The morning after.

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This morning feels difficult. Mornings are always the hardest part for me, when I wake up in that state between the unconscious and conscious mind. When it hits me that you’re gone and that I have to leave. That we won’t be together. It feels bitter and sour, like biting into raw fruit, crawling up my tastebuds and leaving my tongue dry.

“I just miss you so much. I miss my old life. I love you so much, you have no idea.”

It hurts to let go, although I know I have to.

I feel a wave of fear run up my stomach and into my shoulders. I’m scared I won’t do well in life without you by my side. I fear not fitting in, although maybe that fear is just a vibe I’m putting out. Maybe I’ll gain some clarity while I’m traveling. In a few weeks time, I’ll be in Bali, on a solo adventure, on a journey to my heart. I feel an innate excitement when I think about Bali. But right now, under the covers and waking up to a rainy morning in Chicago, all I feel is a tinge of sadness. I just want you there with me. I just want to feel the comfort of your embrace, the one I know so well. I dream of being in your arms. I know I did last night.

I also know that I have to step forward. I have to let go of the past, let go of a person who I have memorized, the mirror in front of me for the last four years. I know the feeling of having to let go of someone, I’ve been down this road before. But every time I’m faced with the task, I feel like I’m drowning. I’m scared of what lies ahead. I’m scared of your presence not being there with me, steady and underlying like the beat of the ocean crashing into the rocks, day by day, week by week, year by year. I’m scared of not having the support that comes with knowing that, no matter what happens, you’ll be in my corner.

I wish this hadn’t happened. But I see now how necessary it was. I see how much attachment I brought into my interactions with you, why it hurts so much to dust myself off and walk away. When you lose the person you’re living for, you have to find a whole new reason to live again. I know that it isn’t healthy. I know that it was not healthy. But I didn’t care. The only thing that really mattered to me was you.

You’re miles away from me. Soon, I’ll be even farther. I’ll start to forget the feeling of your lips against mine, your hand touching the small of my back, the different intonations of your voice when you’re happy, upset, or tired.

The grief sits heavy in the morning when I think about how we would lay intertwined every night. I’d wake up to you pulling me closer, trapping my legs under the weight of your thighs, nuzzling into the tickly space in my neck, your hair brushing against my face. Drenched in our sweat from clinging to each other all night, regardless of the temperature. It was that kind of love; a fierce, furious endeavor where we melted into each other because that’s just how we preferred it to be. Coming back to regular life, a place I left for so long, feels awkward and unnatural. My profession at the moment involves talking to anyone and everyone. But I don’t want to share words with anyone but you.

You contact me here and there, sending me quotes and songs that describe how you feel. The last song you sent me asked if I’d be coming back for you. And a part of me wants nothing but to run back into your arms and forget this ever happened. That part of me tells me that you love me, that you made a simple mistake and that I can forget it all happened if I try hard enough.

But what can I say? The person that would have angrily run back to you, waving a finger at your mistakes and urging you not to fuck up again doesn’t exist anymore. She let out a big sigh, packed up her shit, smoked her last cigarette and walked out the door that morning. She gave up trying to find happiness in someone else after having everything ripped away from her at a time when she needed the most support. The time after that was spent scrambling, trying to pick up all the pieces and get to a stasis before it was too late.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, to really learn to love yourself before you love anyone else. It hurts to take stock of my life and realize that I wasn’t taking care of myself for years. It hurts to know that I gave up on myself. It hurts to look at my bank account, my network of friends, my job prospects, even my phone, and realize that at every turning point where I should have been cultivating abundance for myself, I turned my energy towards you.

Carefully, slowly, I’m discarding the things I let decay. Planting new seeds and climbing out of the mess. But it’s funny how, when you’re that deep in love, you don’t smell the rot. You just smell the scent of his skin at 4 a.m. and roll back into a deeper sleep.

I’m optimistic about my future and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I’m grateful for those who appeared out of the woodwork to pick me up from where I had fallen. That’s all that I can do. Do the best I can, and hope for the best. It doesn’t pain me anymore to think about you messing around. It already happened. You already did. And I hope I can find the strength to live life a little sweeter, a little more carefree. Take care of the friends who have been there for me and make new friends to have new adventures with, and be the confident person I’ve always wanted to be. But the problem, I think, was that I found the person I wanted to be in you. And because of that, I stopped working to make myself better. Slowly but surely, I began to decay.

I want to be someone who lights up a room when I enter. Filled with stories and tales that make people laugh, be bubbly and infectious and hard to forget. I want my presence to be known, I don’t want to sit in the shadows anymore. But I won’t do that by living the life I had been living. I wasn’t living my life. I was living vicariously through you. I would like to sing and dance and let go of the things that hold me back from being my highest self, my true, beautiful self. The person you saw in me that I hid from the world. I want to let go of the bitterness, throw out the old resentment. Cast away the shyness and fear that kept me small. I want to stand tall on my own two feet and know that I can trust myself to handle anything that life throws my way, and do it with a smile on my face.

I request to the universe to help me become the person I want to be. Someone who shines like a beacon all by herself. I beg her a little bit.

