Switzerland

This place is the very stuff of dreams. Otherworldly and overwhelming, by far the most breathtaking earthly place I’ve been thus far. It’s difficult to believe that such a place exists in the first place, let alone thinking back on actually being there.

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Somewhere in France

I should be editing family sessions. I’m so behind it’s insane. But I miss this space, free from expectation and entirely my own. I’ve been feeling out of touch with myself, words aren’t coming as easily. I feel wrung-out, like I need to withdraw and recharge, get re-acquainted with myself.

And so, here is our journey by car from Paris to Switzerland. We were in the car for about 14 hours that day. Things got stressful. Roads were closed. Husbands got annoyed with wives who constantly wanted to stop for photos. (Whoops.) But I couldn’t believe that places like these actually exist – picturesque little villages, complete with bell towers and chapels and and a Town Square.

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Once, in Paris

You know how cream looks when it’s poured into dark tea? Thick clouds billowing outward, fading slowly into a pleasant mauve? Well, that was Paris, to me. A city of cream.

My favorite was the waking up. (Which is hilarious, if you know me.) Gray light gently greeting us through the window, Drew opening it to show me the rain. Breathing in the fresh, sweet air. And then there was breakfast. Oh, breakfast! I don’t eat breakfast, really. It’s always been my least-favorite meal. But in Paris, with the croissants and the butter and jam and tea and more croissants and butter and jam. That is a way to start the day. Gentle sunlight and an open window and a light rain and pulling apart warm, buttery croissants in your hands.

The highlights? Asking the Parisian girl on the plane where we should eat, hearing her say, “Sen Pole,” being confused, and finally finding out it was “Saint Paul.” *Facepalm*  The first night eating crepes, the waitress who didn’t speak a lick of English with us not speaking a lick of French ending with her pouring a golden liquor on my plate when I thought it was syrup. *Mormon facepalm*

Dinner in Saint Paul. Golden lights softly setting the streets aglow as we turned a corner into a square of quaint little restaurants topped with quaint little apartments and a whole crowd of people sitting, sipping, eating, talking for hours. Steak with grape sauce. Alt-J following me overseas. The feeling that I’m surrounded by the millions who have been here before me, wishing I could hear their stories. Everything feeling enchanted and barely real, as they do when you’re a romantic idealist absent-minded dreamer in a romanticized city very, very far from home.

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Two Radiohead Songtitles

I’ve been talking to myself constantly, which means I need to do some writing. There’s that weight in my throat, the pressure of a storm building. But I’m afraid to sit down and let it come. I think I’m mostly afraid that it won’t. That I’m not what I imagine myself to be.

I think about myself too much. I know that. I’m much too concerned with making sense of existence. I forget to exist. I should be less selfish, more concerned with others. I should have three kids by now. I should be happy to answer the door when they knock, instead of wanting to hide, turn down the TV until they go away.

I should.

You begin to wonder if anyone ever sees you. Or if they’re just looking for what they expect a person to be. After all, why wouldn’t someone rather smile than not smile? Come out rather than stay in, stay hidden?

“Should” is the shame we carry for failing to be other people’s versions of ourselves. I’m not really interested in that. You don’t choose a school, a major, a spouse, a political candidate, a belief, a family, an entire life just because that’s what those in proximity expect.

Except, don’t you? Isn’t that all we ever do?

Meet expectations, meet expectations. Ignore that muffled source inside that begs, “But why?” Hold its head under water until it never speaks again, silence any whisper that threatens to betray the careful illusion, the delicate house of cards you work tirelessly to keep from blowing over. Listen to only upbeat songs. Pin that quote about dancing in rain. Complain about rainy days on social media. Smile. Stay peppy. Stay happy.

I know what you think of the way I move through life; I can see the laughter in your eyes, looking down your nose and making light. I know you think it’s juvenile, my love of the way words can blend together like light on water – a variation on a theme of beauty my thirst for is never quenched. I know you see it as something people should grow out of. But the truth is, the older I grow, the more I’m convinced that life is poetry. And the way I see it, you’re missing it all. And you’re blind to everything I hold sacred.

I guess if we’re being honest, I probably won’t call. I guess I don’t see the point of it, of all your spinning plates.

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there is sunshine.

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As Anthony Bourdain would say, there’s a metaphor in here somewhere. It’s fluttering around my head, teasing me. But it’s late, I just faced a long-avoided fear of mine, and I’m shooting a wedding tomorrow. I’m much too tired to reach.

What I need to say is, I feel like I’m finally, at long last, beginning to find my voice. After years of working through co-dependent tendencies of living for and through other people, breaking down walls of fear and slowly starting to shovel the heaps of low self-worth out of me, it feels like it’s finally happening.

