noticed.

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There are moments where I miss it. 

Having a good person to come home to is one of them joys of life, I suppose. I never grew up with pets, so I reckon’ it is similar. Though I believe people are a little more complex. Even more so than cats.

When I take some time and settle into myself, I do miss it. And I miss her and I find myself so curious as to how we forgive and move on from hard things. I haven’t cried much at all the past couple of years. I think I got a lot of it out of my system back in that time and to be honest, the waterworks are on hiatus.

I still get sad, for the overwhelming things we see and have to deal with every day. I get angry. I fight. I argue.

I submit, too.

I laugh, and then do this thing where I choke up. Like when I found out I won this really cool award for my work — because it is often times, such thankless work. I laughed because I thought it was funny for a cook to win such a thing, and then I choked up because this work is so hard and I was so thankful to be noticed.

I would like to think she would have been proud. After all, I spent most of our marriage hustling around different cafes and restaurants in hopes that something would stick. And some things did, and sometimes I would lay on her lap exhausted and wake myself up snoring.

When you get noticed, like I find myself from time to time, there is a moment of pure joy where you know you are doing good work — and then the moment comes where you remember all the things you missed getting what you wanted.

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Mississippi, man.

I suppose I find myself thinking about those things. Not much these days. But you always remember your best friends. Best partners. The people who pushed you forward and made sure you got home safe when you accidentally got (hanging out the window at Popeyes) drunk from a work party.

That safety though…is something you will always remember in your belly. The safety of being loved and thought about and cared for. You have those things when you’re single too. It just looks different. And you learn to love yourself in such a different way.

I suppose that is what I miss about companionship — what I crave when the nights get late and I drift away to the sound of my heater.

There are too many frustrations. Things I wished I would’ve done a million times. And then, there is now.

And now is bigger and wilder than I ever imagined. And it’s in Mississippi of all places.

A new home. A platform. A place to grow what my mind has sewn.

Things are never going to be the same. It is all new, all of this that I’m going through and often times it is hard to get out of bed and on to that next thing. But I’m always so thankful that I did…and that I do.

Here’s to our seasons of growth and struggles and lessons — In hopes that you approach them all with goodness deep down in there,

and remember that not everything you lose, you necessarily need back.

 

 

 

here and there.

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I’m writing to you.

This person I’m so afraid of.
With so many breaths I find myself apologizing for my lack of commitment and the mess that other person left in my head. The mess I leave in my own space.

Sort of like moving out of a place, you can get the big parts up and out, and it looks like you’re making progress. But then you’re left with the tiny things. The rackets in the closet. The loose boards. The last picture you take off the wall to hide the hole you made, inevitably losing your safety deposit.

This is the stuff I’m still cleaning up.

I think about choices. I think about how devoted I am to a place, and I’m not convinced that I have what it takes to stay too long any one place. I am always thinking about something that involves me, traveling towards another horizon. Maybe that’s with you. Maybe it is opposite you.

This is my biggest choice.

I think that it might be one of my most life defining moments. What do I give up and when do I give up? What do I lose? Do I have to lose something to gain another? Why do I even have to word it that way?

I realize I’m using a lot of possessive pronouns here. It all sounds very selfish, and it is. I have that luxury right now. What it took to get me here, was its own hell, though. We’ve both been through our own hells and we are both seeking the heavens in our own little ways.

So, I can only indulge in what has given my heart so much peace. Time. Some days I feel like I’m wasting it and other days are full of the moments that make me believe that I am here for a reason. And maybe it’s like my coworker said one time, “Some folks are just meant to be background people.” I was a background person. But I was also very strong. I didn’t know it at the time. I still don’t quite know about this person I’m becoming.

defyingthedistance

There is so much here.

And there is so much there.

Every day, I am torn between wanting you and wanting my craft. Knowing that obtaining both is so, so very hard. It is not something that I would want to put you through. The world that I work in is stressful and tough and demanding.

I think that it’s totally possible. I also think there are better people for the job. On both ends.

But, when I do think about you, this person, I melt. It doesn’t go to waste, like some tragic spill, but instead it absorbs into something else. Like butter into toast. That’s kinda how it feels.

