. I read about these people and their support of a man who only encourages us to hate each other and I am constantly perplexed in how so many people stand behind these messages of hate. That's not how I was raised. That's not how my siblings were raised. That is certainly not how I have raised my daughter. I recently posted a status that we need to get back to the basics. We need to stop finding the differences in each other and start discovering our similarities. We all bleed. We all hurt and cry. We all rejoice and we all can make this world a better place. I recently started watching the show Enlightened on HBO. At first I wasn't quite sure about it but the more episodes I watched, the more endearing Laura Dern's character became. There was an episode where she was talking about her mother. In this episode, she said that she put her mother's face on everyone. She realized that we were all someone's child and, in that frame of mind, she was able to find compassion not just for her own mother but for the strangers that she sat among. I was thinking about that episode yesterday as I was reading an article about the Immigration Ban, as I was reading about the five year old boy who was kept from his mother for five hours because he could've been a terrorist. I wondered if we all just put the faces of our mothers on these people, would we then think it would be acceptable to treat them this way? Would you deny your mother love and care and help? And, OK, if you don't like your mother, then put your father's face or your child's. I think of my daughter in every situation. In every choice I make, she is the first thing that comes to my mind. Would I make her proud? Wouldn't I defend her if she was being threatened in any way? Perhaps if we take away the politics of being human, we can find our humanity once more.
I asked my husband today if I talked too much about what was going on. I know not everyone wants to discuss this all that much but I honestly cannot wrap my head around how ugly this whole thing has got. When common sense and basic decency should have kicked in, people have scattered like roaches when the light gets turned on. What these supporters of Trump do not see is the danger of the environment that he inspires. This week a Mosque was set on fire. For what? For what? Sure, these people have always been out there but they have never been given the permission that they have today. President Obama was a great victory for this country. All the wonderful things he did has been a wonderful change in our winds but sadly Trump now gives permission for us all to go backwards. The UK just signed a Petition blocking this man from meeting their Queen because the character he is. Where have our standards gone? Max and Nev of CatFish have been very vocal about their support with the Resistance. They post pictures of love, encouraging us all to speak and stand up for what is right not just for us personally but for all of us together. The amount of hate that these posts inspire enrage me. I try to choose carefully what I respond to because, let's face it, there are just some dumb people out there that reply only to stir the pot. What is sad is that most of these people aren't just trolls trying to ruffle feathers. They get ugly. They get personal. They get rude and attack on the lowest of levels. It's disgusting but this man, Trump, with his behavior is contagious. And all the people who have been hiding in the holes because President Obama's time in the office didn't tolerate such behavior. And when people marched in the streets with burning crosses and dummies hanging, President Obama didn't go after their personal rights to express what they felt. He didn't go on Twitter and tweet misguided, misinformed lies to belittle them. We as a nation told them to go back into their holes because we as a people wouldn't tolerate that sort of racism. In a way, I suppose I am naive. In a way, I suppose I should stop being surprised at the ugliness of the worst but I will hold onto hope that we can come together. I will hold on to the hope that somehow in this darkness even the ones who are the most lost will find the light. I cannot force someone's enlightenment but I can still speak. I can still love. I can still offer you my hand.
I posted another status the other day that we should just come together. I quoted a line from LOST. Jack is standing in front of the fire trying to bring the group together. He says, "We can either live together or die alone." In a way, I think that's where we are right now. We are standing around that fire together. A man responded to my status and said, "No, thank you. I'd rather die alone." I deleted the comment. Not because I am opposed to someone having a different opinion than me, not at all. You can disagree with me all you want. Just be respectful about it. I will not lower my standards to appease someone who just wants to throw a child like tantrum. One of the most beautiful traits of this country is that we do have freedom of speech. I get it. I don't like bananas but you are perfectly fine to enjoy bananas. It doesn't mean we can't be friends. It doesn't mean we can't carry on mature, grown up conversations. Disagreeing breeds education. You explain your thoughts. I explain mine. Sometimes we will find a common ground. Sometimes we won't but there needs to be a certain amount of respect for the other. My father was a Republican through and through. He was a man who voted with the party no matter what. I wonder where he would land today. I wonder how the conversations would go with him if he supported Trump. Would I be disappointed? Yes but he would still be my father. I would still offer the respect he deserved as my father. There were times when our debates would get heated and we would hurt the other's feelings but here's the thing neither one of us ever crossed a line we couldn't come back from. You don't have to believe what I believe. You have every right to say that you think Trump is amazing, that his politics are on point, that you think grabbing women by the pussy is acceptable human behavior... but I will never find a common ground with that. We can still be friends. We can still live together. We can still sit in front of that fire together and I will still want only the best for you, for us all.
