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It’s 3 a.m.; I must be lonely

Well, the former part is true, at least.  Am I lonely?  Not…lonely persay.  Pensive?  A little.  Riddled with self-contemplation?  Somewhat.  Ever-so-slightly shocked at myself?  Yes.  Yes, I am.

I’m having a girlie moment.

Gasp.  Crash.  Hiccup.

I know.  I knooooooooooooow. I’m seldom outright girlie.  The pensive self-contemplation stems primarily from that blatant fact.  In many ways, I defy mainstream, pop-culture girl-dom.  I hate pink.  (Okay, maybe not hate, but I feel it ought to be used in very, very sparing quantities.)  Chick flicks are enormously depressing for me.  I don’t want to be a princess, unless it’s the warrior kind and I get to rampage about killing monsters and saving the world.  Diamonds bore me at best, and I loathe diamond solitaires (this time my adjective is not overstated).  I would be mortally offended if my boyfriend spent two months of income on an engagement ring, and only slightly less so if he spent more than a week’s.  (He knows these things already.)

My momentary bout of girliness is coming from the mere fact that my relationship is progressing.  And it’s filling my head with all sorts of fuzzy shiny happy thoughts.  It makes my tummy feel warm and glowy (and NOT in that pregnant way, so don’t even ask).  I may have even sighed and made goo-goo eyes at Edward the Elephant in my boyfriend’s absence.  *ahem.*

On a more serious note, this feeling is entirely new.  Without going into too much detail, no one has ever been committed to me before.  Me.  I’ve never felt anything like this — the sense that someone truly wants to journey through this life at my side and wants me there at his.

And so I’m being girlie.  I’m looking at pretty colors and imagining future moments.  I’m listening to the conversations we had over and over in my head and reveling in it.

I feel like I got a belated birthday present/early Christmas present.  Because as I’ve tried to wrack my brain for gift ideas for myself (always a precipitous sort of task), I’ve returned only to the simple (if gushy and cliche) sentiment that all I want for Christmas is….well, him.

Before I turn completely into a porcelain dolly with ringlets and ribbons, let me remind you once more:

Warrior.  Swords.  Zombie-slaying, kicker of dragon asses, vampire-loving, princess of general awesomeness — that’s who you’re listening to here.  And don’t you forget it.

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Scotland, ho.

It’s less than two months away now, and I’m really getting more and more excited.  For one thing, a conglomerate of my lovely European friends is getting together to descend upon Edinburgh purely for the pleasure of my company while I’m on their side of the Atlantic.  For that I am grateful to the point of delirium — never before have I had such friends who would hop a plane and come see me like that.  I hope I’m that kind of friend.  I did jet to New York City when Karsten and Daniel flew over from Germany for New Years a couple years ago, which at the time was nearly across the entire US of A.

I’m lucky to have people like that scattered across the planet.  Makes me feel special.  🙂

This is going to be a busy summer, but I hope it will be a good one.  I think it will.

In other news, tonight I engaged in an epic battle lasting two hours and several rounds:  Emmie vs. Phone.  After many hair-pulling moments, almost tears and recriminations, I emerged victorious.  This came about because of a bit of a mishap that befell my old phone last Friday, in which it sustained significant injuries that couldn’t simply be tended to with a trip to the corner between bells — no, this involved the necessity of complete renewal.  Replacement.  The old phone was down for the count.

However, it didn’t surrender without a fight.  Determined to take with it all 167 of my personal contacts, it fought tooth and nail as I wrestled with the Backup Assistant that was supposed to be on my side.  Little tramp.

Instead of sneaking into the old phone like a veritable Trojan Horse to unbar the way to my contact list, it instead shrieked at me, “INVALID PIN!  YOU HAVE ENTERED AN INVALID PIN!” which I had most certainly not.

My pin was valid.

Imagine my fury.  I called in the Big Guns.  The Big Guns goes by the name of Ben, from Verizon.  With his help, we had the old phone and the traitorous Backup Assistant on the ropes in no time at all — and we even managed to suitably cow the new phone, just to ensure it doesn’t get any ideas from its predecessor.

Yes.  A victorious day.  A glorious day.

