American Beauty

“It’s hard to stay mad when there is so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much- my heart fills up like a balloon that is about to burst. And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude, for every single moment of my stupid little life.”

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Promises

To harbor so much resentment and anger towards an individual just shows how incapable a person is of admitting how much someone meant to them, and how badly they have been hurt.

Forgiveness can set you free.

The Sun The Moon The Stars, You Are

During a car ride this morning one of my best friends and I discussed the L word. You know the one. We discussed falling in and out of it, and the pain and joy it brings. The way it can collide two worlds, only to one day be replaced by a necessary distance.

The most difficult thing I’ve had to come to terms with recently is letting the one I loved go. More than that, I have had to  find it in my own heart to know that someone else makes him happy now, and thats ok. That if I really ever loved him then his happiness is also mine. To actually feel this way, rather than just telling myself I feel this way, has been a challenge for my own heart.

Being in love and making a relationship work is tricky, because we all define it differently. For me, loving someone has always meant unconditional forgiveness. There is nothing that I can’t look past or work through when I love someone. My friend described her idea of love as unconditional selflessness. That she always puts the other before her, even if it means huge compromises on her behalf, where she struggles and he gains. I’m discovering that maybe the only way a relationship can work long term, is when both people have a similar idea of what love is, and how you treat the person you love.

Finally being single and having my life back to myself is a breath of fresh air. There is a rediscovering to be done, and a lot of time for self improvement. It’s nice to feel my identity apart from him reemerging, and to find myself thinking differently than I have in years. The gears are turning to a different rhythm. My heart is beating in a new pattern. For the first time in a very very long time my happiness is completely dependent upon myself and that is the most liberating feeling. I am living for me, and pursing what I want in life, with no restraints.

Recently, I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that words will fail me. That I won’t always be able to tell someone how my heart feels. That sometimes the unobtainable is just that. An acceptance of missed timing in crossed paths. A letting go of imagined what ifs. But even then, there is beauty in missed opportunities. There is a space for a different type of relationship to blossom.

Of Monsters and Men

Well, maybe I’m a crook for stealing your heart away
And maybe I’m a crook for not caring for it
Yeah, maybe I’m a bad, bad, bad… bad person
Well, baby I know.

And these fingertips
Will never run through your skin
Those bright brown eyes
Can only meet mine across the room
Filled with people that are less important than you

‘Cause you love, love, love
When you know I can’t love
You love, love, love
When you know I can’t love
You love, love, love
When you know I can’t love you

8 Days

It’s been over a week since I’ve spoken to the person that was closest to me for the past few years. I had to stop talking to him in order to move on with my life. I knew that as long as we were still around one another I would remain paralyzed in moving forward. Moving on without him. The only way I was able to finally committ to going abroad was because I seperated myself from him.
This past week my mind has been spinning. Spinning with all the memories of good and bad. All the chances we gave one another. All the times we fell in and out of love. All the times we built one another up to only knock eachother down.
No matter how angry I  am with him at first, it always fades, only to be replaced with how much I can miss someone.

Almost Done

I am notorious for starting things and then never finishing them. Most of the time when I start a canvas I will do the sketch, fill the picture in about half way, post it some where in my room, and then proceed to stare at it for the next few months without touching it.

This particular canvas I started a very long time ago, and I have worked on it bit by bit over the last three years (in my defense I left it at home during part of college, in DC and in Tahoe). Each time I’ve worked on it it has changed, and my style and the details have evolved. As I’ve come close to finally finishing it,  I realize that in someways it is a self portrait. It is a reflection of the person I have been since starting it.

Often, when you are in a relationship, your identity begins to fuse with that of the person you are dating. You come to know yourself as the person you are with them. Subconsciously, I think I began to let this portrait reflect the different sides of me that arose during my relationship. The different dimensions of who we can become. While the person I loved brought out the dreamer in me, he also brought out a nightmarish side.

This canvas was made with him in mind. With me in mind.

A self portrait of the person I am leaving behind. My own identity, without him, I am beginning to find.

 

Free Flow

Life has a way of pulling us back to certain places. Pushing us in certain directions. This is how I found myself in Santa Cruz last month, for almost three weeks. It was how I found myself northbound on a California freeway, on the afternoon of June 5th.

I sat in the backseat of a car, cramped against the window, surrounded by my multiple bags of luggage as well as everyone else’s. My feet had been stuffed in the same position for at least three hours, with no where else to reposition them. Seeing as it was a ride share from craigslist that I had arranged, and I only knew one of the three other people in the car, I opted out of joining the conversation that revolved around medicinal marijuana, and chose rather to look out the window.

I couldn’t help thinking about the first time I had ever made the drive from San Diego to Santa Cruz on an impulsive afternoon in February of 2009. I had just met the guy who was to become my boyfriend that summer, and for the next few to follow. We had both recently applied to multiple UC campuses and were now waiting until Spring to receive our acceptance letters. We had decided that afternoon to drive to the UC Santa Barbara campus to check out one of the schools we had both applied to. After being slightly let down I suggested we continue driving north until we reached Santa Cruz, and spend the weekend there. My brother was in his freshman year at UCSC, and although I had never seen the campus it was on my list of schools I had applied to. I

We called my brother, got the ok, and were on our way.

