I saw Oz last night with a friend. It was delightful, mostly because I went in knowing that it wasn’t going to be that Great of a movie. I knew that there were probably problems with the story, or whatever. So I pushed that behind me and made fun of the movie in the theatre with my friend.
For 365 days, I waited for it to hit me. I waited through the emergency plane ride home, and through taking a shot of cheap vodka with my brother while I yell at him for not being braver. I waited through prayers on the beach and therapy sessions where I danced around the subject of missing her. I waited for the grief that would hit me like I was a rusty nail hammered into a clean, white wall. I waited to be so overcome with loss that I would run out of classrooms crying, slamming doors behind me and raising my fists to shield myself from the high tide. I waited for collapsing in hallways or on my bed, under twinkling lights that called me home.
And it still hasn’t happened. I continued to live my life in the best way I knew how, searching for some kind of sign that things were going to be okay. I wandered through my life, learning how to party, sinking my feet into the coarse sands of Lake Michigan, listening to the sounds of my childhood with more intensity. Like pedal steel guitar. I moved to embrace the brokenness of my homeland, the sounds of crickets flying through windows. I built myself a deeper nest and found a flock to fly with.
All without her.
I waited for the right time to let go, too. At first, I wanted something tangible, like the ashes I ordered over the phone, while a friend sat patiently on my couch, giggling at the different ways I said, “My mom died there yesterday,” any time I was transferred to someone else who didn’t really care. When those didn’t come, I cut ties with the other son, the older one, the one that wasn’t handling this “as well.” When that didn’t work, I stopped trying, trusting that it would come.
Trust. I never trusted anyone like I trusted my mom. The deep seeds of blood and her nose that sits on my face. The way I talk, the way I rage, the way I cry. The way I remember her, dark and mysterious and full of a melancholy that runs through my bones too. We were always so much more alike than we ever wanted to admit to each other.
These days, I don’t wait, because she taught me not too. She didn’t shelter me into thinking she’d be there forever. I didn’t want to lose her, so I didn’t pay attention when she told me, “There’s never going to be someone who doesn’t know you better than you.” I was ten, and she asked me who I was. I told her “Zach.” She smiled and said, “You’re more than that, baby. Always more.”
It’s hard not to miss her. Not to wish I could tell her all the amazing things I’ve found myself a part of, to whisper through the waves about this boy, or this job, or this apartment. Not to hope that she’s somewhere, experiencing this with me, proud of me like I know she always was. But there’s a deep reverence that comes from losing someone so important. Because they act as a catalyst to the journey you didn’t know you were on.
And it’s okay, because people die when they need to, just like they love when they need to and they leave when they need to. So often, we imagine ourselves as in control of our destinies, but the universe knows more than we do. And it’s not naïve to put your faith into something as simple as not knowing. It’s what we do. It’s how we move on.
For 365 days, I’ve waited for the unknown, waited for the feelings I’ve heard so much about to wash over me, and even though they haven’t, today felt like another step toward something I can’t always recognize. I’ve done it all without her physically, but she still rests somewhere near me—on moth’s wings that climb up my sleeve as I talk about her, or in my room, under the twinkling lights that guide my words, or better yet, somewhere deep inside me, because I can still feel her wisdom running through my veins and in the back of my mind. Because, above anything else, she was my mom, and we were always so much more alike than we wanted to admit.
So writing is good. Exploring themes is good. Being okay writing into the void is good. Feeling good is good. Knowing what I want to do is good. Not questioning it is good. Writing in my journal is better. Not having much to complain about is best.
- Today went remarkably well at Orientation today. It was easily the day I’ve felt productive and like I did a really good job at every task that was thrown at me.
- Plus it was fiction day, and those are always when I feel strongest.
- I wonder if it’s because I feel like I have to do double duty, trying to make sure students are interested and excited to come to school not only at Columbia but in the fiction department.
- Anyhow, things were really good.
- And then, I came home and cleaned a little bit before Felicia, Brian and Rachel came over for book club.
- We made take and bake pizza and had a lively discussion about “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman (which I loved).
- I also got a little schwasted on wine while they were here, but that makes it so much more grown up.
