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1 Aug

When we were younger, we got into an argument about pasta. I always said raviolis- the plural, while you said that ravioli was like deer- the term for the plural is the same as the term for one. I thought you were wrong, but after that I always said ravioli when referring to the plural because saying it that way reminded me of you, and I thought you were cute. A few months later you said raviolis to me and a few years later we started dating. I can’t say why, but the fact that we switched our vocabulary of microwave food always meant a lot to me. It was proof that I had changed something about you. It was concrete evidence that you had altered who I was.

I want you to know that you changed so much more about me than the way I refer to Chef Boyardee. I want you to know that you gave me so, so much more.

When we dated, you always told me not to take you into account when I was making plans. You didn’t want me to do the things you wanted to do unless I actually wanted to do them. If I didn’t, then you would prefer to do them without me. And I could do my own thing. That made more sense, you said, and I guess in some ways you’re right.

You told me just to be who I was. When I asked you what would happen if you didn’t like who I was, you asked me why that mattered.

My favorite books were not your favorite books. In fact, sometimes you would give harsh reviews of my favorite books, even when it hurt my feelings. You told me it was better to be honest about the things you hated, because that’s what love is. Being honest. And when it came to your books, you mostly told me not to read them. Because they were your books, not mine.

You didn’t listen to my music, although, god, I really wanted you to. I listened to your music. You thought that was ridiculous. Why would I listen to music you loved when I could listen to music I loved? I told you that I did it because I loved you. “Well you love your music because it’s just what you love, and that’s much purer in my opinion.”

After a while, I realized that there wasn’t any point in changing each other. You were who you were, and I was who I was. When we did things together, we did things we both loved. I never pretended to like your things, and you were never offended when I didn’t. We argued a lot- about politics and social issues, and your opinions of my friends, but I never questioned who I was. I could always see exactly who I was when I was with you, because it contrasted so strongly against who you were.

After a while, it wasn’t fun anymore. Your criticisms of me got meaner, as you lost sight of the person you used to like. Our lives became impossibly different, and soon you were only a shadow of the person I used to know. At last, we lost the final joy we shared together. You were silent at my jokes, and yours made me cringe, and sometimes cry.

I don’t want to be like the person you are. I am far more confident in the person I am becoming. You taught me independence. Sometimes you taught it purposefully, because it’s something you really care about. Other times you taught me independence on accident. You didn’t call when you said you would. You didn’t care. So I put on my big girl pants and cried to my own music, and laughed at my own jokes. Slowly, I became confident in myself.

I really don’t miss you anymore, because I realize this. But still, I know that all of your beautiful philosophy and awful comments and shitty attempts at friendship made me who I am today. So I guess you did change me. Thank you.

Now when I eat more than one ravioli, I’m going to say raviolis. There are more than one of them, and therefore I will use the plural. Because you don’t decide my vocabulary. I do.


The Thing About Heartbreak

5 Feb

The thing about heartbreak is that sometimes, before it happens, we build it up to be something that it isn’t. We imagine it being painful and beautiful and raw. We imagine they will break our heart, and we’ll feel the way that Billy Joel does when he sings “And So It Goes”. We imagine shedding a single tear, as we kiss them one last time and say goodbye forever. The moment rips our hearts from our chests, but also culminates in the most beautiful art in our universe. Gentle tears flow down our cheeks as soft notes on a piano, and we wonder into a world of beauty and loss. We shed our naive skins, and slowly we become wiser, calmer, until finally we are overcome with peace.

Only… in practice heartbreak isn’t quite like that. We sob in their cars, rubbing our wet snot into dirty sweatshirts. We feel more like Linkin Park than Mozart, and find ourselves wishing we could rip off the headphones. It’s sad- and not just heart-wrenching, it’s pathetic. Here we are weeks later, writing them letters in the hope that it might ease this confusion, but knowing that if they write back you will back at square one. We call their number hoping they will answer, and they hang up when they do. What the hell are we doing?

You wish that you could smile softly when you heard their name; slightly sad, but glad that you had shared love with them. But when their name comes up in conversation, you desperately feel the need to tell everyone, everyone, about every single stupid, selfish thing they did. “It wasn’t me”, you hear yourself say out loud. You wish their friends would stop talking to them, and tell them that they suck. You still care about them, so you don’t really want that, only… you do.