Looking out the window on June 5th, I remembered how different the first drive had been from this one. The freeways, roads, and side streets you take to get there had all been untraveled land. The geography was foreign and unlike Southern California. The names on the freeway exits were new to me as were the many small agricultural towns we passed during the seven hour journey. These were names that my vocabulary didnt recognize, but would soon be ingrained in my mind for the rest of my life.

Three years later, I can safely say that I have done this drive somewhere around twenty times. Now when I look out the window I recognize places that I have memories attached to. There are the pit stops that we always stop at, the towns we drive through and know to keep our windows up (cow country), and the towns that are worth stopping at to get out, stretch our legs, and grab a burrito.  It feels odd to have such a familiarity with what is just a long stretch of road. And then to realize that I really only know half the state of that which I belong to.

The weekend I first spent in Santa Cruz was all it took for me to fall in love. It only took two days for me to develop such a strong bond with a town that has the ability to pull me back three years later- a year after my own graduation and departure.

In heading to Santa Cruz this June I was also being pulled back to the person I had first experienced the town with. I was coming to find some type of answer in what had become a lingering relationship. I was being pulled back by him, and pulled back by the town.

This town and my ex had both become magnets in my life. There had been a connection I could not deny and I had to experience it one last time – as I knew my life in Santa Cruz had ended, as had my relationship.

The town and this man have had the same effect on me. In them I have found a different part of my soul. In them I had discovered a level of comfort that I had never felt before. In Santa Cruz I had felt at home, and with him I had never felt more like myself. I have lived in multiple places and have met many guys, but no location or person was ever able to grab me and hold on the way that the two of them had.

But the truth I had to face even before making this last trip to Santa Cruz is that I had outgrown them both. Santa Cruz is by far the most amazing place I have ever had the pleasure of living, and it was the best choice I could have made for college, but it will always be just that- A town that allowed me to grow during my college years. It had its time and place in my life that was necessary for my personal growth. And, although I hadn’t wanted to admit it, that was the same in respect to him. I was meant to meet him, to grow close to him, and then grow apart. He helped me find a part of myself that I hadn’t known. He influenced me in the choices I will pursue in my career. He got me to think about issues globally, and to put my problems into perspective. With him I saw a compassion for humanity that I had never seen in anyone I had ever dated. But our time together had passed, and all the growing I could do with him was done.

I made the trip up to Santa Cruz because in a way I had been fighting what I knew was true. I knew that neither town nor man had any significant place in my life anymore and I would never move forward if I stayed with either. Yet I loved both so much I wanted to see them one last time. I knew that the only way for me to move forward was to leave them both in my past, and I think a part of me wanted to leave my last memories of him in the place that we had fallen in love in and with.

These were all thoughts that raced through my head as I leaned against the window, watching as we raced past varying landscapes, all disappearing behind us.

Rows, and rows, and rows of crops.

Of trees planted in perfect lines, separated by exact amouts of space.

Fields filled with plants that produce food that is shipped all over America to feed the nation.

Miles upon miles that stretch for hours.

“Where are we?” I ask.

Driver answers, “The middle of nowhere.”

I think that surely these crops are taken care of by someone. Farming is someones livlihood. These small isolated towns that smell funny are homes to someone. There must be someone who harvests these crops year round so that each night these fruits and vegetables can make it to my dinner table. The food that feeds me came from somebody’s middle of nowhere.

I dwell on this for a bit and then go back to letting my mind wander. I allow my mind to take control of my road trip as the conversation in the car rolls on about merits between growing marijuana inside and outside.

The landscape doesn’t change much if you’re taking the 5 freeway up the state. For many hours you pass by a variation of the same thing. Expanses of flat land, in every direction. Often a range of mountains off in the distance that make you feel as if you are driving through one great big giant valley. Everything that lies ahead of me soon disappears into my past.

Fields, plots of dirt, farms composed of trees, and ground growing crops. Every so often the tiny house smack dab in the middle. Or the old wooden barn. The farm eqiptment that is sprawled out around a stranger’s property in the middle of nowhere. A reminder that other people exist who are not just passers by on the freeway.

Traveling any amount of distance is good for the soul. It reminds us of our own lives, and by seeing the lives of others, it reminds us of all that we have. The lifestyles that we are fortunate enough to live. I thought to myself how traveling takes us out of our own elements, those which we are familiar with, and moves us in a way that activates our minds. Stimulates something new in the brain.

Imagination gives birth to what could be.

To what is and isn’t.

To all other possibilities.

Alternatives.

Choices.