Emmie vs. Phone:  Emmie Stands Triumphant.

follow your bliss

This morning, I asked my student to reflect on the following:

“The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.   The heroic life is the individual adventure.   There is no security in following the call to adventure.”  (Joseph Campbell)

I figured that since I am trying to keep up my average of words per day, I would complete my own assignment. (I already hit 1,000 working on my novel today, but a bit more never hurt anyone.)

I’m going to break this down sentence by sentence and see what comes pouring out through the cracks.

The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.

I heard once that up until about puberty and a few years after, you spend your life trying to fit in, blend with others, be like everyone else.  In high school and the years after is when people become desperate to delineate what separates them from the rest of the world, to be an individual.  But how far do people really go to do that?  So many people spend their lives doing things that make them unhappy or at the very least, bored.  They spend their lives with people who make them unhappy.  They follow the status quo because they feel some sort of obligation to do so or need security in some way.

It took me a long time in my life to come to terms with who I am, and in a lot of ways, I’m still on that path.  It has taken a lot of failings in order for me to get to where I am now.  I wrote not long ago in a letter to someone that I feel like years ago, I was perched on the edge of a chasm.  I could see where I wanted to be on the other side of it, but I had to make choices to decide how to get there.  The first route was the tried and true slow descent down one side and up the other, maybe on a burro.  I could plod doggedly down and up and eventually get to the other side, but I knew that if I took that route, I might end up miles down from where I was aiming.

The other route was the most direct geometrically.  And it stretched out directly in front of me, a rickety rope bridge with punky boards full of dry rot and tattered ropes holding it together.  I gritted my teeth and stepped out onto the bridge, with nothing but those flimsy boards between me and a long drop with a sudden stop.  Looking down at the well-trodden safer path below, I could see people’s mouths agape as they watched me take my fumbling steps out on that bridge.  Some even yelled up at me, “You’re crazy!  You’re going to fall!”

I haven’t fallen yet.  Granted, there have been a few close calls.  A couple of those boards were rotted through and disintegrated beneath my feet like crumbling clay.  Occasionally, circling vultures would swoop down and attack, seeing I was vulnerable.  But each time, I clung to the most solid things I could find and held on tight.  I’ve made a large number of big decisions in the last few years, and they have all propelled me forward.  And the farther forward I go, the closer I get to the other side.  I can’t see the other side from where I am; I have to focus too much on putting one foot in front of the other and staying alive to get there, but I know it’s there.  I can sense solid ground in the distance, getting closer every day.  I don’t know how many steps remain before I get there, but I know there is even more adventure awaiting me after my feet touch the earth again.  And the only way I’ll get there is if I keep following my bliss.  This journey truly has been amazing, and making the choices I have made really are the privilege of my lifetime.

The heroic life is living the individual adventure.

I feel like it would be way too arrogant to call my life heroic.  I could say resilient or bold and maybe go as far as intrepid, but regardless, I feel that my life has been full of adventure.  In spite of all the moves (or maybe because of them), I’ve managed to hold onto some semblance of cohesion within myself.  Sometimes I feel stuck within the confines of what society deems normal, namely the need for money (ew), but I have still managed to get where I needed to go, regardless of how rough the road got.  For that I am both proud and thankful.  Proud that I haven’t completely had a nervous breakdown yet (although I’ve gotten close this year…sorry, John) and thankful for the people who have been there along the way to hold out their hands and help me along.  I wouldn’t be here without them.

I’m certainly not done with this adventure yet.  In fact, I might be setting out on another leg of it shortly, depending on what I decide in the next 24 hours.  There is a big wide world out there, and I haven’t seen enough of it yet.

When I think about it, I often tell my friends that they are heroic for following their bliss and doing their thing, so perhaps I ought to do myself the same courtesy and bestow the label upon myself as well.  I do have a tendency to be much harder on myself than others are.   I should be more mindful of that and stop Emmie-bashing.

There is no security in following the call to adventure.

This one rings so true — I think about the people I know who are pursuing the things they truly love, and very few are actually making any money.  Of course, money isn’t the only way to measure security, but I think that is sort of what Joseph Campbell was referring to.  That and the fact that the term “starving artist” did not evolve without some sort of precedent.  I’m okay with being poor.  I’ve never really had any money, so I actually tend to just give it away when I do have it.

