i am waiting for the one moment that changes everything.
I haven’t told anyone this, but most nights I lay awake thinking about the middle of last November.
I think about the phone call from my sister. The flight to Omaha. Walking into my Dad’s hospital room the first time. The nausea as the doctor explained exactly where the broken vertebrae were. The physical therapist showing us how to change his neck brace. How every time he held his breath when he moved because the pain was too much.
Often, I focus on his first night out of the hospital, and how I laid on the floor two feet from the couch just focusing on his breathing, making sure I could still hear it. I think about how when he stirred, even slightly, I urgently shot up asking, “Dad?” I still feel the immediate relief that washed over me when he said, “Daughter?”. That’s almost always been his response. Complete fear. Complete joy. Then I worried about the internal bleeding and if a blood clot would come, negating everything.
On the long nights, where I really can’t sleep, the days following that first one come back to me. I think about lifting him up. Helping him walk. Bringing him food. Keeping him hydrated. Easing him back into the couch. Giving him his medicine. Layering the blankets so he wouldn’t get chilled. There are so many other things I can’t recall because they get blocked out by the memories of his wincing when he moved, and how big the bruises got that covered him.
I don’t know why I can’t let those days and weeks after his accident go. He is here, alive, and recovering remarkably. He is a miracle, and I thank God every day he and my brother survived such a horrific accident. But I still can’t stop thinking about it.
Perhaps I force myself to recall everything because it helps remind me that he is, in fact, alive. The only time I have been free of remembering was at home for Christmas. There I could nag him for not resting enough, or ignoring the water cup I repeatedly set down next to him.
How do miracles get determined? How did I get so lucky? Thank you God, thank you.
I remember making a serving tray for your father and step-mother for Christmas. We had been dating for two and a half years at this point, but it was the first time I was sharing in your family’s celebration.
When making this gift, I glued a tiny wooden snowflake to the bottom right corner of the tray and painted ‘05 on it. I thought it would be the first of many holiday celebrations together and commemorating this first year felt extremely important to me for some inexplicable reason. I imagined making a small gift each year that had a snowflake. They would be markers of time, progress, growth.
Sometimes, things that are meant to be continuous are instead both a first and a last.
We never had another Christmas, but that snowflake was still very much a marker of time. It was the beginning of the end. We only lasted another six excruciating months in that small apartment in San Luis Obispo, but in reality, we stayed together two years and eight months too long.
I’m thankful for that little snowflake because it reminds me that not all endings are bad, and more often than not, much better things are waiting ahead.
I’ve always been the kind of person to have a small circle of friends because I prefer quality over quantity. I’ve also always been the kind of person that people feel comfortable coming to talk to about the hard things. It’s a gift to be there for other people. But when you’re on the side of always being the listener, you also get forgotten about a lot.
This happened to me recently by someone I considered a really good friend. They can’t seem to make any time for me, but said person has plenty of time for someone else who happens to be a close friend of mine. It saddens me and hurts a bit. I made the comment to our mutual friend that I had always been closer with this person for over two years. The reply was, “You just have to let that go.” I don’t think that’s fair or that I should have to. I didn’t do anything wrong or deserve to be dropped. I think length and quality of friendships count for something.
I actually tried to approach this with the person who has so suddenly cut me out of their life, but after a few exchanges never heard anything else. It doesn’t add up or make sense. I was there for this person consistently, offered support, advice, and kindness, but I guess none of that mattered. They used me for what they needed and that’s that.
It’s unfortunate how friends can hurt us, but I suppose they wouldn’t really be friends if they didn’t have the ability to.
I remember falling for him immediately. It was overwhelming and quick. There was no pause, hesitation or second guessing. It wasn’t slow or simple. It was everything all at once. It was what I thought love looked like. It was like being in a tank and the water was gushing in while all I felt was happiness.
Over the next three years the happiness faded away. It was replaced with jealousy, anger, resentment and hurt. And that tank started to drown me.
I had given up so much of myself. I based a major life decision on him; something I promised myself I would never do. I lost confidence in myself and believed I was worth what I was being given. The definition of myself no longer included anything related to me. I was defined by him and how much or how little he decided to love me every day.
