my life is so small

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve cried. For a girl on the edge, that’s an eternity (when you take a moment to think about it). I hadn’t taken a moment. I’ve been fine, really. Why would I think about someone who’s no longer there?

Today my ex-boyfriend (I hesitate as I type this–it hasn’t been long enough for that title to stick. Surely he isn’t that far gone. Surely I still need him to be more) sent a snapchat video of an office in NYC. I’m not sure if, sans prompting, he would ever read my blogs. So, given the “ex,” he’ll never read this one. I’m sure he sent the video to lots of people. But did anyone else react like I did? I sat there, stunned. He’s in New York. And I didn’t know. For the first time in years, I couldn’t locate him. If you’d have asked I would have given the wrong address. I didn’t know. It’s no longer part of me–to know.

I used to know. I’m not very good at directions, but I could point you to him in a flash. For so many years I could say: frat house, library, home, little john’s. I wanted to protect him. I needed to know him. I loved and loved and loved him until I didn’t have myself anymore. I’ll always love him in some capacity. But he–he really is far gone. So far that I can’t fathom how New York City feels this time of year. 

I didn’t think about my ex-boyfriend as an ex-boyfriend until I saw an ex-boyfriend this past weekend. Ya following? And then, he was just that. As ex as the boy who sat before me. The one in front of me was one I dated six years ago. Six years! I’m young enough for that to be a really long time ago. And yet. It was short enough for me to remember why I ever liked him in the first place. I’m so different from the person I was six years ago. God, I turned 18 and 21 and graduated college in that span of time. I was a new person with this person I’d known for so long. And that felt really good. 

Here we are, trying to be as much of ourselves as we can be. As a “single” girl on what I assume is “the prowl,” I find myself seeking my bed before I seek a bedmate. How in the hell do I become more of myself like this? Or is that question an answer in itself? I think I’m on an upward spiral. Every day I come more fully into my yoga headstand. Ankles to ass to air to sky–I can almost stand on my head without falling over. I am almost, always, something. I don’t know if I’ll ever, fully, be anything. I’m scared to admit that I’ve half-assed my way to this point in my life. I’m even more scared to admit that I’m okay. 

Sitting at my desk today, I wallowed in what I can only call…the smallness of my life. I find joy in the tiniest moments of life–the ones that most people probably accept as a given. Or not. Maybe people pray for these moments. Maybe I’m the asshole blogging about them, diminishing their beauty with every keystroke. Compared to what I thought I’d be when I was 22, my life is small. It is small in its blessings and in its tragedies. It is small and I can hold it and I can cry over it and I can suck it up and I can love it to the end of its days.

Does my small life end when a bigger one begins? Where does bigness come from? A new job? A new love? A new perspective? Or are we all just really small for a really long time?

Sitting at my desk, I pulled a sticky note. I wrote, in the sincerity directly attached to the any thought that came before “I’m going to blog today,” : My life is small. There’s so much room for me to breathe. And that was it. I was okay. I don’t know how I feel about anything. I miss my ex-boyfriend and his constant presence. I’m intrigued by the presence of my other ex-boyfriend. I feel, also, something so close to singular wholeness, that I wonder why I ever thought about boys in the first place. 

I stuck that sticky note in my wallet. It’s there. It’s true. Boys seem to trigger feelings in me. That’s natural, normal, boring, small. And then there’s me. Small life, big feelings? Shit, okay. I’ll take that. I’ve given myself room to breathe. The smallness of the things around me feels wonderful with each breath. I breathe in, and we expand. We are me and my dirty apartment and my weird cat and my even weirder dog. Everyone and everything looks to me–are we really so small? Of course not. You are my life. 

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my mother’s truth

I think it’s time for me to talk about the most consistently true fact of my life. (Yes, facts can be false. They can feel false even in their “correctness.”) The most prominent fact of my life–the one that feels most right and most true, is the fact of my mother. You know what it is about my mother? Well, for one, she exists. She exists in everything that I do. She is there–not just whispering in my ear, but coming out of my mouth. But beyond that. She exists in the most frustratingly wonderful way, the way only a daughter could ever admit to knowing. The most consistently true fact of my life? My mother is always right.

