Tag Archives: moving on

Self-inspired

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1) Whatever it is, it’s part of a bigger picture. Assume you have no idea what that picture looks like.
2) People are good, even when they mess up (including you).
3) Every person has value. (You aren’t omniscient – don’t expect to see it.)
4) If you truly believe in something you will never ever give up on it. Ever.
5) There are people who care about you – always.

I wrote that a year and a half ago after finishing one of my favorite books: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I was looking through my old blog this morning and found it, and realized that it still has a lot of meaning to me. Imagine that. I can relate to something I wrote. But it was me then, the past me, who doesn’t know the things I know now. And yet, sometimes the simplicity of organic thought is able to pervade time.

I was born with an uncontrollable urge to constantly control everything. It has been a slow process learning that I can’t, and that trying is really exhausting and not very rewarding. I have trouble opening my fists and letting what may happen may, desperately clenching onto things I shouldn’t. Not physical things- I don’t keep much ‘stuff’ around, but things that people say to me, my relationships, those looks of contentment and resentment you get from people who think you didn’t notice. I don’t have one of those “f you’ attitudes, as much as I wish I did, as much as I pretend I do. I want closure from those feelings, those looks, those relationships. I’m slowly learning (although not there yet) that most of life won’t give you closure no matter how much you beg for it. Everything won’t be packaged neatly and tied up with a bow. It will be destroyed along the way- dropped, man-handled, pissed on by homeless people. But, you carry it with you all the same. Not because you hope that someday you’ll get your pretty little ribbon on top, but because somehow, the piss and shit you pick up along the way ends up meaning more than all the other stuff; more than the package you carried in the first place.

I’ve changed a lot in the last year and a half. I’ve learned a lot and forgotten a lot, and got pissed on more times than I’d like to remember. But, when I look at the things that mattered to me then, they still resonate now. I’m still able to feel inspired by the same things. The core of who I am hasn’t changed, although the things I accept as my own certainly have. I don’t need what I once did. The comforts I cherished, the friends I thought I would have forever. Because I’ve still got me. The things I thought I needed are replaced by new things. Life does certainly have a way of going on whether we like it or not. So, in honor of the five things I thought I knew a year and a half ago, here are some slight modifications given what I’ve learned since:

1) Whatever it is, it’s part of a bigger picture. Assume you have no idea what that picture looks like. Embrace the chaos.
2) People are good, even when they mess up (including you). Some people are also shitty. Don’t try to change them – go about your life.
3) Every person has value. (You aren’t omniscient – don’t expect to see it.) But don’t give your time to people who don’t value you back- be around people who treat with you with respect.
4) If you truly believe in something you will never ever give up on it. Ever. EVER.
5) There are people who care about you – always. Give those people your love, and let them love you in return.

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To those who hold a paddle

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One of the hardest parts about living on a different continent is the relational trauma it causes. For some, time and distance define the construct of how much another person is capable of mattering. For others, it’s as if we all live in a bizarre 1959 episode of Twilight Zone where time and distance don’t seem to exist…. another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind.

Or maybe they just know how to use the internet.

While I don’t like the feeling that I’m growing out of certain relationships and growing into others, I’m not sure why that feeling makes me so uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem realistic that through all of life’s changing tides, the person whom we chose to be our soulmate when we were in grade school would be our soulmate after life has thrashed us both about a bit. But, sometimes they still are. And sometimes, a great friend in one context turns out to be a black hole, sucking all joy out of your life, in another. (Cue Twilight Zone theme song). We grow and we change. People we once trusted break our trust and sometimes break our hearts, perhaps even forcing us into waters so rough that forgiveness cannot tread.

So, the question I’m struggling with is when is the right time to let go, to give up, to give in, to throw in the towel. I’m exhausted from trying to keep relationships afloat that would otherwise sink. How long can you be the only one paddling the boat before your arms give out?

Home is where my feet are. I realize that there’s an extra effort involved in being my friend because of that. I can’t just grab a quick cup of coffee or attend barbecues and ugly sweater parties because I’m not usually around for them. The only way people know what’s going on in my life is if they ignore the thousands of miles and several time zones dividing us, find time to not be “busy,” and embrace the technology and time differences required to stay involved. I’m constantly surprised by the people who find the effort worth it and the ones who don’t.

