The View

I think of you when I’m up here.

I believed I would find a person who always made me think of them when I travelled anywhere, and now I do, without you as mine.

You’re in the breeze and the view I thought I’d share with you. You’re in the sun and the ground we would have made ours.

You were the one who I believed in, and now the breeze is empty, the view is mine, the sun rests behind a cloud, and this ground belongs to no one.

Still, I think of you when I’m up here, believing in things that once were.

From AG with Love

I’m not sure you care—if you’re even reading this—but I had to put it out there because I feel the last of our cords wearing down. They were once wound so tight together that we couldn’t tell which half was yours or mine. Then we tugged, and pulled, and tore what was only our own until our knot was beat and bent and thin, and slowly, but surely, breaking.

We could never see what bound us, but the last of whatever it was is almost gone, so these are my last words to you—if you even care—if you’re even reading this.

I once wrote to tell you about the handful of things I know for certain. There are only a few—I wrote them all in one list—and then I stated that everything else is an educated guess. The final one was that you are beautiful. I promise that has not changed, in any sense of the word. I hope you feel that way every day.

I once wrote you a letter. I finished five pages around 2:30 in the morning the day after we stopped talking. A very good friend told me to wait on sending it; to see if I still felt as if the words on those pages were ones you needed to read a week later. A week passed and I still felt that way, and yet I couldn’t drop the letter in a postbox.

One month later, I went to a tiny, corner cafe to read the letter, expecting to find myself with different emotions than the ones I had that drove me to write them, but as I sat at this tiny table by the door in this tiny cafe, I felt everything. As if I would find answers why, I glanced around and saw nothing that said anything. A friend met me at this tiny cafe and read the letter. She cried, and I felt like I ruined her morning, so we spent the rest of the day bopping around the city making each other feel better. If anyone, the friends we open up to are the ones who deserve the world and all of its happiness.

I didn’t realize it, but I carried the letter with me for the month after as well. It wasn’t until a week ago when I was frantically searching for my wallet before driving home from someone’s house that I saw it. I froze for a second, taking in the picture as a whole. The girl I’ve been seeing saw me hesitate, and I felt her curiosity just as I reached around once more and miraculously pulled out my wallet. She didn’t know, but you were in that room then, and as we left and closed the door, you didn’t stay there. You came with me this time.

For the past week my closest friends know I’ve been struggling to not think about you. One has encouraged me to cut every tie. So I don’t think this letter is intended to start a dialogue between us. I’m not sure if it’d help either of us, not that you need help. I don’t know much about your life anymore, which is strange to think about, but I imagine you don’t need help.

There were months that I knew your every move, or somehow made them with you. You would FaceTime me on trips to the grocery store before pregames or out on the beach in Santa Monica. You showed me the landmarks in your city and drove me to the special spots you go to think. I loved those times, as we thought maybe one day we’d do them together for real. But that’s all they were—thoughts.

I won’t go into the details you probably remember, just know that I’ve come to appreciate that time for what it was. That what you said was true. That it was real.

I won’t apologize further for how you were hurt in the end. You know I will feel awful, indefinitely, for what happened, but I didn’t intentionally do anything to harm you. Maybe the timing was ironic, and maybe this is cryptic, but I never exaggerated or lied to you or my friends. I have no idea how what happened to you occurred, but the end of us left me shut in the dark with guilt I should never have been burdened with.

My intentions were never less than to make you the happiest person in the world, as that’s how you made me feel. To question that, you must have questioned everything between us, and that is sad because what you said was true. It was real.

I’m not sure if you care—if you’re even reading this—but I had to put this out there because I need you to know I care. I remember so many of the little details and looks and feelings that I question how you don’t—or refrain from allowing yourself to.

No, I’m sorry this post does not exist to start a dialogue. Nor does it exist to make you feel anything less than loved. We never talked about it—love—except for that brief conversation at 3:30 in the morning.

I love everyone in my own kind of way for little things or larger things, and I’m so open about it. But you… You I loved in a way that lingers. A way that makes you appear around Philly, in music, and on drives, especially.

I won’t confess my undying love for you because it’s not there, but I know it could have been. I hope the feeling that sparked us is still out there somewhere—maybe in an alternate universe—but I hope it’s there.

And as for you and me, I guess this is it. You were the greatest glimpse at something I wish to find one day.

Who are we kidding? We all know a Kavanaugh.

I write about subjects that do no harm because our world can do enough of that to us. That said, this is different.