In my life, I have seen the loss of the Challenger. I watched as those Towers fell to the ground, the loss of so much innocent life. I have seen the world go to war and come back from it. I read about the Holocaust, the travesties of what hate can do but I never lived in the Great Depression. I didn't suffer the way my grandparents did. I didn't fight for my rights the way my mother's generation did. I have lived a hard, blessed life. While I have had my own personal tragedies, those were mine and not shared by the mass. The color of my skin didn't warrant anyone to watch me though I wish I could understand that struggle so I could truly stand next to those that have experienced that hurt. I asked my husband today if people were as unsympathetic to these plights because, in the last few generations, we hadn't seen these tragedies. I am grateful that though I was a single mother for the first seven years of my daughter's life, I was still able to provide a fairly decent life for her. I know that I was incredibly lucky and there is not a day that goes by that I do not thank the powers that be that I was able to stand tall through the mist. I still think back to that moment I was marching a few weeks ago and I still get chill bumps on how impressive that crowd was. It was the first time I was proud of my city, of the cities across the world. It was the first sign of hope. It was the first step in putting this broken country back together. We can disagree. We can have opposing viewpoints. We don't have to agree but we do have respect each other. We have to allow the other to feel and to fight but it all must be done in the name of love. We must go back to our history, study our mistakes and celebrate our victories. Most importantly we must learn from both. Taking away a woman's right for her own body is dangerous. Banning people who are in need of refuge is harmful. Put the face of your daughter on that poor girl who got pregnant because she was raped. What would you say to her? Put the face of your son on that five year old little boy who was thought to be a terrorist? Would you allow your scared child to be kept from you? No, you wouldn't. As a parent, there is nothing you wouldn't do to protect your children. Now is the time to protect us all. By all means, stand up. In every way, fight. We are all someone's child. We all live in this world together. For all that is right, respect each other. The Holocaust happened because people sat idly by. Let's learn from our history. Let's not sit back and let a man like Trump and his monkeys tarnish the best of who we are. Let's hold each other's hands and pull each other up. That's what this resistance is about. It's not about parties, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. It's about all of us, together, doing the right thing.
And, sure, you can disagree with this blog. You can tell me that I am naive for posting such a message. I want to make something very clear here. I am on the side of people. I am on the side of doing what is right. I am on the side of love for us all. I will end this with lyrics from John Lennon's Imagine lyrics because I think this song is as poingant today as it was then.
