Goodbye never gets any easier

The first time I said goodbye to you, I breathed a sigh of relief. A constricting noose had been lifted from my neck. The mosquito buzzing in my ear was gone and I could finally do things without you constantly there. I was done. I was free. I never had to see you again or speak to you again if I didn’t feel like it and I did not feel like it.

The second time I said goodbye to you, I squeezed you through a tangle of borrowed sheets before drifting off into a whiskey-infused sleep. I could still feel you on my skin, smell you in my hair, taste you on my tongue. When I woke up the next morning, you were gone and I only had a few traces of you left in my bed.

The third time I said goodbye to you,  you zipped up my black and creme BCBG dress and fastened my strand of pearls around my neck, murmuring, “You look nice” as you sniffed my hair one last time before driving an hour back to where you were staying. And I stood there in my wedges thinking “How in the hell am I supposed to work a 17 hour day on two hours of sleep?”

The fourth time I said goodbye to you, I boarded a train, looked at the sign on Jury’s Inn and watched its red lights become blurry as I cried. And I cried and I cried as I stared out the window, watching the seaside turn into countryside turn into city and wondering why I had to grab your face to kiss you goodbye and had I just lost you forever?

The fifth time I said goodbye to you, you kissed me three times in front of the big Sainsbury’s as your best friend shouted “Ew” like a 13 year old boy. And I schlepped my neon peach overnight bag over my shoulder, trying my hardest not to look back at you as I rushed to make my train. This was the first time it felt like I was leaving a piece of me with you.

The sixth time I said goodbye to you, I ran out the door, trying not to vomit up the remains of the sneaky Jaegerbombs I had taken while you were outside of the club smoking cigarettes. That was the fastest I’ve ever left you. I spent my journey home sleeping on a pizza box.

The seventh time I said goodbye to you, we watched the sunset over the sea, behind the pier before you walked me to the train station. You didn’t leave my side until the minute I flipped through the turnstile and I could feel your eyes pinning me to you, a butterfly to a cork board until I boarded.

The eighth, ninth and tenth times I said goodbye to you, every time felt uncertain. We kissed outside of your house like two 16 year olds at the cinema while we waited for the taxi you called for me. And as I slid into the taxi each time and watched you standing in the doorway, I would burst into tears as though I was going to a funeral. I knew and maybe you did too, that we were on a fast train heading for disaster. Neither of us wanted to get off. Until you did.

The eleventh time I said goodbye to you, your voice crackled through the phone, alive with a secret we were about to share. A secret that we never did share because we decided it would be for the best. And I hated you again. I wanted you to have never caused me to fall for you and to grow to hate saying goodbye to you only for you to say goodbye to me in the worst way possible.

The twelfth time I said goodbye to you was through a whispery failing WhatsApp call and it filled me with hope. Your voice curled around me like a blanket on a snowy day and settled there, but instead of weighing me down, it lifted me up.

The thirteenth time I said goodbye to you was another whispered conversation over a bad internet connection. And we hung on in that awkward silence of unsaid “I love you”s, waiting for the other person to cave and say it first. And it was the thirteenth time I said goodbye to you that made me realise I am tired of saying goodbye to you. It breaks me every time, even though the goodbye isn’t permanent. The pieces of me that I found leaving myself leaving with you have taken up their permanent residence and every “See you soon” feels like a hollow loss.

If I find someone I want to spend hours with, that’s rare for me. If I find someone who can shuck away my onion skin of complex layers, that’s even rarer. Now that you’ve made me full, I know what it feels like to be empty. And it’s hard.

I love you enough to know that I don’t want to say goodbye to you anymore.

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A little night musing – or, why I don’t sleep until 3.00AM – a map of my brain

Thought 1: Why do I have to be a fundamentally good person? I would love to skive off my last two days of work or call British Immigration on That Bitch and say she has intent to settle there, which she DOES. That probably would hurt my visa karma. Good vibes. Goooood vibes. I am going to grad school. It will work out.

Thought 2: Today is National Dog Day and I didn’t Instagram a picture of my dog. Oh well. He knows I love him without a picture to prove it.

Thought 3: You know what would be a great idea? Topless FaceTime with the boy. Except he gets weird if he thinks his hair doesn’t look good. I’ll offer to have a naked face for the FaceTime session but that won’t be the only thing that’s naked, heh. It’s almost 4.00am where he is. He may be awake, but probably not.

Thought 4: Okay, I’m sleepy, let’s watch relaxing YouTube videos.

Thought 5: Does Narry or a compilation of Harley Quinn saying “Puddin'” count as relaxing? No. Probably not. Guided meditation it is. Remember that one time when I tried to do guided meditation and my dog closed my laptop so I would pay attention to him? That’s why he didn’t get a photo on Instagram for National Dog Day.

