Hindsight

When I was in high school, there happened an event that has stuck with me ever since.

I was the field commander of the high school marching band. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly. I took my job very seriously, regarding each of the band members and color guard as members of my own family, who I would defend to the death (I was very theatrical back then). Anyway, part of my duties was to ensure safe transport of persons and equipment post game. Our instruments were hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So I would holler out “Band coming through!” And other things, like “Watch out!” And “Excuse us!”

 

(This is basically my podium/ladder-basically huge)

 The event happened one home game my first year commanding (I was commander for 2 years-the first in school history, I believe). I was VERY passionate about my job, but also very polite and I was trying to get all the band and guard members into the school without damaging anything or anyone. Carrying my “ladder” (it was a platform I conducted from which was more than twice my size and a workout all its own), I was announcing our departure when a group of our school’s football players came up from behind me and yelled “No one gives a shit about you band faggots.” And I do not think there has been a single moment in the history of who I am that I contemplated murder more seriously. I think I could have wafted my ladder at him (and yes, I know exactly who he was) and it would havebeen a blood bath. Thankfully my director saw and heard what had happened and talked me down. If I recall, I had to stay after the game because he was telling me about how some football player wasn’t worth my future. I fumed about it for days.  And when the football player came down to the band room to apologize to the director (but not the rest of us), I saw red once more. If it had been a band member, we would have been crucified! How dare he just get off with some shitty apology! Make him pay, dammit!

  

But this story doesn’t end there. Fast forward to the last day of the year 2015 (so today-6 years later), that same football player and one of his cohorts is playing Call of Duty with my husband. They know who he is, but none of them know who I am, other than his wife. So my husband (who was in the band as well) asked if they remembered that incident, as well as a couple others. And they did. I held no hopes that they might have changed, fully expecting them to make more slurs and laugh about it. My opinion was so low, even after over half a decade of separation that I expected them to be the same low-life people they had been before. And after six years of holding that grudge, I got my apology. 

  

So, there was enough time in 2015 to see to it that I learned one more lesson. I spent a good chunk of time today thinking about the implications of the entire event. How is it that I try so hard to hide the mistakes I made in high school from the me I am now, so that people judge me (and you know they will) based on the person they see before them and not the one from before-but would not extend the same courtesy to someone I barely knew? Why did I expect him and his friends to not change what-so-ever, but to have seen nothing short of a revolution in myself? What did that say about me?

And as I look at the clock, watching time pass by, I have a smile on my face. I cannot condone his actions, but my own are no different. I had originally started this post as a declaration of how we are all pressured into being unique but also conforming. And what I learned was that those are the struggles which have defined my past. I’m going into 2016 with a keen awareness that maybe I need to do more to be a kinder person, to keep less stereotypes, to open my heart to forgiveness and the pursuit of happiness. Because one of the only things that is more liberating than”I love” is “I forgive”.

  

Time may change me, but I can’t change time.

What’s My Age Again?

9 December 1992. It was a cold day in December, flurries and snowflakes abounded and as the sun disappeared, a lunar eclipse kissed the moon. In the chill, the bitter cold of night, there was a silence. A single snowflake fell to the ground, having caught the light of the blood red moon, and the world held its breath. Seconds passed, each one bringing the moon closer to the culmination of the eclipse, the tint caressing the moon with no inclination of saying goodbye. And right as the moon shone brightest, a scream rippled through the stark white hospital. The lights were dim, the sounds of Christmas carols humming through the radio and in a flurried rush, as the snowflakes outside the window, a baby was wrapped in a blanket, the jam-like innards having been sucked from her nose, her bottom having been smacked. That child, covered in goop, being rapidly wiped off and swaddled, was me. I came home in a Mickey Mouse shirt, which my mother graciously lets me keep in my clothes drawer with my socks.
My mother was told she could never have kids. I was both a surprise and a blessing (or so my parents tell me). I’m sure they really had no idea just how many surprises were to come to them on my behalf. I’ve been through every emotion and hair color, I’ve grown fond of coffee (if you couldn’t tell), I fell in love with music. I learned to play almost a dozen instruments, I even thought about being a music major in college, even auditioned. We always put the Christmas tree up after (or on) my birthday). And now, I live with my husband and life has changed so much since my earliest memories.