We’re doing heartbreak totally wrong. But that’s okay, I guess. It’s not a competition. One day we’ll make it though this messy, dark forest of whiny emo music and birds that sometimes chirp sadly, but also sometimes take a shit directly on your head. Sometimes it isn’t beautiful and painful. Sometimes it’s just stupid and painful. Sometimes love ends, and it doesn’t wind up making you wiser and calmer and generally better all-around. Sometimes it just makes you angry and hurt, and you deal with all that stuff until eventually you just kind of forget or move one. You know what? Maybe that’s okay. Maybe it was worth it.

The Rhythm of Life

20 Aug

A year ago today, the last day of summer, I woke up to unfinished French homework that I didn’t want to do.

After four hours of faking time stamps and Google translate, I waited for my friend Michelle to pick up the book she had loaned me. It would be the last book I read that summer.

I had only ever seen Michelle looking put-together. Even when she was sad, or stressed, she would tell me some profound life truth and seem confident of it, almost like my mother. But today, Michelle didn’t talk much. I made tea, and we drank some until she said that her mom would want her home, that she left for college the next day. She looked like she had been crying.

When she left, I drove to the grocery store and bought lemon cupcakes and lemonade which I brought to the pool office and ate with my friend Sophia. We ate and drank, and listened to Led Zeppelin, and talked about how much we would miss the pool until it opened again next year.

At six o’clock, I met some people for ice cream. My friend Peter played music on his guitar until it got dark. I offered to drive him home, and on the way he talked about how much better college was than high school. I assumed he was right. As I drove along the highway in the dark, I saw the exit towards Indianapolis.

“Let’s go to Indianapolis,” I begged.

Peter laughed.

“No, I’m serious. We can go right now. I’m sure Indianapolis is better than high school.”

Peter thought about it for a minute. “It probably isn’t,” he said, “and anyways, we don’t have any money, or food, and your dad needs his car back.”

I sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

As I drove home alone, I thought about Indianapolis. I didn’t really want to go there. I just didn’t want to go to school the next day. I wanted to be at the pool, not in a huge building with a bunch of people I didn’t like. Better yet, I wanted to go away to college with Peter, or even Michelle. Or anywhere.

A year ago today, I wanted to skip to today.

I didn’t know it then, but I wanted to skip hearing Sufjan Steven’s Illinois, writing my first great essay and reading The Stranger, which is now one of my favorite books. I wanted to skip meeting my new friends from study hall, Theology class and the lunch table. I wanted to skip having my first kiss, my favorite acting part and singing in Carnegie Hall. I wanted to skip holding my best friend as she cried, and drinking tea with her every afternoon while she laughed. I wanted to skip falling in love.

And now it’s time to leave behind everything I was sure I didn’t care about a year ago. Only now I’m not so sure. Sometimes I even wish I could skip next year and live last year again. But who knows what I would be skipping? And in any case, I can’t.

I sit on the couch with my brother, watching the last episode of a show we started together before he left for college two years ago. It’s called Gossip Girl, but these moments are almost sentimental. These moments are the last we’ll spend together before we both leave, and I’m grown up. I hear my phone ding and look down at the lit-up screen. There is a new message from my dad.

“Engage release and move on”

“What?” I respond.

“Its the rhythm of life.”

How To Cope with Loneliness

5 Mar

Thought Catalog

When friends scatter after graduation, you’ll probably find that you spend more time by yourself. It may take a while to reestablish a solid social circle, so in the meantime, why not cultivate some good old-fashioned self-reliance?

Do stuff only you care about.

You know how when you’re hanging with other people, you’ll want to do something kinda weird, and you’ll cautiously say, “oh, this is interesting,” but no one else thinks so, so you don’t do it? Like maybe they shoot down your idea to make ice cream with a different pickled vegetable every week? That never happens when you’re on your own.

Meet your new best friend, the internet.

The web is totally not just for weirdo loners anymore. You can find promising restaurants, shops, art galleries, volunteer opportunities, outdoor activities, groups, friends, and dates really easily these days. No matter where you are, there’s no way you…

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I Never Write To You Because

26 Jan

I never daydream about you, because you don’t make me feel all tingly and warm. My stomach doesn’t flip over when I think about some cute thing that you told me. I don’t generally care how you think I look. It’s not that you mind the way I look, it’s just that when you comment on it- and even sometimes say nice things- it doesn’t feel all nice and fuzzy. Like, exciting! I just take whatever it is you said and try to factor it into my routine when I want to look nice. I trust you, after all. You have good taste.

