I am confused. I am lost. I am hurt. I am wandering, praying, crying, breaking, and barely making it through each and every day. But do not pity me. Do not belittle my sadness with memories of happier days. Do not threaten me with a good time to get me through the night. Do not think for one second that I will not make it through this- do not think for one second that I am uncertain about my future, my dreams, my strengths simply because I am uncertain of who I see in the mirror. I do not want your sympathy, I do not want your comfort, words of encouragement, or guiding hand. I see my dreams, my achievements, and my future goals sitting in front of me ready for the taking. I see the road I have to take in order to reach them. I will and without your approval, pity, and/or support. Get your binoculars because this road is my own to travel.

“We are made of all those who have built and broken us.”

You. You helped me grow into one of the strongest versions of myself. I became confident in what I believed in, I had a dream I knew I could achieve, I woke up every single day happy with who I was and the way my life was going. You constantly told me how strong, motivated, and powerful I was and could continue to be. I believed you. I took the world into my own hands and accomplished everything I have ever dreamed to because of the strength you helped me develop.

Then, I met you. You intrigued me, worried me, pushed me to new boundaries of how I understood the world. And you so quickly turned that fascination with life and the world into fear and brokenness. You took my confidence and ripped it apart one by one. You found the things I was good at and found flaws in every single one of them. You deemed my world small, irrelevant, worthless. You claimed my dreams and accomplishments were useless and complacent. You broke me down to the lowest version of myself physically and figuratively.  You broke my confidence, my idea of the world and most importantly my vulnerability toward the world. You took me at my weakest point and blasted that for the world to see. You shattered me.

And now, I am sitting in a coffee shop-halfway across the country-running from both of you. Running from myself and the jumbled mess of what the two of you have created within me. I am made of a silent confidence that I no longer let show. I hide my fears behind brutal sarcasm and a straight face. I do not want to show my weaknesses nor my strength because I don’t want a response from either of you. The combination between being so high, so courageous, so confident and then being so low, so scared, so near rock bottom- has made me unaware of where exactly I am. Some days I am proud, other days embarrassed. Some days I am taking the world on with every ounce of my being and other days I am hiding under my blankets scared to show my face. I want to be able to blame both of you for the pain I am feeling but cannot bring myself to honestly tell either one of you.

Out of gas

You promised me we wouldn’t run out of gas- you promised we would make that twenty-two hour drive with no complications and that there was nothing to be scared of. I believed you- I got in that car with you and I trusted you.

And you- you ran out of gas. You broke that trust. And yet you did it so gracefully and in a way that allowed me to feel frustrated and annoyed with you all while feeling secure. For awhile it was just a funny story- another example of you being a smartass but throughout this past week as I have reflected on how much of a father figure you were to me and how many times you pushed my buttons- I realized that you more than likely took my vulnerability and used it as a teaching moment just like you were infamous for.

You chose the smallest town, the one in the middle of nowhere, the one that brought my fear to life in the most dramatic way possible to pull over on the side of the road and run out of gas to prove to me that fears can be faced head on. You did it constantly- whether it was making me guard the most talented girl on the other team, making me stay late to finish making my free throws or finding the most abandoned little Texas town to break down in- you made me face my fears head on. You constantly pushed me to become the best person I possibly could be and take the world on without fear.

Thank you for running out of gas. Thank you for making me defend the shooting guard from St. Mary’s every single time. Thank you for taking me to free throw championships and making me stay late after practice. Thank you for pushing me to be the best person possible. Thank you for always finding an opportunity for a teachable moment and proving to me that fears are meant to be faced.

I have been more scared this year than ever before- but somehow you have made that okay. You have made fear a healthy obstacle and have inspired me to persevere and face it head on. Thank you for loving me as selflessly as you did and making it a point to show me how beautiful the world can be once the fear is gone.