Thought 6: Reading! Reading on my Kindle. That will make me sleepy. But what to read in my pocket library of 122 books? Chuck Palahniuk is always a good choice…if I don’t want to sleep. Now I can’t stop thinking about being disemboweled by my pool filter. Ooh, pool. I wonder if it will be warm enough to lay out tomorrow? Yesssss 81 degrees. I can hang.

Thought 7: I’m thirsty. All I have is SmartWater. Or water from the tap. Ew. Anyone notice that SmartWater definitely has a taste? Like a weird taste?  All my Evian is in the car. Yes, I sound like a brat. No, I don’t want to put on pants and go check. Pants are for squares. That’s from Fairly Oddparents. I think. That show was dope.

Thought 8: I am really sleepy. Why does inspiration strike when I’m the most tired? Also, where is everyone? Why is everyone being unresponsive to texts? I have no friends, everyone hates me.

Thought 9: Zzzz-Quil! Zzzz-Quil will save me. Except I think I took my last ones last night and I went to the library instead of Target today. And then I got tired so I took a bath to relax. Note to self: essential oils at Whole Foods because I am a ball of stress.

Thought 10: I should just post my useless thoughts on my blog because I’m egocentric enough to think everyone wants to read them. Plus, I think I’m really funny.

Thought 11: Okay, for real. Nanite, all the love xx

Always the bridesmaid, never the fiancée/bride/baby mama

Oh God. I’ve officially hit that age. You know, the age you’ve been hearing people moan about for years. The age that Buzzfeed articles make fun of and you read them thinking “Oh well, I’m not there and hopefully everyone will chill the hell out by the time we’re old enough to get there.” The Age of Bling, Brides, Bellies and Babies – and to be fair, I think I’m too young for this.

Every time I log onto social media (so for me, Instagram and Twitter), someone else is seriously committed, engaged, married or pregnant. Gone are the filtered photos of margaritas and sorority squats. Now, my feeds are full of bridal showers, couple kissy pics and babies taking their first steps. People post pictures of their first flat that they’ve rented with their boyfriend, of the dishes they bought at IKEA in a fit of domesticated bliss, of their brand new engagement ring from Tiffany’s, of the dance lessons they’re forcing their fiancé to take to prep for their wedding. There are more pregnant bellies and cooing baby videos than I’ve ever seen before in my life. And to be honest, even though I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Barf, it all makes me want to throw up. A lot.

I am not anti-romance or anti-wedding by any means, but it gets exhausting watching people who are your age or one, two, three years older than you are if that finding Their Person and starting Their Life while you still buy trashy knickers at Ann Summers and drink wine coolers sometimes. Hell, it’s worse when these girls are younger than you because then you sit there thinking “What in God’s name am I doing and is it right or wrong?”

My best friend from high school is getting married in November and I am her maid of honour. I would like to thank her for not being one of those annoying Brides to Be of Instagram and not posting a million pictures of her wedding prep. To be fair, she mainly posts pictures of food she cooks. But that’s fine. That’s normal. I would also like to thank her for still indulging in the occasional Bartles and Jaymes strawberry daiquiri wine cooler with me. To being adults and still drinking the same stuff we drank when we couldn’t buy our own! Two years ago, she said something to me that still resonates. “Mere, you’re the normal one. Juan and I are weird. It’s not normal to have this much figured out at our age. So there’s nothing wrong with you.” But with most of the people I hung out with in high school engaged or cohabiting or even committed to a transatlantic LDR, I feel like I’m ten paces behind everyone else and that I’m the freak for not being in a serious relationship or having a ring on my finger or a six months pregnant belly.

My British friends have the right idea. My friend Hannah said to me this morning via WhatsApp, “Fucking hell, we’re 23. 23.” My wifey for lifey flatmate Meggy dated a boy for five years and wasn’t even thinking about marriage anytime soon. My LDN bestie Nicole has been with her boyfriend for nearly three years and they’re now trying to decide if they should open a joint bank account in addition to their own single ones. With them, I don’t feel like the Big Single Spinster in the room with her cat named Hairy Styles even though she’s deathly allergic to cats.

