So, moving day had come. I wasn't even fully packed yet. Go figure. But, I figured... whatever. I was only moving onto my schools campus about twenty minutes away. If I forgot something.. whatever. I wasn't that far away. So, me, my parents, and one of my best friends hopped into the car with my luggage and made our merry way towards freedom.
My thoughts were going a mile a minute. "I can't wait. Oh my god, this is going to be amazing. Oh my - oh my god, what in the hell...". We had arrived at the campus. It was a ZOO. And that was putting it mildly. It was raining and it took like half an hour to figure out which room I was in. But, then we got it. We walked in and saw... my roommate. Oh yeah. I had forgotten about her in all of the excitement. But, hey, that was okay. We had communicated over email for awhile and she seemed nice enough. Besides, we actually had separate bedrooms, we just shared a bathroom. No big deal. Except.. well, why was her stuff in both rooms? Refusing to be daunted, I asked her:
"Hey.. [insert roomates name here.. actually.. we'll call her B.]. Why is your, um.. stuff in both rooms?"
"Oh," was her reply. "I haven't figured out which one I want yet."
Uh huh. Okay. So, we sit there for a bit as she figures out which one is better. (I am not gonna lie to you guys. They were both exactly the same.) Then, her mom and her sister leave and it's just us and her. I get my stuff unpacked, and glance around. This doesn't look like home. This roommate of mine who has no been singing some Broadway musical song at the top of her lungs totally off key.. I have to live with her? (Don't get me wrong, I adore Broadway musicals. Just, not sung by her. I'm just sayin'." I glance at my best friend who is already inching towards the door. She's made her opinion clear from the beginning. What the HELL is this place? Something along those lines. Then I shift my glance to my parents. "Mom?" I say softly. I suddenly don't want them to leave. But, they do. A blur of hugs, and words like "We'll see you soon. Call us. Have fun!".
I blink a few times when they're gone and swiftly whipe that wet thing off my face. Come on, Steph. What's wrong with you? This is what you WANTED. FREEDOM! My roommate comes in and suggest we go hang out with some of the rest of the freshmen. Yes. This is good. I glance once more at my computer which would not have the internet for four more days (something I was UNAWARE of until I got there.) and then agree to go with her, holding onto my cell phone.
We meet some people. Two guys. One of them immediately starts hitting on me. I tell him I have a boyfriend. He spends the rest of the few minutes we stood with them (really, the rest of the year.) asking me how serious it was and if I was SURE that it was going to last forever. Because, if not... *sigh*. Then, we met some short-ish girl with pink hair. She seemed interesting at least. And she told me she was going to teach me how to play the guitar. Alright then. Cool. (Actually, that girls name is Faithe and she remains a very good friend of mine to this day. She might even be reading this. Hi Faithe!).
We mingle some more, turning each corner to find a group of people drinking (this was like 2:00 pm) or smoking up at each point. This was weird. Okay, no. This was NOT what I wanted.
My then boyfriend arrived. He was over it from the moment he stepped in, which is okay. I mean, he was eight years old than I was.. for him, this was "been there, done that." I pleaded with him to get me the fuck out of there. He obliged and we spent that day together. But, he eventually had to take me back.
The next few days was a whirlwind. It seemed at every turn things got weirder and weirder. One of the few friends I had made thus far, packed up her stuff and went home. My roommmate got weirder and weirder and found a boyfriend very quickly who was even weirder than she was. After only two days, I had her number - my money went missing, dishes in the sink piled up towards the ceiling, and their loud sexual encounters still haunt my dreams. Also, the fridge smelled from.. whatever they had put in there. (They took out my alcohol to make room for their funny smelling things. And drank it. Another lovely habit.) Thank god for Faithe and her roommate Michelle and my other friend Melly, or I would have LOST it. As it was I came pretty close. I broke down a few times and called my parents begging them to let me come home.