So now, when I find myself in a relationship full of compassion, grace, understanding and patience, I stop myself. I am making things be slow and simple. I keep conversations light and grand declarations are banned. It’s not fair to do that, I know, but I don’t know how else to protect myself. I don’t know that the waters won’t turn on me if I let myself fall and be submerged in what could be love. I could begin drowning once again. And if I start drowning, I start putting myself last. I make careless decisions and do everything to save something that isn’t meant to be saved. There is no happiness in that.
Deep down I believe this is different. I believe he’d never do the things the former did.
But what if he does?
And what if I drown?
I miss Fall and what it used to mean.
I miss the way I used to feel when you looked me.
I miss how I wished every time I heard my name it was the way in which you said it.
Because now, I don’t miss you, and therefore those things, well they don’t really matter to me anymore.
It’s strange how that happens. How the one person you thought you could never go a day without missing, becomes the person you think about the least, if at all. I guess this is what it’s supposed to feel like… finally feeling nothing about you at all.
What a busy, busy four months it’s been.
-Traveled to: California x 3, Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Ohio.
-Got a boyfriend
-Worked two festivals
-Created the WSPD / NSPW week campaign for TWLOHA
-Went Halibut and Salmon fishing for the first time.
-Spent a week with my best friend who I hadn’t seen in a year
-My little cousin who I’m close with went off to college (He also just scored his first goal in college soccer).
-The high school campaign I run raised over $66,000 in its first term.
-Read three books
-Attended an awesome nonprofit award show for work, The Classys.
-Got to see two of my best friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in three years.
-Finally finished Dawson’s Creek (and trust me, that’s an accomplishment, started watching it two years ago).
-Getting this health thing looked into that I’d been putting off for months
And that’s just to name a few. Fall is heading into full swing.
The second term of The Storytellers kicks off on Monday, and I’m still accepting some late applicants. We’ll probably come in around 65-70 schools. That’s about half of what we had last term, but I’m comfortable with that. We made a lot of changes that I think greatly benefit the campaign. Three of the bracket winners from last term are having their events in October so I’ll be in Michigan and Illinois x 2.
But I like things busy. Busy is good. It helps. I have, however, been neglecting my writing. Life is good. I’m content. A little happy even, and when that happens my writing suffers. I write the best when I’m miserable.
Oh the irony.
because without your support, I wouldn’t be here.
I wouldn’t have stayed when things got hard.
I wouldn’t have believed that I could find a life.
Thank you for the way you know me,
for being my best friend for what feels like forever,
and for raising the bar so high that I don’t know where to begin.
Thank you for knowing to let go before things got ugly.
On some level, you must have known that forcing me to fly
would force you to fly too, to do the things you know you need.
And maybe you even share the belief that our paths
will join us together again, and for always.
I hate you,
for not wanting it badly enough
for not believing that we could do this together,
for not following through.
I hate that you didn’t have the balls to take a chance,
to explore this place that’s filled with your dreams.
I hate how you don’t even seem to be doing
the things that made you stay.
I hate that the way you tell me how you feel almost always hurts,
and that most of the time you just don’t tell me at all.
I hate that you are the only guy I can imaging loving,
and you make letting go seem so easy,
like it doesen’t hurt at all,
like you don’t ever cry.
I left the way I did,
because of what it said to you:
that I would always expect you to follow.
I’m sorry I didn’t ever see it like that.
I thought paving the way would create
an adventure that would change our lives.
I’m sorry I didn’t wait until you were ready,
that I didn’t think I could, so the decision didn’t feel like yours.
I’m sorry that it seemed like your opinion wasn’t important,
when nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m sorry that I doubted our future, and made you doubt it too.
I didn’t know myself well enough to tell you
all the things that needed to change, and why.
We both thought we’d have more time, and then I left.
I’ll always be sorry for that.
[this is years old and has always been one of my favorites.]
Unfinished first page of a possible story.
Working Title: Summer Mondays.
There wasn’t anything special about this particular Monday night. It was summer and I was doing what I did every Monday of that summer: hanging out at the bar below my apartment with my core group of friends. We never planned it out or really discussed it. Everyone just knew to show up. We called ourselves The Monday Night Favorites. It felt so fitting for that time.
It was simple.
