The First Year Without You

LITTLE LIGHT

It will be one year since my dad passed, tonight, December 3rd at 12:03am.

The night it happened I didn’t sleep for the following 48 hours. After the initial shock, there was a lot of legalities with Dad’s estate and drama with certain members of the family and the others Dad was close with. It’s not the most significant thing, though, that I remember from those dark times, but a small rust spot.

Overwhelming love and an abundance of help from family and friends flooded the void that got ripped from inside me when he died, leaving no time for loneliness and the vacuum of depression that would’ve left me high, dry, and empty. I’ve talked about the night that he died before in previous blog posts, in small bits and pieces that I took out of my mental drawer and closed when I felt it’s too much; it’s my emotional dam that I can dry at the sudden feeling of too much pain and ache. It’s how I’ve learned to manage through this past year.

Loss is the most powerful and indiscriminate force we encounter in all of humanity.

Which is why I wanted to take this post to reflect on my identity in loss and how it’s changed me in the past year—for the better or the utmost worst.

Selfishness comes in hard after a loved one passes. I saw this first hand with someone Dad didn’t necessarily trust, but kept around because he was a lonely individual. Everyone wants a piece of something, anything, valuable from the dead whether emotionally or monetarily valuable. I don’t want to say I think this happened within the family, because it didn’t at all. My family and the close friends were incredibly graceful and I made sure everyone got a piece of Dad in some aspect that wanted one.

One of my many demons, however, is struggling with this personal selfishness when I knew I emotionally and logistically needed to be. Even before Dad passed I worried about being obliviously selfish and viewed by others as selfish. It’s such a negative hue of the human psyche, to be selfish, but also important in times of distress in an incredibly small dose.

But even in the end of one year without Dad, I’ve failed to manage my selfishness to not hurt others.

My immediate family was much more together when he passed. We lived very separate lives before, but when it was time we surged together in one emotional ball of energy. It wasn’t always a strong-family force in those times. It was messy and high-strung and tense between my mom, sister, and brother. There was fighting, drinking, heartache, and total imbalance. We all were dealing with loss in our own way and the energy didn’t mesh well in one house.

We are all so separated one year later. My mom moved out of state, sister and I sort of kept contact, and my brother and I do not talk anymore. It’s nothing I’m proud of admitting, but it’s just a fact of life. I think Dad was a little pissed about it to be honest, though, because the day I decided to cut things off I was at a stoplight in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh and something told me to turn my head to the left over by a busy sidewalk and my brother stood there at the corner staring at me. We didn’t say anything, but he simply pointed to the stoplight that had since turned green and I drove off.

While I’m on the topic of family…

I want to admit a quality I inherited from living with my dad for so many years. I am the utmost trash at reaching out to family members and friends. It’s something that I find people take so personally, when it’s just a flaw of my personality and I have a hard time explaining to those that take offense by it or think it insensitive. I don’t want the common misconception of me not wanting to talk to them or caring to reach out even be a thought further. It’s just how I operate. I think of my family and close friends daily and would love to talk to them, I’m just bad at making the first step—which is something that I’m trying to improve with even my own mother. It’s not personal, it’s just a part of who I am unfortunately. It’s something that has become stronger since he passed. It was something that I was terrible at even with Dad.

I read our text conversations sometimes when I especially miss him (more than the average every day) and have to face the incredibly heavy guilt of all the text messages I have from him where I didn’t answer. It’s something I wish I could change but it’s not something I’ll let paralyze me.

Self-doubt and deprecation slipped in the later months of this year.

It’s something that I find the most difficult to struggle with in this chipped and obscured mirror I see myself in. It comes with an incredibly amount of questions only Dad could answer and others could help talk me off a ledge.

Some days I don’t like the person I’ve become or see in the mirror. Beyond the small, bright lights that I see circling around my head of the great parts of me that I’m blessed with, the really dark spots that cast the deepest shadows against my skin are greater. Not all days, only some days.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard my dad say “You’ll always have this house to come home to”. One year later it’s on the verge of being foreclosed on and I have no way of stopping it. Before recently, I wanted to let it go and forget about it. But a growing part of me, with all the troubles I’ve had selling it, thinks that isn’t the right choice. It almost sold three times now and each time the buyer’s backed out around the two-week mark prior to closing date.

I think about all the help I was given and how my decisions kind of stifled that help. I know how much help I was given, and still am given to this day with Dad’s things, but I keep seeing any decision I make to help fix the situation almost erase the progress made by that help.

What I’m trying to explain, really, is that no one wins with loss.

I’m still beyond a mess, but I play an incredible part in faking most of my togetherness. I also don’t want it to seem like I’m all mess and no success. Great things have happened for me in the past year as well. My self-critical parts come out a lot more these days but I make a point to remind myself of the little lights that make up myself just as much as the dark parts.

