drowning

I’ve been writing a blog post for days and days now––it’s hard with a concussion and negative amount of time. It’s not finished yet, and probably won’t be for awhile. In the meantime, here are excerpts from my phone notes from this week, because I haven’t been journaling the written way lately.

Excerpts

Saturday

You want to stop thinking about them. But no matter what you do to distract yourself or berate yourself or love yourself, you just can’t. It’s a tragedy.

Roses aren’t nearly as pretty without their thorns.

Sunday

Do you ever get a feeling when you go outside? Not exactly dejavu, more like – you’ve felt this before. Today feels like sweatpants and middle school.

Tuesday

Sometimes my shadow has a shadow. It’s a bit disconcerting, catching a glimpse of it while walking home alone at night. But then I think, I have two companions watching out for me in the dark.

Walking from the house to my dorm tonight, I’m struck by the distinct feeling that we’re living in our own world here. All the lights in the library are on, filled with students who, no matter what they’re studying, are all there late on a Tuesday night for the same reason. This place is for us, and that’s special. When else in our lives will we have something like this?

Wednesday

She died. Fourteen years old, cancer for a year. Now she’s gone. The funeral is tomorrow, and I wish I could go. You hear about kids dying all the time, but you don’t physically feel the tragedy of it until it’s a kid you know. I was her babysitter, her private swim coach. She was vibrant and kind and beautiful. Was. I wonder if anything signifies a loss more than the past tense.

Did she know? That she was dying? She must have been so brave, to endure that with a smile on her face. It absolutely breaks my heart to think about. One minute she was here; the next, gone.

I owe it to myself to be my own best friend, and to live my best life.

Thursday

Today. Was. So. Stressful. I was transferred to the head trauma clinic, a guy I like didn’t text me back, I took twins instead of one little, my phone was on 1% for hours, I spent $100 on little gifts, my big doesn’t want to come to steak dinner, I turned in my assignment with two minutes to spare, was informed I have to meet with the housing director regarding that horrible night, forgot I have a quiz tomorrow that I’m wholly unprepared for, desperately need a shower and a millennium of sleep, and am completely and utterly behind in absolutely everything.

That’s the beautiful and terrible thing about college – you are both independent and alone. On the good days, I see the independence as refreshing. On the bad ones, I crumble at how far away and asleep my mom is as I break down in the early hours of the morning.

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the chase

I’ve always admired Taylor Swift. In the last year, my admiration for her character may have been tested with all the scandals surrounding her reputation. However, she’s never been afraid to be honest in her lyrics, and that’s something I connect to. Her lyricism tells a story; her albums are open narratives about her love and loss, her life. Being an open person who also derives comfort from writing down my thoughts and feelings, I draw inspiration from her boldness. She owns herself and her truth and, right or wrong, that’s admirable.

The Autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place,
And I can picture it after all these days.

And I know it’s long gone,
And that magic’s not here no more,
And I might be okay,
But I’m not fine at all.

I just need that second chance. I know it’ll fade away completely if I could just have that again, only with someone else. Someone new. Someone who can stick around.

And I know it’s long gone
And there was nothing else I could do
And I forget about you long enough
To forget why I needed to

I don’t know why it’s come back to me all of a sudden this past week. I thought I’d put it all behind me, but the most insignificant fragments have returned to shatter me.

The drought was the very worst
When the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst
It was months and months of back and forth
You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore

Anyway, I’m sat in my bed listening to Lord Huron, eating a nectarine, and brainstorming a blog post for my internship. It’s 9:55 pm. I’ve been slowly working my way through The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless and it’s painful to read about Carine and Chris’ childhood. To see how much was omitted from Into the Wild, both the book and the film. There was such toxicity, such abuse in that household––it makes Chris’ decision to go off the grid all the more understandable.

Tomorrow I get to teach seventh graders about writing. How to write for fun, for stress relief, and as a way to get to know oneself better. I’m going to talk about blogging and journaling, and have them do a stream of conscious exercise my junior year English class did that changed the way I write. I’m hoping I can make them more aware of the ways writing can help them outside of academics, but I don’t have much of a lesson plan put together and get nervous speaking in front of people, so we’ll see how it goes.