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
This morning I marched. I marched with hundreds, with thousands, with millions of people in protest to a man who threatens so many people's basic fundamental human rights. In my life, I have had my opinions and beliefs. I was against Bush for so many of his ideals but he never posed the threat that Trump has formed. I have seen my daughter over the last few years blossom. I have watched her grow and learn and create her own opinions on this world that one day will be passed to her. I stood next to her today and we marched together because I want for her the world that I have been always dreamed of for her. I want for the same basic life that I had as a young woman. I did not have to fear at sixteen years old whether or not I was an equal. While there were set backs, there has been so much progress in the last eight years. Even with Bush, he did not threaten the lives of so many people in the same way Trump does. He did not incite hate for each other. I did not stand behind him but I most certainly will not sit idle either. I was so proud to be among those women today but I was incredibly touched to see so many men out there with us, too. Our fathers, our brothers, our friends, our sons walked those streets and held their signs because we are all people who all deserve to be treated equally. I never voted until this election. I never thought it mattered. I was just one vote. Sure, who I voted for didn't win but I do not regret that this election inspired me to finally see even a vote that didn't win was still a vote that mattered. These next four years I can say that I tried. These next four years however this goes I can say that I did something for a better world. I stood next to my daughter today, this bright young woman, and I was filled with so much pride for her. I was filled with such hope for her future even though the reasons we walked those streets weighed heavy on my heart. In the next election, her generation will be able to vote. I know we say the next generation will be the generation that fixes all the wrongs that we have done but looking at her, I know that the next election will bring about such great strides. They will be educated. They will have been brought up by parents like my husband and I who have nurtured her wings and they will indeed fly. I stood on that street surrounded by signs of love and hope and courage. I stood on that street next to her, the entire reason I have always gotten back up, and among kindred spirits who all just want the best for a country that feels divided right now.
I went back and forth about posting this blog today but I thought it was important that today of all days I share my thoughts. I'm not a young woman anymore nor am I elderly. I've lived a life that while parts have been tragic have not been hopeless. If Trump had been in office when those tragic moments had happened, perhaps life would have been much darker. The day this man was elected was sad. It was terrifying. How could I look at my daughter and explain to her that all those things I taught her to demand were now in complete question? How do you tell a young woman starting out that we just lost fifty years of progress and people out there supported it? I read an article about a man who voted for Trump. He has health conditions and now that Trump is in office, his health care is at risk. This elderly man sent a tweet, asking how Trump could do this to him after he voted for him. Sadly, there will be so many more of these stories of voter regret. My heart goes out to them but sometimes we lie in the beds we make. I didn't make this bed for my child and, unfortunately, we are all forced to deal with this man for the next four years. I watched Ashley Judd's speech. As a survivor of sexual assault, every word she said hit home. The men in my life did not vote for Trump but there are women who did and I get perplexed at their reasoning. These women are strong, smart with daughters of their own but yet they still voted for a man who views his own daughter as a sex symbol, who has child rape accusations against him, who was caught saying some of the most vulgar things and then saying it was just "locker room talk". I try to separate their vote from how I feel about them but it's hard. When you give your support to a monster like that, you are saying to me that what happened to me, that what happened to them, that what happens to so many innocent people out there is acceptable. And, I know, they aren't saying that at all but it's hard to swallow. It's hard to look at my daughter and know that there are people out there who find treating her like that is perfectly acceptable. It is not. It never was. It never will be. These marches happened all over the country in multiple cities in every single state. In Raleigh, North Carolina, my daughter and I walked with 17,000 participants, a much bigger number than anticipated. I couldn't have been more proud of my city. I couldn't have been more proud of the people I live beside every day. These faces that swelled around me gave me such a great hope for our future even if there is a fight ahead of us. It made me realize that the people not standing beside us didn't matter all that much. We were going to make the change for the better. We weren't going to tolerate any kind of mistreatment to any of our sisters or brothers. I thought about the people close to me that gave their support to the man I was standing against, to the ideals that this man so dangerously spewed. I wondered when the moment would be that they would understand they were supporting hate but I also realized their journey is not my own to make. I look at my daughter and understand quite clearly that love will always be stronger. I will never stop marching for her.
