My Irish Boy (8.12.13)

Of course, I miss your laugh, your eyes, your voice

The hugs, the intimacy, the games, and the music

Of course, I hurt inside when I know you’re out with someone else

And of course, I wish I were there perpetually

Instead of here all by myself

 

Those things sting enough, but what hits me hardest

Is the unexpected– the innocuous moment

Or so it seems

When a can of corned beef hash

On the top shelf stares down at me

Summer’s Gone

Drops of luminescence beat the ground

After a cold night

In a Spring sun

 

I awoke with frost on my heart

Warm, tired tears

In a sunless, embracing bed

 

We always seemed shocked and angered

by the snow’s fall

After a pleasant day

 

I’m done being fooled by the chill,

by the icy words

that follow a once enchanting summer

Sweet 16

I remember being sixteen years old, tightly stuffed into a friend’s basement in Worcester, MA, feeling higher and happier than a child chasing a trail of pearlescent bubbles.

It was New Year’s Eve, 1999.

I was there with my sister, mutual friends, and the boy with whom I was completely infatuated from the first moment I saw him that summer. I wore black vinyl pants and remember my crush saying to me on the ride to Worcester, “I can see myself in your pants. No, really. It’s not a pickup line. I can see myself in your pants.”

He braided me an aluminum foil bracelet as we stood by ourselves in the kitchen, tucked away in a corner, where we rubbed noses and giggled about how Eskimos and gnomes kiss.

I remember hanging out in one of my friend’s van outside listening to DMX and Dr Dre. I vaguely recall our friends’ band playing that evening in the tiny basement. I also remember eating peanuts while chewing gum, and realizing as my gum dissolved and slid down my throat, that that’s why people use peanut butter to get gum out of girls’ hair. Epiphany. I was hopped up on illegal substances and the world was my oyster.

As the ball was on its descent into the year Y-2-K, we all joked about how the internet would shut down, chaos would ensue, and the beginning of the end would follow thereafter.

None of that happened, of course, but when the countdown reached zero, I grabbed the boy and kissed him so sweetly. It was my first New Year’s kiss and I was on ecstasy.

Very early on the morning of New Year’s Day, I went back to the boy’s house and he laboriously peeled the black vinyl pants off my sweaty body. I lay in the boy’s bed, while he tried to do sexy things to me and I was coming down. I was tired, and it just wasn’t working. Frustrated and selfish, he broke up with me; I was mostly naked in his bed and trapped at his home without a ride.

Later that morning, forgetting what he had done only hours earlier, he in naive slumber, curled his arm tightly around my waist and pulled me in to snuggle. I just lay there and cried silently.

Happy New Year.

That boy became the man with whom I reunited seven years later and almost married.

Now, sixteen years after that emotional bumper car ride, I am sitting here in my favorite, thread-bare bathrobe in my cozy apartment. I am thinking about how many dull years have passed. How many of them I spent being a normal, young adult with a relatively stable existence. How many of them I spent with that same boy, and how many I have spent without him since we split. How so many of those years since we broke up were anything but stable or dull. How grateful I am to be where I am sitting today.

One thing that has always been consistent in all of my teen and adult years is my struggle with love. Oh, I find love, I just can’t keep love. The last three New Year’s Eves have been spent with friends, doling out hugs and cheek pecks at the ball drop.

Four years ago, I experienced something akin to my sixteenth year. I told the new guy I was dating since J and I broke up that I loved him for the first time. On New Year’s Day. It wasn’t planned. I wasn’t trying to be romantic by choosing a special day; it had just been six months together and fifteen years total since I had known him, and it came out of my mouth as we lay in my bed after drinking several mimosas and fondling each other. He reacted poorly. Understatement. His reaction was the worst reaction anyone could possibly have to being told they are loved by their girlfriend.

First, he laughed nervously. Really hard. Then, he pulled me in for a hug and swayed us back and forth for an extremely uncomfortable amount of time. It felt like three decades. We both silently shared a cigarette on my porch, and then, abruptly, he told me he had to go.