I just want to dance. That’s probably my favorite thing about parties––the dancing. When I dance, I feel free and uninhibited. It’s an outlet for stress and negativity and anything else that may have built up in the course of the day or week. Dancing can also help me express things I can’t with words. Like the way the instrumentals of Avicii make me feel, or the sense of invincibility that music gives me. I’ll dance anywhere and everywhere, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing. (My G pointed to a book at brunch this morning titled “How to Behave in a Crowd” and said I should take notes.) What can I say? I take after my free-spirited and wild mother, though I’d like to think I’m a better dancer.

When you get older
Your wild heart will live for younger days
One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember.
These are the nights that never die.

When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can’t put out
Carve your name into those shining stars
Go venture far beyond the shores.
Don’t forsake this life of yours.

I’m worried about money. I spent a lot this summer, more than I anticipated or should have. Now I have another trip coming up this winter, and I know I want to go abroad for the entirety of next summer. That’s why I got a job, and my internship is paid, but I’m still anxious that I have too much catching up to do.

I hate getting “hit up.” When people want something from me, but play games or dance around it or pretend that they don’t. I have zero tolerance for bullshit and prefer bluntness over euphemisms any day. People who think they’re entitled to my time or my help irritate me to no end. Especially people I worked hard to keep in my life, before finally coming to the realization they aren’t worth it, only for them to pop up a month later like nothing has happened and try to reinsert themselves into my life (or DMs). No! This is not okay by me––be straight with me or go away, please and thank you. I’m too heated about this at the moment to phrase it any more eloquently.

Yet at the same time, it’s nice to be chased for once. To not be the one doing the chasing. And I’m in a place where I could take it or leave it, which makes remaining detached easy, and the situation, while a bit infuriating, entertaining. I’ll just sit back with a bag of popcorn and see how it plays out, although my money’s on nothing changing because nothing ever does when it comes to him.

But you’re just my type
The kind that only calls me late at night
You can’t decide if you’ll be yours or mine
I hate to say it, but you’re just my type

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revelations

“Understand I will quietly slip away from the noisy crowd when I see the pale stars rising, blooming over the oaks.
I’ll pursue the solitary pathways of the twilight meadows with only this one dream. You come too.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I go back and forth between journaling and blogging. There’s usually no rhyme or reason; only my mood, and whether I want a pen in my hand or keys beneath my fingertips. In the last few days, I’ve been journaling a lot, trying to get some thoughts out after nearly a month of no time to think, reflect, breathe. With love week, recruitment, classes, an internship and a job, and getting strep, I haven’t had much time for the little things. Like staying in touch with my mom, or eating dinner at the house, or writing. I’m feeling behind, like a lot of things have passed me by: the chance to meet new Phis, time with friends, season 7 of Game of Thrones, and events I wanted to write about but didn’t get the chance to. I wouldn’t say I’m drowning, but I’m definitely on the verge of being overwhelmed. It’s nice (and unexpected) to be home for the weekend, so hopefully I can catch up on schoolwork, rest, and maybe some TV shows (don’t even get me started on reading––I am so behind).

I’ve taken to keeping a list of firsts. My list for the spring takes up a page in my journal; my summer list, while not yet written, will likely be longer. I’m curious to see how long this fall’s will be. I know that, realistically, the longer I live, the fewer firsts there will be. But I’d like to try to have a lot, because experiencing new things has helped me grow. And I never want to stop growing.

JOURNAL EXCERPTS

“Being sick puts a lot into perspective. You realize how much of your daily life is trivial, and what really matters. It’s made me less vain, and re-think cigarettes.”

“In the spring I grew comfortable in my own skin, something I’d been faking-till-I-made-it for years with mixed success. After this summer, I’m confident in my own skin, and I didn’t realize there was a difference until now.”

“I think there’s a critical difference between not giving a damn and not giving a fuck. The former is matter of fact; you can own your opinions without needing to defend them with a facey word like ‘fuck.'”

