Kiss me congratulations.

Kiss me congratulations

Because it’s always one foot in front of the other

And I’ve

Lost track

Of the days.

It’s the beauty of unbearable pain.

 

Kiss me congratulations

Because I got a new job

And I have a new apartment

And

      I.      Am.

Trying.

 

Kiss me congratulations

Because I can see and I can tell you

That the sky is as blue as the breeze

And the birds fly as high as the melodies.

I can see and I can tell you

That sometimes sight and speech

Can take a slight toll

On me.

It isn’t that everything is falling apart around me

It’s that I’m falling apart inside.

 

Kiss me congratulations

Because being strong has left me weak.

I promised that in my old age I would fill

The room around me

With all that is said and done.

Memories of a life lived and the people I lived it with.

Feelings I felt once before, not again,

And thoughts I only had back then.

 

Kiss me congratulations

Because maybe I don’t need to

Be in my old age to need to

Fill the room around me.

Maybe right now, more than anything,

I need a room full of phantom bodies dancing in the woods

To make me want to dance again.

 

So kiss me congratulations

And do it like you mean it.

 

~

Ella

 

“And we won’t place any stock in old days, let’s save up for something new.” -Rusty Clanton

 

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Changed. – 20

19 brought it on.

At 19, I moved out. I built a new life for myself, by myself, in a new city. I said goodbye to a place I loved very much, and with the support of everyone back home I went in search of something new. I didn’t have a single friend here when I moved, and today I barely leave my apartment without seeing someone I know. I have fallen in love with this city – its rhythm, its quirks, its sights, its sounds and above all, its people. This is my home now, and I will never be alone here again.

That said, it wasn’t easy. This year has been riddled with challenges, some I anticipated and many I did not. There were nights I was so tired and so achy I couldn’t move to turn off the lights, and mornings I felt so sick I cried getting out of bed. There were complications at every turn and frustrating surprises, but there were also moments of pure triumph and pride when I succeeded where I feared I wouldn’t. Nothing was ever ideal, but I adapted, managed and rediscovered time and time again how strong I am. I was determined not to let anything get in my way, and I didn’t.

At 19, I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before and proved myself from scratch. I had no idea how stressful (and occasionally infuriating) my position at the Center would be or what a toll it would take. But when all’s said and done, I think I will always look back on it fondly for one reason: the people. If it weren’t for the Center, I would not have the community that I do. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible, unique, good people. I have friends for whom words do no justice, and have had experiences so random and so amazing I could never have dreamt them up. I’ve gained beautiful people in my life without losing any I had before, and have lived memories that will last a lifetime.  

At 19, I learned a different kind of happiness I never believed existed. I used to say, “Happiness is not a state of being, it’s just fleeting moments that pass you by and you need to know how to notice them.” Now I know that the only kind of happiness I knew before 19 was incredibly fragile. That’s not the smile I wear anymore. Now, when shit hits the fan it turns into sparkles, because the happiness I have found is the kind that doesn’t run away. It trembles, sometimes, but it’s a pure and true joy that miraculously refuses to leave.

At 19, I fell in love. How strange to think that for the first half of 19 I didn’t have Tom. So much has happened, to us and between us, in just six months. He is everything I ever dreamed of, and everything I didn’t realize I should dream of. It took me a long time to believe he was real, to feel like we were real. But he is, and we are. I melt at the thought of him, and I never feel as at peace as I do when he finally embraces me in his arms. I never smile as widely as I do when he gets excited or want to sing as much as I do when I’m with him. He makes me shine. Or rather, I let myself shine when I’m with him.

I have no doubt the memories I made this year really will last a lifetime – and a lot of those memories are with Tom. We’ve gone through some really tough, trying times together, but regardless of whether I was crying or laughing at the beginning of a conversation, I was always laughing at the end. We’re the absolute cutest. We’re so in love even we think it’s a bit much. We’re a real life couple, but we’re a match made in heaven.

At 19, everything came up roses. I had fun. I worked, I worked out, I sang. I saw sunlight everywhere I looked. I cooked, I cleaned, I crashed, I took the stairs without realizing. I talked to strangers. I wrote, I read, I filmed, I edited, I felt like I could fly. I laughed so hard my collar bone hurt and I jumped every time I got a text. I cried. I listened. I took walks and got lost on purpose.