My New Year’s track record is excellent.

This year I feel good, though. I’ve been taking a lot of time to focus on organizing my life and my home. I have been writing a lot. I don’t really go out or drink very often at all and am in bed by 10 or 11 each night. I cherish my girl cat and lavish in all this extra time I have to be near her because I am not out getting messed up. I am yet again reconnecting with me, my favorite person to hang out with.

I cannot predict how the year will progress nor do I really want to. There are a couple of projects in the works that will keep me focused on my hobby and love for writing and editing, and I am finally loving my body and taking care of her needs.

Coming from the girl who always has put others before her, I am no longer content to be that person who lies there, quietly stifling her tears, while men abandon her right as a human to have her own fears, feelings, and thoughts.

And while I may be romancing someone currently who makes me swoon, blush, or feel dizzy, he is not the center of my world–he is just a very lovely and enticing piece of it. I like my life and I damn well should. It is mine after all. No one else’s. I live it for me and those who come into it, like my friends, family, or this romance, are all just enhancements and embellishments to the steadily polished bowl I’ve been working on for nearly thirty-three years.

I used to repeat the mantra, “I am happy; I am healthy; I am wealthy; I am wise.”

I think as I move into this new year of 2016, I am going to focus on the simple sweetness.

There’s a calm radiating throughout my being, because I’ve been chasing the metaphorical dragon for years and am finally ready to be me. To be the girl renewed from years of bad relationships and abuse; to be the girl strengthened against giving herself to men just to feel wanted; to be the woman who is comfortable in her new shape but still yearns to feel healthy in body, mind, and spirit. But mostly, to be Amanda, the person I know most intimately.

Amanda loves to read. She loves cleaning. Her home is an homage to the things she cherishes most: her cats, her friends, and music. She is nostalgic and loves to read her old journals (and then immediately shred them upon completion). She is sappy and enjoys eating popcorn by herself while watching comedy romances. She puts herself to sleep each night by petting her cat and listening to science documentaries. She writes in a gratitude journal. She requires time to herself every day to feel whole. She loves writing and making music more than she loves most things, and she gives her heart freely and generously to the people who mean the most to her. She does this not because she has to, not out of guilt, fear, or obligation, but because when Amanda feels like Amanda, she is a resonating channel of love.

From what I know of Amanda, she is sweet. She is kind, caring, and sweet. She’s snarky, sarcastic, whiny, and selfish, too, but no one likes a perfectly polished bowl, now, do they?

May I only hope that 2016 simply holds that presence of free love, if nothing else. It might just be the sweetest sixteen I’ve had yet.

A Different Kind of Christmas

I don’t mean to sound like a grinch or a curmudgeon, but I generally kinda hate this time of year.

I didn’t always. When I was little, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Of course. Then, across my teenage years to early twenties, it became somewhat lackluster. I didn’t HATE it; I just found the “magic” of it to be unimpressive.

When J and I were together, there was a resurgence of the splendor. I made home-made cards for everyone each year, I decorated our home, we put up a tree. I loved wrapping gifts.

Then, my sister got engaged right before Christmas. She had been with her man a way shorter time than J and I had. J and I had been together for years. I was disappointed, naturally. A year later, right before Christmas, J proposed. That was a great Christmas; unfortunately, the jealousy spiked after we were engaged (seems counter-intuitive, I know) and he sabotaged our relationship in the following months.

Since then, I have celebrated three Christmases and this year will be the fourth. The first Christmas was great; I was dating someone new and went to his house to be with his family on Christmas Day. It was the next two years to follow that have made me entirely skeptical of the Christmas season.

For the past two years, absolutely horrific things have happened right around Christmas. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the events, because they are very private in nature, but both were severely traumatizing and heart-wrenching.

