The Space Between

You want me to pretend a little better. You want me to network. You want me to upgrade my account on LinkedIn. I think? I think that’s what you’re asking me to do. You want me to remember that this is only temporary. That all it takes it one.

You want me to put on a bra before 9am. And step away from that gray hand-me-down sweatshirt, circa 1997.  You want me to stop wiping my eyes on the cuffs of those sleeves. You want me to keep my head up, and keep cheering myself on, and just generally: keep on keeping on.

You want me to keep growing. And not forget to notice how much growing has gone on here, already.

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You want me to remember how encouraged I felt after I got that email, after I sat in that coffee shop, after I ate that meal.

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You want me to remember that those things happened not too long ago, and that this is just a particularly lousy morning, and that things will feel better again soon.

You want me to remember that I can call at anytime. That I’m not alone, even though today it feels like I really, really am. You want me to remember to turn on some music, and turn it up loud. To put on an apron. To use the spatula as a mike. To a laugh a little. And, you know, to remember to pull the shades down. (Always, at night.)

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You want me to keep going to the gym, to keep going to the store. You want me to do everything I can to keep fighting the urge to crawl back into bed. You want me to think about the guy who wants to be right there with me.

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You want me to keep working on making friends. To keep pushing myself. To keep exploring. You want me to carry an umbrella — in the snow. (I’m so confused as to why we are all doing this. Should I be doing this too?)

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You want me to smile a little more, and worry a little less. You want me to lighten up, but remember to buckle down too. You want me to keep questioning. Specifically, you want me to ask more people about what they do. That’s easy to ask. What I really want to know is: Are they happy.

I want to know if they like where they are. I want to know if they’re on a path that they’ve chosen, or if they’ve sort of been sandwiched into something. I want to know if they’re making enough to support themselves, and if they can’t — if they feel horribly guilty about it.

I want to know if the space between where they are and where they’d like to be — if it feels too big to contemplate, or if it’s really not that far away. If they’ve ever stared at nothing in particular, and if yes, how long it took for something to come into view.

I want to know if they’ve ever gotten cold feet. And how they managed to warm them back up.

I want to know if they’re thinking that they’ve found the right person. Or if maybe now they aren’t quite sure?

I want to know if there was once another boy or girl. I want to know if they can remember smiling against their lips. I want to know if they ever find themselves now, with fists pressed against mouths, and tears streaming down cheeks.

I want to know if they have a picture, facedown in a frame, somewhere in their apartment. And if looking at the photo inside — if it still makes it the room too hot.

I want to know if for the most part, they’re pretty okay with how they look. And that one pair of pants that kind of makes them look like they have love handles — if they’re just going to put those away, for now.

And do they ever miss their mother’s chocolate chip cookies? Something fierce?

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I want to know what they do in their moments of complete despair. And what they do when they can’t answer half of the questions they have. And how they’re coping, without looking like they’re coping with anything at all.

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