"...even when love comes back, it still is not yours. You just get to exist with it. That has to be enough."
I fell out of love once.
It happened quickly. One day my heart swelled and the next it deflated like a New Years Balloon on January 8th, pathetic-empty.
I have written about this before. One day I was happy, looking forward to our future together and then I wasn't. I tried to explain this in a way that was fair but the truth is, there is no fair way to tell someone you don't love them anymore. People talk about how to manage divorce and breakups in an amicable way. Except if one or both parties still invested, the strings of their hearts entangled in the situation, I don't believe there is a way to really manage. It's just going to hurt. And then one day you wake up and it doesn't hurt as much. So many articles out there give advice on how to get over a breakup. First of all, I don't think you ever get over true love. If you love someone they change your DNA, man. They change the way you breathe. They change you and that's okay. I think that we need to transmute the language here, you don't get over a breakup. You just move on. Yeah, maybe you get over the guy from your local gym that brought you for pizza twice. But you don't get over the big loves, the ones that made you believe that your ribcage was too small to fit their light.
I have fallen out of love and once someone fell out of love with me. Both situations seem impossibly unfortunate.
This has taught me that love belongs to no-one. It is not something that can be owned. You cannot wrap a lasso around a relationship and expect it to stay. Trust me, I wish that you could. I love my boyfriend with everything that I have. If I could bubble wrap us together, I probably would. But I know. I know the tighter you hold, the less that you feel. There is a reason for the cliche, “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be."
The problem with this saying is that even when love comes back, it still is not yours. You just get to exist with it. That has to be enough. I know how incredibly unnerving that is for the anxious and controlling among us. I can see your thoughts, my husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/wife is mine. That's just not the truth.
They only belong to them. You are a guest in their life. One that is only there as long as you are invited. Even marriage won't stop someone from leaving you. I swear I'll get to a positive point soon.
I'm in a coffee shop and the women behind the counter received a phone call from her friend. I soon later that they haven't talked in a while when she relayed the situation and phone call to her co-worker.
My ears perked at "God, Ellie, I'm so sorry."
I couldn't hear the other end of the phone conversation but I know her. She is me. She is my friends. She is every girl who was blindsided by someone falling out of love with them.
"He hasn't talked to you in how many days? You're moving out?"
My empathy barrels onto this page. How fucking sad is it when someone falls out of love? My empathy is for him too. I don't think a single human out there wants to fall out of love. I don't think they wake up one day and say to themselves, "I want to feel emptiness around this other human I have built a life with." I do believe there is a difference between falling out of love and getting into slumps. I believe that when you give someone your heart you should do everything in your power to make sure that a breakup is actually what you want before you carelessly take it back. Because sometimes love can kick-start again. See below. However, sometimes the wires get crossed, they get tangled like the cords behind the tv, and from personal experience, nothing can fix that.
It's just there is no good way to fall out of love.
The coffee shop girl, skin like clean charcoal, turns to her co-worker. "He told her that he doesn't love her anymore and that he's been thinking about it for months."
I used to be so angry at people who lead their significant other on, stringing them along for months, even years. It occurred to me one day that sometimes people aren't staying because they're scared or being cruel. They stay when they're trying - when they're hoping it will get better.
For Ellie and this guy. It never did.
I am so damn fearful that this will happen to me again. That fear won't stop time though. It won't stop the truth.
I am so incredibly lucky to have what I have right now and that is what I'm going to hold onto.
My biggest New Years resolution is instead of aiming to love people forever, I'm going to do a better job of loving them right now.
I'm not going to take my love for granted.
If it goes, I'll set it free...
Santa threw up again.
That's what I say to my mother every year as I walk into my childhood home. I know, I am such a sweet daughter. My mom bombards every inch of her house with Christmas decor. The Santa Clauses stare at me with their vacant dead eyes. I know in those instances there's no place like home for the holidays.
My mom picked me up from the airport and we made our yearly stop at the Bolingbrook promenade mall. People bustled around, shopping bags filling their arms, rushing to finish last minute shopping. We were looking for a blush dress that I could wear to my friend's wedding that will take place in early January. Last minute as well, but our urgency was less pressing. The immense tree in the center of the shopping area was accompanied by a blaring song, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." The tune mixed with the frantic bodies combined to create a cacophony of sounds that pulsed through the small road which was adorned by a decorative sign. The street was named Hemingway. The Chicago temperatures stretched to a mere twenty degrees. I had forgotten that abrupt feeling that occurs as your body exits the arctic air and enters the warmth of a store. It is both pleasant and jarring. You forget a lot of things when you're away long enough.