"This isn't what I wanted1" I cried out. "I'm not ready for this!"
They wouldn't budge. Understandably so, now. Then, I thought they were evil. EVIL.
My boyfriend couldn't do much to help either. He was living with his parents again, trying to save up some money.
I didn't get it. With no one telling me what to do and how to do it, I was left to figure it out by myself. I didn't like that.
And the classes - oh the classes were nothing like high school. This was HARD.
I tried. I tried and I tried, but I could not adapt to this "grown up" life. I couldn't handle being on my own with all of this freedom. I couldn't handle the crazy roommate. I just wasn't ready for any of it. My first semester marks were dismal, to say the least. I didn't eat for awhile.. no, I mean, I COULDN'T eat, so high was my anxiety. I lost weight and then put it (and more) back on second semester when I started to use eating as a way of coping with the stress of it all.
For the first little while (okay, almost the whole year.), I wanted to be back at home. I recognized how odd it was, that I wanted to be back at home. After all, I was the one who pushed to be out in the first place. I was the one who couldn't WAIT to get out.
We eventually came to an agreement - I spent the week on campus and on Friday nights, I went home until Sunday. But, even with that agreement, I was unhappy. Totally unhappy.
I didn't get it then.. but I guess now I do. There is a difference between wanting something - and being READY for that same something.
After that year, I moved in with my boyfriend. We lived together for three years until we broke up this past April, and while I was living with him I was fine. Ironically, I now live with my dad and want to get out again. Go figure. But, it's not so bad anymore.. and now I know that when I do get out, I'll be fine. I just wasn't ready then. I was totally and completely unprepared for the life that I thought I wanted.
Live and learn...
Now, I'm not talking about basically making yourself into a doormat who lets other people walk all over you. That isn't what I mean. Don't do that. That's bad. I understand all about having to look after yourself, because if you don't - who will? TRUST ME, I understand that. But, come on, people, there is a LINE.
For example - you want a seat on a bus. Well, hey, that's cool. I mean, hell, it's been a long day, you're tired. We get that. I am all for trying to get a seat on a bus. Here is what I am not for: Getting a seat on the bus because the woman who was originally sitting there, misjudged where the seat was, and fell on her ass. And, instead of helping her (I mean, the woman was probably in her 80's), you go and claim her seat. Ridiculous! Are you kidding me?!
Or, oh my goodness, okay. If you live in a big city, you'll know what I'm talking about here - CABS. Yes. You are in a hurry. You need to get to where you're going. That does NOT make it okay to ZOOM in front of another person who is about to get into a cab and STEAL THAT CAB FROM THEM. It is NOT okay to do that! There are LOTS of cabs around, wait your turn! Why do you think that what YOU have to do is more important than what another person has to do?!
Or, okay, so today I was calling an oral surgeon.. I have to get my wisdom teeth out. It'll be good times for sure. And this receptionist puts me on hold for TWENTY minutes. Ridiculous! So, finally I hang up and call back and she's like "Sorry, I had to finish eating." You had to - are you kidding me?!?! All I'm trying to do is book an APPOINTMENT! You don't put a person on hold for twenty minutes because you are EATING! Take a break! Write their name down on the calander and THEN go back to your food!
Common courtesy. Common decency. Looking out for someone other than yourself once in awhile. That's all - really - is it that difficult?
I mean, again.. I understand you do need to look out for yourself. do. But, COME ON - sometimes, it just gets ridiculous.
What do we name it?
Hope is the right word - hope is the bravest, most beautiful bird in the sky.
These are the lyrics to a song that was just released. The song is performed by Idina Menzel. (The original Elphaba in Wicked, Maureen in RENT, Nancy from the movie Enchanted.... etc.) I would absolutely post the song, but it is not yet released to the public and only to members of her fan club.. so I can't.
It's funny though. Of all the weeks for a song entitled "Hope" to come out, this was certainly a good one.
