Onward

I would like a new subject, please. Would it be possible to order one of those?

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What do you think about taking a little break, from some of the heavier stuff? I feel we’ve been featuring Heavier Stuff since, oh I don’t know, last April.

There was the very real possibility of a life in France (gone). Do you remember that? And then there was the mad dash out of Maine. Twelve months of overall trauma, in NYC. A certifiable sprint out of the city, after that, before a summer back at home.

A lot got squished into that summer. Into those three, four months.

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Take these two: my parents aren’t together anymore, and there’s an Oregon driver’s license sitting in my wallet.

Post cross-country move, there was the nice little discovery that I’d remembered to bring ALL of the stuff I specifically did not pack. Or three of the biggest, anyway. (Anorexia, anxiety, and depression.) I don’t know how I could have missed them — it turns out they take up an awful lot of room.

There was a job landed, a job left. Too much weight lost. And even more alarming: too little hope left. And in the midst of all that: loneliness like I have never, ever known. Like NYC was nothing. Child’s play.

Now I have no five-year plan to speak of. I have the next five minutes. The next five hours. The next five days, maybe. Maybe-I-sure-hope! And I’d love to talk to you about them. About all the baby steps in them. Backwards and forwards.

But today, changing the subject feels much more like a forward march.

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1. There are two times of year: fall and waiting for fall.

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2. Nobody cares whether you go catapulting out of bed at 4:45 every morning. Lay around lazy — you won’t be any better or worse for it. Halve a muffin, slather it with butter, climb back into bed. (Without a napkin, I dare you.)

3. Laugh. At yourself and with yourself. (Whenever you can.)

4. Experiment. (It is all an experiment.)

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5. Screw sophistication. Get wildly excited. You don’t work for a magazine; you need not ration your exclamation points.

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6. Your worst day only has twenty-four hours.

7. Write yourself a note; hide it when people come over.

8. You’re a hiker — you can hike — even in maxed-out running shoes and old soccer shorts. Dainty earrings.

9. Take a break from pummeling yourself into the ground. You might like it.

10. Meet Quick Bread. Make friends.

11. Have a little confidence.

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12. Read this: “Better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than in the middle of some ladder you don’t, right?” -Dave Eggers

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13. Don’t ignore anyone named Dave.

14. Hug back. Linger, for a sec. (Or think about it, anyway. Next time.)

15. Be encouraged by this: “If she doesn’t scare the hell out of you a little, she’s not the one.”

16. Make a list of all the other things up there with Real Love. Here are five: no-churn ice cream, a towel straight from the dryer, the first sip of water when you’re really thirsty, a pull-through parking spot. A note from somebody you don’t know; want to know.

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17. Make another list. All the Mistakes You’ve Made.

18. Make another list, a happier list.

19. Take your time. Take a long time.

20. Crackers and cheese and really bad television — let this be some of the time.

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