I am who I am today because of you and because you ran out of gas in that little town in Texas.

cup of coffee

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what to say because I never thought it would come to this between you and I. Brenna and Tayler was a duo that I never questioned. I never once asked whether you would be in my future. I never once doubted that you were my right hand man. But now it seems as though, tomorrow is completely out of the question. that a response from a simple text is a pleasant surprise. it seems as though “biffie” initiating a conversation will happen when Haley’s comet soars again. But i am not the type of person who can just fade someone out of my life. i need closure. i need to know if there is a possibility of celebrating our college graduations as we have celebrated our preschool and high school graduations. i need to know if there is a chance of birthdays spent on the beach, of first row AVS games, of Miley Cyrus concerts, and free ice cream out the back door. i need to know if there are going to be more trips up the stairs at red rocks, of runs down the platte river, of drives to wherever blasting rap songs we have no business singing the lyrics to. of travelling across the country to see one another. of sarcastic filled, wine drinking, shark video watching Saturday nights in pajamas. in binge drinking, and downtown walks. of opposing political conversations. of feelings like we are each others’ family. Because if not Tayler Rae. if i am the only person in this relationship willing to call the other out on being honest. if i am the only person in the relationship willing to text you first, call you first, wish you the best, make sure you are happy, make sure you are okay, i have to let go. i have to determine and reach that closure on my own terms. i have watched many friends fall by the wayside, i have been hurt many times. but never by you. and it kills me, breaks me down to an unexplainable level that a cup of coffee is what has destroyed the most beautiful relationship i have ever known. i love you Tayler rae. i miss you. i have never been so genuine about wishing someone the best but i cannot hold onto the idea that you and i will be in each other’s life in the same way ever again if you are unable to put forth the effort to make this work.

Home is…

My story. It’s not one of dramatics or climactic events. It’s the story of simplicity and a rather stereotypical suburban home life. My dad- a truck driver. Long ass hair, high blood pressure, and a lack of communication skills. His Camaro sits in the garage collecting dust as does his dream of a professional racing career. A tough exterior but a sad interior. A firm hatred of drunk drivers and the idea of giving up. Heavy metal enthusiast and kool-aid drinker. He’s a simple man who had the world at his fingertips with the Friday night lights turned on. But when they turned off, so did a little bit of his happiness. Newspaper clippings are what remain of a life my dad once loved. Now, he drives cross country weeks at a time to hide the sadness and avoid the three mouths he has to feed.

My mom- a stay at home caretaker who dreams of a career. The same hair and makeup since ’87. Her comfort level is where she lives and where she plans on staying for the rest of her life. This comfort level is one of laundry on Saturday mornings and taking the dog on a walk. A life of regret and complacency. The loss of an unborn son consumes her sadness and even her laughter is hesitant. She hides her fear of living her life to the fullest by making crafts and a cozy house. She excels at masking her tears with a veil of strength. A desire for independence but a housewife status that limits her freedom. A past that was taken too fast by her future. A future of mothering and protecting herself and her daughters from the mistakes she made and her own unhappiness.

My story started with two individuals who were unprepared for the stubborn ass that the stork dropped off. It started with two people who were unaware that their past regrets meant nothing to me. It was their unconditional respect, empowerment, discipline, and love that made me who I am. Amongst all that, was a place I called home. A place where unpleasant thoughts and happenings were brushed under the rug that I wiped my feet on everyday after school. A place where tears are shed behind closed doors and parents fighting could be heard through the vents that led to the basement. Secrecy is common. A place where dad still doesn’t know about STDs and Mary Jane. Home is a place with past pets buried in the backyard and  prayers are said before home style funerals. A place where fish are flushed down the toilet and never spoken of again.

Home is a place of a once inspirational Uncle whose past of drugs and alcohol haunted him as he fathered me. An uncle who came to every basketball game, taught me the word fuck and that the best brownies have nuts in them. An uncle who would rather inject white powder and hang a noose in the bathroom than attend his daughter’s high school graduation. An uncle who fought the demons for too long and fell victim to the devil’s power once again. A role model who fell short but whose scent of Dr. Pepper and Camel reds is engraved in my sensory memory.

Home is a place with a half drug addict, half prostitute aunt who was one hundred percent absentee. An aunt we drove by on the street corner as she begged for money. An aunt who would rather swallow STD’s than her own pride. An aunt in only one Christmas picture.