- A few other really good things:
- My nephew got an email address, and that meant he got a blog and thats really precious and I can’t even handle how much I love the email he sent me about his blog. <3
- I found out for sure that I will be going to hang out with my brother-in-law’s family for a few days in August and that I’ll be able to take a train there and I’m so excited.
- I also found out some great financial aid news and I’ll finally be able to get a Macbook this fall. Which will make my life so much more accessible and my computer usage a lot more enjoyable.
- Mainly because my current computer is falling on it’s last legs.
- So anyway, I’ve been having a great week and it’s only Tuesday!
Fourth of July marks half time, a moment to pause and remember that this is just a passing thing, soon everything will revert back to the way they are three seasons of the year—cold and bathed by streetlamps and full of promises made under twinkling lights. Summer makes us different people; cunning and untrue sometimes, selfless and flexible others.
I don’t have anything remarkable to say anymore—I’m taking quick gasps and hoping for the best. I’ve been unimaginably lucky to be surrounded such great people and drinking beer and making a fool out of myself this summer. But I must remember to take inventory of all the relationships in my life instead of hoping they’ll keep up with me.
I’ve had an easier year than most so far, while still overcoming my basic challenges. I feel more well-equipped to live life on my own, completely solvent and stable. Ready to take on whatever I need. And I am keeping on running into things head first, because that’s where the excitement lives.
Earlier tonight, I found a blog post an old friend wrote. We’ll call her Rose. I called Rose my best friend and even lived with her for a little over six months. When we stopped being friends, we stopped being friends hard and loud. I’m still trying to recover my sense of vulnerability in my current relationships (and hell, in my life in general) largely because things ended so painfully with her.Read more
Day 14: Favorite book by your favorite author - Looking for Alaska by John Green
One of the central motifs/symbols/themes/whatever they’re called of this book are the last words of this French writer Francois Rabelais: “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” The main character, Pudge, uses this to explain why he’s going to boarding school in Alabama.
When I was in high school, I hated my life, and I blamed it a lot on Houston, on Texas, on not fitting in with the only culture I ever knew. This book came along at the right time for me (and it was recommended by a librarian, awesome!) and I became enamoured with it and those words.
I soon started plotting my escape. I decided to move to Chicago and try to find my Great Perhaps. Back then, I thought it was literal—that as soon as I found the right place, I would somehow also reach enlightenment. But I went looking anyway, and when I stepped off the plane here, I realized that I was in the right place.
Slowly, I’ve realized that your Great Perhaps is not just one place, but a combination of so many points and crosses and lessons and experiences. I’ve not yet reached that place, but I’m, in theory, constantly in search of it, constantly on the verge of something else, some new facet of my Great Perhaps. And it’s always exciting.
No other book in my life has ever caused me to make a huge life changing decision. I also can’t begin to describe how immensely grateful I am to this book and it’s author for pointing me in a direction I never thought I could go, for changing my viewpoint so drastically for the better.
Also the book is him at his finest. It’s witty, touching and incredible. I love it.
there was a moment tonight where i was not in a room with a hundred other people, but just one, and he was telling me a story and i realized that words are magic in so many ways, that words are more than just squiggles on a page, that they are the reason that i am where i am.
somehow, through all the muck and disasters and triumphs and quiet moments of the past year and a half, i’ve forgotten that writing is not about process, it’s not about what something means, but it is about expression, it’s about getting whatever you have boiling inside of you out out out. it’s about using words as a weapon. it’s about forgiveness, it’s about forgiving yourself.
i’ve been working on so much, been so busy, so caught up in what does this all mean that i forgot why i love all of this. and tonight, i remembered. tonight, i remembered that i love words because they make me feel alive.
and nothing should take that away from me.
determined to make this the best month possible, because i have “onward and upward” on my mind, playing over and over like a mantra and i want to keep that there. today, i remembered my priorities, the things i love most: friends and diner coffee and taking unexpected detours and bookstores and talking about the future and being afraid of it and wanting it at the same time and walking—goddamn how i miss wandering around this crazy, beautiful city.
i’m feeling excited and stable and i know that there are obstacles, but since when has that ever stopped me. i’m exactly where i need to be right now, this month, this year, for better or worse. and i’m ready to let myself be taken by the wind and shown what’s in store.