This year, I experienced yet another traumatizing event right after a good friend passed away. I reconnected with a man who made me forget everyone who’s ever hurt me, and then I sadly ended things with him at the end of summer. Of course, we are not very good at staying away from one another, so that’s a whole other thing. Then, my cat unexpectedly passed away, a friend’s mother passed away, and other friends have been experiencing a lot of upheaval in their own lives.

This Christmas? Despite all of that, it seems way better than the last two. It’s amazing what a little perspective will do. My roommate and I put up the tree on December 1st. I have decorations out. I have no money to purchase any gifts for anyone this year, because I am in quite a bit of debt from my cat’s vet bills, but I am not fearful of the day of Christmas, itself.

I don’t know if I’ll be waking up alone Christmas Day. I don’t know if I’ll be spending it alone this year. Strangely, I haven’t really thought about it too much. And New Years? I haven’t even made plans yet.

I’m still struggling and having a hard time with things. It’s been a very emotional year, but I don’t feel the overwhelming devastation of years past. What I feel is a want and a need to reconnect with myself in an even deeper way than I have been for the past year. To become healthy again. To write, write, write. And anything else that happens in between, well, we’ll see.

Sometimes, not really having expectations is a healthy mindset. Going with the flow of things has never stabbed me in the back.

This year, perhaps, I just have to “be”.

 

Having Heart

I remember the first year after J and I split, I spent Thanksgiving afternoon on the Simsbury bike trail. It was completely vacant, which was a picture of absolute perfection to me. It was sunny, warmish, and I remember loving each and every second of being in solitude before I had to go be with family.

Last year I went straight to my boyfriend at the time’s house after Thanksgiving at my sister’s. It made me really happy to be there with people I consider family, too.

I don’t only think about what I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, obviously, but it is a tradition of mine to write about it on this day.

This past year has been one filled with the extremes of complete bliss and total despair. I rang in New Year’s at a friend’s house, where I felt depressed and out of place. My boyfriend and I had just ended things, and I was once again broken-hearted.

Shortly after New Year’s, I received a text from a friend who never forgot about me. He would always check in with me when I was so awful at doing the same for him. Even if it was every few months or once a week, he’d text to ask how I was doing.

In late January, one of my good friends suddenly passed away from a heart attack. I missed some work. Had trouble sleeping. Began to fear that everyone I loved could disappear at any moment.

On the last day of February, I threw myself a birthday party. It was really fun and debaucherous, and although not everyone I wanted to be there was there, I was happy.

On the first day of March, the same friend who texted me in early January came to visit me. We hadn’t seen each other in about a year, since he lives in New York City.

And on March 2nd, I found myself slowly falling in love.

This year has been filled with so many changes, losses, and new friends.

Things at work have changed drastically in the span of one calendar year. I am now in charge of quality assurance, our team has organization, and I even have a standing desk.

My relationship with the beautiful man from Brooklyn flourished and kept me in a haze of complete bewilderment that someone could be so incredible, handsome, sweet, smart, and like me back at the same time. Long distance sucks–I don’t recommend it–but it was totally worth it, because now my life had this added dimension: love.

I completed a writing apprenticeship this summer with Elephant Journal, started my own website, and became a published writer. I got a roommate for the first time in three years.

I made new friends and formed stronger bonds with pre-existing friends. I have a whole community of friends who live in my apartment complex, now, and we get together every week to play dorky games or eat meals.

I mended old wounds with my ex, and we have been able to be friends again, which is something I never thought would happen.

I found a soul-mate friendship with a person who has seen me through some of my toughest moments in the short amount of time we’ve known each other. I have been able to be support for him as well.

I went to NYC to see a friend and reunite with the beautiful man. I swear nothing is better than that moment when you first connect bodies. The lingering opiate-effect that washes over your entire mind as you gaze at each other in between kissing and holding hands on what felt like the longest subway ride to Brooklyn. But nothing is worse than disappointment, having the weekend not go the way you had envisioned, and being told by the man you have fallen for that he’s too scared and too busy. Not wanting to hurt myself more, I removed myself emotionally from the situation.