Last year on my birthday, I anxiously awaited the minute I turned 22 so that I could buy the Taylor Swift song. But as I approached this birthday, I realized that finding a “23” song would be much harder. So I began my search. As the title suggests, I found Blink-182 first and then Jimmy Eats World. But that song just wasn’t enough for me. I’m sure my sister would love for me to claim the R5 song “Wishing I Was 23” but I just can’t connect to it either. Next to reach the chopping block was “23” by Shakira. I’m a huge fan of Shak, and I really thought maybe this song would be it. But I kept looking-just in case. And then I landed on “Waiting” by Jamie Campbell Bower. And I think I have my song. 

Being 23 is already pretty stressful. I have another year just gone. I spent it being sucked down by my cowardice and anxiety, I found myself changing my mind-a lot, and I picked myself up after tons of times being metaphorically beaten down. But it’s gone, for better or worse and I can’t get it back. That’s really something to think about. It’s a scary world out there and I’ve missed another year. Or am I just another year closer to the best me I may ever be?

So my goals for year 23, are personal,more so than they have ever been. I want to break my shell once and for all. I want to get out and meet people, make eye contact and not be afraid of everyone. I want to work out more. Not so I can be skinny, but so I can be healthy. I want to be able to go into the next parts of my life in the best shape I can. I want to do something-like get my book published, or sell a song to a famous person, or even just go somewhere. And more importantly, I want to succeed. Less thana year from now, I’m applying to grad schools and law schools. I want more than anything to get in. I want to smile at the acceptance letter and realize I did it. I want to not be scared to drive. I have a CRAZY story to tell you all sometime about why I have worries driving, but today I shall not get into it. And I want to enjoy life. I don’t need to have “everything”-the perfect body, makeup, hair, and material goods. I just want to spend more mornings looking at the sunrise, more evenings staring up at the heavens and maybe, just maybe, finally learn how to play guitar.

All that I need is to be true to myself. And that is my favorite reason why I’m 23.

So come close, and I’ll scream

Oh just let me be me

And I fail to see

The dark skies aren’t all that dwell inside me

-Jamie Campbell Bower, Waiting

  

Thankfulness, Day 22

Yesterday I left you all, and myself, with the thought that the sun will rise again. Normally, the husband and I wake up with the sun. Its rays come into our room and we are greeted by it. As I sit here and work on some homework and what nots, I’m looking out the window to our balcony and watching the clouds. Today is the kind of clear that makes everything seem so crisp. The clouds are huge cotton candy, the sky itself is the blue you read about. There are pockets of sunshine which dance on the puddles from the rain last night. 

  At night, even though I live in the city and it’s hard to see, I know there are millions and billions of stars. Planets gleaming down at me, comets, asterods and space debris. The blackened sky is velvet, the way I always knew it would be. The moon is up there too, a disc of bright hope, drawing everyone in waves. The clouds disappear gradually so that you really feel like if you try hard enough, you could see all the way to the edge of the universe.

  Isn’t that one of the first things you imagine? Being up there, amongst the ancestors and balls of gas? What’s out there? Are we alone? And so you begin to plan a way to find out.

Today, I am thankful for dreams. Not necessarily the kind you have in REM, but the kind that allows your imagination to run freely. The kind you get in trouble for having while you’re supposed to be focused on the task at hand. The kind that gives you fuel when you’ve forgotten why it is you struggle through the day. You give yourself into them, and you find yourself remembering the way you used to feel when your dreams were simple.

It’s easy to look at the past with rose colored glasses. To see what you had when you had it and wish you had it back. But the thing is, what you have now, what I have now, is what I was working for then. I didn’t know how hard it would be, I didn’t know what struggles were waiting for me. I didn’t know what great moments I would have. But I know that one day I will look back on the now, smile and shake my head. I can’t see all the messages and signs that the good things and bad things are teaching me. I can’t see where I’m going, I don’t have all the answers. But I know that I have new dreams and they will take me where I need to go. Until then, I just need to work hard and remember the value of dreams.

