A quiet storm. -21

20 was quiet. I’ve known happier years, and I’ve known sadder years. Last birthday I was bursting with words, none of which were enough to describe the life I’d been living. But this birthday, the words are harder to find.

For a multitude of reasons, this year I found it very hard to make it through the day. Whether it was pain, exhaustion, anxiety, frustration, disheartenment or confusion – it just took a lot of conscious effort to keep myself going. It’s been a struggle. A quiet struggle.

This year I left the first place I ever felt truly happy with my life, and moved to a new city again. It still doesn’t really feel like home, but it’s comfortable here. I bought a mattress and a rocking chair, and filled my room with lights. I’ve had 3 different gym memberships (it’s a long story). I take walks, even though there isn’t really anywhere to walk to. At first, when I moved here, I was so lost in memories of the past. I would walk the streets of my old home in my mind, and I missed it so much that it hurt. But I have a good, humdrum, routine life here. A quiet life.

In October, I started university. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I didn’t fit in. It took me a while to find my people and find my place. I loved my first semester – everything was interesting, exciting and challenging. Now I’m in my second semester, and it totally sucks. I’m genuinely counting the days until it ends (coincidentally, 21 days).

Despite that, university has still been a good place for me. I’ve been doing well. The university itself has offered me 4 different jobs in the time I’ve been there (I took three of them), and so many opportunities have found their way to me. I joined my university’s radio station, and now I produce and host two shows on the radio every week. I spend so many hours at the station that it feels like home. I’ve created really cool things as part of my workshops, and I’ve gotten high grades and high praise on everything. I’ve succeeded. I guess, when I think about, I actually took university by storm. Somehow it was just a quiet storm.

This year I didn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve. I challenged myself to be in control and to face everything – even things that scared me. I did everything I could think of to take care of my health, and went through such upsetting processes along the way. It was a really difficult health year, but I never gave up on myself. I’ve been dealing with my pain for 7 years, and I’ve fought for my right to find salvation. It might be right around the corner now. I’ve done what I can to give myself my best shot at life. And I’ve done so quietly.

I guess the loudest thing that happened this year was the breakup. It was the epitome of not settling for less than what I deserve. Even though most aspects of my relationship were so beautiful, it still caused me so much heartache this year. Ending the relationship was terrifying, and I was so proud of myself for doing it. As he told me that night, he was also kind of proud of me. Tom and I were broken up for 9 days, 9 days that changed so much.

Breaking up with him was the second best decision I made this year. The best decision was to get back together with him. It’s crazy to think the story could have ended there, and not evolved to become what it is now. It took brutal honesty, brave decisions and a lot of trust, but we worked through it all. I’m so grateful he loved me enough to try, and I still get to have him be mine.

I don’t know why I feel that so many things this year happened quietly. But whether my days have been quiet or loud, I know that I’ve been living a good life. It’s a thought I have when I remember that my childhood bike had streamers running from the handles, when I walk onto campus and look at all the beautiful trees, and when my mom sends me pictures of flower arrangements in the vase I gave her. Please remind me forever to be thankful for the life I have had.

This is the 6th birthday in a row that I’ve sat down to write, and it’s weird for me that it doesn’t feel so significant this time. Even though university was an entirely new experience, I suppose I just feel I haven’t created a new world this year. And that’s okay. I’ve been living in the world I created last year, and I’ve appreciated it for what it’s worth.

I can’t describe this year as dazzling, but I can say that I’ve felt proud of my achievements. Nothing was particularly exhilarating, but I’ve been lucky enough to have my loved ones close by. And even though nothing really changed this year, the good things have stayed good, and for that I’m grateful.  