A woman yesterday who voted for Trump said to a coworker of mine that perhaps we should all stop crying about Trump winning and just get over it. Fair, I suppose, but I don't think she got over eight years of President Obama. She said that there weren't protests when President Obama took the cherished seat. There were. There were people with burning crosses and dolls hanging from trees. There were horrible people demonstrating horrible racists acts for a man, for another human being who just wanted to make progress in this country. Theodore Roosevelt once said,
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
Someone told me just this morning that it would be unpatriotic not to support Trump because he is our president... except he is not mine. I do not, cannot, will not respect a man who I wouldn't trust my daughter with, who I would not be in a room alone with. It is not unpatriotic to distrust a man who has said so many vulgar, offensive words against so many different people over the years. So, no, I will not call this man anything but what he is. A terrible, terrible person. I understand the sentiment. The office of President is a great achievement meant for people (because it's not just meant for a man) who have integrity, dignity, honor. It is meant for a person who has the people's best interest at heart, who want a safe world full of love and kindness and understanding. It is meant for a person who thinks more than themselves, who understands the sacrifices and who is open and ready to make them. It is meant for a person who wants to make a positive change where we all have a chance for that dream, whatever that dream is for them. It is a person who wants our children to be handed the keys to a world that is intact and not full of division. Being patriotic doesn't mean that we support blindly the people that fill those seats. Being patriotic means we have an undeniable duty to make the country, the world we live in beautiful for everyone. I saw a picture of a woman wearing a pin that she wore in a 1960 protest earlier and I shook my head because we had come so far since then, hadn't we? But there is hope because she was still standing. She was still fighting. She was still marching. I think of the movie Pleasantville. Right now, we are all feeling a little bit black and white but today? Today I saw our color start to come back. We stood together in shades of pink, of red, in blues and grays, in purples and orange.
More protesters showed up to these marches than to Trump's inauguration. It's been a beautiful thing to watch, the awakening of so many people that we need to stand next to each other, all of us regardless of our gender, our sexual preference, our color, our differences whatever those differences happen to be. It's been beautiful to watch so many people come together in love and stand against these horrific ideas that he has spit across this country. In a way, it's been sort of sad to see how now after all these years people finally appreciate President Obama and his family. In the last eight years, we have made so many great strides towards human rights, towards cleaning up our planet, to healthcare for everyone. We have watched President Obama struggle and struggle with trying to give this country the tools we need to make our lives better. It has been heartbreaking to watch people still treat him so ugly. And now? Now, now that he has left office, people are starting to understand all the good he did for this country. It almost feels like it's too late, like now that he's gone that hope of change is gone, too... but it's not. I believe that these marches, these protests are in a way inspired by the kind of leader he was, by the kind of people him and his wife are. Sometimes lessons are not realized until after they have been taught. You look at this man who fought for eight years and never backed down. You saw his youthful face when he took office and the grays that he has earned as he left and I realized how inspiring he truly is. We are the aftermath of a President who treated everyone around with him respect even when he was offered none. These marches were inspired by this beautiful family that has been a source of faith for us all. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama never gave up and neither should we. So, thank you President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Thank you for eight years of inspiration, of strength, of elegance, of never backing down. No matter the reason we stand whether it is for our children or our basic human rights, we stand together in honor, in respect, for love and equality. March on. March on.
Disappointment. I've struggled with this word my entire life. I've realized over time that I am as much to blame for it as the people that I become disappointed in. I try to find my way around it. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and tell myself that this belief I have in them will be enough to make them better but, sadly, a lot of times people just disappoint me. I go back and forth between my own standards for myself and the standards I put on the world around me. I was brought up in a family that was not overbearing but there were expectations that were meant to be met. If we did not live up to these things that our parents wanted for us, there was disappointment. I could see it in the way my father would rub his chin in silence. I could hear it in the words my mother would scream when she was frustrated. In their example, I gave the world around me expectations. Perhaps, they have always been too high. There were plenty of times they weren't high enough, not giving myself not nearly enough credit for what I deserved. In those extremes, I learned there is a balance but I'm not always the best at achieving it the way I would like. I still get heart broken when someone disappoints me. I still get so angry when someone is not what I thought they were. The difference? Well, the difference is I accept my part of the blame now, too.
