Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Liked A Boy


When I was 19 I really liked a boy who wasn't my boyfriend. 

He didn't live in my hometown. He didn't have the icy blue eyes I was used to. He wasn't anywhere near 6'4 or have a gangly way to his walk.

He had a brilliant smile though. I had known him since I was 11. He smelled like grass. I even told him that. The first time he hugged me after all of those years since I had seen him last, I blurted out, "You smell." 

He had then taken a step back and looked at me confused. I immediately followed up with, "Like grass. But in a good way."

It wasn't really a compliment. But it wasn't an insult either. It was more like a fact that I awkwardly announced when my nerves took the reigns of my mouth. It made him giggle though. Which is the first time that I noticed that I had that power, he told me that later in the night.

"You certainly can't make me laugh, but you do make me giggle."

It's a statement that stuck with me. It's another one of those moments I put in my pocket and kept because it made me feel different than before he had ever said it. It changed something about my confidence.

He would get in his truck to come see me, driving 45 minutes both ways and sometimes his buddies were in tow. I liked that. I liked that he went out of his way to be near me.

We only lasted a summer as I weaved this innocent crush throughout a still young relationship with the man we now refer to as "he." This boy that I really liked who wasn't my boyfriend, he talked to me. He really talked to me. 

He'd make fun of my "city" ways and was well aware that I had someone else in my life. But that someone else I was confused about. I still have the journal entries and letters to "him" to prove it. I needed some space and I filled that space with a boy that lived just north. 

I only saw him a handful of times during those two months at home from college. I was too scared to let go of what I currently had to breakaway and really sort out my feelings for this boy who had brothers and hunted and patted the floor of my parents' basement to signal that he wanted me at his side.

And now, eight years later, I almost fell for his brother (hint: you read about him in the previous post). It's funny how life circles about and how small, small towns really are. It's also strange how I never told my friends about this, except for one who was there a few times when the boy came to visit. It's also the only thing I never came clean about to the "he" who would eventually become my husband.

I kissed another boy. I liked another boy. Another boy made me feel something in a way my boyfriend, at 19, never did. I'm seeing my memories in an entirely different light now. I'm experiencing those moments in my dreams in a whole new way. I'm looking at people I've known for nearly all of my 27-years of life and realizing that I have so much more to write about than the one who stole from me. I can also write about the ones who gave me a lot. That's my clarity.



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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Now Accepting Applications


I sent a snap out recently with the caption, "Now accepting applications for non-crappy people in our lives." Clever, funny, honest, kind of sad, but I'm also serious.

I've been legally single for only a few days, technically single for quite a bit longer this year and I've already experienced my fair share of the scary, vile, confusing and hopeless feelings of the present "dating" world that my friends - of both sexes - have been trying to warn and teach me about.

And then I started writing this and sent a text to my best friend, Brooke. It read:

Writing this stuff. It's like ... how far am I willing to go for people to be eager to read but also humiliate myself?

I actually may have already humiliated myself with my metaphorical "cat out of the bag" post that not only let thousands of readers (which I haven't had in well over a year, thank you for all who made your presence known to Google stats) peek into my personal life but also divulge the biggest dream and goal I have for my life. I have a strong need to become a published author. I may fail, and you may all watch me. I think I can handle that.

The books I love the most are honest. Whether they're fictitious or full of real-life scenarios, I like when it's raw. I don't like sugar-coated or the Facebook version of a story. I like when I can relate in every embarrassing way. So, how far will I go to create that same feeling for my own readers?

...

I'll start here. This is for you, future applicants.

Don't be the guy that's so eager to talk to me that he blows up my phone for two weeks. Finally when I give in to talk to you, you then fall off the face of the Earth until you reappear with a gal in your pictures online. What's the point?

Don't be the person that wants to "teach me things." I don't want to learn things from you. And if I did, it wouldn't be because you told me that you could. It's gross - but admittedly it's also really entertaining.

Don't be the man that pursues me for two months. And when those two months come to a softening point on my end, and I'm ready to see your words through, you fall short. I'm what you said you wanted, by the way, and you screwed it up without explanation.

Don't be married. Even though there's a small part of me that wishes you weren't, I think about your wife and I know how she could feel because I was her at one point.

Instead, don't lie to me, don't sweet talk me and don't play games. If that's what you want, choose the woman that wasn't messed with for 10 years of her life because that's, at least, a little less shitty.

I'm not sure what the goal is if there are no intentions behind the talking. It's a waste of time and effort on both of our parts. Instead of spending your night checking your social media messages or talking selfies, we could have had a real, tangible connection. There's something special about being in another's company even if it's also a little scary sometimes.