Now, I’ve been kind of unfair in this post because I’m not 100% alone, but I’m not 100% taken. My label is still single though, and that feels evident at certain times. Yesterday I went to my first bridal shower and I’ve never felt more single in my life. Because at least when you have a serious boyfriend you can think to yourself, “Okay, in X amount of time, it will be my turn to have everyone guess personal questions about me and force everyone to buy me house supplies.” But when there’s no one officially on that horizon, you do question whether or not your own wedding is an if instead of a when. If you’ll  make your mother cry when you step out from behind a dressing room door in an overpriced dress you’ll wear only once. If you’ll get to giddily go into Bed, Bath & Beyond holding a scanner and picking out things that you know may be a bit ridiculous but hell when else are you going to get to ask for an olive de-pitter and an espresso machine that also makes toast? If you’ll get to dress the most important women in your circle in matching seafoam green chiffon strapless dresses with sweetheart necklines from the J.Crew bridesmaids collection? And then I feel ridiculous for feeling like I’m never going to get married because I am only 23 goddamn years old.

Anyway, after the shower yesterday, I was so angry at the boy. But why? Yeah, he was a little flip when we spoke on Friday, but that’s not unusual behaviour from him. And now that I’ve had some time to think about it, here’s what I realised. I wanted reassurance from him. I wanted anything from him just to say “Hi, it’s okay, you’re okay, I’m yours and you’re fine.” He’s given me reassurance like this semi-recently, but he didn’t do it yesterday and therefore his previous reassurances became Null and Void.

I guess the overall point I’m trying to make is I feel crappy about where I am in my life right now, but I have no reason to. I am normal. These early married, early parents people? They’re the weird ones. Not me. Yes, I feel like Rapunzel in her tower singing “When will my life begin?” especially since I act like I don’t care, but I would rather have my own husband and family over anything else. I have no reason to though. I’ve travelled the world. I’ve fallen in love. And you can all bet significant amounts of money that when My Person shows up and My Life begins – you all will see it on Instagram.

Untitled because I am on failing Zzzz-Quil and therefore unclever

Dum, do do do, dum, dum, breaking up is haaaaard to do. At least, that’s the main lesson I took out of that one episode of Beverly Hills 90210 when the new girl Emily Valentine sets her sights on a newly single Dylan and Brenda is pissed (FYI – I love any character who antagonised Brenda. Team Kelly Taylor 4eva. Gotta have solidarity with a fellow rhinoplasty survivor).

Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, breaking up with a significant other sucks. Because that’s what it is – a break. Arms break. Glass breaks. Waves break. Nothing about a break is easy or simple. It hurts. And frankly, I don’t know which is worse – being the one to break another person or being the one who is broken.

But what about friend breakups? Are they easier or are they harder?

When I was in high school, I became friends with this girl – let’s call her Julie. And Julie was this quirky only child born to older parents prematurely so of c, urse she was the miracle baby light of their lives. Understandable. And Julie and I remained friends all throughout high school through ups and downs – boy breakups, addiction, when she hated Zooey Deschanel and I didn’t. When we started college, we still would see each other every break, go for Thai and fro-yo and cruise the back roads of the farm town 45 minutes away, Death Cab for Cutie playing softly in the background as we spilled our guts. She lamented about the fact that all boys didn’t seem to want to waste time with her if she wasn’t going to sleep with them and I lamented about the boys that I was sleeping with.

The second semester of our junior years in college, we both studied abroad in the same country but at different universities. She stayed in London with a host family; I slummed down in Brighton in shitty student accommodation but with a crop of some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. It was during one of her visits to me that I convinced her that pulling was fun and that she needed to let her guard down around guys the way she did around me.

Now, I need to mention this – my family is so Anglophilic it’s disgusting. We’ve been going to the UK on holiday ever since I was seven. Our home is littered with Cath Kidston tea towels and sets, maps of London, the Union Jack and various tin boxes with pictures of the royals on them. London has always been one of my happy places but I was miserable when I studied abroad. I had a boy back in the states, I missed him terribly, I needed to see the sun and one of my flatmates drove me insane. Julie, however, had never even gone to summer camp and so fell in love with the country giving her her first taste of freedom. Again, totally understandable. England is great, even if it’s stressing me out beyond belief right now (Good karma and prayers my way still, please).

That autumn, after we both returned to our universities in America, I got dumped. And Julie was angry. She told me I needed to get over it a week later, after I had just seen the girl I had been replaced with. When she had been dumped after two and a half weeks in high school, I drove around with her for months, listening to her rant and rave about this guy who isn’t even anything to write home about. She also mentioned she had taken up with an English exchange student but didn’t want to be in a relationship with him. Here’s the thing – I was selfish. I admit it. My senior year revolved around me getting over this absolutely awful boy who wasn’t even worth the new disdain I had for one of my favourite places. So when, in December, Julie and I met for coffee and she wouldn’t stop talking about Jacob (this is not his name, I’m just not about outing peoples’ identities on the net, yo), I knew she wanted me to ask about him. I knew that, and I didn’t, because I was so disgustingly miserable that other peoples’ happiness made me nauseous.

