Say “Hello” and Change Your Life Story

Photo credit: Jen Collins

I have always been a people person. While I cherish my alone time and am happy to amuse myself and relax, I usually thrive in an environment that requires me to meet new people, ask questions, and get personal. Perhaps that’s why being a writer was always top of mind for me; I recognized early on that everyone has a story to tell. Choosing journalism in college was a no brainer: it gave me a chance to pound the pavement and then write about what I learned.

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Here’s to love, fulfilled

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

At the beginning of the year, I gave a toast to love in 2013. Love of family, of friends, of my career, of me, and, not to be left out, romantic love. Halfway through the year, I’m drowning in love, overwhelmed in all directions by it. Some of it has been tough love, some of it deliriously happy, some of it sweet, and a lot of it confusing. My parents, my friends, and my colleagues have all played a big role in supporting me and loving me, and for that, I thank you.

When I began the year, I knew some changes would be coming in my life, but I wasn’t quite sure how it would play out. I knew I would be leaving DC, but I didn’t know when. I knew I would be changing career paths, but I wasn’t sure how. I knew I would be leaving friends and making new ones, and that was both sad and exciting. What I definitely wasn’t sure of though, was where the romance would come in. I felt I had hit a roadblock in that department, and my impending move made it even more of a challenge. It didn’t seem to make sense to try to date in DC at that point, but it would be perhaps months before I was settled into a new area and meeting new people. I was pretty sure that my romantic life would just be dormant for awhile, and that the love in my life would be filled in other ways.

But life has a funny way of throwing curveballs when you don’t expect it. Spring was wedding season for me, and right in the middle of celebrating the nuptials of a close friend, a chance connection with someone I didn’t even see coming bloomed, and suddenly, I was like, now what?!

All the reasons not to start a relationship with someone when I was moving across the country in two months stared me in the face: it would be hard, time was short, I didn’t want to do long distance again, we just met, I have no idea what I’m doing in a few months, etc. But there was no denying that we enjoyed spending time together and felt an intense connection that we wanted to keep going, even if it may end just a few months later. We weren’t the same people we had been a few years ago in our previous relationships, and as adults, we decided to just go with it and see where life and love took us for the ride.

Two months go by quickly, especially when you’re in love. It had been more than three years since I had felt loved in that way, or loved back. It was happy, it was simple, it was tender, it was comfortable, it was without drama or egos, and it was exactly what we wanted and needed. It caught me off guard at first, to be treated the way he treated me, with such affection and consideration. It wasn’t flowers and fancy dinners and adventures, but it was words and touch, and all heart. Not everyone gets to experience that – no matter how old you are.

The days inched closer to me leaving and I stressed about what to do. Should we give it a shot and see what happens? Should we end it and say we had a great time? In the end, we said “see you later” instead of goodbye and decided to try it out, even if for a few months, until we could check in and figure out next steps together. We talked, we texted, we wrote, we missed each other.

And again, life does what it will.

After a month apart, the magic had begun to fade, as had our feelings, and the distance had started to do its damage. No amount of communications or respect for each other can beat out what our hearts tell us, no matter how much we try. It’s not about rights or wrongs, or one person or the other. Sometimes, it’s simply time, distance, circumstances, and where we are in life that shapes our decisions and our feelings. And as adults who cared (and still do) very deeply for each other, we knew that it wasn’t working, as much as we didn’t want to admit it.

Who is to say that it would have worked if I hadn’t moved? Or if we had met earlier and had more time together as a couple? It may not have, or it may have, but we can’t dwell on the what ifs. What we can cherish and remember is the time we did have together, and what life will bring us in the future, whatever that may be. I don’t regret for a single second that I was able to experience love again, even if for just a short time. I don’t regret meeting someone that made me very happy in a time of transition, in a time of anxiety, a time when I was leaving so many things and people I loved behind and trusting myself to a new adventure and a lot of unknowns.

We can’t know where our hearts will lead us – sometimes it’s across the country or the world, sometimes it’s to different people than we imagined. I’m not a strong believer in fate or destiny, but I do believe that people come across our path for a reason, and their time may be long or short, but their impact may last forever. That’s how I feel about this experience.

So, with much in store this year, here’s to more love, from wherever it may come. And thank you, for loving me, and giving me the chance to love again.

