Love Story

Everyone deserves a love story

But are any of them ever clean?

They are guaranteed

To take your breath away

.

They are sure to change you

To challenge you to grow

But if you’re not careful

The wrong one

.

In the wrong place

At the wrong time

Can ease into your weak points

And destroy you

.

Sometimes, it feels

Beyond recognition

But even in a good love story

As it grows, rises, and ends

.

There are remnants of your former self

That crumbled in the process

Of breaking and healing

And shaping new beginnings

.

Together or apart

There are always new beginnings

And the parts of you that broke away

Are somewhere in the stars

.

You set out to know someone else

But in the process

A new You emerged

And you have to get to know her, too

.

Love seems like a thing to have

But it is an entity

That transmutes you

Into the heart creature you were meant to be

.

And the story

However brief or however long

Lives in your heartbeat

Alters your pathways of reason

.

You are perhaps wiser

You are perhaps stronger

You are perhaps more You

You are perhaps cleaner

.

You traced the depths of your emotions

Into your palms

You survived hellos and daydreams and goodbyes

Perhaps one too many goodbyes

.

And in the end

Invisible ink is tattooed on your skin

The secret moments of your own love story

As you look to the horizon, whispering, “Let me write another.”

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Goodbye Sunshine

Things were good

Sweet and slow

I liked that we were going

At the same, soft pace

.

Step by step

Springtime dance

Only it was autumn

With our gentle fire

.

Nothing was easy

But the moments were worth it

Sweet, silent whispers

Of “I trust you”

.

And I felt good

Watching this rosebud form

I asked you

“Would you like to see it blossom?”

.

We glimpsed the future

The sunshine, the rain

A glimmer of a chance

For Us

.

And I enjoyed the here and now

Reaching out

Confident

Eternally unsure

.

I didn’t just have to grow with you

I had to grow with myself

Not just hearing me and you

But hearing all the voices in my head

.

All the madness in my heart

All of my own fears

That I wasn’t really going to be loved

And it all feels so silly now

.

Worrying and questioning

What I had

When I had it

You were there, and I couldn’t trust it.

.

Our flower opened up

Just a little

To all the light

I opened my heart to you

.

Let a little love

Pour out to you

Because I started to feel brave

And sure

.

And you echoed

All the light back

And I felt

Like I was home

.

The next day

You started to pull away

Pushed back, didn’t hear me

I thought I knew the reasons

.

But there was so much I didn’t know

So much I couldn’t know

So much you could have told me

But it took so long to trust me

.

And now I’m not so sure

If I can be trusted.

I felt so abandoned

Love crumbled

.

And it was no one’s fault

But how was I to know?

How was I to know

Things couldn’t change?

.

After letters and proof

I found my way back to you

Passed a test

And you added honey

.

To my mornings again

I let you take the lead

You held out your hand

And every time, I took it

.

But after a while

It seemed you didn’t like it

Because I was just like the rest

Another who couldn’t be trusted

.

I had to break down walls

Before they could form

Before they could divide us again

And for a while

.

When I was sure hope was lost

We were in a sanctuary

Of trust, gentleness, and conversation

And I started to feel safe

.

Sometimes feeling safe

Is the biggest mistake.

When things were new

I wanted to be there with you

.

But dark clouds loomed

And you shut me out

I’m not passing any blame around

I just missed you

.

But in the meantime

You had cracked open

You trusted me with you deepest thoughts

And I thought we were in this together

.

Moving forward, a steady song

And you started to drift away again

And I needed to see you

So I tried to make our flower blossom

.

Tried to create a whole garden

My love was something

You held in your hand

But I knew you didn’t want to hold on tight

.

Really, really, really

I should have known

But I needed

To see you

.

You put up walls

You built moats

You didn’t make it easy

For me to enter your kingdom

.

And yet you opened doors

And yet you called off soldiers

And yet you sent an invitation

And yet pulled me near

.

In the end

Your walls went up higher

Than they had ever been

And I was left

.

To leave messages between bricks

There’s no time to cry in a kingdom

And now I just wait

Soft glances toward your fortress

.

I know you think

That I’m just like the rest

Leaving so easily

Not caring

.

But I wonder if you’ll let me

Hold on.

I’m not passing any blame around

I just miss you

.

I think back to those early days

The first hellos

The first jokes

The first sense

.

That this could be something real

When we walked at that slow, soft pace

Step by step

With our gentle fire

.

And now I wonder

If maybe that was the problem

We started off slow

And then we were at different speeds

.

When I was ready to race ahead

You still wanted to take your time

And then you stopped altogether

And vanished

.

And I looked back

Wondering how we could press rewind.

I wanted you too much

To let you take the lead

.

Because so much so

I wanted you to know

That you were one of the best things

That ever happened to me

.

I’m not passing any blame around

I just missed you.

And I don’t want to dance alone

I hate the feeling of you being gone

.