Home is a place of a sarcastic Grandpa who sat on the blue chair and rocked the combover. A grandpa with a blue rain jacket and the cologne ordered from Avon. A grandpa who said trampolines were too dangerous but basketball was a girl sport. A grandpa who I knew as Pete but who everyone else called Jerry. I still am unsure of which his real name is although I know there were two parts of within the strength of that man. A part that would rather tell his granddaughter that a shingle fell off a roof and hit him than admit he has a virus. And a side who slips from this world with such grace, I know he is still here somehow, somewhere in Blackhawk.

Home is a place where Grandma has only been known through photos and Christmas cookie recipes.

Home is a place where dad’s side of the family is only a myth that has been introduced by words like “assholes” and warnings “we don’t talk to them anymore.” A side with skeletons and memories never being created.

Home is a place of Girl Scout cookie sales, of birthday parties and croquet tournies on summer weekends. Home is a place of jumping on a snow covered trampoline and into a backyard standup pool. A place of sunscreen and popsicle breaks. A place of summer book reports and playing school in the basement. A place where family board game nights were weekly and physical activity was seemingly nonexistent. A place where staying busy is a lifestyle. Home is a place where the dining room table holds souvenirs of the life it is lived. with engraved safety pins and permanent glitter. A place where the pullout bed in the couch is where friends slept over and popcorn was lost forever. A place where riding down the street on my purple bike became unbelievably fulfilling as soon as I could turn the corner and around the block to the park. Home is a place of white Christmas lights and a Bah Humbug tshirt on. A place where Christmas day was split in two because a united family couldn’t be considered. But a Christmas day when my sister and I could count on matching gifts from Aunt Patti in Indiana. Those were the only two matching presents.

Home is a place where sister sisters could not be more different than one another. A sister who is beautiful and afraid. A sister who is analytical and intelligent beyond her years. A sister who once knew so much joy in playing dress up and drinking imaginary tea with a  tiara on. A sister with a smile that resembled SpongeBob’s goofy ass buck teeth and long blonde hair braided each and every day. A sister who’s kind hearted and happy spirit was crushed by her sister’s competitiveness. Where her older sister’s basketball skills sparked a false recognition of what she had to offer the world. And rather than rising above the expectations held for her and creating her own-she fell short of them. And she deemed her self-worth from those failures. A sister who chose a life of complacency to match her mother’s fear of the world rather than making her own path. A sister who has adopted the habit of secrecy and pushing unpleasant thoughts but even more so, emotions under the rug. A sister who has a comfort zone smaller than her mom’s and one that may not ever be broken out of it. A sister who has followed suit of fear consuming her entire life. A sister I would die for.

Home is a place with a cousin. Her name is rarely used even with close friends because I simply don’t know her. I wish I did, she’s probably fucking awesome and could teach me the ways of this world. Like an older sister who lived in my basement but was never really part of the family. A black sheep. An orphan to a prostitute mom and overdosing dad. A cousin who was dealt unbelievably bullshit life cards and yet still puts on a persona of strength at annual meetings at the Thanksgiving table and around the Christmas tree. A cousin who I rarely recognize as a human being but a girl who I know is somehow blood related to me. A cousin I am determined to get to know better.

Home is a half sister. A lovechild of my dad and some Mexican woman. A girl who took part of my dad’s paycheck for eighteen years but who never showed her face. A half sister who is just another mystery-another strand of blood I will never know.

Home is memories of when dad’s paycheck took on us roadtrips to national landmarks of Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Home is hotel rooms with a bathtub because mom is luxurious and trips to Disneyland. Home is the white Tahoe with the backward seats  so we could wave at those driving behind us. Home is getting sick on every one of those trips.

Home is a bun on the top of my head for seven straight years-frizzy ends popping out as I played kickball and freeze tag with the boys on the playground, leaving the girls to their small talk. Home is not wearing a uniform skirt until sixth grade. Home is a place of no math programs and a bald guy who clipped his fingernails while we took a test. Home is the family of 20 kindergarteners who grew into teenagers together. Home is wondering how they are all doing now.

Home is French toast on Saturday mornings before loading dad’s truck-another week long goodbye.

Home is being horrified of the face looking back at me in the mirror covered in welts, swollen red scars, and acne that consumed my every thought for years. Home is trying to erase that time of my life from memory, only a few photos left to represent the unhappiness that defined those years. Scars still remaining today.