I think about building a home with someone again. I feel hopeful and it makes my eyes water a bit. I know this to be true and something real. But right now, I dream. And I dream where I am. Mixed with where you are,

in hopes that someday,
they will meet.
and I know, inevitably,
they will.

posture.

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I spent the latter part of this week wandering in my past.

I suppose when you’re around your family, all you have is the past. Who you used to be. Where you’ve been, and the ever-conflicting conversations about where you’re going. The same goes for the collective ‘they’.

It’s not anyone’s fault but my own that I think this way.

But I sat and processed a lot of ghosts. A lot of painful things and resounding conclusions that we are resilient and strong and capable.
I watched my dad pacing back and forth and reassured him that this was another adventure, not knowing quite where the road will end up, or how steep some days might seem. I feel as though this is what life is. A steady stream, moving you through God knows what.

Hopefully, at the end of the day, you have some peace and a full belly.

I look at my relatives who have seen and caused and worked through some traumatic things. I see us all as wounded. Not one of us here has been able to move through this thing unscathed — new people — new things — but their eyes are the same and I read that they are capable of seeing life a million different ways.

In all of this, I move in and out of my own past. I sit with that tired and heartbroken part of my body that is dying in its own way. I push my shoulders back, and I make more eye contact. A sign that all living things have the ability to open and close; add and take away. This is my season of standing taller, I say to myself. This is your body. Your eyes. Your scarred up arms and skinny legs. Use them. This is another way to show people you love them, to share with them your struggle of being wonderfully human.

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“Have you gotten taller?”

I hear that from people, these days.

Probably not.

Just my attempt at standing straighter, when possible.
Perhaps whenever it is that I’m leaning over the stove, and I feel the muscles in my lower back responding to this common motion, I think about adaptation and repetition. The parts of ourselves that grow stronger because it’s what we have to do. The lean. The constant pressure. Adjusting back into your frame.

Familiar motion.
Small moves.
Returning back into ourselves.

Maybe this is about posture.

How we hold ourselves up in all this gravity.

All I know, is that our stories aren’t fully written yet. That is both exciting and terrifying.
You will carry yourself and others toward the end, though.

And that is what I watched this week.

A family, carrying their own through another chapter. Another story.
Another adventure, with the past in its place, and the future moving forward,

standing straighter,

eyes wide open.

you and me. (and everyone else)

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We’ve been hit pretty hard at work lately.
The mix of a new publication and a three page spread of a certain meatloaf sandwich we make. Hey man, people love their meatloaf.

I have looked around at the faces of my co-workers, dazed and exhausted. Stretched a bit too thin, but they’re good, I tell ya. Good.

In my own body, I am tired as well.
I don’t seem to get as frazzled as I used to. Even when there is water above my eyes, I can’t think of any reason to feel any less of myself. This hasn’t come from working in the food industry. I mean, sure. The longer you work in the mess of trenches and the rows of tables and chairs, it can be an overextension of one’s soul. Enough to want to make you hide in the bathroom or the walk-in for fear of another human being’s response.

But then there is something deeper to it. For me, at least.

I find myself laughing a lot. And smiling. Understanding. Listening.

Maybe it’s some sort of mechanism I’ve developed over this past year where I say in my head, “Pfft. This is nothing.” And really, the rush will pass. All things will pass.

I had reached a point at one gig, where I just lost it. I went into the bathroom and called Hannah in tears saying, “I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too much.”

It was a combination of a lot of unhealthy things. I realized if I wanted to make it in this industry, I’d have to start making it work for me. So, I just let go.

And this is where something deeper started to take place. Out of all the rough things I’ve endured in the most recent past, there has been nothing worse than sitting on the floor of my old apartment, weeping at such a huge loss. My heart was at its lowest point, and I think often when older companions lose each other, it’s only a matter of time before the other starts to let go.

The heart can only take so much. It is a muscle. Like any muscle that cycles through its daily motion, it will tire. At some point, it will let go.

So, like rough days on the line, or running food: you sink, or you swim.

And there is an ebb and flow to sinking and swimming. There are seasons where it feels good to fight, and others where you have to submit for a while.