Isn't that sad though? That I've only been divorced for a weekend and I can already tell you about four different males that have dropped in and confused, annoyed or hurt my feelings? Only one of them I actually cared about though. And isn't that funny too? I cared about someone that I never got to touch?

He told me a lot of unexpected things; problems he's had in the past and what he's looking and ready for. He showed an interest in my mind. He was unprompted in nearly every sense of his attempt at me. He genuinely surprised me. And eventually, I looked forward to his texts and calls. He asked me out a handful of times. Several times he asked before I was ready. He told me that if I gave him a chance he would show me what it's like to be with a real man. Unfortunately, once I was ready, there were excuses and silence. Real men apologize, he still has the option of doing that.

I was scared to see him, by the way. Although we know a lot of the same people, we'd miss the mark when it came to meeting each other as teenagers. "I think I look better in pictures than I do in real life," I said to my girlfriends. They reassured me though, one said, "If he doesn't think you're gorgeous in real life, then I am personally paying for his trip to an ophthalmologist."

I was worried about my awkward behavior. So another said, "If he doesn't understand your awkwardness Grace, he's not the one for you." She was right, and I was ready. I'd wear blush and my gold sneakers. I would text Brooke midway through because she'd be curious. It would be fine. I had a feeling about this one. Then again, I have mentioned before that my instincts are wrong a lot. He's thought about me today though. And this time I'm not reaching out to try to figure out what the issue is. I did that once already. I'll just have to assume this was a weird game and that I was a part of a list of women to grab attention from. I don't want to assume that though.

And then there was the married one. Whom I told the other one about no less, and he told me to tell him that I was taken - or I was at least going to be - by him. The married one I had a big crush on in high school and he found me via good ole social media while I was on vacation in July. We chatted for a while before I realized that he was someone's husband and it gave me a bad taste in my mouth. So many compliments and ego boosts, dreams on his end and curiosity on mine, but this too would never happen. He's committed to someone else. He gave someone else a promise.

Here's the thing future applicants. I just want simplicity. I want someone to be around. I'm going to love your tattoos. Or your crooked walk. I don't care if you're not that in tune with the English dictionary. I don't care if you work in an office downtown or in a field in the middle of nowhere. I just care that you show up when it matters and when you say you will. I care that when you say you'll call me back, that you do it. I care that you're sensitive to the fact that I'm going to be skeptical about everything you say until you prove me otherwise, unfortunately you're guilty by association - association of having a penis and so far my track record isn't the greatest.

I want you to pull me out of my comfort zone and challenge me in as many ways as I will challenge you. Because I will. And that can be a lot of fun for both of us.

The upside to the madness? More material for me to write about. The downside? The writing will probably add to reasons why future applicants may run from me. Tis my life. The ones with balls will stay.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

I Am Free

For the past several months I’ve felt like every part of my life became dull where it used to be filled with so much light. It had become a nagging, aching feeling that I wasn’t able to control or fix. But I am beginning to heal.

I am divorced.  But I'm also free.

Part of the healing process, for me, was to write about it all. My friends and family know that I’ve been faced with something that no one should have to go through. Others have noticed the turmoil. And it’s time to share my story.

I’ve always wanted to be a published author. That’s the end goal. I want my name on a tangible piece of literature and I want people to have the opportunity to read the words that I’ve sewn together. And when my heart broke on February 5th, 2016, I knew that this was what I was meant to do. I was meant to invite people inside my personal life and have them read about every beautifully intimate moment I’ve had in the last 10 years.

Some of you may start reading what I have written and question it. Why is she sharing so many details about her marriage? Why would she want people to know any of this? The answers are simple.

This is relevant. It’s relevant because it just happened to me. It’s also relevant because it could very well happen to you. It could happen to your sister or best friend. It may have happened to your mother. It may be happening to your neighbor right now. I don’t want to feel ashamed or embarrassed by this part of my past and I don’t want anyone else facing similar issues to have that be a part of their conscience as they try to navigate their way through the rollercoaster of emotions they’ll eventually be hit with.

Also, I come from a very small town. And instead of using up the next decade telling all the ones I love and respect about what happened to my family, I’d rather them read about it. I’d rather them know the details without a game of telephone screwing up the intricacy of it all. There are two sides to every story, yes. But this one is quite cut and dry where the ending is concerned.

I welcome you to 10 years’ worth of memories. They are magical, memorable, embarrassing memories. Not every great love story ends well. There doesn’t need to be a happy ending for it to have been real or worth it. In fact, sometimes the best ones, end in the worst ways. And that’s what happened with mine.