There’s an image I can’t get out of my head, thinking back on this year without Dad. After 12:03am tonight there won’t be a minute following that he occupied. He was alive this time last year, but after tonight it won’t be like that anymore. He wouldn’t of been coming home from a week away with work this time next year, he would’ve been gone already.

This metaphorical cassette tape that’s overwriting as it records haunts me and I’m fearful of whatever comes after. Fearful but hopeful.

If there’s one thing that I see in myself after this incredibly hard year, is that I have the undying desire to survive.

Self-preservation is a light that hangs right in front of my eyes, blinding me yet enticing me further. It allows me to not get sucked into the darkness and fixate on the sadness.

I prefer to recognize loss as an acquaintance, turning up out of the blue (uninvited). There are two options when it comes: 1. I let it push me down and keep me underneath it, or 2. I can validate it’s existence with a strong nod, talk to it, drink tea with it, and simply live with it but firmly ask it to leave when I’ve had enough. Every time I choose the latter, for Dad.

Here’s to you, Dad, for all of us missing you in this life.

I love you.

Song: Bones of Ribbon by London Grammar

 

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Anxiety

YOU DONT GET TO KEEP ME

I think I’m past the point of simply wondering if I have anxiety.

It’s definitely a thing that I can confidently swallow the medicine and say that I have this unfortunate bully in the back of my mind that haunts me. It will most likely haunt me for the rest of my life. It’s almost like my own personal and super-fucking-unhelpful assistant I never asked for that follows me everywhere I go to tell me what I’m doing wrong or spitting ideas out like sick rap beats in the barbed wire tumbleweed that is my heavy brain. Do you think I let that asshole win and beat me down?

Absolutely.

Sometimes*

Let me elaborate on those sick rapper beats Lil’ Anxiety throws down because there is common misconception when it comes to anxiety I would happily clear the air. When I say ideas, I mean a wide range of good things to very bad things. No, it’s not telling me to go dig myself in a hole and hide from the world or go attack people. It’s not a little voice in my head that whispers terrible-somethings day in and day out. It’s more of a feeling that solidifies into incredibly terrible scenarios that, yes, may be happening but most likely are not occurring. And it’s different for everybody that has this terrible misunderstood sickness called Anxiety.

For me, it’s a wild but silent screaming or chanting idea that tells me that this greatness happening in my life will not last long. It tells me that these good times are a tease and that things are not good and will never be for me. It tells me that it will be around forever and it tells me it will be the only one that will ever stick around. Excuse me for the vastly overused analogy but, sometimes I believe that devil on my shoulder. It’s not quite wrong, either, and that’s what I hate most.

It’s not wrong because good things don’t last forever. Like everything on this planet: events, people, and emotions there is one thing in common. It all eventually passes. 

It’s how we deal with the acceptance and understanding of the permanency of that indiscriminate fact of our lives. Personally? I don’t deal well with permanent things that I have no power to change. It fuels the anxiety to a breaking point and then I collapse a little inside, thankfully realize where the fault in my emotional infrastructure lies, and find the strength and ability in rebuilding it back up with the things I can count on that is not my anxiety.

Anxiety is just as indiscriminate to it’s victim, but it definitely favors  targeting their peace and happiness.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain how anxiety works to some who haven’t experienced it in their own lives. It’s even harder to understand, and even frustrating at times, to try and understand it from someone an unaffected person is close with that houses that ghost.

For instance, there are at least six things I can name right off the top of my head that my anxiety ghost manifests itself inside and everyday life through me. I won’t bore you with all of them, but maybe at least two of them will suffice, for now.

1. Writing.

It’s been months since I’ve written anything. Even writing this post, I feel my brain straining to pull through the weeds and sort the endless cyclone that is my brain overthinking destructive scenarios and under-appreciating the scintillate parts that are my lifelines when things become dark.

Truthfully, I’ve been putting off writing this blog for a while because I was fearful. Fearful from not being a good writer. How about that shit? I psyche myself out from doing the one thing that defeats my anxiety. That sickness recognized its kryptonite and persisted in making sure to extinguish it. Like I said earlier, my anxiety was successful in making me believe in the hurtful words I told myself. What did it use as the weapon? The one thing I am most proud of in accomplishing; writing my first book, Cancel. Is it published? No. Will it be? Fuck yeah it will be. When? Who knows. And there’s where it stabbed first and let it mull over in my head until I was dizzy and exhausted fighting with it.

But here we are in this shiny silver-lining that is this blog, writing again for the first time in months even though I feel my anxiety curdling inside and screaming at me that none of this makes sense and it’s not good writing. The funny thing is that this blog was created by advice given to me before a close friend of mine passed and that’s what I forget about the most, unfortunately; what’s the worst thing that could happen? I could be the only one to read and the only one it would help. What’s the harm in self-help, though?