Anyway, all in all, I think it’s clear that I have to do some things for myself. Dolly Parton said to find out who you are and do it on purpose.  I’m not one who usually looks to Dollywood for wisdom, but I won’t turn it away when I come across it.  I know a lot about who I am, but I need to make some purposeful strides into really letting that person shine through.

On that note, kiddies, sleep tight.  Bite the bedbugs and smile at your neighbor.

Magic Happens.

I can’t help but smile.  And I also can’t help that even 24 hours later, when I smile about this, a couple of tears spring to my eyes as well.  Something happened to me yesterday that I had been waiting twenty years for.  There really aren’t many of those things;  I’ve only been alive for twenty-five.  And yet this is one of the few, and indeed one of the least likely to have transpired.  But it did.

This is a story of magic and love.  One that, like the smile and the prickling tears, I can’t help but share.

Last night, I was driving home from my boyfriend’s band’s show with him in my little blue Civic.  We chatted briefly about mundane things — plans for the next day which included a bro-down for him and a ladies brunch for me.  About halfway home, he told me that he’d gotten me something.  I thought, Huh.  Good thing I got him something too. He informed me that it was something I had mentioned in the previous couple weeks and that he had resolved to get it for me.

I was intrigued; I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it could be.  The only thing I remembered mentioning that I wanted was pie, and I rather doubted he had gotten me a pie.

He went on to tell me that he would surprise me with it.  I might not get it tonight, but maybe in the morning.  Or next week.  Whenever the moment seemed right.  And no, it wasn’t sex.  This made me even more confused, and more firmly ruled out pie, since he already had it, and I don’t think he would give me a week old pie.

I was thoroughly curious by this point.  I told him I had something for him, as well.  But that it was a small thing I’d picked up at the Dollar Store, and no, my gift wasn’t sex either, nor anything remotely sexual.  We came to the conclusion that anything sexual from the Dollar Store most likely was not to be trusted.  Luckily, I’d just gotten him a basting brush.  My boyfriend happens to make some damn fine bruschetta, and each time we shop for ingredients, he always pauses at the basting brushes and then never gets one because they’re about $8.  So when I saw a red Betty Crocker silicone basting brush for a dollar, I had to get it.

An hour or so later, we were in bed.  We had a long conversation about my previous blog about dating musicians, including the thoughts that I’d had about what that meant about priorities.  He kissed me very gently on the forehead, and as always, I could not help but smile into his shoulder.

I rolled over and put one arm under my pillow.  It encountered something there.  It felt like plastic, cool to the touch.  Like a tube of some kind.  I exclaimed that there was something under my pillow, thinking it was just something that had gotten thrown there accidentally before we made the bed.  I wondered aloud what it was, and he turned on the light so I could see.

Rewind twenty years.

A five-year-old girl humbly asks Santa for something extra special for Christmas.  Beyond the Care Bears, her heart’s desire was set.  This little girl was convinced that magic was out there, that it was real, and that one day, it would find her.  So she did what anyone would do in that position:  she asked the most magical person she could think of for something magical.  A magic wand.  With real magic.

Christmas came and went — the Care Bears arrived, but the wand did not.  The small girl lifted her voice and with it, she made a deal.  “Santa,” she said, “I know you’re very busy.  You had to get to all the little kids in the world, and so I understand that you probably didn’t have time to bring it.  But…I really do want it more than anything.  I won’t try to see you — just leave it under my bed when you get the chance.”

She looked under her bed every morning for over a year.  And even when she finally stopped, she knew magic still existed.  Even when the time came two years later for her to stop believing in the Santa that rode in his sleigh delivering gifts and exchanged that image for the picture of a box from a stranger, wrapped in brown paper.  A stranger who heard her letter on the news asking for Santa to fix the leak in the roof above her bed and paid for it himself, along with everything else that she had mentioned in her letter — every jewel Polly Pocket and the crown of all, the princess castle.  In fact, she was even more sure magic existed.  She knew that she would never be surprised when she found it.