“It’s hard to find the right balance between hard and soft. But somehow, tortoises do.”

“You will always be my favorite what if.”

“It doesn’t hurt anymore, but sometimes I’m reminded of the memories, and for a moment, it does.”

“I wish I didn’t have so much stuff––that’s something I’m trying to be more conscious of going forward. I learned this summer that I enjoy living with less.”

“I want to keep my standards high, but that’s hard to do when you’re constantly surrounded by frat guys, or when you’re intoxicated, or lonely. I want to meet someone now, just to experience what that’s like, but my heart lies abroad, and in a few years, so too will my body.”

“I want to meet someone whose eyes give me a glimpse into their raging and beautiful soul.”

“Something I’ve learned this year: Sex doesn’t really matter. Not to me, anyway. You’re not a cooler person because you’ve had sex, or a better person because you haven’t. And sex isn’t necessarily intimate, either. Just because someone’s seen your body doesn’t mean they’ve touched your soul.”

“My memories of that time don’t rise to the surface very often, and they become blurrier each time they do. But when I wipe the fog off the lid of that glass box that holds them, they still come back in bits. Fragments. A twirl on a dimly lit dance floor, a gin and tonic in my hand. A smelly kitchen with two chairs, two beers, two souls, late night. Arms wrapped around my neck from behind, his chin resting on my head. The fire, and the trees. A pile of blankets and a swinging chair for two. A spilled glass of water; his head in my lap as I played with his hair. A couch. And two gentle kisses goodbye. This is all I remember now, and even though I don’t feel much anymore, I can remember what I felt then. The memory of it all is what brings me hope and devastation, all at once.”

“It’s hard to look at the big picture all the time. Sometimes, I just want to have fun and experience new things. New people.”

“It’s raining, like it has been all day, and the pitter-patter of droplets on my ceiling is singing my eyelids to sleep.”

Goodnight.

“I’m thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.”
― Ada Limón, “Mowing” from Bright Dead Things

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meet me in the woods

I took a little journey to the unknown,
And I come back changed. I can feel it in my bones.
— Lord Huron, “Meet Me in the Woods”

It’s been weird, being back. At first, I was stuck in Tampa, bored for two weeks. Now, I’m in Gainesville for my sorority’s recruitment process, and I’m unsettled. I feel restless, dissatisfied, and neither utterly happy nor unhappy. Not content, but not discontent either. I’m yearning for more, but trying to adjust to what will be my reality for the next four months, the life I loved just four short months ago in the spring.

I’m a long way from the one that I loved
I’ve been tending old flames, lamenting what was.
— Lord Huron, “Way Out There”

I’m experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance, because sometimes sorority life, and especially the recruitment process, goes so much against my values as a feminist that I want to scream. Sororities are organizations meant to uplift and support women, yet in some ways they restrict and belittle them by making decisions for them and attempting to control, or manage, their behavior, dress, etc. I don’t know how the others don’t see it, how they don’t feel a twist inside their gut every time our chapter advisor gets up to instruct us about wearing Spanx, every time mandatory spray tan sign-up lists get posted, every time we’re told how to act around boys so that they’ll like us. How it doesn’t raise their hackles when nationals rejects our event proposals because they’re “too dangerous,” “too much of a liability,” a “PR risk.” All of these examples show a lack of trust in our ability as grown women to make our own choices. Instead of acting as institutions with women’s best interests at heart, sororities have become national enterprises that aim to guide women according to their standards and, in doing so, discourage them from choosing for themselves what those standards should be. It’s not just my chapter or sorority; it’s all of them. While there are amazing qualities about my sorority that keep me in it, like the sisterhood (it sounds cheesy, but it’s real), sense of community, wonderful friends, and other perks, the superficial, petty, and misogynistic elements that are associated with Greek life as a whole sicken me. Some elements of sorority life, like the recruitment process, are so antiquated, and others mandate conformity or degrade women, even though the people in charge (and most of the chapter) don’t seem to see it. I know they don’t mean badly, but that doesn’t matter to me, nor does it minimize the harm done in a society where women are already held to high and ridiculous double standards.