Never knowing if you’ll reach out again

Never knowing if you’ll let me take your hand

Never knowing if you’ll like the feeling

Never knowing if you’ll see I’m not like the rest.

Whale Songs

The ocean feels so far tonight

I can’t decipher the whale songs

Even though their melodies

Drift into the forest

And I’m left thirsty

For the music

.

I am a conch shell

On the coast

Half-buried in sand

I am nobody’s home

I’m just in the shadow of the moonlight

Wrapped up in the tent of cold

Listening out for ocean waves

I want to be washed away

.

But I can’t ask for the horizon

I have to settle for the memories

Every time the ocean

Drifts away from me.

And I can’t see

In the seaside dark.

The stars that shine

Don’t seem to shine for me

As I drift further

Into the sandy sea.

Thoughts on marriage

wedding pic1

Part I.

I don’t think I was ever one of those people who planned their dream wedding. There’s so many misconceptions about love, romance, and happily ever afters. I think the biggest is that no one ever lives happily ever after, not really. Because life isn’t happy all the time, and a relationship isn’t happy all the time, and moments aren’t happy all the time. I think marriage is a lot like paying taxes: everyone expects you to do it eventually, but no one prepares you for the reality. In spite of the fact that millions of people have done the same thing before you, you’re not given an extensive education on the subject. You go in blind, hoping for the best, not necessarily prepared for the worst, but you try anyway.

It’s interesting to think about the reasons why people get married in the first place. There’s all the right reasons of course: meeting someone you genuinely want to spend your life with, meeting someone you want to start a family with, wanting someone to love and share all the good and bad moments with. There’s a beauty and an almost fantastical ideology behind love. It’s probably the only thing in this world that can make us feel like, in the right moments, that we’re living in a magical place. But other reasons people get married is to avoid something that is uncomfortable to them, primarily the idea of ending up all alone.

Most people feel their best knowing they have some level of independence. But human beings are highly dependent creatures. We want to know that if we need help, someone will be there to support us. Whether it’s physical or emotional, we rely on others to keep us content, healthy, and safe. Despite this need for human connection, there’s so many cultures in our world where people are largely left to fend for themselves. We’re a species that needs others, and yet when someone (typically an adult) is in need, we want them to deal with it themselves. One thing that becomes apparent as you enter into adulthood is that there’s very few people who are there to support you in all the big ways.

When you’re young and in school, you often have a wealth of communities to be a part of, and people who will offer you support simply because of your age, and consequently, lack of ability to be more independent. There’s an emphasis to make sure kids have community, an education, and activities to be involved it. Adults have to carve these things out for themselves, and depending on location and circumstances, that can be a challenge.

That’s not to say that adolescence is an inherently more enjoyable time in one’s life (even though some people may indeed feel this way). Ironically enough, the freedom and independence that adulthood can bring can be liberating, scary, but ultimately something many of us wouldn’t want to give up. For me, it’s less about wanting to be a kid again, and more about wanting to bridge a gap. I want the independence and self-sufficiency that I need to develop as an adult, but I also want to have access to many of the (often free) programs I had as an adolescent, many of which made it easy to do things I loved while meeting other people.

The transition from adolescent years to adulthood raises an interesting question: does independence have to equal isolation? What would an America that emphasized a greater sense of community and support among adults look like? Can we value independence and ingenuity while also acknowledging that none of us can handle life’s hurdles alone?

Part II.

I think that, in some ways, marriage (and committed relationships of all kinds) are one answer to the problem of adult isolation. But is it enough? When I was in school (even in college), I noticed an attitude toward romantic relationships that was quite different, and maybe a bit more negative, than the attitudes people have when they are no longer in school. When I lived in my dorm, there was one girl in my hall who didn’t socialize much with the other girls in the building, but her boyfriend visited her often. I knew more than one person who expressed that it was unhealthy for her to spend so much time with her boyfriend without making other friends.

Naturally, no one could know what her social life was like outside of the dorm. Perhaps she had enough friends. Perhaps she was in more of an adult mindset than her peers were. When I was in high school, there would sometimes be a level of animosity if it seemed like a girl was choosing her boyfriend over spending time with her friend group. In school, everyone wants to be dating someone, but there’s almost this unspoken rule that platonic relationships are key in order to have a healthy, balanced social life.

But in the adult world, past the college stage, keeping up with friends becomes less realistic. People have jobs or they are dealing with unemployment. Some people are getting married and others are getting over breakups. Some people are having children. Suddenly, a person is spending most of their time with their significant other, only this time, it isn’t “unhealthy” or odd or antisocial, it’s just the norm. Spending time with a significant other and family makes sense. There’s a change in lifestyle and, consequently, a change in social expectations.