I watched the sunsets from my balcony and fell asleep on my roommates. I supported my friends, new and old, and I supported my partner, as each and every one of them went after the things they want and deserve in life. I spent hours and hours on the phone, being long distance not only with Tom but also my family and my friends from home. I took it all in and then I brought all of my worlds together.

At 19, I existed under a new sky, not because I went somewhere else but because I became someone else. I became who I’ve always wanted to be.  

I’m not 19 anymore. But whenever I walk the streets of this city, I will always be 19 again. These roads will be my memory lanes. Everywhere I walk I’ll feel the rush of independance and exhilaration all over again. Stairs will remind me of stories, buildings will remind me of people and alleys will remind me of feelings. Every step will remind me how it felt to be young and in love.

It’s on these streets that I felt more alive than ever before. It’s on these streets that I lived a life I wasn’t sure I would ever get to have.

It’s on these streets that everything changed.

I’m about to say my third big goodbye in three years. Everything is going to change all over again. Another new city, another new adventure, another chance to find myself fearless in the face of all of my fears. It’s the end of an era that has taught me more than I could probably realize right now.

Turning 20 is a big deal. It’s a big number. I always hoped I would get a chance to be a healthy teenager, but that’s not how things have worked out. After graduation I began the journey of figuring out how to live my adult life while sick, and I’ve done that. I’ve succeeded. I have been fearless. And I know, I’ll be fine. I just wish it didn’t have to be such a struggle to be fine. I’m so tired of the endless circle of pain and I wish I could make it end. I never talk about it anymore because I try not to think about it. I’ve learned to soften, lean forwards and allow my feelings to be engulfed by the presence of another person, whoever that person may be. I find solace and refuge in words that having nothing to do with pain. I submerge myself in interactions, in conversation, in laughter, so that what weighs on my heart isn’t heavy enough to hurt it.

I wish I could say there was no sadness laced into this birthday, but there is. As much as I love my life, I was forced to give up a lot and I think that will always hurt. It comes and goes in waves, the sting of all that my health denied me. But I can say there are no regrets laced into this birthday, because I have proven to myself and everyone around me that healthy or not, I’m going to achieve every goal I set for myself and love every step of the way. I may be sick and sick of it, but I am living the life.