A small farm house catches my eye and I wonder where these people send their children to school, since we have not passed any other sign of civilization in over a half hour. Do these California farmers even have children, and if so, what is Halloween like when you have no neighbors? Questions like these fill my head and go unanswered, as I do not want to interrupt the conversation which has shifted to the driver’s pet duck and his potty training method.

I wonder if it is just fate that today I am only a passer by? Staring at small houses out in the distance that looked as if they were plopped down from above, I realize that these are more than houses. They are homes. They are occupied by people who live lives that I could never dream of. Lives I would never desire to lead. Why them and not me? These towns are just places on my road trip to the final destination of where I want to be. This middle of nowhere will never be my reality. Has never been.

Hours have gone by and now we pass an artificial river that stretches over a hundred miles. It is how we are able to steal our water from the Hoover dam. I’ve been told the Colorado river doesn’t even make it to the ocean anymore, it’s been so over exhausted. Humanity as a whole, we are in big trouble.

Para Mi Corazon

 

Recently, I’ve been dwelling on a lost friendship, and more or less, self imposed heartache. I’ve been associating love with hurt and loss for such a long time, that until tonight I forgot that love stands alone. It is not meant to be wound so tightly with emotions that darken the soul. Love should be innocent, should be genuine. Love should be pleasurable. In missing him I’ve let love lost become a source of unconditional discomfort. Guilt has manifested itsself in countless dreams and apologies are useless and a waste of time. It became too often that I was telling someone I love that “I’m sorry.” While we make mistakes, love should never be this apologetic. I’ve been agry at love, because I wasnt able to show him how much I cared. I was angry and resentful towards relationships because I couldn’t act like an adult and commit to the one I wanted to be in. I couldn’t truly let my guard down in order for my own relationship to work. I kept weaving love with negative emotions and negative behavior as a way to protect myself from letting someone hurt me. And then, tonight, I was reminded of what love really is.  Of all the things I forgot. It’s respect. It’s honesty. It’s cherishing that person more than anything. It’s loving yourself fully so that you are able to love the other fully. It is trust. It is happiness. It is smiling because you know they’ll always be there for you. They are not just the person you love, but they are your rock. They are your gravity as much as they are the one who gets you high. They are your best friend. When I thought of love tonight, for the first time in a long time, it made me smile. The heart heals in the most remarkable ways.

 

Relapse

 

There are certain patterns in my life that I’ve come to know as true and predictable. Running is one of them.

I run out of frustration. I run in times of weakness. I run to release negativity.

 

In college I would run to escape from the personal issues in my life. It was the only time that my head cleared and the thoughts stopped circling. During some of the hardest times I remember running campus multiple times a day- just looking for a way to lose my breath and lose myself.

When my life reaches a crossroads and a decision must be made that I’d rather not make, one I know will cause me heartache, there are two ways to deal with the aftermath. I can go up, or I can go down.

Throughout my teenage years I went down. I dealt with emotional pain through synthetic highs, and in the end I was just as broken and as weak as when I began, if not more so. Years of trying to avoid how I felt never made me any better or any stronger. There was never a healing point.

When I found myself at a similar point in college the same thoughts crossed my mind. How can I avoid feeling internal pain? What can I use to cover it? How can I escape this reality while still existing enough to function?

 

I remember having breakfast on the Cowell College balcony one morning after class with a girl I had just began to develop a good friendship with. She was training for a marathon and when I asked her what motivated her and how she had decided to make this type of commitment she explained to me that a few months earlier things had completely ended with the first guy she had ever loved. He had been more than just a boyfriend to her, he had been her best friend and they had transferred to the same college to be together. When things didn’t work out once they got to Santa Cruz, her life suddenly was filled with a giant empty spot. For weeks she felt weak and depressed and obsessed with the thought of being with him or what ifs. She admitted that she knew all along that once things ended there was no going back, so dwelling on what once was was useless. And then one day she woke up and told herself enough. I’m tired. I’m tired of being sad. I’m tired of wondering. I’m tired of wanting. And most of all I’m tired of feeling weak.

And she started running.

She said that running was the first place to build strength. It was the first place to set a goal. The first way to accomplish something.

She explained that during heartache you’re going to feel emotionally weak for a long time. And it’s much harder to heal what’s on the inside, that what’s on the outside. She knew that it would be a long time until her heart felt strong again, but in the mean time there were other ways to feel strong.

 

That’s when I started running. It was incredible. Sometimes I would just circle the track for an hour, gazing out at the Santa Cruz bay and boardwalk each time I started a new lap. Sometimes I’d run through the woods on the trails, hearing students above me on the bridges that held campus together. When I started running three years ago I was at the lowest point I had been at in a very very long time. And during that half hour to hour that I would run, was the only time I could find peace of mind.

And then when things got better and I found happiness through my relationship again, I stopped. And this has been a vicious circle. I don’t stick with it when I’m not upset. When I don’t feel weak.

 

It’s like people who relapse when something in life upsets their stability. I relapse into a runner.

I’m running again because I’m at another crossroads.

One that there is no escaping.

And one that must be confronted.