I revert back to myself sitting on the floor with no energy. No hope. Nothing else to say. A pain in my chest and a belly that was sick of everything. Since then, I have worked myself back up into something decently recognizable, I think. Presentable. Able to push my shoulders back and walk with meaning.

Saint-Merri3

 

It is quiet, where I live. So handling customers is sometimes a welcomed experience. I like the challenge of handling a person, as often times restaurants can be intimidating places to go. But to make someone laugh, or give them the space to get what they really want. Sometimes that feels like a gift.

It’s something I can give them. It’s something I have power over, but not in the way that should make you feel threatened. There is something important about communicating needs and desires. I think good communication relies on both sides making non-threatening words, and putting them together in such a way that disarms. Too often I found myself defensive. I found myself making it about me all the damn time.

And then I just let go of it.

I let go of my desire to be understood, and worked more at understanding. (I believe there is a St. Francis prayer there somewhere..)

My energy has shifted. I get to put it in places where I’ve needed it the most. Connecting with people. And that allows me to not be so afraid. You learn everyone is battling their own wars, both inside and out of their bodies. I meet that with grace, you see?

And I do it in hopes that I get it back in return.

I think this is one of those things that might change the world. Starting small, and to not threaten each other all the time with our rightness or needing to prove that we are loved and important.

We have value. And we have these tools that build up over the years, like your grandpa’s shed. We learn better how to loosen and tighten. Those big problems become smaller problems.

“Ah,” you think to yourself. “That’ll be good in no time.”

or

“Well, this one might take some time.”

And you will see better on both sides, that it’s not about winning or losing an interaction. It is about sustaining a goodness, for yourself and your community. I wish everyone could see inside themselves the things I’ve been able to see in myself.

That goodness is a simple luxury. That good communication can take time to build, but that it is most important when building up the Beloved.

I talk about the Beloved a lot. And really what I mean is humanity.

Made from the stuff of our mothers and fathers, mixed with wonder, and grown into things that have the potential of loving another.

That is what I believe in the most.

you.

and me.

and everyone else.

that’s what I really want.

 

light and angles

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I still get choked up when I talk about some of the hard stuff.

I do this thing where I’m in the middle of a word, and my nose starts to burn and I lose all the saliva in my mouth. Then I cough, regain composure, and finish what it was I was trying to say in the first place.

Usually something like this:

I really miss it.

By the way, don’t ever watch the movie, Her, if you’re in the middle of a divorce of any kind.
Or do, actually. I thought it was a beautiful, sad, and melancholic movie, but an important one. The computer asks him at one point, “What was it like to be married?”

‘Well, it’s hard for sure. But there’s something that feels so good about sharing your life with somebody.’

Sometimes it feels good to be sad.
To not having anything to say on the matter.
Just to sit in the wonderful melancholy of a good song,
or what it was like to hold hands on a walk,
and to see the sun catch her angle just right.

I really did like being married.

One of the hardest things, is seeing the people you grew with, still in theirs.

I ache because I feel like I should be with them in this process saying, “Yeah, marriage is tough right?!” while we sit around and drink too much wine and contemplate our next house project.

I feel like so many people are hurt in these things. I sensed it made my married friends hold more tightly to one another at the end of the night, and to be thankful they weren’t experiencing what we were going through.

You think about that a lot. What other people think.

Nobody can stop you from doing that. You will even tell yourself to not compare your relationship or failures or whatever it is you want to call it. But you will. And it is there you will have to meet yourself with some grace and humility.

oof. that was really loud.

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No one ever hops into a relationship to feel bad about themselves, or to break each others hearts. You do it because you want to experience that wild and infatuating type of love, where the idea of losing the other person makes you tear up. And then they fart out loud, and you laugh saying, “Sheesh…dude!”

Loving another human being deeply is always dangerous. I kinda love that. You’re making a statement that you aren’t afraid of what that will do to you. It’s an insane, kinda love.

When you have it, you know it.

And with that knowledge, there is always the tiniest little part that knows at any moment, the world could open up under your feet. But I’m reading a book that says love is staying together and choosing to stay together regardless, because it’s a promise.