I have incredibly high standards I hold myself to. I want to be better than I was the day before. I want to do better today the things that I failed at yesterday. Tomorrow I want to fix what I did wrong today. I expect myself to take the higher road, to turn the other cheek, to put my head down and do the work. I want excellence out of every task I put my mind to. I know my potential (finally) after all these years. I understand the weight these shoulders can hold and I do not accept anything less than the full load. I know how that pulls me down sometimes but I would never ask you to do something I would not. I would never expect anything out of you that I wouldn't expect out of myself. I managed a coffee shop some years back (I'm sure I've mentioned before). It was a wonderful place to work, filled with people who were amazing to work with and filled with customers that were truly a joy to see every day. It was a tough job for many reasons. We had an owner who didn't give a shit about the place or us or the customers. She just wanted to make money without any of the responsibility of running it. So I did. I ran it and I loved it and I did the best I could by the people that had made that place part of their daily routine. I wasn't afraid to clean the toilets even when the old man vomited and pooped all over the floors, the toilet, the walls, the sink. I wasn't afraid to wash four buss tubs of dishes or mop the floors. I expected my employees to work hard so I worked harder. I understood that I could never ask them to do something I would not. Those expectations of myself have been a theme in every job I have worked, in everything I do in my writing, in every aspect of my life. I don't mind working hard. I don't mind going the extra mile. I understand that mentality gets taken advantage of because sometimes there are people out there who don't have the same standards as me. My husband always jokes that I work too hard for people who will never appreciate it. There was a time when I would've have fought him on that. I had more hope for human kind than that. There are times when I am right but, unfortunately, there are many times he proves me wrong. I can fill those pitchers a thousand times because I want the people around me to be prepared but I know that sentiment is far often not returned. I have to learn to accept that part of people but still keep myself in check because it is easy to fall into that lazy, lazy slope. It is far too easy to fall to those sub par standards because no one else seems to care... but that's rarely been me. I've come to understand that the expectations I have for myself are sometimes suffocating but by expecting less out of myself would be detrimental to my well being.
There have been so many people in my life that I have put on pedastools. People who have truly deserved to be admired. There are times, however, when even these great people who I have adored have disappointed, who I expected more out of because of who they are as people. Sadly, even the best of us get influenced by the negative energy around us. I am guilty of it, too, but I always try to make amends when I fall short because the guilt eats at me until I make it right. I never want to be a disappointment to anyone. Was it my upbringing that put this fear of disappointing in me? I don't know. It is probably a million tiny pieces of my life that have come together to make one giant anxiety but it doesn't really matter the origin. My disappointment gets confused with anger sometimes. Am I really angry that I get put in that horrible section at work? No, not really. I'm disappointed because by being put in that section, it makes me feel like I am not good enough for a better one and that's aggravating. That doubt that has been planted in my head now is disappointing because of the amount of work I put into a job that I merely tolerate. I am disappointed in the person who assigned the sections but mostly I am disappointed in myself. I know. That sounds so self deprecating. It's not like I made the call. But here's why I become disappointed in myself. I allow that stupid, inconsequential thing to make me feel a certain way and I expect better out of myself. I should be better at understanding that regardless of so many things, I am better than my own doubt. I'm not a complaining person. I'm not a confrontational soul. I won't tell you when you hurt my feelings (I'll just write about it) because I don't want you to be disappointed in me that I can't rise above whatever you just threw at me. Is that healthy? Probably not but I am a work in progress, with checklists of things I want to make better about myself. My disappointment for people will always fall on me because I can't force someone else into their own enlightenment. These people that I have put on these pedastools never asked to be up there and I understand that. I understand that we are all human at the end of the day. We are not super heroes. We are going to make mistakes and fail each other and I have to accept that part of them, too. I have to accept that part myself. Being the best you is not for the weary. When I go to sleep at night, I want to close my eyes knowing that whatever I did that day I did not disappoint, did not disappoint me.
