I wrote this poem over eight years ago, about the night before my then boyfriend left for rehab. I never felt comfortable enough to share it until now, so consider it a golden oldie.
I used to always beg to borrow this hat when I was a baby punk rocker in high school, and joked that I looked better in it than my grandfather did. Now it hangs in my bedroom and still smells like his cologne, and honestly, I’m humble enough to admit: it looks pretty damn good on both of us.
I wish I had your number cause I could use your particular brand of hurting right now.
See I’ve been doing so much searching and I need your down to earthing real bad.
I could tell you bout my problems and you’d tell me how to solve them and make me feel sorry for being sad.
Because no one ever had it worse than you and you make all my sad stuff just turn rose colored and rad.
Only I get so fucking mad at you, it’s like I didn’t earn my blue, and I have every right to suffer like I have.
But by the time I get mixed up with you I realize that you were the cue, the trigger, and the symptom I already had.
I wrote this last year, in the days that led up to the first anniversary of your death. It has remained in its embryonic stage, in a tangle of nonsensical pieces and parts, until today. I wasn’t ready then, but I’m ready now.
To F. – (as Pete Yorn would say, “cos it already is”).
We are so close to the end of the year, and that always seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? I mean, the Counting Crows even wrote the annually relevant jam, “A Long December” about what this confused, sort of gray feeling of wistfulness and closing is like. (Note to self: find time to listen to “A Long December” before January rolls around). But just like the song says – “There’s reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.” – and I get that. I think we all do.
With a new beginning (which we all logically know is really just watching the ball drop on TV from Times Square and taping up a new desk calendar at work when we get back from holiday break) comes what we all need so desperately to keep us moving forward – the smallest glimmer of hope. Because hell, maybe this year really will be better than the last. Maybe it takes moving forward to realize that the year we are leaving behind wasn’t really so bad after all – or, in some cases, maybe it truly was an awful one, and we need to prepare ourselves to move on so that we can get some space to start to heal. No matter where you are at in your personal journey, by the time the last dregs of December are clouding the bottom of the glass, I think we can all agree that we are ready to ring in the New Year, if only just to see what might happen next.
Time is so incredibly sentimental and bittersweet. We hold on to it so dearly, using it to mark our good and our bad and our in betweens. I think that’s why I’ve always upheld a particular romanticism in regards to fresh starts and new beginnings. While it sometimes feels scary to enter uncharted territory, even if it is purely symbolic – it also feels so exciting. And that’s because of possibility. Because possibility exists, and because we, even at our darkest hours, exude hope for a better tomorrow – somewhere out there in the ether, the two mix together and become chance. “You never know” – one of the most powerful phrases in the history of language.
With the examination of time come and gone comes the natural reflection of what we have experienced in the duration. I think this reflection is wise, because I believe that we all have the responsibility to try to become a better version of ourselves every year. And reflection is how we do that – how we look back at what we have just survived, as a learning tool, as a way to honor the time spent, as a way to grow positively. We cannot learn if we do not reflect – even if reflecting is difficult and sometimes painful to do.
So, in that vein – I reckon it’s time that I mark down a little something about what 2017 meant to me. Painful as it may have been, sometimes.
For the first three months of our relationship, I probably tried to break up with Tyler at least 400 times.
“We have different thoughts about politics, we should break up.”
“The sky is blue, we should break up.”
“The cat yawned, we should break up.”
Any excuse, any absolutely asinine reasoning that my mind fell to, I was ready to bail. And holy shit – after he told me that he LOVED me?! Instead of feeling joy, I felt panic. I felt fear. I felt an enormous sense of responsibility. I felt, more than anything, incapable. What had I done? I couldn’t do this. This was too much, I wasn’t ready, it would never work, I would just get hurt. I came home and went over and over us with my fine tooth “should we break up” comb and tried to beg a reason into existence. In those early days, I asked my mom, my brother, every friend I had, “do you think Tyler and I should break up?” and they all just stared at me like I had grown a second head and told me to calm myself down because he was an incredible person.
Around the time that I had my first period, I also grew a small, dark beard.
You can imagine how delightful THAT was – I was an overweight tweenager who was constantly bullied for my looks (fat, brace face, too tall, not wearing the right clothing) and my desperate affection for the band Hanson that somehow was enough to warrant near daily physical threats of violence. Even the uncool thought I was uncool.
Tyler & I always like to try to find little adventures to go on, whether we are in his neck of the woods (Columbia, SC), or mine (Greenville, SC). This past week, it was my turn to visit Columbia, and we decided to have a mini-adventure at Riverfront Park.
Nestled near downtown Columbia, Riverfront Park is actually a really beautiful and scenic area that feels completely removed from city life. It is perfect if you want to get active, sightsee, or do both. Their website boasts that they have 167 acres of land to enjoy, and there is definitely a lot of space to spread out and do yo thang. We passed all walks of life on our journey through the park, from runners to dog walkers to businesspeople enjoying a nice place to take a break outdoors. I’m not particularly an outdoors kinda gal myself, but I appreciate that the park has done a wonderful job at making the walking trails lively, accessible, and easy to navigate. I also loved that they had mile markers set up throughout the park, so you knew how far you had gone, if you liked to keep track of that type of thing. Oh, and doggie water fountains. That was actually my favorite part. Team Riverfront Park, friends of dogs everywhere!
Here are some pictures from our afternoon for you to enjoy. We found an old schoolhouse, the abandoned pump house that previously powered the nearby dam, and the most beautiful patch of Black-eyed Susan’s growing happily in the sun. It was a lovely day, and when Columbia decides to not be as oppressively hot and horrifying outdoors, I’d love to go back.
I used to think you lavender
And myself a shade of blue
Because when you came round
You lit me up
And replaced my blue with you
Lavender was all I craved
Steadiness, warmth, and calm
When you called out to me
It was your lavender I slipped on
You waved away my cloudy days
With just a flick of your hand
You steadied all my careless ways
And helped me understand
It was okay to be blue, you’d say
After your fourth or fifth beer
Just don’t get too crazy, babe
You’d remind me with a jeer
I lay with you in your bed at night
Knowing I wasn’t the only one
Who laid at night with lavender
True blue, I bit my tongue.
Days to weeks and weeks to months
And now it has been years
I’m always blue, and only blue
Until lavender reappears
So many times I’ve wondered
And then I’ve stopped myself
Was I truly blue when you found me?
Or did you declare me blue yourself?
Was it my state of being
Or an opening you saw –
Was I ever something other than blue
Or were you the blue one after all?
That’s the funny thing about time
And growing past a problem
You start to see with clarity
You start to learn to solve them
If I saw you now, you’d smile that smile
That you saved just for me
And I know I’d squint and
For just a moment
The predator would be me
I loved you once
And I swear some days
I wish I could turn back time
But I stop myself, remembering
How blue you made my mind
Because that’s the thing
That took so long
For me to understand –
You were the rough and bellowing sea
And I was the safety of land.
I thought it was in reverse
You the savior, I the damned
But when the fog cleared
And the sky beamed down
I saw it was all lavender in my hands
The house to ourselves, the captain’s chair
You called me “Pink” to all your friends
A knowing look, your strut, your sway –
Third Eye Blind’s “Dopamine” on replay
The bad was bad and the good was good
And that’s all I can let it be
In the succession of your blue girls
I never fell in line
I protested, I fought for myself
And now color is mine
I found out what you never wanted me to know
The truth you kept under your thumb
The lavender was always me
It was you who was blue all along