I have cried way more than I’d like to admit over this. Crying in the bathroom stalls at work, crying when I first wake. Crying in the car, in the shower, into my cats’ soft fur. Crying myself to sleep.

Two weeks ago, my male cat suddenly became very sick. After the most emotionally tumultuous weekend of my life, I had to put my cat down. He was operated on twice. Had complications with both surgeries. Was having difficulty breathing. Needed another expensive surgery, of which his survival rate was fifty percent. I wanted him to be in his momma’s arms as he took his last breath.

Everyone was there for me on that day and the days to follow. I couldn’t believe how much support and love I felt from all angles, and even from people I rarely talk to on facebook. No one thought I was ridiculous for being so upset, and no one told me to get over it. J spent time with me on the phone to make sure I was okay (after all, it was his baby, too, at one point) and said some of the most soothing things I needed to hear after Zen passed. I am truly thankful for the genuine outpouring of kindness in the past week and a half.

This has been one of the most devastating things I’ve ever gone through. I’m not just a “pet person”, an “animal lover”, and hyper-emotional. No, my two cats are my existence. They’ve been with me for nearly seven years. They were my support and company when I went through my “divorce”, because after six years and and an engagement ring, it’s essentially a divorce. They have been admired, adored, and cherished every single day of their lives, and they have become my closest friends and my children.

Zen, my male cat, was my best friend. Nearly every night he slept tucked under my arm like a teddy bear. Now, I have his ashes resting in my bedroom, and my female cat, Aum, is more clingy than ever. But she will never be a “lap cat”; she will never snuggle under the folds of my arms as I sleep. I’ve lost something immense.

And the crying continues. It’s almost every day. Sporadic. Random. I am wracked with guilt that maybe I missed some sign that Zen was sick and all of this could have been prevented. I feel total desolation for my other cat, who cannot possibly understand where her brother went. Why all of her favorite beings keep disappearing with no return.

However, through all of the hardships and watching close friends suffer and experience sadness and loss as well, I have heart.

I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there. It’s the only reason why I am still standing.

I am in my own microcosm of pain and suffering–I know the world has so much more suffering and trauma than I will ever personally experience, but my pain is still my pain. The last three years of my life, I have been pummeled by loss and heartache. I have had moments, weeks, and even months of true happiness, too.

No matter what has happened to me in the last year, I do know that I still have love; I still have heart. Loving is the thing that makes me happiest. I can’t stop myself from it. And with love, comes gratitude, appreciation, cherishing those I adore, and forgiving those who have hurt me.

I have had suicidal thoughts a lot. Nothing I’ve ever acted upon, but they are there. I have hated and shamed my own body. I have harmed myself physically. I have called myself a pathetic mess in the bathroom mirror hundreds of times. I have considered what the point of living is when life is filled with constant loss and disappointment, and the outside world is a magnified mirror-reflection of the same thing.

My answer is that I can always find love. And that love is what drives me. My cat needs me. She purrs and sleeps at the edge of my bed every night. She needs reassurance when she eats these days, so I stand there with her and coax her, because she’s confused about the change in the household. My friends need their hands held when they are experiencing hard times. And even though things are not the way I wish they were with the man I adore, I feel happiness in knowing him, in feeling the way he makes me feel, and in knowing I can still bring joy to his life. I’m not gone. He’s not gone.

I am thankful that I have always been the type to cherish and remember things. Every single day. I am grateful that my male cat had the very best life he could have had, with an absurd amount of love, cuddles, kisses, cat nip, and wet food.

Mostly, I am thankful that I always give and love with my whole heart. I may say harmful things to myself when I am feeling particularly low, but I do know that my heart is always the thing that saves me, probably the most sincere thing about me, and the thing that makes a difference to others.

Today, I am thankful for having heart.