There are fewer than a handful of times in my life when I recall being mad. It’s a repulsive emotion to me—one where I feel my blood boil, I am quick to judge, and would act on impulse rather than contemplation. All of that said, I would regret not taking the time to write this piece, as am so near-maddened with how some of our Senators reacted to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing.

I would like to say we are solely facing a bipartisan issue in the Senate again, but sadly, on Friday I found myself staring at disturbed, old white men fighting for the wrong side. Their position was so evident that it couldn’t just be to protect their party’s representation on the Supreme Court… they believed what they were saying because they had to belittle this case. Because they are Kavanaugh’s.

Before I talk about the real issue that this is a systemic problem in our society, here are some hypotheticals.

It is possible the Republicans believe Judge Kavanaugh couldn’t have actually done the deed. Maybe it is ridiculous that the FBI has to investigate, but every victim should be allowed that right when claiming something so sensitive. And I don’t think our issue stems from Kavanaugh’s innocence at all.

Maybe it is the innate belief that the representation of these Republicans’ collective opinions is a longer-term for gain for our society over Dr. Ford’s long-term loss. However, if that is the case, they are wrong to think so due to the vast scope of what this case represents. Perhaps they only see this as one case, but I personally view the majority of Republicans choosing to dismiss Dr. Ford’s claims without an investigation as an attempt to silence every victim of sexual abuse, male or female. I don’t think their intention is to do so, however, that is what repeatedly happens in our society and silencing a victim is a historically dumb idea that has long-term consequences of allowing cycles of abuse to continue in a culture.

I became unable to grasp that these well-respected men frankly do not care about the voice of a woman enough to grant time for the FBI to investigate this case. That they are putting their political allegiance ahead of a citizen they are supposed to represent, thus letting every victim suffer and become silenced once again. If these Senators were after due diligence, time wouldn’t be a vital variable in the pursuit of the truth. However, they know it is possible that Kavanaugh did this as a kid because that happened all the time (~it doesn’t reflect on his character now,~ ~if he’s a bad guy, I sure as hell am,~ ~etc.~). Instead, they hold themselves at a higher, and lower, standard (thank god for Sen. Jeff Flake for some leeway here).

This issue brings to light a systemic problem Deirdre M. Bowen writes about in this powerful piece about the barometer of appropriateness for prep-school adolescence. It’s an amazing story, but you don’t need knocking over the head to get it. I don’t need to tell you that people, often young males who come off as gentlemen, take what is given to them, and then some, when it comes to girls. It’s not all men (I’m not hashtagging), but historically it’s a gender thing leaning this way. I’ve seen it, and I bet you have too.

Throughout my life I’ve seen privilege in action (sometimes it benefits me. Look—I have a freakin’ blog—that’s how much of a voice I am granted). My alma mater holds an unfortunate stereotype that students of a certain status can get away with actions that should carry stronger consequences. I bleed blue and white and scream, “Go Cats,” but I know that stereotype can be true. Barstool Sports sparked the “do you know what my dad does” meme for a reason. Those Chad’s and Brad’s exist all across the country and they’re exactly who Bowen writes about. Our cycle has not ended with Kavanaugh’s generation. Anyone can still be upstanding, charismatic, and of good faith, and still do bad things with horrific consequences.

I don’t know if Kavanaugh is guilty. I actually think he is probably a decent guy, even if I don’t agree with his political beliefs, but that does not grant him immunity from his possible history. Abuse and discrimination should be a thing of the past that somehow sneaks its way into the present every day. If he is guilty, that is exactly the cycle that needs to be stopped.

There needs to be change. Ultimately, that should be the end of abuse and discrimination by those who commit those actions, but I want to take whatever progressive steps possible until that is a reality. Our society shakes our fingers at such a fearful force that nobody would dare apologize for their misdoings years later—even if that’s how it should be, even if the actions never should have happened.

This is the issue I struggle with most because I want justice for victims and for abusers to acknowledge their wrongdoing—I want authentic apologies and regrets without anyone having been cornered. I sadly don’t think that day will come, because many don’t care enough or believe they harmed anyone. Their reputation and saving face is worth the risk of holding a dark secret until the day they die.

So what can an individual do to enact change when they’re on this side of the conversation? (I feel like my professors would have something ridiculously intelligent to say here). Other than voting in your local elections for who you assume are decent people and becoming more politically active, we need to be more open to communicate our issues. We also need to learn who these creeps are. When I say this, I’m kind of cringing at myself. I’m not blaming a single victim for not speaking out—we call Dr. Ford a hero for a reason—but our power is in our voice, and while that’s a terrifying thing, imagine if every monster knew they had to face the consequences of their actions. Imagine if it was the norm to speak.