I think, on most days at least, I’ve managed to be what I am, and love that thing. It sort of feels like I’m asking for trouble, but I just want to acknowledge that right now, I’m happier and more satisfied with my life than I have been at any other point.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be bad at things. That if I’m interested in something, or completely green with envy of the people who can do that thing, I should be doing that thing as well. And that I need to pursue it relentlessly, push through all of the looking stupid to get to the good stuff. Because it’s there, eventually. After a lot of tears and uncomfortable situations. And that it’s okay – no – necessary to cut out of your life what isn’t working anymore, because it makes room for better things. New, more edifying ways to pass the time. New friends who make me feel like the most worthwhile person, who are the most worthwhile people with so much to teach me.

I’m just happy. I see so much beauty every single day. I’m creating, and there is sunshine, and I like my life.

how are you ever

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We go to California. Sunshine and perfect temperatures and swimming pools and the sea. We come home. Oh, home. I am in love forever with home. We spend a few nights watching my nieces. I don’t understand how people do this, parenting. I can’t sleep wondering if the doors are locked, if a child-stealer has broken in to take them. As usual, I allow imaginary events of horror to take over me completely. I picture my family’s faces after learning their daughters and nieces are missing. I think that it wouldn’t matter what they said, I know they would never be able to forgive me.

Do I tell myself that this is a dramatized, ridiculous, and most importantly, completely untrue series of events that aren’t worth losing sleep over? Well, I try. But this is my mind we’re talking about. It doesn’t listen to reason.

I’m exhausted. These kids sleep better than most, but anyone under the age of 12 tends to have a way of sucking all of the energy out of me. I don’t know what to do or how to act around kids. I understand how mothers are always saying they feel like a failure. It kind of seems like a losing game, raising humans. You have to let go of your ego, surrender to the sticky, loud, messy situations that inevitably come.

My mother helps in the baby sitting, thank heaven. Somewhere in there, she looks at my crumpled frame on the floor, asks, “Oh Meghan, how are you ever going to have a baby?” And I laugh. Because I know she doesn’t mean it in a rude way, and because it isn’t as if I don’t ask myself this exact question most every day. As if this isn’t the entire reason I’ve lived my childless life the way I have in the first place.

Though, this did bring me to realize: people do seem to like to talk that way about me. “I just don’t know how she’ll ever graduate if she keeps ditching classes like that. I don’t see how she’s going to hold a job if she keeps sleeping in like that. I don’t see how she’ll keep her figure eating like that. I don’t see how she’ll do things the way she should if she goes on doing them like that.

And it’s true. I agree. They don’t see. They never do. Because what people mean by “the way she should” is “the way I would (or already did).” But those things are not the same. I’m not going to do things the same way as anyone else, I’m going to do them however I see fit.

People never seem to stop expecting you to be exactly like them, even if nobody ever has been throughout all of the generations of time. Even if that was never the point in the first place.

I can’t find what I am. All I can see is how I fail to be others. And if all you can see is how you fail to be others, how can you ever be what you are?

little self

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Childhood should be safe and warm, filled with light and love and all things nurturing.  But it rarely ever is — at least not entirely. Because grown-ups aren’t perfect. And neither is a child’s perspective.

There are things that happen to us, when we’re young. Things unfair and unjust – from the smallest incident to the biggest abuse. They happen, and oftentimes we find ourselves, many years later, still tangled up in its grasp. Because at the time, we didn’t get the chance to fully comprehend the situation. Because, at the time, we couldn’t make sense of it, were powerless to escape it. We were only children. What could we do? Other than feel forgotten, stuck, sorrowful, angry, resentful — and continue on with life.

Only, sometimes, I think we’re not sure how to properly do this after such events take place. How to properly deal with this anger, this hurt. And so we stow it away, far down, deep below. As deep down within us as we can find, into the smallest cupboard in the darkest corner of our own heart. And we try to forget. But this thing, this harbored injustice, it is alive and breathing, like a great sleeping dragon. And, eventually, sleeping things stir.

And when they stir, resistance is futile. Like a screaming baby in a crib, it needs to be cared for. It needs to be acknowledged, validated, seen, understood. Don’t you see? You cannot grow by shoving parts of you back into the ground. Even the darkest and ugliest of them. Without them, you become something untrue. Instead, you must stare them in the face. You must say, “I see you. I know you. What happened to you? It wasn’t fair. And maybe it wasn’t the worst possible thing in comparison to others, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. That doesn’t disappear your own scars. And so, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry that you felt left, afraid, and broken.

“But when you were alone, you learned about yourself. You learned to feel in that great, big way that you always have. You learned to think your own thoughts, to make your own decisions. You learned that there is value in peace, quiet, and stillness. You learned that there are invisible helping hands, always there to hold you up. You learned that there is a great deal more to entertain yourself with in your own head than anyone had previously lead you to believe. You learned about the things you could create from them.

And, when it comes down to it, Little Self, what would we trade that for?