Never Be (4.28.15)

This too good to be true feeling

Usually one no one wants to believe

We’re different

It’s our whole premise

The very definition of our romance,

So sweet, so generous and real,

Is that it can never be

Manhattan Afternoon

It was the way your voice lifted and softened

when you spoke about the chestnut in my eyes;

The bit of yellow you found, and

seemed to be lost in;

The kiss that followed;

The braided embrace

 

By the waters of Manhattan

time slowed down

One of the prettiest and

most sincere moments

we’ve shared

The Truth Is:

You are so beautiful. So. Fucking. Beautiful.

I wish I had been more aware when we met. Maybe you would have really given us a chance. You seemed less jaded, more silly, less worn, had fewer battle scars from the wear and tear of city life and its gravity pushing in on you from all angles.

When we met, compassion poured from you. At first, I thought you weren’t interested at all. Of course. A good-looking guy–why would he want me? And then, you turned towards me and asked me about myself. We didn’t stop talking for a couple of hours. We talked so much about so many things that everyone who came outside to smoke went in, and when we returned, frozen from the cold, and continued talking, my ex gazed out the window perturbed.

That was day one.

We wrote each other emails pen-pal style about our lives, about questions we had for each other, and about deeper things. I was going through some really heavy stuff during this time and slacked off on talking for a while…You were my little secret, because no one we were with that night could know that we had become good friends.

Our bond was formed immediately after that first day, because I believed you when you told me your side of things; I had empathy. You said that I was a better person than the people we were with that night, and you just knew upon meeting me. You never gave up on me, even though I was difficult to reach at times.

You came to visit on a couple of occasions; you tried to put the “moves” on me. I rejected your advances, although the lady at the restaurant took down our name as the “really attractive couple” while we were waiting to be seated.

You remembered everything I’d ever told you. You even remembered, a year later, the name of the fruity drink we ordered at Meadow on a dinner date.

I don’t. Admittedly. That whole time we were friends was a frenzied, horrific mess in my head. My heart was splintered and worn, and my thoughts often drifted off to other places or I was too busy getting trashed with my friends so I could subdue heartache.

I remember chatting with you on Facebook Messenger when I found out that my flight back from Cleveland was canceled due to bad weather. I don’t recall what we said to another.

I had every opportunity to ask you more about your life. You had ample time to provide it. When we finally spoke again this January, you told me you missed our emails–could we email like we used to? I told you yes, of course.

I remember when you had finally given me your phone number, because you were going to visit family in California and wouldn’t be near a computer. I texted you one snowy afternoon, while in the living room watching “Spring Breakers” (ironically starring James Franco, the very man who has you by the balls, working like a horse, at his Studio). We went back and forth for a while, but what we talked about? I don’t know, sadly. I bet you might.

Now I remember everything. From the smell of your skin to the freckles on your chest. The pale shade of your hands and the geometric shapes adorning your knuckles. Your sleepy voice. Your silly voice. Your seductive voice. I remember details about your life you’ve shared and the dates of all your performances I never got to see. You are so busy that you forget things I’ve told you. Your pretty head so rife with lines, with places you have to be, with things you need to accomplish, that you have room for nothing else.

So unfortunate that we had to reunite when everything you’ve wanted in your career is beginning to fall into place. There’s no room for me at all.

But there was. For a time.

For a time, you made every effort you could to come see me. We rapaciously texted each other throughout the day and sleepily talked on the phone late at night. I tortured you while you were at work with thoughts about what I wanted to do to you when I saw you next, and you made me accidentally spill an entire glass of water on my desk at work when you sent me a photo of your post-workout abs.

It was much more than that, of course. Finally, we had both found someone we could trust. Someone we couldn’t get enough of. Another soul that filled ours with the effects of opium every time we talked or thought about the other.

It was magical.

When we were together, it was hard not to want to be continually touching. We giggled and did silly psychology tests and surveys together. We played out fantasies. We lazed on the couch, holding hands, watching tv shows. We went out on dinner dates. We groggily went out to breakfast the following mornings. I made you coffee that was sickeningly sweet–the way you like it.