2013: Here’s to love

Love at midnight
Love at midnight

You blink and you miss it… 2012 is gone, and a new year is here. When I look at what others are saying about 2012, I notice a lot of things like “Good riddance,” and “2012 wasn’t good.” There were some moments in 2012 that weren’t particularly happy or positive, but what year has ever been only good things? The bad and the sad come with the good, this we know. For every destructive storm, there are people that show up to help out, together. For every person that left us too soon, there is a welcome addition to a family. It doesn’t mean that these moments of pain are replaced or easier to bear, but it’s a reminder that life can bring just as much joy as we let it, despite hard times.

So how do we start 2013 with an eye towards joy and fortune? How do we make sure that we’re loving as hard as we can, and living as hard as we can? In the past, my resolutions have been themed around mantras like “No Excuses” and bringing more happy into my life. This year, it’s all about love. Not just in the romantic sense, but in every sense of the word. What do I mean? Here’s a taste:

  • Love my current friends in the way that they deserve, and love making new friends.
  • Love my family for all that they are, no matter our past, no matter our differences. Love every moment I have with them.
  • Love my job and my team, and change paths if I don’t feel it.
  • Love my city and all that it has to offer.
  • Love the places I travel to, and the people I travel with.
  • Love my hobbies and passions, and if they don’t make me happy, find something new to love.
  • Love myself — my flaws, my successes, my failures, my quirks, my body, my dreams, my growth.
  • Love what the future holds, wherever it brings me, whatever I may do — and know that it will all fall into place.
  • Fall in love and be loved back.

And what are some other folks resolving to do? A sampling from those who answered my question on Facebook and Twitter below; add yours in the comments!

-spending/focusing more of my time and money on experiences than material things.

My sister adopted a policy of only making fun, achievable, non-self-pounitive resolutions, like “get more manicures.”

-Maybe I should try picking one thing, just ONE THING, throwing all my energy and brainpower behind it, and then letting the other chips fall where they may. So, to that end, my goal for 2013 (the year, not coincidentally, I turn 30) is to get published. Be it a short story in a journal, or a magazine article, or an agent signing, anything will count. The aim is to be fearless and take the next huge step toward my writing dreams.

Give me one reason to stay here…

…and I’ll turn right back around. So goes the Tracy Chapman song. She’s been jilted, maybe cheated on, walked on, treated badly by her lover. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we do know that she’s tired of going through the same motions of feeling loved, then pushed aside. She wants a reason to stay — needs a reason to stay — or she’ll leave forever.

What are the reasons we stay? What does someone say, may it be a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, neglectful family member, whomever, that make us stay and give them another chance? When do we reach our limit? What if one reason isn’t enough anymore and we need more?

Over the years I’ve thought about what makes me give in to relationships (be they romantic, platonic, or genetic) and give it one more shot. What words have been spoken, promises made, gestures shown, to make me turn around and come back and see if things get better? Perhaps it was an apology, perhaps it was the “but they’re such a good person” feeling, or the guilt creeping in, making me feel like I’m the bad person for wanting out. Sometimes I don’t know the reason, but I go back anyway…only to be disappointed again.

But none of the reasons have been worth it. That’s the whole point of the song, right? “I told you that I love you, and there ain’t no more to say.” If only it were that simple — we could just say I love you and things would get better. That the people hurting us, whether they realize it or not, intend to or not, would just magically fix things and we go skipping off into the sunset together. But the reality is that the reasons often don’t come through, and we’re left shaking our heads, turning away in disappointment, and wondering what could have been.

And for me…it’s often still not enough. I still want to fix it. I still want to be the one that makes it better, to figure out what’s wrong, why things aren’t working. It could be the meanest person in the world, and I’m the one wanting to make them nicer, wanting to know how I can be better for them.

I’ve worked hard in the last few years to realize that it can’t always be me, and it often shouldn’t be. That sometimes, there’s nothing I can fix, nothing I can make better, and hardest of all to hear — no reason for me to stay. Because staying will only make it worse, and staying won’t make me happier. So sometimes, it’s stopping and saying, hey, you asked for a reason to stay, and you didn’t get one…so it’s time to turn around — and not come back.

How do you know when that time is? We often don’t know, at least not right away. I’m famous for trying one more time, waiting a bit longer, and hoping someone will realize they’re messing up. It’s tiring, yet I’m that person still. Maybe because I have hope. Maybe because I’m a fool. In the end though, it’s as simple as remembering that I deserve better. And because I deserve better, and you deserve better, I ask for one reason I should stay — and if there is no answer, then I turn around. Because someone else down the road will have a reason, perhaps many reasons, that I should stay, and love them and be loved.