Adulthood comes with a certain expectation of self-sufficiency. A person is expected to have a career that can support their lifestyle: one that probably includes paying for their own housing, food, car, healthcare, clothes, etc. It’s the whole reason our parents, schools, and communities raise us, so we can eventually obtain all of life’s essentials and luxuries on our own. There’s also an expectation that one will enter a long-term, committed, typically heterosexual and monogamous relationship. This person should also be self-sufficient, having a career so they can afford housing, food, clothes, etc. Then, there may be an expectation that this couple will have children, whom they will raise until they can be self-sufficient themselves.

It’s a cycle. But are we doing this thing right?

Part III.

It’s been expressed for years now that in the U.S, about half of all marriages end in divorce. Do I think this is a bad thing? No. I’m twenty-five years old. I don’t want the same things that I wanted when I was twenty. And the things I want when I’m thirty may be entirely different than what I want now. People change. People and relationships should be allowed to change. I don’t see the divorce rate in this country as a failure. I see it one way our culture’s obsession with self-sufficiency has actually paid off: no one feels the need to stay in an unhappy or unhealthy marriage out of fear. Fewer people in the history of humankind are left to worry that without their marriage, they have no means of meeting their needs for basic survival.

In the grand scheme of things, I probably know relatively few married couples. And I know even fewer who have relationships that I’d aspire to emulate. Too many people, from the outside looking in (and with an enormously limited amount of information) seem to be in unhappy marriages. There’s a lot of reasons why people get married, and usually those reasons are on the extreme ends of things they hope for and things they fear.

But why do people who are unhappy in their marriages stay married? New relationships are always more exciting than those that have been established for a while. Unhappy people might stay married for their children. Another reason is, again, fear. Leaving a marriage means going into an unknown future where one is scared, uncertain, and of course, alone. That fear of loneliness can influence a lot of people in their most life-changing decisions.

One of the reasons early adulthood is so stressful is that it seems everyone wants, and feels they are expected to, achieve all of the adult milestones at once. People want to have their careers and their love lives in order by the time they reach the age of thirty. But that first decade of adult years is more often filled with trial and error than certainty.

Lots of people reach their mid-twenties and find a good relationship, maybe have their first child, but are still figuring out their careers and finances, and many are still supported financially by their parents. Others have their career path figured out and a decent level of financial stability, but haven’t found the relationship they want. Few people seem to have both of these areas balanced out in their twenties, and nothing is set in stone or “finished” because these are areas of growth, Relationships, careers, and one’s sense of self are constantly evolving.

When I was younger, if I thought of marriage, I probably thought of it as a simple, singular, and even somewhat isolated concept. But now, I can’t think of it without acknowledging how it connects to other areas of adulthood. I don’t know for sure if I want to be married. But I do know that I want to be financially independent first. I know I want to find new ways to do something I love while meeting new people. I know that I want to be free to grow, change, and evolve without the weight of other peoples’ expectations influencing my choices.

I know that if I do get married, I don’t want it to be because I’m afraid of being alone. And I don’t want it to be because people think it’s odd that I’m not spending all of my time with a significant other, much like my school peers thought it was weird if someone didn’t spend more time with their platonic friends.

Part IV.

It’s a complex idea to navigate; the concept that we should be these independent beings, but also that we should be partnered with someone. This idea that we should be able to handle paying bills, feeding ourselves, and keeping a roof over our head on our own, but also that too much independence is considered strange.

There’s a lot of potential in the human ability to be independent while maintaining a need to rely on others. If only our society could learn to allow these needs to intersect instead of prioritizing one over the other at different times, tipping the scales to opposite extremes and constantly leaving people to feel as though they are failing at something–the paradox of either having too much independence or not enough of it.

One’s ability to support themselves with food, clothing, and shelter are needed for survival. But marriage? Marriage is but one solution to the complex problem of loneliness. Our views of family, relationships, and community rarely extend to support those who are not married. It leaves few other options. But maybe people who aren’t married need more options to feel like they aren’t alone in this world.

I think that in many ways, (consensual, healthy) marriage is good for people. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone. I don’t have much of an answer to the question of whether or not I want to get married. I’m twenty-five. Ask me again when I’m thirty.

Hopeless

It’s not that everything is hopeless. I know it’s not. I know I’ll find another star to wish upon. But I had a dream wrapped around my heart so tight, that when it was time to let it go, I was left gasping for air. I couldn’t function, or rather, I didn’t want to. I wanted to lie under the covers and never greet the sun again. Some days are just like that. But I return back to normalcy the way I can’t help but return to the ocean’s surface. Sometimes hope meets you half-way, even when you ask it to leave. It doesn’t want you to stay buried under the covers. But my hands are empty, the ghost of a dream remaining, my heart still aching. And I keep recounting the steps I’ve taken to see all the ways I went wrong. I keep looking ahead, not knowing what steps I’m supposed to take. All I can do is keep my eyes on the horizon, waiting for a new star to find me.