Read the parts that I decide to divulge now. Share it with everyone you know. I’ve had so much support from my community over the years that I know they’ll have my back more than ever now.  And I’ll continue to uncover pieces of what I’ve written with all of you as I simultaneously scour the nation trying to hook a literary agent and get this thing published.

Today I’m sharing a prologue piece. This was the first few paragraphs I wrote within the first few weeks. I was still in shock and still falling asleep at night praying that it wasn’t happening. I was still waking up in the mornings wishing it was all a dream. But it wasn’t and I’m okay. I became a single parent overnight feeling abandoned and thrown away. And I can say with 100% certainty that I am proud of how I’ve managed to not only stay afloat but sail through it all with my character still intact.

And for those with a question in their heads concerning him. He knows about this. He supports it. He trusts me to tell our truth. But I still don’t have an explanation as to why. I’ve been given no respect or courtesy of a conversation. That’s okay at this point though, I’ve come to my own conclusions and maybe you will too.

.....................................................................................................................................................

He: Prologue 

We’re all taught that when life hands you lemons you should be creative, smart, strong and motivated enough to make lemonade out of them. But what happens when the person you love and trust most in the world hands you suitcases full of rocks that weigh you down so much you start questioning who you are? I’ll tell you what you do. You start picking up each damn rock and throwing it right back at them. And they learn to never question your strength again.

I won’t pretend like I’m perfect. I can be infuriating. I can be stubborn and harsh. I can nag, I can push and I can make someone feel very small with just a few spewed words. But I didn’t deserve what happened to my marriage. I was a devoted wife; proud even. I adored him and his silly socks. I adored the way he would pat my arm during movie previews when he’d get excited about a new Marvel film. I adored his love of chocolate ice cream and the way he would scream, “I have binge eating disorder!” on late nights when he couldn’t control a severe case of the munchies. I even adored his anal tendencies when it came to alphabetizing the Blu-ray collection or sorting through his Disney trading pins. He never missed a goodnight kiss, an I love you, or a whisper goodbye in the morning, but that was all a part of the fa├žade.

I gave him everything. My heart, my time, my commitment, my future, my virginity; I wrapped my life up tight, topped it with a gilded bow and handed it right over to him. And he unwrapped every inch. He was a con artist and I was his muse.

...


I grabbed my phone and started taking a video of her petite frame, kissing her own reflection and shaking her booty to the music that seemed to run on a loop inside of her strawberry-blonde covered head. I loved this part of our mornings together. We’d snuggle up for another hour or so after he jetted off to work and once fully awake for the day, I’d sing, “Give yourself a kissy in the morning time,” as I placed her in front of my vintage, full-length mirror. Although a daily occurrence, this particular moment was far too adorable to go un-recorded.

Throughout the day he was still saying his I love you’s and kissed me goodbye on his way out the door. He texted to ask what Claire and I were doing that afternoon and he called when he got to 12th and Porter after work to let me know he’d be done by 7pm and on his way home. It was a typical day, with a routine that could become numb and taken for granted. And then with no warning, my entire life was crumbling around me. My daughter’s life was being shaken to its core. At 13-months old her father was making a decision that couldn’t be “fixed,” no matter what kind of mother I decided to be.

I married a goddamn great actor.

 No, he wasn’t making money off of commercial appearances or featured extra roles on Law & Order, instead he faked being the best man I had ever met for ten years. And the winter I turned 27, a week after he totaled my car and two weeks after we celebrated our third year of marriage, he ripped my heart out. He blindsided me with, “I think we should get a divorce,” on a Friday night after I noticed that his breath wreaked of alcohol and realized that the reception he needed to attend for work that evening was merely a night out with a someone or somebodies that I had never met. A change of clothes in the car, cigar smoke in the air, I had no idea of the person that he had been evolving into over the final six months of our marriage.

 This shocked my side of the family so hard that we all cried. No one saw it coming. We were the couple that everyone else wanted to be. We were the family my brother and sister dreamed of having for their own – love, trust, companionship, no drama, easy days. Waking up to a baby that will kiss you without hesitation and coming home to a wife that loved with so much honesty and trust that she, genius IQ intact and all, was duped. There was never a doubt that this was what was meant to be, so much so that I often thought my life was too good to be true. But apparently there was a doubt. He just never filled me in on it. There was no warning. There was no explanation. There was just the view of his back as he walked out the door.   

Who wants to be a 27-year-old divorcee? I sure as hell didn’t but I was well on my way to becoming one.


