When did that happen?

So the other day I was talking to a friend about dating, etc and I made my typical self-deprecating comment (something I’m trying to get out of the habit of, by the way) about why I didn’t understand why they would want to date me when my life was kind of a mess.  They were kind and said they were used to messy lives but when I set my phone down I was struck by something odd.

I realized, afterwards of course because isn’t that always how it works, that what I’d said wasn’t exactly true. Not anymore at least. Maybe I’ve been used to the idea that I’m a total mess and going through a million things and barely keeping it together and that had become my default answer but when I thought about it, I realized that I’m actually more together than I’ve been in years.

Things in my life are actually going…well. I’ve got a steady source of income, I’ve got some big changes coming up but nothing bad or overly taxing, I’m writing more, I’ve got friends, and I’m happy. Not sure when all of that happened haha, but I could definitely get used to it.

A Date with Dragons

After living in Texas since June 1, 2017, I’ve decided to go back to Indiana. It hasn’t been an easy choice at all. I love Austin a lot. I feel like I can breathe here and I’ve been really happy here and am proud of myself for making a life here. I’ve also had the chance to learn a lot about myself since I moved, and one thing that I learned is that my family and friends mean more to me than I realized.

I love it here, but I feel like I’m missing a limb, like a huge chunk of myself is just absent. It took me a little while to come to the realization that I can live with an Austin-shaped hole in my life (as long as I still get to visit!), but I can’t live with a family/friend-shaped hole.

It turns out though, that even while I feel like this is right decision in my gut, I’m still apprehensive. I left Indiana at a time when I was suffocating and could barely hold myself up. The few months I spent before I left at my brother’s house helped for sure, but the time before that, in the apartment by myself, I was followed constantly by a storm cloud that I thought would eventually drown me.
So, now I find myself going back and a small, irrational part of me is scared. I’m worried that the anxiety and crippling depression I left behind is waiting for me, a 70-foot dragon waiting at the state line just daring me to cross.

harrypotterdragon

It scares me. I’m worried I won’t be able to breathe there. I’m worried the depression will come back when I cross back into Indy’s borders, like shrugging on an old heavy coat. I’m afraid everything will be the same.

But I also know that this is something I need to do. That while I’m safe here in Austin, I need to face the demons and dragons I left behind to show that I really have grown. Because the fact is, things won’t be the same in Indy when I get back, simply because I’M not the same.

So, March 2018, I face the dragon.
(and who knows, maybe it’ll end up looking like this guy)
toothless

Evolutionary Waters

So, there’s been a lot going on lately, and about a million things on my mind so I haven’t been able to update much.  I’m still too close to things to even really be able to comment on what’s going on right now so I decided instead to put out a non-fiction piece I wrote a year or so ago about a close friend of mine. Hope you like it ❤