I like to think I could do this if I heard an abuser of mine was running for a position of power. Much easier said than done, especially when society silences and even punishes victims. However, we opened this gateway of communicating and we can’t stop now. Accompanied with the sadness that it happened, I get the greatest sense of pride when a victim of abuse stands up because I know that person is facing his or her demons. It is about time we all take small steps to become our own heroes.

I sat down four hours ago and busted this out. This piece is probably full of errors and inconsistencies (send ’em my way and I’ll correct asap), but I am dedicated to researching this more because I am progressively angry about this issue. I want to hear alternative arguments for the other side and come to a better understanding about it all. I also want to come up with better solutions than suggesting victims come out of their comfort zone. I understand what it is like to not have the voice I am so grateful for now and know it is wishful thinking that the fear of speaking out will dissipate overnight.

In the meantime, if you are facing issues at work and can’t talk to HR in your company, there are organizations like BetterBrave that work to stop sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. There are also people in your life who care about you and would help if they knew something was wrong. And if you don’t think you have a person like that, I will. I’ll at least talk to you about it with your absolute confidence.

I truly believe that the first step to solve any issue is communicating it—I sure as hell feel a lot less mad. We take such large chunks of problems to swallow alone that we often forget that we’re generally all in this together.

There was a time during the Presidential election cycle of 2016 when I couldn’t face social media due to the supersaturation of political posts. I don’t want this post to be that, and I understand there are other important worldly events going on. An earthquake and tsunami hit Indonesia, claiming over 1200 lives, a 13-year old kid in Philly was arrested for wielding a toy gun, hell, even Cardi B is having a bad week. And those are just some of the topics that are being talked about… Imagine the ones that are not.

Still, a lot of people having an opinion, even a shared opinion, does not necessarily mean we wouldn’t make progress in a conversation about the Kavanaugh issue. Let me know what you’re thinking, or where I’m ill-educated. I think we can really get somewhere.

Little Lasting Memories

My dad is a pretty entertaining guy. As a kid, and far before Discovery Channel introduced shows like “Man vs. Wild,” my dad would explore in the woods, teaching himself little survival skills. He grew up on Long Island and while the island is very overdeveloped, back then the swamps, hills, and beaches offered a lot for him to learn from. I took the same mindset as a kid, so I flourished when my parents and I moved to upstate NY. Recently, my dad told my friend and I his favorite memory of me. To my surprise it’s a story from before we moved, when I was about four or five years old and still lived on the north shore.

One afternoon my parents and I went on a walk at a park on the Sound. We walked down a hill to a path along the water. There was no shandy shore here, instead, a small rock wall acted as a guard for the salt water below it. As my parents walked on the path, I balanced along with them atop the flat of the rock wall close to the water.

It was close to low tide, so the water was two yards below the top of the rock wall and a little less than a yard deep. We could easily see the sandy floor so when my dad spotted them, he excitedly pointed them out for me. “Amanda, look! There are about 20 horseshoe crabs!”

Without response, I plunged beyond the wall and into the water. My parents rushed to see where I’d jumped and saw me under the surface. Seconds before my dad followed, I resurfaced with a horseshoe crab by its tail in each hand. I was beaming, apparently. I wish I remembered this moment like my dad does, though I fully believe him. Our closeness to nature led me to have dozens of encounters like this in my childhood, some I even find hard to believe.

To this day, I respect nature more with every fact I learn about the incredible mysteries we live with on this planet. Thinking about these things puts my life in a perspective I almost always forget to take—one in which I hope to play a part, even if it is in a way I never know about.

Why do we all exist? Is it for humankind that we live, or for something much bigger than us all? I’ll bounce that thought around from time to time before giving it up, knowing I’ll go crazy if I focus on it. It’s funny to think our purpose could be for one moment, if everything happens for an ultimate reason. And even more funny, and like my dad’s memory, is if it’s a moment we individually forget that’s burned into the mind of another forever.

Superpowers

Animals undergo remarkable changes while under stress. Opossums can force themselves into a comatose state, bison may move up to five tons of snow in the winter just to take a chomp on some soggy grass, and even one shark has learned how to walk on land when stranded away from water. Nature never ceases to amaze me. I think of these talents as superpowers and often wonder what mine might be.