I missed you so fiercely while we were apart, and it was nearly too much for me. So many months began to slip by without a visit, because you were about to be homeless or were completely immersed in a thousand duties and rehearsals.

It was hard. Really fucking hard. But I thought we were doing a damn good job of making the best of it. Of talking when we could. Of keeping the romance and spark lit. I was thoroughly impressed with us. Any time my voice changed from effervescent to sultry, you nearly had to sit down because of my affect on you. We were beating the odds, because of both of our hard work and communication.

Then, I dunno, you started to recoil a bit. Becoming more busy, you realized you hadn’t told me I was beautiful in days. The tiredness in your voice was apparent when we spoke, and I felt you pushing me away when I asked about your dad or when I accidentally interchanged the words “seeing each other” for “dating each other”. You reassured me this had nothing to do with your feelings.

You, afraid of disappointing me, were hesitant to set dates for when we might see each other, because twice you had to cancel our tentative plans.

It was becoming painful not seeing you.

Then…I saw you. You! Gorgeous, beautiful you.

We reunited at Penn Station a little after noon. We saw each other from several yards away and you quickened your pace, and I, standing in a red dress, dropped my bags as you came towards me. Just like in the movies, we kissed, we embraced, we kissed some more. Then, hand-in-hand, we got on the subway.

On the subway, we kissed, we held hands, we kissed some more. It was nothing short of incredible to finally touch you again. And at your apartment, we spent many hours alone together doing what you expect two lovers to do when they haven’t seen each other in months. Then, we blissfully lazed around naked, playing video games, being goofy, and taking pictures.

We walked to the water’s edge in Williamsburg, clasping hands. We ate pizza; we had ice cream. And then, you had to take me to Manhattan to see my friend. I thought that I would get to spend the next night and all of the following day with you, but as luck would have it, rehearsals and studio got in the way.

I know you can’t help it–the responsibility you have is huge, but my heart sank. I was finally in the city and I couldn’t wake next to you.

Over breakfast on my last day in the city I told you I couldn’t do this anymore.

It hurts to like you so much. It hurts not having you, too. There is no winning, here.

We spent the rest of the day like we were in love. We walked on a flower-covered bridge. We sat on a bench in front of the water. We made-out and didn’t care who was watching. We told each other how beautiful the other’s eyes were. How the sunlight plays on them and lights them up…and in that tender moment, your voice got weak. We closed in and kissed again, arms wrapped around each other tightly.

My train was delayed and you had to leave. I didn’t want to let you go. We had been standing in front of the train schedule for twenty minutes, my head buried in your chest. Tears began to fall onto your shirt–you said it was a good look and you didn’t mind. You told me not to cry. I told you how could I not when nothing compares? And after kissing goodbye at least a dozen times, you walked away towards the subway. Right before you entered the tunnel, you turned to look at me and waved.

Then you were gone.

I was alone in a massive current of people, moving in different directions to their destinations. Mine was, first, the bathroom to cry, then, outside to smoke, and finally, inside to head home without you.

You always say to me that things went the way they did and they couldn’t have gone any other way. The way they went is the way they had to go.

This time you didn’t have to let me go. You could have brought me back to your room, late at night, so we could enjoy each other. You could remember why you like me so much–how I am not like other girls…or even other people. How I have traced the scruff on your handsome face and sent you surprise cards in the mail to brighten your day. How I was supportive and understanding to you during one of your toughest points this summer and never gave up. How nothing could fill the void of missing me or how nothing will ever compare in this lifetime.

You could have remembered those things and not let me go.

You said I am much braver than you for opening my heart again and again. The truth is: the bravest thing I’ve done was tell you that my heart hurts and I can’t continue. Nothing in me wanted to say those words, but I’ve been waiting for ten years for a love like this, and if you’re just going to fade away, I can’t take the heartache. Not after baring myself to you.

I have to get back on the subway and get off at the next stop, wandering around lost in a city of people who are not you.

Tu me manques.