Things are different now.

When I was a teenager, I was sensitive. I still am, obviously, but it’s different now. I’m not sensitive to the same things. My coping mechanisms have changed and different, bigger, things break my heart.

In high school, people broke my heart. Boys, or one boy in particular, broke my heart (over and over and over again). My world was little. Itty bitty, really. Harsh words, the wind blowing the wrong way, too much of anything would wreck me. I cried. A lot.

Now, world hunger breaks my heart. People and animals and environments being treated unfairly breaks my heart. Cruelty, of any sort, wrecks me. But I don’t cry anymore. I gave that up. Instead, I fight and change and work harder. I’ve found it’s a lot more effective that spending Sundays in bed crying.

As a teenager, I was fairly invincible. I could eat  what I wanted without getting a stomach ache and without gaining a single pound. I could sleep anywhere, without waking up sore. I could ride roller coasters without losing my lunch. I could do all sorts of shit I can’t do now. Now, if I eat too much processed, greasy food, my stomach freaks the fuck out. I can’t ride roller coasters. I have to sleep on a bed, with a pillow, if I want to wake up feeling refreshed. I have allergies. I gain weight if I don’t exercise. My invincibility has waned. It’s faded. Now I have to think before I act.

It’s just different now. Everything, really. I stop and marvel at it sometimes. At the things I’ve done, the things I wanted to do, but haven’t, the things I know I’m going to do, the things I thought I’d accomplish, the friends I thought I’d have. Even just in the past few years – things changed when I hit 25. It was a mile marker I hadn’t made plans for. There weren’t expectations. Somewhere, while lamenting all the things I didn’t get to do before I turned 24, I forgot to plan for 25. So 25, and now 26, and expectation free.

I spent years (and years and years) planning for who I would be when I “grew up.” Now, I’m not even convinced that’s a real thing. I put a lot of thought, in my early 20s, into my life plan but my life went off on another track and I never set the milestones back up after they crumbled.

I wonder if I’m living in the now more than I ever have before. I still plan. A lot. I plan for vacations and for next month and the next BIG THING. But I don’t have a five-year plan. I’m not sure if that’s okay or not. I mean really, what would I put on it? I own a house, have a husband and two dogs. I don’t want kids, so there’s no planning for that. I want to put granite in the kitchen. And I want a canopy bed. I want to graduate from college, but that will come soon, in the next year or so. I want to travel more, of course. I want to make more friends, have more adventures, but in the realm of GREAT BIG THINGS YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO BECAUSE THEY SAID SO, is this it? Have I checked the “necessary” boxes already? There’s always a next, so what comes next?

A Decade.

There are some things I write about every year. The weather is one of those things. How I hate the cold, and then, when temperatures climb into the 90s, how I hate the heat.  Holidays don’t usually pass without a blog post.  Birthdays too, usually get mentioned here.

And then, there’s David. I write about him every April 6th. Because I have to. Because if I didn’t, I don’t think I could live with myself. I don’t think I could look at myself in the mirror if I let one single anniversary pass without some attempt at honoring his memory or without letting myself feel the impact of him. Yes, I’ve written about him before, but it’s different every year. The pain moves, settles, and shifts.

David jumped up off an overpass 10 years ago today and fell to his death. He was 16. His birthday was March 11th, just one day before mine, and he hadn’t even had his driver’s license for a month. He taught himself handstands after his mother told him to go stand on his head. He had a beautiful laugh that made everyone smile. We sat next to each other in 10th grade English. He wanted to join the Navy.

He drove me home from school that day. We shared a cigarette. I probably could have shared more.  He asked if I wanted a ride the next morning. I said no. Less than 20 minutes later, that was it. He was gone.

10 years…

The headlines talked about traffic. Not about the loss of life. They talked about how some local “man” had jumped and caused traffic to come to a standstill. I scooped them all up, though. I wanted the stories, the remnants, all the bits and pieces of him that I could find. 

I cried. Broke down. Hurt myself. Slept. Drank. Smoked. Started over the next day. Over and over and over.