It’s not selfish and, if you are here today reading this, you need to know that the biggest weapon to help stifling your endless battle with this wicked sickness is accepting and realizing self-help and doing things for you is incredible medicine. Exercise it and incorporate it into your everyday life.

2. Love.

This piece of my anxiety is the darkest part. Its heavily rooted into the scars on my soul that I will never and could never forget.

I’ve briefly explained my love lives in past blog posts and how they each left their designated scars on me in some weight or another, but what I continuously fail to remind myself is that what is happening in the present isn’t what was.

And to admit it out in the open, that’s what I fail to remind myself of sometimes. When all the shitty things I’ve been through in my past tribulations in love and living, it comes to haunt me in my present happiness. It’s not fair, no, but it’s unfortunately something that comes with swift and stifling doubt and unlimited amounts of speculation that makes me ask questions that were only warranted by one thing; nothing that my current love life warrants, but the battles I’ve been through and the haunting scars I carry from it.

Anxiety eats this up the most. It’s like pre-workout for it, hyping its power up to the umpteenth degree, and letting it burn down my home on the inside of everything that makes me, me.

I don’t really think there is an appropriate ending to this post, because it’s something I will probably live with for the rest of my life. This is more of a warning to my personal demon, Anxiety.

I see you and I hear you, but know one thing;

You don’t get to keep me forever.

Song: So Here We Are by Gordi.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Normality

BEATING HEART

Normality (n).

The condition of being normal, the state of being usual, typical, or expected.

Isn’t that the universal dream? Our lives becoming existentially predictable that we almost expect things to be a certain way? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wish I could sometimes expect when I’ll get a flat tire, speeding ticket, jury duty, that last phone call at work one minute before closing time, unexpected traffic jams on my way to work, or the like. The list is endless, really. But if everything had this overwhelming sense of normality, what would it mean for our sanity? I don’t know about you, but I’ve always favored the “I prefer a workplace to be spontaneous” rather than the “I prefer to know what’s going to happen at all times” answer during one of those application quizzes when applying for a job.

Normality is something of the American Dream. Actually, I’ll correct myself on that; I think all humanity wants pieces of normality in our lives. It’s exhausting to the soul having a steady bombardment of inconsistencies over and over again. Why do you think we buy homes? Start families? Get a job in the hopes we stay there for a couple years or more and move up? Our knowledge that life, by nature, is horrifically unpredictable makes us all minor (or major) control freaks.

I will admit openly that in my wildly unpredictable life, I scramble at times to find some piece of normalcy.

More and more, though, I find myself looking for a new normalcy; a fresh start, new “home base”, new experiences that differ from the past ones because they feel all too painful. I resent going to certain parts of Pittsburgh, my home for the past twenty-three years, because they remind me of people or times where happiness was free-flowing and careless. It’s a struggle, especially after hardships, to readjust and reform to a rapidly changing normal. Sometimes it feels like one massive responsibility that I never wanted.

I go to places a past love and I went to and find myself looking at the same spot we sat in/talked at/enjoyed while in the company of friends and others, feeling the gravity of that moment in time where I felt nothing but explicit happiness and love. I find myself stuck in the present moment where I’m struggling to juggle three knives: mourning, expectation, and happiness. While I mourn the memories and past happiness, I hold heavy expectation on myself to not always be caught in the riptide of sadness around people that bring me current happiness.

At the same time, if I didn’t have those memories and experiences, I wouldn’t be here writing this out into the great void of the Internet for all to have access to—to let you into my mind and release-share these pressuring feels.

Sometimes the reminder of abnormality hits me in unexpected places, as it did last night while I enjoyed fireworks with three friends of mine in downtown Pittsburgh.

We were close enough that I felt every explosion in my chest and reverberate throughout my rib cage. With each explosion, I was reminded of the past where things felt ‘normal’ and reminded me of this ‘new normal’ that I seek presently. That’s where my responsibility of reminding myself to be present in the happiness and company of others is so important. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s a slow process for me. Some of you might have this down a little sturdier than myself and I appreciate that. Others might not have this down at all, and I want to let you know I’m here for you every step of the way because the road is hard with a lot of speed bumps and road blocks—each unique to the next with their own set of rules to get past them.

There’s so much good music out right now and even though I’m looking to stay present in the small, scintillate pieces of happiness I come across, I’m listening to music that reminds me of past happiness. It’s not the sad-rip-your-heart-out-and-shut-the-world-out kind, but the kind where I’d travel alone to different cities, write adventurous stories, and think about the life-changing future I want for myself and the ones I love/know.