  

Thankfulness, Day 21

It’s taken me all day to think up a post for today. I feel like I’ve done a lot of great topics already. Did I cover everything? Certainly not. Am I done being thankful? No. And as seems to be my style, a story would benefit.

I can name a dozen ways to explain why I am the way I am. Sagittarian. First born. Cat person. Daughter of the eclipsing moon. INFP. Born-again pagan. College student. Vegetarian. Wife. 

All of those things affect a certain portion of who I am, but it isn’t an entire picture.

Who I am is a legion of people, all crammed inside one body. I am the one who fulfills duties, fulfills roles set out because of the choices that I have made (daughter, wife, sister). I am the one who devoted my life to learning. I am the one who chooses not to eat meat. I am the one who desires the company of a select few in place of being part of the popular crowd (maybe I am a cat). I am the one who looks within, observes more than judges and is left with more questions than answers. One who is born under an eclipse is more likely to be one who is driven by passion and consumed by it (A binary). I am the one who is many.
  Part of the reason I’m having so much trouble finding things to write about is because it is the end of the semester and I just can’t. I know that there is much stress, but it’s more than that. I’m not saying this because I want a bunch of people to reach out and say “You’ve got this.” I’m writing it because I promised to always tell the truth. And to tell only part of the truth is telling a lie. 

I can never tell the full story of my life, because it is not over. I wake up each day a new person, someone I was not the day before. Because I keep fighting to make myself better. And therefore, I am different each day. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different. But the thing is, it’s exceptionally easy to just get caught in the moment, in the same rut that consumes me each time and have to stop. It’s like making your way through the desert because you need to get out, but coming back to the same oasis because you can’t seem to find your way.

I feel like a burden. Like I ask for help more than I am able to give it. I make up for that in my mannerisms or at least I try to. But at the end of the day, my attempts take quite a bit out of me and I am reduced to being the same girl I was in high school: insecure, broken. Last night, I kept my very accepting husband up for a while because I had conviced myself that I wasn’t pulling my weight in our marriage. I was reduced to tears, wondering why it fell to me to be the one who had so many opportunities and advantages, but to be unable to use them.

I am smart. I am confident. I am succeeding in life (as much as I can, anyway). But not one single ounce of that mattered. My life became defined by a series of counter-facts: I am worthless. I am stupid. I am never going to succeed. And it’s a trend that I always feel coming, like a black cloud hanging low. Sometimes I forget words, or replace them with the wrong ones (yesterday I replaced “crutches” with “stilts” and couldn’t remember the word “sandwich”). Sometimes I just go blank-like a robot without emotions. And sometimes it’s like my entire life has been a lie and if I was happy-it surely must have been all pretend. I couldn’t understand why someone with dreams, goals and aspirations could be broken into someone without hope, happiness or inspiration. In the grand scheme of things, surely it wasn’t fair.

And that is what I focused on today. I’m not thankful for the hard times. To be that way would be ridiculous. No one wakes up and says “Oh thank goodness today is a really shitty day. I’ve had far too many good ones.” Instead, I am thankful for small things. A warm cup of coffee with chocolate chip cookie dough creamer. Rain hitting the window. It’s hard for someone like me, with so many binaries (like being introverted, but wanting to make friends/wanting to feel everything deeply, but not wanting to be consumed by feelings) to not get overwhelmed by days like yesterday. But in the end, I have to remember that there is only one truth that doesn’t ever change.

                                  The sun will rise again.

  That quote may be my tattoo quote, with an entire portion of skin dedicated to the most serene sunrise a tattoo artist can make, but we’ll see. The point is, I’m not thankful for bad days, hard days, or even the days which never end and suck you into a thick black depression. I hate those days. But what I am thankful for is the dawn. I am thankful that all things come to an end. And I am thankful that I am there to see the sun rise once more.