When the light came on, I found myself holding a black stick, silver at both ends.  My jaw fell open.  “It’s a magic wand,” my boyfriend said.  Dumbfounded, I stared at him.  “And you already have the magic for it.”

“You got me my wand.”  I couldn’t think of anything else to say.  In that moment, I was five years old again, looking under my bed, expecting a miracle.  Tears fell. I had told him the story over brunch at our new favorite restaurant, sipping delicious strawberry lemonade and eating sandwiches made with waffles and sweet potato fries.

As I hold it now, I’m sure.  I can feel it in my hands, in my blood, in the air.  There is magic in this wand, real magic.

I always knew I’d find it.

luck, be a lady tonight

i honestly have no idea why i opened this blog.  hm.  possibly to open the floodgates of my current stream of consciousness?  could be.  could be.

aha.  i remember the first little spark i wanted to fan into a blazing flame (i’m cooooold, goddamn it).  i feel lucky.  it was something rather simple that triggered it, something that, to many people, might seem a bit odd.  “i love that you love zombie movies.”

but really, that simple statement was really quite touching.  to know and be known.  not just accepted, but enjoyed.  i’ve had it before in other senses.  friendish senses.  but not this way, and for that i feel as though i’m holding something rather shiny and pretty in my hands, and i can’t stop staring at it and marveling at how it got there.

so there’s that.  i also feel rather…odd.  not-quite-gone-with-the-grain.  i feel like that little whorl in a bit of wood that has a small eddy around it.

i keep thinking i know what to write tonight, but then i realize i really don’t.

what i’m thinking about right now is starlight.  it’s this soft silvery color, like strands of webbing that pulse with a quiet glow.  when i was younger, i got on this kick where i had to find out everything i could about astral projection.  all i wanted was to be able to leave my body so i could go explore the stars.  see the colors in the nebulae.  all of that.  i don’t know if astral projection is actually possible or not; all i know is that my goal was way out in space.

even though i don’t have a set path, i do know that i want to write something.

i truly love fall.  every year about this time, i seem to get a new lease on life.  the wiccan calendar ends at halloween.  samhain is the pagan new year.  in a lot of ways, that has always rather made sense to me.  it’s the death of all the growth of the year; trees turn, plants go dormant, animals hibernate, i wear fuzzy sweaters and drink excessive amounts of tea.  maybe that’s why halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  the new year is reborn from the  old, sort of like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a fiery death.

but really.  fall is awesome.  sweaters.  cuddles.  jackets.  leaves.  crisp air.  halloween.  pumpkins.  candles.  warm smells.

so tonight i feel thankful.  i feel lucky for having all of the above.  what a glorious thing.  couple thoughts for tonight:

we accept the love we think we deserve.

everyone is trying to be more or less than who they are, and it’s a violation either way.

goodnight, moon.

infatuation

but probably not the kind you’re thinking of.  or maybe, but that’s a whole other thing.

what i’m talking about is that font of effervescent joy, that bubble of feeling, that smile that tugs at the corner of my mouth when i realize where i am…and that i am home.  home.  haven’t felt like that in a while.  for god’s sake, i’m not even in my own place yet.  and yet.

call it love at first sight.  call it whatever you want.  but for the first time on this side of the atlantic, that plane’s landing gear hit the tarmac with a thud that infused me with utter contentment.  and i didn’t really think i would ever feel that on this side of the pond.  never in my life had i set foot in this city before thursday.  but here i am, and here i’ll…stay.  indefinitely.

what an amazing thing.

i realized last week before leaving nashville that my life has consisted of a series of expiration dates for as long as i can remember.  there was always another massive upheaval ahead.  nothing seemed solid.  each new home had a sense of the temporary about it.  and not temporary as in “move to another house in the vicinity” temporary — i mean that in the sense of another large, long-distance move ahead.  i was looking for something ephemeral, something i couldn’t quite grasp.  i was always pulled eastward.  i’ve known for a long time that if i were to live anywhere in the states on any kind of permanent basis, it would have to be on the east coast.  i’d planned to move to boston a few years ago with a friend, but she ended up running off with some polish guy and dropping off the face of the planet.