So, I’ll quote a song that is all about being wildly unsure of the future; whether it’s normal or abnormal, predictable or unpredictable, filled with happiness or struck with hardships. No matter what the future holds, stay in your present normality and feel the change around or accept the staleness of the present.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I know it’s going to be a long time. Cause I’ll be leaving in the morning with the white wine, bitter sunlight. I want to hear your Beating Heart, tonight. Before the bleeding sun comes to life. I want to make the best of what is left, hold tight. And hear my Beating Heart one last time. 

Song: Beating Heart by Ellie Goulding.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Change: Part II

REPRISE

Sometimes I regret the things that I write.

But only because when I do, it feels damning.

Three weeks ago I wrote something that I penned “The most important blog post I’ve ever written.” The Quarter-Life Crisis of Change. It was the most important blog post, but the change that I swore I saw with incredible conviction was thwarted from my line of view. I have changed in a different way in the past three weeks, for the better I hope but could definitely be for the worst.

The change that I spoke of in that blog post was big change. I think, though, there were important parts that I vastly missed in writing and exploring when speaking of change. With a greater openness to these three aspects of change and my tail in between my legs, I want to humbly explore the part I naively missed.

Openness.

I mentioned this a little above, about my greater openness to these three aspects. It was something that I didn’t expect that I could do, assuming I was open to just about everything and receptive to it. Sadly and personally embarrassingly, my heart and soul was nowhere near as open three weeks ago as it is now.

This realization is incredibly hard to swallow like grape or cherry flavored cold medicine. Put it into terms you can understand; What is one thing you would be absolutely and undoubtedly terrified to learn about yourself? Something that everyone else can recognize about you that you are numbed to self-realizing. Would it be unknown selfishness? Oblivious judgement?

At my Monday-Friday 9-5 that barely pays the bills, we do call reviews since we talk to the outside world when they decide to call in. It’s work that I’m not used to, but I really don’t mind it at all. Maybe I would mind it if it was my forever job but Change tells me that this is only temporary. Anyways, during this call review one of my supervisors that carries out the reviews cracked a joke about how I have a slight Pittsburghese accent. For obvious reasons to me, my retort was quick and strong denial about this ‘incredible’ accusation. Why did I deny this? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because I really don’t like the accent all that much—it’s crass and lazy. Not that I feel Pittsburghers that have the accent are crass and lazy, simply that it’s unique to our small existence here in and around the city and I just don’t favor the accent itself. But there you go, something I found out I’m oblivious to yet posses, and something others can see about myself (even if it’s just one person).

The biggest challenge in Openness to Change is doing so when you are hurting or struggling. At least for myself, I find this the hardest thing to obtain as I discover more about myself and look for the bigger picture. It’s human to want to guard yourself from others and the world around you. It’s comfortable that way because it feels as if we have some control over something, if anything, in our vastly shifting lives. But it’s also isolating and decomposes our soul from the willingness to help and reach out to others. Isolating yourself is okay to an extent. I prefer to become isolated but as long as I promise myself to keep major checks and balances to not lose grasp of the world and people around me. Which segues into the next major necessity of Change…

Responsibility.

If it didn’t feel like I had enough responsibility already in my rapidly unraveling life. Sometimes I find myself scrolling through Facebook and becoming envious of old high school classmates who finish college and are getting married, who really don’t seem to have anywhere near the amount of hardship as I had/have. Granted, I make sure to talk myself down off that exclamatory pedestal because I don’t know everything about anyone’s life just as no one knows everything about mine.

It plays into kindness, I think. How nobody knows every single aspect that goes on in anyone’s life. We all fight loud battles that others can hear all the while waging silent war with the pressures of our truths.

It’s our responsibility to remind ourselves of the importance of kindness to others, of making sure we help those who are visibly and invisibly in need. Keeping ourselves in one constant check and balance but not become consumed by the weight of that responsibility.

How can we do both?

Look around you. Look at what makes you happy. Look how you make someone else happy. Hike in the woods or in the city. Listen to your favorite music. Better yet, share your favorite music with someone that is important to you in your life. It’s principal to remind ourselves of the things that make us happy. Even more than that, though, it’s the best kind of responsibility of happiness when you focus a little of your energy every day in making someone else happy—stranger, friend, enemy, family, or love.

One last thing to talk about with Change which is the shortest section I’ll speak about.

Acceptance.

This is my greatest enemy out of the three. I can handle the pain of being open when I don’t want to be, I can add on layer after layer of heavy responsibility until I can’t breathe. I’ve done all those things before and I’ve survived. The biggest threat and greatest challenge with change is the Acceptance.

If there is anything that I admire/loathe about myself is my stubbornness.