tenor

Summer 2000

I look around the room at my second family, my mom’s best friend’s family: the people who helped raise me, my home away from home. We spend every summer together, passing the season’s milestones in a flurry of cookouts, fireworks, and card games.
Empty paper plates sit in everyone’s lap, forgotten as they stare at the glowing television playing Miss Congeniality. This time in the evening means winding down, relaxing in front of the TV with a full stomach until our eyes grow too heavy to process any more and we wander off to bed.
I nudge Brett, the second oldest of the kids, and my partner in crime. He is nine and I am twelve. I jerk my head towards the door and he nods.
Tiptoeing out of the room, we manage to sneak outside without raising any questions from the zombies.
We run uninhibited through the sparse country acre that makes up the backyard and towards the pool. We laugh as we fly up the plastic white ladder attached to the side and cannonball into the water. It’s lukewarm as it embraces us, refusing to release the heat from the afternoon’s sun.
“Marco,” I call out to Brett, closing my eyes. Night had fallen but the sky is so clear, the full moon so bright, the landscape is perfectly lit.
“Polo,” he answers. I peek through one eye to see if I can spot him. After all, it’s only cheating if I get caught. Ah ha! He’s just to my left. I reach a hand out, grasping air as I hear him splash out of reach.
“Marco,” I call out again.
“Polo,” he says. I lunge forward and out of sheer luck graze his wet shoulder.
He laughs, hearty and loud, the sound echoing off the trees and into the sky as he throws his hands up in surrender.
“I think my sister likes your brother,” he says.
“Ew, we’re practically related!” I exclaim.
“Do you have a boyfriend? You know you can tell me anything, right?” My love life is one of his favorite topics. He’s fascinated by the sophisticated relationships of my twelve-year-old life.
“I know,” I say. “But that’s none of your business!” I splash him before ducking under the water.
Summer 2006
My boyfriend and Brett’s girlfriend look at us with a knowing expression as soon as our plates are empty. In our own ways, we had each briefed them on what had become a tradition. So they don’t follow as we set the dishes to the side and sneak out the door.
We run barefoot towards the pool, tossing off the clothes that cover our swimsuits and leaving them to wait for us, scattered across the grass. Brett runs up the squeaky white ladder and jumps in, splashing me. I yell in response and jump in after him.
I grab the nearest pool noodle and sit sideways on it, so it cradles me like a swing, keeping me afloat.
“So, tell me about her,” I say to Brett. He’s attempting to straddle three pool noodles at once and failing miserably. I laugh as he tries to lift his leg over a fourth one and face plants into the water. He comes up coughing, sputtering, and trying to catch his breath before he answers.
“She’s cute, obviously. We have the same math class so at least I get to see her every day.”
“That’s good. Matt’s always busy with his college classes and work so I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like, even though we live five minutes apart.”
“That’s lame,” he says. “I can’t believe you’re graduating this year.”
“I know. I’m excited, but it’s scary too. It feels like everything is going to change.”
He nods. I can only see his silhouette against the darkness but I hear the water move around him. The fireflies are our only light tonight; the moon is hidden behind colorless clouds. Hundreds, maybe thousands of the glowing insects twinkle in the tree line, making it look as if someone had dusted glitter on the leaves.
“Dad cheated on Mom,” Brett says, breaking the silence, his voice heavy.
“I know,” I say. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. Everything feels different, like I don’t know who to trust.” I nod, though I don’t think he is looking at me.
There aren’t words for these things; nothing a person can really say to make it better. So instead, I wade over to him, grab one of his pool noodles, and float silently next to him. I listen in the still night as he purges his pain, his fear that his parents will divorce, and the insecurities that stem from having a father whose affection he feels like he’s never received.
Summer 2013
As we walk out the door and into the night this time, there is no one in the room to sneak away from. Brett’s parents went to bed early, his sister lives in another town now, my parents are divorced and in separate cities, and my brother is staying the night with a friend. We’re the only ones there this summer, but we aren’t bitter. By now we understand that families ebb and flow. People leave for a while, come back, and leave again.
We walk towards the pool this time, savoring the feeling of the long grass tickling our ankles. Brett jumps in first, but I take my time on the unsteady, cracked plastic ladder before lowering myself into the water. Automatically, we go to the two rafts we’d left floating along the surface earlier.
I maneuver myself onto the inflatable plastic, positioning my head on the bump that serves as a pillow. Reaching behind my neck, I pull my long hair out from underneath me and spread it out so it’s splayed over the pillow, its ends dancing in the water.
“What happened last month?” Brett asks, skipping the small talk. I’m expecting this question but am not sure I’m ready to talk about it. I don’t bother asking how he knows something happened in the first place. Word travels very fast in our small group.
I don’t answer for a while. Instead, I stare up at the vast, stunning heavens above me. The summer night is clear, the sky deep cobalt, and dotted with bright stars. A full moon floats next to the big dipper and I study its markings while I figure out what to say.
It’s not that I don’t want to tell him. Years of growing up together had proved no subject was off limits between us. It’s more that I’m hesitant to ruin such a peaceful night by smearing its canvas with violence.
“Nikki?”
“I still can’t bring myself to say it out loud,” I tell him, opting for honesty. The four-letter word, three-word sentence, is still stuck in my throat. Every time I go to say it, I choke and a flashback of hands grabbing me, a stranger’s face, pushing, hurting, makes me physically shake.
Silence is easier.
“Someone hurt you,” he says. It’s not a question. My eyes fill with tears at the concern in his voice. The fear, shame, and pain I’d been trying so hard to keep buried, in a futile effort to function from day to day, rush to the surface. The salty drops fall from my eyes with the faintest plink as they hit the plastic beneath me.
I hear splashing, the sound of Brett paddling his raft over next to mine. He reaches for my hand and holds on to it, a firm symbol of solidarity.
In all the years we have known each other, we have never held hands, but in that moment, it feels right. I can see in his face that he can guess what happened, and it is enough for both of us to know that we understand each other. It is enough that we are still in this together, bonded by something deeper than blood. We have been navigating life’s terrain together since the very beginning, when our hearts were still pure and innocent, and we would remain that way even as the years traded our innocence for weariness and wisdom.
“It’s okay,” he says. “I’m here.”
“I know.”

That Night

My iron doors,

soldered shut,

cracked wide and 

you danced your way in,

a siren calling down

my walls and filling

my empty spaces

with poetry I thought 

I’d never feel again.

And ever since

words have poured from me

like lava, forcing its way

into the world,

demanding

the earth reshape itself. 

