It’s a Tuesday night. 6pm. I’m sitting at a bar that faces the street and the cars are rushing by me, all a mess of headlights and motors and red stop signs blurring in the wind. I can see an airplane taking off above my head. I can distantly hear the music from a restaurant across the street. I’m warm in my woolen sweater, but shivering at the same time. My beer tastes like grapefruit and I’m tipsier than I intended.
I’m sitting here thinking about life, about the mess of it all, about the beauty and the unknown, and all the ways we’re constantly trying to find our way in the craziness.
And I feel, strangely, at peace.
Because for the first time in so long, I’ve realized that it’s okay to not know everything. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to be dizzy and unsure.
It’s okay to just exist, here, in this present moment. Acknowledging that not everything will make sense, not everything will work out, not everything will feel wonderful and happy, but it will all be okay. I will be okay.
I didn’t always believe this. I remember the ache of my heart just a few years ago, so heavy and pressing in my chest. I remember mornings, waking up to the emptiness, the hollowness of being without someone I cared for. I remember how it felt to lose everything I thought I knew. Everything I thought I loved, and loved me in return.
Damn, life can be so hard sometimes.
The other day, a girl messaged me. A stranger, confessing that she read my words and felt connected. She read my words and felt like her heart was in rhythm with mine, aching just the same way. She told me she was drowning in the pain of losing an ex.
And I couldn’t quite put together the words I wanted to say—to tell her that she’d be okay. She’d be just fine. One day, she’d let go and find happiness. Even without him.
As I wrote her a message, I thought of myself. My stubbornness. My inability to believe in any comfort outside of what I’d experienced. I thought of how you could tell me a million beautiful things while I was grieving, but I wouldn’t have believed a single one of them until I could feel them in my own bones—and (most likely) neither would she.
And isn’t that how it always happens? We never believe we’ll get over him or her until we do.
Until we feel that freedom. Until we breathe in fresh air without thinking of them first, and realize that this is how it feels to finally move on, to let them go. And damn, what a beautiful feeling that is.
I’m sitting in a bar. I’m breathing chilly Southern California air. I’m thinking about what it means to finally release all the pressure that’s constantly weighing on your chest. Of how it feels to finally stop trying to be the master of everything around you, because all we can really change is our own life—and not even that—our next step.
I’m watching the headlights, listening to the horns, seeing, out of the corner of my eye, crashes narrowly avoided at this four-way stop sign. And it’s crazy the fragility of our existence.
We think we’re so damn invincible, so damn permanent. But when it comes down to it, we’re all just specks on this earth. Falling and feeling and finding someone to love.
And why is it that when we lose our way, we suddenly think we’re somehow less worthy than the person standing next to us?
I‘m sitting at this bar, listening to music, to voices, to treads of tires on asphalt. And I’m thinking of all the things I wish I could say to this girl who messaged me—that life will bend and break, and just when you rebuild, it will crumble beneath you again. That I know how it feels to not know what the hell you’re supposed to do, but you just keep going. Damn it, you just keep going.
I wish I could tell her that I’m sorry. That the ache from a lost lover never really goes away, you just learn who you are without them. And how that version of yourself is more beautiful than you ever were with them.
I wish I could tell her that she will be alright. That for a while, she’ll wake up with a sour taste in her mouth, but after time, she’ll shrug on a sweatshirt and look at her reflection without imagining his hands on her cheeks. She’ll want to kiss another’s lips without thinking of him. She’ll suddenly be startled at the way she’s moved on—absentmindedly, unconsciously.
Remembering how it is to be her, without the subtitle of his.
And just like in everything, every ebb and swell of this life, she will be alright. She will find her way again. She will discover hope and new beginnings and fall into those willingly, freely, beautifully.
She will survive.
And so will we.