I have always been the type that you think would meditate, always slightly on the hippy side but I think a part of me has always been a bit too angry to truly embrace that sort of free life style. Was the anger because of life events? Or was that angry little monster just a part of my personality? And I don't know. The only way one could possibly know is by living a completely different life in a brand new environment with new triggers and different memories. That being said, I meditated this morning... well, I put on my Calm Meditation station on Pandora and sat on my floor. I gave myself fifteen minutes to just sit there, listen to the sounds, and let go of all the baggage I didn't need. Here's the thing. I love the idea of sitting quietly and freeing yourself from demons that aren't just worth the fight but you hold onto them because it's what you've always done. I'd like to think I am the ocean, vast and mysterious. I would love to believe that I am the embodient of rain on the roof, beating down all around you during a thunderstorm. These are comforting thoughts. We want to believe that we are better than the problems that bring us down, better than the people pulling on our sleeves and inspiring the bad out of our behavior. I want to be able to close my eyes, breathe, and become one with just more than who I am. In this life, in my Beatnik introverted life, I should be able to close my eyes for fifteen minutes and just be. So, I tried this morning to do this thing that I think would be good for the anxiety I still struggle with and I tried hard, guys. Here's what I learned. My mind may be too chaotic to find that kind of zen.
I've been told that you should find your mantra, a phrase to aid you in your meditation. Maybe it takes time. I will try again but I learned that, perhaps, that wasn't the way to truly connect myself to the universe. While I sat there trying not to be distracted by my two kitties, my mind fluttered off to all the things I need to get done (like how to turn off the Facebook Notifications for when people post silly videos) and I remembered thinking I got some clutter in this head of mine. Perhaps a garage sale for all the unnecesary thoughts would be profitable. I got some doozies in here (like what was the moment when the pound sign got renamed to hashtag). See? Really important stuff. I finished with my strugging fifteen minutes and I picked up my phone to see if there was a way to turn off that notification and I started laughing at myself. Was that really what I took out of that fifteen minutes? But I think something more important came out of me trying something I hadn't before. I realized the way I do meditate, the way I do connect with more than myself. I realized how I step out and become one with the universe. It's through these words and all the countless words, both good and bad, that I find my zen. I realized that the clutter in my head was like a stew. I throw all these thoughts in there as I go through my day, stirring it all up together, letting it all mesh together only to figure out what thoughts together make something beautiful. Sure, the pound sign question isn't something that makes any sense but it leads to something brilliant. It's like emotions. Emotions are all valid regardless of the source. Ideas, thoughts are all lovely regardless of the inspiration. I had the initiative this morning to sit down on that floor, to try something new because I want to find more ways to defeat the things that I have not conquered with my words. It is a new year and time to figure who the next me is going to be. We change as humans. We change the way we cope, the way we celebrate, the way accept. I want to say next year at this time that I sat down to meditate and it lasted for much longer. I want to say that I found healthier ways to defeat the demons that I've been carrying around for much too long. Small goals always lead to great accomplishments and perhaps I just found my theme for 2017.
The one good thing I did in my feeble attempt was focus on my writing, my dream that I keep chasing. I pictured myself running around in a sunflower field with my butterfly net, getting so close to catching one of those beautiful creatures but always just missing. I read somewhere that picturing what you want and attaining it is helpful. So then what does always missing that butterfly mean? And I realized it meant nothing because there I was, on the floor with my eyes closed, doing something that I had thought was for someone else but I was doing it. I get frustrated with my life. Everyone does. Sometimes I forget all the small victories I have won. At nineteen years old, if you had asked me if I would be sitting here, my answer would be no. If you would have asked that younger me, if I would be married with a child, I would have laughed in your face. And if you had even thought to tell me that I would be sitting here writing a blog that people actually read with four published books under my belt? Well, I would have kicked you right out of my house. Not because I wouldn't have believed you but because that angry part of me would have not let me entertain any of those thoughts. One of the the things that I looked up on my phone after I was done with my meditation was an article and poem I had submitted to a magazine. It was published in this month's issue of BurstOut Magazine (please, go check it out). Though I didn't meditate on one specific positive movement, I felt as if the universe heard me. I felt as if some cosmic force understood that I needed to see that tiny step forward. It may not bring me anything. I could just be writing off my high of sharing my work but all emotions are valid. I understand that this journey didn't start when my father died. I understand that this journey to find some sort of quiet peace within myself started from an early age. From the first word I wrote, I knew that was the start of my adventure. To the first word I shared, I knew that was the beginning of my courage. When I close my eyes to try to find some deeper meaning to my presence, I understood this morning I've always known how to quiet my soul just as I know how to set it on fire.