when i moved to poland, it had a timestamp.  scotland was always the same way.  when i returned to denver, it was the same.  always a nagging feeling of not-belonging in dcnver’s case — as for europe, there was always the knowledge that i carried the wrong passport.  i know people who have done it, up and left.  but those people without exception have a safety net in the states that i don’t have.  parents or family who could, if necessary, bail them out in a bind.  they may not agree with that, but they didn’t grow up at half the poverty level, either.  it’s always been too big of a risk for me, as much as i love europe.   wherever i’ve lived for the past six years of my life (longer, really), i’ve had this feeling that i’d have to leave soon.  for whatever reason.  that’s made life rough.  no continuity.  i think in a lot of ways, i’ve kept myself distant from people, knowing that i’d probably be leaving them soon.  it’s not really a good way to try to build lasting relationships.  and it’s not a good feeling, constantly seeing drastic changes on the horizon.

that feeling is gone.  i don’t see an expiration date in sight.  i don’t know if i will stay here absolutely forever, but let’s put it this way — i don’t see myself leaving any time in the foreseeable future.  and that is saying a whole hell of a lot.

i honestly don’t really know what to do with myself;  i’m that happy.  it’s still sinking in, and will continue to do so.  first job.  first bills (yeck).  first place of my own.  all that stuff.  but the fact that i don’t plan on leaving this place in a year or even two or three has filled me with so much happiness.

this city is freaking amazing.  i haven’t even seen all that much of it yet, but what i have seen is pretty sweet.  this, for example:

i could live there.

i could live there.

so right now, i’m nothing but joyful.  good things are happening in all corners of my life.  and the best thing about all of it is that there is no rush.  except maybe to find that first job.  🙂

‘Tis the Season…

…to be utterly thankful.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Between the fall colors that are the last flaming burst of life before the earth goes dormant in winter and the gathering of family home to hearths and living rooms after being scattered for the year, it just holds a warm place in my heart.  There’s nothing I love more than taking the opportunity to get together with loved ones over Thanksgiving without the pressure of buying, buying, buying.  It’s one of the few American holidays that hasn’t been overtly commercialized–as evidenced by the fact that stores often put out their Christmas displays immediately following Halloween nowadays.  Thanksgiving gets rather lost in the fold–how do you commercialize a family dinner?  Oh, granted sales of sparkling cider and turkey go up, but it’s a far cry from the raging consumerism of Christmas.

I love it.

I love everything about it.  I like getting up early to put the turkey in the oven, covering it with herbs and stuffing it full of toast and veggies.  I like spending the day running around the kitchen, peeling potatoes, laughing with family, getting frustrated at pies and people, and preparing for the biggest feast of the year.  I love looking around that table and seeing faces of people I love dearly looking back at me.  All with the knowledge that today is a day to be thankful, to take nothing for granted, to love fully and be loved and to set aside the frantic busy-ness that makes up the other days of the year and pour our energy into people and life.

I love taking some time to reflect on what I’m thankful for.  There’s never a bad time to count your blessings, but Thanksgiving is really quite a good time to do it–because everyone else is doing it, and it makes these few weeks of the year a time of openness, of friendship and family and love.

Of course it’s shiny happy people stuff–that’s what the holidays should be about.

I don’t really have anyone to spend my holidays with, in terms of a romantic sense.  I am single.  But it’s more than okay–there will, most likely, be any number of holidays in my future in which I am flying to and fro, trying to coordinate plans with a significant other.  When I look at my family members doing this, I have to add the unlikely blessing to my list that I am the sole person in charge of figuring out what the hell I’m doing for the holidays.  I can go where I please and see who I want.  Woot.

I’m really quite thankful for any number of things, singleness notwithstanding.  I quite like the weather–though I’m in a lonely camp there.  I’m thankful for the many people who are new in my life this year–they’ve all been rather extraordinary, and I feel really very special.  I have a nice home, a steady job, and I’ve finished my first novel.  I will, in the future, finish the others as well.  Just a matter of time.  I have a lovely writing group filled with other odd souls such as myself.  I’ve had a large number of wonderful experiences in the past few years, and I really feel quite lucky about that, too.  On a very basic level, all my needs are taken care of.  I don’t have anything to complain about, not really.