I go back now, ten years later, knowing how it all turns out, and read what I wrote then. It wasn’t much, at first. I didn’t know where to begin, I guess. Most aren’t equipped to discuss suicide at 16, and I was no exception. But then, the flood. It all came out. Pages and pages about what happened, how much it hurt, how angry I was that he didn’t take me with him.

May 3, 2000 – You and me could run away. There’s better things on the other side. I feel alone. Am I the only one? Am the only one who’s crazy like this? Or are there other people just as crazy as you are? Tell me…I dunno. I really don’t.

I’m not much for faith. I’m too sensitive for it, I guess. I see and feel how the world hurts and I just can’t rationalize diety when so many are dying and hurting and starving. But I know that David’s there. Always has been there. Watching out for me. Cheering me on. Inspiring me to keep going, to try harder. It’s not like a ghost. It’s more than that. It’s unwavering. It’s there whenever I reach for it. It’s there the moment my eyes fill up with tears and I start to remember his smile, or his laughter or his six-pack abs. Always. He’s unwavering.

There’s so much, each year, that I try to say. Each year, I don’t quite make it. I can’t quite get into it enough to say it all, to make it right, to do him justice. There’s just so much to say, and there’s so much I’ve already said and what I really should say to him, is this:

Thank you. I’m sorry. I love you. I miss you.

Flashback Friday: Aspirations of six-year-old me

When I was six, I wanted to be a comedian.  That was it. I thought I was so fucking funny with my little six-year-old jokes and I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to earn my keep by making people laugh.

The jokes? Yeah, I’m pretty sure people only laughed because I was absolutely adorable.  The jokes weren’t that funny. For example, take this gem, a favorite of my six-year-old self:

One day a little boy was talking to God. He asked how long a minute was for God. God replied, “A minute for me, is one million years.” The little boy thought about this one for a minute. Then he asked, “God, how much is a penny worth for you?” God answered, “A penny is worth one million dollars for me.” The boy thought about this for a minute then asked, “God, can I have a penny?” God replied, “In a minute.”

Yeah. See? Not that funny.

Of course, being a devious little six-year-old, I did have a whole assortment of totally inappropriate jokes I would tell the kindergarteners.  You remember the ones? They were all full of sexual innuendo and mentioned daddy parking his car in mommy’s garage? No? Oh well.

And yet somehow I mostly stayed out of trouble. Sure, I got in trouble in Kindergarten when I put my backpack on my head and wandered around talking and walking like a robot just so I could make some cute boy named Shawn laugh (All the cuties in grade school were named Shawn or Justin. ALL of them). But, really? That’s not so bad is it?

What where the aspirations of your six-year-old self?

More from the Dirty Farm Kid Diaries

For a poor kid, an imagination is as valuable as air.  Or water. Or government cheese.  Without it, I’m not sure I would have made it to adulthood.

Yesterday, my book made mention of the American Girl books dolls empire, and my poor kid imagination skills came rushing back to me.  Of course, I didn’t have an American Girl doll because we were poor.  Wicked poor.  Live-on-the-farm-and-kill-your-own-chickens-because-you-have-to-not-because-you-want-to-poor. But I did have some of the books – they were always at the top of my Christmas & birthday wish-lists, and I always had the option to check them out from the library, along with the latest Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley High books.

The books were great, and, in the time before internet, they entertained me time and time again. But then, there was the American Girl catalog. Chock full of overpriced rich-girl must-haves, dolls that look like you, dolls that look like your friends, dolls that look like girls in the books, clothes for the dolls, clothes for you that matched the clothes for the dolls, merchandise, merchandise, merchandise. The catalog had everything any spoiled brat would need to create a utopia for Felicity, Kit, or Molly, or any “Just Like You” doll.  Dressers and beds and scarves and hats and ass-loads of crap.

I knew I would never get an American Girl doll.  And that was okay.  Because the much-loved American Girl catalog was thick enough for me to get totally lost in.  I didn’t want a doll to put on a shelf anyway, I wanted to be immersed in the story. I want to be BFFs with Felicity, growing up during the American Revolution, going to visit her grandfather and embarking on adventures.  Screw a fucking doll! I wanted to LIVE in the catalog.  I wanted to trade secrets on the gorgeous hardwood canopy bed on page 118.  I wanted to help Addy reunite her family after slavery tore it apart. I wanted to show my patriotic side and sport matching pigtails with Molly, growing up during WWII. And really, all I needed to achieve these dreams was my poor-kid imagination, and that gorgeous catalog.

