A Rambling Reminiscence

Yesterday I had this idea for a post, and it was a really good idea. I started pulling it together slowly on my phone on my long commute, where most of my ideas emerge, putting a few words in a draft, and eventually we made it to my stop in Washington Heights, and I closed the app, with every intention of revisiting today. Later that night, I posted a photo on Instagram for this yoga challenge I’m doing (#nerdalert), and after posting, decided to look through old photos to see if I could notice any progress in that pose in the past few months. As I started stalking my own Instagram feed, I reached a point from early summer that made me pause, catch my breath a little and choke back a few tears. I kept scrolling, trying not to get overwhelmed by some of the photos, which feel like a lifetime away in just a few short months, and eventually found the photo I was looking for. The timestamp said it was 32 weeks ago, just 32 short weeks, and I let a tear roll down my left cheek and onto the cat as I realized how far I’ve come in those eight months.

It’s funny how quickly I felt overwhelmed by all the changes in 2015. In living through this year so far, it’s felt like a lot of the same, same-same but different, growing but stale, little changes that don’t add up. There’s something so stark about the pseudo-reality of an Instagram feed that can bring you back to earth real quick. Yoga does that; it brings out the absolute best and the absolute worst in you, it makes you feel like you’re doing everything wrong when really you’re learning baby steps to do it right. Looking at a few photos I could see physical changes in me – look how much more aligned my splits are! I can do that move without blocks now! – but it’s the mental differences that caused the tear to run down my cheek, because the more I scrolled, the less I recognized the person posting photos all these months back.

I can’t explain it, but I felt sad when I got back far enough in the feed. Maybe it’s the mental shift that I’ve had for the past few months in looking forward to the big change next year, but there was something so raw about that girl, that maybe wouldn’t come through in the photos but it certainly came through as I recalled posting each one. There are the photos from the NP trip to Atlantic City in February, just before I started this job, months before I cut my hair, and one of the last times all six of us were together, save for the big wedding last month, of course. There were the photos from my parent’s house in April, relaxing weekends cut short by hospital visits and family emergencies. Even the photos from early summer, where no one is married and we have months of warm weather and rooftops ahead of us, it’s like looking at all the possibilities and reconciling them with what reality turned into in the end.

The great post I wanted to write started with the opener “I’m starting to feel that I’m losing my best friend, or maybe I’m just realizing now that we’re already lost.” Maybe I’ll get around to posting (or well, finishing) that whole post one day, but it seems silly to try and do so now. It seems… wrong? or maybe just more sad, to try and reminisce the way I wanted to after reliving 2015 through an Instagram feed, because I’d be reminiscing for something that can’t exist any longer. Not because we don’t want it to, or I suppose I can only speak for myself there. Of course I’d want it to exist, and I’d love to go back to the way things were. But then again, I wouldn’t want that at all. If I can take anything away from reminiscing the way I did last night, with a slow scroll of an Instagram feed, it’s that things change all the time, through our own progress or through the slow passage of time. Things may be different now, things may never be the same. At the very least, we’ll have the memories immortalized with a slow finger scroll down a page, for times that were, the times that are, and perhaps, in a small way, to the times that may be.

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Tough Love

“No! That’s so selfish. You need to stand up for yourself, this is getting ridiculous.”
“I don’t even think that you should say anything to that”
“At the end of the day, you just have to ask yourself whether that would improve your life or not. And you’re the only one who knows that.”

I’m generally not one for being coddled. As much as I like to hear that I’m always right and obviously perfect, if someone disagrees with me or needs to give me cold dose of reality, I’d prefer they do so, rather than sit on something about which they feel strongly, or stay quiet when they think I’m walking into fire. Be it my work performance, my wardrobe choices, or my indecision related to retrieving missing accessories, I’m usually okay with someone eschewing the “everything is going to be okay” or “you’re always right” in lieu of the truth.

My Nickname Posse, my people, are the best at handing out reality face-palms when I get that dreamy look in my eyes, playing Chicken with the “what ifs” and “why nots.” My lovely friend M in particular is described by mama B (and herself) as a hyper-protective mama bear, having watched me go through so much in the past few years. She let it fly at me earlier this week while I was entangled in a sticky situation, reminding me again and again that I need to look out for myself and I can’t backtrack when I’ve come such a long distance in such a short period of time. To be honest, her words stung for a minute, so I ran to my partner-in-crime R and my fashionista C for different advice, hoping they would tell me that I was right and everything was okay. Instead, they echoed M almost exactly, giving me reality instead of fantasy when it comes to handling my own health and sanity. Stung slightly, my first instinct was to pull away from them, stop sharing my over-analytical thoughts as they unfold in the next few weeks, but the more I tried to convince myself that I know best, the more I realized I don’t.

Exactly a year ago at this moment, I was in the middle of the first break-up with my then-boyfriend, a decision that felt so impossible at the time, pushing me out of a comfort zone into unfamiliar territory of unplanned weekends and nights alone. I remember the first week felt like an eternity; I spent most of those nights buoyed by one of my friends and a lot of alcohol, sometimes crying, mostly trying to figure out what was going to happen, if we would be okay or if this was the forever end. I’ll never forget a night where M came over after a late work shift, nearly 11 p.m. on a weeknight, and held me as I rocked back and forth, wrapped in his tattered grey sweatshirt, sobbing that I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to do, I just didn’t know what to do. She let me cry until I couldn’t, listened to my “What Ifs” and “But Maybes” patiently, and when I finally lifted my head, she looked me square in the eye and said “You know I love you and will support any decision you make. But you were doing this when you guys were together, too. Shouldn’t that tell you what you need to do?”

Sometimes I wish I’d listened to her then, instead of spending the next three months trying to salvage something that was broken beyond repair. But I wasn’t ready for tough love at that point, at least not from her. I was holding on to the life I’d spent three years building in the city instead of looking forward to possibilities. And looking back, it’s okay that I wasn’t ready to give up that life when given that opportunity, but sometimes I look back again and I wish, I wish, I wish I had. So it’s strange now, a year later, to be in a very different place receiving very similar advice. I’m dancing around the same edge, holding on to the same idea that there’s something I can fix on my own, without taking the other parts of the equation into consideration; namely: I can’t daydream my way into a happy ending.

Tough love stings, it burns, and it wants you to pull away furiously from the person holding your hand, gently trying to lead you into an obvious realization that you can choose to be happy above all things. Tough love is like ripping a bandaid off what used to be a bad wound, so nervous that it’s too soon and then so relieved when it’s over.  I’m not saying I agree with the Nickname Posse all the time, or that they will always understand every aspect of the decisions that I make – after all, they may see me in the bad times, hysterically sobbing on my couch, but they don’t see me in the best times, enjoying sushi after a major score on $1 records, nestled in strong arms on my couch at 2 a.m. after the first I-maybe-love-you. In the end, decisions about my life will always be mine. But it will always be nice to know that the people that love me, love me enough to tell me “no” when I don’t want to hear it, tell me to “snap out of it” when I start to daydream about perfect, and tell me “I’ll always be there for you” when I need to hear it the most.