As I sat there watching history being made this past Tuesday, I thought a lot about the word "hope" and about this entry that I still had to write. I wasn't sure what I was going to do it on. Part of me wanted to discuss the new soon-to-be president of the United States. Part of wanted to discuss my own life and the hope that I have found or lost among the way. Part of me just wanted to talk about Idina's new song and what it did for me - and I kept on trying to figure out what to do... and now it's Thursday night. I have to write the entry. And I still don't know what to talk about. So - I am going to do it all.
I think that almost every one of us has lost hope before. Whether we have lost hope for ourselves, for other people in our lives, or for the entire world.. we have all felt the feeling of hopelessness. And, really, I think that that is one of the worst feelings to have. When you have no hope, what do you have?
You all know (if you have been reading.) that I have had a tough year. I sure felt that sense of hopelessness a lot. But, not anymore. I won't let myself anymore. I am finding hope wherever I can.
Everyone finds hope in different places.. here's where I find it.
In children. In particular, my cousin. I look at her and I see a child who has been through so much already. Her father died when she was only five. She had to learn, so early, about the life, and death, and loss. And, yet, she fiercely believes that she will see him again in heaven. She believes that he still loves her and that that is what is important. Her attitude gives me hope every single day. And, children in general. It sounds corny, but they ARE the future.
In my friends, and family, and even some people that I don't even know who have been through such horrible hardships but have managed to be strong and stick it through and have TRULY gotten through it. At one point, they held no hope for their own futures. Now, so many of them are so much happier than they ever thought possible. And some of them still aren't happy, but they keep waking up and getting out of bed every morning and living. And they know that eventually... things will be okay.
In the song I posted above. I don't know why, but it truly inspired me from the first moment that I heard it... even just the line I posted. It reminded me that you DO have to have hope, even when it's hard and that there is nothing better.
In people that are in love. No matter who they love - no matter what race, what gender, whatever. The people who love each other unconditionally, who have somehow managed to find each other in this crazy world and hold on to each other and cherish each other.
And... where else do I find hope? I hesitated in putting this in, because I don't want to upset anyone who may not feel the same, but I feel that I would almost be lying if I didn't include it, since it IS where so much of my hope is coming from these days.
In this man and his wife and his daughters and his vice president and his supporters.
In the country that he will soon be running even though I don"t even live ther.
I truly feel that whether you are an Obama supporter or not... that this still inspires hope. Look at how far the world has come. Yes - the fact that Obama is bi racial is not the reason that he should have been elected - and I don't think it was. But, I also do feel that this fact has to be brought to attention. I think it speaks such huge volumes of where we are today versus where we were not so long ago.
And, of course, there is so much more than his race. There is him. Who he is. What he stands for. He does give me hope. In fact, I have never in my life felt more hopeful than I did when Barack Obama was elected the next president of the United States.
And, you know what? Sometimes, I think it's HARD to have hope. What if you have all this hope and then you get let down? Won't that hurt more than if you just expect the worst all the time?
It might. But, to me.. to walk around with no hope, with no positive thinking that tomorrow will be better than today - to me, that is far worse than the chance of being let down. But, yes - hoping is hard. Hoping is brave. But, hoping.. is so worth it.
Hope truly is the bravest, most beautiful bird in the sky.
Quick question: does anyone need a website? Or know anyone who does? I have a friend who does amazing work for really cheap prices and she could use some work.... just passing it along.. plus, she has a cool referral system in place, so I can make a few dollars too which is nice.. haha. If you know anyone, please let me know. :)
As I glance out the window and see all of the Halloween decorations, I generally feel a sense of happiness. I love the fall. And I used to LOVE Halloween as a kid. Halloween also means, at least to me, the beginning of the holiday season. And I used to LOVE that as well. But, this year is different...
Ghosts. We all have experienced them. Some of us have had experiences with "real" ghosts. Some, just with the ghosts of our own pasts. Sometimes these ghosts are in the form of other people - sometimes they are in the form of our past selves. For me, this year, right now - my biggest ghost is me. Who I was. Not that long ago.