I admire it because when I am stubborn in the things that I’m passionate about, the energy is clear, strong, and unprecedented. When everything else is so unsure in my life, I relish in the fact that my heart, soul, and mind create one direct line of light. This is how I pursue the things I love. Maybe to a fault, maybe to my advantage, I don’t really know.

I loathe this about myself because I can be overbearing and strong, but only because I’m overwhelmingly passionate about that one moment in my haphazard life. I’m overbearing in views of hope and promise—of love and greater purpose—of showing both ugly and beautiful sides of my soul to what or whom I’m passionate for.

I think this is why this blog is so liberating. I can be completely honest about the ugliest parts of me but also celebrate the beautiful scintillate pieces.

I’m still battling these two intense existences in my life: my stubbornness and the acceptance needed for change. The good thing, I guess, is that I’ve seen how allowing both Openness and Responsibility of Change into my life has demolished false shells and moved mountains for me. All that’s missing to become exactly what I feel I was made to be is the one thing I’m resenting most. Accept the things I cannot change.

Still, I have changed even without fully allowing acceptance in.

The permanent absence of two very important people in my life. One, my dad, I have began to accept a life without, and the other, Trey, who helped me get through that acceptance of a life without my dad and who also taught me to let love in again.

I think permanence is acceptance in disguise. If we can’t accept the idea of permanency then we will never fully change into the people who we’re supposed to be. So I guess I need to sit down in front of a mirror and really ask myself—

Do you want change or not? 

Song: Hell to the Liars by London Grammar

An Open Letter: Loss & Memories

 

TREY

I’m going to tell you a story this week.

My biggest struggle with this blog post was thinking about how I’d actually write it. Granted, I didn’t expect to be writing about you. 

Ten days ago, I lost someone who brought incredible light at my darkest. He inspired me to start this blog, to scream my feelings into this great open void where he said two things could happen and two things only:

  1. No one else, other than myself, would read it.
  2. It could touch an umpteen number of people and change their lives in some small/big aspect.

Let me start at the beginning and go back into our flash-in-a-pan moment of life.

Trey and I became Facebook friends, somehow, about a year or so ago. We didn’t speak much, but I lazily followed his posts and journeys, genuinely laughing at a few of his sarcastic, incredibly bright or straight up goofy posts. Our relationship really picked up pace after my dad passed this past December.

It was a softly written message…

“I know you’re going through a lot right now, and you don’t know me, but I wanted to say I saw about your Dad’s passing and I’m here if you need anything.”

The most surprising comfort in the entire world is when you are absolutely destroyed, at your lowest of lows, and the most random people reach out to you with their thoughts of kindness and warmth. Trey was that surprising comfort. He was the comfort I never knew I needed until he was sitting right in front of me, eyes flashing up from his phone and big smile on his face on the night we finally met up in person.

It was at a gay dive-bar called P-Town. Smokey, played obnoxiously loud show tunes (which I’m all for, but it was really just the volume that got to me) and the beer was cheap. He asked if I liked Yeungling and I said yes, even though I ate a big dinner before we met up on this extremely frigid February night. Although our attempts were strong at best, we failed to pull away from our pensively-driven conversation topics about coping, love, life, and loss. With a few beers in our system, full hearts from laughter, and heavy-to-light conversation, we parted ways. We parked near each other so he walked me to my car first, and turned towards me just as we reached it. He smiled with a sweet look of “Well?” on his face, arms wide open and pulled me into him. It was safe to say my heart felt like it was beating a million miles a minute and all I could do was awkwardly cackle when we both let go. We parted ways for the night and planned on him coming over the following week.

So Trey accidentally met my mom the first and only time he visited my house.

And although I preached for the entire day that it was totally accidental he still teased with a raised eyebrow and some soulful “mhmmmm”s. I mean, truth be told, it was totally accidental but I was nowhere near mad about it. The hard part was silencing my phone from how much my mom blew it up,gushing about him to me once she left. After I shared photos of my dad I had on a poster board I made for Dad’s Celebration of Life, we ended up trucking through half of Netflix’s “The OA” and passing out for at least four hours too long. Since the nap was unexpected, he woke up in a panic wondering what time it was and what was happening. It made me jump awake too, just as dazed, but once we realized how long we fell asleep for we both laughed it off and re-admitted that we were both literal trash cans. LOL/not LOL.

Afterwards, we met up with two of his friends at the Shady Grove in Shadyside, shared a pizza with I don’t even remember what was on it, and had a genuinely great time together. Without hesitation, his hand crept over to mine and we interlocked fingers. My fondness for him that I so desperately tried to stifle broke through the haphazardly-built emotional dam and flooded into my body that forced the muscles around my face to curl into the most honest smile. And that was where I admitted to myself that I liked him more than I wanted to admit, and although I was nowhere near looking to be with someone, this felt normal and mutual.