“Please, universe. Show me the way.”

And then I get up and start my day.

Boys

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I am so tired

Of swimming in the shadows of a man.

Exhausting my energy, depleting my power

Looking through his eyes,

Hearing through his ears

Raising up his backbone

To be chewed up and spit out

Vertebrae after vertebrae

After he consumes his sustenance.

No, my ears don’t want to hear

The stories of his wounds,

The tales he neatly fabricates

To justify his shitty behavior.

I deal with my trauma.

My wounds were open too but

I sewed my own stitches and

I brewed my own salve.

I don’t need to infect others with my demons

So I can pretend they didn’t come in with me.

So no, little baby-faced boy

With the skull decal on your motorcycle,

Thinking that “aloof” looks good

I’m not giving you my number.

You are a six-foot child

Wearing your wounds on your sleeve

And I’m not coming any closer

I can smell the blood from here.

 

 

Fear

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As my trip comes to a close, I’ve had the time to do a lot of reflecting on the trip. What it meant to me, what I learned from it, what I would do better next time I go on a trip like this, etc. Honestly, all the biggest obstacles I faced came down to one very simple thing: fear.

I was afraid of having our van stolen. I was scared of being robbed (again). I was afraid of climbing the big rocks at the Grand Canyon. I was afraid of longboarding the canyon rim. I was afraid of having to pee in a bottle and I was afraid of my boyfriend having to be there when it happened. I was afraid of people knowing we were sleeping in the van. I was afraid of having someone knock on our window in the middle of the night (which happened twice and I had a mini-panic attack both times.) I was afraid of getting lost. I was afraid of the van breaking down in the middle of nowhere. I was afraid of cliff edges, afraid of heights. Afraid of falling, afraid of hurting myself, afraid to ask for help. Yes, that list goes on.

I climbed some rocks I was unsure of if I would be able to climb. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by parking enforcement and being told to leave. I went to the mechanic to get an oil change only to find out that from Illinois to California, we were driving with some bunk wheel hubs that could have broken at any moment. I’ve woken up freezing cold in the middle of the night, forgetting that the weather would be colder up in the mountains. I’ve driven up steep mountains and had the car die on me while trying to turn around. I’ve gotten lost while driving in the forest with no phone signal for miles.

But every time I faced a fear, and I mean every. single. time, the reward was always greater than the fear that came before it. I’m more comfortable in uncertain situations. I’ve met some of the most interesting and amazing people. I’ve experienced the thrill of accelerating down a huge hill at the grand canyon on my longboard and having an uphill gently slow me back down. I’ve eaten homemade chili made from a man who was a former meth addict, who finally pieced his life together and found solace through surfing in California. I’ve seen some of the most incredible, rarely seen views after climbing rocks and boulders that had me shaking in my boots to even approach. I’ve visited friends and been welcomed into the homes of people I love. I’ve had tons of people approach me and ask more about my van and current living situation. I’ve felt peace, waking up to a beautiful view of the ocean next to the cliff edges that I was terrified would crumble beneath my sleeping body. I’ve found calm in the adventure, I’ve found peace in chaos. I’ve found friends in unexpected places, and I’ve found a sense of trust in myself that I never had before.

Living is scary. Living requires you to face the things that terrify you. Living requires you to ignore the odds, have faith in yourself, and trudge onwards.

Living is scary.

But I think what’s scarier is never living in the first place.

 

Grand Canyon

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One of our first big spots that we passed through on our trip was the Grand Canyon. While we were on our way, I decided to look through some blog posts to get a better idea of how to have the best experience. I stumbled across a blog post that talked about how to get the most out of a short trip at the grand canyon, and it proved to be incredibly helpful. We headed to the Grand Canyon with a goal to hike the South Kaibab Trail. Besides that, everything was totally unplanned.

We tried to find a campground, knowing that Mather Campground (the closest campground to the South Rim of the canyon) is usually booked months in advance. However, a little bit of magic resulted in us having the opportunity to stay at Mather for two nights through a walk-in.

The Grand Canyon is beautiful. It’s one of those things that you have to experience. Though I have plenty of pictures, none of them capture what it felt like to be there, among miles and miles of vastness so much larger than yourself.

 

The first day, we decided to wander around, and longboard around the rim which was a crazy experience. We went all the way to Hermit’s Rest, and longboarded it back. I caught a couple nice downhills back, though I’m pretty sure I burned a hole in my shoe from braking so much.

The Kaibab Trail was incredible. Every stopping point had an amazing view. We made it down to Skeleton point, though we had forgotten to bring a ton of water. If you go, BRING A TON OF WATER. Like, at least a gallon, maybe more for good measure. Alexis and I had one water bottle each, and though we made it out okay, the last couple few hours of the hike were miserable.

 

 

The Van.

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Guys. It finally happened. I am officially the owner of a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon. And I cannot be any happier.

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Meet Daffodil. To me, Daffodil is a symbol of freedom. I’m excited to be part of this journey. The van rebuild has been taxing, but so rewarding.

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I’ll update this page with more progress pictures. The date I’ll be parting on my journey with Daffodil will be May 6th. Let’s see how this goes.