I have friends that I’ve had my whole life, many of whom I’ll know until death takes whichever of us first. But some of my strongest, most cherished relationships are those that are newer, but based on love and respect, and yes, a lot of effort. If that commitment doesn’t exude from both sides, no matter how long ago the foundation was set, no new growth, and only deterioration can occur.

And sometimes, I know, the best answer is to do nothing. Let those who want to walk away (or swim, for the sake of analogy) go. I’m fortunate to have so many people in my life who are committed to loving me and who will row along beside me. I should express it to them more often because I cherish my them so damn much. As for the others, well, the inescapable end that haunts us all is too close to worry about anyone unwilling to pick up a a paddle.

As unromantic as I know how to be.

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I’ve been avoiding writing about Prague… I know it’s going to turn into an 19th century Bronte excerpt, and I’m going to look like an asshole, but there is no other way that I can adequately describe it. Because every day, walking along the cobblestone roads, I’m narrating everything I see- every movement around me. . I’m telling stories to myself because none of it seems real enough to be my reality. It only seems able to exist in narrative. Everything is something new, every step a little closer to something, somewhere. Every corner a new challenge, another mystery. Even though I can’t understand much of what anyone says, and I get scolded by a Czech person daily for doing something wrong, I feel strangely connected to this place.

The untrained eye, or perhaps the rational eye, might see things differently. But my Bronte mind allows baroque apartments covered in graffiti to be beautiful. I pretend to understand it. Because it’s more than spray paint on a door. It’s an act of defiance, a declaration of expression. Twenty years removed from communism, and yes, I think it’s beautiful. Perhaps only the bud of expression, but progression at all seems to be great growth. Every once in a while I’m surprised by how a simple word or picture can stop me dead on a busy street. Every inch of the city another chance to connect to something just beyond my grip of understanding.

And every moment of the day is like that. My senses are confounded, at maximum capacity before I’ve even made it to the tram stop. Last week, I was overwhelmed by the thick smell of freshly snuffed cigarettes and sweat and perfume during my morning commute. This week, it just smells like morning. The contrasting smells claw at my senses, pulling me in zigzags across the pavement. The aroma of freshly baked bread grabs me by the wrist and forces out me wallet. Little armed baguettes, thieves with good intent. And then I go into an espresso-carbohydrate trance, and wake up a few blocks away with an empty cup and crumbs on my face. And the air is burning cold, but my blood is burning hot while I listen to Regina Spektor, instinctively marching in time across a 600 year-old bridge.

Flaming martinis and other things of non-importance.

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Newark: I had a three hour layover with a seven and a half hour flight ahead of me, so after going to the bathroom twice out of boredom, I decided to get some food and drink that would make my eyes water a bit. So, I bought an overpriced panini and an extra dirty martini; the type of martini I ordered back home on a Friday night with the girls to wash away the agony of a week passed, and the dread of another to come. Only, the bar olives were stuffed with red chilies,  and the waiter cautioned me several times that my drink “wouldn’t taste right”. But I like the idea of a mingling of things that don’t seem quite right together, so my dirty martini became a sweaty, dirty martini. The red chili, a burning flame in the murky shallows of vodka. The taste a symphony of salty, smoky and spicy. Not overly complicated – just an added bite to an off-the-menu sort of drink. And I thought to myself -the way I always do when some form of symbolism strikes me- “There’s a bigger picture here.”

Things started out a bit rough at the airport several hours before. I couldn’t even find my airline – it was an affiliate of United with no mention of United anywhere – and it took over an hour and a half to check in because of countless issues. By the time I finally did, I was charged nearly $500 for two overweight bags. I reluctantly paid, fretting as a I always do, making calculations, thinking about paying what I did for 20 pounds of hairspray and nail polish. Then I literally ran to make my plane; I was the last one to board.  And then I decided to let it all go. Because it was done and was now a thing in the past. The simple past, for anyone who knows much about grammar.