I wonder what 21 will bring.

~~~

Ella

“I know you’re feelin’ weighed down tonight, and you can’t find the breaks. Every day is too long for you, you are sworn to your fate. But we got everything we need, baby, in the memories we make, in a world of reinventions it’s never too late.” – Sam Smith

 

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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

 

Displaced.

 

It’s okay to be afraid to leave the first place I’ve ever truly been happy.

 

The microwave outside the door that we kept the spare key in.

The nighttime and the relief it brought with it.

The criss-cross paths around my office and the new staircases I discovered every day.

The watermelon and coal store.

The roof where I worked out under sunset skies.

The delicate brush on the light rail door.

The blue-pink-white-green-gray horizon from my bedroom window.

The gap at the bottom of the shower door that let all the water out.

The approximately 12 people it felt like I lived with.

The glass and marble table.

The pedestrian rage when tourists walked too slowly.

The park on Saturday afternoons and the market on Friday mornings.

The breeze that always played with the hemline of my dress..

The shop owners who knew my order.

The top step.

The beep that meant the laundry cycle was done.

The road I parked my car on – half an hour away from my apartment.

The trucks and cars and busses and ambulances and motorcycles – the noise I filtered out.

All the other noise I tried to filter out.

The spur-of-the-moment excursions that didn’t always make much sense.

The sunlight or the moonlight.

The view.

From the porch.

The porch, the porch, the porch.

With the swing.

The swing, the swing, the swing.

 

I’m really going to miss it.

 

I’ve left.

I’ve left the first place I’ve ever truly been happy

And now

I feel a little bit displaced.

 

~

Ella

 

“There is a place where I can go, when I feel low, when I feel blue, and it’s my mind, and there’s no time when I’m alone.” -The Beatles

The distinctly delicate way.

I didn’t blow out a candle

But if I had

I know

What I would have wished for.

 

My life is now dictated by dates

Destiny seemingly determined

By the designated number of days

Before (or was it)

After (perhaps)…

It’s in the distinctly delicate way everything always depends

On indefinite details just beyond my desperate grasp on –

All that is balanced precariously on other things I don’t know

And won’t know

Until (when?)

And then?…

 

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

The word is stubbornly haunting my mind. But,

 

Sometimes –

When you say goodbye –

You get to say hello again.

 

Change seems to have brought with it such dazzling things.

~

Ella

 

“Good times never seemed so good.” -Neil Diamond

Sunlight.

Sunlight, it

Shines bright in my eyes,

Paints me in bronze,

Gifts me with

Glistening, golden, effervescent eyelashes and

Fluttering, autumn, amber eyelids and now

Everything I see is hazy and psychedelic as the –

 

Sunlight, it

Washes over me and

Pseudo-solves all of

My woes

Now, I am nothing but an ethereal extension

Of the brilliant, luminous ball of flame

That gleams with the promise

My woes

Won’t come back when the –

 

Sunlight, it

Smothers me with sprawling warmth

That catches on my breathe and

Settles in my pores and

Coats my core and

Drips off my limbs

As I turn every surface of me towards the –

 

Sunlight, it

Shatters, as the rays reach me and splinter

Into the thinnest whispers of copper threads

That I see everywhere I look and

I see even with my eyes closed as they

Find and fill every crevice around

As the sounds

Hush

And the movements

Still

And nothing in the world exists

Except

This single split second in time and the –

Sunlight.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

It goes and it’s golden like sands of time. -Golden, Zayn

Silk.

We stole

A day.

To make everything

Okay

Again.

 

Plans out the window and

I can’t control my thoughts,

Foot on the pedal and

My nerves are doused in rain.

 

Just this once,

There’s no need for

The endless chain of

Busses and trains.

Just this once,

My car

Will transport

My body and

My baggage

(And my heart

Is already,

Always,

Wherever you are.)

 

Now I’m on

My way

To you.

 

I tried

Not to

But I

Scripted

Myself

A vision

Of how this would go.

I was so sure

I had lost you.

 

I know you told me

You’re back

I know you told me

You aren’t out

I know you told me

This is it and

The reason is me.

 

I know everything you’ve said

And everything you say.

It’s just that

You can’t possibly fathom

How hard it is

For me to believe

You feel the way

You say you do.

 

And I don’t know why that is.

 

But you should know

I left

The words I sketched

Outside, in the parked

Locked

Car.

 

This is a relationship

On steroids.

You move so quickly

I can’t always keep up.

Sometimes I forget

What it was like

Before

I had you.

 

But I never forget you existed

And lived and loved

Before I knew you

Existed, lived and loved.

 

That night,

I made you promise

That we would stay up

Until

We felt close again

Like before.

 

But –

That night,

After hours

Of staring into your eyes,

Silk laced thoughts

Tracing our silhouettes,

There were other

Promises

On my mind.

 

We stole

A day.

And made everything

Okay

Again.

 

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

We had time against us, miles between us, the heavens cried, I know I left you speechless. But now the sky has cleared and it’s blue and I see my future in you. -I’ll Be Waiting, Adele

Orange.

Who knew a butchered orange could be so sweet?

 

Standing in my kitchen and the dark world beyond can see us so clearly in the light. I think to myself, we’re like a normative couple with the time to cook together. We’re swaying to music and I smile at him as he’s focused on his mission of – making dinner. I pass him by the stove and he swivels us against the sink and I smile at him as he’s focused on his mission of – kissing me. He leans back and I lean into him and still we sway to the music and still the dark world beyond can see us so clearly and I think to myself, 

Is it the motown that makes us unreal?

 

I take him on park tours and he tells me everything and he knows how to make my heart miss a beat. I read him like an open book and we both think we aren’t photogenic (but love pictures) and  I own fairy lights. I barely notice his British accent anymore and we text each other black and white pictures of couples from a different century and he likes gummy candies (and beer). I worry about him being sad and he makes me promise to wake him up in the night if I don’t feel well and we read each other poetry. We visit his dad for afternoon tea and he sees right through me and we sit on a beach staring out at the sea. We sandwich our phones away and he holds his hand against my cheek and we watch a movie with my family and I think to myself, 

Is it the lighting that makes us unreal?

 

We’re young and the future is far away, but we’re not that young together and the future is on our minds. Together and apart we ponder this relationship and how can our hearts feel so strongly so quickly? We take it in turns and we yearn for some answer that will be enough. How will this go, how will this end, will this end – we freak out. We’re too young to have answers, or maybe we won’t ever have any, in fact – maybe it’s best if we forget all about the questions. We’re young together and actually not that young and what if this is the beginning of the story? Hand on heart, because it feels so right, and he tells me he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop and perhaps so am I. But I look at him when we go dancing and when he quotes a reference of mine back at me and and when he chuckles his little boy chuckle and I think to myself,

Is it the timing that make us unreal?

 

Sunlight reaching through the cracked open window because maybe our emotions needed a way to escape the room. Reality roaring it’s wretched wrath and crawling past our gaze, announcing the dawn of a new day and another goodbye. We almost got used to not missing each other. It’s time to go back to, “I love you, sweetie, I’ve got to go now.” But I don’t want to forget the way he smiles a tiny smile when he calls me honeybunny and how it feels to be in his strong embrace, pressed against his body, lining up because we fit (his arms containing my Goodbye Sadness). Little, kisses, squeeze, it’s so cold when he leaves, and I think to myself, 

Is it the distance that makes us unreal? 

 

A butchered orange has never been this sweet. 

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I’ll paint the picture, let me set the scene, you know, the future’s in the hands of you and me… but what do I know? -What Do I Know, Ed Sheeran