I once thought that the more friends I had, the happier it would make me. Surrounding myself with as many people as I could was a good thing. What could be wrong to be loved by so many? I realized as I grew, however, that you could have too many friends. I realized that the crowd of people you surround yourself turn out to be superficial. I was voted Friendliest in my Senior class, something that always makes me laugh because I was by no means the friendliest person in my 74 person graduating class. Those same people that bestowed that great superlative upon me weren't there a year later after we all went our seperate ways. I was on Facebook yesterday when I saw a conversatioin between a couple of those former high school friends. I hadn't realized so much time had passed but they were talking about our 20 year high school reunion perhaps taking place in October of this year. 20 years has gone by since I wore that cap and gown. 20 years has gone by since those romanticized glory days. It doesn't make me feel old like it should I guess. It doesn't make me feel sad or nostalgic or in any sort of way for those days back. We were so young, so young and dumb, thinking that we knew what we were doing. We all had a plan. At our 20 year reunion, we would all be showing that our lives went exactly to plan... but for most, none of our lives did. It's not a bad thing honestly. What we want changes, rearranges, morphs into something far more beautiful than we could ever imagine at such a young, foolish age. What I thought would make me happy then would not make me happy now. And if my life had gone the way it was supposed to, I would be married to a curly blonde haired boy with a litter full of blonde, blue eyed children and probably not much else. Really, I am relieved that I went a different direction. I am grateful for so many things that didn't happen but I am grateful, too, for the things that I held onto. There are gems in our youth that we grow out of but there are lovely little trinkets that we keep with us as we grow. We take those lessons with us. We take the joy, the heartache, the failures as we grow because it is in those things that we form who we are.
I had coffee this morning with one of my favorite people in the world. We met our Freshman year in high school but didn't become close until the end of our Sophomore year. When I started high school, I hung with the popular crowd because I thought it was more important to fit in. I thought that being invited to the cool kids parties was the path I was supposed to take. It was odd though because that generally was not part of my personality. I was truly trying to figure out who I was and I realized by the end of Freshman year that was not who I was at all. Sophomore year started and I made a clean break from that crowd, putting myself in a situation where I kept to myself. I didn't go to the parties. I didn't get asked out by the popular boys or invited to the sleepovers with the popular girls. I decided to find my own path and that's when I fell into hers. We were kindred spirits then and we've remained that way since. Out of everything that high school gave me, she was the only thing that I've ever wanted to hold onto. We sat this morning at the coffee shop that we used to sit at, that we got kicked out of so many times for cigarettes we were too young to smoke and it was as if the years hadn't flown by. It was as if we were still two teenage girls trying to figure out the world around us and laughing it all away because we were young and life was less complicated back then. We had no idea how much of a struggle there was ahead of us and it diddn't matter. Today as we sat there, so much of that struggle behind us, we cherished how far we had come. I realized many years ago that being surrounded by many was not my cup of tea. I realize more every day how much more I prefer to grow the relationships that matter. I am grateful for her. I am grateful that she has been the one person I have held onto even when we drifted apart. Our friendship has truly lasted the test of time. We have gone months, years without contact. Not because we had some sort of falling out but because sometimes life has other plans for you. The most beautiful part about being her friend is that no matter the distance or the time or the life that seems to be happening, when we pick up that phone, the other is always there to answer. When my life fell apart because of a boy in college, she was the first one I called. When I found out I was pregnant, she was the first one I told. When I got engaged, she was the first one I shared it with. And when my father died, she was the first person to be there for me. I am reminded of how lovely she is each time I speak to her. Out of all the friendships I have ever had, she will always be the one to mean the most. She has always been the one to be there no matter what.
