This Novel Life

"Live the life you dream." -Henry David Thoreau

Category: Personal

Tragedy

I cried for all the moments that were robbed from me, for all the peace and serenity on summer nights. I cried for the words I wouldn’t hear, the whispers that were no longer mine and mine alone. I cried for the loss, for the pain in my chest and the sorrow in my heart and all of the looks we would never share again.

I blamed myself for all the words I never said, the times I held my breath. I searched for an answer and found only questions and so I cried for the naivety of believing things could last forever.

I mourned the defeat, for it was both my greatest mistake and your greatest achievement, to finally break the heart of a girl who dreamt of tragedy and welcomed sorrow…

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The Breakup

Her broken heart didn’t come from another person.

It was the breakup she yearned for,

The breakup she would never get over,

And the breakup after a year of change.

It came from the ocean she no longer stepped foot into,

The wooded trails that would hold no more sunset runs,

The dusty roads that had been sing-a-long backdrops.

She cried for the loss of who she had found in those places,

Someone who begged for adventure,

Who craved the thrill of finding herself,

The woman who could see the future laid out in front of her.

There was running and leaving and going home again,

Laden with tearful goodbyes to each person she had been.

 

To The Parents I Never Had

I know it isn’t your fault you’re not here. Decisions made as teenagers that brought you to the places you exist now are the reason I don’t have the Hallmark memories I so desperately crave. But all the student debt and psychology classes in the world haven’t helped me forgive you. There are moments I wanted as a child, Dad teaching me how to drive or Mom snapping photos on prom night. When the holidays roll around, I scrape together scattered and fading childhood memories to create a single good, wholesome moment, and for a second it is there – the family I always needed.

There are substantial moments in my life when I needed you and the pain comes most heavily in being an adult and understanding that my fundamental flaws stem from the moments you both so selfishly deprived me of.

When I turned sixteen and got my first job, nobody was there to deter me from blowing my paychecks on acrylic nails and Cheetos. I didn’t have a father to try and stop me from dating the first boy who so destructively broke my young heart, or a mother to pour over college applications with me. There was nobody there to cry to when I got engaged, and nobody for my future husband to ask for permission to pop that question. There was no mother to plan a wedding with, no father to walk me down the aisle. Nobody to teach me about credit or careers, and nobody to hold me and tell me everything would work out when I saw my first positive pregnancy test. But these moments pale in comparison to the fact you weren’t there to teach me how to survive the soul crushing emotional damage caused when I lost you.

It’s a scene on repeat in my mind, even now, years later, haunting me in a way that can eclipse even the brightest of sunny days. You aren’t here to walk me through the maze that is life, helping me handle being an adult without a parent to turn to when my days are long and hard. I’ve spent years pretending that you are out there somewhere, but the truth hits like a ton of bricks when I pick up the phone and there is no number to dial.

On my worst days, Christmas, Thanksgiving and the moments in between, I beg the stars for you, for a message or a sign that you had hopes and dreams for the daughter you couldn’t put first. I wonder if you looked at your precious baby girl the way I do mine and constructed a life of happiness and laughter for her. I question if, in your last moments or hours of reality, if there were regrets in leaving someone who relied so heavily on guidance she would never receive.

I wonder if the day will come and you’ll be there, on the other end of the line, to call me home for a turkey dinner and a night of reminiscing in front of the fire place. But you’re not there and it won’t happen, so I stumble through life with a heavy heart and memories created from a fantasy.

The Amie Project

We all lose people we love, and in my experience, there are so many things I wish I could have asked but never got the chance to. So, I dedicated an afternoon to asking my grandmother – who raised three kids, saw a good chunk of the world, was a military wife and then found herself raising me in retirement – some questions that I can cherish forever. I also took the opportunity to take some pictures of her house, a time capsule that has barely changed in my life. It turned out to be an incredibly emotional moment for me when I sat down later on and listened to her answers. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into her life.

What in your life are you most proud of? I’m proud of graduating college, and teaching.

Do you have a favorite thing in life? My dogs, and Abby the cat. Animals are very, very special.