Home is the carving of pumpkins on the kitchen floor every October-sometimes from the garden out back, sometimes store bought. Home is a Mother’s Day spent in the backyard planting flowers and laughing. Home is Christmas decorations going up after all the Thanksgiving dishes have been cleaned. Home is dad hanging the lights after a rock paper scissors game to determine who has to hold the ladder. Home is Bruce Springsteen and Slayer albums. Humming and head-banging. Home is a calendar in everyone’s Christmas pile. Home is a New Year’s Eve only lasting till 9’oclock. The innocent deception of a ball drop and two exhausted parents. Home is a fourth of July barbeque in the backyard and fireworks in the park. Home is holidays.

Home is beautiful. Home is flawed. Home is a place I would not trade for the world. Not the swamp cooler, the dog in the backyard, the deception and secrets. Home is a place that shaped who I am and helped me decide who I want to become. There is no place like home.

The orcastrator

His shoes are scuffed from endless adventuring, the soles nearly falling apart from dancing nights turned into mornings. His fingers eternally calloused from making melodies as he refills your drink. His smile assures everything will be okay while his laugh brings a sense of nostalgic bliss. Passion is left to flourish on whatever he touches, as if visible fingerprints of his soul. His heart beats out of his chest, too big for his own good. He has a young soul but never mistake that for a weakness. One underestimation of his abilities and proven wrong will be you. The world is unprepared for his energy. His voice will ring for generations as he brings forth messages that others are afraid to say. His music will bring together different walks of life and allow for freedom to love one another. His ability to see the constellations connect will place him amongst the stars eternally. Just as a shooting star, he will soar across the sky as a flash of light, unmistakable for anything but magic. His presence will make you long for more. Despite his intergalactic qualities, he’s human-he has fears, concerns, love to give, hardships experienced- its what makes him, as powerful as his. The touch of his hand-firm yet soft can guide even a lost soul toward sunrises and brighter days. His kiss evaporates burdens while his head on the pillow to your right erases the rest of the world. Few will experience the magic he has offer on an intimate level-for those who have, the world will never be the same. I’m lucky enough to have experienced that electricity.

Your sand is yours, mine is mine.

You were like a handful of sand resting in the palm of my hand, dancing with the breezes but never flying away. You rested there peacefully with room to grow. I was the same sand only in your palm, always gentle and spacious. Until a gust of wind, stronger than any we’ve ever felt before blew in our direction. The sand in your palm could hold on no longer and most was lost leaving only a few grains in the wrinkles of your hand. The sand in mine, so light and beautiful, it could not hold up against the dark reality of the atmosphere around us. I closed my hand so tightly trying to keep every grain, every dust particle of sand left in my hand, and never opened it again in fear of a second gusty day. You looked down at your palm, saddened by your loss but recognizing the hopelessness of keeping what remained. There was no way to retrieve what had blown away, and there was so little left, it felt nearly impossible for you to nurture what you still had. I watched as you turned your hand over, unsteady, and uncertain, as the final sand grains fell to the ground. You watched as I flew away, my pieces of sand landing amongst different crevices on the ground. You walked away,wiping your hands on your pants to get rid of the dust on your hands. You never looked back. My hand still close-fisted. I do everything with one hand, hindering in my life so as not to lose what is left of you. My body is exhausted, you are heavier than I remember, more dense. But I push on, I deny any other gusts of wind, I pretend the world has no idea that I am still carrying you even though they know you have left me. I spend days, weeks, months, even years in denial. You must have a piece of me somewhere. There is no way that you turned your hand over, washed your hands clean of me forever. And then I open my hand. My heart becomes as heavy as what is left of you is in my palm. What is left is less than I remember, you are practically gone. I can’t even find a trace of you in the dust left in between my fingers. You saw my hand closing tight so long ago, and flew away then. The sand left in my hand, the hinderance for the last two years has not been you at all. It has been only a memory of the light, flexible sand I had with you once before. It is my turn to flip my hand over and let everything I was holding onto be taken by the wind. It is my turn to wash the dust off my hands and begin to use all ten of my fingers for my own good. Giving you the freedom from my palm is giving myself the freedom I need. Fly where you want now, I no longer take possession. Your sand belongs to you now and mine to me.  We are two separate entities, our lives no longer intertwined.