It was this time last year that I restarted this blog (August 1st to be exact). Not on WordPress, of course, but in its original form on Tumblr as what is now known as Bird & Cage. I felt broken. I spent way too much time in my bedroom alone, sweating in the humidity and binge watching Modern Family. I sat around and did that and sometimes I would amuse myself by driving to the mall, or Target, or the grocery store. And it was at this time that I first discovered that writing helped. It didn’t really make me feel less alone, like it does now, but it made me feel like I was being productive, and not just a sad loser living at her parents’ house.
I didn’t start with the blog; I started with an article that simply attempted to tell my story in some sort of linear manner, which later became the article I published in The Varsity (which I still do not love). I never would have thought to do this if my friend hadn’t randomly told me that I was a good writer, apropos of nothing (given that I hadn’t written anything in years, other than cards and emails and notes that were all essentially love letters). There was never some sort of hidden drive that I felt within myself to be a writer. It was just something that people told me I should do, or assumed I already did, because I’m an English major. But I started that article, and at the time I was in love with my first couple of drafts. My counsellor at the time pointed out that my face lit up when I talked about it, and I was super embarrassed but now I’m not – passion is a good thing.
When the article was done, I was bored. I wanted to write something else but I didn’t know what. And I remembered that I had a blog when I was in first year that I never knew what to do with. I still didn’t know what to do with it, but it was something. I asked my friend again what he thought. He’d admitted to reading my old blog back in the day, as a way to see what I was doing I suppose, since we were no longer in contact at that time, so I knew that he would be a good judge. He said go for it. I didn’t think I’d keep it up – maybe only for 2 or 3 months at best, like the first time. But it’s a year later now and I’m still going strong. That is incredible to me, because I don’t stick with ANYTHING. Now I actually sort of have a hobby. What can I say, I can only write what I know (also the reason why I still don’t consider myself a “real” writer). It took me a couple of months to figure out what I wanted this to be, and I still feel like it’s shifting but I have a voice now.
Anyway, that was my summer last year. It was truly one of the saddest periods of my life, although it was very important in terms of determining the direction my life would take from there. That summer gave me a drive to prove everyone wrong, which meant finding as much success as I possibly could. I got a lot done that summer in other senses too – every time I have a break, I make a list of things I want to do. Last year my summer list had maybe 30 things on it, and I still managed to do most of them.
This year – well, this is a better summer overall, for sure, but I’ve pared down my expectations so, so much, as I’ve always been told to do, and yet, I’m still not getting what I want. I feel like I would trade all of the success I’ve had for just a handful of the little things I got to do last year. There are so many little things that I miss. Like:
I miss watching TV on our laptops, getting frustrated at the insanely quiet volume and me laughing at you yelling at all of the characters. It’s nice to watch things with someone else. You seem to get more out of it that way, when you can talk about it and bond over it. I miss going out for dinner and going to the movies and going swimming. I even miss that one time that you called me at 4 in the morning because I got scared and paranoid and felt alone, and I’m sure you knew it was probably something stupid and irrational and not important to someone who hadn’t been through what I had (it was), but you were worried about me anyway so you called. Instead of snapping and yelling at me for being the way I am you called and told me it was okay and that meant so much, even though I was sort of embarrassed that I needed that in the first place. It was something I would have done. I’m glad that I don’t need you to do that anymore, but it was nice that you did.
I miss when, at the very end of summer a few days before you left, you hugged me goodbye and said “I already know I’m going to miss you,” and you sounded so sad like you for some reason always do when I know you really mean something, and I wanted to believe it was true. But it wasn’t. You didn’t miss me. You still don’t. You left me and us there on that corner. You didn’t walk me home like you usually did. That wasn’t the last time I saw you before you left, but I think that was the last time you really saw me. That was your real last goodbye.
I cried for weeks after you left. At least. Not every day, but most days. I didn’t think it was possible to be more alone than I already was, but it was possible. You were the only friend that I had left, and then you were gone too. I made new friends, I had to, but for a while it was just me. Me and the city.