The last arrival on Mondays was almost always you. You are one of the most confident men I have ever met, and a few Monday’s before this night, between beer five and six, you confessed you came late because you liked how you felt when everyone’s head turned to see who was walking through the door. I think you knew confessions were a way to my heart. And everyone knew nothing really started until you were there.
My desire to yell the words caught me off guard. The story of what caused that desire starts with your ex-girlfriend being in town. When she entered the bar - our bar - and saw us, she bounced her way towards us with her arms open for you. My heart sank. These Mondays were my favorite days of that summer. I felt that quickly changing with each leap she made. Then… you did something I never expected. You moved your body so you weren’t standing in front of me, but next to me. You introduced me affectionally. You shifted so at any given moment either your leg or arm was brushed up against me. You made a statement without really saying anything.
It was everything.
I remember standing there, watching you talk to one of our friends and wanting to do nothing more than scream, “I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU,” at the top of my lungs. It felt like I was going to shatter into a million pieces if I didn’t. And as you were shaking hands and hugging these people we cared for dearly, it took everything in me not to tell you, and all of them.
It was overwhelming, but somehow, I was able to keep in the words. Perhaps it was the normalcy of the evening and the constant jesting from Jeff and Aaron. Maybe, it was how Astacia kept demanding we pose for photos, and how each time you put your arm around me I felt at peace. Or it could have been how you stayed right next to me, never more than an arms length away and I felt like I was yours. But actually, it was when you went to buy a round for everyone, and She leaned over to whisper, “You make him happy. I can tell he’s in love with you. Even if he never says it.”
And with those few words, everything was put into perspective. Her last sentence allowed me to understand why this evening you were different than all the Mondays before.
It was never going to be more than this.
And it wasn’t.
I have an incredible father. His name is Bruce and he is a good man. He and my mother met when I was three and he has never called me anything other than his daughter my entire life. That choice he made changed my life. He chose to be my Dad when he didn’t have to. I would not be the person I am without him. He instilled in me the importance of having morals, a strong work ethic and the value of honesty. He has made mistakes, stumbled and disappointed me, but I’ve done the same to him. Yet, he loves me unconditionally and always believes in me. He encourages me to follow my heart and chase my dreams. Not a lot of daughters can say that about their fathers.
But then there is another man. His name is Jerry and he is biologically my father. A person who, for the most part is a stranger. He sent some checks during my childhood and one afternoon when I was fifteen, I decided to call him. My curiosity is one of my biggest strengths and weaknesses. I’ve made a few trips to Maryland to spend time with him, my sister and step-mother, but he (and my sister) are nothing more than acquaintances to me. It’s like putting square pegs into round holes. No one knows what to say, no one wants to say what they should, and it all ends in an argument.
I do the same thing every Father’s Day and today was no different. Right when I woke up, I picked up the phone and called my Dad. I then spent the rest of the day wrestling with calling the man who allowed my existence to be possible. The stranger. The four phone calls a year guy. I dread the wait because I know at some point I’m going to have to do the right thing and call him. If he does answer, I never know what to say. Usually he doesn’t, so I leave this awkward message often starting with “Hey it’s me, and by me I mean Chloe,” because let’s be honest, he hasn’t heard my voice enough in 10 years to know “Hey it’s me,” means Chloe.
So tonight at 8:34 my conscience won. I picked up the phone and called. He answered but there was 25 seconds of silence followed by disconnection. I waited 10 minutes and tried again, this time greeted by his voicemail. So I left a message like I do every year. Followed by the same question, “Would it have been better to have never called at all?”
And I always wonder if I mean the Father’s Day call or the original call. I picked up that phone ten years ago because I thought I needed to know all these answers. Looking back, I can’t even remember the questions. It felt like a great big mystery to me. It was not a reflection on my father, the man who raised me because no matter who was on the other end of the line it wasn’t going to change the man that was standing outside grilling dinner. The person I call first on Father’s Day. The father who will walk me down the aisle whenever I end up getting married. It had to do with me and this damn need I have to “know” because I’m insatiably curious.
People sometimes say some questions are better left unanswered. I used to think that was just an excuse for not wanting to face the answers. But if I have learned anything from this situation, it’s that sometimes they are.