Mostly my life has been spent in my head. I was a creative little kid but as I grew, I became quiet and reserved. Then I grew into a teenager and thought I was the shit for lack of better terms. Then life taught me I was certainly very breakable... and then it showed me I was far stronger than I could imagine. I have been extremes of myself, far too introverted and way too welcoming. It's been a long time (20 years to be exact) since I walked out of that school with so much ahead of me. It's been a long time since I felt so overwhelmed yet excited about what was to come in that youthful, innocent way. By all means, I know sitting here right now I have a lot of wonderful things to come but the older I get I also understand the struggle that comes along with that wonderful. I don't think I had any idea of the sacrifices I would have to offer to achieve my goals. I know I had no idea I would lose so much of me along the way or the way I would change after I had to put those pieces back together. You don't think of what the world could do to you once you are on your own. You only see what you can do to the world and it is an absolutely brilliant feeling to have those aspirations run through your veins. I think of that euphoria fondly but I know it left my system a long time ago. Like I said, I'm not feigning for those days back because I love where I have landed. I know that it was because of those steps that I took then that got me here. And though I don't talk to the majority of the people I did then, I am still grateful for what I learned from them even when that blonde haired boy broke my heart after high school. Without that break, I don't know what being whole would feel like. Without any of those breaks, I would have no idea what I would be like.
I can't go back and walk the hallway again. Not because of any metaphorical reason but because they tore our high school down. I can go stand in the parking lot and remember if I am so inclined but I don't need to. There was a time in my life the memory of high school was painful, not because I had a horrible time. It was because the memories always reminded me of the boy that took my life away, that boy that I once laughed with in those hallways and smoked with in that parking lot. Every good memory of high school had a part of him in it so it was painful to remember him that way when I could feel was what he became but life has healed his wounds. Life blessed me with the grace to forgive him though I will never know if he was sorry. I can remember high school now and all those people that colored my pages with a sweet fondness. My dear friend reminds me of the good times that we had, the closets that we hid in, the drunk songs about Santa that we made up, the love that we shared. I don't need the hallways to remind me of where I came from. I don't need a reunion to reconnect with people either. The people that matter never left. The people that mean something to me and I mean something to them are a phone call away and that's what matters. Will I go to my reunion? I don't know honestly. A part of me would like to go and make some elaborate story about myself and see how far the story goes. It wouldn't be unlike high school really. I used to spread rumors about myself as experiments just to see how far they went. But then I realize it doesn't matter any more. We all come back together again to showcase all the wonderful things we have done. Sure, maybe that's a little pessimistic but my dear friend and I this morning analyzed the reasons our interests were peaked and the reasons we had no interest. I can't walk my hallways but I don't know if I would want to if I could. The memories that I have wouldn't be amplified by physically being in that space nor would they leave my memory. The friendships I have carried with me from that part of my life are strong. Within them are the memories that are important. I don't need to go back to my old locker to remember the gym bag that woulnd't fit into it. And I don't need to stand in front of my old high school nemesis to prove that I've done well for myself. Success is relative and useless to prove to people who at the end of the day have moved on just as you have. When I think of my youth, I remember many moments and all the people that touched my life but I know that what truly matters is what they all taught me even that high school nemesis. I sat with my friend who has been my friend for 22 years now and I feel so absolutely lucky that she has stuck by my side all these years. I feel so grateful that for all the life we have lived, we can always find our way back to each other. It will never matter the struggle that comes our way because the struggle never stood in our way before. Perhaps, when we are old and grey, we will have bought that house together and we will sit on our rockers reminiscing about the day she assaulted my eyebrows and we will cackle in our old lady glory like we had imagined we would in our youth. One day, when we're old and gray, our friendship will still be one of my greatest treasures.