Our relationship grew stronger as the weeks passed, sprouting from winks to texts of “Do you want me to pick up anything before I come over?” And he’d reply “No, I just want you home :)”. I let myself get sucked into the riptide of him, completely engrossed in this airy feeling when everything felt heavy and dark over my dad’s unexpected passing. The brightest moment I can recall, since Dad passed, was the both of us in his kitchen cooking dinner. He played me some Spanish instrumental music with occasional vocals settling in the background.

“What do you usually listen to when you cook?” He asked me.

“Old-timey French music.” I said struggling to cut the vegetables he assigned me to chop for the roast.

“Put something on.”

So I put on J’ai Deux Amours by Madeleine Peyroux and continued to cut the vegetables completely the wrong way. He didn’t care, though. Trey’s hand met my back, pulling me away from prepping and we stood there in the middle of his kitchen, music playing in the background, and he pulled me closer into him. My head rested on his chest, because he was significantly taller than I, and we swayed gently back in forth to the music. His heart beat pulsated in my ear, warming my chest and it emanated what felt like way beyond the walls of his home.

Honestly? That’s all I want to share of our time together. I hope that’s okay…

I always wanted to get a photo of us together… but both of us were so engrossed in our time together, we didn’t care much about the outside world. To me, he was this incredible light. To him, I don’t really know… If anything at all, he made me feel that I was enough for him. Reading stories friends of his post on his wall, now that he’s passed, it warms my heart how much of an influence he was to others. He made so many other people, in country, out of country, right next door, three cities over, simply wherever his light touched—he made them feel enough. 

The last time that I saw him, we met for dinner before my birthday get-together down at Diamond Market in Market Square. We sat and caught up; it was a couple weeks since we saw each other but neither of us missed a beat of our energy and presence together. It was like no time had passed at all. I still remembered the sound of his heartbeat in his kitchen, and he still reached for my hand from across the table while he shared his adventures from the past couple days. We walked around the city, simply talking about everything and anything. About each other, while letting ourselves be fully engrossed in our togetherness. Before we parted ways, since he had a certification test the following morning, he gave me one thing; the rock pictured above.

“I remembered it was your birthday this week while I was on my hike the past weekend, I saw this rock and thought of you.”

Trey handed me the only tangible thing I have left of him, to ground me when the feelings become overwhelming and all I want to do is run away from everything and everyone. He taught me how to find peace when all I feel is chaos. He taught me to, even though it hurts and everything is always so unsure, let your light out so you can let people in.

Hell, I even remember lying next to him and tracing the bones on his hand one night after we watched a movie from the Criterion Collection, saying how he made me want to be a better person. He made everyone strive to be a better person, to be open, and love effortlessly and incredibly.

Trey selflessly made us all feel the vast importance of our existence.

And that is something all of us can only hope to forward to others around us. We are all hurting in different concentrations and levels—it reaches beyond the footprint of Trey’s light. It’s the world; we all are hurting. If there is one thing I will promise, for the rest of my life, I will follow in Trey’s extraordinary life and lead in selfless love to everyone. To reach beyond your own pain and touch the others around you.

Part of me doesn’t want this blog post to end. The other part needs it to end to begin the continuation of whatever my life will hold—to continue grieving the loss of such an incredible human being. So, as always, I will leave you with a song (one of Trey’s favorites, of course).

 

Your “Terrible-Movie Partner” will miss you. Till we see each other again.

And most importantly, more than anything…

Thank you.

Song: Heartbeats by José González

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Change

STORM

I keep having this reoccurring dream—

Where I’m running across this incredibly large cement slab, away from light gray clouds and into dark, stormy ones. The wind’s so strong that it almost lifts me off the ground—it pushes back, trying to keep me in the light gray where it’s stagnant and suffocating. But even though it tries, I make it to the farthest utmost corner of this cement square and stop dead in my tracks. Now that I’m at the corner, on the edge of everything, I hear the storm asking me: What are you going to do, now? 

Am I going to stand there and walk back into suffocating light grays from where I ran from?

Or am I going to lean forward and fall off the edge of this everything, into the storm.

I never make it past this part of the dream. Somehow, I always end up waking up and never deciding to step off. Not that I have any control over my dreams in any sense of the word, I’m not that subconsciously gifted. The last thing I remember, always, is staring at the storm, watching the lightning crackle across the sky in thick veins that cut through the black-blueish clouds. I feel the wind hit against my body and watch the light gray diminish behind me into dark. It brings back a very odd, but not uncommon, fear I had when I was a child; wind (specifically at night time).