What’s your favorite animal? Dogs.

If you could hold on to one memory, what would it be? My father. He was a wonderful person. He was a kind person, a smart person, a very hard working person, and he loved us kids.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory? Yes! At the farm we had an archway to go in the back and you could climb to the top of the archway. There was an opening at the top and one day I was throwing a ball back and forth, and I went down with the ball one time. It was a long way down.

Do you believe in love at first sight? No, no. I don’t think you can fall in love at first sight – it just doesn’t work. I mean you have to know a person before you can love a person, really.

So you didn’t see Papa (my grandfather) and think this is it? No! He came looking for my roommate.

But you went? Because he couldn’t get a date with her, and he says “how about you?” so I went out with him. I guess I wanted to go out with him. I wanted a date, really. He was a nice looking guy.

What’s the first thing you remember about him? That he came to date my roommate. I don’t know, I had seen him up at the campus… I was teaching and he was teaching, but after he went out with me, he called me at work all the time.

Do you have any relationship advice? Don’t fall too soon. Get to know the person.

How do you think he wants to be remembered? As a smart guy, intelligent.

What is your favorite memory of him? When he came back from Vietnam. I was glad to see him.

What about him made you smile? Just seeing him.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A dancer, and I taught dance [at the University of New Hampshire].

So you did what you wanted to do. Yeah.

What was your favorite family tradition? Thanksgiving when I was growing up. My mother always cooked. And Christmas… seeing my kids faces when they opened all their presents.

Do you have any regrets? Probably quite a few. I don’t remember one, though.

How do you want to be remembered? As a sweet grandmother. A kind person, I guess.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life? Be yourself. Be honest, and be good to people.

Father’s Day

I read a quote once that said, “my father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.” This is accurate, in so many ways. Dads are the unrecognized heroes of play time, of doing things mom would definitely say no to and believing in us against all odds. They are creators of wild adventures and they teach us the things that end up coming ridiculously in handy at the weirdest moments in our lives. There is one official day a year that tells us to get on social media and give dad a big shout out, but it’s important to remember that Father’s Day is more than just that. They won’t always be there. We won’t always be able to pick up the phone and call him just to hear him tell us something silly or help with something equally silly that we could have figured out on our own. His voice will not always be a constant present in life. Appreciate your dad, for real, for everything he has done in your life and continues to do.

I’m lucky to have had three people in my life to thank today. My dad, who never failed to believe in me and let me know it always, a man who showed me adventure and art and the places in Maine that you forget are so extraordinary. My husband who showed me how ridiculous a dad can be, and my grandfather, who raised me with stability, kindness and love for animals. I love them all in ways I could never successfully put into words…

So please, don’t forget to call your dad and thank him for that memory that always comes back to you at the weirdest time, for coming to your rescue that one time you did that one thing you probably should not have done, and for being your partner in crime that other time you both did what you probably should have not done.

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The Right Road

The trouble with growing up, all too often, is that we are no longer encouraged to follow our hearts. We are taught to embrace reality, look at our mobile banking, and let our head tell us where to go. And one day, down the road, if we are lucky, it pays off and we’re able to do both things because we have achieved something or, we’ve managed to listen to both parts and that in itself deserves an outstanding achievement award. I have to sit back and wonder how many times someone ignores their heart, follows their head and is stuck at a point where the only suitable option is to suck up the regrets, make a grilled cheese sandwich and some tomato soup and pretend like that can fix the hole in one’s heart for an indefinite amount of time. We sit around and read quotes on Pinterest that tell us to follow our hearts because YOLO, and seize the moment because there’s only so many moments we get. We work hard for some tangible proof that we’ve had a successful life, something to look back on and say “look what I did. See, I did it the way I was supposed to.” We have five year goals, then ten year goals but every time we hit a goal we keep pushing forward for more and more. Everything these days is #goals but we’re never allowed to revel in reaching the goal, because we’re too busy planning out our next goal.

What about the days when you sit in traffic and wonder if it is all going to be worth it? What are we chasing so actively that we are willing to sacrifice the unforgettable moments in order to obtain it?