Now, with my carefully cultivated poor kid imagination, I spend the nights I can’t sleep, or the times I’m stuck in line at the grocery store imagining grown up adventures. Mundane things to crazy things, my mind knows no limits.  I’ll imagine finding the perfect photos to adorn our dining walls, or the sights we’ll get to see in Alaska.  There’s no norm, no constraints, no limits to it, and I love it.  I’d be lost without and maybe it’s silly to say my most valuable asset at 25 is still my imagination, but I guess I’m okay with being a little silly.

2009: A Time to Nestle

If 2008 was the year of big, big changes, then 2009 was all about digging in, getting comfortable,  and getting accustomed to the life I’ve carved out for myself. It was kinda nice. After a few years of bouncing all around, it was nice to settle, to finally have a home that’s really mine, and to carve out a little life for myself.

In January, I was on duty for the Inauguration.  It was an experience I will never forget; one that filled me with absolute pride and one that reignited my love in America. The day after we got home from the nation’s capital, we packed up all our  stuff and moved across town to our house. After over a month and a half of homeownership, we finally spent our first night our home.

February we unpacked our piles of stuff and lived amidst a mess.  We continued work and begin to realize yes, we can work together every day and not kill each other.  I reestablished my hatred for Valentine’s Day.

In March, it snowed more than I ever remember it snowing in Richmond. But just like that, it was gone. I turned 25 and, for the first time in almost a decade, I didn’t want to ignore my birthday. In one of my most crunchy moments, we bought a reel lawnmower.

In April, I remembered a friend’s suicide, as I have every year for the past nine years.  We got a few steps closer to having an actual living room, but it still wasn’t quite finished.  We went to the Outer Banks for a much-needed vacation.  Then, there were the baby robins, and, of course, the baby rats I couldn’t save.

May was a busy month. We planted a peach tree named Clara and finally quit smoking.  Then we planted a garden full of sweet-smelling herbs and promising veggies. I celebrated my first six-year term in the military, an event that made me realize how far I’d come in those six years.

Some of very good friends got married in June. The happy couple were our first house guests the week before their wedding and, luckily, my sunburned forehead cleared up just in time for the wedding photos.

In July, we went to Wisconsin for work and every one thought I was a bad woman for keeping my last name.  I tried Pilates for the first time and fell in loooove.

In August, we finally got the living room put together.  After only, oh…8 months of living here.  I was able to have an absolutely AMAZING reunion with a long-lost friend and learned that even though things might change, they don’t change so much that you can’t get back what you once had.  Then, I went back to college and after WAY TOO LONG. Oh, and I learned the friend I let into my house was a useless sexist. That was about as fun as it sounds…

September was a month of firsts seeing as we went to San Francisco and I set foot on the West Coast for the first time ever. Then, I got food poisoning for the first (and hopefully the last) time.

In October, we learned that I’m just not like other people, which I guess I always knew anyway, but still. It’s nice when people remind me. We went to the beach again, for a tension filled weekend that ended perfectly. We went to the Celtic Festival and had all sorts of fun as zombies.  Then, Andrew got one step closer to 30, and turned 29 and we had a big ole’ Halloween bash to celebrate.

I wrote every single day in November, something I will probably never do again.  The sexist friend finally (FINALLY!!) moved out and I realized I should never have let her stay for as long as she did.  I discovered some goats. And a donkey. I hosted Thanksgiving for my family, something else I will probably never do again.

In December,  I started my second 101 in 1001 challenge, got unfriended on Facebook and went to Michigan for Christmas.  Then, I got the worst cold ever.

Now, it’s 2010, and I’m still sick.  Still in my pjs. But you know, I started 2009 with a wicked cold too and it turned out to be a pretty bad ass year, so here’s hoping 2010 is just as fabulous.