I’m thankful that I’m pretty healthy.  I have the occasional sniffle, but I’ve thus far escaped any serious malady this year, and I fully intend to round out 2008 with my lungs intact.

I am thankful for the chance to see my mom’s sister and family after nearly ten years of absence.  I leave for ten years, come back, and 2/3 of them are bigger than me.  Who’d’ve thunk?  My cousins are all grown up now.  It will be quite the party this weekend.  I’m also thankful to get the chance to see a good friend again on Friday.  It’s a bit of a trek up north, but worth it.  I’m very excited.

I am thankful that my car will (will, I say) make it all the way to Columbus, then on to Toledo, then back to Nashville in one piece without major incident (or minor incident, for that matter.)

Yes.  It will be a lovely Thanksgiving.

I Drinked the Kool-Aid…

Well, I think I drinked something, because I am bordering on insane right now. I’m so happy, I think I could burst, and I don’t think I have all that much of a reason to be so…bouncy. I usually don’t like shiny happy people, but right now, I am totally a shiny happy person, and I think I’ll just have to get over it and bask in the glory that is right now.

I just finished up a year that totally sucked, a year that followed a year that was so flipping fantabulous that having a sucky year after it was a serious letdown of epic proportions.

My year and a half in Poland was like heaven. I had, for the first time in my life, a Group. I had this fantastic collection of people who were like me in many ways, even though they came from different countries and spoke different languages. We were a family. We’re still a family in many ways, even after the passing of time. I fell in love in Poland with a wonderful German guy. I fell so hard. We had seven perfect months together, and then I had to leave.

I was ripped out of my beloved world without ceremony or consideration, and it left me raw and bleeding. A month later, my first love left me. I was left a mess, back in a country where I didn’t feel at home, and with everything I was laid bare and broken. My life was in tatters, and I felt like a shadow of the woman I had been in Poland–there I was vibrant, alive, happy, fulfilled.

The year didn’t get better. I got a crap job while I tried to finish up my degree. The money I had left over from Poland (a few thousand dollars) went to supporting me because the job didn’t pay…and the money was supposed to be put against my loans. My car had numerous problems. I didn’t have health insurance, and I had to pay for my medical bills out of pocket. My credit card debt went up. I got a new job and finished school, a job that was full time and supposedly would give me benefits after 90 days. I was pretty happy–I moved in with a friend and started to get my life back on track. But then the job cut my hours a week after naming me Employee of the Month–and two weeks before my benefits were supposed to kick in. I got sick. More doctor bills popped up. I started job searching again. I met a guy. I found a new job that paid better, but things didn’t get much better. My grandma tried to commit suicide, and I started thinking seriously about my family, and how far away from them I was. When the guy I was seeing suggested that I move to Tennessee, I thought that sounded like a good idea. I got a second job and started working 90 hours a week. I hated Denver and didn’t want to live there anymore anyway…a few weeks later, this guy turned out to be a major jackass. He was abusive and cruel, controlling and mean-spirited. We were never official, but now we were officially over. But I still wanted to leave Denver…so I did.

In June, I packed up my stuff, dumped it into a Penske truck with a musician from Boulder, and started a three-day trek across the country. Three days seemed to take forever–if it had been up to me, I would have done it in one. But we made it, and I moved into a sublet with two more musicians.

I have to say that that is where the year started to turn around. I got hopeful. I got a new job–a job that paid even better than my last job in Denver, and, with the lower living expenses of Nashville, was wholly doable for me. I also got benefits 30 days in. A friend helped me out and rented me his spare room for a flat rate of $400 a month, all included.

Things have gotten even better since then. I’ve had a couple setbacks, a couple “WTF just happened?!?” moments. But I’ve also had Writers Meetups…and glowing praise of my now-finished novel. A weekend in South Carolina with my grandparents and a weekend in Toledo with one of the musicians from my first home in Nashville. I’ve made some good friends. I’ve sort of fumblingly found my way. I’m writing again now after a few weeks of blockage…even if it’s just reflections on life.