I remember my dad was very aware of this fear when he’d scream “Dorothy!” if we were outside at night and the wind was especially strong. I’d “yell” back at him but he’d just laugh. He even did it when I was a grown ass man and it made me laugh more than yell in fear, even if the weird fear was still there, watered down and muted.

This dream had me thinking a lot after it ended. Why would this be reoccurring? It’s such a rare thing, I think, for dreams to keep coming back. Only if it’s deeply routed in your subconscious, with some otherworldly meaning that only your subconscious knows and keeps hidden from you for whatever reason: to protect yourself, probably. Still, I don’t really know.

But then I saw the spiders.

If you know me, if there is any sort of bug anywhere, flying/crawling/big/small, I scream like a little girl and make sure I go nowhere near  it. I create this six-foot personal bubble for the insect and walk A R O U N D it. Unless it’s in my home. Then I put two of my shoes on my hands and hit every part of the wall other than the bug. Ugh. Why am I like this. But the spiders..

Over the course of one, yes I said one, day I saw six spiders in various places in my home. This is incredibly uncommon, truthfully. Extremely uncommon. There’s more of a chance to see stinkbugs in my home rather than spiders. The first was in my laundry room which wasn’t so weird because the door to the outside is right there. I killed it because it was holding my laundry hostage. The second was by my shoe, just as surprised to see me choose those shoes to wear that day because I hadn’t in a while. It met a very quick demise considering I already had my weapon of choice in my hand. Third spider was in the bathroom on the wall. Nope, nope, and nope. Sorry, bud. Fourth was actually outside of my home, but on the bricks of my home so it was too close to my face, and it met its creator ruhl quick. Fifth was when I walked upstairs to my bedroom to veg out of Netflix and danced along the wall when I got too close which made me see the damned thing. My boot met its face. And last, but not least, and luckily the smallest of the six, I laid on my bed thoroughly perturbed from the spider slaughter, one little guy decided to descend from the ceiling like a badass but, yet, in front of my face, so I threw my body off my bed and crawled over to my boots, put both on my hands, and went hunting.

It was firstly terrifying, but after the sixth spider (I am sorry, spiders, but you can’t just turn up out the blue, uninvited) it felt too much of a coincidence. Naturally, I am a spiritual person, and I like to think that things have a greater meaning—so this whole spider ordeal had to mean something. Right? I looked up the meaning of seeing frequent spiders.

To connect both stories, the dream and the spiders, I’m going to tell them in order of what I think it means presently. One word:

CHANGE.jpg

The dream isn’t all that hard to figure out a meaning. Don’t get me wrong, it took a lot of days eating salad alone at Point State Park, walking alone around the city, driving aimlessly until I realized wasting gas was probably not the best thing to do until the most sound meaning crept its way into my awakened, self-reflective conscious.

Whether it be spiritual change or physical, worldly change, it’s going to happen. I’m nearly staring it in the face—like I stand at the edge of that cement slab and watch the storm heading directly for me in my dream. The wind is my fear, my troubles, my grief trying to stop me from feeling the raw power of change and letting it smack into me like a wall of water releasing from the clouds and slamming into the city cement on a humid summer day. Inside, desperately and viciously, I want that wall to hit me and I want to embrace the change that is so close to see that I can literally feel the humidity dropping inside my strung up, heavy, emotional-troubled, and deprived subconscious.

When I looked up the meaning of seeing frequent spiders, literally in the span of one day, I found something that was scarier than I’d like to admit. Not that it’s dangerous, but just that it’s scary to consider that both elements are very present in my fragile world right now.

Just as the spider weaves a web, so too must we weave our own lives. The spider symbol meaning here serves as a reminder that our choices construct our lives. When the spider appears to us, it is a message to be mindful of the choices we are making.

AVIA VENEFICA

Well isn’t that the scariest fucking thing I’ve ever come to realized. My change is on the brink of closure, and it will be strong and fierce like the storm in my dream—but at the same time, I must be mindful in the choices I make, as the spiders show me.

I can sense how important this change will be for my life, how it will define me in one of the biggest life-changing moments since my dad had passed six months ago today. I see the choices I must make and how it could potentially deconstruct a lot of the safe webs I’ve created for myself. But in creating those safe webs, I’ve entangled myself in a stagnant humidity that leaves me begging for a storm to come and destroy them so I can start again.

Some of these decisions that I am presently facing will make a lot of the people that I love angry. I already know it. And I hesitate in telling the most important people the potential for the changes I feel that I must make, even if it directly affects them. It makes me feel like a child again, scared outside in the wind.

I am ready for change. I am ready for the storm to hit. Hell, I’m even running toward the storm. I’m hungry for it.

The best part? You will be experiencing it here, firsthand, on this blog. Stock up on your bread, milk, eggs, and lunch meats at your closest Kuhns because a storm’s coming and it’s going to shake you.

Are you ready?