Sitting in the airport in Newark, I was looking around at the people walking by: kids in marshmallow jackets being tugged by their parents, young couples holding hands strolling along kiosks of neck pillows and packs of gum, friends laughing and teasing as they sat lined along their terminals, eating Pizza Hut and sharing headphones with one another. That’s the candid beauty of an airport – the unexpected calm. Everyone is moving and sitting, rushing and waiting. Unknown sounds swarm through a sea of nationalities, humming as they float up through a ceiling of sun-stained glass. I pretend to know what country the words are from and laugh at myself for not having the slightest idea. They are just sounds to me and I can’t distinguish where one ends and another begins. I wonder if English sounds the same way to someone who doesn’t know it. I convince myself that isn’t the case.

I slept a little one my last flight – the only way I know to sleep on a plane: with my head tilted all the way back, mouth wide-open, mouth-breathing, my $20 neck pillow sitting on my lap. Then I heard the wheels, then felt the bump-bump-bump of an amateur landing. Careful as items in the overhead bins may have shifted during flight. Follow the signs to baggage claim.

I can’t completely convey the sinking feeling that takes place in the pit of ones stomach when luggage never makes it to the conveyor belt. Once you realize luggage is no longer coming up, you look around the belt with the conviction that you simply did not see your bag. Then panic slowly sets in, and you scour the area, walking around the entire belt. Then you start giving people dodgy looks, wondering who would take your bags. You make lunges at a few strangers before realizing that isn’t necessarily your black duffle bag they are wheeling behind them. Then there’s a calm sense of purpose as you walk up to the baggage help desk. Then anger as you realize the form you are filling out has been filled out a million times before and your things are no more important that any of those other times. Then the realization that those are your things. Then a returned sense of hope as, surely by now, your bag has been returned. Then more anger. Eventually, apathy takes over as you realize you can live without it all but secretly hope you don’t have to. There is a sense of victory once that bag arrives though.

So it has all been perfectly dramatic. The type of drama we all secretly crave so we have exciting stories to tell, the tools we use to keep our listeners on the edge of their seats. The way we leave 5 minutes after we should, tempting fate and congratulating ourselves when our bets pay off. And there have been more of these dramatic encounters, even in the last day, of tight deadlines, missing money, and getting lost in a city I know nothing about. But, tonight, after sitting on a tram 11 stops too long, getting dropped off somewhere on a bridge in the middle of nowhere, and eventually taking three trams to get back to my apartment, all I could think about was a little red chili that fit so unexpectedly well inside an otherwise ordinary martini.

Day 58: The Beatles had it Wrong

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One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is that you need a little more than just love sometimes. It’s so nice to think that if you care about someone and they care back, everything will work out okay in the end.

What a convenient, little story book lie.

It seems so many relationships are crumbling around me lately, and it’s easy to see that my friends are better off for it, but living in that moment, with that pain, is much different when it’s happening to you. We jump back into the arms of people we know aren’t right for us because we get scared. We get lonely… If only we could see our own relationships with the clarity that our friends do.

So the love is definitely the most important part of a relationship, whatever the context. But if both parties aren’t willing to make some sacrifices, to choke on their pride, to devote the time that’s needed to make the other person happy, than the love can’t survive, and eventually, it will die.

And that’s the best part. Our hearts self-preserve, let us heal, and move us on. We develop antibodies toward a person who makes us unhealthy, and the things that used to make our hearts crumble eventually just become ‘things.’ As much as it may hurt, it will hurt less eventually. As much as you think you may regret letting go because “if only a few things would change it would be perfect”, you won’t. Because it never will change.

It’s so much easier than we make it out to be. When it comes down to it, a person who wants to be with you will. A person who loves you will never make you feel small. You will curl up in each other’s arms and you will feel your hearts beating together, feel protected. You will have outrageously wonderful sex that you didn’t even know existed. You won’t have to worry why he hasn’t called, or frantically search for clues as to what you did wrong. He will send you flowers if flowers make you happy, or she’ll take you to Comic-con if that’s your ecstasy. The right person will go the extra mile with you, for you. They will let you cry when you need to cry, and won’t bring it up or laugh about it to their friends later. There will be respect and patience and a stronger desire to win your heart than win an argument.