I never write about you because you’re simple. There isn’t a whole lot to figure out. With other people, I wonder if they really like me. How much? But I know you like me. You tell me so. When I don’t see you and talk to you for a week, you tell me in your whiny voice that you miss me. I miss you too, and my brain is whining at me because of it. And I whine that back. And then I feel like we’re set, because at that point I’m blocking off part of my weekend so that we can goof off together. Because I like you. I love you. I’m sure about that, and I know exactly what it means. So I don’t write about you, because there isn’t much to write about.

I never write you letters because there’s nothing I can’t tell you in words. With other people I wonder how well they will take whatever it is that I have to say. I worry that as soon as I’m around them my legs will get all wobbly and my brain will get all fuzzy, and I’ll forget what exactly it was that I wanted to say. But with you, I’ll just say whatever it is I wanted to say and then you’ll say what you think of it, and then we’ll go on with our lives. So there’s no point, really, in writing it out in a letter.

I never tell you in great, complex detail, how much you mean to me. I don’t really think of it, because there rarely is a time where you do something and automatically a huge part of my life changes. You came into my life so slowly. So simply. And there was never really any one time for me to notice what was changing.

But let me tell you, if only just this once, how much I love you. I guess you probably don’t remember that sometimes, because I don’t daydream about you, or write about you. I don’t send you letters, and I rarely make a big deal of saying I love you. But goddammit, I do love you. You helped me to understand what it means to be happy. I’ll be happy even when we go off to college, even when you’re not there, because you taught me how. And even in this strange world of highschool romance, my favorite dance will always be Mardi Gras last year, because we ignored everyone else and made each other laugh until we cried.

Although sometimes I don’t even notice that you’re right by me, I notice when you’re not. When I look over to your seat in Choir, and there’s nobody there who’s thinking the same thing as me. You have become like air to me. You don’t think a lot about how much you need it, but without it, you die.

The Story Starts

14 Dec

The story starts the way you would expect it to. She was sitting in the hallway reading a book about the holocaust, and he walked by. He had read the book already; searched it out in the school library while he might have been doing anything. He had sat in the corner as the other children laughed at each other, turning each page with young enthusiasm. It had made him think, and had made him wonder. And there were passages in this story that he longed for them to understand. He knew that his mother would listen, or even his father, but that was all. And so instead of sharing his thoughts with anyone, he had found another book and read that. And another. And another.

Now, all of the sudden, here she was. She sat with her hazel hair pulled into a neat ponytail, silent and intent. He walked over to her and asked her if she liked to book. “Oh, very much” she responded, her face serious.

He knew, from the look on her face, that something had changed. He had never really expected to find her, but here she was. She knew, from the look on his face, that something had changed. She wasn’t sure what it was, so she kept talking about the book. “I can give you another,” he offered. She nodded. He walked away.

Phone numbers were exchanged. Books were given. Smiles. Words. Tears.

She tells the story the way it is. That something so young, so honest and true, could never really work out. It’s not the way that love is supposed to be. Because could she ever really believe that this boy, with his awkward smile, his perfect grades, his mind -she couldn’t even begin to describe it- could be the kind of boy she could giggle to her friends about? So when she finally had to give him an answer, her answer was no.

Years later, she wonders if this was the way it was supposed to be. “He was nice to me,” she tells her best friend. But her best friend will never really have any idea what she is talking about. It wasn’t just “nice” that makes her sometimes wish that she could call him to talk about political theory.

This girl’s name could be any, just as his could be the same name scrolled in the front cover of all those books that we have buried in the back of our closet. And as the years go on, we keep expecting that time will make everything more real, but time does no such thing. After everything changed we realized what we want more than anything is for someone to understand the way they did. And so we search.

I Have Everything

1 Dec

I have everything. It’s a funny thing to say, but it’s true. Everything I have ever wanted is mine. I have wonderful friends, loving parents, the only boy I’ve ever loved. I have clothes, I have money, I have freedom. I have a 4.0. My hair curls more nicely than ever, my face has stopped breaking out, and I’ve started using the same perfume every day. I have it all. I have everything.

I’m not happy. Well, maybe that’s not the right way to put it. When I’m laughing with my friends; when I know that they really love me, I’m happy. When my mom give me a hug, and tells me she’s proud of me, certainly I’m happy. When I can make him laugh, or smile, I feel the joy in my chest spread across my whole body. It’s a joy I’ve never known before.

But when I lie in bed at night, I feel an emptiness that seems surreal. I look at all the photographs on my walls, and start to cry. I wonder what I’m doing. In two year, in a year, in six months even, where will I be? Because right now, I have everything. And I want to keep it.