Criss Cross

Don’t panic, I tell myself. Don’t panic.

Push. Up over the crest of this hill. We’re talking two hills, really. Push, baby girl. Pick up your feet.

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These shoes are tired — there too many miles on them — but this morning’s rhythmic slap is no less satisfying. Sneaker meet pavement; pavement meet sneaker.

Don’t cry. Breathe. In and out, there you go. 

I hate running; I don’t run easily. But I welcome the resistance today, even as I wish it away. It feels good to fight, in this brief way. There’s something about buckling down before easing up.

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I slow to a walk where the shade turns to sun. The tears I’d been keeping at bay burn predictably hot before making tracks down both of my cheeks. I wipe them away with the heel of one palm, pro at this.

You are so loved, I tell myself. You are so loved; you are so brave. You can do this. You ARE doing this.

I wish I could crank the volume on those thoughts, shut others down entirely.

I miss him. I miss him so much I’m afraid to open my mouth. Those would not be coherent sounds.

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I walk by a baseball field and spend a minute just standing at the fence, watching strangers play. Six and seven year olds, I’d guess. I end up watching the families more than I watch the game. Leave feeling both better and so much worse.

I miss my family. What the hell happened to my family.

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I am crying in earnest now, heading for home. It doesn’t feel like home — not this city, not this street, not this apartment. I take the fire escape up four flights and pause on the last landing to look at the blocks below. I just want to go home. The words are whispered, cause my heart to twist.

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If I could go home — if there were still such a place — I would go. I would get on a plane and I would go running right into my mother’s arms. [Rein it in a bit for my dad.] I’d let my brothers squeeze me tight, spin me around and around. There would be too many cars to count, enough laundry to sink a ship, running shoes in every room. Wallets, keys, chapsticks and chargers, too. There would be mail in messy piles and lists on every spare scrap of paper. Watercolors all over the living room walls and flowers cut for the kitchen table. Maple walnut cake, sitting tall on a stand and meant for the masses.

If I could go where my friends were — if even two of them were in the same place — I would go. I would go back to Boston, back to Maine, back to Manhattan, back to wherever I had a cluster of people I felt I could call my own. Those little clusters of people – they are so important.

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In their absence, I generally wish for someone — singular — to fill the void. I’m not quite sure why that is. I am sure that looking at Facebook for the first time in nearly a year didn’t help. It’s just like I remembered. Everyone is head over heels, getting engaged, having babies. Everyone’s lives are wonderful, so blessed, couldn’t be happier. No one is going through a box of tissues in their studio apartment on a Sunday afternoon. No one is freezing four-fifths of a recipe meant for five. No one is googling “how to make friends in Portland, OR.”

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There must be a way to live like I’m not waiting for anyone. I do feel that way — as terrible as it sounds. I feel like I’m waiting for someone to whisk me away from here, off to some suburb where it would be nice and safe and familiar. At the very least, I feel like I’m waiting for someone to say: oh hey, I like to lift & hike & cook & eat & read & drink coffee TOO.

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Honestly — I wish for help holding the other end of the comforter, while I wrestle the duvet cover back into place. I wish for help getting the tippy top of my zipper, when I pop a dress over my head and shimmy it down my hips. [Go to work with the top two inches gaping open, cover it up with a cardigan.] Mostly I wish for someone who would press a gentle palm against the place where my belly begins to curve and think: still pretty. Still pretty, just like this.

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{PNW roads via @intothinair & @bdorts, Sparks Lake sunset via @skylerhughes_photo, that PNW house via @alexbaileypdx & @andrewtkearns, Please Be Happy via @girlfort, foggy PDX via @bdorts — on all Instagram.}

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6 thoughts on “Criss Cross

  1. Lots of love and so many hugs. Keep this part on repeat: “You are so loved; you are so brave. You can do this. You ARE doing this.”

  2. I’ve been checking in on the blog every now again for year(s?). I haven’t subscribed, but every now and again it’ll cross my mind and I just felt compelled to let you know that (in my modest opinion) you’ve come such a long way with it. I admire your honesty and at times have really related to your struggle.

    You’ve really got something here, and I think you’re going places with it. Persevere :).

    • Awww thanks Ali, what a nice message to come home to. It makes my heart hurt to hear you can relate to any/all of the more difficult parts — I hope you’re doing well at the moment!

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