I only know it because I’ve seen it, but I believe it. So don’t strive for a tragic sort of Romeo and Juliet love. Find a love that’s more easy than hard, more smiling than tears, more excitement than panic. It’s out there. You owe it to yourself to look around bit.

Day 54: Knowing When to Run

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I have an addictive personality. When I decide I need a pair of red pants, I do not rest until I have them. I go for an Oreo and end up eating the whole bag. I go out for a drink with a friend, and wake up the next morning on a couch of a friend of a friend of a friend. I go all in when I do anything. It’s a terrible, nagging habit that I wish I didn’t have.

The same is to say with people in my life. I don’t like giving up on anyone. I’ve done it before, but in most cases, I end up emailing and calling and texting like a crazy ex-girlfriend until my apology is accepted or a restraining order is issued. I have a hard time letting go of people I care about or people who I want to care about me. I hate feeling like I hurt someone’s feelings. Worse than that, I hate feeling like someone doesn’t care if I’m in their life or not.

And that’s something that really drives me crazy. To feel like someone you care about, someone that you may even love, doesn’t care if you give up on them, if you walk away. I’m not talking about walking away and turning into a pillar of salt because you never truly wanted to go. I’m not talking about making frivolous threats to get someone’s attention. I mean making the difficult decision to leave someone you care about because you fear they will never understand the way you need to be loved. Walking away because you’ve tried over and over again, you’ve given all you have, but you’re still caught in a web, having your insides sucked out. I’m talking about making the decision to stop chasing someone who may not want you, and give them the chance to run – to see if they’ll even put their sneakers on to come after you. Its a dangerous game to play.

This only seems to prove my twisted addiction for cruel forms of punishment. It’s as if I enjoy the thought of suffering from a crushed spirit. Maybe I read too much from the Buddha. Not all forms of suffering are enlightening.

“To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.” – Viktor Frankl

I don’t like giving ultimatums. In my limited experience, they shut people down and I end up with a thing I never wanted. But sometimes, you have to be able to say no, knowing what it may mean. You have to break the bad habit of making excuses for someone who doesn’t treat you right. You have to face your addiction and start your own intervention. You have to walk away, knowing that no one will come after you, but hoping that you’re wrong. And when you turn out to be right, don’t let it get you down. I think that maybe it will lead you closer to someone who you won’t have to chase at all one day.

I’m glad that I love myself enough to be able to walk away from something that isn’t good for me, for someone who doesn’t think I’m worth following. A lot of people end up running their whole lives, chasing after something that may not even exist. I’m tired of the running. I’m ready to take my shoes off and stand still for a while.

Day 39: OOOO OOOOO wicky-wicky-wicky.

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Ludacris and I share the same profound love for Saturdays. This was a good one. We had an adult social gathering, with friends from high school, many of whom I’ve known since grade school. There were new faces as well, friends of friends who I’ve seen tagged in photos and heard stories about.

First kisses, first crushes, first boyfriends, and a lot of other firsts crowded Carrie’s living room and kitchen, singing songs about the glory days, toasting to the future. So many of us have known each other since we were single digit, greasy headed little kids playing foursquare on the playground. Our initials are carved in the tree past the basketball courts, little hearts outlining love we thought was final.

And here we are, over 15 years later, discussing wedding dresses and admiring photos of each other’s children, complaining about long work days and trying to forget how far past our bedtimes it is. Don’t get me wrong – we aren’t old quite yet. Fighting for the title of beer pong champion, chasing shots of vodka with shots of Malibu, running circles around the pool table in a hyperactive game of ‘Blue Balls,’ imitating Street Fighter characters in the kitchen (okay, maybe that was just me), and dreading the sun coming up because we could stay right here forever.

So much changes in our lives every day. We lose people we love, we move to new places, life deals us cards that change who we are and what matters to us. It’s good to know that even with the world spinning madly on, we can fill a house with thirty people, new friends and old, have some beers, and freeze time, if only for one night.