This afternoon I found my journal from ten years ago. I read the whole thing, which basically covered some of the biggest changes of my life, up until I quit the job that I had for five years and started drinking heavily. The entries from the year leading up to me quitting my job and deciding to be a flight attendant are pretty comical, but also very sad. I was searching endlessly for love and wondering why every imaginationship I landed myself in never worked out.
I am sure that every girl in the world spends as much time as I did, dreaming about love. And I’m sure that there are a lot of women out there who spent as much time in their 20’s as I did, searching for it and dreaming about it. But I’ve always felt alone in my longing and I’ve hung on to it in times of sorrow as the everlasting anchor of my life. I used to wonder where he was and why he hadn’t found me. I wondered what I was doing wrong and where I would learn to do things right. Only now that I am sober do I see how desperate my actions were, how motivated by spiritual emptiness I was. I used to think that if I hung out in new places all the time that I’d find him. So I tried to drink in different bars around town, always trying to place myself in the right bar stool, where I could make eye contact with the cutest bartender as often as possible. When the bartenders weren’t cute nor were the patrons, I’d walk out and look for another bar to do some research in. It is not surprising that my endless search for love in bars landed me right smack in the middle of AA. And it is not surprising either, that once I got sober, I changed my research offices from bars to coffee shops.
Now that I am in a real relationship and not just an imaginationship, I am able to look back at my silly behavior and laugh. It is hilarious to think that I believed that I’d find love in the bottom of my beer glass or across a ceramic mug. It turns out that for me, love was nowhere near those places. Love was standing at the door of my favorite dance club in 2010. Surly, so surly; with a splash of sweet and a hint of lonely. My best girlfriend and I would find our way to the door of the club that he worked at every Thursday and in our stubborn drunken ways, try to cheer him up. We had a brief time together in 2010, but timing was off. I made a decision to get sober and we parted ways. I never would have guess that, three years later, he’d be my dude. Sleeping in the same bed as me, telling me he loves before we goes to sleep at night.
I’ve heard often that love never ends up being what we imagine it to be or where we imagined it to be. I believe that I have read far too many books on the subject, and maybe too many Modern Love columns to not have an insanely warped view on romance. I want something that will never be mine. I want Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, but I don’t want to climb any fucking mountains. I want Henry and Anais in Paris, but I stopped drinking and I don’t have a rich husband to support my lover and I. I want love like Patti and Robert. I want, I want, I want. I am an alcoholic so I want a lot of things and I always want them to look different than they are. That confusion has allowed me to hold on to a lot of resentments and a lot of fear which often gets me to a place of complete and utter sadness. At which point, I usually get to the other side where I realize that underneath it all, I just want to be loved. That’s all I have ever wanted. Finding my journal tonight confirmed that for me.
The versions of love that I have read about have taught me the following things…Sometimes it comes so quickly and suddenly that you don’t even realize that it’s happening until you are in over your fucking head. Sometimes it comes in and you get engulfed in passionate flames. But in my own life, it was much more simple than flames. Sometimes it just happens over terrible sushi with an old friend. Sometimes, it takes falling in romantic love for the first time to realize that love has many faces, and you realize that you were blind to not see all the faces of it before.
Love first looked incredibly awkward and confused to me. Love was shaky hands and awkward first kisses. Even though this man, who I’d loved in my drunken ways before, was someone I had kissed a hundred times or more. Those first kisses as new found believers in something neither of us had words for, they were so different than any others I’d experienced. I wondered, WHAT.IS.THiS? Surely this is not what I think it is. But it was. So of course, I tried to run away. You can stare at love right in the face and talk yourself off the ledge of love if you’re not careful. And I almost did. But he wouldn’t let me.
Like any silly person afraid of something good happening to them, I kept trying. After sharing various meals and beds in cities all over the country, I would try to find a way out. And every time he’d hold me closer and love me just a little bit more. It’s not always easy and it doesn’t always make sense. We are incredibly different. I’m an extrovert with a capital E and he’s as introverted as they come. I need an army of people around me to stay sane and he appears to be content with having just one partner in crime. I haven’t had a drink in over three years and he can still make the choice to drink. I sometimes stare at these differences when I am looking out over the ledge and want to scream, THIS DOESN’T WORK. But honestly, it does. I somehow found a way to free myself from that fucking anchor of misery and longing and found a way to love and better yet, let myself be loved.
Today my love left to go on tour and will be gone for months. We might not see each other for a week, or maybe even six weeks. We will have to rely, once again, on FaceTime and text messages to fill each other in on our days. I’ve been sad the last few days and full of all kinds of fear about what the future holds for us. I have faith that we will be okay and that I can use this time and space to get back to the me that I’ve lost track of since we moved in together.
Finding my old journal today was perfect, because it reminded me that though there are many layers to this woman that I have become, at the bottom of them all, there is still a girl who learned how to love herself enough to change and grow. Finding love has allowed me to settle into finding a different side of myself that I always knew existed, but it is very important to not let go of the girl who wrote those journal entries years ago because that girl had some pretty amazing dreams about what life could be like and I will be damned if I am not living those dreams today. All I wanted back then was to get out of my mundane job, move out of Austin but close with my friends there, travel the world, and fall in love. It all seemed so unattainable back then, but I wrote about it every night, so deep inside I must have known that those things would end up happening for me. And that is why I journal.
I’d like to share this quote that I rediscovered in my journal today. It’s from the person I like to place all my gratitude upon when I think about how my life changed so much between 2004-2005. He wrote about life in a way that made me think that I was doing it all wrong, but also allowed me to see the beauty in what was. My ole pal, Henry Miller.
“We move with eyes shut and ears stopped; we smash walls where doors are waiting to open to the touch, we grope for ladders, forgetting that we have wings; we pray as if God were deaf and blind, as if He were in space beyond space. No wonder the angels in our midst are unrecognizable.”
Tonight, the angels in my midst are not unrecognizable. They are all around me and I know they always were.