Accepting Depression

I’ve been dealing with depression off and on since the 8th grade. At least, that’s the first instance of it that I can remember. It’s the first time I recall feeling so sad that nothing could save me, but also feeling so many things that my skin couldn’t hold them in. The only thing that kept my head above water was music. That was the year I started listening to Janet and Velvet Rope was the first album that I felt touch my heart and calm it. 
Over the years I’ve found various ways to deal when those feelings came up again. Music has always been a go to, with just the voices of certain artists being able to soothe the hurt like a balm. There was years of dance of course, which saved me over and over again. And then there were the countless times that I ignored it. 

I would pretend I was fine or blame it on a circumstance, thinking that if only I could fix this one aspect of my life, I would feel okay again. 

The latest was leaving Indiana. A large part of it was a life long dream, yes. But part of it was also to get away from the suffocating depression I was experiencing. Surely being in a new place, with new air, and new people, would make it easier, though I never expected it to go away altogether. 

I guess I just also didn’t expect it to still be so present. I underestimated its ability to knock me on my ass no matter where I am geographically or not matter how well I’m progressing in my life. 

It might sound stupidly obvious to some of you, but it took my being 1,000 miles away from home to realize that the depression is in me. It’s not something I can ever run away from. Running away isn’t going to be anything but a temporary solution and for some reason that gives me so much comfort. 

Maybe it’s because now I know that I’m not doing anything wrong. That it isn’t the choices I’ve made in life or the abundance or lack of success in various parts of my life. It’s a chemical glitch that will always be there. And there’s a certain peace I’ve gained from realizing that and knowing that now, all I need to do is learn to live with it when it shows up, to never listen to its lies, and to let it rest when it’s gone. 

Its not always going to be easy, I mean hell this week alone has been gut wrenching and painful in itself, but my heart is at peace because I know it will pass. And in the meantime, I’ll bury myself in stories and poems and music that keeps me above water. 

Music Drunk

Stumbling through the streets of Austin,
music drunk on the sounds of Halsey,
eyes bright but nobody’s watching, lost
but found on this strange road I’m walking
alone, a thousand miles behind
me, nothing to tie me down, hold me.
So, I run this short distance full speed
ahead, focused, and fighting for more
days like this, where my head is quiet
and my heart is filled with music and
floods of words, begging to be let out.

blog pic
I don’t own this image!!

So, I’ve written little poems basically for as long as I’ve been writing, but I’ve never really thought much of it. Poetry was never a real career path to me, never had a future, and besides, maybe it’s terrible anyways. Even still, lately, since a certain concert last week, I’ve found myself scribbling those lines down again, jotting notes and counting syllables. I dunno, maybe it’s terrible and maybe there’s something to it. There are a few projects I’ve had in the back of my mind for quite a while now but haven’t been able to find a medium that feels right for them. But maybe…maybe I just did? Maybe I need to take the chance that it’s awful and just write it anyways and see where it takes me? Only one way to know.

“I’m a Little Bit On Fire Inside..”

My old pointe shoes

I feel too much. I always have. It’s hard to describe it but it’s like this ball of emotion that sits in my chest, demanding my attention, demanding that I do something to sate it. 

I’ve tried so many things to get rid of it; ignoring myself, self care techniques, even changing my life to counteract it. But it follows me everywhere. It followed me 1,000 miles to TX. There’s no escaping it. 

And then, out of no where, it hit me. This is the same feeling I used to have as a kid and a teenager. But I didn’t remember it torturing me like it does now, and I realized that’s because I had an outlet for it. I poured that over abundance of feelings and passion into dance. It kept me going, it kept me alive. 


Since I stopped dancing, a part of me has felt lost, ungrounded. Since I stopped dancing, I felt that ball of emotion in my chest trying to claw its way out, and I tried to make it go away. Whatever passion I had as a kid with dance, I thought was gone, forever. I thought I’d lost my motivation, my purpose for life. 

Then it hit me tonight. This ball of feeling, this screaming vortex of emotion, IS my motivation. It IS that burning ball of passion that used to drive me as a kid. And I do have an outlet for it, I just haven’t been using it. 

Because when I write, that knot disintegrates. It spills out of me onto the page, and I’m able to use it to write what I need to say and then leave it behind. Writing keeps me alive, and my feelings have been telling me this whole damn time when I need to do it, when I most need that outlet, and I haven’t been listening. 

But here, alone, in TX, away from everything I know and love, I can hear it so clearly. And I can use it again to light a fire under what I love and reignite my life and mind. 

Trying to edit a book with a cat on my lap

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out, but I’m really fucking glad I did. THIS is what I came here for, to figure out what I wasn’t seeing about myself when I was comfortable and in a familiar place.