We accept the love we think we deserve.

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We accept the love we think we deserve.

I asked him why he had taken the time to write the quote down in his notes on his phone.

“Because you’ve done that. You’ve done that in all of your other relationships before.”


We rode with the windows down. Her hand hung out the window, her hot pink nails clicking together as she twirled her fingers through the air, her palm riding the breeze. She was blonde and sun kissed and beautiful. I had met her first semester in a biology class, and we knew everything there was to know about the other one within a week.

We drove around campus, and she played me the songs she listened to every time the boy who mended her heart just to break it again stopped talking to her. She had the kind of voice that surprised you when you finally heard it, and she had this wonderful knack of being able to dance and sing as though I wasn’t in the passenger seat next to her.

A Miley Cyrus song came on.

“Bangerz literally got me through this break up,” she said, spinning the volume dial all the way to the right.

Miley Cyrus may be a lot of things, but one thing she is not is a coward who’s too scared to say the things worth saying, the things we’re all afraid to say. She’s more than a trend setter: she’s a woman who sings about thinking love conquers all.

And just like Miley, I realized that most of us believe that “all” part that love is supposed to conquer includes stubborn hearts that love us the wrong way.

We accept the love we think we deserve. Because for some reason it’s an innate belief in the human heart that we are all entitled to a love that beats the odds, a love that changes the core of a person, a love that overcomes.

My friend let that boy love her and leave her more times than either of us could count. She accepted the love from him that she thought she deserved because she thought she deserved someone who eluded her for so long just to have a massive eureka moment and chase her down with an infinity of “I love you’s.”


Us humans, we don’t like our own tangibility. We want to move and sway and change the very atoms that float in the air around us; we want to feel them curl around us in desperation when we leave, and we want them to stick close when we arrive. We want to be irresistible. Most hearts crave to be a force that’s bigger than the sort of stuff tough skin can wrap around.

It’s why Noah waited so long for Aly I’m the Notebook. It’s why he waited for her to make the choice between him and her fancy fiancé from the north. It’s why Rhett suffered through a marriage to Scarlett in Gone With the Wind, buying time until she finally realized she loved his tired soul. It’s why David finally shows up at the airport to kiss Jade at the end of Endless Love.

Because at the end of the day, we just want to be able to say “Look. Look how much I mean to someone the the very makeup of who they’ve been has completely rearranged to make them someone new.”

Me? I’m more of a “the-guy-doesn’t-get-the-girl” type of movie lover.

Because I’ve been the girl that’s waited.

And the one thing I’ve learned: in real life, Aly marries her fancy fiancé from the north. In real life, Rhett spends his days loving a woman who loves him back with everything that’s in her. In real life, Jade meets someone new and wonderful at college and they get married and David is happy working at his dad’s auto shop.

Because in real life, we don’t deserve a love that overcomes. We deserve a love that meets us half way, a love that shows up and says, “You’re all I’ve ever wanted, and I could never pretend that fact isn’t true.”

We deserve a love that stands up and claims us every time.

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The Baggage Claim

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The bottom line is, we all have baggage.
It took a long time for me to be able to group myself into that category, to stand up and say, “Hey, I have a load I carry around from my past, too” because my world has always been, “Feel things, just don’t be dramatic about it.” But baggage is inevitable in a world where people need other people.

When was the last time you were at the baggage claim at an airport?
The gears underneath that worn and torn conveyer belt creak as luggage turns the corner. Passengers flock towards the sound, their sagging eyes, messy hair, and popping ears screaming “I’m just ready to go home,” while everyone else’s baggage keeps them there just a little bit longer.

Everyone’s baggage is different:
Sometimes people bundle everything up in pretty, hot pink zebra luggage. If you want to get really fancy, you’ll go the extra mile— Louis Vuitton.
But other people sloppily pile their things into ugly, army green suitcases covered in awkward stains from spilt shampoo or make-up.
Passengers study the baggage on the conveyor belt, waiting for their own, judging what passes by, when in reality it’s all just a nice show to cover up the same junk they all have tucked away behind the suitcase zipper.
It doesn’t matter how you wrap it all up, baggage is baggage.
Baggage is the thing that you have to unload through the tedious luggage check; people you’ve never met will watch your personal items pop up on a screen as your baggage goes through a scanner, and they’ll be the judge as to whether or not they think what you’re carrying is safe enough to make it to your next destination.
Baggage is the heavy load on wheels behind you that will slow you down when you’re running late to your gate.
Most of your baggage will be packed away beneath the cabin for your journey, while one or two “allowed carry on’s” will be hiding beneath your seat, the baggage you just can’t part with for even a short flight.