Now, again, we all know the breakup story already. I am not trying to downplay it, it's just that I've talked about it a couple of times already - but, it was more than a breakup. For me, it was the start of my transformation.
Of course, right after he left, I was numb. I honestly feel like I was a shell of a person. My days consisted of barely speaking to anyone, watching mindless TV, and thinking - always thinking. I did horribly on my final exams (yes.. he left right before finals... excellent timing on his part, right? But, then, he always was considerate like that.... ) and I dropped my summer course before I even really gave it a chance.
A couple of months after the breakup, came another breakup. My parents who had been married for just a couple months short of 25 years split up. Of course, when you have been married for that long and have three children, it is never just about the two of you... it becomes a split up family. So, a little while later, I was put in that position that usually haunts children - "choose where you want to live.". Of course, I had only recently moved back in with my parents after having lived with "him" for three years...
I "chose" my dad, not because I like him better.. they're both my parents.. but just because I felt that he would be easier to live with.
Then, my brother who had been home for the summer, left and went back to school five hours away.
The majority of my friends really stepped up and were there for me, including some who I had barely spoken to in months. I also became much closer to other friends due to a new common bond (great, but what crappy circumstances to become closer in... ). I am not, by any means, trying to say that I lost EVERYTHING, because I didn't. Some of those friends will be reading this and to them, I say thank you...
But, even with the great friends, of course my life changed dramatically - and not for the better. I changed too. I cried a lot more. Still do, I suppose. Things that didn't matter before started mattering more, simply because I felt they should now that I was "single". Like, what I did on a Saturday night. Things as simple as family dinners became a huge source of anxiety - who was going to be there? Who's car do I travel from the resteraunt back to my grandmothers car in? Things like school have become so much harder now too - I was doing well - and then, last years finals were SO bad that I sometimes find myself in the mentality of "what's the point anymore?"
And, now, it's fall. I remember last Halloween, handing out candy with him then spending time with my family. I remember last holiday season with him - our best yet. And I get nervous. I don't know how to do this without him.. I don't know how we are going to have our first family holiday season when our family has been cut in two - I sometimes work myself into such a panic over these things that I forget how to breathe and all I can do is remember how it was...
My ghost is myself. My former self. I haunt myself with memories of how happy I used to be, how great my life used to be, and how much potential I had.
But, see.. the thing about ghosts.. is that sometimes, if you don't fight back a little, they will never leave. I am trying. I am trying SO damn hard to do that. I talk myself through things every day. I draw inspiration from friends and other people (I totally read an article about Marcia Cross the other day that I took inspiration from.) who have been through similar, or even worse, situations and have made it through. I remind myself of the good things in my life, and try to surround myself with positive people. But, even still.. at least for now...
My ghost is myself. And, I haunt myself every damn day.
A couple of weeks ago, the topic for LJ Idol had to do with bliss. You know.. one of those moments where everything is good in the world. I spent days turning that topic over and over in my head and I couldn't think of anything to write. I don't mean to say that my life is terrible or anything, by any means, but lately, as most of you know, I have not had much to be "blissful" about. So, I decided to use my "bye" (kind of like a free pass to miss a week.) that week.
That said - while I could not think of anything that would qualify as "bliss", there was something that came fairly close. I couldn't really think of a way to work it into the topic of "bliss", but I hoped I would be able to incorporate it into something later on. And, here we are. This week, LJ Idol has given us an open topic. So, I am going to talk about what I have been wanting to talk about for weeks now.
New York City. Wait. Hold up. Not just the city itself. I mean, we all know it is a fantastic place. There really is something for everyone there - and for a crazy musical theatre fan like me? There is a LOT there. But... it's more than just the city.
