Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, DEATH/LOSS, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, writing

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

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”).

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Posted in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, Tyler, writing

YEAR ONE

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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.

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Posted in MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, writing

SAY UNCLE

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.

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Posted in adventuring, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, PHOTOGRAPHY, relationships, travel, Tyler, wanderlust

RIVERFRONT PARK

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.

Processed with VSCO with k2 preset

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Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, relationships, writing

A Public Apology

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It was brought to my attention the other day that I have been somewhat of a hypocrite, as far as relationships go.

Rewind about five months ago. A classmate (and now friend) of mine was asked if she had any plans to start looking for an apprentice funeral director/embalmer position, and she answered no. She was going to finish school and then see what her boyfriend wanted to do, as far as his career and his location plans were. She looked right at me.

“Don’t judge me.” She said.

I scoffed.

“Too late,” I replied back.

Fast forward. With the same classmate/friend in tow at the Midwinter convention that we attended as a class last week, I found myself saying shades of the same. “I don’t have any plans to look for an apprenticeship right now. I want to really focus on school and then see where my boyfriend is at at that point, because one of us may move if a job opportunity comes up.”

Erika called me right out, and rightfully so.

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Posted in writing

WORSTS

**AUTHOR’S NOTE:

I am dating a really wonderful guy who doesn’t let my exorcism of old demons bother him because he is an actual angel sent from heaven. Please don’t be the sort of internet snoop I attempt to be and assume that something is wrong between Tyler & I because I have posted this. This was simply backlogged in my draft posts because I was afraid to share it for some time, but I’m not afraid of upsetting this person anymore, and I’m trying to get on top of dat blog game. It’s actually kinda funny to read this back and think that I ever thought I felt so seriously about this fella in the first place. Bless it.

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Posted in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, writing

BLUE MY MIND

Since the moment you started coming around, I kept a bottle of nail polish (OPI’s “Blue My Mind”) on the top right corner of my shower, for emergencies. The idea of you catching me with chipped fingernail polish could be likened to the horror that I would feel upon facing a firing squad, and it just wouldn’t do. So many nights I have jumped in for a quick shower before you came over & grabbed that bottle to touch up an imperfection while the steam clung to my body in the heat of the bathroom. It was exciting. It was thrilling. The act and art of readying myself for you was a ritual and routine that l always loved performing.

The polish remained long after you stopped coming around, but it was familiar to me, I didn’t want to take it down. I remembered the thrill, the excitement, it was a token of a time in my life that felt like being shot into space without warning – the thrill and the fear were delicious and always present. I looked at that bottle every day and thought of you and felt sad because I kind of missed the fear and the thrill. And that became routine, missing you quietly in the shower every day of my life.

I guess if I’m honest, I used to think that if I did take the polish down, if I did anything with it at all, it would mean something, would suggest something – would maybe even jinx something. I never know from morning to night what state of grace you and I are hanging in, if I’ll get a call tomorrow and be summoned to your side or if we won’t talk for six months – and though it was unhealthy to linger in that space with a fragile heart and a cluttered mind, I clung on to the hope that you would come around and I used this bottle of nail polish like a little life raft –  a bat signal, or a beacon or sorts – some little symbol that meant we existed, once, and that maybe you would find your way back if I left the light on (or the polish in the shower).

I have spent so much time in my life trying to fix what was meant to stay broken. For so long, I looked at my inability to reconstruct the ruined as a character flaw: it was wasted time, a failure on my part, I missed a bigger picture because I wasn’t smart enough to see it when it was right in front of my face. And I punish myself so hard for what I can’t control or change. You have been one of my greatest worries, right from the start. The way I felt around you at all times was like a human Jenga tower that was one block away from falling to pieces – and by God, was I determined to stay standing for as long as I possibly could, no matter the strain and effort. Because to care about someone so much, to feel that gross way your actual heart constricts when you watch them sleep and know that you love them so damn madly – to hurt for them and to go through hell with and for them – and then to shake hands and walk away from one another … it doesn’t feel real. It feels inhumane. You once knew all of my secrets and now we don’t even speak regularly. How can I let go of something so massive in my life? Doesn’t it HAVE to be something bigger than this?

It came to me the other day, as I was staring up at that little blue bottle –  maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe all we had is really just that. Had. Past tense. The realization was like finally exhaling when I didn’t even realize that I had been holding my breath. Somewhere between the shampoo and the conditioner, I realized that you might be my past, but that I also deserve to have a future that doesn’t necessarily involve you … and that’s okay.  It can all be just exactly as big as it was. We don’t have to talk about it or fight about it or try to reconcile it or make any big promises about doing better this time – we don’t have to do anything at all except just go on.

Just go on.

Somewhere, in another lifetime, perhaps, you and I are together, but we are different there. Maybe better, depending on how you look at it. Maybe I’m not afraid and maybe you aren’t selfish. Maybe I’m better at all of this, and maybe you are, too. Maybe we live together, or are married, or are just best friends. Whatever we are, wherever we are, it is fun and we laugh a lot. There is always blue nail polish in the top corner of the shower. That I know for certain. And this place is where we will stay, you & I. Never a waste of time, never a failure – just another lifetime.

I took the nail polish down today.

I may put it back up tomorrow. I don’t know. I don’t know. One day at a time.

You blue my mind once, it’s true – but maybe one day I’ll be ready to let someone else have a shot at it.

 

(also, please never read this, because I would actually die)