Song: Don’t Kill My Vibe, by Sigrid.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Deep Days

PLATFORMS

It’s a rainy Wednesday, and I will admit I have that chemical imbalance where weather mildly affects my mood. But it’s a lot more than just the weather…

When I say mildly, I genuinely mean mildly. Also, I don’t mean that if it’s sunny in the morning I’m happy, and if it starts to rain an hour later I’m sad. It’s not that sensitive. More so, I’m struggling today in particular in regards to a lot of things.

So, I dubbed today as one of my “Deep Days”, or, in other words, my sad/pensive/self-reflective/quiet days. Not all of those at the same time, more of a pick one and you’ll probably be right in describing my day.

I woke with an anxiousness and an extreme tiredness. Many parts of me have been tired, both physical and non-physical, but a lot are hopeful. Those little scintillating pieces of light are what keep me going. Think of it like an antique mirror, where the reflective parts underneath the glass are chipping away over time. I’m feeling that a lot, lately.

It kind of brings me back to my first post about being the truest INFP; As a “Mediator” we form to our surroundings, instead of projecting our own surrounding for others.

Personally, I kind of like forming to the projection of others. And it’s one of my best qualities, I think, where as others might see it as something that is negative. I don’t really get that, I see it as a personality and friendship building skill. Granted, as a Mediator, my friend circle is small, it’s the acquaintances that I excel in becoming accustomed with.

Example: one of my best friends, she gives me peace, joy, togetherness, happiness, and laughter. She gives me Hygge when most of my life is dangerously out of Hygge. So when I’m near her, I form to her weather she projects from herself and it makes me stronger. This is only one of the many reasons why I genuinely love her as a person. Even if she doesn’t know it, she lets me know that I’m absolutely never alone.

This doesn’t mean that I’m wildly never myself around anyone ever. I’m most definitely 100% myself at all times around anyone. It’s most effective to be that way, instead of projecting yourself falsely to others because a show can only last so long before the game is up and you’re left with someone who doesn’t know you, and more dangerously, you come to realize you don’t even know yourself. 

In most dire times of crisis, what do you have once everything is taken away?

Who you gonna call when everything is falling to pieces, you’re alone, and you absolutely have to adult. Definitely not Ghostbusters. What about family? What if you don’t want to go to family? Friends? What if you don’t want to continue burdening them with your issues? What storm are you going to form to, if you only have your own?

There are many ways to alleviate this seclusion crisis that come with Deep Days. Mostly, it ends with me going through a mental list of things I appreciate about myself or that I have accomplished. I’ve lost so much, and furthermore experienced so much more than I’ve lost. I am thankful for both, because it will strengthen me as a person when I’m left in the calm after the storm. For the time being, I need to take the waves as they crash which can wear a person down to the wire. Sometimes, at some point, you will snap. I’ve snapped already, more than once. And I feel another one coming on, but the good thing is that I’ve learned how to control the process of snapping, come to realize the warning signs of the snap, and know how to effectively mute the force exerted from the initial snap. So, here I am, writing this post to alleviate the pressure so my wire doesn’t snap.

Best thing to do if you’re having a Deep Day is to evaluate how you can self-soothe your sores.

It’s almost like crisis planning, where you know what to do in the event of a fire or power outage. It’s the same thing, only that you do it for your own mental sanity. When you’re tired of forming to other people’s storm, or tired of projecting your own storm, you whip out your Deep Day Crisis Plan and follow the steps, as you would any emergency guide. Eat a cookie/brownie or twelve. Eat a scoop, or two, of ice cream. Why stop at two? Go for the whole tub! Write your heart out, sing your heart out to some pensive music or bubbly-pop-summer-hit that you just can’t help but to smirk to. Act stupid in your car as you sing, too, because every song needs choreography and you don’t have time to snatch back-up dancers for your self-soothe extravaganza.

Another important piece is reminding yourself that this is just a day and it will end. Even if it’s a string of Deep Days, or a Deep Week, or even a Deep Month; when the time comes, it will absolutely subside.

Everyone’s plan is different, but they are all so incredibly important. If you end up being a part of someone’s plan. it might be beneficial to both parties to never deny this role. Come to understand it, and listen listen listen. This could save someone’s wire from snapping and causing emotional damage for both parties involved. But be cautious of your own capacity to handle crisis. Not everyone, myself included, is equipped to take on someone else’s crisis. Even if you’re related, almost like you’re related, not related at all but close, or simple acquaintances.

This is only step one of my Deep Day Crisis Plan…

But, like my coworker told me:

Turn that frown upside down! Could be worse… you could be ugly!

It isn’t the most reassuring, but the laugh helped..

Till the next crisis, guys and gals.

Song: Full Circle by HÆLOS.