The last book I put together took three weeks to self-publish. Three weeks to look through the poetry in my journals, type up the ones that made the cut, design the layout, edit, and send off to print. Three weeks.
Traveling was the only running I’ve ever been able to do because in high school, I was hit by a car the first day I rode my new bike to school. I was mostly fine except for some pretty serious knee damage and a severely bruised ego. My doctor said my knee would get better over the years and would be greatly helped through low impact exercise like riding a bike or swimming a few laps in the pool. Well the universe doesn’t want me riding bikes, obviously, and I’m scared of water, so naturally I did what any other injured and lazy person would do: nothing. Needless to say, I was never a runner, before or after the accident. Ironically, running was my biggest dream and my most seemingly unachievable goal way back in my childhood. Running in the metaphorical sense, of course. Hence the traveling. Sloppy solutions deserve sloppy introductions.
I stopped dreaming today and yesterday and for a while now. Most days, I convince myself to let my dreams go into the wind and find someone who wants to hold them and love them and keep them, but they never leave in their fullness. Scraps of each always remain and grow no matter how much I refuse to water them. My breath is their sunlight. I’ve started to realize that some part of them will probably stay with me as long as I live, but I’ve decided to stop letting them creep into my heart and soul. I have to accept these dreams are not mine to hold anymore.
The first thing a lot of people said when I told them my partner and I decided to get married was something along the line of, “You’re getting married?! The one who used to say she would never get married?!” It’s funny, mostly, because I used to say that any chance it came up. My family would bug me about finding a boyfriend because I was getting old and because they thought a man would finally calm me down. I guess they thought that a man would make me fall in love and that his love would change me into the sweet, nice young lady they always wanted me to be. Every time I had my quick little retort locked and loaded. “I’m never going to get married.”
When days are hard and tomorrow promises to be new and fresh and hopeful, you find yourself chasing after that hope. You look forward to sleeping off the day you just lived and to waking up empty, ready to be filled with whatever this new tomorrow will bring and if that one is bad too, then there’s always the next tomorrow. More and more, I’ve found myself chasing sunsets that signal that these tomorrows are almost here and hoping they’ll set on more than just the day.
Life feels like a delicate balance of just trying to hold yourself together. One moment you’re a mountain, strong and permanent, resilient and only changing over thousands of years, but then the world collapses and you fall into a sea of your own tears. You’re reduced to rubble on the ocean floor. Sometimes life won’t let you hold yourself together.
The palms of my hands sweat more often and the pit of my stomach seems infinite. The sun doesn’t seem so bright anymore and I don’t look for stars in the night sky like I used to. Most days, I feel like I’m walking through a fog, dazed and searching for answers without first knowing the question. It feels like I’m wandering through a forest, but I know exactly where I’m going even if I don’t know how to get there. What the hell are you doing to me?
In this life, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I’m selfish. Probably too many times and every time someone expressed my perceived selfishness, I believed them. Why wouldn’t I? Over the course of my life, I taught myself to embrace this selfishness, I accepted that I was a selfish person and it wasn’t ideal, but what could I do if this was really me? What else could I do but nod, smile, and crack a joke.
My parents didn’t raise me to change my mind. They raised me to follow God and the people who claim to love him more than I do blindly, with no doubts or burning questions taking up space in my mind where the faith it supposed to live inside me. My parents raised me to believe like them.
Life happens so fast. One second you’re headed to your first day of kindergarten and the next you’re at your big kid job trying to pay the bills. Some people stop dreaming along the way and some people dream too much. Some people find solace in security, others in spontaneity. When did we all get so different from the kids who fought over the same jungle gym? When did we all get too good for each other?