At 20 I can say with my whole heart that I am happy. I am confident. I am in love. And I am ready – to continue having the time of my life.

~~~

Ella

“That’s the delicate way you’ve shown me, you’re the strongest person I know.” -The Streets

Home.

I love the life I lead. I love the (brave) new world I’ve built for myself here. I love everyone around me – all of these people I didn’t know four months ago, who are intertwined in my story now. I love the aspects of my life that didn’t exist before.

But I want to go home. Real home. Just for a few days.

For a few days I want to go to sleep in my old bed – a bed that knew more restless nights than restful ones. A bed that is soaked to the core and coated in memories of pain upon pain upon pain. A bed I used to lay in and dream about having the life I have now.

I want to go home, so I can crawl into that bed and cry.

I want to cry surrounded by walls that are used to containing my tears, walls that know how to stay standing in the face of whatever it is I’m feeling. I want to cry covered by the blankets that have kept out the cold, harsh reality and kept in my dreams when I just wasn’t strong enough to get up. I want to cry looking out the window and seeing the view I saw every time I cried until I went and upended my world four months ago.

I’m tired.

There, I said it. A word that I use all the time, still, but the implications of which I’ve been pretending no longer exist.

My (brave) new world is intense. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I feel physically, mentally and emotionally wrung out by all that has happened since August. I have everything I was hoping to have, everything is going so well, and being happy about that is exhausting me. I never stop moving. I never stop feeling. (I never stop feeling like I’m missing out on things, whether I spend time in my new world or my old world. I’m always torn between the two – I want to be in both at once.) I never stop missing people.

“I miss you.”

Tomorrow, I’ll go home. I’m so overwhelmed I just want to cry. I wouldn’t change a thing.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

Must be love on the brain, that’s got me feeling this way. -Love on the Brain, Rihanna

Bloom.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

-Ernest Hemingway

I never thought I would have the life I have now. I thought it was impossible, that I would be denied and deprived of it until the day I was no longer sick. I thought Bloom had been stolen from me. I thought like that up until so recently… and then everything changed.

Except that’s just it. Nothing changed. I changed. Sick and tired of waiting to be better to do what I wanted to do and live the way I wanted to live, I’d finally had enough. I remember telling my friends about this crazy idea I had. I told them where I wanted to move, that I had no idea what I would do, where I would live, or how I would get by, but that I was going to figure it out.

And I did. I turned it from something I thought would never happen, from a crazy idea, to a plan, then to a reality, to the life I have now that I can’t begin to tell you how much I love. I find myself thinking, always during the most humdrum moments, “This is Bloom”. My life was so lacking, and now I have everything I was missing. Minus health, of course.

It’s winter now and my pain is ever-present. The cold has turned my body into fragile marble. I feel like I’m drowning beneath the pain, suffocating because breathing takes too much out of me, freezing because my head can’t think over the sound of the struggle. And still —

I’ve never been as happy as I’ve been these last three months since moving. I’ve never felt this happy for this long. I’ve never been as happy to be buying fresh produce, walking to a train stop or doing my laundry. I’ve never been as happy to be in pain, because unlike in the past, I know the pain isn’t winning.

I’m winning. This is Bloom.

I’ll never forget I thought this life was something I would never have. I have it now, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for it. I’m grateful for it and I’m grateful for myself, for trusting my instincts and not letting my lack of hope or my lack of health stop me from daring to live.

To live in spite of it all.

Someone recently asked me how I manage to deal with all the pain, and my answer was simple: “I just really love life.”

That is the truest sentence I know.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I live for this feeling, this everglow. -Everglow, Coldplay

Onion.

My single roommates and I sit around our living room, scrolling through Facebook on our phones and announcing: “Engaged”… “Married”… “Engaged”. They understand there is no max to how shit I can feel. They say I make love to my food – I take my time, I make sure everything is well orchestrated, I put background music on…

My roommates and I sing nursery rhymes as we walk to the ice cream shop. We read each other texts from guys and congratulate each other on being empowered. We share our writing and speak truths.     

There was a gathering at work, a celebration. I was waiting in line for the sandwich bar with a few friends. He walked over and asked if I could put some red onion on my plate for him. I said yes. Later, after, he said, and I quote, “Thanks for the onion.” So, you know, I figure we’re friends now.

I was walking back from my pilates class a few days ago and all I could really think was, “Eff yeah”. I’m simply loving all of this.

I feel surrounded by hot and cold, hot and cold. I’m giving it no thought.

My roommate calls, “Come look at this girl’s wedding dress!” We flick through pictures and I smile inside out. One day those pictures will be of me, but not yet. I’m good.

I am thrilled through and through with the here and now.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

Everything’s coming down roses. – Whole Lot of Heart, Ingrid Michelson

Mint.

A ray of sunlight will always find its way through my metal slab shutters in the morning. The front door swings open of its own accord if it isn’t locked. There’s a little girl in my building named Ella – she’s always being called outside to play. My stove only responds if you touch it very softly. My windows don’t reopen if you close them. My bed’s too big for one person – I need another person to make it feel right.

This is home. It’s been three weeks, but it may as well have been a lifetime. I’m on my own now.

There’s a guy, who will forever be known as “The One Who Was Nice To Me On My First Day”. I hope he knows that he’s infamous in my book now. He started a conversation as I sat awkward and out of place, and invited me to a movie with a bunch of people. I didn’t know their names until I got there. Until the movie was over.