Yeah, there are certainly limits to that rule, and many relationships just need to go their separate ways. We seem to think we are doomed, but really it’s about changing and shifting together. That’s hard. It’s the hardest thing to do besides figuring out which person is in charge of dishes, or cleaning the bathroom.

I lost a person in this whole thing.

I lost her touch and intimacy and willingness to grow alongside me.

But you gain things too.

That’s how losing someone or something works.

You gain humility. The light that is in good things becomes brighter. Sharper. Consistently wonderful. At times, painfully nostalgic.

You’re always, always, always learning.

The energy — the thing that brought you both together isn’t wasted, but it is transformed into a new trajectory. Like space jetsam and flotsam colliding — getting launched deeper into the cosmos.

It’s a balance of give and take.

I really liked being married.
There was something nice about spending your life with another person. And it is hard.

But sometimes, life creates an abundance of grace for you to waddle in when things go astray.

It is there that you will see the light over the horizon.

and you will drive, endlessly into it,

eager to lose yourself in its beauty all over again.

 

 

love is potato chips.

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Today I want to talk about love.

Poets and prophets have probably said it better,
but I suppose we are all entitled to our own thoughts on love.

I listen to people a lot.
Some that are going through heart break. Some that are questioning marriage/big commitments.
Some that are in that weird spot of going all in, or backing out.

What a heavy thing, love is. I suppose it also feels light as a feather, too.
We are not safe from it. Neither is your heart.
Love is not safe. You are taking a risk on a daily basis to be vulnerable. To hug. And kiss.
And also just…being there. Providing another person your ear to listen and heart to process it all.

I am sorry to say that you are not perfect in your love. There are days where you want to play video games and maybe fantasize about what life would be like given a perfect scenario. You will stress about money, still. Or whether kids are a good idea.

You should ask yourself these questions.

Is it worth the risk?
Perhaps. But this has all been said before. There are religions and movements based on the idea that love is greater than fear and death and darkness. It is true. To love is to suffer, to some extent. The world is an endless supply of questions, greater than the sum of its parts.

It is and was worth it.
For me, at least.

I think it’s worth it to love someone your whole life.
I think there’s too many of us not to.

Shirtless Man Laying in Giant Field of Grass

Real love feels safe. At least to me. Even when things break down, love is strong. Even when I feel angry and tired, my love is strong.
You’re still taking a risk, you see?
That is not dull. That is big and difficult. It is worthy of your time, to love another.

I once thought I could change the world. That is until I lived with another human being who required my everything. And so I gave it to her. I gave her all I could. In my heart, I wish I would have hugged more. Kissed more. Said more wonderful things, but let’s be honest, many days are spent just trying to feed one another and have a few laughs in between a short amount of time you actually get to be with each other.

But those things are important too. Laughter. Food. Ice Cream. Cuddles. Big fluffy Downton Abbey love.

And it’s having a someone there to process a life together. To filter. To digest.

There is no end to your love. I guess that’s what I feel. There are millions of others who have felt such distress and the feeling that all is lost. I realize my hurt is universal. But our pain is unique.

As well as our love.

Love is watching your partner fall asleep on the couch after a long day, imagining how you helped provide for them some safety. Maybe a plate of food, and some kisses.

Maybe a foot rub, or a back scratch.

Experiencing love made the absence of it terribly lonesome.
I think a lot about how much I miss hugs. How that proximity was good and probably did good things to my brain. I think about closeness and chemicals. How those things help us to bond. I enjoy my space, like most humans. But there is something to be said about having another presence close, who is safe and loves you. I believe, deep down, we were meant to have that.

Marriage is what happens when two people decide to spend their lives together, whether that is under God or a state or with their friends and family. Sometimes they’ll have a lot of food and dance and write thank you notes for all the gifts they were given.

And then you have trouble sleeping in the same bed.
Or being on weird schedules.
Who does the dishes is a big deal.

I can attest that loving another person is worth the risk of being damaged. Pain is what shapes us. Being happy smooths the edges, but real love, is accepting both and doing it day after day, regardless of what might happen tomorrow, or next year.