I also undergo a change while under stress, but unlike a talent fit for life or death, I communicatively shut down. During this state in college I could write a 5-page paper in just a few hours like it’s nobody’s business. The compromise was that I could only write the paper. I couldn’t talk about it—I couldn’t talk about anything. My only conversations took place in my head until I finished the task. And that’s where I am today, but on a more grand scale.

Call it unhealthy (because talking is good), but I can’t talk about one major change to my life in an explicatory way. My mom has a talent of getting me to talk about anything, but I met our conversation with a grumpy attitude because I thought about things I disliked, like tax brackets and work-life negotiations far before she asked about them. I think being mad is a waste of energy, so instead, I shut down. I compartmentalize the topic, so I can have a full, stress-free conversation about anything else. The stress is an area that is “TBD” for me. I know it will heal in time, and that time is what I need to have a better idea of why I am upset. Then I can talk, but until then I must use 110% of my brain power to figure out what I can do to best the situation.

I absolutely love working at the cafe. It’s a job I have never dreaded and one I truly enjoy. It has made me who I am and given me more quality friends than I could ever imagine. Learning how to talk to anyone is a skill I credit more to the cafe than to my personality. It’s a sad thought, but my reign as barista is coming to an end. Moving on is difficult. The commitment to leave is the worst, and I’m terrified of life without the one unmoving point in my life. The planet is rotating. This time, fully.

What has helped is knowing where I came from, knowing what I’ve been through, and believing I will ultimately do whatever I’m intended to do, even if my next job is just a step in my fate’s destination. I’m a woman who needs to shift all of her thoughts to a positive direction on her own. That’s what I’m trying to do and I wouldn’t call it a superpower. I’m not an animal with an incredible survival trait, but I’m trying to be.

One week in…

I’m the type of person who will find a lesson in every situation. Some things suck, yes, but what would suck even more is if ~whatever~ existed only to hinder your growth forward from that event, person, situation… whatever. I think resolutions are stupid and that you can change your actions at any time for yourself, however, what I love about “New Years” is the chance to reflect, as if the year is a chapter in your book. These are my brief lessons of my chapters.

2016 (I know, not last year, the previous one) was the greatest year of self-discovery for me. I fully acknowledged my sexuality for myself and learned so many other things that helped me narrow down who I am. Not that it comes down to the romantic ones, but when I look back on my life I know my relationships to those important to me will be the things I remember most. 2016 was my year of relationship building; one in which I know I cemented lifelong friendships and learned what love means to me.

So I was a 2017 hopeful, but never expected it to rock me in the way it did. Days after THE year of growth I was crushed in a breakup. I acted immaturely, refusing to let go of something far gone, and also in a way that would fill the growing void in my heart. What saved me from random hookups and acting out of character is where my feet are grounded. My friends kept me hopeful and I saw that I never would have recovered if I succumbed to immediate gratification. A few months later I was healthy and living out memories I’ll never forget with people I hope to never lose, but that couldn’t have lasted forever.

A wrench is a tool used to turn bolts and pipes and do all kinds of carpenter-y things. When a wrench was tossed into my 2017, it led to the rekindled love I’d lost and my most serious relationship to date. This wrench took the form of a woman who challenged my skepticisms and increased my ability to trust, forgive, and accept. She allowed me to grow a lot and become comfortable being myself almost everywhere. She is someone I have an immense amount of respect and love for, however, tools are designed to build or fix for a specific purpose. I learned I am not a bolt, or pipe, or any carpenter-y thing a wrench is used for.

After trying for so long we weren’t healthy for each other. It was mutual. I think my brain is wired to stubbornly hold on and I had to let go. This was my best friend. It hurt. And it was the greatest lesson I learned in 2017 because still, I am happy and I am SO hopeful.

There’s more out there. I’ve filled my time with good friends, got a new job, and put myself in a space where I know I’ll be happy to try new things, meet new people, and continue to live a serendipitous life. 2018 is the year of new.

Atmosphere

There’s a dog barking outside. I can hear wind shuffling leaves in the street and cars moving home in rush hour traffic. You are strumming an unplugged electric guitar with a melody to match the day’s mood.

This living room feels full, despite you and I being the only occupants. Every verse you play on those hollow sounding strings leads into a more amplified and crisp chorus. It’s in this moment where I sit not even 10 feet from you that I realize I’ll never understand just how you tie every noise available here into a perfect bow.

I feel like an observer to your movie, and maybe I am. You place your guitar down, say a few words, and open the door. In an instant I am left with the unobstructed sounds from outside, a click of the door, and suddenly, an eerily silent and slightly darker room.