I was thirteen when my mom decided we should move to Plainfield, Illinois. I remember the many phone calls where she cited her reasoning as "I want them to have access to a better school district." The truth was that my brothers were smashing car windows, smoking weed, and skipping school constantly. I don't know when the last straw was but it might have been around the time that they left me home alone when she was working a night shift. We were living in Bolingbrook, Illinois then. Drew Peterson was the police officer on duty who called my mother to inform her that the boys had broken curfew along with a few other laws. Yes, the same Drew Peterson whose third wife was murdered and his fourth wife went missing. Apparently I was sleeping throughout the whole exchange.
My childhood consists of similar strange incidents such as this. None of them are particularly traumatizing, depending on the person whose reading I presume. Yet, there is something unsettling about visiting the place where you morphed into a cognoscente member of society. You no longer inhabit the place that shaped you but this is where you became you. Anytime I come home I feel like I'm in a movie montage as my past, the good and the ugly, plays out in my head on repeat.
We departed Francesca's and although there were a few more stores I wanted to walk to down the way, I stopped.
I looked at the area where I had been proposed to four years prior. I remember how my glove wouldn’t come off. “You light up my life like nobody else…” He sang the song off tune and my life made sense in a way that it hasn’t in a long time. The montage moves to the moment I gave up on our relationship. My ex-fiance informed me that he wanted to take his friend to New York. My hair was in curls and I was wearing a much too pink dress. We were supposed to take our engagement photos.
This was only four years ago. He is married to someone else now. Memories like this aren’t filled with pain or regret. I think about them as if I’m peeking into the window of someone else’s house.
Whenever I come home, I feel like the ghost of Christmas past, showing myself who I used to be.
I will never understand how people can change and stay the same in the exact same body. The awkward seventeen-year-old who painted her face with neon colors in an attempt to stand out and fit in is more alive here in this place than when I’m back in Baltimore. She’s still alive though. I spend a lot of time running from her, but here she is, waiting.
So I ask myself, does going home have to be this emotionally tumultuous thing?
I lost my first love here. Fifteen minutes away, one of my best friend’s died on a gravel road. This is where I learned that abuse changes people.
All of those facts remain true. They don’t negate another truth, a bigger truth. I am still the new me despite the memories that exist in this place. They do not threaten who I have become. I sit on my couch with a cup of tea, snuggled in my nutcracker jammies. I am simultaneously my teenage self and my now self. I accept that I am not who I thought I was going to be. Is anyone?
I am a teacher in Baltimore City. I am a girlfriend to an incredibly sweet, often times grouchy man who teaches me about patience, love, and understanding every single day. I am presently completing my MFA at the University of Baltimore.
One second I was the me four years ago and then a variety of choices I hardly remember making happened and here I am. It is Christmas 2017. Santa threw up again. Some things will always stay the same and some will never be the same. I spend so much time worrying about this and the future. James always says, “Stop being stuck in what could happen. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.” I hate when he says this. I hate it so incredibly much.
It’s true though. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We can prepare and plan and make goals. We can want and wish and hope. And still, we just don’t know.
A Danish philosopher, Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, wrote, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
I have been living life backward, stuck in between those minutes that have come and gone, long ago. There is a painting on the far wall next to the fireplace that often catches my eye. It has four sleds that lean against a fence. Each one has a name in it, not one of us remotely the same person as we were when the artwork was bought. It hits me then, why would we be? Why is it so surprising that time passes? Nostalgia cracks your ribs open, but if you sit long enough, it can also close those same divots.
I think coming home will always be an emotional time for me. I also know that just because I have been broken does not mean I have to continue to break.
We passed by the house I grew up in on the first day I was back. “Mom, that’s the street where our first house is!” She nodded and turned without prompting. I think we wanted to “take a trip down memory lane.” When the bombs went off in Hiroshima they say that the people and objects made literal imprints on the ground. There were no bombs here. I see the shadows though, pressed into the siding of the house. They’re only visible to us. I snap a few pictures of the house where we lived.