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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Healing


I've been sitting in my living room watching Claire play with her baby dolls while I try to get a jump on my deadlines for the week. I can't work in my office right now, partly because I don't have a desk. But I also don't want to miss little moments like what I just witnessed. 

Without looking behind her, Claire goes to take a seat on her fluffy, bunny chair her Grandparents' got her for her birthday. She completely missed though and fell right onto her bottom. She was startled at first, but she laughed it off. It was small, but it was so special. 

The initial shock after a fall, it's scary. Whether it's literally or figuratively, when your ass hits the pavement it hurts. But what do you do afterward? Do you shake it off and pull yourself together like Claire? Or do you keep looking back at the fall and eventually crash again? 

She gave me a giggle tonight. But she also reminded me of a lesson that I've had to teach myself and work through this year. When your ass hits the pavement, get up. Don't just sit there and watch yourself bleed. Get up and do your best to start healing. 

I'm to the point in my own healing that I'm ready to have fun. I'm happy to be excited about who I've become after the fog has faded. I'm even looking forward to sharing this version of myself with a missing piece one day. A missing piece that plans to take the reigns of this messy, loyal, awkward, nervous, funny life and make it better with me. 

My healing isn't over, I'm not sure that it ever will be. There will be residual resentment, anger, heartache, skepticism, trust issues, hopelessness, bad memories and trauma. But that's why I plan to keep doing what's helped me, even when I was uncomfortable and had to force myself to jump completely outside of what I was used to. 

Spin class, obnoxious amounts of text messages with Brooke, coloring, journaling, videos of Claire, organizing my closet, Arzelle's, perfecting eyebrow makeup, designing a new tattoo, counseling, daily affirmations, dates with Leah, James Bay, admitting it to people, concert tickets, swallowing the embarrassment, making a point to take care of my skin, spending extra money on hair vitamins, drive-throughs with Lauren, seats at the theatre, not feeling guilty about my crap TV obsession, trip planning, daydreaming, smack talk with Ashley, finding my perfect Starbucks order, pedicures, Sam's pep talks, putting the jewelry in the safe, Meghan Trainor, selling everything else, knowing that we're really going to be just fine, Nicole's steady spirit, car chargers, my family ... all of this and more has become a big part of my own healing. 

I'm sure I'll find more. I hope to find someone. And I really cannot wait to be freed from all the secrets. 

Let's pray for a really great week. 
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Front Steps


I looked down at my phone after the buzz. I hadn't heard from him in a while.

Are you ever going to write about me?

I thought about it for a moment. Should I tell him how much I already had written about him through the years? Did he want me to? Was he scared?


I texted back.

Eventually, yes. Is that okay?


His reply came swift.

YES! We were worth writing about.


Which got me thinking, what would I share and perfect that I had already jotted down? Would I ever share it? Would people figure out who I was writing about or would they simply appreciate the memory? I hoped for the latter.

.......................................................................................................................................................

We would talk all the time. We were both analytical. Even the smallest of subjects would take days to sort through. It was all just a way to put off how we were feeling. I'd act tough but I adored him. Everyone knew it too, except for him. He was clueless but also quite arrogant. I loved that. Because I also knew that arrogance was just pretend.

Despite my name being Grace, I've never been the most graceful. I trip daily. I have bruises from the unknown. But thanks to my extra-special balance and wobbly ankles, I fell into a moment with him. Walking up the concrete steps at my parents' house, I missed one and slid right into his side. And he didn't miss a beat, wrapping his right arm around me. Giggling, he whispered into my ear, "You're my best friend." 

I held on a little tighter than normal and turned my face to him. We were nearly the same height. "I know," I replied. And that's when he did it. All this time goofing around and walking on eggshells, this could have happened already.

He kissed me softly and I pulled away not out of instinct but out of surprise. This was a running theme in my string of first kisses. I made it weird and even more awkward. I said things aloud that I shouldn't say. But it didn't ruin anything with him.

I held my head back and squinted. "Did you really just do that," I asked.

"Was I not supposed to?" He was laughing at me again.

He knew me so well. We lingered a bit and my hands cupped his face. I traced his lips with my thumbs. Knowing that I wouldn't ever be gutsy enough to go in first, he went for it again. He taught me a lot of things, one being how to kiss and mean it.

"I'm not going to say that I've been waiting my entire life for that, but I've definitely been waiting for several months," he said through an ego-fueled smirk.

I was still waiting for him to soften completely with me. So I replied, "Well, now you'll have to wait just a little longer for the next," as I closed the front door behind me.


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