The Funk

You wish you could place your feelings, your emotions, and your physical being into another person so that they would understand everything interfering with your brain. All the vibrations from your body are moving outward like radio waves in search of a receiver, but seem to pass blankly through the audience in front of you, and out to a vacant infinity instead. It’s the days you’re reminded how far you’ve come, or remain, as a human in recovery. Whether from loss, depression, heartbreak, addiction, or maybe something you can’t quite describe—you maintain this funky feeling prompted by nothing.

You attempt to push through or explain it to get the sludge out of your system, yet it remains. Dwindling your glow and working as a contagious substance, it knocks all the people who catch it into a pit of loneliness. If only light could be shed on this crater would every lost person acknowledge that there are others hiding in the same cavity of the universe as well.

Those feelings are indescribable on a day without the funk, as if it never existed if it doesn’t exist today. It’s like remembering the dark secrets you shared with childhood friends. Their memories resurfacing only when you spy their face across a local bar, or as you stare at your ceiling around 3am.

As with any emotion, the funk runs its course. Nobody can remain joyful, frustrated, proud, or guilty forever, nor would we want to be. Similar to your pulse, without the beats up and down, you’ve deadlined. Humans are emotional animals and change comes to us every second whether it’s perceivable or not. The most pertinent goal we have is to make something of those seconds in our short lives. Do not lay in waste because of your funk – creativity alter it. Live with it, not against it, and most importantly, respect all who live with it as well.

 

NPR has a station called WXPN hosted here in Philly. Every week “Funky Friday” starts at 4, but this week I had my own (bad kind of) funk on Friday start around 1. I don’t know what prompted it, but my anxiety was through the roof for no apparent reason. I stayed in that night to binge “Mindhunter” (a 10/10, seriously) and struggled to respond to anything that reminded me of reality.

Sometimes you need a night in and away from others, but I was going to let myself do it again after work on Saturday… Instead, my roommate convinced me to head to the driving range by our house. We brought beers, music, and I dressed all ~golfy~. I laughed, I hit terribly, but consistently straight, and I had a blast.

My best friend sporadically texted me to tell me she was in Philly so I saw her and a few good friends. We made a day out of nothing and I smiled so much that I can still feel it in my face. An insane amount of positivity bounded into my life after doing one productive thing, which I probably wouldn’t have done if I was in bed binging a show. I had one of the best Saturdays, honestly, and now I feel completely cured.

I know we all get the funk even though we don’t talk about it a lot. Having it is okay. Letting it linger is going to keep it stronger. I’m not trying to give some wise advice here, and I certainly won’t keep you from your Friday night in, but like my roommate, I’ll fight to get that funk out of you… unless it’s that Funky Friday good kind of funk. Open yourself to positivity – you never know where it’ll take you, or how it’ll heal you.

To the Girl I Saw Come Out

It seemed so natural for you to be sitting with your parents outside the diner, but after a few moments it was clear your nerves were ticking. You toyed with your mug, and napkin, and fork, and mug again. You bounced at every new topic, almost too eager to have something else to talk about. You indicated it, or at least, I was perceptive of it. I get nervous like that often – everyone does.

You took a breath and opened your mouth as if believing someone else would take the floor. When the only interruption was traffic you shut your mouth. Focusing intently as if to absorb strength from the Earth through your table you said, “There’s something I want to tell you…” you looked up, “I don’t want you to worry.” You didn’t expected the words to fall out, but they did.

You’d done this before, you’d been scared before, but those times were different. Your mom was stirred and told you to tell it fast, so you got to the point faster than ever before. “I don’t want you to think I was hiding this, but I had to be sure of myself first…” Your parents looked at you expectingly and you could have forged a lie to get out of it, but you chose the truth. “I’m gay.”

I felt tears form as the words, “That’s okay, that’s good,” “We love you no matter what,” “We’re proud of you,” met your ears.

It’s not just the parents. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you because I am you.

I have the most supportive and amazing friends and family that I could dream to have. It feels as if everyone says that at some point, and this is my time. When you juggle all possible responses to your coming out and receive love every time, you realize everything you have to be grateful for. I’m baffled by how lucky I am to be surrounded by the greatest humans on the planet, so I’d like to thank everyone who has given me the courage to be myself.

I’m not sure I’ve returned to my body yet. It feels like I’m still watching over that girl as she does the thing I’d been petrified of doing for months. I’ve lost an immense weight on my shoulders, however, I sit anticipating more. There’s still work to be done before equality is a true reality, but for now, I’ll continue to appreciate… love.