Long story short, she’s still with Jacob. She’s actually visiting him in Britain right now. She posted pictures of Brighton, my happy place, on her Instagram. But it’s because of her inability to be happy for me – when I got a job, when I got the boy – that is why I’m not commenting, liking, or texting her about being in Brighton. All she does is compete with me about a love for a place that belongs to neither of us and rub her happy and functioning relationship in my face. I can handle a lot, but I am also extremely competitive and right now I’m at a disadvantage (see Student Visa, Waiting On and Commitment, Waiting On). So that’s why I pressed the block button on her page this evening.

Don’t get me wrong – it has taken me a long time to get to this point. And I’m not a heartless bitch who cuts people out of her life because she can. I do miss Julie – she was a great listener and the only person who would binge watch Spongebob and America’s Next Top Model with me. Because a real friend wouldn’t look like you just snatched their best guest hand towel and wiped your filthy hands on it when you tell them you got your first big girl job while they still work at a popular coffee chain in the mall. A real friend wouldn’t refuse to discuss your boy thing because he so happens to live in the same county as where her boyfriend does and she’s the only one allowed to have a foreign boy. If I cut you out of my life, you best believe that you handed me the scissors, held up the loose thread and said, “Cut here.” So Julie, if you read this – Can I get a venti iced peach green tea lemonade with a Birthday Cake Pop, two separate transactions so I get bonus stars and while you’re back there, can you please make sure that my tea doesn’t have too much ice? It waters down the tea and there’s less for me to drink.

I guess the conclusion to this is that friendship breakups are, in a way, easier than romantic ones. Friend breakups don’t usually happen for no reason. And if that reason is because that person has become a toxic presence in your life? Fall back, ho. D-dandan.

The rest (actually, almost everything I write) is still unwritten

I used to be able to write like the wind. Words would pour from my thoughts into my fingers so quickly I couldn’t type or print to keep up. I would have papers littered with those weird word hybrids that happen when you have just such a good idea that you end up blending words in your haste to get them down on paper.

And now? Everything I write is unfinished.

For example, I have four drafts on this blog called witty things like “My Grandfather and Dumbledore Died the Same Summer and I’m Still Not Over It” and “Having the Same Name as a TV Character Does Not Make Me a Doctor.” But that’s just it. They’re drafts. Not finished. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to make my life amusing. Maybe it’s because inspiration strikes but I can’t follow the path it blazes through my mind. And if lightning “never strikes the same place twice” where the hell are my ideas coming from?

When I was nine and reading way beyond my grade level, I read Little Women for the first time. I immediately identified with Jo March (and I still hate Amy. Jo and Laurie were my first OTP before I even realised what an OTP was) and her love for putting words to the page. I used to write my own short stories – dozens and dozens on 1998 Microsoft Word and they are embarrassing so no, you may not see them ever – but always struggled to end them. I dreamt of writing my own book one day, maybe fiction, maybe a cheeky memoir, maybe one of those romance novels with Fabio on the cover. I had the words and they flowed freely, until I started approaching my conclusions and then they just stopped. As did I. I’m not even joking – I have dozens of my own stories taking fold on various computers, but they all stop before a conclusion is reached.

When I was twenty-one and living in London after my term abroad, I discovered HBO’s Girls and immediately identified with Hannah Horvath. Struggling to adult, wanting to be a writer, dealing with a boyfriend who treats her heart “like monkey meat” – this was me. Except for the whole “I’ve accepted that being a published author is a rarity and one can’t really solely write for a living because I like living above the poverty line and not with my parents.” And when I got dumped by my monkey-meat heart-treating boy three months later, writing is what kept me sane. Looking back, it’s all very disgusting, depressing and nauseatingly whiny. And embarrassing (shoutout to every friend I send my breakup writings to, because you didn’t punch me in the face).

Anyway. I like tangents. But my point is – what makes Hannah actually sit the hell down and write her ebook? A push. Sure, her push is a deadline looming from an editor. And my push? I’m basically trying not to be bested by the bitch who makes my skinny vanilla lattes. More about that later – I am all about the open letters and calling people out (See “Bitch, Unnecessary” for a very accurate description of me).

In a perfect world, I’d be living in a garret in Paris, subsisting on wine and Ladurée macarons and writing books that would fly off of the shelves. But since I’m unfortunately a realist, I know that’s not happening anytime soon, if ever. But I’ve gotten out of touch with what I love, so even if the world won’t read it, I’m going to start – and finish, for once – something I’ve wanted to do since I finally mastered writing the letter S.

Hannah and Jo would be proud.