The word “baggage” comes with such a negative connotation. Heart aches, mistakes, the countless times we’ve been stabbed in the back— the baggage weighs us down and, if we let it, can rob us of our happiness in the present along with the potential of our future.
So we’re bitter, and we swear we’ll never love again with huge duffle bags hanging on our arms that shriek,

• My mom walked out on us
• He said he loved me, but then he slept with my best friend
• My dad died when I was twelve, my family has been unraveling in the ugliest way ever since
• My best friends screwed me over, and now I’m all alone.
• Everything was fine for the first few months, and then she just stopped talking to me.

We quickly forget that all that baggage we are carrying around was actually once a joy in our life that simply became a lesson. And in reality, we still need that baggage if we want to go anywhere in life. Whether you’re flying to New York City or just taking a quick road trip to Panama City Beach for Spring Break, you carry some form of baggage with you. Because you need what’s inside.
Take time to decipher which baggage is meant to be tucked away below the cabin and which baggage is meant to be a carry on. And never be ashamed of the things you carry, because other people will without a doubt be at the baggage claim waiting with you for their own bags.
The pain we carry in suitcases on our arms and backs—all that baggage—was meant to make us stronger, not keep us from the flight that will take us to our next destination.

These things will never change for us.

“What does it feel like?” My mom asked.

We were laying in a bed in a hotel room that had old, purple striped wallpaper somewhere in paradise, and I was slurping the last bit of apple juice out of one of those box cups.

“I imagine it’s a lot like what death feels like,” I told her.

She blinked at me.

I told her that having to face that feeling at least once a month, minimum, made me dread dying.

I was 16, and in four years after being diagnosed with a disease that left scars from needles on my fingers and thighs, the one constant in all of it was the way I felt when my blood sugar dropped.

I stared at the white ceiling, telling her about what it felt like to have a low sugar: it’s like I get caught in a rip tide every time. Sometimes it will wake me from a dead sleep; other times I can be mid conversation and just blurt out, “My sugar is low,” but really it’s more like I’m drowning just below the surface, just where I can still feel the heat of the sun on my face. And God, is it hard to breathe. So I drink whatever is in a cup they hand me, I eat whatever I am given. And the pain comes in waves.

I layed there on the bed next to her, watching the tears cling to the crease around her brown eyes before they fell down her sunburnt cheeks. I explained, and she cried, and I felt the waves in that moment.

“You’re okay.”

“No you’re not.”

“You’re okay.”

“No you’re not.”

And then finally, “There’s really nothing you can do about it.”

I couldn’t move, and the spasms of relief were just teases before I sunk into breathless pain again.

Gravity crashing against the human body.

Helpless.

And then your name buzzed across my phone screen.

“Don’t reply to that right now if you’re feeling like this,” she told me.

I smiled at your text.

“I’m going to marry him one day.”

She stared at me, but I didn’t hesitate.

“I am.”

She heard it, I heard it, the purple striped wallpaper heard it.

And it’s funny, because I’m 19 now and low sugars still make me feel the same way they did in that room, and so do you.

Still Beauty.

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I pressed my thumb hard against the raised symbols on my arm, brushing it back and forth over them again and again. They reminded me that sometimes things didn’t heal the right way; sometimes they didn’t even heal the way we hoped they would. But there was still beauty in what became of the pain.

The Pages of My Book-Heart

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Usually, I’ll drink anywhere from five to six cups of coffee a day. And I think that’s great and all for every once in a while, but lately, I’ve been making myself drink the few cups I have just a little bit slower, learning to make them last just a little bit longer.
There are days I’d love to tell you every note I’ve written on my heart about you, like the vital organ is a book with a worn out binding from trying to hide all its secrets. And I think sharing these tid bits is good for us, for me, every once in a while; but lately I’ve been making myself keep them bound up, learning to file through the pages of my book-heart so that I might make the beautiful moments last longer.