I resisted my mother throughout high school. (It’s funny how our memories seem to go that far, and then stop, fading off into the glories or tragedies of our childhood. I’ll never conquer the whole-life-story memoir.) Ok, I stand corrected. It started in eighth grade. The eighth grade dance. Spring of 2005? God. 

The eighth grade dance: where girls absolutely had to wear thongs under their jean skirts. I mean, can you imagine the event any other way? Stealth, in the backseat of the car, my sister and I pulled down our non-thongs, and slipped on those tiny little string numbers that we’d been hiding under our beds. We went to the dance. I’m not sure if we had more or less fun because of our underwear swap. But when we got home we ran up the stairs before my mother could even finish “did you have fun?” She quickly followed. “Girls.” And we admitted it all. “It wasn’t worth it, Mama!” That’s when I knew. My mother knows everything.

She knew when we hid Mike’s Hard in our drawers. She knew when we went to a party, instead of to a friend’s house. She knew that wounds heal and that field hockey practices aren’t all that bad. She knew when we were in love, and she knew how to catch us when we fell. She knew when we were smoking a joint in Emelie’s bedroom closet. Ok, so everyone knew that. We were next to an air vent. 

My mother has been saying that it will get better. Or that it’s all okay. Or that what we feel is normal. Those reassuring platitudes of mothers across the globe–those are all really true. Since high school (and of course before then–but if you had a relatively untroubled childhood, you really come into raging negativity at around 14 years of age), my mother has been there: a steady, irksome fact. My mother is the truth.

How often do we want to shout back: no it will not be okay! It is not okay now, nor will it ever be! I know I used to scream those words. I used to sob and sigh those words. I don’t know if I loved self-pity, or if I just really, really wanted to be more right than my mother. With time, I was always okay. No heartbreak or missed opportunity or bad grade or awkward situation could keep me from my mother’s truth. Is it with time that we heal? Or are those passing days simply the sum of the time it takes for us to figure out that our mother was right all along?

Sometimes my mother texts me a picture of a line from whatever book she’s reading. Today it was: “The mundane,”I read once, “is the edge of glory.” Sitting in my office, bent over every kind of financial form you can think of, I sighed. Happily, I continued filing. The ordinary is extraordinary! I thought. I drank more coffee, shredded more paper. What’s wrong with the mundane? It’s like my mother knew that my Tuesday was headed down the drain. It’s like she felt, instinctively, my hopeless demise into dull sadness. And she set me free. That picture with a smiley face emoji. By god, has a mother ever been more right than that?

As I write these words I think of the depth of the love I have for my mother. I feel it, every day, turning into a deep and endless respect. It is not just how did she do it? but how does she do it? and, really will I ever be able to do it too? 

I feel, also, the deep sadness of the absence of mothers who should still be here. As special as my mother is to me, I marvel at the un-exceptional nature of our relationship. Girls and their mothers–no matter how far apart they may be, share an impossible kind of love. It’s so rare that when we all hold it before us, it seems almost…mundane and yet, still…glorious. Every day I mourn the loss of a dear, dear mother. And then I do my best to celebrate her life. I know that my mother, loving in the same way that she taught me, celebrates her life as well. We come together; we are the truth; we are glorious.

I’m going home in less than two weeks. I always say that I love Charleston– I just wish it were in North Carolina. My mother is always right from far away, but I need her close. I need her to see me right now. I feel okay right now. I feel whole. I feel like her years of patient reassurance have come to fruition. I have become the truth of the fact of my mother. I close my eyes, see my driveway, my dogs, the creek in the back. I hug my father with the kind of love and loyalty that deserves its own dedication. I hug my brother if he’s home from school. And then I hug my mother. I know she always tears up when we reunite like this. Of course I do too. It’s a beautiful, beautiful truth.