I don’t regret the choices I have made or the roads I have taken, I think I have learned to not regret things (I read the Pinterest quotes, life is too short), but I wonder if in chasing goals, have we forgotten the more important moments in life? As a parent, I want my daughter to have a prosperous life, who wouldn’t want that for their child, but I can’t help but wonder if the path to perfection is lined with wrong turns.

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17. I Miss You Saco

We lived in Saco, Maine for about thirteen months. It was one of the best years of my life. We had this little two story apartment on a street that had an island park (yes, an island that was a park) & it was within walking distance of the picturesque Main Street that I fell hopelessly in love with. We celebrated Madison’s fourth birthday in that apartment, I fell in love with photography in that town and we explored so much of it. We planned to buy a house there. But now we live in Florida.

Which I’m happy about, but oh boy do I miss Saco. Not Maine. But Saco. Such a great little town with such character and charm. We will be back someday, but until then, I have pictures from our favorite little trail/park, Riverfront Park & the Riverwalk.

15. Facebook Detox

I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon way back in 2007. Before that I had MySpace. I’ve been a part of a social network since high school. First it was checking on my laptop after school, then every couple hours… and eventually throughout the day on my cell phone. Now I’m checking my Facebook as soon as I wake up, before I even get out of bed. It’s really bad. Facebook is everywhere. Almost every advertisement asks you to like their product or business on Facebook, I get at least ten game requests a day. I honestly think I know only one person who doesn’t have a Facebook.

Lately, it’s been more bad than good. Not like I’ve ever been completely mentally stable, and Facebook doesn’t help. It has gotten to the point where I feel like if I post anything, someone is going to be upset with me or take it the wrong way. Facebook is supposed to be a communication tool, used to keep up with friends and family. I haven’t used it as that in I don’t know how long!

And so, I’ve been thinking about it. I love staying connected with my friends, especially since now we’re over 1,000 miles away from Maine. But I also know that more often than not, I’m in a perpetual bad mood and the cause could easily be placed on my news feed. I’ve decided to take on a Facebook detox. I deactivated my Facebook on Easter. Why deactivate & not just log off? I don’t know, a personal decision. I also took the application off my iPhone. Yesterday I was in a great mood – I didn’t even want to see what everyone else was doing. Today I took the dog for a mile walk, and observed nature instead of staring at my phone the entire time. I’m excited to see where the rest of the week takes me.

Sunday I’m hoping of going back to Facebook with a different outlook. I’m going to purge my friends list and make sure it’s just friends. And I think the app will stay off my phone. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’ve googled “Facebook detox” and as it turns out I’m not the only one feeling the Facebook effect.

Have you ever Facebook detoxed, or given up Facebook completely?

8. Sea Bean Hunting

Yesterday we set on an adventure to Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area in Flagler Beach for a sea bean beach hike. Yeah, I had no idea what sea beans were either. But after a twenty minute lesson by the recreation area we learned all about sea beans. It turns out they are seeds from plants and vines in various tropical locations. They find their way to the oceans and rivers where they are carried about until they make their new home tucked into seaweed on a beach. You can find them on the beaches in locations like Florida and South America, and some parks of the UK, among other places. There’s different kinds of them, but we had a lot of luck finding Sea Coconuts, which kind of look like golf balls, and which can be polished to look quite beautiful.

Flags at the beach entrance warning us of medium wind & dangerous marine life.

Maddy kicking around the seaweed to look for hidden sea beans.

Our unpolished collection. The big round balls are sea coconuts, the little red and black thing is a sea hamburger, and the flat maroon thing in the right corner is a sea heart (my personal favorite).

Sea hamburger, two sea coconuts and a sea heart after some polishing.

You can find more information about sea beans at www.seabean.com.

7. The Creation of a Princess

For Madison’s birthday, we were fortunate enough to have my cousin (who I am finally getting to know after way too many years) and her business partner come face paint at her party. My cousin owns Enchanted Body Art and she is incredibly talented! I got to snap some pictures from the process of turning Madison into the true princess she is.

And for the finished product…