Call me romantic, but not hopeless.

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There was a picture of an avocado dangling between chop sticks on the wall behind me. Everything was neon green, like seaweed. When my food came, my plate was decorated with two small tacos and a side of tater-tots. The waiter brought out fortune cookies afterwards, and I didn’t get it. My mother had been asking me to try the taqueria out with her for months now, and I’d blown it off. Because the random Mexican-meets-Asian mashup restaurant was where she and her dad used to go on dates, and she broke your heart.

As I sat across from my mother at our underwater themed table and I took my first bite and liked it, I was so angry with myself.

This is what I’ve been missing out on?

Because while you spent your Friday nights at his house having such a good time that he had to cut you off; while you sped through the back roads of this messed up town with her in your passenger seat after I’d sat across you in a Wendy’s and told you everything she’d said about me; while you woke up at his house in a blur with a burning throat and dizzy head; while you spent your days working beside him and your nights smoking our favorite cigars with him even after you’d admitted to me that the only reason he invited you to that first party was so that you could tell me all about it in hopes that it might hurt me– even after everything, I still hadn’t been able to bring myself to eat at this stupid place just because she liked it, and she had ruined you.

 

My tears had felt warm against my cheek compared to the cold tiles of the bathroom floor that I pressed my face against that night I told my mother I had decided I’d never been in love. I had asked her to tell me how she knew, how she could go to parties and point across the room at my dad and say, “Him, I’m going to marry him.” How could you be so sure of something that you’d let it dictate your life? Because all my attempts at love had made me sure of was that I was far from irresistible; I was sure that people didn’t fight for each other; I was sure that people didn’t tear themselves apart in order to sew the other one up when they were bleeding out.

So while I ate my tiny tacos and tots, I was angry. I was angry with her for breaking you and I was angry with you for breaking me. And I was angry with myself for sitting in a boy’s Mercedes one night and letting him promise me a fairy tale only to have him single-handedly shatter my every idea I had believed about love; to have you follow in behind him and validate every new idea I’d concocted about the brutality of loving someone.


I don’t believe that earth shaking miracles are a regular part of every day life. But I’m rather fond of the subtle eureka moments. You know, the kind you get when you’re driving down the highway trying to get home and something you weren’t even wondering about sways you into understanding and you get to quietly laugh at it’s beauty and obviousness and be so humbly proud of it?

Well my precious eureka moment that I wanted to hug so close to me while I drove home from the Latin-Asian kitchen was a new hope that quietly gutted me: in all the time and all the space and all the tears and all the silence and all the wondering if you thought of me at all, I wished you well. More than that, I wished you were happy. And even as I write the words and admit them to the world for the first time, I’m wishing that you are working beside him, smiling; I’m wishing that she makes you laugh one of those deep, bellowing laughs from the pit of your stomach; I’m wishing that you have found a way to sleep again. Because even though I may still have crooked shards stuck beneath my fingernails from all the times I attempted to pick up the broken pieces of my heart, I so wish for your joy.

And maybe someday someone who knows us will read these words and sit you down and you will read them, too. And maybe you’ll sit on the edge of your seat waiting for me to get to the part where I tell you about this eureka moment that I’ve held on to so desperately.

My hope: every broken piece of me wishing you will feel whole again, even if it’s not by my side– well maybe I wasn’t as wrong about love as I thought.

I want you to burn my bridges down.

All I know is that my life has been split in two: my life before you and my life with you; a life where I was perfectly content with finally being alone and a life where something inside of me did not sit well with my spirit when I was not with you; a life where my nights were spent forcing myself to breathe through panic attacks and a life where I floated to my pillow and sweet dreams filled me up like warm milk before bed; a life where I had to convince my little sister that love could happen to the both of us and a life where she beamed at the love that you and I share; a life where I cried on my bathroom floor, begging my mother to tell me what genuine love felt like and a life when I had actually found love better than the thing I had written about for years; a life when rainy days made me question my sanity and a life when I looked at the sky hoping for grey clouds because it mean wet kisses and your warm skin against mine; a life where I woke up fighting to find joy and a life that made me so happy that the I lost sight of the line which separated the two lives so much so that I forgot about the pain that kept me up at night in the first place.