I don’t miss all the crying, the horrible fights, the panic attacks. Especially not the panic attacks, that for some reason always left me stranded in some weird place. The time I told you about was only one of many, did you know that? I spent so many days (well, parts of days) crying and hyperventilating in my car, on the train, at train stations, at bus stations, whilst wandering the streets, on a curb, or a bench, or in a park. I was lucky I was in Oakville and not here.
But I miss how you made me feel better. Not all the time, but sometimes. One of my panic attacks was based off of the idea that I got into my head that I wasn’t worth grand gestures (because the one boy at the wedding I’d been at didn’t ask me to dance – I don’t know how any of that makes sense either). I think this was a coincidence, because I don’t recall telling you that, but the next morning you randomly showed up at my house even though you were supposed to be at work, just to surprise me for a few minutes. I was asleep, because that’s what I do when I’m depressed, so it wasn’t all that successful, but it was so special.
I know, though, that none of those things are likely to ever happen again. No matter how much I want them to, I can’t fix anything on my own, the way I have been. It takes two.
During the long weekend of last year was our last really good day, and this year he’ll be elsewhere with new people and I will also be elsewhere with new people (albeit in a much different context). It feels like that was just yesterday, but then I look around and I realize that I’m not in my childhood bedroom any more; I’m in this new place that has absolutely nothing to do with him, that he’s never even been.
And so I am glad that I have my apartment, and my new friends, and my new job, and my internship, and that guy who smiles at me funny sometimes, which makes me smile too. I found my own things and that empowers me to be okay, at least, despite everything.
I’m glad I have this blog, not just because he apparently still reads it, but because it is mine. No one can tell me what to write. They can try, and I might feel like I can’t say something, but I COULD. This sounds like some kind of threat, but it’s not. If I choose to protect someone, it’s because I love them. If I choose to speak out on an issue it’s because I care about it. If I choose to say something about something or someone that hurt me, it’s not for revenge, it’s because this is my space. If I choose to share something about a relationship or anything else, I can, and it gives me a voice, because for so long no one really knew anything about my life (they just thought they did), and now they COULD. If they wanted to. I want to use that power for good.
That’s why this super rambly post is going up today and not the one I wrote 5 days ago. It was a really long post that I was SUPER happy with, but it’s still sitting in my drafts because I feel like I can’t post it. But no – it’s not that I can’t, I just won’t. Protecting people you love fucking sucks. It does. I’ll do it, I will always do it, but I wish that we lived in a world where we could talk about anything and everything openly. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet. I shouldn’t feel like I need to protect anyone.
I will put it up, eventually, because it’s important, but there are more important things to me. If I went years without really having a voice before, I can wait a little longer this time. I can’t do much, but I can do that. And this time I have a choice. Everything I do or don’t do, everything I say or don’t say, is deliberate. It may not always feel like I have a choice, but I do. That’s what this blog gave me.
Anyway, because it’s been a year I want to say thank you, again, to my friend who encouraged me back then, and still doesn’t tell me to stop doing this even though I don’t think this is what he expected. Like at all. And thank you to everyone who has read it. Thank you even more to the people who read it semi-regularly. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me since then and said nice things. I’m so glad that I was able to help some people, even in a small way by giving them someone to relate to. It keeps happening every so often, and I can’t even tell you how much that makes my day. Even when I write posts like these, that don’t seem to have anything to do with anyone else, I know that maybe there’s someone out there who actually has experienced the exact same thing as me and ALSO feels like there is no one else on the planet who could possibly understand what they’re going through. The hope of connecting with other people is what makes me keep doing it publicly and not just in a diary or something. Someday I want to create a place where I can talk, but other people can talk too, and we can all have a conversation. [That said, there ARE comment boxes – I would encourage you to use them and not feel shy if you have something to say :)]
Here’s to another year of post-teenage angst and confusion!