There’s another guy, who will forever be known as “The One Who I Flirted With And Who Flirted With Me.” He was sweet, and thoughtful, and warmed my hands when they were ice cold. We were surrounded by people the entire night – his people and apparently now mine too. He didn’t seem to care. He cared about my story and what I’ve been through, without knowing who I am. We laughed, and joked, and he made my face all warm and my heart expand. I felt something, maybe for the first time ever. I could see it.

He walked me home, even though it was out of his way. He told me about himself and I won’t share much, lest someone put two and two together. But he made himself vulnerable – more vulnerable than I would have thought him capable of after only a few hours. My apartment came around too soon. It was late, but the entrance to my building was swarming with people. We hugged. We pulled apart. Or rather, I thought we were pulling apart but he was pulling me in for more than a hug. I didn’t realize. He got my cheek.

I was flustered. I should have expected it – I was hoping for it the whole night – but it took me by surprise. I felt uncomfortable surrounded by all those people, the children, everyone watching us. I quietly said, sweetly I hope, “Not in front of the kids.” He smiled, I think. I’m not sure. We hugged again, and held hands as I parted for the building. I couldn’t sleep, running the whole thing through my mind and wondering how I could have made things end differently. I couldn’t sleep, thinking of the next time I would see him.

I saw him today. I don’t think I imagined the whole thing, but today… it didn’t seem like we had the same experience that night at all. He hugged everyone around me, but barely said hello to me. I wouldn’t care, except that when I saw him walk through the door I felt like my insides were struggling to escape. I’ve never felt that before. I watched as he made his rounds, and waited for him to reach me, suspended by the suspense of not knowing how he would greet me. But I don’t think I imagined the whole thing, so now I’m left with… Did he misinterpret my response that night? Did he feel rejected (like I do now)? He has no way of knowing what I’ve been thinking ever since then. How I’ve been thinking of him.

My new job is strange. I’m not sure how to find my place in an environment that’s so dynamic, but I’m taking it as it comes. Ask me one day and the place is amazing – the people, the cause, the projects – it’s phenomenal! Ask me the next and the place is confusing and I am out of my element. 

We’re five roommates, but three are subletting to other girls, so in the span of less than 20 days I’ve had 7 roommates.

There was a while when fibro was a non-issue. It’s an issue again, but I refuse to accept that.

I joined a gym. They’re requiring me to bring a doctor’s note that it isn’t dangerous for me or other people to join classes.

One night I sat on my porch in the dark and watched a show on my laptop. One character proposed to the other, and I burst out crying. It was just too much.

There is not a single person around me who has known me for longer than three weeks.

The light switch closest to my front door controls the light furthest from it. My fridge has a “pour water” option, but the spout isn’t where the marking is. There are four mirrors on the trip from the entrance to my room. The microwave isn’t broken – only the “Start” button is. The pictures I’ve strung up along my wall fly off when I turn on my fan. I’ve stopped using my fan.

This is home, and I love it more than anyone could possibly imagine.

This is my life now, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted. 

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

Something inside me has changed, I was so much younger yesterday. -Starving, Hailee Steinfeld

Brave.

 

It’s hard for me to write why I’m scared and what’s making me nervous. Clearly it’s all of it, but there’s something keeping me from using the words. In three days I’m moving out to a place I’ve never lived before to live with people I don’t know, and start a new job at a center where I know no one and will have to prove myself from scratch. It’s a lot, and my pain is through the roof. I’m barely sleeping and for the first time in awhile it feels like fibromyalgia is a dragon breathing fire once again.

I’ve been making promises to myself recently. Maybe I’ll use those words.

I promise to remember that it’s okay if:

  • I cry a lot.
  • I don’t conquer everything at once.
  • I feel scared.
  • I call home a lot.
  • I ask for help with silly things.
  • I cut myself some slack and not try as hard as I always do.
  • I feel lost and small. No need to feel even worse for feeling those things.
  • I don’t have fun right away. Things take time.

I promise to take good care of myself. To do so I need to make sure to:

  • Stretch before bed every night. Seriously.
  • Follow the annoying but wise “no-screens-after-nine-p.m.” rule.
  • Eat well, which means cook.
  • Keep up my exercise. Find a class or something… Yes! Become that young adult in a new place who joins groups to meet people.
  • Call my people.
  • Write a lot. It keeps me sane, it keeps me calm, and it’s beautiful to look back on. 
  • Listen to music all the time. Have dance parties. Rock out to my jams when I’m feeling down. It always works, like true magic.
  • Be nostalgic the appropriate amount. It’s par for the course. Draw strength from the experiences and memories.  

I promise not to forget that:

  • I deserve my best shot at life.
  • This whole adventure is a good thing. It’s what I wanted. Remember why you are where you are.
  • I am creative, capable, and a total badass, so I can turn anything that’s thrown my way into a piece of cake (that’s non-processed, dairy-free and chocolate-free. Maybe I need another metaphor). 
  • It might not be right away, but I will have fun! I will have so much fun. I can’t lose sight of that. I purposely created this year to have what I’ve been missing this past year – new people, independence and some fun.
  • There are so many people rooting for me. They have faith in me and they know I’ll do well and succeed and live a good life. If they know it, I should know it too.

Also, Ella? Once everything settles down your pain will alleviate. You know that, so don’t freak out. Survive it like you survive everything else. Don’t lose sight of everything. Ready set go.

Time to be brave.

~~~

Ella
Song Quote:

I did my best to assure her but assurance isn’t easy to give. -Words, Passenger

 

As promised, a new collage! This will go on the wall of my new bedroom.

collage

All of the pictures are from magazines, and I like to cut flowers out of different ads and glue them on for a pop of color.

collagecorner

“She believed she could, so she did”