It is settling into a world where you have to work hard at loving each other well, but to also lay in the sun with potato chips and chocolate and to breathe in the same air.

I will always have that. Yes, deep deep down in my belly, I will think about all that love that still flows through me.

And maybe again someday, I’ll get to give it to another as intimately as I have before.

That…is how I know it is real.

tangled.

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{I’m so honored and humbled to share this piece with you. 
It was written by my sister-in-law, Leah.  (Who is a beautiful writer…)
And it was written during the time I had just moved into my new room, and everything was astray.
More importantly, it was written for me.
I am so thankful for her and her husband Bryan for loving me so well over the years, and keeping a steady eye and hand on me, as I wander, and have come to them hungry and broken, many times. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.}

So now you’ve arrived in a new room where you’ll live alone.

It’s clean and not too shabby.
The quiet and solitude you’ve always kind of craved bounces off the plain white walls.
Loneliness can be so loud sometimes.

In your dreams you are back where you were, and she is there too,
with not quite enough space in the bed and her reading light on late into the night.
You toss in your sleep and your foot brushes warmth, skin too clammy in a muggy apartment bedroom.

You think when you wake you will make her an omelette, a little crispy on the edges the way she likes.
Maybe she’ll make the coffee beside you, with the full silence of people who are used to working side by side.

Afterwards you’ll do the dishes, burning off a few more nerve endings in the scalding foam of muddy water.
You’ve never had a dishwasher in this place, so you know your way around the sink by heart.
Scrape the pan, leaving little brown bits floating, then clink together plates of filmy yellow yolk.

When you really do wake up, in the new room, the realization hits you hard:
that in fact you can roll over many times or hog all the covers if you want and there is no one to make breakfast for.

It’s disorienting to feel the crisp new twin sized sheets that will never be worn down by the two of you,
the ones you picked out alone,
staring stone faced in an endless aisle of colors and thread count.

You knew from the start she was a little wild and unknowable but it’s what you loved about her.
The fragile light beaming bright in whatever direction she chose.
It felt good to have her shine it on you for awhile.
Your life together wasn’t perfect but it was steady.
(sometimes you wonder if the stillness is what left her undone)

But now you rouse and pull on your clothes.
In time your shirt will stop smelling like her and the edge of the pain will dull.
Already a family of bouncing boys is using your old bed frame.
With noise like that, they won’t even notice how it squeaks.

You pawned off all your things like that in the last days before check out:
the couch your grandma bought as a wedding gift, an odd assortment of lamps,
a cutting board where you chopped so many onions for your soup.
It wasn’t hard to let them go and you smiled to think of better days ahead for your possessions, the old bones of your life together.

When the place is finally empty,
you roll up your sleeves and start to scrub away the grime that built up over time.
You clean the slimy edge around the sink that usually went unnoticed,
the dusty slats of the blinds,
and the dirty corner of the bathroom, only visible from the toilet. Lastly you head to the front flower box to pull up the tomato plants.

Many come up easily, with a little tug.
Those are the ones she planted this spring thinking you would like to can them in September.
But one plant gives you some trouble, and it pleases you just a little to see it put up a fight.

The roots of this one have really taken hold, it came up voluntarily every year without any prompting.

Last year it grew so big it curled right up the front porch and sent shoots circling the spokes of her bike.
Covered in tomatoes, It looked like she had parked it there forever.

Eventually the plant comes up and you hall it to the bin for debris.
You clean up the big mess of fallen tomatoes except for a few roll aways that scatter under the bushes where you can’t reach.
Then all the while, as you turn in your keys, collect your deposit, and walk away, you imagine those tomatoes going to seed.

I wonder if you’ll drive by on your way home someday, next year, or maybe when you’re older and find that they’ve sprouted again into huge abundant bushes, so big that nobody bothers to pull them.

Tomatoes will dangle from every stem, shining, bulging, ready to burst.

You’ll smile when you notice from your car window, in a quiet knowing way.

And whoever is with you, a lover, a friend, a wife, will notice and ask you why.

Oh nothing you’ll say, as you keep on driving.

But inside you’ll smile, knowing that once they are tangled up together,

there are some things that just can’t easily be undone.

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