Let's backtrack a bit. After the breakup of that lovely long term relationship (and engagement.), I was obviously messed up for awhile. I went through the motions and was able to function and all, but nothing really made me happy anymore. My ex and I had had tickets to go see RENT in NYC in July. I have loved the musical RENT since 1998, and so I knew that despite the whole.. break up thing.. I was going to see RENT in NYC. I got a friend up for the plan, and plans were made. I was going to be in NYC for three days in July. But... I still wasn't all that excited.
Then, I got an email about a cast change that was happening in RENT. Ummm.. yeah. Suddenly, my plans changed. I had to see RENT when this new cast change was to take place. See.. the person who was going to be joining the cast was someone who I have wanted to see play that role on stage for, like, ever. Plus, she's a friend. And she's amazing. So - after a lot of work, a lot of hassle, phone calls to other friends, and a LOT of planning - I was now going to be in New York for almost two weeks.
Still, though, I wasn't thrilled. I mean.. I was excited and all.. but I wasn't thrilled. I got on the Greyhound that day, my thoughts full of what the hell had gone in my life, with just a little tiny bit of "Hm.. New York. This should be fun."
That's how I spent the bus ride there. And then.. I stepped out of the bus. Onto the New York City sidewalk. And suddenly... I can't even explain it.. but I felt like I was home. I had been to NYC before, of course, but never like this.. for this long.. as an adult.
The trip went way too fast. I saw so many of my friends, some who live there, some who also traveled down (or up...) there at the same time. We saw shows (not as many as I would have liked, but still! Shows!), we ate, we did a LOT of walking. I got to see that friend of mine perform on Broadway, performing a role that she had wanted to do for YEARS. (I cried a little, not gonna lie.) I got to go backstage at RENT at the Nederlander theatre in New York City. Now, THAT was cool. ;)
The crazy thing is... the whole time.. it was like the dark cloud that had been following me around for weeks and weeks and weeks.. it was just... gone. I literally, at one point, walked into a store and saw something that full out reminded me of the ex. I turned to my friend and went.. "I should be feeling something right now. But.. I'm not." It was amazing.
Now.. I'm not saying it's still like that. It's certainly not always sunshine and lollipops for me these days. I am no longer in that amazing headspace that I was in back then. But, now, because of that one trip, I have hope. I have knowledge that something out there can make me that happy.. and can make me forget, even temporarily, the sadness and anger that I so often carry around with me.
I'm going back this summer. And, when I am done with school, moving there, at least temporarily, is certainly an option.
And, you know... some people say it wasn't anything that amazing.. that a change of scenery always does you good.. that's all it was. But, it was more than that. I had plenty of major changes of scenery before I went to NYC. None of them felt like that.
That city is my home. That city gives me hope. That city saved my sanity... and I am so grateful.
So... do you ever say good bye forever?
I have to admit when I saw this topic, I laughed. I mean... I am practically an expert on this subject by now. And to all of you on my friends list, you all probably think I am going to write about the breakup of my engagement... but, in fact, I am not! I know! Crazy... I am going to write, instead, about a good bye that I said on August 19th 2007.
First, I suppose I should give a little back up info. My immediate family, which consists of my parents, my brother, my sister and I (and I suppose, at the time, my then fiance Mark could be counted in that group.) is extremely close to my moms side of the family - that is, my grandmother (so, my mothers mother.) and my aunt (mom's sister.) and her family which at that time consisted of her husband, her son, and her daughter. I think I explained all that properly.. I hope so!
Okay. Moving on. So, August of 2007 really started out as any other month did. Mark (the now-ex fiance) and I had planned a trip to LA and San Fransisco which was supposed to be happening around the end of the month, and I was really excited for that... other than that.. all was normal. One evening, I was talking to my dad on the phone when he casually mentioned that my uncle (so, this is my... mothers sisters husband.) had been to his doctor recently, as he wasn't feeling well - again. I have to admit that I took the news just as casually as it was offered. See.. my uncle had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. But.. he was better. He was in remission. He had had so many treatments done...