I been unraveling since my birth
Gonna wander out there and see what I’m worth.
— Lord Huron, “Way Out There”

For the last two years, I’ve been in limbo. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or study and I constantly changed my mind about both. There was no plan; I had no single ambition or goal to strive towards. In the spring, I finally accepted this state of being, embracing my passion for history and the concept of living in the moment. I’d figure it out eventually, and that was okay. But then I took a backpacking trip to Europe for nearly three months this summer, and I came back changed. Different, in some ways. I’ve always been independent and aware of the world around me, but traveling alone increased those qualities tenfold. And for the first time in a long time, perhaps with the strongest conviction yet, I realized, or rather felt: this is what I want to do. I want to see the colors of other skies, swim in faraway seas, dance on narrow cobblestone streets at night, and howl at the moon in a field full of wildflowers. I want to live through every time change, experience different cultures and levels of development, taste exotic foods, and, to put it simply, see the world. Traveling this summer taught me that I could do it. I met people who travel for a living, or work jobs that allow them the opportunity to travel often. It’s within reach now, except for the fact that I’m at university for the next few years and probably shouldn’t won’t drop out. And that’s all good and well, because most of the people I met were at least a few years older than me and had gone through university or a traineeship or something that kept them from traveling longterm for awhile. I have to remind myself that I just have a head start, that I can be in their place in a few years if I want to, that I’m not “missing out.” But watching their Snapchat stories and reminiscing on the amazing time I had, it’s hard not to have a little bit (or a lot) of FOMO. To feel like my reality is a waste of time, and that I’d learn, see, and do so much more if only I were somewhere else. I realize it’s not the best attitude, and I’m working on it, because once school starts and recruitment is over, reality will get better.

But it won’t be the same as it was in the spring, and neither will I.

What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place?
— Lord Huron, “Ends of the Earth”

p.s. Thank you, Kat and Delaney, for letting me talk through my thoughts; Sarah, for commiserating with me; and Dillon, for recommending Lord Huron in my time of need. I am blessed to have you all in my life. xx

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the spring

Light staggers through the trees.
Every moment is filled with other moments.
Richard Jackson, from “About This Poem,” Out of Place: Poems (Ashland Poetry Press, 2014)
It’s so strange, the flow of time. How its passing seems slower or quicker than it actually is, depending on the season, the semester, the people I’m surrounded by. And how it flows differently for different people depending on their circumstances. This spring has been one of the best of my life. So much has changed, I’ve grown so much, and everything that caused me unhappiness in the fall seems to have turned completely around. If I’m being honest, I’m sad to see it end, to have summer right around the corner—just four days away—if only because I can’t quite recall the last period of time I’ve been this content. This happy. They say all good things must come to an end, and I wonder whether I’ll be able to pick it all back up again in the fall. Whether the people I’ve met, the internal changes, will be the same. Of course, realistically, they won’t be. Four months is a long time, and everyone will change over summer. How much, is probably a better question.
I’m sure I will change too. I’m going to travel on my own on at least two other continents for over a month. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous—about navigating places and cultures and languages so different from my own, all alone. I’m nervous about the little details, and getting everything in order, and whether I’ve planned everything right (or perhaps too much). I’m nervous about fitting five or six weeks’ worth of stuff in a tiny carry on bag, and about being too worried about logistics to actually enjoy my trip. But I’m also incredibly excited to see other parts of the world and do it alone and be totally self-sufficient. I know I can handle it. I hope I will well.
This semester has definitely been defined more by my social life than by school. It’s been an adjustment, but a good one; one that I hope will lead to a better school/life balance in the future. I’ve met some wonderful people, and grown closer to friends from the fall. I certainly have branched out, in more ways than one, and, as my mom put it, have really come out of my shell. I’m proud of my growth, my increased social confidence, and my open-mindedness. This spring has felt a bit like junior year of high school, just ten times better.
I’ve honestly had the time of my life.
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