I’ve come to the realization that I am lucky in an exorbitant way. The people I loved in Poland may be scattered across Europe and America and Canada and the rest of this world, but they’re not gone. Thanks to technology, we can be close even when there are thousands of miles between us. My first love is still one of my best friends–we’re still close because we didn’t break up due to lack of affection…looking back now, Poland was our world, and when we left, our world, the world that was Us, fell apart. I doubt that it will ever get put back together, but that’s okay. I gained a friend and lost nothing.

I have the best friends on this earth. They stick by me, listen to me whine, listen to me bounce for joy, hold me when I cry. When they hurt, I hurt. When they smile, I smile.

There’s a lot of talk in this world about love, about true love and fairy tales. A lot of it is crap. But at the same time, I look at my life and what I have experienced and what I have had. I have a best friend who risked her reentry to the UK to spend my birthday in Poland with me. She had to wait three hours at the behest of Her Majesty’s Customs when she flew back…but she did it so she could be with me on my birthday. She also flew to Denver to visit me in February. And then she bought me a ticket to Toronto so I could spend New Years with her and finally meet her family. I have an ex-boyfriend who, when we talk on Skype, I can see loves me like I’m something precious. He was never in love with me; I know that. He never loved me “that” way. By the time I left Poland, I had turned into his best friend, but I was no longer meant to be his lover. But the way he looks at me now makes all the pain of our breakup worth it. I can tell him anything–absolutely anything–and he will never think the less of me for it. He loves me now more truly than he could have if we had stayed together. I believe our friendship will endure with all my heart. We love like family now. I have another best friend in Montana who, despite the fact that we only lived in the same state for a year and a half of our friendship, is still so close to my heart. We’ve spent our adult life fumbling through experience together. I still have that group of people in Europe. They think of me and write to me. They love me. I still have my friendships from Denver, people who I’ve grown with, lived with, watched them evolve into the adults they are, heard their struggles and their pain and felt it right along with them. I have a family who, in spite of almost insurmountable odds and hardship, remains optimistic and continues to strive. A family whose love for me is so wholly without condition or pretense that I honestly don’t know how to describe it.

All this talk of fairy tales–I have known true love. I may be single–I don’t have a fairy tale prince and I don’t think I want one. When Jogi left me, I despaired of ever finding such a thing again in a romantic sense. I didn’t think I would ever feel that connection again, that click. But I’ve realized that I have found it countless times in my life, and I will continue to find it. Whether it’s in a hostel kitchen examining bruises of questionable origin, an advanced senior English class where we’re the only juniors there, on some New Year’s Eve in a far-off place, at a dingy bar in a foreign city, at a barbecue at a Polish dormitory, at a Nickelodeon Slime Fest, or even in my own living room–I’ll find it. Or maybe it’ll find me.

I had an epiphany last night, stemming from a previous epiphany.  For whatever reason, I often feel like I don’t deserve happiness.  So, when I came back from Poland, after that happy, happy time, I felt like my allotted happiness was over.  That I had had my joy, and that it was over.  I’d had my shot at love.  And it was done.  So when I came back, I threw myself into parts of life, into relationships that didn’t fulfill me, that tore me down, that degraded me in many ways…because I thought, “what the hell?  I’m never going to find happiness again, anyway.”  And I realized last night, whilst pondering a few other things, that it’s not true.  Not in the slightest.  So a part of my life right now, a part I am unsure what will come of, has had a beautiful purpose, regardless of what might happen.  It’s shown me that my happiness isn’t over.  And that is invaluable.  I will find love again.  Maybe not now, maybe not this year, but I will.  It took a romantic filter to show me that, even though I don’t really expect anything to come of it–as much as I may want to bang my head against the wall and wish for it–even so, it gave me insight into all the million tinkling facets of love that make up my life.

Maybe that’s what this feeling is. This buoyancy that I can’t seem to understand today. It’s love. It’s pure and absolute, unadulterated and overwhelming. I can’t contain it. I was talking to a friend the other day, and he said that I must harbor some tiny niggling hope that true love exists, otherwise I would find Twilight to be completely unpalatable…ha ha. I realized something–that he is right. And it’s not just hope. It does exist. Because I have it. Maybe I don’t have it in the romantic “you complete my soul” garbage sort of way, but I have it in a million other perfect, beautiful ways. Even if I never find that romantic bit of it, I am completely vindicated.

How utterly exciting.