The next day, I got a call from my mother who was in tears. My uncles cancer was back. Again. This was, like.. the third or fourth time. I don't even remember right now. And the doctors were at a loss. They had tried the chemo. They had tried other treatments. They had even tried a stem cell treatment. They told my uncle that he really only had two choices. "Choice number one? Do another round of chemo. It could work. Maybe. But, you've had a lot of chemo done already... and your body may not be able to handle another round. Choice number two? We do nothing. You should have a couple of months... look, we're really sorry.... take the weekend.. think about it. Come back in on Monday."
This was on a Friday.
That night, we left my aunt, uncle and cousins in peace to talk and whatever else they wanted to do. But, the next day, we all gathered at my aunts. I felt almost like it was wrong to do that.. as if we were attending a funeral already or something... but, of course, I went. My uncle was there. He was making jokes (that was him. Always joking.). He ate. He drank some iced coffee. Then, as evening came, he started to act a little bit weird... he was saying things that didn't really make a whole lot of sense.. we were all worried, but we thought maybe it was the pain pills he'd been taking or something... Mark and I went home that night after saying good bye to him and telling him we would see him the next day.
I remember Mark and I went to Subway that night and I couldn't eat. How could I? This was just.. tragic.
The next day, Mark, my brother, my brothers girlfriend and I were supposed to go to Niagara Falls. After getting the news about my uncle, though, we had decided to wait and see how things went before we decided for sure if we were going to go or not. That morning, I was in the shower and I asked Mark to call my brother. He did.
I came out of the shower and the look on Marks face told me everything that I needed to know. He was gone. It hadn't been a couple of months. Hell, it hadn't even been a couple of weeks. It had been two days. Two days.
I am not going to write all the details about how he died and what happened directly after, because I know it would be too much for some - understandbly so. All I will say is that he died at home and it was traumatic. Extremely.
I was a mess at the funeral. I remember holding onto my aunt to keep her from falling over. She was shaking so much, it terrified me. My cousin, my uncles son, was looking at me funny... later I asked him why... he said that I had been shaking too.
What followed was weeks of grieving.. sadness.. anger.. all kinds of things. Mark and I went on our California trip because of my aunts insistence, but it was definitely not nearly as fun as it would have been otherwise. I couldn't make peace with the injustice that had happened. It just wasn't fair. It really wasn't.
One night, in September, I was sitting outside and thinking about it. I was angry again. So angry at everything that had gone on. Why? Why had all of this happened? Why had my uncle died at the age of forty one when he had a wife and two young children? I remember starting to cry again and getting so frustrated. I was so tired. And I started talking.. yes, out loud... to my uncle, I guess. I told him what I was thinking and feeling. I told him that I didn't know if I believed in the afterlife or not, but that I was going to be cliche and ask him to send me a sign if he could.
Well... there was never any sign. Not really. Maybe. See... because about thirty seconds after all of that went on.. I started feeling more.. at peace. Oh, I was still angry. I still am angry to this day. And sad. But... something made me calm down and.. get a handle on my emotions. And while I have been sad about what happened every single day, I have not gotten out of control like that again.
Some people may say that was the sign that I asked for. Some may say that it was just the fact that I had finally allowed myself to vent like that. I don't know. But, I do know that on that night I felt peace for the first time since it had happened.
I went to the cemetary last month. I went to my uncles grave and talked to him silently. I thanked him for everything and said some other things. I left him some flowers and then I left.
I said good bye to my uncle on August 18th 2007, thinking I would see him again the next day. I said good bye to him again on the 19th. I said good bye again that night. I said good bye to him again last month. But.. while I have said good bye to him so many times.. I also know that he IS always with us, even if the afterlife does not exist in the traditional sense. And, so... maybe what they say is true.. maybe good byes aren't forever.
That got long.. thank you for reading.