We drove away and I’m back on the couch, just trying to be here. I never knew there would be a day where it would be so incredibly hard to just exist without all of the yesterdays telling you what to do. I never knew that NOW would be so impossibly difficult. I wiggle my toes and yawn. I think about what book I’m going to read. I spread myself in this moment like jam so that nothing from either side of my existence can seep in.
I’m glad that my mom keeps the Christmas decorations up until I leave. It’s my favorite time of the year.
A Vegetarian cooking turkey day Dinner, the birth of my nephew, and the very bad case of sunday "scaries"
This was my second Thanksgiving away from Chicago and my family. A few weeks ago my brother sent me a text message informing me that his wife was going into labor. I immediately searched for a halfway reasonable flight, hopped on a plane, and made it in time for the birth of my first nephew. Plane rides are always an interesting time for me. This one being no different. I met a girl named, Kaleechi and she happened to be one of the most interesting people I have ever met. I won't write about our conversation because it was one of those moments that is best left stuck in my heart. To think, I got to experience even more wonder and magic just a few hours later.
He was born a little early, about 5 1/2 weeks. My sister-in-law was a rockstar through out the whole birth. I was standing outside the room when the docors stopped crying "Push. Push Push," and instead were met with a rushing medical team who infomed us she would need an emergency c-section. Not one time did Karla lose her composure. I however, realized that I will never be able to have children. I am a wimp! I was so worried about her, and the baby, and my brother. Words like "Heartbeat dropping" don't sit well with me. I'm sure they didn't for Karla's sister, my brother, or my mom and yet they were able to keep from almost passing out. I on the other hand thought I was going to throw up multiple times. I sat in the waiting room, finishing some homework, and thought about how there was going to be a whole new life being born into the world. I thought about how amazingly wonderful my brother was going to be as a father. How scared he must be. How brave Karla was. I thought about a lot in that waiting room. Within a few hours the doors opened, light peeked out and then came my brother and his new son. I will never forget his tiny fingers or small cries. He was so worth all the fuss. People always talk about their nephews and nieces, about this love they can't describe, and I've now joined that group of people, who have this unexplainable love for a small child that isn't quite their own.
Welcome to the world Declan.
So I had been planning on going home for Turkey Day but going home twice in that small period was not feasible. Instead I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. My boyfriend and three of our friends attended the little soirée. The end results were beautiful despite a few mishaps during the day.
The next morning with a slightly soree head, I made my way to Easton, PA to visit my "second family." The Townsend/Larsen/McHugh family have been in my life ever since my mom met her best friend on Willoway street back in 1988. We have experieced a lot together and the three hour drive was nothing in order to spend part of the holiday weeked with Karen and her family. Not everyone could be together this year but the splintered pieces seemed closer when I arrived Friday night. Again, this adventure was not boring. On my way I got lost because my GPS stopped working. Of course. I made the most of it
Now, It's 4:00 on Sunday and reality is setting in. We are at the place, I call the "Sunday Scaries." Last year, they were almost non-existent. However, with budget cuts and ever worsening realities, teaching has become a scary place again. I love my students and my co-workers but my job is one that causes most of us to get a lurch in our stomachs on the weekends. Not because of the teaching. I love weaving stories in front of the eyes of my students. That is not the issue. The issues are one created by the lack of funding and resources. Unfortunately, I don't feel comfortable going into details on this platform. I have not come home one day in the past month without feeling like every single emotion in my body has been used on caring and fighting for my students, all well having road blocks shoved in my path every step of they way.
I'll try to hold onto the warmth of the weekend, while not being able to pretend that I can't feel the cold reality of teaching in today's climate. Teacher's get a lot of slack for being complainers. I should say that I'm excited to plan my lesson tomorrow. I'm excited to find material that will light their minds for a moment. What drives the coldness into me is the fact that I will be up till midnight. I have to finish tasks that were created to provide fake accountability. I will do it. I will plan a good lesson. And I will ask myself, "How can we support our teachers and students in a more sustainable way?"
Keep Trying to Find the Love,
About the blog:
Emily Ann Hansen
I'm a writer and teacher living in Baltimore City. I'm originally from Chicago. I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Fiction. Instead of babbling, I will list a few of the things in life that make me happy: